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 516 Patricia Ave. Dunedin, FL 34698
(727) 736-1000

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Blog

The Core

running from pain

The core is not one ambiguous muscle that is located in the center of your body, and it is certainly not just the abdomen, as certain fitness misinformation would suggest. Rather, the core is a complex network of muscles that work together to influence almost every waking movement we make as humans. The muscles of the stomach and back, from the sternum down to the pubic bone, make up the core and serve the following main functions: to protect and contain internal organs, enhance mobility of the spine and trunk, stabilize the body by transferring forces across the body without causing injuring and to coordinate the pelvic-lumbar region. Core stability is important because it generally also means spinal stability: we define a stable core as one that supports the spine and keeps the body balanced.

Compromised or weakened core musculature is consistent with a lifestyle that involves too much sitting and not enough exercise and this is a health concern because a weak core leaves you vulnerable to injury from daily motions (think gardening, tying your shoe, simply bending over or lifting). Your muscles simply don't have the strength to transfer forces effectively between the upper and lower body, or from side to side, and injuries are likely in this scenario.

At Hayes Family Chiropractic, we want to help you establish your core as a stabilizer by focusing on strengthening and stretching that targets specific muscles, including the transverse abdominus and the Multifidus muscles, two muscle groups whose health often coincide with core strength. Stretches such as planks, side planks and dead lifts are excellent for strengthening core muscles to provide support for the rest of the body. If you are suffering from chronic back pain of any degree, it may be time to start looking for the underlying cause. We can help you develop a stronger, more stable core that will keep pain at bay and boost your well-being and all it takes is a phone call to schedule an appointment at our Dunedin office today! 

Dr. Diane Hayes, D.C. 

Are your Hamstrings in Need of Help?

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A tertiary victim of a sit-heavy lifestyle is the hamstring. When we sit for hours on end, the hamstrings are in a constant state of contraction, causing them to shorten, which creates a pull on the pelvis that can cause misalignment in the lower spine. This leads us to problem 1: do you know what proper seated posture looks like?  If you are like many Americans, you may be sitting with a posterior-tilted pelvis for hours at a time, exposing your vertebrae in the sacrum and lumbar region to myriad compression and misalignment problems. Learning how to sit, if you must sit all day, is an essential measure that we would like to see desk-bound workers take seriously. As it relates to the hamstrings, you may be feeling general low back pain while the problem is originating in the leg, but how could you know? A quick self-diagnosis can be done at home with either a straight-leg raise or reaching for your toes:

  • Sit on the floor with one leg and foot extended, and one in the butterfly position. 
  • Reach toward your foot and try to touch your toes. 

If you can't touch your toes then chances are your hamstrings are tight. The degree to which this affects your life is variable: for some people it creates no problem at all but for others it can affect their posture, movement and musculoskeletal function.  At Hayes Family Chiropractic, we work with you to determine if tight hamstrings may be causing dysfunction or pain and then help you solve it with spinal adjustment that accounts for any misalignment, and targeted stretching that will help release the region from tension. If you are in the Dunedin area, we urge you not to let your hamstrings hold you back from athletic endeavor or simply enjoying life any longer; call our office to schedule an appointment so we can start working on lengthening and strengthening those tight (or short) hamstrings. 

Dr. Diane Hayes, D.C.

Your Neck: Friend or Foe?

The internet would have you believe that a sore, stiff neck is simply an unavoidable part of getting old. Indeed they are unavoidable if we choose to live more sedentary, immobile lifestyles; in this scenario, your pain is most likely a manifestation of several factors including strained muscles, injured ligaments and nerve compression. And while random flares of neck pain tend to get better on their own in a matter of days or weeks, pain is a signal that something is wrong and if you have recurring episodes of neck pain, it may be time to start listening.

Take a minute to admire the functionality of your neck; for movement and articulation of the head; for channeling blood to the brain and food to the stomach; among other things, the neck is a magnificent structure. Within that trunk the respiratory, lymphatic, nervous and immune systems operate in a state of fragility. Very few of pay attention to the neck before it exhibits signs of pain or stiffness and, by doing so, we are leaving it vulnerable to the physical and mental stress agents with which we live in close proximity. For some people who have reached their limit, it is time to stop reaching for the pain-muting pills, and seek a totally natural form of response to the problem.

Fortunately, chiropractic treatment is tailor made for the management and, in many cases, dissolution of recurrent neck pain. Chiropractic adjustment, performed gently and purposefully, help restore alignment to the vertebrae which allows for unimpaired nerve communication down the spinal cord. An example of this can be made out of the phrenic nerve, which powers the diaphragm (main breathing muscle), and is itself powered by nerves exiting between C3 and C5. A subluxation in this region can cause restrictions to the respiratory system as well as pain and stiffness due to nerve compression. Furthermore, trigger point therapy and massage can release muscles from epidemic tension, allowing you to feel looser and move with less pain. It's time to take the health of the neck seriously, to prevent an old age full of more problematic conditions. If you are interested in protecting your neck, give our office in Dunedin a call and schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 

Sitting Posture

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As soon as posture is mentioned, most people sit up straight in attempt to look dignified, a slight look of shame on their face. But be honest and do a quick posture check: how are you sitting right now? Chances are that many of us are reading on laptops that rest on desks well below eye level, which is an almost certain way to lead yourself into the hunched over laptop pose shown above. This "laptop pose," as you might call it, is characterized by shoulders scrunched forward and upward and a neck and chin leaning down toward the screen. This posture casts unreasonable pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles, as they attempt to compensate for the weight imbalance your head is imposing on the spine. 

Proper seated posture looks something like this:

  • Head facing straight forward, centered over the spine. This may mean adjusting the height of your monitor to account for this position. 
  • Back straight, buttocks touching the back of the chair and shoulders relaxed.
  • A pillow or rolled up jacket can be useful for encouraging the lordotic curve.
  • Weight of torso distributed evenly between hips
  • Legs at 90 degrees or slightly higher 
  • Feet flat on the floor without too much pressure being pushed through them. 

Even holding this "perfect posture," for the entire time you are seated is not quite good enough. You must still find time to move around and free up the tension that accumulates when you spend significant time stagnant. 

Sitting, besides already being the worst position for the spine, is the posture that most lends itself toward laziness, and thus the muscular imbalance and poor curvature that can develop as a result. Sitting up straight is not a maxim to be taken lightly; for those of us who spend hours a day desk-bound, it should be a rallying cry. At Hayes Family Chiropractic, we are your posture specialists. That is, we can help you find and establish proper posture throughout all phases of the waking day. Muscles in the core can be developed to help stabilize the body and lend a hand to the vertebrae and discs in the lower back which may be under fire from a sit-heavy lifestyle. Whether you need to heal damage that has already been done, or establish a seated lifestyle that will prevent it from occurring, we can help; give our office in Dunedin a call to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Diane Hayes, D.C. 

Text Neck: An Overuse Syndrome

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"Pocket computers are linked to the premature onset of spinal problems in the world." Such a headline would have been unfathomable for most of our world's history, but the damage caused by cell phones is becoming a global reality in the 21st century, for millennials and their parents alike. Without you even knowing it, the cell phone, your all-in-one life manager, could be creating a pain in your neck: roughly 9-in-10 American adults have a cell phone, and estimates say that young adults spend up to 3 hours a day on the cell phone. If you are on your cell phone even half as much with poor posture, it could contribute to problems including muscle spasm, stiffness in the neck and excessive strain that can lead to spinal problems earlier than usual. 

The cell phone itself is not the problem as much as the human's proclivity for poor posture when interacting with the device. To demonstrate this, I urge you to take your cell phone out of your pocket. Chances are slim that you held it in front of your face at arm's length to take a look; chances are greater that you held it at hip level and craned your neck downward. Whether out of habit, a need to be discrete, proximity to the pocket or most likely all of the above, we rarely raise the screen to eye level, instead choosing to conduct our social lives and business from the hip. 

Any posture that involves shoulders slumped forward and neck looking ever downward will magnify the weight of the head to the spine exponentially causing muscles of the upper back, neck and shoulder to become strained and imbalanced as they try to compensate. For teens, who interact with a phone the most frequently (and, incidentally, who's backs are still in the process of growing) this is especially problematic. 

At Hayes Family Chiropractic, we believe this problem is entirely avoidable. We can help you stay aware of the pitfalls inherent with cell phone posture and provide you with healing modalities that can combat the stiffness and tension associated with a tech-heavy lifestyle. If you are interested in finding out more about Text Neck and how to keep well clear of it, give our office in Dunedin a call to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Diane Hayes, D.C. 

Bed rest...what is it good for?

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While the answer is not "absolutely nothing!" you could say that bed rest is an outdated prescription for treatment for all but the most serious of spinal injuries. Remaining sedentary is detrimental to the human body, regardless of whether there is an injury present; choosing not to move is a decision that weakens the body significantly. Take an injury to the lower back such as a herniated disc: with a degree of pain that still allows some movement, many people take to the couch for days on end: muscles atrophy, soft tissues become susceptible to injury and, specific to the injury, intervertebral discs stiffen and dry out when not moved regularly.

A herniated disc, along with many other spinal conditions, will usually heal by itself given enough time and attention to treatment. However, the time frame can be significantly shortened and the chance of a recurring injury lessened with purposeful movement, of the kind we can show you at Hayes Family Chiropractic. Once we alleviate your pain to the point where it is possible to get up and go, you can start with light aerobic activity such as walking or swimming, and combine this with gentle stretching and corrective exercises that will make a world of difference. It is important to not go at this blindly: certain exercises should be avoided depending on the nature of your injury. To stick with the herniated disc example, symptoms are usually worsened by exercises such as leg lifts, dead lifts and standing hamstring stretches. Instead we want to focus on establishing the core as a stabilizer using planks, side-planks and twisting crunches. 

In support of your attempt at healing, we provide modalities including chiropractic adjustment, spinal decompression, therapeutic massage and trigger point therapy and can help you establish corrective exercises and preventative stretching as part of your health care portfolio. If you are interested in healing your injury the natural way, give our office in Dunedin a call to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Diane Hayes, D.C.