Hamstring Stretch

Nov 11
hamstrings, lower back pain, sciatica, stretching

Caution: Do not attempt to perform this stretch without consulting with your chiropractor or physician – if you have a serious injury this activity may cause further injury.


Where is it? :  Your hamstrings are actually a group of muscles that occupy the back part of the thigh, which are responsible for lifting the lower half of the leg up towards the body (flexion), as well as allowing for some rotation of the lower leg and moving the leg back (extension) .  The muscles are individually know as the semitendonosis, the semimembranosis, and the biceps femoris.  These three muscles attach at the top to the pelvic bone and at the bottom to the tibia (semitendonosis, semimembranosis) and the fibula (biceps femoris), which are the two structural bones in the lower leg.

Why should I do it? :  Since the hamstrings attach to the pelvis any muscle rigidity can cause numerous painful conditions, including Sciatica.  Stretching these muscles can relieve lower back pain, some types of knee pain, leg pain, numbness and tingling in the legs, and some leg muscle fatigue.

How do I do it? :  For this exercise you will need an object that you can grasp in both hands with a weight range of 3 to 10 lbs (anything will do – I use my son’s toy fire truck).  Stand with your feet pointing straight forward shoulder width apart.  Bend your knees just enough so they are not locked (this will assure the only muscles being stretched are the hamstrings instead of the calves) and keep your back straight.  Hold your weighted object in both hands against the  front of your body, allowing your arms to relax as much as possible.  Allow your body to slowly bend at the waist, using the weighted object to pull you down, until you have reached a point where you feel a pulling sensation in the back of your legs.  Make sure your back stays straight as you move, as bowing your back can cause muscle strains.  Count to ten while in this position, making sure to ease up if pain occurs.  After counting rise slowly into the original standing position, making sure to keep your back straight.  Repeat this process for a set of 10, doing at least 3 sets in a day.

Helpful Hints :  This stretch is designed for beginners in mind, especially those who do not have a great range of motion in their legs.  As you progress in this stretch you may increase the count from 10 to 15, as well as adding extra sets in a day.  This stretch is designed to be safe and slow, so progress may not show right away, but it should minimize the opportunities for pain.  When beginning stretching there will be discomfort, which can be misconstrued as pain; however, if you experience discomfort that does not diminish when you stand straight you may be pushing your stretch too far, and you should ease up on the distance you bend.

Knee Pain

Nov 11
knee pain

If you do sports, physical activities, or just plain walk around you should know what knee pain feels like.  Everyone has had at least a twinge of knee pain, be it from a sports injury or walking into the coffee table, and everyone knows how much it can hurt.  Since the knee is such an important joint (after all, if your knees don’t work it makes walking a much more daunting task) it is essential to keep its health up to scratch.  I have, therefore, compiled a few “Knee Health Rules” for all to share.


Knee Health Rule #1 – STRETCH

Stretching after a mild warmup can not only make muscles feel more pliable and limber, but it can also prevent injuries when performing more serious tasks or exercises.  However, when it comes to the knees (or for that matter, any joint) it’s important not to over stretch.  You should stretch for 30 to 60 seconds holding a pose (don’t bounce!!) only to the point of mild discomfort without pain.  Stretch each muscle group in turn – the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the calves, the abductors and adductors, the gluteus muscles, and the hip flexors.  If you don’t know how to stretch these muscle groups stay tuned for a step-by-step guide on how to stretch each of these muscle groups!


Knee Health Rule #2 – WATCH OUT!

Being aware of your body’s positioning is a GREAT way to make sure you don’t get injured, especially with your knees.  Since the average person is not aware of all parts of their body at once this is a much more difficult task than it sounds.  However, it is important to pay attention to having proper posture and positioning at all times.  For example, while performing any sport or activity it is best to have your feet pointed in the same direction as your knee before putting any type of weight or stress load on the rest of your body.  Make sure that if you need to turn quickly in one direction or another than your turn your hip joints or your feet on the ground rather than rotating at the knee joint.  Most of all, make sure you are aware of any person or object coming at your knees to prevent hyperextension (bending backwards) or side to side movement that may create a tear.


Knee Health Rule #3 – VITAMINS

The knee joints have within them a fluid-filled sac called the synovial membrane.  This membrane acts as a cushion between your bones, much as bubble wrap does between breakable items in a box.  To keep this cushion healthy it needs a few vital nutrients, all of which are easily attainable at any health food store.  The first two are glucosamine and chondrointin, which are usually sold together.  These supplements are known to prevent arthritis, as well as promote joint health.  The second vitamin is Omega-3 fatty acid, which can be found in flax seed and fish oil (yes, I know fish oil is disgusting, but if you live in San Diego county I urge you to come to our office in La Jolla to try the supplement we have.  It tastes like lemon meringue pie with no hint of fish!).  This oil helps to lubricate the joint as well as providing a natural anti-inflammatory to reduce any potential scar tissue buildup in the knee joint.


Knee Health Rule #4 – EXERCISE

It’s common knowledge at this point that you need exercise to stay healthy, and joint health is included.  Regular, well rounded aerobic exercise can keep the muscles surrounding and contributing to the knee joint can be kept strong and free of spasms.  Weight bearing exercise is also beneficial to the knee joint, as this type of movement encourages the production of synovial fluid (the lubricant inside the synovial membrane).  Common sense must prevail, however – if an exercise, such as running, is hurting your knee rather than promoting its health then switching to a lighter, lower weight bearing exercise is recommended (such as swimming or using an elliptical machine).


Knee Health Rule #5 – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

Taking each of the former rules into consideration, this is the most important.  If you feel that your knee is getting uncomfortable with something you are doing get it checked out by a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist right away.  If there are issues leading to knee discomfort there are many ways alternative health practitioners can fix it, but only before it becomes a serious problem.  If you push your body to the point where you get a tear or rupture the prognosis is far more dire, the recovery time greater, and the pain worse.  The complexity of the knee  may take you to an Orthopedic Surgeon if you don’t listen to your body and correct your knee now.


While these rules do not apply to every case they can help those of you within the normal range of knee conditions to stay healthy and pain free.  Taking on all of these different rules can be daunting at first, but try implementing one per month to give yourself time to get used to each in turn.  Once you get used to caring for the health of your knees you should be able to live a long and happy life with your knees in good form – after all, the rules above can be applied to your whole body!

The Importance of Stretching

Oct 10
low back pain, stetching

Everyone has heard the speech before: “stretch to prevent injury during exercise”.  However, no one seems to explain further how stretching can actually help your body stay healthy, or even that stretching can be harmful in some situations.

The most important issue to know about stretching is when NOT to do it.  The old adage of “stretch before you exercise” is a slight misconception, as it can actually cause injuries rather than prevent them if done improperly.  The only time muscles should be stretched is when they are warm; that is to say, when they have been properly warmed by either mild exercise (or moderate exercise if you don’t live in warm and sunny San Diego) or an outside heat source such as a hot tub, shower, or sauna.  Imagine, for a moment, that your muscles are like a towel soaked with water.  If that wet cloth is warmed up it becomes very flexible and stretchy, but put that same cloth in the freezer and it becomes stiff and brittle.  The same idea applies to your actual muscles – if you stretch “cold” muscles that are stiff and brittle you can cause damage to your muscles in the arena of muscle strains and micro-tears.  Strains and micro-tears can and usually do cause scar tissue buildup inside the muscle tissue, making the muscle sticky and, effectively,  less flexible.  Practically applied, this means that muscles should not be stretched before exercise; stretching should be done both after a moderate warm-up and after exercise is completed.

Now that the issue of when to stretch is covered, now we need to know why.  Stretching, in effect, lengthens the muscle tissue, giving it a greater range of motion.  As we have discussed in a previous article, muscles and bones have a symbiotic relationship and constantly affect one another, for better or worse.  If the muscles attached to the bones in your body are tight an strained they have the power to pull bones out of alignment to the point of partial or full dislocation.  Conversely, if the muscles attached to the bones in your body are loose and supple they can work in symphony without causing any disruption in the skeleton’s structure.  Since stretching can keep muscles loose and supple can prevent bone misalignment it can therefore prevent potential pain; misaligned bones can pinch nerves and cause further muscle discomfort.  For example, if your hamstring muscles are tight (which most people’s are) they can pull hard on your pelvic bone, causing it to shift downward, which in turn may cause the sciatic nerve to become impinged, causing the incredibly painful condition Sciatica.

All of the secondary effects aside, many people don’t know how painful tight muscles themselves can be, and how much stretching can help!  Despite the fact most medical doctors pass off muscle pain as an inconvenience it can actually be a serious, even debilitating experience.  Chronically tight muscles can also become weak and susceptible to intense muscle spasms due to over exhaustion.  In the end all of these conditions can be prevented with a daily stretching routine, focusing on your particular problem spots.  A Chiropractic consultation can help discover which muscles in your body are tight, as well as providing stretching outlines and instructions.  It is also important to note that not all muscle spasms can be stretched into health – sometimes further intervention is required to reduce inflammation and provide some muscle movement before stretching will help – and there are conditions where stretching is ill advised, such as with a disc bulge.  Again, a Chiropractic consultation can clear up the cause of any muscle pain experienced and determine if stretching is right for your condition.

Sports Injuries

Jul 07
back pain, neck pain, sports chiropractor, sports injuries

If you are a professional athlete or just play frequently for the love of the game, you may at some point in time end up supplanted on the couch in pain. This is when a sports injury chiropractor can provide the type of service you need. A sports injury chiropractor can provide sports medicine advice, give useful health information, nutritional advice and orthopedic chiropractic treatment. A sports injury chiropractor can help the sports enthusiast in many different areas.

A sports injury chiropractor will help you to restore the normal function of your body. This is done by fixing the blockages that occur in the nerve and spine areas. Because of this, they are able to provide pain relief to those individuals who have caused themselves injuries due to strains. They help aid in the prevention of running injuries as well by keeping the body maintained. This will all help to improve and enhance the physical performance during games.

A sports injury chiropractor can have many years of experience. This makes them qualified to deal with the experience that was a trauma to your body and you can find some very reputable chiropractors that have helped with many of the professional sports players.

You should go to a sports injury chiropractor that provides routine help, as they will help by looking at your nutritional aspects of your life. They will give you guidance to foods and diets that will improve your life and they will also counsel you on the different levels of fitness. They have helped athletes in the Olympics, runners, stunt people, professional athletes, football players, tennis professionals, marathoners, baseball players, and body builders.

A sports injury chiropractor is also educated in providing chiropractic care beyond the sports fields. They can help people with automobile injuries as well, and they help people with low back pain. They help with neck pain, joint pain, wrist pain, and shoulder pain. There is also evidence in help with hip pain, shin splints, lower leg injuries, muscle spasms, whiplash, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, and many other areas.

If you have any of these injuries, you will want to consult with a sports injury chiropractor. This is a form of alternative medicine and this is a completely natural form of medicine that can be used with regular medical technology. Fixing the injury or joints will help to relieve the pain you are feeling. There is no need to suffer any more. If traditional health care is not helping you, turn to the alternative.

Contact us at The Head, Neck and Spine Center of San Diego for a consultation or visit www.newlajolladc.wpengine.com