Last month we celebrated 15 years in practice. We are so thankful for the opportunity to serve our patients and are humbled by the trust placed in us. When we first started the practice, one of our main goals was to educate the community. Many offices treat patients, but not all teach patients.
My desire is to help teach patients about their individual pain issues, but it is also important to me to inform them of how they can become a healthier person in general. My mentor taught me that the most effective tool a doctor can give his patient is sound advice in addition to treatment. On a daily basis you will hear me and the staff striving to educate patients on a wide variety of subjects to further benefit their health. Today, we thought we would pass along 15 of the most important antidotes that we have learned over the past 15 years.
1. Active Release Technique® (ART®) Is Amazing
I was fortunate to be exposed to the wonderful technique of ART® early in my chiropractic education. I was blessed to have a great mentor, Dr. Clayton Skaggs, who showed me how this great tool could be wielded to eliminate scar tissue, improve joint range of motion, and decrease pain in overused areas of the body. Every day I am amazed at how ART® is able to help improve chronic conditions and sports injuries. For current patients, we use this technique almost every visit. For future patients, do some research on Active Release Technique® and the benefits of it for your chronic condition. If you can’t find what you are looking for, feel free to ask me or our staff if Active Release Technique® would be helpful for you. Endurance athletes might appreciate our blog article on the subject, “Endurance Athletes and ART®.”
2. We Were Meant To Move
Traveling always reminds me that we are meant to move. Everyday for the past 15 years, I have reminded patients to get active. If you sit longer than 20 minutes, stand up for 30 seconds and walk in place, squat, lunge, or take a stroll down the hall. This might not always be possible, but the more that you practice getting up and changing your position, the better you are going to be. This doorway squat works very well. Try it for 15 repetitions for every 20 minutes of sitting. If you do have to sit, be sure your ergonomics are at their best. Check out our ergonomics post “Sitting Is The New Smoking” for proper ergonomic details.
3. Eat Real Food
Traveling during the summertime shows me how Americans do not eat real food. Our fast and convenient food sources have lead to decades of self-created disease and an array of health problems. In the past 15 years we have modified our nutritional philosophy from time to time, but the foundation has always been the same: to eat real food. We call it, ‘Food By God.’ Watch for ingredients that are unpronounceable and foods that do not resemble their original source. We call that ‘Food By Man.’ Remember, chickens do not have nuggets! Look at our “Five Essential Elements For a [LivFiT] Dinner” article for further details.
4. Walk More
Americans do not walk much. Many cultures worldwide walk everywhere they go. We have seen this improving in America as more and more people are looking to get in their 10,000 steps each day. FitBit and other activity monitors have helped raise awareness of how sedentary we have become. I constantly recommend patients to walk more. Short and frequent walks can consistently reduce your pain in the lower back, hips, shoulders and neck. I encourage you to increase your walking by setting goals of intensity, frequency, and speed, not just steps.
5. Acupuncture and Dry Needling Work
Acupuncture and dry needling were added to our office treatment options several years ago. It has been very interesting to see how these treatments can help conditions when other treatments have failed. Acupuncture was developed over 3,000 years ago and we are still learning how it works. Whether acupuncture creates a brain endorphin release, a muscle twitch, or moves the “chi” is being studied and debated currently. One thing that many patients will tell you though, is that they work! To learn more about acupuncture, try this article “How Acupuncture Works.”
6. Do Not Eat Late
Over the years, patients that I have seen that work to eat dinner before 6 p.m. have consistently shown better health markers. When you eat early, you are more likely to make better choices for dinner. You also get to bed earlier and wake up hungry. This is fantastic because those that eat breakfast are likely to report more energy, are more likely to workout consistently, and are less likely to be obese.
7. Never Use A Heating Pad
In 15 years I have met with many chronic pain patients. One thing that has been consistent with these patients is their use of a heating pad. A heating pad can create a ‘feel good experience’ on a sore lower back, shoulder, or neck for a short time. However, the heating pad, when used frequently, can create an increased sensitivity in the involved nerves. This creates an environment where minimal pressure can create intense pain. This starts the pain-spasm-pain cycle that chronic patients experience. In short, the heating pad creates a cycle of pain that will not stop until its use is stopped. Please do not use a heating pad!
8. Ice vs. Heat
Now that we have discussed the dangers of the heating pad, the question is: is all heat bad? No, sometimes heat can be helpful. A hot shower, hot tub or sauna can be helpful when trying to loosen tight muscles. Most frequently, this would be first thing in the morning or before a workout. If a muscle or joint is painful from use, utilize ice. Ice calms the sore muscle, reduces swelling and decreases the inflammatory response. Remember to always use ice cubes in a bag. Never use a freezer pack as it can burn the skin and is least likely to be helpful. Frozen vegetables while convenient and safe, are not very effective. If you are using ice, use real ice. It is nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory. If you want more on this subject, check out our “Ice or Heat?” article.
9. Stretching Can Cause Injury
It has been taught that people should stretch more. However, in my 15 years of experience, I have found there are better ways to reduce the muscle tension than stretching. Stretching can perpetuate the pain-spasm-pain cycle and perpetuate scar tissue in overused muscles. Instead of stretching, perform some warm-up exercises for the hips and back like squatting, lunging, walking, or some of the other exercises found in our “Don’t Stretch Your Hamstrings” article. For the neck and shoulders, try the Bruegger’s position (image to the right) that reverses the poor posture of being in front of the computer or prolonged sitting.
10. CBD Oils Are Not Going Anywhere
CBD oil has been all the rage the past 12 months. Patients are finding it helpful for many ailments including pain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, migraines and more. At one time, I thought this may be another health fad that would soon disappear. I have since changed my mind seeing how effective CBD oil can be for patients and, given the current interest and demand for CBD, I feel CBD oil will be around for a long time. If you are curious as to how CBD oil works and whether or not it can benefit you, check out our “Top 6 Uses for CBD Oil” article. We have several other articles pertaining to CBD oils on our blog as well.
11. Eat Probiotic Foods
In just the past few years, we have seen more and more research in the area of probiotic foods. These foods have been shown to change the balance of gut microbes to a more favorable combination of bacteria to yeast. Improvement of this balance has been shown to reduce gut inflammation, improve metabolism, and increase overall immune and hormone functions. Look for kombucha tea, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and apple cider vinegar to have the best probiotic balance for your gut. Here is a video that explains how to make your own kombucha tea.
12. If You’re Looking At The Site of Pain, You’re Lost
Okay, this one I learned before I started practice, but I am continually reminded of it everyday. We love to diagnosis a pain problem based upon location or the structure that hurts, i.e. bursitis, tendonitis, torn meniscus, degenerative disc, etc. However, rarely does this diagnosis clue us in as to why something is painful. For example, a disc bulge identifies that a nerve is being pinched and therefore the nerve is painful. But, did you ever stop to think why the disc bulging? It is not your age, your genetics, or even your dumb luck. It is more often your behaviors. Back pain is almost always a behavior problem. How and how long you sit, how you bend, how you sleep, how you stretch, and even how you eat. If you fix these behaviors, you have a good chance of fixing the disc bulge, even without surgery. If you are looking for more information on disc bulges, check out our article on the subject, “Understanding Disc Bulges.”
13. Supplements Make Life Easier, Not Cheaper
Before starting chiropractic school, I did not take any supplements. I was not going to pay for a vitamin or herb, I could do it on my own. One thing I have learned in my own life and as a practitioner the past 15 years is that supplements make life easier. Yes, they cost a bit more, but they allow you to enjoy life more. Whey protein allows me to get up later and still have a healthy meal. Olive Leaf Extract keeps me from being in bed sick with the latest cold virus. Glutamine allows me to exercise harder and then be able to recover faster. Fish/flax oils keep me from having to eat fish more than once a week. Supplements can cost a bit more, but they are worth the convenience. Look at our list of the best ones in “The Top 10 Supplements.”
14. Things Change
In the past 15 years, monumental changes have occurred. Changes in insurance participation, Medicare reimbursements, and increasing co-pays are a small sample of these. We have seen our building go from a smelly, run-down gym to a bustling downtown commercial and residential space. We have seen Roanoke’s downtown go from just over 300 residents to now nearly 4,000 downtown residents. We have seen many changes in and outside our office and I’m sure we will see many more. Something that has never changed though is our commitment to serve you and your family to the best of our ability. At [Core] we strive to make your interactions with us both health and life changing. That brings us to the best thing that I have learned in 15 years.
15. We Have The Best Patients
As we celebrate our anniversary this month, I know that I am blessed with the best patients! You make our practice fun and you challenge me to learn something new each day. I appreciate your loyalty and desire to improve your own health. I trust that the next 15 years will be the same and I look forward to continually serving you. If there is anything that we can do to make your time with us better, please do not hesitate to let one of us know. Thank you for being a part of our [Core] family.
Daryl C. Rich, D.C., C.S.C.S.