A great article on posture

Courtesy of Mens Health online:


Stress: Public Enemy #1

Stress. Why and how does this unseen monster have such a powerful impact on our lives?

First, a quick biology lesson. (Feel free to skip to the next paragraph, but it is your body we are talking about here.) Stress is a physiological response our bodies have to perceived danger. Part of our nervous system is called the autonomic nervous system. This is divided into two parts: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. When we feel threatened, the sympathetic nervous system becomes activated. This triggers several responses to help our bodies through a ‘fight or flight’ reaction. We get a surge of adrenaline, which results in a rush of energy; blood is distributed to our limbs for running or defense; our breathing becomes quicker; our digestion stops and our shoulders lift up towards our ears and forward.

Unfortunately for us, technology has evolved much faster than our bodies have (although the new iPhone is pretty cool). This means that although our bodies were designed to deal with occasional stress, such as being chased up a tree, or having to defend against other serious but rare physical threats like a saber-tooth tiger, we are instead barraged by stress through work, school, information overload, driving in the Trader Joe’s parking lot, etc. Stress has become a constant presence in our lives and our bodies pay the price.

So what can we do?

It is a fact of modern life that we have stress, and we can only control that to a certain degree. Yet we do have greater control over how that stress impacts our bodies. In the big picture, we can combat the effects of stress with exercise, yoga, tai chi or meditation. In our day-to-day, moment-to-moment lives however, awareness is the key. In other words, becoming aware of how and when our body reacts to stress enables us to take certain measures to control the impact. Breathing, yes, simply breathing can be highly effective for this.

An exercise I give my patients to help with TMD, aka TMJ (another byproduct of stress), is to take time throughout the day to step back from whatever you are doing, close your eyes, and take 5 to 10 deep breaths through your nose and into your belly. This is very important, because belly breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which has the opposite effect of the sympathetic. If sympathetic is ‘fight or flight,’ parasympathetic is ‘rest and digest.’ With each exhale, feel your shoulders and jaw drop down, loose. The more you do this exercise, the more aware you become of your body. With this awareness, we can begin to see how and when stress starts to creep into our bodies, and then utilize this information to control how our bodies are being impacted.


Maintenance Care vs. Crisis Care

Patients frequently ask me how often they should come in for appointments. In order to answer this, I will separate my care into two categories – ‘maintenance’ and ‘crisis.’ Maintenance care patients generally will schedule appointments every 3 to 5 weeks (depending upon the individual case). The advantage of this kind of care is it helps the body maintain a certain amount of stability, or homeostasis. This way, if you do get injured or some other imbalance occurs, the body tends to recover more quickly because it recognizes this adjusted, stabilized state as the ‘norm.’ It also can represent a sound part of a larger foundation of regular wellness awareness within our lives, along with exercise, proper diet, etc.

Crisis care entails waiting until injury occurs to come in for a visit. This usually will require more visits to reach a stabilized, pain-free state. I understand that due to both time and budget constraints, maintenance care is not always possible. If crisis care is the only possibility, I encourage you to try to get in as soon after the injury or perceived imbalance as possible. Hopefully this will reduce the amount of time and treatments necessary to recover verses letting a dysfunctional process get worse.

This would be a good opportunity to remind you of my 5 and 10 treatment packages. I originally decided to offer these so patients could ‘sample’ wellness care. They are designed to encourage taking a more maintenance or preventative approach to your health, not only with a monthly ‘tune-up’ and increased awareness, but also helping to lay the groundwork for a whole new way of viewing your health.


The real impact of sitting all day...


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