Following Through with New Year’s Resolutions

 

Starting the new year off with goals to make healthy changes so we can live a better life is great, but how often are these big plans followed through? We have good intentions and this time we are going to do it! Aren’t we? What is holding us back from the achieving our goals? As a behavior analyst, I have a few ideas that may help you actually stick to your resolutions and allow you to really make this year your best yet (not just the month of January).

When making any modifications to behavior it’s important to define exactly what you want the results to look like. #1. Set clear goals. When we have a loose idea of what we want but don’t actually clarify what the intentions are, it’s easy to let go partway there. If my goal this new year is to finally lose weight, I may lose a few pounds and feel like I’ve made it so I stop the regimen and by the end of the year, the scale is the same as when I started. Define what you want. How many pounds total do you want to lose? How many pounds will you lose each month until you hit your goal weight? How will you maintain the weight loss? Which brings me to point #2: You have got to have a plan. Once you spell out precisely what you want, it’s important to spend some time planning all your moves to help you get there. What needs to change in order for you to meet your goals? What barriers do you currently face and how will you push past those to get to the other side? Exactly what are you going to do in order to meet your goal? #3 Write it down!!! Get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Write down your goals and your plans to meet these goals so you can revisit them if you feel yourself losing sight of what you originally set out to do. When you write it down, it helps keep you accountable along with #4 Sharing your goals with someone close to you. Let someone you are close to in on your plans and ask them to help hold you to your word. If they have goals they would like to meet, you can do the same for them.

There is one last point that will make or break your success and that is #5 Track your progress. Writing down your goals and plans is important but tracking the progress to see how well you are doing meeting your goals is an incredible way to give yourself feedback and keep you moving forward. It’s easy to be motivated when you start your journey, but a month in the glamour of making a big change feels overwhelming and begins to lack appeal. If you can look at a log, something tangible, to show you how you are making progress and moving in the right direction, it can serve as a great motivator. Tracking your progress will also help you see the dips, or where you still struggle, so you can begin to see patterns and help yourself problem solve. Make tracking simple by keeping it on your phone or by your bed so you don’t create another barrier to your success. There are many ways to do this regardless of your goals. If you need some help, reach out and call Allen Chiropractic for some health and wellness coaching. Don’t forget to call and schedule an chiropractic appointment with Dr. James Allen to help get your year started off well aligned!

Aurora Allen, M.A., BCBA

Are your workouts making your posture worse?!?

Here are some quick chiropractic exercise tips to kick of the end of 2015 and start 2016 off ‘straight’. Chiropractic care, your health, and your posture are more intertwined than the nest of hair my two year old wakes up with every morning! More and more I find in my practice that my patients really appreciate the regular reminders to Practice Perfect Posture, aka, the 3 P’s. These days, you may feel an imbalance caused by a fast-paced, high-intensity way of life and working out. Whether you work out in a class, gym, or on your own, I notice that while it is easy to get a good burn, you may be creating muscular imbalance which can lead to injury down the road. One thing I know as a chiropractor and personal trainer that if people would exercise in the posture they want to look like, then their form dramatically improves. Then this “perfect posture” attitude will be better achieved especially if they are training in that posture. You see, your muscles learn by movement and they adapt to repetitive movement even if that pattern of movement is terrible for the joint. For example, if you are constantly practicing ‘bad posture’, your muscles and joints will adapt to that position. Conversely, if you practice perfect posture and work out with perfect posture as best as you can, your muscles and joints will adapt in a manner that supports this over time. Here is an example of what not to do: Notice, her head is forward flexed on her body; this will flatten the curve in her neck and exacerbate neck and shoulder pain down the road. This type of exercise can be great to isolate the biceps, but again the shoulders have to roll too far forward to accommodate this machine. If you take a look below, this is good form. His head is lined up with the center of his shoulder, elbows are locked in and that isolates his biceps as well as trains a pattern of movement that supports great posture. Think about that for your inspiration when you are working out this month and to kick off your 2016 year with a ‘straight’ spine! Part of the benefit of getting your spine in line here at Allen Chiropractic, Mission Viejo, is we train you on how to do it better at home yourself. Call us today if you want better posture and alignment at 949-544-0333!

Treatment for Cluster Headaches

Recently, we had a patient (we will call him Keith) present with multiple unrelenting headaches after a traumatic head injury from a motorcycle accident. After a series of CT and MRI scans of his head and neck, he was diagnosed with cluster headaches. Keith was given a series of medications for pain and they said he will just have to deal with this for the rest of his life. Keith decided to try chiropractic treatment so he called his Mission Viejo chiropractor, Dr. Allen for an appointment. After our exam, we determined he indeed has cluster headaches as well as significant alignment problems in his upper cervical spine which can influence this type of headache.

Cluster headaches (CHA) are part of a disorder known as trigeminal autonomic cephalgias which is characterized by cranial parasympathetic activation and sympathetic nervous system impairment. Typical symptoms include:

  • Severe, one sided, orbital, supraorbital or temporal pain that peaks in 10-15 min and lasts 15-180 min.
  • They tend to occur mostly at night.
  • Cycles occur over a few weeks or months, sometimes lasting years! Which is why some people with cluster headaches sadly, have even been known to take their own life.
  • Frequency is typically one to eight per year and macrocycles are usually months to years apart.

Cluster headaches are usually associated with one of the following:

  • Conjunctival infection, redness of the eyes
  • Runny nose, runny eyes, nasal congestion
  • Droopy eyelid
  • Forehead and facial sweating, or
  • Eyelid swelling.

Typical medical treatment would be indomethacin but they do not tend to respond to other NSAIDs (which is also a diagnostic criterion). It had been over a year since Keith had been dealing with this nasty condition, but after only two weeks of treatment with chiropractic adjustments to correct his spine and reduce the pressure on the sympathetic afferent and efferent signals looping back up to his brain, he is glad to say that his symptoms are gone, he was able to get off the daily dose of pain medicine, and is now medication free, and his cluster headaches have not returned. We are happy to be able to provide solutions for headaches, neck, and back pain with chiropractic care.

If you know someone you care about dealing with headaches, please contact Allen Chiropractic in Mission Viejo, CA at 949-544-0333 to get set up with an appointment to see what chiropractic can do for them!

 

Backpacks, Brief Cases, and Purses: What Are They Doing to Your Spine?

The daily grind of lugging around a ten to fifteen pound backpack during the formative years of our adolescent and teenage spines may be the culprit of the back and neck pain you experience today. I see trends in “the cool way” to wear your back pack in school. Double strap was fine in kindergarten, but in 5th grade through junior high, the single strap was cool. In high school it suddenly was cool to not be cool, so kids are going back and forth.

Teenagers become adults and back packs become messenger bags worn across the shoulder with heavy laptops and books through college. Then, we carry boxes of stuff to and from work. The daily grind comes in many shapes and sizes with one commonality I call – asymmetry.

You see, our body operates better when it is symmetrical from left to right, front to back. Long term problems including arthritis and spinal degeneration can occur when our symmetry is thrown out of balance. So the single strap back packs, messenger bags, or purses are not the best invention for your spine and nervous system. Now, does wearing these bags always translate into chronic conditions? Not unless your core strength and flexibility is also out of balance or the backpack is simply too heavy.

Here are some quick tips for both children and adults to help prevent alignment problems during our daily grind:

How heavy is too heavy?

Children:

Ideally, a child’s backpack is less than 10 percent of their body weight. So for example, 10lbs for a 100lb child is the limit.

Adults:

Travel lightly. Over time, chronic wear and tear of a heavy purse or messenger bag worn on one shoulder can cause an alignment problem in the spine. Even men who sit on a wallet (no matter how thin or thick) or women who sit crossed legged on one side more than the other can cause the pelvis to misalign and degenerate faster than it should.

What is the best position for the backpack?

Children:

The best position for a child’s backpack to be worn is with two straps and the bottom of the bag should be about two inches below their waist line. Heavy items should also be packed at the bottom of the bag to lower the center of gravity.

Adults:

In business, use a rolling bag whenever possible if the bag exceeds 10-15 lbs. otherwise, try to use single strap bags on both shoulders for equal time during the day versus always carrying on the left shoulder for example.

Regardless of how good you think you do with all of these tips, life simply is not as symmetrical as we would all like it to be. That is why it is a good idea to get your spine and pelvis checked for misalignments regularly at Allen Chiropractic, your friendly Mission Viejo chiropractor to help prevent back and neck degeneration and pain in your future. Call 949-544-0333 to schedule your check up today! We are in network with most insurance companies and 10 minute consultations are free.

Life After Pregnancy- Postnatal Chiropractic Care

Is it just me or is everyone having babies in Mission Viejo? Since we are having our second baby in September, maybe I am just hyper-aware. In my practice at Allen Chiropractic we are seeing more and more moms, dads, and babies than ever before and Mission Viejo is a great area to be if you are looking for holistic chiropractic and natural health care options for pregnancy and beyond. In this article, I would like to discuss mom’s body and needs after pregnancy, as the primary focus becomes baby (of course!) and forgetting to follow up with your chiropractor after having a baby can put you back in pain. There are three types of postnatal patients and associated conditions I would like to address:

  1. Mothers with back pain immediately following natural delivery
  2. Mothers with back pain one to two years following delivery
  3. Mothers with back pain from a C-section delivery

1. Mothers with back pain immediately following delivery

Mothers who have back pain immediately following or during natural child birth typically have a condition that is either preexisting or that could have occurred during labor and delivery. Sometimes the act of bearing down with extreme force while in a flexed or crouched posture can actually cause a disc in the lower back to crack or even herniate and pinch the sciatic nerve leading to sciatica. Due to the high levels of adrenaline and endorphins during labor, this is typically not noticed until the days or weeks following delivery. Pelvic alignment can also be a cause of lower back pain following delivery as the ligaments and tendons of the pelvis stretch and rebound back out of alignment. This is why I typically recommend mothers to get their spine and pelvis checked within the first couple weeks following delivery (if possible) to address any alignment issue that may have occurred during delivery before it manifests a problem later on.

2. Mothers with back pain one to two years following delivery

Occasionally, I will see new moms or moms with multiple children in Mission Viejo who have a new complaint of back or neck pain that has a delayed onset. This can often be attributed to a lack of good core muscle strength as they never fully rehabed from their delivery and life gets busy. Moms are known for taking care of others before they take care of themselves. But this thought process has two edges to that sword. Mothers who don’t also take care of themselves begin to get out of shape and stressed which can lead to depression, anxiety, and ultimately manifest physical symptoms such as back pain and other stress related disorders. So now a mom, who had the best intentions of being the world’s best mom, cannot even tie her own shoe laces let alone be attentive to her children the way she wants. My goal for my new moms at Allen Chiropractic is to educate them about how to appropriately strengthen the core muscles through diastasis training and align the pelvis and spine. We offer pre and post-natal massage therapy and other modalities such as essential oils to promote healing and relief of mom stress.

3. Mothers with back pain from a C-section delivery

According to Orange County City Data in 2013, C-sections have been on the rise in Orange County. In fact, Orange County’s C-section rates supersede the world’s health recommended average of less than 22 percent of all childbirths being a C-section, topping the nation’s average at 33 percent! Every woman I have seen who has undergone a C-section has had ongoing moderate to severe low back pain either from the epidural or from scar tissue that enmeshes in the pubic bone and abdominal wall following this major surgery. This scar tissue is treatable with specific chiropractic adjustments and stretching and myofascial release done here at Allen Chiropractic, Mission Viejo. Also, the additional rehab is necessary to wake up the muscles of the abdominal wall that now have been cut open and stitched up. Without proper rehab and exercises, the abdominal wall never fully recovers and engages to protect the spine which can lead to degenerative arthritis in the spine later on. This condition is preventable through proper implementation of gentle alignment and exercises.

If you or someone you know is suffering from back pain, neck pain, headaches, or hip pain following pregnancy, tell them they don’t have to suffer any more. Bring them in for a free consultation with me at Allen Chiropractic in Mission Viejo and I will explain how we can help them treat the cause of their problem and create a long term solution without drugs or surgery.