Stress and your body, part 2.

stress ballNow, after reading Part 1 in last months newsletter, you may have a better understanding of how readily our body reacts and changes in response to stress. These changes will often occur without us having any awareness of them, but there are many other changes that occur that that we can feel. Many patients present to me with various aches and pains, that very often have an underlying cause of stress. When we are dealing with stress our body reacts in certain predictable ways. There are 3 muscles that will always tighten in response to stress. They are your diaphragm, your upper Trapezius and your Suboccipital muscles.

Your diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that sits like a dome and divides your internal body in half. It sits below your lungs and heart and above the rest of your organs, and is important in breathing as it moves down to help your lungs draw breath in and up to help push air out of your lungs. When it is tight it is not able to move down and this results in feeling short of breath. As it is attached to structures on the inside around the level of the lower ribs, any tightening of the diaphragm can pull on these structures and often create a twist in that area. This can result in pain in the back, along the spine, around the ribs, and sometimes even pain on breathing.

The upper Trapezius muscle sits across the top of your shoulders and up into the lower neck, as it tightens it will pull the shoulders up and pulls the neck down into the shoulders. This affects your posture and will create discomfort in your shoulders, between your shoulder blades and also your neck. It can also cause a pinching of the nerves in your neck resulting in numbness or a tingling or pins and needles sensation in your hands or fingers.

The Suboccipital muscles are short muscles that join the back of your skull to the upper neck. Any tightness in these muscles will cause your head to tilt back. They can give you pain in the upper neck and in the back of the skull. Tightness in these muscles together with the Trapezius muscles creates poor posture and stiffness running from the skull to your shoulder blades, resulting in neck and shoulder pain as well as headaches. Sustained tightness and resulting poor posture in this area can often result in achiness in your upper arm.

Another common reaction to stress is clenching or grinding your teeth. Apart from this being damaging to your teeth, it causes very tight jaw muscles. This in itself can give you pain around the jaw which can feel like a headache. These tight muscles will also affect the upper neck and temples due to where they attach, and cause neck pain and stiffness and headaches.

Stress is a part of every persons life, and it can be positive, such as it being a motivator, but it can also cause problems. Just like everything in life there needs to be balance for there to be health and wellness. Stress can be balanced by exercise and relaxation, so it is important to find forms of exercise and relaxation that work for you, and incorporate that into your daily life.


Neck and shoulder pain exercises.

computer-neck-painNeck and shoulder pain is a very common ailment in today’s times, and it is almost always due to our posture, especially when our days are spent at a desk usually in front of a computer. Firstly the position we are in is not always the most ergonomic. We are all different heights and sizes and desks and chairs don’t always accommodate for these differences. We may be using 2 monitors and moving left to right to work on both, or twisting to get folders from shelves that are next to us or behind us.

Secondly we may be sitting at your computer for hours at a time without getting up and having a break, and then to compound that we can be so focused on what we are doing we often forget to sit up correctly and often end up with a rounded lower back, a forward head position and rounded shoulders. This will almost always lead to tight muscles and pain in the shoulders, between the shoulder blades, and up into the neck. It can often contribute to headaches also. Then as a consequence of these tight muscles it becomes more difficult to maintain a good posture, so it then becomes a cycle of poor posture leading to muscle spasm, causing poor posture.

Some simple things you can do to stop this cycle from occurring!

  • Firstly be mindful of your office/desk setup. Have your computer square in front of you with the monitor at a height so that the centre of the screen is at a 15degree down angle from your eyes. Have the monitor as far away from you as possible while still comfortable for you to read. It should be a minimum of 50cm. Also have your computer at right angles to a lit or window to minimize any glare on the screen. The keyboard should be situated such that your elbow is at 90 degrees, or even slightly lower. This helps your wrist to be straight and reduces the potential for a repetitive strain injury. Have your chair at a height so that your feet are flat on the ground and thighs are perpendicular to the floor.
  • Secondly, be conscious of your body. No matter how ergonomic your desk setup is, it wont help if you dont think abouthow you’re sitting. Most importantly, don’t slouch. try and sit with your back straight and your shoulders back and down. Have your head up and try to elongate your neck. Get up every 20min to have a walk around, and a stretch.
  • Thirdly, stretch…
    • At work
      • Neck – by bending it gently to the left hold it for 10 sec, bring your head back to neutral, then repeat 4 more times. Do the same with the neck bent to the right. Then also forward by tucking your chin in and bending it towards your chest. Then bend your neck backwards by looking up to the ceiling. While doing these stretches keep your shoulders down.
      • Shoulders – loosen up your shoulders by firstly shrugging the shoulders, hold them up for 5 sec then let them drop. Repeat this 4 times.
      • Roll your shoulders slowly backwards bringing them as far up, back, down and forward as possible. Do this 5 times. Then roll them slowly forwards 5 times, again bringing them as far up, forward, down and backwards as possible.
    • At home
      • At the end of the day when you get home get a small rolled towel, about 10-15cm in diameter. While lying on your back place the rolled towel across the back of your neck. Push your head back towards the ground and hold it for 5 sec, then relax for 5 sec. Then repeat 4 more times.
      • Next have a rolled up towel that is about 25-30 cm long and about 8 cm in diameter. Lying on your back and place the towel along the length of your spine between your shoulder blades. You can also place a low pillow under your head to make sure your neck is comfortable. Lying on the towel in this way allows your shoulders to relax back, and they also relax down. It allows your shoulder muscles and those between your shoulder lades to relax and release. This exercise helps release tight muscles but it also helps improve your posture, that why it’s good to get in the habit of doing this exercise even if you’re not feeling sore or tight.




Chiropractic and Pregnancy

PregnantDelivery assistance, natural birthing, drug-free birthing, low back pain, sciatic pain or pain down the leg, baby in breach position, balance and coordination, hormonal balance.

Thousands of pregnant women around Australia are turning to safe and effective Chiropractic care to improve their pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby naturally.

Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful natural processes to be involved with. To me, pregnant women do seem to “shine”. I love adjusting and aiding pregnant women, not only so that they can be more comfortable during the pregnancy but also so that the baby is delivered healthy and naturally without intervention.

Some mothers have concerns about being adjusted when pregnant. Is it dangerous? Will it hurt? Is it safe for the baby? Chiropractic care is actually one of the safest forms of healing available. Literally thousands of women around the world have been adjusted all through their pregnancy, and some even at the birth itself, and suffered no ill effects. In fact, in some cases their labour times were reduced by up to 33%!

If you are pregnant you should consider adding a Chiropractor to your health care team. Here at Health In The Bay we will always give the best care and advice possible so that your baby will be born with the absolute minimum of intervention. We are strong believers in holistic, natural birthing.

How Does Chiropractic Help Pregnancy?

In order to answer I’ll need to explain a little bit about how the body works. Your body is controlled through your brain and nervous system. Running down your spine is the spinal cord and branching off at each vertebra is a spinal nerve. These nerves then branch repeatedly and control almost every cell in your whole body. This is called your nervous system.

We live our lives through the function of the nervous system. The nervous system guides all of the processes in your body. This is especially vital for pregnant women. All of the delicate processes that occur within a mother’s body are guided by the nervous system. All of the five senses, the development of their brains, learning, growing, immunity and digestion are all controlled by the nervous system. So does it make sense to you that if you have any kind of nervous system interference then this is likely affecting some aspect of your life and pregnancy? Here’s where Chiropractic care and pregnancy fits in.

Chiropractic by its own definition works on improving the function of the nervous system. When a Chiropractor adjusts you he is looking for one thing: Subluxation. But what is a Subluxation? A Subluxation is a point in the spine where overwhelming lifestyle stress has created “stuck” vertebrae. These vertebrae then impact on the nervous system creating nervous system interference. The longer the nervous system interference is present and the more nervous system interference your baby has then the worse the effects will be.

It is also important to note that you can have Subluxation and not exhibit any problems initially. Sometimes it can take years before the nervous system interference creates problems.

If your problems or conditions are being caused by Subluxation and the nervous system interference created by that, then Chiropractic can help you!

How Can I Tell If I Need Chiropractic?

There are a few simple things you can check at home that can help you to see if you have Subluxation and are experiencing nervous system interference:

1. History: If you have a history of any of the following then there is a good chance that you have Subluxation:

  • Sedentary lifestyle: you spend more than 6 hours a day sitting
  • Back injuries
  • Falls or accidents
  • Motor vehicle accidents: whether as a passenger, driver, cyclist or pedestrian
  • Excessive weight (baby not included!)
  • Poor diet
  • Exposure to a lot of pollution
  • Exposure to chemicals: cleaning products or work related chemicals
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake: either regularly or binging
  • Family problems
  • Stress levels high for a long period of time.

Because Subluxation is created by all the different lifestyle stresses in your life then any of the above could have created nervous system interference.


2. Observation: There are several key behaviours that can indicate that you have Subluxation. Check out the following list:

  • Sleeping poorly
  • Low energy and lethargy
  • Hot flushes
  • Protective postures: to protect old injuries and areas of Subluxation
  • Irritability and grumpiness
  • Inability to go barefoot for long periods of time: i.e. > 3hours
  • limping
  • Like to sleep with a fan or music on every night
  • Frequent fidgeting or inability to stay still at important events
  • Postural hypotension: you get dizzy when you stand too fast
  • Any early signs of depression, anxiety, dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other degenerative brain conditions.

Subluxation interferes with the way you interact with the environment. Each of the five senses is directly controlled through the nervous system. Any of the above signs could indicate nervous system dysfunction and Subluxation.


3. Posture: Posture is a simple way of easily checking if you have Nervous System interference. Just follow the simple instructions below to check it out:

  • Stand straight and relaxed in front of a full length mirror with your arms hanging by your sides and your feet slightly apart.
  • Observe the level of your ears, particularly the ear lobes. Look for one ear lobe being higher than the other.
  • Next, find the bony bump near the tip of the shoulder. This bump is the AC joint and is at the end of the collar bone. With your hands hanging loosely by your side check your AC joints and observe their level. Note down if one side is higher than the other.
  • Lastly, find the tops of your hip blades. Place your hands flat against the top of the hip blades and observe for any change in height between the two.

By checking these three points you can see if your posture is out. If you found any difference then this is a sign that you have Subluxation.


What Will Happen When I Come In?

At Health In The Bay we take a very comprehensive and integrative approach to care of pregnant women.

  • Firstly, we take a comprehensive history. It is important that we get as much information about you and your pregnancy as possible before we begin taking care of you. You will be required to fill out our comprehensive health survey and answer any questions the chiropractor may have to fill in the details.
  • Next, we do a comprehensive exam. The exam is tailored to you but may include: posture, balance, reflexes, muscle testing, cranial structure examination, neurological assessment, and other nervous system assessments.
  • No X-rays will be required for pregnant women.
  • On the second visit, the chiropractor will report to you what is going on and outline a care program.
  • The first adjustment is given and the chiropractor will follow up via phone to see how you responded.
  • The Care program is followed as closely as possible with frequent reviews to ensure that the underlying cause is being addressed.


Stress can be a pain in the neck

Have you ever referred to something or someone in your life as a “pain in the neck”? You were probably more accurate than you realised. Any emotional stress (which can include rushing and being very busy) can result in the muscles across the top of your shoulders tensing up. Tense muscles will be uncomfortable. Then if this tension is prolonged, over a short time the muscles in surrounding areas including the neck muscles and between the shoulder blades will also become tight and painful.

Health In The Bay Lizard

Another response to stress is commonly clenching of the jaw or grinding teeth at night. This results in muscle spasms around the jaw, which also will cause muscle tightness in the neck, and hence neck pain and stiffness.
Poor or prolonged work posture can cause neck pain also. Work is commonly related to stress, and this together with a sustained posture over the course of the day will result in tight muscles around the neck and shoulders, resulting in pain.
Chiropractic care can help in several ways. Chiropractors can help release the tight muscles, as well as give advise on stretching and posture and activities to help maintain good muscular balance.
More more information, please read on, or contact Martina, our principal Chiropractor.