Heavy Lifting


All of us who’ve experienced a back injury of one sort or another have been told at some point to “avoid heavy lifting.” That type of advice appears to be a no-brainer or at least redundant, as no one whose back is hurting is going to try to pick up an air conditioner or even a 100-foot reel of garden hose. In this context, it’s important to remember the words of Shakespeare’s Cassius: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves”. The problem isn’t the heavy lifting, as such. The real problem is in us, that is, in our overall level of conditioning or physical fitness.

Most back injuries don’t occur as a result of heavy lifting, but rather are caused by a seemingly innocuous event such as bending over in the shower to retrieve a bar of soap that has fallen to the floor. Other likely pain-producing scenarios are bending over to place a bag of groceries in the trunk of a car bending over to tie a loose shoelace. None of these circumstances involved lifting extraordinary weight. Rather, the common elements are lack of flexibility and lack of appropriate muscle tone and strength to support the weight of your body in a forward flexed position.

The problem isn’t lack of big muscles. Picking up a bar of soap or positioning a 15-pound grocery bag doesn’t require bulging biceps or massive lats. The problem is lack of conditioning. Most of us no longer do actual physical work on a regular basis. We spend the large majority of our day sitting, either working, reading, or watching entertainment on television or other devices. The result of such lack of activity is twofold. Muscles lose strength and muscle fibers are replaced by fat. Additionally, tendons and ligaments contract and become tight, losing their necessary composition of elastic fibers. The functional loss associated with these physiological changes is profound. We experience these change every time we feel a twinge, or worse, in our backs.

The fix is easy and primarily focuses on building up core muscle strength.1,2 Core training is directed toward your deep abdominal muscles. The main such muscle is the transverses abdominis, which surrounds your entire waist, protecting and supporting your lower back. You can think of this critically important structure as your internal weight belt. Activation of the core muscles is required for all effective physical activity.3 Without this essential foundation, any minor attempt at work, even bending over to pick up a pencil, can lead to disaster in the form of excruciating back pain.

Core training includes exercises such as the scorpion, lying windmill with bent legs, pushups, squats, and the plank. Many good books and numerous online videos are available to provide instruction in the performance of core exercises. Your chiropractor is experienced in rehabilitative exercise and will help guide you to the training methods that are best for you.

1Inani SB, Selkar SP: Effect of core stabilization exercises versus conventional exercises on pain and functional status in patients with non-specific low back pain: a randomized clinical trial. J Back Musculoskel Rehabil 26(1):37-43, 2014

2Brumitt J, et al: Core stabilization exercise prescription, part 2: a systematic review of motor control and general (global) exercise rehabilitation approaches for patients with low back pain. Sports Health 5(6):510-3, 2013

3Wang XQ, et al: A meta-analysis of core stability exercise versus general exercise for chronic low back pain. PLoS One 2012;7(12):e52082. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052082. Epub 2012 Dec 17

Chiropractic Care and Core Training

Core training focuses on the deepest muscular layers of your body, including small muscles such as the multifidi and intertransversarii that lie directly on the spinal column and help move individual spinal vertebras. In order to train these deep muscles properly, the spinal vertebras need to be able to move freely throughout their full range of motion. This is where regular chiropractic care comes in. Chiropractic care identifies, analyzes, and corrects sites of limited spinal mobility, making it possible for you to optimally train your core muscles.

Returning to fitness requires an ongoing commitment of time and effort. In order to get the most out of your investment in yourself, it’s important to make sure that your body will respond effectively to your exercise activities. Regular chiropractic care helps ensure that you’ll achieve such success.

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The Time Machine


The Macintosh operating system contains a subprogram called “Time Machine” that allows you to reset your status to any previously saved state. Provided that you have designated a location for backups, you can literally go back in time and recover documents, directories, and applications you may have overwritten, deleted, or otherwise lost. “Time Machine” is a marvelous productivity tool that permits us to recover from our mistakes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a similar “Time Machine” that would enable us to recover our lost good health? The very good news is that we do.

In fact, you don’t have to be a real-life character in an H.G. Well’s fantasy tale to be able to achieve a certain degree of metaphorical time travel. You may recall the slogan, “50 is the new 30,” which spread quickly through worldwide media outlets about 10 years ago. The notion that “60 is the new 40” soon followed. Surprisingly, unlike most sound bites that propagate effortlessly along social media pipelines, these hopeful phrases actually contained meaningful content. Age 50 and age 60 could, in numerous respects, really be the new 30 and 40.

But not everyone is willing to do what it takes to either slow down time’s relentless ticking or to turn back the clock. Real time, that is, your personal time, and real effort are required to achieve the goal of prolonged good health. People age 50, 60, 70, and more-than-80 can enjoy the physical capabilities (mostly), the mental sharpness, and the appearance (within reason) that we used to think belonged only to persons 20 or more years younger. The price of admission to such a process is continuously engaging in the inner workings of the time machine that is available to each of us. We activate and maintain the operation of this “relativistic” system by eating a healthy diet, doing vigorous exercise for at least 30 minutes five times a week,1,2 and getting sufficient rest on a regular basis, which for most of us means 7 or more hours of sleep per night.

Upon being told of these requirements for good health,3 many people will push back. “I don’t have the time” is the primary reply. Of course, one is free not to eat right. One is free not to exercise. But the results of not following-through on these action steps are profound. Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are the primary outcomes of not engaging in health-promoting behaviors. Interestingly, many people are aware that failing to participate in healthy activities will lead to cardiovascular disease and related disorders. Obviously, mere awareness is not sufficient. What is required is an active choice. If we desire to gain the benefits of our personal time machine we must be willing to pay the price of time.

1Phillips C, et al: Neuroprotective effects of physical activity on the brain: a closer look at trophic factor signaling. Front Cell Neurosci 8:170, 2014
2Lee JS, et al: Effects of 8-week combined training on body composition, isokinetic strength, and cardiovascular disease risk factors in older women. Aging Clin Exp Res 2014 Jul 6. [Epub ahead of print]
3Erickson KI, et al: Physical activity, fitness, and gray matter volume. Neurobiol Aging 35S2:S20-S28, 2014

Chiropractic Care and the Price of Youthfulness

If we define youthfulness as a consistent inner experience of being healthy and well, we will have an appropriate starting place for understanding how to achieve such a result. Health and wellness, over the long term, are the direct result of eating nutritious foods, doing vigorous exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times per week, and getting the amount of rest you need to be energized throughout the day. Additionally, getting regular chiropractic care is the secret ingredient that helps us get the most out of our healthy behaviors.

Like enzymes that streamline chemical reactions and make them run smoothly, regular chiropractic care optimizes all your physiological functions and makes them more efficient. As a result, you get the most out of your exercise, nutrition, and rest. Your benefits are increased by saving energy, there’s reduced stress on all your bodily systems, and your overall experience of health and wellness is enhanced. Regular chiropractic care helps you achieve all these outcomes.

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