-- By Jason Quieros, DC
A: This answer isn’t the same for everyone. No two people should use the same pillow. The point of a pillow is to support the natural curvatures of the spine and keep it aligned throughout the night when your body is in recovery and repair mode. Sleep position plays a significant role in the type of pillow you should use. As a general rule of thumb, back sleepers should use a thinner pillow to support the head and neck, while side sleepers need a slightly larger pillow to fill in the space between the mattress and head/neck due to the width of the shoulders. It is not advised to sleep on your stomach, as it is very detrimental to both your neck and lower back resulting in pain, headaches and numbness or tingling in the arms/legs.
The best way to sleep is on your back on a firm mattress which allows the spine and surrounding muscles to decompresses overnight. This also supports the natural curves of the spine and doesn’t compress any of your joints. A close alternative to sleeping on your back would be your side with the use of the proper pillows to support not only your head and neck but also your hips and shoulders. Sleeping while holding a pillow in front of you and another between your knees will allow your shoulders and hips to stay aligned, along with the spine.
If you are a side-sleeper, and your pillow is too small…
Neck: Your neck is forced to scrunch up and tilt downward on one side. Compressing the spinal facets and impinging nerves, blood, and muscles on this side. The other side is over stretched, and can weaken the muscles there. Over time this can create limited range of motion, neck pain, headaches, numbness and tingling in the arms, weakness, and other complications.
Shoulder: Your lower shoulder is taking all the weight of your upper body. Compression of the glenohumeral joint can cause problems in the labrum, bursa, tendons and muscles of the arm and scapula, not to mention strain on the very delicate AC joint and clavicle.
Spine: Your spine is is forced into an awkward ‘S’ shape. It is forced to dip down from your hips in the lumbar spine, then up over your shoulder (which remember, is bearing all this weight), then curve down again as your head weighs it down the other way. This can cause pain all on its own, and if you have any disc issues such as herniations, degeneration, or spinal impingement this sleeping position can make these more painful.
Hips: Because your lumbar spine is forced up by gravity, so are your hips pulled out of alignment. This effect is worse if you don’t have a pillow between your legs. If you have sciatic pain symptoms, achy hip or knee joints, arthritis in any of these joints, take a good look at your sleep position!
If your Pillow is too High…
Neck: Your neck is forced up into the other direction, scrunching one side and stretching out the other. We see similar problems as with a too-small pillow. Over time you might develop thoracic outlet syndrome, neck pain, headaches, numbness/tingling in the arms, weak and or tight muscles, and limited range of motion.
Shoulder: This one is a bit easier on your lower shoulder, but, it still isn’t ideal for the good ol' glenohumeral joint. Instead of your shoulders being straight across like a T, you are forcing them into a tilted angle. The upper shoulder will be dragging down on the torso because it is too high, compression the upper thoracic spine.
Spine: The spine is again forced into an awkward ‘S’. This time the lumbar spine is being forced down then curving up and over the too-high pillow. This can again causes pain, aches, and exacerbate symptoms of existing spinal problems.
Hips: With your lower hip now ‘down’ and your upper hip pulled up, we see that lower hip taking on more weight than it should. You really don’t want the hip joint and knee joints grinding together while you sleep, as it can weaken the capsule, joint, and connective tissues.
Doctors recommend between 7-9 hours of sleep. Less than 6 hours a night and your brain is operating the same as it does with a .08 blood alcohol level. More than 9 hours and you are disrupting the delicate hormone cycle in your body. We talk about posture all the time, and how repetitive motions and postures can cause issues in the body. 7-9 hours is a long time to be out of alignment! It is hard to ‘even out’ in the morning and achieve a good posture.
Side sleeping does complicate things when picking a good pillow. Everyone has a different body shape so keep a few measurements in mind when picking the right pillow: neck girth, shoulder width, neck length, and distance from base of skull or ear to the top of the shoulder. This is why we support the Pillow-Wise pillow here at the office. We take these measurements of your body and take into account the position you sleep in, along with the firmness of your mattress and come up with the perfect pillow thickness for your specific situation.
The best thing to do is get a custom-fitted pillow for your head, and also sleep with either a long body pillow or two smaller pillows for between your knees to take pressure of your hips, and under your arm to decompress the upper shoulder. The spine should be in alignment with your shoulders and hips even. This position will help your muscles relax the most, and you will get your best rest.
-- By Erica Sastre, LMT
A: Hello world, this is Erica Sastre, LMT I'm here to answer this weeks Q & A. I'll be talking about CBD! Many of our patients have been enjoying our Mago Green CBD massage lotion. We want to spread awareness and dispel any undue anxiety about trying CBD as medical treatment. I'll write more on this for future blogs, there is a lot of information to explore! Today we are going to go over the CBD basics...
What does “CBD” mean?
When something is labeled as a CBD product, it is shorthand for the chemical called Cannabidiol, and is a featured ingredient in these products. CBD can be extracted from plants, or made synthetically in a laboratory.
THC, short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, and its sale and consumption is regulated or restricted in most states. There is also a lot of social taboo surrounding THC. THC, is another chemical that can also be extracted from various species of cannabis plants for medicinal and recreational uses.
This is where the science gets tricky and people get antsy. Patients biggest anxiety about trying CBD treatment is it’s relation to THC. They are both cannabinoid chemicals that can be extracted from cannabis plants or made in a lab. So far they sound pretty similar…
THC and CBD are just two in the chemical family called cannabinoids. There are actually over 100 cannabinoid chemicals that can be extracted from cannabis plants. They are related but have differing effects on the human body, and offer different benefits to medical patients.
Not all cannabis plants are the same! Different species and strains of cannabis plant create different levels of CBD, TCH and other cannabinoids. Our Mago Green CBD comes from hemp cannabis, which is distinct from other cannabis plants that are used to create different types of medical treatments or used for recreation.
Think of them as cousins. There are many species within the genus of cannabis plants. This is common in the plant kingdom with most plants have multiple species within a genus. With selective breeding we can create further differences between plants of the same species. For instance, let's make an example of plant we can find in the grocery store: Kale!
Brassica Oleracea is a genus of plant, the species. Under this umbrella we have different species of vegetables... Kale, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Collards and more! These plants are all very different! They look different, cook different, and have very different nutritional properties. We also know that there are different kinds of kale! Curly Kale, Red Kale, Baby Kale, Lacinato Kale, Ornamental Kale, Chinese Kale, Siberian Kale, Redbor Kale… Next year there will be even more kale options thanks to clever horticulturalists!
Therefore, you can easily understand that the plant we call hemp, though it is a type of Cannabis Sativa, it is very different than other Cannabis Sativa plants that have higher levels of TCH. The hemp we use to make our massage lotion has very high levels of beneficial non-psychoactive CBD.
Only THC will get you cause an altered mental state. There is so little TCH in hemp that it is perfectly legal to use, and available without a prescription in all 50 states.
You have probably interacted with hemp before! New England was once a major grower and exporter of hemp! We use hemp to make clothes, rope, soap, fuel, food, and more without it being a big deal. So why not in your chiropractic treatment?
CBD is awesome! Try it for arthritis, chronic pain, muscle tension, anxiety, inflammation, and is great for your skin!
At Norwalk Sports & Spine we use CBD to spot treat problem areas. It pairs well with other manual treatments such as Graston Technique. In our massage we use lotion on the whole body to relieve pain points as well as promote greater systemic relaxation.
Next time you make a massage appointment, ask about enhancing your treatment with CBD massage lotion!
~ Erica Sastre, LMT
References and Further reading...
- Scientific article on Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.
- Different Types of Cannabinoids from Citiva.com
- Different Types of Kale from Amy Sowder on Chow Hound.com
- More in depth article about CBD vs THC from Healthy Hemp Oil.com
A: This question is a preemptive strike. When April and May come around, people always ask for tips, tricks, and exercises to help get a nice summer 6 pack to take to the beach.
My answer is usually… Start in February!
The exercises we typically assign to build core muscles such as pelvic tilts, glute bridges, planks, and side-planks are extremely effective. Don’t forget to constantly engage your core doing any exercise, standing, sitting, walking, or running to build your core and help your posture.
Let’s take it up a notch with our PTA, Stuart, who suggests we strengthen our core with hanging exercises. Get off the floor and find somewhere to hang out until summer!
Level 1: Just hang! To do an ‘active hang’ get a good grip on the bar. Engage your shoulders and ‘shrug’ to lift your torso. Straighten your legs and hold them together in a pike. You can engage your legs more pushing your toes into a ‘pointe’ or pulling them up into a ‘flex’ position. Tighten your core and make sure your spine is straight and your hips are aligned with your torso the way you would with a plank. When you can hold this position for 30-60 seconds, move on to the next progression.
In addition to working your core muscles, these hangs also help to decompress the spine, stretch the chest, shoulders, and arms, plus strengthen your hands and grip.
Level 2: Knees to chest. Start in your active hang position, then, keeping your legs and ankles together slowly bend your knees and draw them up towards your chest. Go as high as you can while maintaining your core. Feel free to start with partial-lift, until you work up to getting your knees higher. Want to make it harder? Lift yourself into a pull up or chin up position while bringing your knees up!
Level 3: Straight leg raises. Remember, going slowly and holding your core properly will pay off way more than trying to force the ‘L’ and sacrifice your form. If you can only lift your feet up a few inches at a time, that is still a great start and a great core exercise. Eventually, as you build your strength and flexibility, you will be able to hit that perfect ‘L’ shape. Want to change it up? Try alternating leg lifts, remember to keep both legs pipe-straight, this will work flexibility and strength in each leg individually, and engage your obliques as you work to keep balance.
Because you are hanging and not on the ground you are working all your core muscles together, not just one side at a time. It’s a nice change of pace to traditional sit ups and crunches.
Check out Stuart in the video below for a demonstration of each progression.
I want to stress that the right exercises are only half (that's being generous) of the 6 pack pie, the other aspect is DIET. Good abdominal muscles and core strength are made in the gym, but a great 6 pack is made in the kitchen.
Stay tuned for more exercise articles. Do you have a question about building core strength? Email your question to NorwalkSportsandSpine@gmail.com, it might be featured in our next Q & A!
-- by Jason Quieros, DC
A: This is the smoothie I make for my kids every morning! It’s good for both kids and adults because of it’s many benefits.
*Berries are the king of antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce DNA damage and protect against cancer and ageing.
*Ginger is an anti-inflammatory. This smoothie is as effective as an over the counter anti-inflammatory when taken on a daily basis.
*Flax seed is loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
*This smoothie has about ½ your daily recommended fiber intake for the day. 97% of Americans are fiber deficient every day!
This recipe is sugar free, gluten free, vegan, and my kids love it. For us it is an easy way to start a healthy day.
#NorwalkSportsandSpine #DrQChiro #Chiropractic #Breakfast# Nutribullet #Smoothie #Nutrition #Antioxidant #Fiber #AntiInflammatory #Yum #KidsLoveIt #HealthyFamily
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Norwalk Sports and Spine | Norwalk, CT Chiropractor | Dr. Jason Queiros | Dr. Andrew Zomick | Sports Chiropractic