Community Chiropractic & Acupuncture of Park Slope

(718) 398-3100

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commuting

If commuting is an inevitable part of your lifestyle, keep the damage at bay...

...by being proactive. There is no use denying it: commuting is a stress inducer- to the body and to the brain, it can be hard to find positives for sitting in traffic twice a day besides the fact that it gets you to work to earn your daily bread. If we must commute, let's be smart about it: here are some ways that we came up with to negate the effects of a commuter lifestyle. 

In the car, keep the zen alive.

  • Driving posture: stay upright with hands at 9 and 3. Use a rolled up jacket to support the lumbar
  • Deep breathing: Use this time to focus on establishing a pattern of deep breathing and get the oxygen you need to stay sane. 
  • Podcasts: while the news is important, it can add to your stress level. Switch it up and focus on a subject you love with a podcast; it will keep your brain engaged and happy.
  • Comfortable shoes: wait til you reach the office to put on those stiff shoes! Slippers can be a comfortable way to commute. 
  • Stretching: the neck and lower back are the regions which take the most damage during a drive- simple stretches can reverse this damage.

On the train, take a deep breath. 

  • Focus on relaxing activities: reading, listening to your favorite music or a podcast. 
  • Progressive relaxation: tense a different muscle group with each inhale and release on the exhale. 
  • Massage yourself: focus on trigger points to release muscles from tension.

Don't let stress sink you before you reach the office 

These techniques can help you stay balanced as you enter the workplace and this sets you off on the right foot. One way that we help at Park Slope Chiropractic is by reversing the damage that may have been wrought from years of commuting. By focusing on keeping the spine in balance and reversing muscle tension, we can help you experience less pain which is sure to take a bit of stress out of the picture. 

Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C. 

forward head posture

Forward head posture is a modern conundrum

When interacting with a mobile device, chances are your posture is less than perfect. Unless you have the perfect ergonomic set up at all times of the day, you are likely to slip into a position where you are slumped forward or craning down over a cell phone. This behavior conditions the muscles of our neck into a forward head posture, away from its center of gravity, the spine.

Forward head posture is problematic because for each inch your head is held forward, another 10 pounds of pressure is added to the spine. 

Now consider that many people we see are walking around with their heads forward 2-3 inches without even realizing and you begin to see how pervasive the problem is in our society. If you carry this kind of weight around, you are also carrying a greater likelihood for degenerative spinal conditions and painful muscle strain. 

Adapting for our spine's sake

Do you have forward head posture? Perform the wall test by standing straight up against a wall with heels shoulder-width apart and shoulder blades touching the wall. Does the back of your head touch the wall? Be honest. If not, this is a good indicator that you are carrying your head forward throughout the day. If this is the case, don't freak out! It is a reversible problem; the sooner you start the better! 

Approaching the Forward Head Problem 

Because you have repetitively trained your neck muscles into holding your head forward, we need to train them differently. There is a likelihood that certain muscles such as the occipitals and sternocleidomastoid are overly-tight. We focus on releasing these muscles from tension and strengthening the muscles that matter for holding your head centered atop the spine. Behavior and awareness are equally important- if you notice your head creeping forward throughout the day, make a correction. Soon enough your head will naturally rest where it is supposed to be-atop your body! 

Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C. 

posture challenge

Posture is a constant challenge

Even if we know the basics of "perfect posture," we still find ourselves slumped over at different points of the day. What we fail to realize is that we are fighting a losing battle. Of course the human body was never meant to sit for so many hours, so even if you could maintain perfect posture for 8 straight hours, your body would still be incurring some damage. 

The trick is to change your position regularly throughout the day

But this is highly unrealistic for many workers, so instead we have come up with a list of tricks to keep posture on your side.

  • #1 most important: pull your shoulders back and let them relax. The computer has a way of making us look like hunched over gremlins, and pulling your shoulders back defeats this position completely. 
  • Following this, check that your ears are aligned with your shoulders. This will stop your head from creeping forward and destabilizing the spine. 
  • Place a pillow or a jacket in the curvature of your lower back to help maintain a neutral posture. 

What you will notice right away is that your body, even in this new position, begins to feel stiffer even more quickly than when you were slouching. It's OK! This is your body adjusting to a normal position and the transition period is a small price to pay for the benefits of proper posture.

Most important of all, listen to your body.

If it feels stiff, stretch. If you notice your shoulders creeping, adjust. If your circulation feels stagnant, get up and have a quick walk. You get the idea! But will you act on it? 

Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C.

 

 deskercise

Deskercise is about being a fitness ninja

The first step is realizing how harmful a sit-heavy lifestyle is, especially for your spine. Studies show that even 2.5 hours of vigorous exercise a week does not fully offset the harm done by sitting 70% of every weekday. So let's be sneaky: add in a bit of strengthening and movement without even standing up by deskercising. 

When the thought occurs to you, try running through this deskercise checklist. 

  • Ab squeeze: tighten abdominal muscles, hold 5-10 seconds, release. Repeat 15 times. 

  • Glute squeeze: tighten glutes, hold 5-10 seconds, release. Repeat 15 times.

  • Shoulder shrug: raise shoulders up to ears, hold 5 seconds, let them down. Repeat 10 times.

  • Neck resistance: Put head in hands and push against it, using neck muscles to resist. Then put hands on back of head and push, using neck muscles to resist in the opposite direction. Hold each for 5 seconds and repeat up to 5 times. 

  • Leg raises: while seated, straighten legs up in the air, hold 5-10 seconds. Repeat 15 times. 

You don't have to get up from your chair and you don't even have to stop working. As a chiropractor, I chose to focus on deskercises that target muscle groups in the core, the upper legs and upper back. These are the areas which incur the most stress throughout the work day and will leave you feeling tight. To add some relaxation into the party, practice simultaneous deep breathing to circulate oxygen through all your cells. 

Deskercise is about changing attitude. 

It's not the be-all, end-all and it should certainly not serve as your sole work out routine. However, it trains your brain and body to appreciate the benefits of a little muscle stimulation during a day of heavy stagnation. This should set you on a trajectory toward moving more and relieving your body from the ill-effects of a sit heavy lifestyle. 

Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C. 

breathing

Breathing is an important tool in moments when you feel overwhelmed. 

When you are stressed, your breathing becomes more shallow: the kind of quick, panicked breath that sees your chest expanding. With this kind of breathing, you are not getting nearly enough oxygen to nourish the cells in your body and brain, and stress escalates quickly. The solution is to first realize this is happening in the moment- you are overwhelmed and you need to regain control. A signal way to do this is to make a conscious effort to slow down your racing brain by breathing slower. 

Breathing slower helps you achieve: 

  • A reduction in blood pressure

  • A healthier circulation of oxygenated blood to the cells of the body and brain

  • Less tension in muscles

  • Boosts energy 

These qualities translate to you feeling:

  • Sharper mentally

  • Clearer in mind 

  • Less pain in the body

  • Less anxiety

Step up the relaxation one more notch with balanced breathing

A deep, diaphragmatic breath is one that contracts the diaphragm, draws air in through the nose and fills the lungs to the very bottom, where the blood is circulating; this kind of breath is characterized by the abdomen expanding rather than the chest. In moments of stress, take a minute to focus on breathing.

  • Close your eyes to block out extra stimuli
  • Breathe in for four seconds and out for four seconds evenly
  • Link your breaths together in one fluid cycle 

The rhythm does wonders, as does the influx of oxygen rushing to cells in need. At Community Chiropractic & Acupuncture, we believe that breathing is a powerful way to influence relaxation. At our office in Park Slope, we encourage a lifestyle that keeps stress at bay through chiropractic adjustment, attention to chronically tense muscles and the use of acupuncture to heal pain and fight anxiety. 

Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C. 

 

body weight training

What could be easier than body weight training?

There is no money to be spent, no gym membership or dumbbell set, no need to go anywhere; your only investements are the pounds you already possess and a bit of time out of your day. Chances are you already know the basics of each exercise (a push up for example) and with a bit of planning, you could turn these basic exercises into a full body workout. 

Body weight training is efficient

Body weight training is efficient at helping maintain a healthy weight. When combined with light aerobic activity, (i.e. the jumping jack, or a lung jump followed by a jog back), body weight training is one of the most efficeint ways to burn calories. 

Some other advantages of body weight training include: 

  • Increasing relative strength

  • Boosting reactive strength

  • Encouraging better circulation

  • Strengthening the core to help with low back pain and posture

These sound exactly like the advantages to be gained from regular weight training! Body weight training works the best in circuits, whereby you move from exercise to exercise without a break and then repeat if possible. This burns calories quick, trains your heart to work at a higher level and boosts Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption, keeping your metabolism elevated for hours after the work out. 

Body weight training is compatible with modern lifestyles.

Are you someone who thinks there is not enough time in the day for a full work out? Body weight circuits can be done in as little as 10 minutes in front of the television- now try telling me there isn't enough time in the day. For help optimizing and indeed, modernizing your work out plan to fit into your hectic lifestyle, give our office in Park Slope a call to schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C., L.Ac. 

 

Contact Information

Phone: (718) 398-3100
alt phone: 347-201-5624

Email: ParkSlopeChiropractic@gmail.com

Address:
71 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11217

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Office Hours

 Monday:    10:00 am - 8:00 pm
 Tuesday:    9:00 am - 8:00 pm
 Wednesday:    9:00 am - 8:00 pm
 Thursday:    9:00 am - 7:00 pm
 Friday:    10:00 am - 7:00 pm
 Saturday:    9:00 am - 2:00 pm
 Sunday:    Closed