What happens when a chiropractor can’t practice??

I recently spent some time out of practice due to an elbow injury. Long story short, I crashed my mountain bike trying to land the smallest jump (a bunny hop over a root) in the history of mountain biking. Had it not actually broken my arm, I would say that crash hurt my ego more than my arm. I quickly realized (like, within seconds) that there is practically nothing I can do as a chiropractor without both of my hands…and elbows. I was lucky enough to find a remarkably capable fill-in in Dr. Bradley Chmelar to help our patients while I was taking time off to heal. While we liked having Dr. Chmelar around, I was very glad to be back after only 4 weeks off.

What did I do with all that time off, you might ask? Take an impromptu vacation? Knit matching sweaters for our next family photos? Read a book? Write a book? No, I did none of those things. Well ok, I read a book. But besides that, I spent a lot of time in my office. Not my treatment room. My office. As in my desk, office chair, computer, my family picture on the shelf, my skeleton – what, you don’t have a skeleton in your office? My point is, I spent a lot more time sitting than I usually do. One thing I love about being a chiropractor is that I get to move all day. I sit some, but I also stand, squat, lunge, kneel, demonstrate exercises and stretches with our patients, etc. For 4 weeks, though, I found myself being more sedentary than usual, sitting in front of my computer, letting my head drift out in front of my shoulders, catching myself slouching – ALL THINGS THAT CAUSE NECK AND BACK PAIN IN OUR CHIROPRACTIC PATIENTS! And guess what, my back and neck started to hurt after not too long.

This reminded me of how I started as a chiropractic patient. As a kid, whenever I went on long car rides, my rear end would hurt. At the time I thought that made sense. The longer you sit, the more sore your butt should get, right? Then as I got older and spent more time sitting in classrooms and studying, especially in college, the more this would happen. It was typically just on one side. It wasn’t until I actually started working for a chiropractor that it dawned on me that this could be some sort of sciatica. I also noticed that I would get stiffness in my neck and headaches the more I sat and studied. Eventually I started chiropractic treatment and with a regimen of chiropractic adjustments, some advice on posture and ergonomics, and a home exercise program, both my sciatica and my headaches cleared up. 

One good thing that came out of not working was that I had time to take more care of myself. I saw my chiropractor to help with the neck and upper back pain I was getting from sitting in my office chair, and I made sure to get up out of my chair and work on some of my favorite posture exercises. In the video above, I demonstrate 2 mobility drills for the upper back and 2 strengthening exercises for the shoulders and upper back. The thoracic spine (the part of your spine between the top and bottom of your rib cage) can get very stiff and rigid if we don’t work on it. That’s why I include these two thoracic mobility drills into my routine. They help to lubricate the joints and make it easier to extend your upper back and get out of the slouched position that we tend to get into when seated a lot. The two shoulder exercises are important because prolonged sitting can cause our shoulder to roll forward and inward, and these exercises are meant to strengthen the muscles that pull them back and down to counteract that effect. As always, theses exercises are just examples of what you could do to help ease postural stress, but you should always consult a healthcare or exercise professional to see what exercises are best for you to perform. Enjoy and feel free to contact me with any questions or to set up a consultation at our chiropractic clinic in Beaverton, OR.

Chiropractic care for hikers with heel pain

We’re continuing our theme this month on hiking injuries. In the last video I talked about what can cause knee pain in hikers and how we treat it. Today I’m going to talk about another common hiking injury – heel pain. Heel pain is a very common complaint in both hikers and runners. A very common diagnosis for heel pain in hikers is Plantar Fasciitis, or inflammation of the connective tissue that supports the arch of your foot.

The plantar fascia attaches to the inside part of your heel, and that’s why this can be one cause of your heel pain. The problem is that not all heel pain is caused by plantar fasciitis. If you’re a hiker with heel pain, you may have tried or at least read online about several different methods of self treatment for heel pain – lacrosse balls, golf balls, heat, ice, kinesiotape, orthotic inserts, or special braces that stretch your foot while you sleep. If plantar fasciitis is not the cause of your heel pain, then perhaps none of those things will work. That is why it’s so important to see your healthcare provider for a proper examination and diagnosis, and your exam needs to include what we call the kinetic chain, or all the joints and tissues upstream from your foot. Your heel pain can be caused by anything from Achilles tendinitis, nerve entrapment at the ankle, peripheral neuropathy, stress fracture, or even a disc injury in your lower back.

Once we’ve gone through a thorough evaluation of a patient with heel pain, there are typically 3 areas we tend to focus on: The lower back, the ankle, and the foot.

If the lower back seems to be contributing to your heel pain, we have several different approaches to help with that. In the office, I can perform chiropractic adjustments as well as use a special table to apply traction to decompress your lower back and relieve pressure on irritated joints and nerve roots that can refer pain to your foot. I will also get you doing some stretches to relieve irritation on the same areas.

In the ankle and lower leg we typically see stiff joints, tight muscles and nerve irritation that contribute to heel pain and a potential diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. For that, we can do some adjusting and mobilization at the ankle, some neuromobilizations to help free up the nerves crossing through there, and deep tissue massage and stretching to loosen up tight muscles.

At the foot, we can also employ chiropractic adjustments, deep tissue massage to the plantar fascia, taping, orthotics, and strengthening exercises to improve the stability of the intrinsic muscles in your foot and reduce strain on the plantar fascia.

In the video above, I demonstrate a couple of mobility drills for the ankle and a strengthening exercise that, in addition to what we offer here at the clinic, can help you beat your heel pain and get back out on the trail.