Disc Herniations and Chiropractic

What is a disc/inter-verterbal disc?

Our spines are made up of bones called vertebrae. In between each of these bones, we have discs that cushion our vertebrae and act as shock absorbers. The disc has a tough outer layer, called the annulus, and a soft inner center called the nucleus.

What is a disc herniation?

A disc herniation is when the soft inner nucleus pushes out of the annulus into the spinal canal. The spinal canal only has limited space, so when the nucleus of the disc starts protruding into the spinal canal it can put pressure on the nerves within the canal. As a result, this can cause pain and other symptoms. Moreover, this can happen anywhere in the spine but usually occurs in the lower back or the neck.

What are the symptoms of disc herniations in the lower back?

Symptoms caused by a disc herniation in the lower back include lower back pain, numbness, pain, tingling, or burning. The burning starts in the buttock and radiates down the leg and sometimes into the foot. Usually, only one side is affected. In addition, pain is usually exacerbated by standing, walking, sitting, and straightening the painful leg.

What are the symptoms of disc herniations in the neck?

In the neck, symptoms include neck pain, pain in between the shoulder blades; numbness, pain, tingling, or burning. The burning starts down the arms and sometimes into the hands and fingertips. Moreover, the pain can be exacerbated by certain neck positions and movement. As well as coughing, sneezing, or straining. In addition, disc herniations can cause weakness in the affected limb.

An injury usually causes disc herniations to that area of the spine. Still, in people with degenerating discs, it can sometimes just take a small exertion or twist of the spine to cause a herniation. Risk factors for disc herniation include smoking, being overweight, incorrect lifting technique, repetitive strenuous activities, or a sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, 30-50 years old is the most common age to develop a disc herniation, but it can happen outside of this age range. In addition, men are twice as likely as women to experience a disc herniation2.

How can chiropractic help with disc herniations?

There are many ways that chiropractic care can help with disc herniations.

Prevention:

Firstly, by preventing them from happening in the first place. Chiropractic is all about optimizing nervous system function. This helps to make sure all of the muscles around our spine are activated and working at their best. As a result, when muscles around our spine aren’t working properly, this leaves our spine vulnerable and more susceptible to a disc herniation if we sustain an injury.

Proper Movement and Support:

Secondly, chiropractic can prevent a disc herniation by making sure the joint is moving properly. Chiropractic restores proper joint biomechanics, and when joints are moving properly this decreases the likelihood of degeneration. Importantly, as degeneration is a major risk factor for disc herniation, this is an important part of preventing disc herniations.

Improves healing:

Thirdly, it is important to try and prevent disc herniations from happening in the first place. However, you could still sustain an injury that causes a disc herniation. Chiropractic is beneficial in the healing process for this. As chiropractic impacts the nervous system, it impacts our body’s healing capabilities. As a result, a nervous system free of interference is able to better heal injuries such as a disc herniation fast and effectively. Therefore, chiropractic returns normal movement and function to the spine.

In addition, along with proper exercises and stretches, a spine that is moving and functioning properly is more likely to heal properly. In conclusion, this decreases the chance of needing surgery for the disc herniation.

Other options

There are many different types of surgery for disc herniations, which can involve removing bone, removing discs, or fusing multiple levels of the spine together. However, this is usually the last resort for extreme cases, as it is extremely invasive. Moreover, it can cause further issues down the road. Chiropractic is safe and non-invasive, and can drastically reduce your chances of needing surgery. As a result, your body is able to heal naturally, resulting in less chance of re-injury and further complications.

References:

  1. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. (2019). Herniated disc – Symptoms, causes, prevention and treatments. https://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Herniated-Disc
  2. Southern Cross. (2017, December). Herniated disc – symptoms, treatment, surgery. https://www.southerncross.co.nz/group/medical-library/herniated-slipped-disc-symptoms-treatment-surgery
  3. Grassi, R. (2019, June 26). Chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease. Spine Universe. https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/degenerative-disc/chiropractic-care-degenerative-disc-disease
  4. Pietrangelo, A. (2017, April 21). Herniated disc surgery: What to expect. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/bone-health/herniated-disk-surgery#surgeries
  5. Santilli, V., Beghi, E., & Finucci, S. (2006). Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: A randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations. The Spine Journal, 6(2), 131-137. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2005.08.001

 

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Disc Herniation - Auckland Chiropractor

Ways to Increase Endorphins

Don’t we all like to be happy all the time? During this time, I feel it would be a good opportunity to share some hope and bring some joy while we are locked in our own house! The main hormone that triggers happiness in our body is endorphin. So this week, let’s talk about a couple of natural (and legal) ways to release endorphins in our body.

 

  1. I’m pretty sure we’ve all hit a low point in our lives before, whether it’s a terrible break up, someone passing away or when you’ve lost all hope. During those times we may have stuffed ourselves with our favourite food. Eating is often a go to way for people to cheer up during these hard times. That is because eating your favour meal triggers your brain to release feel good hormones like endorphins! But don’t go overboard as we know there are bigger health complications due to obesity!
  2. This is one that I personally do whenever I’m not feeling at 100%. That is exercise. Exercise is a great way for you to forget about all your problems for a short period of time. That is because all forms of exercise triggers the body to release endorphin. This can be anything from cardio training, weight training, HIIT training or even sports. Perhaps it is a good time to release all the negative energy and use it as fuel to get fit and feel good at the same time.
  3. There is something special about Mother Nature. Nature literally mother’s us when we are down and helps us feel better. Going out doors is a great way to release endorphin. Especially, in a place which is nice and empty. Although it is difficult in this time right now, a simple method is to go out in your garden and enjoy the sunshine. That’ll have to do for the time being!
  4. LOL literally laugh out loud. Why do we laugh? Usually something happy or funny happens. When we laugh out loud, our brain releases so much endorphins that it can even increase our pain threshold. Use this opportunity to binge watch on a comedy like Friends or Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Those shows will crack you up.

 

I have just listed 4 ways to raise endorphin levels while we are all being quarantined. These are difficult times but if we all just stick together as a nation, we are bound to go through this tough patch! Hopefully, these 4 tips will help you cheer your day up and bring you hope!

 

Chiropractor Auckland

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Endorphins | Can't seem to find a picture of the little bugg… | Flickr

Neck and Upper back pain: The Chin Tuck

The Chin Tuck: An Excellent Exercise for Neck and upper back pain

After visiting your Chiropractor, one of the most effective postural exercises for combating neck and upper back pain is the chin tuck. Chin tucks are recommended for keeping the head aligned above the spine and maintaining good posture. When done regularly and with the correct form, chin tucks can help improve the neck’s strength, flexibility, and function.

This exercise not only helps strengthen the muscles that pull the head back into alignment over the shoulders but it also stretches the scalene and suboccipital muscles.

This exercise is simple, effective and easy and can be done without interrupting your day. For instance, while sitting in the car or at the desk at work. The repetition of this exercise also helps develop good postural habits.

The Chin Tuck : Steps

  1. To perform the exercise for the first time it is often recommended that you stand with the spine up against a wall or door frame.
  2. Next place the feet out about 8 cm from the edge of the wall or door frame.
  3. Keeping the spine against the wall, pull the upper back and head back until the back of the head touches the surface. It is important to make sure that the chin is down so that the head is pulled straight back and is not looking up.
  4. Hold your head against the wall for 5 seconds.
  5. Repeat this ten times.

After performing this exercise about ten times, you can start doing the exercise standing or sitting without a wall.

• The exercise can be done 5 to 7 times per day.
• When in the car, use the headrest as a point to aim for when pulling the head back.

You may feel some stretching of the muscles on the side of the neck that go down to the collarbone. These are the scalene muscles. These muscles along with the muscles at the top of the neck at the base of the skull are generally the tight muscles. The muscles in the front of the neck and of the upper back are generally the weak muscles that need to be strengthened.

In cases of extreme forward head posture, you may not be able to pull their head all the way back to the wall when you first start. In these cases it is advisable to pull the head back as far as possible without pain.

chin-tuck-neck and upper back pain

When to see a Chiropractor?

Chin tuck exercises have been well documented for many years to reduce neck pain, headaches, stiffness and much more. However although these exercises are effective, we must address the cause of the misalignment in the beginning. It it important that the correct spinal alignment is in place. By removing stress on your joints and neck muscles and putting your body into a state of ease.

If you are experiencing neck or upper back pain of any kind it is highly recommended you visit your Chiropractor. As a leading chiropractor in Auckland, we see hundreds of patients per year at our clinic – Revolution Chiropractic. A great posture starts with a great spine!

Neck and Upper back Pain – Leading  Chiropractor Auckland

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Raising Healthy Children: Tip # 1

By Dr. Jennifer Barham-Floreani: My number one tip or proactive step for raising the health status of your children is to FIND AN INSPIRING, RECOMMENDED WELLNESS CHIROPRACTORs and have your child’s nervous system regularly checked.

Chiropractors and children

I’m a chiropractic baby and cannot emphasize enough how chiropractic adjustments with a wellness chiropractor are a parent’s secret weapon when desiring to raise strong, healthy children. If you have never seen a chiropractor or have any questions regarding safety and effectiveness, please read my post on The Legitimacy of Chiropractic. Chiropractic for babies and children is gentle, safe, and effective, and in the spectrum of all health professionals – chiropractors have an incredibly excellent safety record. More and more parents worldwide use their chiropractor as their trusted health resource.

While chiropractic may be able to help with many health issues, chiropractors do not treat colic or asthma. For example — chiropractic adjustments free-up the nerve “communication channels”. The body is then better able to address and clear health challenges.

Unfortunately, most of us do not realize that the way our children enter the world may have a direct effect on their health. Spine and nerve distress can, at times, arise from restricted or abnormal positioning in the uterus and also from the journey through the birth canal or potentially during the delivery process itself. In my book Well Adjusted Babies 2nd Edition I discuss that many factors may cause birth trauma, including:

Birth trauma causes:

1 False labour

2 A long or very short labour

3 Poor positioning of the infant’s head and neck as they journey through the birth canal

4 Failure of the mother’s cervix to dilate

5 The use of drugs to increase contraction intensity

6 The use of vacuum extraction or forceps

7 Caesarean section delivery because of lack of progress

8 Cord around the baby’s neck

9 Foetal distress.

10 An awkward position within the uterus before birth

 Positioning and health

Left unresolved, this spine and nerve dysfunction may place further stress on the communication systems of the body. Birth trauma can affect a baby’s nervous system, which in turn (amongst other things) may then affect digestion and an infant’s capacity to breastfeed or sleep well. The Journal of Neuroscience (2008) states that, although the first year of life may be a period of developmental vulnerability, it may also be a period in which therapeutic interventions would have the most significant positive effect.

Sometimes children have the nerve and spinal distress that results in their head being tilted to one side so that one ear sits higher than the other (refer to picture below). At other times a child’s head may be rotated or turned more to one side so that they display a preference for having their head turned this way.

A misshapen head is not merely a cosmetic issue; it is a brain stem issue. If your child’s head looks uneven or you notice flat areas, this can indicate restrictions between the skull and the soft layers that cover the brain and spinal cord. A healthy mind requires good movement of the skull and spine; when this movement is impaired, the brain and nerve function is impaired.

There is a myth that an odd-shaped child’s head is of no concern and will ‘right itself’ with time. However, anomalies of shape can be the first indication that your child is susceptible to developmental delay. Chiropractors can identify and fix this immediately.

For older children, nerve interference may play out as developmental delays, digestion issues, asthma, behavioural problems, low energy, inability to concentrate, headaches, etc – the list is endless.

Malleability

By the age of seven, a child is likely to have had hundreds of falls and while children seem to have a “bounce-back” resilience, left uncorrected the body tries to hide subtle damage that potentially leads to poor postural and neurological function. We need to keep in mind that each seemingly insignificant slip and fall our child has does ADD up, and that as the branch bends, so grows the tree. With a subluxated spine (where misaligned vertebrae may affect the function of the nervous system), our child’s “communication highway” no longer functions at 100%, potentially altering the way they can think, feel and behave.

I often explain to patients that having a subluxation is like driving a car with the hand brake on. You can certainly still drive the car but you don’t get anywhere — very effectively. And after some time, all sorts of engine issues arise. Chiropractors focus on increasing the neurological function of your child by removing nerve interference which may hinder nerve communication.

Chiropractors recommendations

I encourage parents to have newborn babies checked by chiropractors very soon after birth. Special techniques exist, that carefully correct any subluxated areas of the spine. Many chiropractors have a special focus on family health and work with babies and young children. If you haven’t had your child checked by a chiropractor then find a recommended family wellness chiropractor in your area.

If you are already taking your child to a chiropractor but feel that they are not thriving in a manner that you hoped then consider if you are only seeing your chiropractor sporadically, — investments in health work best when made consistently and regularly. I believe that children do well to be checked each fortnight, your child may not need to be adjusted each time but a quick “check-up” is an important health ritual. Most chiropractors have fee systems that make regular care viable.

People see chiropractors regularly because they feel and experience how adjustments add vitality, immune strength and clarity into their lives.

It’s like eating clean, healthy food — every cell in your body tells you, “this is a good thing.” Ask other parents who take their child to see a chiropractor about their experiences — worldwide, typically parents delight in the results they notice in their children.

Looking for a Family Wellness Chiropractor in Auckland?

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Kids Balance Exercises: Tap and Hop

Introduction

Chiropractic care for your kids can greatly benefit their physical and mental development including improving their balance. Kids Chiropractic care is gentle, precise, and effective. Here’s a tip on how you can help your kids improve their balance with tap and hop.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw4rezd3Gw0[/embedyt]

 

Kids Balance Exercises: Tap & Hop

This week’s activities focus on sharpening up your child’s body and brain connection. For this purpose, we will use the movement and stimulating the joints. Helping your child develop better balance and become more aware of their body position in space can improve their capacity to learn!

STEPS for Tap and Hop:

1. Firmly tap your knees three times.
2. Then tap your elbows three times.
3. Then tap your shoulders three times.
4. Crouch down and hop as high as you can.

GOAL: do this 5 times.

 

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Deadlift Technique (Part 2)

Last week I talked about the deadlift stance. This week I want to cover another significant error I see in deadlift technique that can lead to injury and give this great lift a bad name. Properly performed deadlifts are great for strengthening the lower back and glutes. Performed poorly they can lead to significant lumbar injury.

When starting my strength training journey in 2010 I injured my lower back by making the foolish mistake of adding too much weight to the bar too soon, causing my lower back to round partway through the lift. Bang, my back went into spasm. I sheepishly put away the weights and limped to the shower and was forced to take a few weeks off to recover. Since then I have been meticulous about working on my deadlift technique.

After I recovered I spent months drilling the technique by having my training partners hold a broomstick along the length of my spine while I would perform my deadlifts. The goal is to keep three points of contact with the broomstick:

Broomstick-Deadlift method

  1. The back of your head
  2. Your midback between the shoulder blades
  3. Your tailbone

Image result for deadlift 3 points of contact

This drill will help you stay aware of what your back is actually doing during the lift and not fool yourself into thinking your form is good.

Filming yourself during deadlift sessions is paramount when starting out, and even for more advanced lifters to keep an eye on your form especially during your heavier sets. Review the footage between sets and don’t keep adding weight if you notice your form is looking rubbish!

Excessive rounding of the lower back, technically called lumbar flexion, puts a lot of strain on the back of the discs of your spine. Repetitively loading your spine in a flexed position is a great way to increase your risk of a disc herniation. Repetitively loading the spine in a neutral position (within a properly designed training program) is a great way to strengthen the spine and reduce low back pain and injury risk.

So grab a broomstick and a camera and work on your technique so you can build a strong, healthy spine!

 

Chiropractor Auckland

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Deadlift Foot Placement (Part 1)

Background

There is nothing quite like the feeling of picking up a heavy weight in your hands. As with any movement or exercise in the gym, when repeatedly done incorrectly the deadlift can lead to some issues.

Although the deadlift appears simple, there are a few things you need to pay attention to. The first is foot position. It’s not uncommon for me to see people in the gym deadlifting with their feet in too wide a stance. I’m referring to the conventional deadlift here, not the sumo deadlift where the feet are supposed to be placed in a wide stance.

How and Why

Having your feet too far apart will mean that your knees will cave inward to make room for your arms to grab the bar. This is not good as it will stress the ligaments of the knees, increasing your chance of injury or at the very least, decreasing your power output during the lift.

Exact foot position will vary slightly from person to person but for general consideration, if your stance is too narrow you may struggle to engage the glutes at the top of the lift. If the stance is too wide, as mentioned it will push the knees inward.

A good place to start is with feet hip width apart (please note that this is narrower than shoulder width apart!). With the feet in this position they will be directly beneath the hips, allowing you to grab the bar with your hands shoulder width apart.

Image result for feet hip width apart for deadlift

There are dozens of other things to look out for when deadlifting. But getting your feet in the right place is a good place to start.

Chiropractor Auckland

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Glutes, The Secret to Better Buns

Glutes

Nowadays, people are sitting… a lot. And they’re sitting right on their prized possessions – one of the most important muscles groups in the body – the glutes.

Let’s get to know this area of our bodies a little better. The glute area comprises of 3 muscles: gluteus medius, gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus. Maximus extends (pulls) your thigh behind your, while medius and minimus pull your thigh out to the side (abduction).

These muscles tend to be weak and underworked. Long periods of sitting tend to cause these muscles to turn off and weaken, which leads to low back, hip and knee pain due to a lack of stabilization of the pelvis from these muscles

Strengthening your glutes come with many benefits. They help stabilize the hips and pelvis while walking, play a role in knee and ankle alignment down the lower chain of the leg as well as just look aesthetically pleasing to both sexes. You’ll even find that your athletic performance improves as your glutes play a huge role in power generation in your stride and jump as well as side-to-side (lateral) movement.

If we haven’t made it clear yet, strengthening your glutes is a great idea and you really have everything to gain by strengthening them. So How do you do that? Well the gluteus maximus is usually addressed adequately through running, squats, deadlifts and lunges. But the often-neglected glute medius and glute minimus usually don’t get in on much of the action. So here are 3 exercises to start firing those glutes nicely.

  1. Side-Lying Leg Lifts

Image result for side lying leg lifts

  1. Single Leg Bridges

Image result for single leg bridge

  1. Side-Lying Clamshell (incorporate resistance band to increase the effect on glutes)

Image result for side lying clamshell with band

If you incorporate these exercises into your workout and work up to 3 sets of 12-15 reps you’ll find that your hip stabilization will improve greatly and your buns will thank you! Remember to keep learning and stay consistent – the results will come.

Chiropractor Auckland

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Pull Your Head In: Posture Exercises

Today we’re going to give you some exercises you can do in your gym routine for good posture.

Commands like “stand up straight!” and “don’t slouch” were commonplace for our grandparents. When training to be a seamstress my great grandmother would have to sit as straight as a ruler or else be whipped by it. Such a method may not be approved today, which is probably a good thing however the importance of posture is as important now as ever.

Hyperkyphosis, the technical word for what we might call forward head posture, rounded shoulders or “hunchback”, has actually been shown to be linked with shortened life expectancy in elderly (Kado et al, 2004). If you are not currently elderly and you are reading this then chances are that one day you will be, and guess what, the habits you build around posture now will get harder to break as you get older. This is a good thing thought because if you instil good habits then those too will be harder to break as you age!

Being aware of your posture at work, home, when driving, sitting at the table for dinner and on the couch is important. But so is building the strength and muscles required to hold you in good posture.

Pretty much every activity we do in a day, except doing up your bra for you ladies, is done with our arms in front of us. This means our brains are very connected to the muscles on the front of our upper body, the pecs, biceps and muscles at the front of the shoulder. The muscles on our upper back like the posterior deltoids, rhomboids, lats and traps are often over stretched and under developed, almost forgotten by the brain. The issue is that these back muscles are vital to hold you in good posture.

So what must we do about it?

Don’t make the mistake of working the mirror muscles (biceps and pecs) more than the upper back. Aim to do twice the amount of reps for your upper back compared to the front of your body in a given training week. This means putting more pulling movements versus pushing movements in your routine such as:

  • Pull ups/chin ups
  • Cable rows
  • Cable/lat pull downs
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Barbell rows
  • Face pulls
  • Band pull aparts
  • Reverse flies

You can do these exercises during warm ups for the main lift of the day. You can also do them as extra work after your main lift. If I am going to superset a pulling exercise with a main lift like a bench press or overhead press I will do an easier/lighter variation like lat pull downs or face pulls so as not to use up too much effort that would cause too much fatigue. More intensive pulling exercises like pull ups, barbell and dumbbell rows can be done on their own.  However you choose to put them into your routine make sure you are doing them correctly! The focus should be on initiating the movement with your back by pull the shoulder blades together and don’t let your arms and biceps do most of the work.

Here’s to building a strong healthy posture.

Kado, D. M., Huang, M. H., Karlamangla, A. S., Barrett‐Connor, E., & Greendale, G. A. (2004). Hyperkyphotic posture predicts mortality in older community‐dwelling men and women: a prospective study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society52(10), 1662-1667.

Chiropractor Auckland

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Posture & pain | “Some individuals may perceive their losing… | Flickr

Should I Warm Up Before & Cool Down After Exercising?

Throughout any intense exercise session, the body is handling stress and has a risk of injury. This can be minimised by warming up and cooling down before and after your workout.

Before getting into your sport or strength training session, you want to get a warm up. This is going to prepare your body for exercise and increase your heart rate and breathing. Ideally, your warm up routine will consist of two-parts: a general warm up and specific warm up.

The general warm up

consists of jogging, biking, rowing or any other cardio exercise followed by dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is not your typical “touch your toes” stretching. It consists of movements that take your joints through their ranges of motion to warm up and stretch the muscles. For example, you can perform leg swings, shoulder circles and bodyweight lunges. The bodyweight lunges serve as a nice stretch for your hip flexors while also adding a little resistance exercise for your quads and glutes to warm them up.

The specific warm up

consists of specific exercises that closely resemble movements that you’ll be performing in your actual sport or training. For example, jumping exercises before getting onto the basketball court or some lightly weighted squats before your leg session in the gym.

The warm up is essential for your performance as it increases blood flow and oxygen to muscles, increases neural impulses to wake up your muscles and, most importantly, decreases the stiffness of connective tissues (ligaments and tendons) to avoid any muscle tears. Studies have shown that a structured warm-up can reduce your chance of injury by more than 50% and that’s on top of helping you perform better!

The cool down

is also important as it helps flush out any lactate (waste), prevent dizziness from blood pooling. It also decreases muscle soreness after your session. It consists of gradually decreasing your heart rate and stretching out your muscles. This also has two parts: general cool down and static stretching/foam rolling.

The general cool down

is similar to the general warm up since you can use jogging, biking or any activity at a progressively decreased intensity. Your aim should not be to sweat and go fast at this point, you just want to go through the motions and let your body slow down to a relaxing stop.

Following your general cool down you can get into some static stretching, which is the basic stretching where you hold stretches for around 15-30 seconds. You can also choose to use foam rollers or massage balls after your exercise to restore length in the connective tissues. The stretching and foam rolling helps reduce muscle soreness, increase muscle flexibility and stimulate circulation to flush out the lactate.

Be sure to hydrate well and eat a healthy meal after your workout to keep your body fuelled and recovering well!

Stay tuned next week for when we’ll take you through our ideal general warm-up and cool-down routine to cover all your bases!

Chiropractor Auckland

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File:Man Doing Warm Up Exercise Cartoon.svg - Wikimedia Commons