Chiropractic and Wellbeing of the Elderly Population

Introduction

Chiropractic can benefit anyone at any age, as we all have spines and nervous systems that need to be looked after. Chiropractic can provide many benefits to people in the elderly population. Therefore, it can have a positive effect on many aspects of their lives. This is especially important as we have an aging population, and need to look after these members of our community. Here are 4 ways chiropractic can help have a positive effect on the wellbeing of the elderly population.

 

Balance

As we age our balance progressively worsens. This creates an increased risk of falling. Falling has more serious consequences as we age because our bodies gradually become more fragile. Falls are a major health concern in the elderly population. They can cause injury, loss of independence and quality of life, and in serious cases even death. Falls account for over 80% of hospital admissions for injuries in people over 65. Moreover, they are the leading cause of injury related death for this population. In addition, falling has a high health care cost associated with them, which is only going to increase with our aging population.

Chiropractic allows better communication between the brain and the body. This helps with balance and preventing falls in multiple ways. Firstly, it increases our reaction time which makes us more likely to be able to catch ourselves if we trip. Secondly, it allows us to more accurately know where our body parts are in space, which leaves us less vulnerable to falling. And thirdly, it increases our ability to integrate our senses from external factors and respond to them faster and more appropriately.

Pain

Chiropractic is probably most well known for its ability to assist with musculoskeletal issues and pain. And this is no different in the elderly population. They may have pain for different reasons such as injury from a fall, or due to the degeneration process. By restoring the proper joint biomechanics in the spine, the spine moves better and allows the muscles in these areas to relax. As a result, this often leads to less pain. Moreover, chiropractic allows better communication between the brain and the body, which allows the body to heal itself better and faster if there are any injuries there causing pain. As many older adults are on multiple medications, chiropractic is a great, natural way to reduce the need for painkillers for musculoskeletal issues and pain. As a result, this may lead to reducing the overall side effects someone may experience from taking multiple medications2.

 

Mobility

Chiropractic restores normal movement of spinal joints as well as extremities. As a result, this not only improves motion for that joint but also an overall range of motion for the whole spine/extremity. Importantly, elderly people are then more likely to be able to continue with activities that they enjoy doing e.g. gardening, walking, playing with grandchildren. Moreover, when we return normal motion to these joints, we also take the stress away from them. In addition, when we decrease the stress on these joints and improve movement, we are also slowing the degenerative process3.

 

Mental Health

When you combine all of the above points, this has an amazing impact on the overall quality of life of older adults. Importantly, when they have increased mobility and decreased pain, they are more likely to be able to keep exercising and doing things they enjoy. Moreover, remain independent. Remaining independent is very important to older adults and has extremely positive effects on their mental health. In conclusion, the longer they can remain independent, the better their mental health and overall wellbeing will be. Moreover, chiropractic helps improve quality of sleep, all contributing to improved mental health and quality of life4.

 

 

 

References:

 

  1. Holt, K. R., Noone, P. L., Short, K., Elley, C. R., & Haavik, H. (2011). Fall risk profile and quality of life status of older chiropractic patients. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 34(2), 78-87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2010.12.01078.
  2. Vindigni, D., Zark, L., Sundberg, T., Leach, M., Adams, J., & Azari, M. F. (2019). Chiropractic treatment of older adults with neck pain with or without headache or dizziness. Analysis of 288 Australian chiropractors’ self-reported views. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 27(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12998-019-0288-1.
  3. Brantingham, J., Snyder, R., & Biedebach, D. (1994, March 25). Spinal manipulation may help reduce spinal degenerative joint disease and disability. The Chiropractic Resource Organisation. https://chiro.org/ChiroZine/ABSTRACTS/Degenerative_Joint_Disease_and_Disability.shtml.
  4. Ohio State Chiropractic Association. (n.d.). Chiropractic care for seniors. Senior Citizens Guide. https://www.seniorcitizensguide.com/articles/southwestohio/chiropractic-care-for-seniors.htm.

 

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When Did You Last Brush Your Teeth

When did you last brush your teeth? I would be surprised if it was more than 24 hours ago. And why did you brush them? Because they were sore or you had cavities? Probably not. You probably did it because you know it’s good to keep your teeth clean if you want to still have them in your mouth as the decades roll on. It is easier and less painful to maintain the health of your teeth than it is to let problems build up.

The same goes for your spine, but when did you last do something for it? You can start to take care of your spine in a few ways. The spine needs strength, mobility and a good postural position.

Strength

Performing movements like the superman exercise and planks are simple and can be done at home without equipment. When done right and within a well-planned training program barbell squats and deadlifts are possibly the most effective spinal, and full-body, strengthening movements you can do but obviously require more equipment or a gym membership and personal trainer.

Mobility

The cat/camel exercise is a great spinal mobility exercise you should do daily at home.

Posture

Imagine you have a string attached to the top of your head like a marionette puppet and it’s pulling you upward. Reach your head as high as you can and elongate your spine while keeping the shoulder blades tucked down and back.

Chiropractic adjustments can assist you in all 3 areas by promoting a more mobile and stronger spine. Many of our clients report a feeling of ease in posture, like a weight has lifted off their spine. Areas of the spine that don’t move well due to years of poor posture or various injuries are prone to develop weakness. The less a joint moves, the weaker and lazier the muscles become. Chiropractic focuses on improving the motion of the bones in the spine so that the muscles and ligaments can strengthen and the nerve system can function optimally.

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The Daily Happy Feet Routine

Your feet are the 2 things that take you everywhere throughout your day. Imagine if they were in pain all the time and you couldn’t use them… Ask anyone who’s had plantar fasciitis or any other foot injury – it’s no walk in the park (pun intended).

Whether you’re an avid runner, working on your feet all day or even if you just enjoy the occasional stroll in the park, tension can build up in your feet that may lead to pain, discomfort or even injury. This is especially apparent in people today since more and more people are being put into shoes at a young age and the musculature in the foot begins to waste away since they’re not being used. This leaves the foot susceptible to injury

Getting in the habit of mobilizing your feet for less than 10 minutes a day can help prevent the pinch points in your feet from developing into problems. All you need is a ball and some space to stretch. The ball should ideally be hard like a lacrosse ball or yoga ball, but a tennis ball will do the trick too.

Ready? 3 simple steps.

  1. Start in a kneeling position and stretch the tops and bottoms of your feet.
    Focus on your breathing and go deeper in the stretch on your exhale.
    Do about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each stretch.
  2. Lift your big toe while keeping your little toes on the ground.
    Then reverse and lift all your little toes while keeping your big toe on the ground.
    If you have trouble doing this then you know you’ve got some tight feet. Try mobilizing your toes by separating them with your fingers but putting your fingers in between your toes. Spend about 30 seconds to a minute on each foot.  Watch this video.
  3. Take your ball and start rolling it under the bottom of your foot.
    Start with the ball at your heel and work your way through the arch to the toes.
    Spend extra time on the spots that feel more tense and alternate the pressure and speed. Spend about 1-2 minutes on each foot. Watch this video.

By doing this simple routine every day or as often as you can, you can help prevent overuse injuries in your feet to make them mobile and happy.

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Common Myth About Chiropractic

Once you start going to a chiropractor you can’t stop

If you are seeing a chiropractor or have mentioned you are considering it to a friend you may have heard this little lie “once you start going to a chiropractor you can’t stop”.

This myth may be because many people who start going to a chiropractor do in fact continue to go even after their initial care phase. This isn’t because they have to but because they choose to. The reality is that with any health choice it takes sustained effort to maintain results. Think about it, if you have a terrible diet of lots of takeaway food and soft drinks which has caused weight gain and you clean up your diet and lose the weight, do you think you will keep the weight off if you return to your old habits? Of course, this would be foolish to think!

The same is true with spinal health and strength; if you start utilising chiropractic, postural awareness and exercise to improve your strength and pain. Then going back to your old habits will most likely get you back to the same place that you started with.

For those who want a bit of research about this topic click the link below to s study performed in 2011 that demonstrated better pain and disability outcomes with ongoing “maintenance” care (fortnightly chiropractic adjustments) compared to those who only received an initial care phase of one month.

So the truth to the myth that “once you start chiropractic you can’t stop” is that once you start chiropractic you can CHOOSE to continue reaping the benefits of a stronger, more mobile and coordinated spine or you can CHOOSE not to. As with most things in life, the outcome is down to the choices you consistently make!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21245790

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How Poor Posture Is Destroying Your Health & 2 Posture Tests To Try At Home

Why is proper posture so important? Is it for the way you look? Sure, people definitely look better when they fix their posture. But regardless of esthetics, your posture is actually key to how your body functions in more ways than one.

Take muscles for example: when you’re sitting with your head forward, your posterior (back) neck muscle are working way too hard to support your head, while your anterior (front) neck muscles switch off. This leads to muscle imbalances and over time may very well develop into neck pain which can be stemming from degeneration, disc disease, muscle strains and so on.

Now your organs: when your body gets used to a slouching position and makes it a long term problem your intestines get compressed and digestion can become difficult. Poor posture also reduces lung capacity by up to 30%. As you can imagine it can compress the heart and reduce the flow of blood to vital organs thereby making them work less efficient and create disease within them.

Not only does posture affect you physically, it can also be detrimental psychologically. Studies have linked poor posture to increased depression, stress and fatigue.

The overall effect can become global and when those issues persist long term they can take away from your quality of life and even longevity.

 

“How do I know if I have a possible posture problem?”

 

Luckily there are 2 tests that you can try at home to see if you have any possible posture problems. All you need is a wall and/or a floor!

 

The Wall Test

 

Stand with the back of your head against the wall with your heels 6 inches away from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulder blades should touch the wall.

If you can slide more than 3 fingers behind your neck or the small of your back then it indicates poor posture.

 

The Floor Angel

 

Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Lower your rib cage so it’s in contact with the floor and your arms are out and bent at the elbow by 90 degree like so:

If your hips, rib cage, head or wrists and arms can’t maintain contact with the floor then this may indicate possible postural issues.

Try these out and see what your posture is like! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask your structural chiropractor.

 

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Office Worker Toolkit: Tips for those who sit at a desk all day

Here’s one thing you probably already know: the human body was not designed to sit at a desk all day. Our bodies require constant movement, so any job or activity that keeps you in one position for a long time (ie. office work and video games) can have negative effects on your body. The most important thing to remember above all else is to move more and move often. If you’re struggling with movement or there’s something limiting you, then consult with your structural chiropractor on how to approach your challenges and they’ll provide you with individualized and specific exercises that will get you back on track.

There are certain areas of the body that are of primary concern when sitting for long hours:

 

1. Neck

Why? Poor ergonomics and computer set up can lead to your head hanging forward for long periods of time. This even happens when we’re on our phone for too long. This position increases straining in your neck and the muscles around the neck become tight and reactive. This can even lead to tension headaches.

What to do: • Sit tall and think of stacking your neck bones one on top of the other directly above your back. Then tuck your chin and gently push your head back. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times every two hours. • Remember to also move your head often throughout the day by looking left, looking right, and making big circles with your neck (if pain free)

 

2. Shoulders

Why? When typing and reading a computer screen, our shoulder tend to slump forward and stay there for long periods of time. When the positioning of your shoulder girdle is not optimal, it can lead to imbalances in the muscle system, which will lead to your muscles not functioning as well.

What to do: • Sit tall and pinch your shoulder blades together gently. Hold this positioning for 5 seconds and slowly release. Repeat this 10 times every 2 hours. • Make big round circles with our shoulder blades. Focus on the part of the circle where your opening your chest and pulling your shoulders back. Perform 10 circles going forwards and 10 going backwards every 2 hours. • Stretch your chest muscles by putting your elbow and forearm on the side of a doorframe with your elbow at 90 degrees and stepping into it until your feel a stretch in your pecs. You can feel it more by breathing into the sides and front of your rib cage. Hold for 30 seconds on each side every 2 hours.

 

3. Low back

Why? Being at the desk for such long periods of time, we tend to get lazy and slouch or round through our low back. This can put a lot of stress on the joints and discs in the low back area, which can potentially lead ot disc injuries, muscle strains, joint stiffness and weakening of your core muscles which can make you more susceptible to further injury and pain.

What to do: • Sit directly on top of your sit bones and try to keep the weight even on both sit bones. This will create a small arch in your low back which is its optimal position. • Be sure to stand up and walk around every hour or so to take the pressure off your low back. • Try some gentle yoga when you’re not at work. • Perform the cat-camel pose which helps bring movement throughout the entire spine. Click here to link to one of our YouTube videos on how to do it.

 

4. Hips

Why? When sitting on our bottoms all day, it means that we’re squishing our buttock muscles which can lead to weakness in this important muscle group. The sitting position also leads to tight hip flexors since our hips are stuck in a 90 degree angle for so long. Imbalances in the hip can lead to injuries affecting all parts of the body, especially the low back and knees.

What to do: • Stand and walk throughout the day. • Stagger your legs, similar to a lunge position and transfer your weight forward. This will give you a nice stretch in the hip flexor muscle. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on both sides every 2 hours. • Perform the glute bridge outside of work. Click here to link to one of our YouTube videos on how to do it. Remember that every BODY is different. If these general exercise suggestions aren’t working for you, then be sure to visit your structural chiropractor to get individualized recommendations to get your back on track.

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SQUAT MOBILITY PART 6: TFL trigger points

SQUAT MOBILITY: TFL lacrosse ball (6/7)

In the final 2 days of our squat series, we will pull out the lacrosse ball to work on freeing up the muscle and myofascial around the hip. This will be a painful experience if you haven’t done it before but the more you do it, the more the muscles will relax. To release the TFL (tensor fascia lata) lay face down and place the ball on the front outer portion of the hip. Move your bodyweight around to find the right spots and stay there for 30 seconds or so until the muscles relax.

Releasing the TFL can help to reduce tension up the side of the thigh because the main role of this muscle is to tense the ITB (iliotibial band). Too much tension here can produce hip and knee issues so check yourself before you wreck yourself!

When starting out with this you DON” T need to put all your weight into it, you don’t need to cause excruciating pain to get results! Stay within a tolerable pain range but don’t get soft and expect this to feel pleasant either.

 

TFL trigger points

 

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SQUAT MOBILITY PART 5: COSSACK SQUAT

SQUAT MOBILITY: Cossack squat (5/7)

Cossack squats great dynamic stretch that can be used before squats or as a strength movement by itself. Start with your bodyweight and try holding a weight out in front to make it a strength movement.
This exercise is great because it targets side-to-side movement which provides the hip muscles a different stimulus to the forward/backward direction of squatting and lunging. Your brain thrives off unique movement too and the majority of our daily activities like walking are only in one plane of motion.

STEPS for cossack squats

  • Take a wide stance with toes pointing outward.
  • Move your hips to one side and drop into a squat while keeping the other leg straight.
  • Return to standing and go to the other side.

 

Cossack squats

Combine this with the squat to stand, bodyweight squats and lunges for an efficient warm up circuit or quick workout. Do 10 reps of each exercise and repeat.

 

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SQUAT MOBILITY PART 4: Squat and hamstring

SQUAT MOBILITY: Squat to stand (hamstring stretch included) (4/7)

This movement combines squat mobility with a hamstring stretch making it a very efficient drill to throw into your warm-up.

STEPS for squat to stand mobilization (hamstring stretch)

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes slightly out.
  • Grab your toes, or if you lack flexibility grab your ankles.
  • Drop into the bottom of the squat and hold a stretch for a few seconds.
  • Straighten your legs while keeping your hands on your feet or ankles to moe to the hamstring stretch.
  • Do 2-3 sets as a warm-up in the gym or use it as a mobility drill in your quest to get better.

 

Squat to stand mobilization

 

Exhale while dropping your hips and pull your chest tall in the bottom.

 

STAY TUNED FOR THE REST OF THE SQUAT MOBILITY SERIES COMING UP THROUGH THE WEEK.

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Hamstring

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SQUAT MOBILITY PART 3: Groiner for hips

SQUAT MOBILITY: Groiner stretch to open up the hips (3/7)

This is pretty much a deep lunge in what resembles a sprint start position and it’s a great way to open up the hips as a warm-up before a lower-body workout or to be done as mobility exercises on your off days.

STEPS…

  • Start in a push-up position and bring your right foot to the outside of your right hand.
  • Drop your right elbow to the ground, or as close as possible to increase the stretch in the right hip and hold for a few seconds.
  • Straighten your arm again and “search” around for tight spots by moving the hips around. Hold the position of any tight areas you find to free up the muscles.
  • Bring your right foot back to the start and repeat on the left.
  • I like to repeat this about 8 times for each leg before I squat, as a more dynamic stretch. On rest days or after your workout as a cool down, you can hold the stretch for 1-2 minutes.

 

Groiner

 

STAY TUNED FOR THE REST OF THE SQUAT AND HIPS MOBILITY SERIES COMING UP THROUGH THE WEEK.

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Looking for a Chiropractor in Auckland?

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