Your spine requires plenty of water and nutrients to stay healthy and perform at its best, just like the rest of your body. The problem is, your spine is not able to absorb the water and nutrients it needs in the same way as other parts of the body, nor is it able to eliminate the wastes from metabolism. In a person’s early teens, the spinal discs lose the nutritional supply coming from blood, and the elimination system atrophies. Subsequently, the spine is only able to receive water and nutrients through osmosis and a process called imbibition. This last method occurs when the motion between vertebral discs acts as a pump to move fluids in and out of the discs. Thus, the health of your spine depends on movement. The sedentary lifestyles of most Americans (and especially senior citizens) make this problem worse.
As a person gets older and grows less active, the loss of spinal water can lead to disc degeneration and the eventual loss of motion between vertebral discs. Once this mobility is lost, further degeneration occurs more rapidly and the cycle of dehydration, shrinking, chronic pain and disease accelerates.
Proper hydration is essential for nutrient delivery, lubrication and waste elimination. Normal vertebral discs are 88% water, and because discs lose some of their water during the day, rehydration also proves essential for maintaining the height of each disc. Each sleep cycle will restore most of the daily water loss, but not all of it.
If a person begins to become dehydrated, the body will look to retrieve water from places like the spinal vertebrae first. So drinking abundant amounts of water throughout the day remains an important way of maintaining your spinal health.
Contrary to what has been reported by some in the media, certain aspects of spinal disc damage can in fact be repaired. Appropriate chiropractic care and spinal decompression therapy, along with exercise, nutrition and hydration programs, can often relieve pain and restore function WITHOUT the need for drugs or complex surgery.
Unlike other parts of the body that have abundant blood flow, spinal discs are slower to heal. This means that, while many chiropractic and spinal decompression patients find relief from their pain relatively quickly, it typically takes longer for the discs themselves to recover.
Of course, they say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To keep your spine healthy, stay active, drink plenty of fluids every day and remember to see your chiropractor regularly.
Push-ups are great exercise for the whole body and research has shown that being able to perform push-ups is a good indicator of your ability to maintain fitness into older age. Scientists have also noted that push-ups can provide seniors with the strength and muscle memory necessary to break a fall. But did you know that push-ups are particularly good for building your core strength? And that building your core strength is one of the keys to preventing low back pain?
However, it’s also very easy to do push-ups incorrectly, which can actually lead to pain in your shoulders and back. Metabolic trainer B.J. Gaddour, C.S.C.S. says “Unless they’ve had instruction before, I’ve never seen someone off the bat do a push-up perfectly. I see 99.9 percent of people do it wrong.”
So here we provide you with 5 great tips to doing better push-ups.
1) Be sure your hips don’t sag. Your head, shoulders and hips should all be in a straight line as you perform your push-ups. If your hips droop, it could cause lower back pain and you will not gain as much core strength as you would if you kept head, shoulders and hips aligned. To help keep this from happening, tighten your gluteal muscles (the buttocks) and your abdominals as you perform your push-ups. (It should also be noted that your hips should not be sticking up, creating an inverted “v” shape).
2) Keep your elbows close to your sides. If you look like a “t” from above, with your elbows splayed out like wings, you could be causing damage to the rotator cuff of your shoulder. Although this is how many of us were taught to do push-ups in school, it’s not correct. If you have trouble keeping your elbows close to your torso, try doing push-ups on your fists, with the back of your hands facing out. This helps to keep your elbows from splaying.
3) Go as low as possible. Your elbows should ideally be at somewhat less than a 90-degree angle when you are at your lowest point. If you have trouble doing this initially, put a block or similar object beneath your chest for a reference. Then gradually reduce the size of the object as you develop the strength to go lower.
4) Start off easy. Many people do not yet have the strength to do even a single push-up on the floor and resort to so-called “knee push-ups”. Unfortunately, this will not help you gain the strength you need for regular push-ups and your body will not benefit as much from the effort. Instead, you can begin by doing push-ups against a wall, countertop or staircase and then gradually work your way to progressively lower (more horizontal) positions until you’re able to do a push-up on the floor. This is a great milestone!
5) Stretch your wrists. Putting all your upper body weight on your wrists can hurt after a while, since most of us are not accustomed to it. Give your wrists some relief by stretching them. While on your knees, place your hands palm-downwards, with your fingers pointed back toward your knees, lightly putting pressure on them to help stretch in the opposite direction to the way they are positioned during a push-up. This will allow them to support more weight for your next set.
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Whether we like to admit it or not, the technology in our lives—and the fact that we use much of it while sitting down—is contributing to a growing list of health problems in our society. Those who sit at a desk all day or sit behind the wheel of a car or truck with little or no exercise are at increased risk for a number of chronic health problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, those who have such a sedentary lifestyle are in danger of things like “obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.”
One study showed that those who spend a large amount of time in front of a television or other forms of screen entertainment had a roughly 50% greater risk of death from any source. It’s not really difficult to imagine why this might be the case. Greater body weight combined with lower strength and stamina and reduced balance and flexibility means less agility and durability. This in turn raises the likelihood of more accidents or injuries. The same study showed a 125% greater risk of problems from cardiovascular disease. Care was taken to separate the risk of sitting from that of high blood pressure. Those who had the same high blood pressure, but who sat less, had fewer incidents of health problems.
WebMD has added cancer to the list of ailments for which excessive sitting may be a risk factor. One Australian study of 63,000 older adult men showed that men who sat for more than 4 hours a day were more likely to have a serious, chronic illness than those who sat for less than 4 hours per day. Above 6 hours per day, men were at significantly greater risk of diabetes. Those who regularly sat more than 8 hours a day had the highest level of health risk.
Yet another study showed that back pain strikes 80% of all adults at some time in their life. A significant number of these people suffer because they sit too much. Their core muscles lose conditioning and their waistline becomes a burden that causes the back muscles to do more work to make up for soft abdominals. Weak muscles put the body at risk even during simple tasks. With a more sedentary lifestyle, it becomes easier and easier to overdo the reaching, the lifting or other simple physical work that occurs during any typical day.
There’s another reason that movement is particularly important when it comes to maintaining good spinal health. If the spine is kept motionless, circulation is reduced and it cannot get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy or to heal itself.
If you already have back pain, seeing a chiropractor is a big step in the right direction. A chiropractor can help to realign your vertebrae and, in many cases, an adjustment can provide immediate relief. However, even world-class chiropractic care is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet and lots of exercise. The doctor can’t do all the work for you.
So what can you do? The Mayo Clinic recommends finding more excuses to move around throughout the day, instead of saving it up for a trip to the gym. Waiting until the end of the day to push your body at the gym for 30 minutes is a bit like saving your meals to the end of the month and eating 90 platefuls all at once. You need to spread your movement throughout the day so your body can stay in top condition.
When it comes to ease-of-movement, problems with our hips usually take a back seat to other joint problems that become more obvious as our musculoskeletal system ages. In particular, our back and knees are prone to problems that can restrict our activities and cause chronic pain. However, the health of our hips is actually crucially important in ensuring that we maintain mobility into old age because they are the center around which the forces of movement revolve.
Pain in both our back and our knees is often due to decreased hip mobility. A chronic lack of exercise combined with long hours of sitting, which is common to people with a desk job, causes the muscles around the hips (particularly the hip flexors) to become shorter and weaker. When this happens, range of motion is decreased and the back and knees take on much of the work that healthy mobile hips normally would. This causes the back and knees to work harder and can result in overuse injuries. If you’ve ever strained your back when picking up a heavy object, it may have been due to a lack of strength and mobility in your hips. In order to help prevent future injury to your back and knees, following are some of the best exercises for hip health and mobility.
Hip swings – Steady yourself with one hand on the back of a chair or similar object. Swing one leg forward and back, keeping it straight, and being sure to move from the hip and not the thigh. Do fifteen of these on each leg. Then change direction and practice swinging your leg across the front of your body and out to the side. Do fifteen sets of these as well. Try to move your torso as little as possible when doing this exercise for the greatest benefit.
Forward lunge – Standing with your feet hip-width apart, lunge forward with your right leg, bringing your left knee to the floor. Shift your weight forward until your right knee is perpendicular over your foot and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat lunge on opposite side.
Dog at the hydrant – While on hands and knees, lift one leg out to the side and draw small clockwise circles in the air with your knee, gradually making them larger. Then do the same using counter-clockwise circles. Repeat with the other leg.
Lying butterfly and variation – While lying on your back, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, with your knees pointing out to the sides. Hold for 30 seconds. Then bring your knees up so you are lying with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Bring the outside of your left ankle to rest on your right knee. Reach with your left hand through the little triangle made by your left leg to interlace your fingers behind your right thigh and gently pull your right leg toward your body (with your ankle still resting on the front of your knee). Repeat with the other leg.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full-contact sport that combines techniques from a range of different martial arts. It allows for such techniques as grappling and striking, combining the moves of boxing and wrestling, among others. The sport can involve techniques from Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, judo, karate, kickboxing, muai Thai and taekwondo.
The strikes and holds involved in MMA are rough on the musculoskeletal system and (no surprise) frequently cause injuries, particularly to the neck and spine. A 4-month study of four MMA tournaments found that of the 427 respondents to a survey, there had been 103 cases of cervical neck injury, five requiring hospitalization and causing a neurological deficit.
The examining physicians describe these types of injuries as similar to those of whiplash. Life-threatening injuries to the central nervous system are common. Blows to the head can cause a hyperextension and hyperflexion of the neck, causing a sprain or strain to the neck region and varying neurological problems.
In a sport that so frequently causes misalignment of the spine and joint injury, it is especially important to take advantage of the benefits of chiropractic care.
MMA athletes find that chiropractic improves their balance, coordination and strength due to the improved neurological signaling that an aligned spine provides. They find that reaction times improve and it gives them an edge on the competition.
Former professional boxer Evander Holyfield said, “I do believe in Chiropractic. I found that going to a Chiropractor three times a week helps my performance.
Once I drove 20 miles to see a chiropractor before a fight. I have to have my adjustment before I get in the ring. The majority of boxers go to get that edge.”According to Frank Shamrock, former UFC light heavyweight champion and MMA fighter, “When I was 16 in high school I started playing basketball and my right leg went numb and started to drag slightly behind me.
I went to the regular MD who did x-rays and told me that I had broken my back at an early stage of my life, that I would need immediate surgery, and I’d have pain and limited mobility for the rest of my life. So, being the highly holistic and active person I am, I went and saw a chiropractor.” Shamrock added, “I’ve been seeing chiropractic for 16 years now.
It has been the change in my life that has allowed me to participate in professional athletics and to achieve six world championships … I believe in chiropractic.”