Alignment Matters

Spine In Line/Feel Fine was a joke line in chiropractic school.  But there is truth in the comment; it is the basic premise of chiropractic.

Just as your car has an ideal alignment, so does your body.  The central nervous system is composed of the brain and the spinal cord.  The vertebral column and cranium (a.k.a. skull) is the avenue through which information leaves and is received by the central nervous system.  This is why chiropractors adjust the spine and cranium.  By improving alignment of these articulations, we can optimize function, comfort and health.

Many things influence how your body is aligned.  Posture is important.  In my yoga class, each class we review ideal alignment in “Mountain” Pose (a.k.a Tadasana).  Optimal alignment begins with the feet.  Weight should be evenly balanced between right and left, front and back.  Knees should be slightly bent, not locked.  Pelvis should be tucked under (imagine having a heavy dragon tail) and centered over knees and feet.  The trunk should be lengthened,  shoulders should be relaxed and centered over the pelvis, knees and feet.  Finally the head should be balanced on top with chin parallel to the floor.  Maintaining proper alignment in posture allows the body to move in the ways it was designed.  This also is the most efficient therefore conserving energy. 

Poor ergonomics also affect alignment.  Be aware of your workspace.  Information on proper set up for work space is readily available (you can contact me if you want).  Remember to bend and lift properly: knees bent and weight held close to body, twist with the whole body turning, not just your upper half. 

Sometimes, despite how well you behave, you may have a slip or and injury.  It is important to get this resolved as quickly as possible.  Injuries are easier to treat early on before their pattern gets established and becomes detrimental.

Even without injury the body can become misaligned.  This is why chiropractors often suggest regular visits.  It is the same as the dentist who does not wait until you have gum erosion or a cavity to suggest a visit. 

So be well, think alignment and take optimal care of yourself.    .

Mary H. Kintner, D.C., R.N., is a chiropractor and nutritional consultant practicing in Jericho. Call her office at 899-5400.

Healthy Gifts for any occasion from Dr. Mary

Special offers at Kintner Chiropractic

These are the gifts of health and well being I am pleased to offer my patients and their families.

  • Orthotic inserts available at Kintner Chiropractic
    Orthotic inserts available at Kintner Chiropractic

    Massage reg $65/hr

  • Nutritional Assessment and Counseling reg $65
  • High quality supplements
  • Lumbar support pillows reg $27 in pillow-style or mesh-backed
  • Cervical pillows reg $37
  • Yoga classes/punch card reg $130 for 10 classes
  • Orthotics/footbeds reg $100

At one time or another, most people will have low back pain. Be preemptive and manage the problem before it starts with orthotics and lumbar support.

“Orthotics are inserted into footwear to alter the way the foot hits the earth. Quality orthotics have good heel cups, are flexible enough to maintain normal foot dynamics and support the arches of the feet.”

Click to learn more about why orthotics are so important to prevent Lumbar fatigue…

Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow available at Kintner Chiropractic
Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow

Standard Size in stock – Firm & Gentle, 24″ x 16″ (61cm x 41cm)

Our most requested fiber support pillow provides better support and lasts longer than traditional pillows. The trapezoid-shaped center delivers great orthopedic benefits for back sleeping by cradling the head and allowing the built-in neck roll to firmly support the neck. The comfortable, but firm, side lobes support the head in a natural position when side sleeping.

Pillow-style lumbar support available at Kintner Chiropractic
Firm pillow-style lumbar support

Mesh-backed lumbar support available at Kintner Chiropractic
Mesh-backed lumbar support

Breathe… Life Back into Your Ambitions, Desires, Goals and Relationships

Breathe

A simple fact of life is that there will always be challenges!

Just breathe!

When confronting these challenges, pause to take a deep breath! Have you ever noticed how an upset child breathes? —short, shallow, irregular breaths. Conversely, when you are in deep sleep, your breath is long and deep. Breathing is an involuntary action but it can also be voluntary. Your emotions often influence your breath, but your breath can also have a strong effect on your emotions.

When you breathe in, the diaphragm (a muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen) drops into the abdominal cavity. A vacuum is created and air is sucked into the lungs. When you exhale, the diaphragm returns to the chest and air is pushed out. A rich, deep breath requires abdominal breathing. But, most people breathe shallowly, only into the uppers lobes of their lungs. Shallow breath poorly supplies oxygen to the body and mind. Poor oxygenation exaggerates anxiety and pain. This is why pregnant women are taught breathing exercises to prepare for childbirth.

You can tell if you are breathing properly by placing a hand on your abdomen and seeing if it rises when you inhale and falls when you exhale. If this occurs, you are breathing properly and effectively. If not, practice so that you can breathe easily and naturally while optimizing your breathing. Yogis, singers and wind instrument players breathe this way because there is maximal air exchange.

I teach my Yoga students breath control in a technique called pranayama. If you’d like to learn how to calm your nerves and improve your balance, flexibility and range of motion, join me and others in our weekly yoga classes and learn this technique of breath control.

Chiropractic can also influence breath. The brain and the nerves traveling from it regulate our breathing. Your cervical (neck) nerves are the ones that control the diaphragm. Relieving pressure in the chest (thorax) can increase the capacity of the lungs. Chiropractic care can help to maximize your ability to breathe deeply. So, when life gets difficult, take a breath and get aligned in body, mind and spirit.

Maintaining a Healthy Liver

Healthy Liver

Proper liver health is critical to overall body health and lifestyle plays a major role.

The Liver

Your liver is one of the body’s largest organs, located in the right upper quadrant of your abdomen, just under your ribs. It has four primary functions:

  • The liver filters the blood of impurities,
  • Creates bile for the metabolism of fats and fat soluble vitamins,
  • Detoxifies the body of harmful substances,
  • Regulates hormones including thyroid hormones, epinephrine (adrenaline), estrogen, insulin and aldosterone (a hormone that controls fluid and sodium balances within the body)

And there are also four major reasons why the liver may have problems:

  1. Toxic build up in the body taxes the liver,
  2. Improper nutrition, such as inadequate nutrients, excessive fats or carbohydrates stress the liver
  3. Overeating overloads the system
  4. Drugs, including alcohol, caffeine, pharmaceuticals and recreational drugs burden the liver.

The liver has a right and a left lobe and thus it detoxifies in two phases. The first phase removes some toxins but others are merely modified to be dealt with in phase two. Often the intermediate toxins created between phase one and phase two are even more toxic than the original substances. Consequently, it is important to have phase two function at least as well as phase one.

Symptoms of liver problems include fatigue, malaise, allergies, PMS, constipation, chemical sensitivities and severe cases of jaundice, indicated by a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes or a symptomatic reddening of the hands.

Your lifestyle is important to keep your liver functioning optimally, Avoid alcohol, drugs, sugar, and caffeine. Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily to flush the system. Exercise to increase circulation. Avoid constipation.

Nutritional support is also critical in maintaining liver function. Take a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement to supply your body with the nutrients necessary for optimal liver function. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will provide important nutrients as well as support bowel regularity. Consuming adequate fiber will help eliminate toxins through the colon. Probiotics will support healthy flora in the intestines thereby decreasing the growth of yeast, e. coli and their harmful byproducts. Garlic, onions, oregano, rosemary, peppermint, milk thistle, and dandelions are herbs that reduce toxic build up. Choline, carnitine, methionine, lecithin, Vitamin C, and SAM E also have beneficial effects on the liver.

Proper liver health is critical to overall health. Support your liver by avoiding toxins, eating nutritious food, drinking adequate amounts of water, exercising regularly and supplementing as necessary.

Be Injury Free this Spring!

Take care of yourself by putting safety first and preventing injuries.

By using some simple steps and common sense procedures, you can more easily avoid common injuries and problems like fractures, sprains, sunburn and blisters.

Working on your home this spring? Few activities are more satisfying. However, an injury can turn a satisfying activity into a miserable one with sometimes long lasting consequences. Here’s how to work on your home and garden safely and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Begin by stretching your body before any activity. An injury is more likely to occur to someone who is inflexible and not “warmed up.” A simple walk around your property can get your blood flowing which helps loosen the muscles. Organize your work area so you have what you need when you need it. Arrange your equipment in a way to reduce risk of tripping and falling. Use the right tool for the job – e.g. don’t use a pair of scissors as a knife.

Make sure your equipment is functioning properly:

  • don’t use frayed cords,
  • be sure ladders are properly secured,
  • cutting tools should be sharp.

These measures will help reduce your risk of injuries such as electrical shock, broken bones, cuts and bruises.

Wear protective gear such as gloves, knee pads, safety goggles, respirators, hearing protectionUse equipment that is ergonomically designed and sturdy. Wear protective gear such as gloves, knee pads, safety goggles, respirators, hearing protection, etc. To prevent sunburn, work in the shade, wear sunblock and a hat with a brim. If stinging insects are present, wear protective gear and insect repellant.

Be sure your footgear is adequate for the job at hand. Don’t climb that ladder in flip flops! Keep ergonomics in mind. When lifting, use your legs and lift close to your body. Bend at the knees so your legs can do the work. If you need to turn, especially when carrying something, turn your whole body by turning your feet first (not at the waist). Reduce repetitive motion injuries by taking breaks every half hour or so.

Make sure you keep well hydrated by drinking water every 15 – 30 minutes. Coffee, tea, milk, beer, etc. are not water and they will not adequately hydrate your body. Quit when you are tired! More injuries happen at the end of the day when you are fatigued. Quitting early saves time when compared with an injury or a trip to the emergency room.

Take care of yourself by putting safety first and preventing injuries.

If you are injured, stop what you are doing. Use first aid when appropriate. Did you get a blister or minor cut? Clean, cover and elevate it. If it is bleeding profusely, seek immediate medical attention. If you are stung by an insect, rinse the site, and apply a baking soda paste or plantain (a common weed) as a poultice. Sunburn is best treated by getting out of the sun. Minor sunburn can be treated by applying cool, not cold, water or aloe vera gel. If you get a painful sunburn that blisters or bleeds, seek medical attention. If you have a bruise or pulled muscle “RICE” it, that is rest, ice, compress and elevate. The same applies to strains and sprains.

Chiropractic care may be beneficial because it treats the musculoskeletal system. A properly aligned body is more resistant to injury.

Working on your home and garden should be fun and rewarding.

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

Rolling the foot on a golf ball helps relieve plantar fasciitis

In part one, plantar fasciitis was identified as a painful condition on the bottom of the heel. This article explores treatment options.

Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate

In any injury always use the RICE mnemonic: Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate.

Plantar fasciitis is a painful, persistent problem that can be prevented/treated by proper personal care and the assistance of a trained professional. Immediate attention will help to prevent the development of bone spurs.

Home exercise can be beneficial.

  • Rolling the foot on a golf ball and picking up towels with the toes is helpful.
  • Soaking the feet in Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate, a natural muscle relaxant) is soothing.
  • Massage can be helpful. Be sure to massage toward the heel.
  • Also avoiding inflammatory foods—trans fats (always), saturated fats and salt. Increasing (always) the good oils—omega 3 in fish oil especially is beneficial.
  • Using supplements that control swelling—products high in turmeric, ginger, boswellia, vitamin C and quercetin.

Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also known as NSAIDs. Research shows they can interfere with healing as well as create a predisposition to re-injury. Also avoid any cortisone injections as they can cause a spontaneous rupture.

A professional can help you learn how to use tape to support your feet. As a chiropractor, I would begin by adjusting your feet and your spine to resolve the mechanical causes. Ultrasound can also provide an effective therapy to decrease swelling and pain. Massage to the muscles of the back of the leg can be helpful because these muscles can become tense as a direct result of this condition. Relaxing these muscles can help the foot muscles to relax. Custom fit orthotics can also provide proper support to the arches in all shoes. Footbeds should also be inserted in ski boots. Night splints can also be beneficial.

Plantar fasciitis can take a long time to heal: 75% of people felt good at 6 months and 98% at 12 months. It is important to GRADUALLY return to full activity and, when you do, be sure to wear supportive footwear and stretch the foot and back of the leg before you get active—every time!

 

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis

In Latin, plantar refers to the weight bearing, ground-striking part of the foot and “itis” means inflammation. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the bottom of the foot.

Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel.
Photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli

Plantar fasciitis is commonly referred to as policeman’s foot or jogger’s heel. The inflammation is typically characterized by swelling, redness and pain in the bottom of the foot, typically found on the front of the heel bone—the calcaneus. Sometimes plantar fasciitis is called subcalcaneal pain syndrome. The pain can extend throughout the bottom of the foot from the heel and may extend forward to the toes.

Causes of plantar fasciitis include:

  • unequal leg length due to a genuine structural difference or subluxations of the pelvis,
  • over pronation (flat-footedness in gait),
  • inability to pick the foot up at the ankle joint,
  • unsupportive footwear,
  • extended standing,
  • high shock activities such as running,
  • aging,
  • carrying excessive weight.

There are three arches in each of your feet. One runs down the inside (middle of the foot from big toe to the heel, one down the outside of the foot from the little toe to the heel and one that runs across the ball of the foot from the big toe side to the little toe side. If any of these three arches fails to function properly, it affects all of the others. As the arches fail, the foot expands. Do you know anyone who has had to increase their shoe size? This is the reason.

When plantar fasciitis occurs the muscles of the feet get over-stretched and pull on the heel bone. Bones are surrounded by an ultra sensitive tissue called the periosteum. This is why fractures hurt so much and why this syndrome is so painful. As we age, our tissues get gradually stretched from a lifetime of standing and walking. The stretched muscles pull on the periosteum creating pain.

The pain of plantar fasciitis tends to be worse in the morning because when we sleep, our fee shorten and in the morning we start to stretch them once again when we arise. Standing, walking and especially running, aggravate the symptoms. When this condition persists, bone spurs develop (10% of the time spurs are seen on x-ray).

This is why immediate care is important. If you are experiencing plantar fasciitis and ongoing pain in the bottom of your feet please call Dr. Mary Kintner at 802.899.5400 and schedule an evaluation. It can be corrected. Treatment options will be discussed in a followup to this article.

Put Your Best Foot Forward This Ski Season

Do you want optimal performance this ski season? Then, pay attention to your feet!

Feet are significant because, to paraphrase an obvious point, “When your feet aren’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” But beyond the issue of pain, how your feet are supported affects other parts of your body.

First in line are your knees. Studies show that collapsed arches can pre-load and predispose the knee, making ACL and meniscal injuries, commonly seen in winter sports, more likely. Lumbar fatigue and injury are often found when feet are not properly aligned and supported. At one time or another, most people will have low back pain. Be preemptive and manage the problem before it starts.

Even your neck and jaw can be influenced by the status of your feet. In Italy, more orthotics are fit by dentists than any other professional group because they know and address the relationship between the feet and the jaw! Beyond comfort and safety, proper alignment can impact your ability to ski. By supporting your feet, muscle activity is optimized so you will have more strength and less fatigue.

In order to address your feet, so that they are at your service and not the other way around, I recommend the following steps:

  • First make sure your feet are properly aligned. This may involve manipulation of the feet, knee, pelvis and/or other parts of the spine. It all moves as a unit.
  • Once the joints are aligned, better support may be implemented with quality, custom-made orthotic footbeds.

Orthotics are inserted into footwear to alter the way the foot hits the earth. Quality orthotics have good heel cups, are flexible enough to maintain normal foot dynamics and support the arches of the feet. Also, it is important that the fitting be performed by an experienced practitioner… and yes, I am. Orthotics are particularly important if you are over forty years old because the ligaments of your feet typically become lax and your feet spread causing the arches to collapse.

Regardless of your skiing ability, if you want the most comfort, safety and performance this season, see a professional who can properly adjust your feet and evaluate them for orthotics.