Functional Chiropractic

The Key to Your Low Back Pain

Why Do I Have Back Pain?Such a common question to be asked in our office. And often times, there may not be a simple answer. Did you know, from your skull to your “tailbone” there are 3 different layers of muscles in the back? There are the superficial, intermediate, and deep layers, which are all broken down further into muscle groups based on their attachment and region of the spine. There are even textbooks solely dedicated to low back pain (the one sitting on my desk now is nearly 1000 pages, titled: Low Back Syndromes), not even focusing on the rest of the spine.Low back pain is the most prevalent of all musculoskeletal conditions, and will affect nearly everyone at some point in their lives. Pain can be caused by a variety of factors, and often a combination of many different things before you even start to notice pain. In this blog we will focus on 1 single muscle which is often overlooked, but may very well be the culprit to your low back and hip pain.Hip FlexorsThe muscle I am referring to is called the psoas (oddly pronounced “so-as” or “so-ass” – for which I often get strange looks or giggles from patients). The psoas is a muscle located deep in the abdomen. It attaches to the front and side of the lumbar vertebra and even to the discs of the lumbar spine. It travels downward to the pelvis and is combined with another muscle called the iliacus, and together they attach to the femur or "thigh bone". As these muscles join together, they become known as the iliopsoas, but are commonly referred to as hip flexors.The main function of the hip flexors are to bring the thighs toward the stomach. There are simple things we do every day which may cause the psoas to be repeatedly shortened or remain in a contracted state. Sitting is one of the most common postures which causes this repeated shortening of the hip flexors. It is very important to get up and get your body moving throughout the day, especially for those working at a desk all day long.Even though the psoas is located deep within the abdomen, it is still possible to treat the muscle to help release tension and possible trigger points. These trigger points in the muscle may refer pain to the low back anywhere along the course of the muscle itself. It is not uncommon to have more tenderness when treating one side compared to the other possibly due to compensations which have developed elsewhere in the body. This muscle is also very important when it comes to overall stability of the spine and of the core, which we will discuss in a later blog regarding abdominal bracing for core stability.Treatment of the hip flexors is often overlooked or may be incorrectly addressed. Many of the patients we treat in our office report they do static stretches for the hip flexors and quads, but do not seem to notice a significant change. We often find that this is because they are not getting specific enough with the area they are trying to target, or are stretching incorrectly. Many other doctors and even some chiropractors who do not focus on soft tissue or do not look outside of the spine for dysfunction tend to miss some of the other factors, such as the psoas, for treating low back pain and hip pain.If you, or someone you know suffers from hip pain or low back pain, contact our office to learn how we can help you to achieve a pain free and healthy lifestyle.Looking for a Post Falls Chiropractor? Contact Optimal Chiropractic in Post Falls for more information (208) 777-4305. Follow us on Facebook at as well as Twitter and Instagram @optimalchiropf for updates in the office!

High Intensity for Greater Results

Many people work out for many different reasons, although most have the common goals of losing weight, to look and feel better, and to be in better shape for a better life. Many have the idea that cardio exercises, such as running, are the best way to slim down. When doing cardio, most people resort to jumping on a treadmill or an elliptical machine, and for the next 30 to 40 minutes of their life they try and "zone out". New research suggests there are better, more efficient ways to do cardio. That way is called High Intensity Interval Training, also known as HIIT training.HIIT training, in a nutshell, is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by short, and often active recovery periods. Generally these sessions last anywhere from 15-20 minutes. So wait, are we saying you can have a SHORTER workout that is going to be even MORE EFFECTIVE? Yes!There are many advantages to doing HIIT training, the first being efficiency. Regular 1 – 2 hour workouts can be accomplished in 15-20 minutes. According to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine, 2 weeks of HIIT training is the equivalent to 6-8 weeks of long endurance running when it comes to improvements in aerobic capacity. This is important, because aerobic capacity is the rate at which muscles utilize oxygen and is a good indicator of cardiovascular health.Marathon vs SprintAnother advantage that HIIT training provides is maintaining muscle mass. The general rule of thumb, is that high endurance workouts such as long distance running will actually burn muscle and does not build muscle. With HIIT training, muscle is maintained because the body will burn sugar and fat instead as a source of energy. Imagine a track and field distance runner versus a sprinter. Distance runners are more likely to be thin, with little muscle mass, while sprinters generally are more toned with more muscle mass.The last advantage that we will discuss today, is the fact that HIIT training will improve your cardiovascular or heart health as well as endurance. A 2006 study found that after 8 weeks of HIIT training, subjects could bicycle 2x as long as they could before initially starting the study. HIIT training has also been shown to stimulate HGH (human growth hormone) by up to 450% more up to 24 hours after the workout. HGH is good as it is known to burn calories, help muscle grow, and it decreases aging.Whether you are looking to get started in the gym to lose weight, or if the boring treadmill just isn’t working for you anymore, give HIIT training a try. There are many research articles to support high intensity training, and there are many workouts online to follow, which will help with new ideas and to keep things changing.If you are looking for new ideas, or would like some help getting started, give our Post Falls office a call. We work with many patients to correct their running and lifting form to prevent injury during workouts. We also have nutritional programs available to help our patients achieve their optimal health and wellness goals. Call Optimal Chiropractic in Post Falls, Idaho for more information at (208)777-4305.

Part Two: Using RICE for Injury Repair

We talked about the "RICE" method for injury healing last week. As we mentioned, many practitioners and trainers are no longer recommending the “RICE” method after an acute injury. Rest and ice have been part of the standard treatment for injury and soreness for so long because it helps to relieve pain, however, recent studies show these two factors may actually delay healing rather than help it.As we have discussed before, inflammation is a natural process carried out by the body to heal itself. Uncontrolled inflammation in different parts of the body can lead to other health concerns, but when it comes to inflammation after injury, the primary goal is to heal the injury.Ice CubesLet’s start with icing. Of course ice can help to make a person feel better, however, it also can cause congestion in the tissues and fluids around the site of an injury. The constricted vessels are unable to bring fresh oxygenated blood and nutrients in and get rid of the waste products created by the inflammatory process. Some research has also shown that the effects of ice may last for hours after the ice has been removed, causing this back up of nutrients to last even longer.Now to address rest after injury. Different injuries will require different time periods of rest after an injury. An ankle sprain versus a fracture, for example, will have a different process for healing. With a sprain injury, the resting period after injury should remain fairly short. It is important to keep the joints mobile for a few different reasons –First, the waste products created by the inflammatory process are carried in the lymphatic system. This system relies on muscle contraction to help move fluids around the body, as it does not have a built in pump system like the circulatory (blood) system does. The second reason is to prevent scar tissue formation. When soft tissue such as a ligament or tendon is injured, it does not heal back in exactly the same way as before the injury took place. Imagine a deep cut on your finger, it will eventually form a scab and form a scar on the skin which will remain there forever. The more movement that scar tissue has during healing, the better. This helps to prevent restrictions or adhesions around the injury which may lead to movement compensation down the road.So what is the best course of care? Compression and elevation are suggested to control inflammation better than the entire RICE method altogether. Using a wrap such as an Ace bandage around an injury allows the vessels to continually replenish the site of injury while keeping the swelling under control. Excess fluid is not able to build up when confined by a firm bandage.In closing, we aren’t necessarily saying to never use ice for an injury, but rather to use it for smaller amounts of time. Ice should be limited to 10 minutes every few hours, if at all. Movement and light range of motion exercises should be incorporated as soon as possible to limit any loss of function. The doctors at Optimal Chiropractic treat a wide range of sports injuries from high school athletes to the Weekend Warrior. Give our office in Post Falls, Idaho a call to see how we can help you or someone you may know.

Using RICE for Injury Repair

RICEAnyone who has worked with athletes or been an athlete themselves, has likely heard the term RICE. This term stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Imagine a sprained ankle, the image of a person laying on the couch with their foot wrapped in ice and elevated on a pillow is fairly common, and displays all of the aspects of the RICE method.The idea behind RICE seems to make sense, so let’s break down each stage:

  • Rest – generally, if a person has a sudden injury we want to cease activity for a period of time to avoid any further injury and allow the body to begin the healing process. It is important, however, to not remain inactive for too long. Light stretching or range of motion exercises early on after injury will help to keep a joint mobile and prevent scar tissue from forming.
  • Ice – this is becoming more of a controversial topic. The idea behind the use of ice, is that it causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels). This slows the blood flow, and as a result is supposed to decrease inflammation and swelling around a joint. Heat, on the other hand, does the opposite. It causes vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels), which then allows more blood flow and inflammatory chemicals to come to the site of injury. Inflammation is a natural healing process by the body (click HERE to read our blog about painkillers and inflammation to learn more).
  • Compression – again, this is another method to control inflammation, as well as mobility. Depending on the injury, it may need to be stabilized or immobilized for a period of time. As with rest, and depending on the severity and type of injury, gentle mobilization needs to be incorporated into rehabilitation of the injury to avoid scar tissue and movement compensations developing.
  • Elevation – this step is to help the body with blood flow. Arteries take blood to the tissues, and veins work hard to pump the fluid back to the heart. There is another system in the body called the lymphatic system, which also carries fluid to and from the body tissues and is also involved in healing. This other system, however, relies on many of the body’s other tissues and systems to help move fluids to different areas of the body. With the help of gravity when elevating an arm or leg, it helps to get fluids flowing in the right direction and decrease swelling.

At Optimal Chiropractic, one question we get asked on a DAILY basis is what patients should be doing at home for acute injury and pain. Many physical therapists, chiropractors, and trainers are now moving away from the RICE method. For our next blog, we will discuss why many practitioners no longer recommend this method of treatment, and some alternatives you could be using instead.

How to Choose YOUR Chiropractor

What is it that separates one chiropractor from another? Each practitioner has a variation in techniques or services they utilize. It is important to realize that a technique or treatment which may work well for one patient, may not be the best for another.From headaches to heel pain, chiropractors have a wide range of conditions they are able to treat outside of neck and back pain. Like the medical profession, there are many areas of specialty in chiropractic. It is important to know what you are looking for before choosing a chiropractor.Functional chiropractic care focuses on movement and function of the body as a whole, rather than just a traditional structural approach. With a combination of chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue treatments, and exercises, we are able to pinpoint the cause of dysfunction and make corrections to help the body function at its optimal level.With advanced diagnostic imaging and research, our understanding of how the spine functions has greatly improved. A typical chiropractic adjustment is not only restoring proper movement to a single joint, but is having a more global effect on the region being targeted. Postural correction and alignment of the vertebrae still remain very important, however, our focus shifts to proper joint movement and muscle function overall to support or stabilize the spine.Musculoskeletal SystemAs daily activities and stress take their toll on the body, it changes the way we function. Chiropractors have a thorough knowledge of how interconnected the muscle and joints are with bones and connective tissues of the body. In combining our knowledge of structural correction and functional movement, we are able to personalize treatment to each individual depending on their needs.The majority of the cases involving joint or muscle pain, there needs to be some level of stretching or strengthening activity. These types of activities tend to produce better outcomes and satisfaction with care. Functional chiropractic care is for people of all ages and all activity levels. Exercises and activities are often of minimal intensity and designed to help patients reach their goals much faster.Not only are we looking to the spine, but the entire musculoskeletal system to pinpoint causes of pain and dysfunction. The doctors at Optimal Chiropractic have sought out additional training to better understand and educate their patients to be able to provide a comprehensive and conservative approach to their health care. If you are looking for a chiropractor in North Idaho, give our office a calls at (208) 777-4305. We serve all of Kootenai County including Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene, Hayden, and Rathdrum.