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Switch it off! Letting go of Stress

 switching off stress

When only stress remains in the day...

Many people complain of not being able to switch off when they leave work- they arrive home to more thoughts of the job and the feeling that they can't let go. This sends us spiraling into stress when we should be unwinding. As an office of chiropractic, we are primarily concerned with the effect of stress on the body- the tense muscles, tension headaches and shallow breathing that it causes. We have brainstormed a few simple techniques for diverting your mind from the vicious cycle of stress. 

Physical ways to let go of stress: Legs-up-the-wall

It can be hard to remove yourself from the vicious cycle that stress causes, but sometimes you have to get inverted! One of the simplest and most powerful yoga poses, legs up the wall has the benefits of: 

  • boosting circulation to the upper body
  • relieving lower back pain
  • alleviating headaches
  • boosting energy
  • encouraging lymph and other fluids to drain from the legs

How to do it: 

  1. Sit with left side against the wall 
  2. Turn your body to the left and bring your legs up on the wall
  3. Lower your back to the floor and lie down
  4. Rest shoulders and head on the floor 
  5. Get buttocks as close to the wall as possible 
  6. Let your arms rest extended to the sides.
  7. Practice deep breathing and hold for 5 minutes

Progressive relaxation: 

Start breathing in deeply, expanding the belly and holding for 4 seconds. Exhale for the same amount of time. Focus on each breath and the rhythm will help stress melt away. Now add in part two: with each inhale, tense a different muscle group and then let go on the exhale. Dedicating a few minutes to physically unwinding after work will help to keep stress at bay when you are trying to relax at home. Give it a try next time you are feeling burnt out! 

Dr. Raymond Espinosa, D.C. 

Is your Head Balanced atop your Spine?

smartphone 569076 640

Your head weighs more than you give it credit for...

Forward head posture (FHP) is a pervasive positioning of the head related to overuse of cell phones and computers. The wall test is a simple way to diagnose yourself with FHP:

  • Stand straight against a wall
  • Feet shoulder width apart.
  • Heels, buttocks and shoulder blades touching the wall
  • Is the back of your head touching the wall?

If not, there's a good chance your head is resting forward most of the day. This is problematic when you consider studies that suggest for every inch you move forward, you are adding 10 pounds of extra pressure to the spine. It's no wonder we are seeing the onset of degenerative spinal conditions shift to an earlier demographic.

How we help at Espinosa Family Chiropractic

At our office in Sacramento, we help you address FHP through postural analysis and awareness, chiropractic adjustment and attention to the muscles that matter. A leading reason for FHP is tightening and weakness of the muscles which are used to support the head at the top of the spine (the head's center of gravity). This is a key area of focus for us at Espinosa Family Chiropractic. We want to release tight muscles such as the occipitals and the sternocleidomastoid and focus on strengthening the muscles that will make it easier to keep your head atop the spine without craning forward. 

Dr. Raymond Espinosa, D.C. 

Snacking Responsibly

blood sugar snacking

^cake pops, a snack sure to cause a sugar crash. But how likely are you to reach for it anyway? 

Snacking has a bad rap in the health community

Because we tend to snack on JUNK! For a busy individual, snacking can actually be extremely useful. It just needs to be done right. Blood sugar ebbs and flows throughout the day: letting it get too low leaves us feeling light-headed, hungry and stressed out, which leads us to grab at the nearest snack, say a candy bar, which spikes blood sugar too high and then drops us off the other side feeling fatigued and depressed. The idea is to remain in the middle and snacking can be very useful in this endeavor. 

Preparing your snacks: a successful formula

This is where responsibility comes in: your responsibility is to avoid processed sugars and saturated fat by packing yourself a healthy snack. We want to focus on snacks that have: 

  • Between 150-200 calories
  • Carbohydrates, fats and proteins
  • Avoids processed sugars and fats

Here are just a few ideas: 

  • Apples and peanut butter
  • Granola and yogurt
  • Egg and hummus 
  • Lunch meat and low-fat cheese

When should you snack? Well this depends on your eating schedule: remember that balanced meals are most important. Snacks should be fit in between, as needed. For example, if you eat breakfast at 8 and lunch at 12, have a snack at 10, then another at 3 before dinner at 6. A properly timed snack can do wonders for your state of mind, helping you stay productive and sane! 

Dr. Raymond Espinosa, D.C.

Millions of Keystrokes: a Picture of Repetitive Stress Injuries

repetitive stress injuries

When you work at the computer, your hands are on the front line

For some it may take weeks, for others years, to show but the repetitive stress of typing all the time does take its toll on the fingers, wrists and forearms. And this map of pain can be traced further to the shoulders, neck and spine- science is clear regarding the harm of sit-heavy lifestyles. Most employers invest little in education regarding ergonomics and posture, so it is up to us, the responsible workers, beholden to our own health, to take action!

Easy stretches on-the-job: 

  • The paci-fists: starting with your hands wide open, gently squeeze them into fists and open them again. Repeat 10 times. 
  • Clasp hands together in front of you and extend arms with palms facing outward. Hold 10 seconds then bring hands over head and repeat. 
  • The prayer: hands together, palms and fingers flat against each other. Push hands in toward each other to provide a stretch to the wrist. 

Do these as often as the thought strikes you and it will go a long way toward preventing wrist and hand pain from occurring in the first place. Repetitive stress is ubiquitous in the workplace: listen closely when your body twinges with tightness or pain and respond in the moment! This will stop the problem from compounding and causing more trouble down the road. If you need help addressing repetitive stress that won't seem to go away, give our office in Sacramento a call. We specialize in finding and treating the cause, not the symptom! 

Dr. Raymond Espinosa, D.C. 

How to Lose that Hangry Feeling in the Morning

hangry breakfast

Breakfast for energy

There is quite a bit of debate regarding breakfast and its supposed role in weight loss vs. weight gain, its links to cardiovascular disease and its relative value to other meals. Foregoing this debate, we want to focus on one reason why breakfast is important: energy. For the busy professional, breakfast is indispensable. 

Is any breakfast preferable to no breakfast? 

More specifically, are the empty calories and sugar content of a doughnut worth the trade-off of energy that you may get out of it? Signs point to yes, as long as you aren't making this a regular habit. If you are in a time crunch and have no recourse, a doughnut from the office dozen can still benefit you in terms of getting the metabolism moving and waking up your brain. 

Breakfast made easy

Let's focus on the elements of a hearty breakfast that will:

  • Start your metabolism, helping you to burn calories throughout the day.
  • Provide you with energy for the first half of the day.
  • Balance blood sugar; the feeling of being 'hangry' usually comes from shortages in glucose in the blood that need to be replenished with a morning meal. 
  • Lower levels of stress hormones
  • Take under 10 minutes for preparation and consumption.

Well it turns out there are many options!

  • Oats and yogurt: oatmeal is a whole grain that contains complex carbs- your main energy source- and fiber which digests slowly and helps you feel satiated for longer. Yogurt contains healthy fats and proteins for added energy
  • (Insert favorite nut here) butter and apple: fruit sugar plus the protein from nut butters, and this one takes no time to prep at all.
  • Avocado on toast + egg: the most laborious process, but the healthy fats from the avocado, the carbs of the toast and protein of the egg will keep you going until lunch.

Going without breakfast is selling your body short! We can get the nutrients we need to fire up our brains in the morning with next to zero effort required. It's time to start saying yes to breakfast. 

Dr. Raymond Espinosa, D.C.