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An American Paradox

thisisgettingpainful

A paradox exists in American society where we have more information available at a moment's notice than ever regarding health and wellness, yet we are somehow languishing with high obesity and insomnia rates, pervasive poor posture and an earlier onset of spinal conditions due to the shift to more screen-oriented settings in both our recreation preferences and job options. Whoever you are on this spectrum, from the gym-body to the home-body, we believe that your wellness can always use a little more optimization, of the kind we provide at Espinosa Family Chiropractic and of the kind that can be found by simply moving. Chiropractic and exercise (in its varying forms) are complimentary, and impact your wellness in the following way: 

  • More resilience to injury
  • Enhanced balance and coordination
  • Increased strength
  • Improved respiratory function
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion
  • Increased endurance 

So what is holding you back? Often all it takes is a conversation with a skilled practitioner to start overcoming your limitations and get back to a life of purposeful movement. At our office in Sacramento, we provide chiropractic adjustment, trigger point therapy, and spinal decompression modalities to relieve your pain and get you back on your feet. Pain is an inevitability of age as our bodies slow down, but there are steps that can be taken, even from the couch that will keep you happy and healthy moving forward. 

Dr. Raymond Espinosa, D.C. 

Stretching Makes Falling Asleep Easier

 

Surrendering to sleep is one of the finest and, for some unfortunate people, one of the most elusive feelings in human existence. Nothing is worse than lying in bed staring at the ceiling with your mind racing. One of the quickest (and only) ways to combat this is by putting your body and mind in a conducive state for sleep: while this process starts as soon as you wake up (dieting, stress levels and caffeine consumption can make your body pulse like a music visualizer), there are specific steps you can take in the hour before bed time that will help you fall asleep easier and, along this line, stretching may be worth a try. Here are a few stretches to try, and always remember that the secret here is as much about the deep breathing as it is about the stretching: 

  • Simple bridge: lie supine with knees bent and feet flat with arms extended by your side with palms up. Use your abs and press down with the heels to lift your hips into the air, creating a diagonal line between shoulder and knees. Hold for 10 deep breathing then slowly return to starting position. 
  • Lay on your back and bend your knees in toward the chest. Grab the inside edges of your feet with palms facing outward and push your knees to the side. Once they reach a point of resistance, lower them toward the armpits, keeping the heels above the knees and feet flex. Hold for 10 deep breaths and return to starting position. 
  • Sit cross-legged and put the left hand on the floor next to the hip. Extend right arm up past the right ear then lean toward the left keeping the buttocks on the floor and shoulders down. Hold for 10 deep breaths then return and repeat on the other side. 

When it comes to falling asleep, we want to stack every odd in your favor in the crucial moments leading up to bedtime. For help on addressing any more pressing physical conditions or pain which may be holding you back, give our office in Sacramento a call and schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Raymond Espinosa, D.C. 

Piriformis Syndrome

piriformis

The piriformis is a muscle that runs adjacent to the sciatic nerve, underneath the glutes, and the muscle's proximity to the nerve is why sciatica is commonly associated with piriformis syndrome (PS). Piriformis syndrome commonly befalls runners and characteristically feels like a dull aching or soreness in the butt, stiffness in the region around the base of the spine and at the tops of the femurs made worse by sitting for long periods of time. PS can also cause sciatica when a dysfunction with the muscle puts the sciatic nerve under pressure. If no other reasonable cause for the sciatica can be determined through MRI or CT scans  (i.e. herniated disc, abnormalities in the lower vertebrae, or degenerative bone diseases), it is worth considering piriformis syndrome as the cause of your recurrent sciatica. For people diagnosed with sciatica derived from PS, chiropractic treatment is excellent for correcting dysfunction in the muscle and easing the tension and pain associated with sciatica. 

There are certain stretches such as the piriformis stretch and the straight-leg raise stretch that put the piriformis muscle under tension and can help us determine exactly what is misfiring. At Espinosa Family Chiropractic, we focus on releasing the region from tension with trigger point therapy and utilize stretching and strengthening exercises that help to improve range of motion and keep the piriformis muscle from impinging on the sciatic nerve. 

If we can simultaneously strengthen the muscle while releasing the chronic tightness, we can make significant improvements in the functioning of the piriformis muscle and thus, alleviate symptoms of sciatica that may be associated. 

Dr. Raymond Espinosa, D.C. 

 

The Importance of Breathing, in Earnest

breathing

Why is breathing important could be the most critical question you ask yourself today. It is an automatic process that we perform up to 20,000 times a day. Through the process of cellular respiration, every cell in the body inhales oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide. Essentially, the cells need a constantly refreshing supply of oxygen to produce the energy that keeps you going. An impaired flow of oxygen can lead to cellular dysfunction, damage and cell die-off. Cognitive function, emotional well-being, physical performance, and sleeping are the most essential parts of the body's daily existence and all of these can be made better or worse by respiration. At Espinosa Family Chiropractic, we want to help you breathe well and often, so that all the essential functions of your body can benefit. 

Chiropractic's role in breathing centers around the diaphragm, the dome-shaped sheet of muscle that controls our breathing patterns. This sheet of muscle also separates the chest from the abdomen and its function is closely linked to the health and stability of the spine. When you breathe in, this muscle contracts until it reaches the top of the abdomen, at which point the lower ribs lift and the thoracic cavity expands; this entire process is crucial to receiving a full breath of air.

This process can be impeded by a number of factors including weakness or overuse of the accessory muscles, poor posture, lack of awareness about proper breathing techniques, or injuries that prevent you from taking a full breath. So the real question you should ask yourself is: are you getting enough oxygen with each breath. At Espinosa Family Chiropractic, we would like to see everyone breathing at their full potential. If you need help in this endeavor, give our office in Sacramento a call and schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Raymond Espinosa, D.C. 

 

Stretching for Sciatica

supine

The pain of sciatica can be nightmarish: tingling and numbness in the lower extremities, pain and stiffness in the lower back; it can be difficult enough just to stand up out of bed. What if there was a way to quickly alleviate some of the pressure from your sciatic nerve so you could get on with your day? Stretching is the most reasonable answer, and there are specific stretches that can be done from your bedroom to help you start off the day or wind it down and get to sleep. As with any stretching routine, the emphasis should be on consistency: repeating these stretches regularly helps to condition the tissues surrounding the issue to combat stiffness and pain. 

When your muscles are tight, such as the piriformis, which runs under the glutes, it can cause impingement to the sciatic nerve. Through stretching, we can release these muscles and thus, the sciatic nerve, from tension.

1. Lie supine with legs extended and lift your right leg in the air, supporting it with your hands. 

  • Pull your right knee across your body toward the opposite shoulder.
  • Once you reach a point of resistance, hold for 30 seconds and release.
  • Switch legs, 3 reps per leg. 

2. Lie supine with knees bent and feet flat. 

  • Lift the right leg and cross the ankle over the left knee.
  • With both hands, pull from behind the left knee, lifting your legs toward the chest while simultaneously pushing the right knee away from the chest. 
  • This motion should create a resistance; don't push unto pain. 
  • Hold 30 seconds, then release.
  • Repeat 3 times with each leg.

Muscle tension is an unavoidable reality as we get older. However, if it is causing you sciatic nerve pain, it is worth doing something! Sciatica can be caused by a number of conditions including subluxation, herniated disc and muscle strain. At Espinosa Family Chiropractic, we are experts in helping people fight back against the incursion of sciatica in their life; give our office a call and schedule an appointment to find out how we can help you today!

Dr. Raymond Espinosa, D.C.