Blog

Tightness in the Trapezius

sitting

So much of solving musculoskeletal dysfunction and, consequently, dispelling pain, begins with relearning what was lost. It begins with unlearning bad habits which have accumulated due to laziness and learning how to use your muscles in harmony so that no one part of the body is assuming more burden than it should. This is especially important as we move forward in age, as the physical ability which came so effortlessly when we were young begins to erode. A great example of this is the trapezius, a large, trapezoid shaped muscle that sits in the center of the upper back.

For our intents and purposes, we divide the trapezius into three parts: the upper, middle and lower, with heavy focus centered upon the upper trapezius: the muscle which starts in the back of the head and connects to the clavicle. Over-activation of this muscle pulls the shoulders up and, because sitting often sees us hunched over, the shoulder adapts to this request and locks itself into a shortened position. With a tight upper trapezius and shoulders elevated, it is much more difficult for the middle and lower trapezius to perform the stabilizing role for the shoulders and they begin to fire much less and weaken, shifting even more burden on the upper trapezius. So it's really no surprise that a principle complaint of deskbound workers is tight shoulders- their bodies are literally morphing into a position that perpetuates stiffness and pain. 

This should serve as a road map for how pain can develop when we let our postural awareness fall by the wayside. Shoulder mechanics are a matter of mobility and establishing and maintaining range of motion and flexibility in critical joints is a big part of our practice at Haynes Chiropractic. It does take a dose of proactivity on your part, but the upside is truly worth it. We can show you strengthening and stretching techniques that will tone the muscles necessary to make maintaining good posture easier. Call our office to schedule an appointment so we can begin extracting you from the veritable mess that a desk-bound lifestyle breeds. 

Dr. Jeff Haynes, D.C. 

Why Plank?

plank off

Planking is a super exercise that has blown up in popularity during recent years and, while plank-offs on YouTube make for exciting competition, the greatest thing about planking is that you can challenge yourself from the comfort of your home. As far as value per minute goes, the plank is one of the most efficient exercises out there: with little movement required, it conditions even the deepest layer of abdominal fascia; adding to core stability, boosting the flexibility of the posterior chain and reducing pain in the lower back. 

As with all stretches, a good plank requires knowledge of proper form, so here are some elements to keep in mind

  • Elbows directly under shoulders
  • Wrists aligned with elbows
  • Push body upwards, holding chin close to neck, as though you are trying to cradle an egg between them.
  • Contract abdominals, squeeze glutes and thigh muscles 
  • Hold 20-30 seconds; no more is necessary! Rest 1 minute and repeat 3-5 times. 

A bonus tip is to pull your belly button in to target the transverse abdominus muscle. If you are starting from scratch, don't expect to be a planking wizard on day 1; it may even be hard to hold for 10 seconds. But if you have the patience and perseverance to keep at it, the benefits will be enormous. Furthermore, mastering the basic low plank sets a good foundation so that you can move on to variations of the exercise: side-planks and high planks target different muscle groups giving you a much more holistically conditioned mid-section. At Haynes Chiropractic, we specialize in helping people find pain relief naturally; conditioning the core as a stabilizer and keeping the posterior chain flexible are two great ways to prevent or temper lower back pain. 

Dr. Jeff Haynes, D.C.

Movement as Medicine

move

Medicine doesn't come cheap, but movement does, and from the chiropractor's perspective, simply getting up and going for a walk could be the best value-for-money you can put into your body on a daily basis. At Haynes Chiropractic, we believe that every human needs to move well and often and to this end, we offer our services to help relieve your pain or assist you with overcoming physical dysfunction and limitation, with an eye to getting you moving. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind regarding movement:

The human body needs movement: when you are hungry, you eat; when you are tired, you sleep; when your body starts feeling stiff, you _______? This is an individual science, so what moves you? Are you a hiker or a swimmer, a tennis player or a biker, or a living room athlete who is content stretching or running on the treadmill. Whatever makes you the most comfortable and happy, that should be your go to. 

Realize that even the smallest dose can make a difference in your health. To demonstrate this, take a deep, full diaphragmatic inhale and then exhale fully; do a few shoulder rolls or stretch your neck; the feeling of tension slipping away is profound and happiness inducing. 

So what is holding you back? Often, all you need to do is look yourself in the eye and realize that you don't have to tolerate chronic stiffness and pain any longer. Get your muscles moving  And for help coming up with a plan, and getting excited about it, give our office in Bakersfield a call to schedule an appointment today: we want to be your greatest fan and ally in your quest for well-being.

Dr. Jeff Haynes, D.C. 

Anatomy of Pain: the Upper Back Edition

healing

The thoracic spine, which corresponds to what we consider the upper back, is a region of relative stability and little motion. Compressive forces are few and far between as compared to the lower back and, as such, the more common spinal disorders tend to not affect the upper back. That being said, anyone who works in front of a computer for a living can tell you that the upper back can be a problematic region: pain, stiffness and muscle spasm are part and parcel with a computer-heavy lifestyle that often involves questionable posture. As we move forward into the computer age, chiropractors are seeing more people who complain of muscular irritation and joint dysfunction in the upper back than ever before. 

There are very large muscles in the thoracic region that connect the scapulae to the shoulder girdle and allow our shoulders a range of motion beyond what the scapulae could provide by themselves. These muscles are often exposed to strain by too little conditioning and too much repetitive trauma (also known as overuse injury, for example: spending every day typing with your shoulders scrunched up). Very often, upper back pain develops in tandem with neck and shoulder pain. This myofascial pain is often irritating, but the good news is that it generally responds very well to conservative care methods. 

At Haynes Chiropractic, we would like to help people with manual treatments that seek and correct the root of the problem. Myofascial release and trigger point therapy are great at getting into the large muscles of the upper back and releasing them from tension and opening them up to an influx of healing nutrients. Our plan for addressing the pain will also include a mix of stretching and strengthening that will help prevent injuries in the future and help make sitting with good posture easier. 

Dr. Jeff Haynes, D.C. 

Sciatica

sciatica

Sciatica is a condition characterized by pain, numbness and tingling that affects the lower back, hip and legs and is most often caused by compression of spinal nerve roots in the lower back. Anyone who has experienced it once has experienced it enough- the limited range of motion, dull achy feelings and shooting pains can make it difficult to even stand up. It's easy to understand why sciatica is so widespread; the sciatic nerve is the longest in the human body, exiting from the spinal column in the lower back, running through the buttocks and down the leg. This being the case, there are many factors that can create an irritation for this nerve and leave you with sciatic nerve pain. 

A herniated disc creates pain because it effectively bulges out of position and pressurizes the nearby nerve. If this happens to be the sciatic nerve, it creates dysfunction in the lower body which can be scary at first, but is quite common. Fortunately, chiropractic is a very effective method for responding to sciatica; two particularly effective modalities are spinal adjustment and traction which seek to correct any nerve irritation, regulate the nervous system and ease the discomfort associated with compression of a nerve. Through spinal decompression therapy, we use a table to gently stretch the spine and ease the pain, while simultaneously improving range of motion and fighting the natural build up of inflammation. 

Another factor that can create sciatic type pain is piriformis syndrome, caused by tightness or strain of the piriformis, a muscle that runs underneath the glutes. Trigger point therapy is a direct and targeted method that frees up the area from tension and improves sciatica symptoms. Don't let the scourge of sciatica linger in your life any longer- call our office in Bakersfield to schedule an appointment today!

Dr. Jeff Haynes, D.C.