By Lara Gates, Marketing Coordinator, Back to Health
My meditation practice began a few years ago. (Longer if you count the five minutes spent in savasana during weekly yoga practice - but I don’t.) If you’ve been to a yoga class or read an online article about the practice of meditation you already know a bit of what it’s about. But in case you’re not yet ready to breathe yourself to a calmer headspace, the team at Back to Health wants to open up the conversation.
You’re doing so many things to prioritize your wellness, from chiropractic, to drinking enough water and moving often. But if you aren’t meditating you may be ignoring an easy and free way to enhance the health of your body and your mind.
Some days savasana is the hardest pose in a yoga class. The English translation of savasana is “corpse pose.” Yogis lie on our mats perfectly still and just breathe. It’s not a forced breath or any magical posture that brings the calm. It’s the act of giving ourselves permission to do nothing and then observing what comes up.
Meditation isn’t an act of not thinking. My first yoga instructor (and former BTH massage therapist), Marty, used to say we should observe our thoughts in savasana like passing clouds. See them but don’t try to hold onto them. Don’t judge them. Some days this is a relief and some days it is a struggle. But everyday it is worth doing.
As a Christian, sometimes I take flack from fellow church-goers for the “woo woo” philosophy that yoga and meditation can be straddled with. When I first discovered yoga I asked a women whom I respect who was also a Christian and a Yogi (and fellow patient of Dr. Brian) what she thought about this. Her answer was very impactful. She said, “When you open up that space you need to be careful what comes in.” This is the case no matter what form of stimulus you allow into your space - TV, radio or negative people.
When we sit quietly in prayer and meditation the important skill is listening. And it doesn’t have to take a long time. Many days before I pick up my teens from school I give myself two minutes of meditation to clear my head so that I am focused on them and not my busy day when they board my mom-mobile. I turn off the radio (and usually turn on my seat heater) and put the car in park for just 120 seconds. Sometimes I close my eyes, but usually I focus gently on the Arizona views. Those 20 breaths are simple but they make me feel like I am ready for whatever comes next. When I’m multitasking or hurrying from one responsibility to the next, I can miss the eye contact or body language that teen boys are sending out. These mini-meditations help me stay “with” my family. Yogi’s call this being present or mindful.
Both of my sons have attended Tracy’s yoga class in the past. One of them remarked one day that his brain is too loud to practice yoga sometimes. As a mom, his apt description was both convicting and heartbreaking. And yet that loud inner voice is a great reason to meditate (not a reason not to). It takes practice and repetition. And as Tracy says in her yoga classes at BTH, some days we can do a pose without any struggle and some days that pose is more challenging. This is true for meditation as well.
Meditation adopters say it lowers their heart rate, lessens anxiety, helps with insomnia and many other physical benefits. And for me it has. But I my biggest take-away has been more mental. Through meditation I have become more self-aware, learning to act instead of react to situations in life. And I have noticed that I go into activities with fewer expectations (and consequently fewer disappointments) when I’m keeping up with a meditation practice.
At Back to Health we’re committed to helping you achieve your best health through chiropractic care, functional training, yoga, nutrition and massage. We hope you’ll continue to be mindful with us and consider adding meditation to your daily routine.
Meanwhile, let us know your experience with meditation and prayer in the comments.
feeling helpless, stuck, that there is no way out, worthless and alone. I want to show people how to create balance in their personal wellness. I have always dreamt of helping people by showing them how truly amazing they are even when they cannot see it. I also became a coach because having confidence is hard to obtain. Here at Bringing Out The Best In You! LLC we take on the challenge of building your confidence up and excel at it. I want to help people know that they have the choice to live their life the way they want to and not the way everyone else tells them to. I want to show people that there are so many different opportunities in life, and that they shouldn’t be scared to take a chance with themselves while finding value within them.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Back to Health of Anthem to combine our specialties to best serve our patients and clients. At the "When Life Gives You Lemons" event I will be speaking on how to make lemonade out of life! There will always be new obstacles and difficulties presented to us in life but I want to equip you with the skills and strategies to enjoy every minute of it. Looking forward to meeting you!
This one is for all of my women out there. (Men, you can probably stop reading now and check back with us in a couple of weeks for your turn.) As a young, up and coming, professional woman, I felt it was time to talk about how in the world we are supposed to manage working full time, mainlining a fit and wellness filled lifestyle, keeping a clean home, getting a daily bible study in, and taking care of a family all while keeping our sanity. As a typical millennial, I have to say, this whole “adulting” thing is rough! And I don’t even have the family part yet and I’m exhausted. To those of you who are currently doing this and still keeping it all together, you are a saint! And to those of you who are struggling like me or are barely keeping the ship above water, we want to help! To do this, we have teamed up with 2 other powerful women in our community to bring to you a Women’s Wellness event titled “When life gives you lemons…” Honestly, life feels a lot like a lemon right now. Bright and fresh, but oh so sour. Anyone else get that picture in their heads of what the future will look like and then once you’re there it looks nothing like what you had imagined?? Both of my hands are raised for this one. But this is exactly what we want to fix. So I, along with Brittany Ehrick (Christian life coach) and Andrea Lander (Crossroads Church women’s pastor) want to spend some time equipping you with the tools and mindset to live your best life. We want you to take all of those lemons life throws at you and make lemonade out of it!
I will be speaking on the topic of nutrition and supplementation specifically for the WOMAN body. So many times we get clumped into a unisex cookie cutter expectation of what we should be eating, how we should be working out, and what vitamins we need to be taking. But the fact of the matter is, WE ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT THAN MEN! Our bodies were designed to give life. Just let that sink in for a second. I think that gets undervalued all of the time because we only just have a couple different body parts that make the miracle happen, but what a task we are capable of! And because of this, we need to be treating our bodies different. Women were designed to reproduce, men were designed to protect. Now I am not saying we have to do one or the other here because we obviously live in a very different world than when we were first created. But the anatomy and physiology we were given at the time is the exact same. So at the “When life gives you lemons…” event I will dive into these specifications and give you the female standard for diet, nutrition, and exercise!
So if you are a female, you need to be at this event! And so do all of your female friends! We are hosting it at The Crossroads Church here in Anthem on July 24th at 6:30pm. There will be limited spots available so sign up ASAP! You can click the link or call to reserve your seat now: www.myanthemhealth.com/events or 623.551.6677. Can’t wait to see you there!
P.s. We can’t have an event about lemonade without serving HEALTHY lemonade, so if nothing else, come for the refreshments ;)
Over the past couple of weeks Sciatica has been our hot topic. We discussed what the common causes are structurally and also what you can do at home to help the healing process. However, if sciatic pain was something a simple fix at home could cure, you would already have the pain resolved! But unfortunately it takes a little more than a few stretches to permanently solve the dysfunction. Lucky for you, Dr. Hester and I thoroughly understand the condition and have a tool box full of treatments to address the issue. We also provide several different services in the office to assist our care to make sure you and your body are getting exactly what you need. Here are the 3 most common therapies we use for sciatica:
Yoga. We have a truly exceptional yoga program here at Back to Health of Anthem and we owe that to our blessing of a yoga instructor, Tracy. She is beyond knowledgeable in not only yoga but the body as a whole and the energy it brings. We firmly believe yoga should be a regular activity in everyone’s lives. We carry so much stress and tension whether we realize it or not, and that all gets stored in our muscles. Yoga is a way to release it while also gaining flexibility and mental de-stressing as well. There are several different yoga poses you hold in each class that specifically target those usual sciatica causing muscles so this is not only helpful in relieving sciatica but also helps in preventing it too!
Massage. Now when we utilize massage therapy as a treatment for specific musculoskeletal conditions, you can totally forget the typical spa like image you commonly associate with massage. Although a relaxing technique is useful in certain circumstances, when it comes to sciatica, it won’t do much for you. Our massage therapists are skillfully trained on specific techniques that focus on individual muscles and the hypertonic (too tight) state they are in. Many times, this will include some deep breathing because I can promise you, if those muscles are so tight they are causing sciatica, they are not going to be happy initially when the therapist starts to work through them. But pain is gain in this situation because the effects are completely worth it.
Adjustments. This is the only thing that is going to induce motion into those bones in your lower back and pelvis that are not currently moving. Proper biomechanics of your structure is the foundation for the entire process therefore it is the most important. This is why we choose to take motion study x-rays in our office. We want to examine exactly which vertebra are moving incorrectly so we know where to target. This makes our adjusting much more specific and successful with our sciatica patients.
Sciatic pain can be a complex condition that requires consistent and diverse treatment to truly solve the underlying cause. If you or someone you know is living with sciatica flare ups and not getting the proper treatment, schedule an appointment today! 623.551.6677. The longer you let that nerve continue to be agitated and compressed, the longer it will take to heal, and further, more permanent damage will be caused.
Do you know someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes? What about heart disease? Cancer? I’d be willing to bet you probably have a few people in mind that fit one or multiple of these categories. So what is going on in our society that is causing an epidemic of unhealthy people who are living too short and dying too long? The straight up answer is: LIFESTYLE! A wise man (aka Dr. Hester) once said, “You can’t medicate your way out of a problem you behaved your way into.” And I am here to tell you, the above disease are a direct consequence of the unhealthy lives you or someone you know is living. It is a choice.
Well what about genetics? Genetics, shemetics. This is an excuse, not an explanation. Only 10% of diseases are due to unavoidable genetic anomalies. The other 90% are lifestyle. They say that genetics are the loaded gun, but your environment and habits pull the trigger. So do you still want to blame your genetics? Blame the genetic eating habits, the genetic non-active lifestyle, the genetic mind-set that if you aren’t in pain, you’re fine. THIS is the issue and THIS is the reason we do what we do here at Back to Health of Anthem.
Our 8 Weeks to Wellness program is specifically designed to guide you through changing all the important aspects of living a healthy life to avoid these preventable diseases. Before starting the program, we run extensive blood testing along with an InBody scan, blood pressure, waist:hip measurements, functional movement screenings, and x-rays to establish a baseline. These values are plugged into an equation that calculates your Wellness Score. Just like your report card from grade school, you get a grade from 0-100. Typically the score is much lower than you think because we typically think we are healthier than what we are. But the bright side to this is the future is completely in your hands. You can’t know where you want to go if you don’t know where you’re starting so the Wellness Score does just that.
There are 5 components to the 8 Week to Wellness program:
Nutrition: The 8WW manual extensively explains proper nutritional habits, portion sizes, yes/no foods, and meal plans. Along with this, we also spend an hour each week with you going through your food log, offering suggestions, and further perfecting your diet to keep it sustainable as this is a lifestyle, not a diet!
Exercise: You will do 3 workouts a week in our Functional Training Center with our amazing trainers who have designed hundreds of workouts for all body types, goals, and experience levels. In addition to the training sessions, you do 2 more days of 30 minute cardio sessions on your own to further improve your cardiovascular health.
Chiropractic: If you have spent any time in our office, you know that chiropractic serves many more purposes than just curing back pain. Regular adjustments help keep our nervous system performing in tip top shape and allows the nerves that supply all of our vital organs to move and flow freely.
Massage: This is great for so many reasons. First of all, it is a blessing after those 3 workouts with Chad and Lynette because those poor muscles will be screaming. But this is also used for relaxation. Throughout the program we constantly emphasize the importance of mental health and wellness as well as physical. Stress plays a huge role in creating inflammation and it is being proven more and more that inflammation is the underlying cause of our life altering diseases.
Meditation: Along with the relaxing therapy of a massage, we teach you about daily meditation. To some of you, this may sound a little outside of your comfort zone. But I promise you, giving yourself 20-30 minutes each day to shut out the world, and focus on listening to your body and mind can truly have an impact on all areas of your life.
Dr. Hester and myself have put several patients through this program and have seen incredible results. In a world full of diets and medication, we need a holistic lifestyle change more than ever. If you or someone you know is not living life to its potential due to lack of health, I encourage you to sign up for our FREE Dinner with the Doc talk on June 12th. Dr. Hester will be going in great depth on the multiple facets of our health and how to make a permanent change with permanent effects. And dinner is on us ;) It will be at 6:30pm at Two Brothers Kitchen here in Anthem. Space is limited so Register Here or call us at 623.551.6677. Don’t let procrastination be the thief of your health!
Hopefully you are following along with our Sciatica series on Facebook, and if so, you know that we now want to share with you some tips and tricks you can use at home to help with that brutal sciatic pain. Of course, we as chiropractors are highly trained in how to treat sciatica. But we also know that the more a patient participates in their care and works to heal themselves the other 23 hours of the day that we don’t see them, the faster relief is gained and the problem can be FIXED rather than patched. That is what has motivated this post! Here are 3 things you can do at home to further assist in treating your sciatica symptoms.
1. Stretching. As I discussed in the last blog, a majority of the sciatica pain is due to one or many of the muscles in our back, butt, or legs being too tight. How do you fix something that is too tight? You stretch it! In our Facebook video on this topic, I recruited our Yoga instructor Tracy to share her knowledge and recommendation on this since she is the queen of stretching and flexibility. She suggest a lotus pose as a great stretch of the butt and hip muscles. This is when you are sitting with your legs crisscrossed (yes like when you were in kindergarten) but you have your feet on top of the opposite knees instead of under them. Definitely easier to show than describe so refer to the pic to the right! You should be holding your stretches for 15-30 seconds with deep, conscious breaths throughout. Tracy always talks about using the exhale as an opportunity to sink deeper into the stretch so keep that in mind when you are performing this one.
2. Strengthen deep intrinsic abdominal muscles. We have to strengthen the core as it is the center and powerhouse of our structure. The issue that commonly occurs with core exercises is we actually aren’t activating our core when we are doing them! What a concept. How is this fixed? Lay flat on the floor and place your hand on your stomach. Now cough. Feel how tight your abs got there? We need to maintain that tension and pressure when performing the ab exercises in order for them to be beneficial for our deep abdominal muscles which affect our stability. Once you have that established, bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground and you are able to lift your butt off of the ground. While doing this, think about not only keeping that core tight but clench those booty cheeks too. Talk about a double whammy! Strengthen your core and glutes all in one exercise. Then lower back down and repeat 15-20 more times. You can also do this with a hold, so holding 15-30 seconds in that position to build endurance in the muscles.
3. Lift properly. Whether you are lifting a heavy box while moving into your new home, or picking up your screaming toddler off of the grocery store floor, the technique you use is crucial. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say at some point, “Lift with your legs, not your back!” But what exactly does that mean? Basically, if you stabilize, or lock down the position of your back so it does not do the lifting motion, then the only option left to make the motion happen is to bend your legs. This doesn’t mean your back doesn’t bend at all, because it totally does. It should maintain about a 45 degree angle forward and stay in that position through all phases of the lifting process. Once again, way easier to show than explain so definitely refer to the picture ------>
For those sciatica suffers out there, do not put this off. Sciatic pain is famous for coming and going and the only reason for this is the problem gets patched rather than fixed. There are multiple components to healing your structure so call today to get an appointment and start on the road to recovery! 623.551.6677
Us millennials joke about sciatica as a hopeful excuse for a sick day from work or to simply make fun of our parents, but the truth is it can be a pretty serious pain that affects so many, even the young buck millennials. So what causes that intense shooting, burning, tingling pain that starts in your lower back and can end up traveling all the way down into your feet? Well a few culprits could be to blame here so I’ll break it down so you can see where you fit in.
1. Weak core. Now this doesn’t mean you need a 6-pack to avoid sciatic pain because even those people have this issue as well. When we talk about core stability, we are referring to the deep intrinsic abdominal muscles that stabilize our trunk and help our spine maintain the proper curvature to accommodate for our body weight. But chances are you are lacking some strength in these muscles due to either a ton of sitting (aka work) or not performing the proper exercises to build and maintain the strength needed.
2. Tight musculature. There are a variety of muscles in our lower back and buttock region and the problem with this is the sciatic nerve runs underneath all of these muscles from our lower spine all the way down into our feet. This means there are plenty of opportunities for it to be compressed and agitated. The muscle we commonly find that is too tight and leading to the sciatic pain is the piriformis. This muscle comes from the front of your sacrum (triangular bone at the end of your spine) and inserts into the top of your femur. This guy gets tight due to our glute muscles being deconditioned, thus it picks up the slack and is being over worked.
3. Weak glutes, tight hamstrings, angry sartorius. First of all, sartorius is a muscle in your leg, not a dinosaur, although I can see where the confusion would happen there. This guy could very likely be the reason behind your lower back pain and it’s actually due to other muscles being way too weak. Just because your butt looks good in your jeans (or maybe it doesn’t) does not mean you have strong glute muscles. One of the most deconditioned muscles we see in the office is the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius spans from your lower back all the way down onto the side your upper thigh. Its purpose is to allow us to maintain a one legged stance when we are walking or running, so basically we should be using it constantly. The issue is that the more time we spend sitting, the more that muscle continues to not get activated, the structural curves in our spine are being reversed, and now other muscles have to be recruited to pick up the slack of the weak ones when we finally get on our feet and active. Hence the tight hamstrings and sartorius. We are using these two to maintain our ability to walk, run, and stand on one leg instead of the much larger gluteus medius muscle. Hamstrings and sartorius are most definitely not intended to be tight, so when they are, we can get sciatica because the nerve runs right underneath them. Talk about bad news.
As I’m sure you can see, there is a lot that goes into, and could be causing, your sciatic pain. This is why it’s so important to not ignore the pain signals your body is sending you. Pain is your brain’s way of telling you to get help and so often we just hush the pain with pain killers. The last thing you want is for a nerve to continuously receive damage because eventually it will become permanent and even more painful. If you or someone you know is currently living with sciatica, schedule an appointment with us now! 623.551.6677. We will perform a full examination and x-ray films if needed to get to the true cause of your pain and create a personalized care plan to get it solved once as for all!
The biggest mistake we could make when it comes to your neck is to simply patch the problem. Frequently patients come to us in severe neck pain and simply want the issue to be solved with a few quick adjustments so they can be on their way. But the harsh reality to this method is it is not solving the problem at all. And the longer we prolong a true fix with patch care, the further your neck's structure begins to degenerate, leading to PERMANENT damage. We personalize care plans for each and every patient to make sure you and your body are getting exactly what it needs to heal. Here are 3 services we offer that help immensely with eliminating neck pain:
1. Adjustments. This is the only thing that is going to induce motion into those bones in your neck that are not currently moving. Proper biomechanics of your structure is the foundation for the entire process therefore it is the most important. This is why we choose to take motion study x-rays in our office. We want to examine exactly which vertebra are moving incorrectly so we know where to target. This makes our adjusting much more specific and successful with our neck pain patients.
2. Denneroll. Yes it is pronounced like you’d think but unfortunately we aren’t suggesting you eat the gluten filled, buttery goodness that it sounds like. The Denneroll is the advanced version of the rolled up towel mentioned earlier. This is to be used after you are able to complete your 25-30 minutes on the hand towel. It is a firm Styrofoam support that further induces your natural cervical curve and will allow your neck muscles to stretch and relax. We follow the same schedule and protocol with the Denneroll as we do with the rolled up towel previously.
3. Functional training. Our trainers in the Functional Training Center are skilled in creating workouts to strengthen specific muscular groups while also increasing mobility of others. They have designed hundreds of workouts to accommodate for your body’s current state. One of my personal favorites that you will find me in there performing weekly is the “Lat Row” on the TRX bands. What a burner! But it’s awesome in activating the latissimus dorsi muscle which helps pull the shoulders back, thus preventing a rounded, hunched posture. If you aren’t sore the next day, you didn’t do them right!
The common "neck pain" can lead to many more serious conditions and symptoms if gone untreated. Do not wait until you can't turn your head while driving or your hands go numb every night when you sleep. Let's take a PROACTIVE approach to our health rather than REACTIVE. Schedule your appointment today! 623.551.6677
Last week we discussed the common causes of that stubborn neck pain. Whether it be your job that requires excessive sitting, or less than perfect sleeping positions, neck pain is one of the largest complaints we are hearing from patients. So let's talk about a few at-home solutions to aid in eliminating the discomfort.
1. Chin tucks and chair stretches. Our suboccipital muscles (the ones at the base of your skull) become extremely tight due to our head being out in front of our bodies. The best way to stretch these guys out is to activate the muscles that pull our head back over the center of our shoulders. So basically give yourself a double chin. Feel that nice stretch behind your head? These muscles are a huge contributor to headaches and neck pain so embrace the not-so-flattering position and give yourself some relief. I do these not only while sitting at work but also while driving. Since I have a longer commute to and from work, it gives me plenty of time to either help or harm my posture and I take advantage of every second to undo my poor posture during the day. So if you pull up next to me at a stop light and see my perfectly straight neck and double chin position, make sure to wave ;) Another great stretch is to grab the seat of your chair while sitting with one hand, then lean your head to the opposite side giving yourself a good trapezius stretch. I like to count to 15 slowly then switch to the other side. If it is an extra-long day of sitting, I will move my hand placement to either the front corner or back corner of my seat and tilt my head the opposite diagonal direction to get a deeper stretch and include more muscles.
2. Rolled up towel. This one is a little harder to do at work so I use this technique at home since I need to lay on the floor. But who says you can’t use the floor space in your cubicle or office to get a good relaxing stretch in!?! All you need is a hand towel from your bathroom. Fold it long ways (or hotdog style) then roll it up like a cinnamon roll (gluten free of course). While lying flat on the floor, not a couch or bed, place the roll under the curvature of your neck. This allows gravity to work with the weight of your head to stretch out the muscles that are too tight and holding your head further out in front of our body than it is supposed to be. We suggest starting out with just 1-2 minutes in this position a day then adding a minute each day until you are able to lay there comfortably for 25-30 minutes. You will be amazed at how useful those hand towels can be when it comes to your neck pain!
3. Trigger point therapy. Feel those sore, tender knots in your upper shoulders? Those are called trigger points. These occur when blood flow becomes stagnant and fibrotic tissue forms. Trigger points are caused by a muscle being taken past its limitation whether it be weight, length, or duration aka sitting all day or carrying a child. The best way to deal with them is to apply pressure, allowing the tissue to break apart. You can do this yourself or if you have a willing helper they can press on the trigger point for you. I also find it helps to lean your head back and to the side of the trigger point before pressing, then once the pressure is applied, slowly look down and to the opposite side. This further stretches the muscle therefore increasing the breakup of the tissue.
Dr. Hester and I see a huge correlation in patients' responses to care with how dedicated they are to doing their homework exercises. We only see you for a small fraction of your week, so the rest of the time we need you helping with your care as well to reach a true FIX to your pain. If you are ready to commit to ending your neck pain once and for all, call us now to schedule an appointment. You won't regret it! 623.551.6677
Dr. Brian Hester, originally from Alabama, graduated from Life University in 1999 with his Doctorate of Chiropractic. He moved to Anthem, Arizona in 2003 and opened his wellness center. Dr. Hester's mission is to provide people in the North Phoenix area, with the tools they need to identify stressors in their life and the underlying causes of their health challenges. With Dr. Hester as a health partner, patients can make positive lifestyle changes and take control of their lives...... see more
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41930 N Venture Dr #110
Anthem, AZ 85086