Have you ever heard of a foam roll? For your back? If not, you’re about to hear about them. And if you already have, settle in and get ready to learn more!
A foam roll is exactly what it sounds like: a cylindrical piece of hard foam that can be rolled on the skin.
They are used as a form of myofascial release. And for those of us who aren’t medical professionals, myofascial tissue is the connective tissue located around the muscles, which is often the source of painful knots.
In some cases, this tissue can require massage or physical therapy, which is where the foam roll comes into play.
Basically, the roll acts as a masseuse.
When using a foam roll, you’re able to place yourself on the roller and apply gentle sustained pressure on the myofascial tissue. This can eliminate pain and restore motion.
In addition to the massage-like benefits, using a roll can increase strength and flexibility as well as prevent tears and injuries.
As you might expect, form is very important when using a foam roll. Before beginning any new program, even one as potentially beneficial as this, check with your doctor or chiropractor. They can teach you techniques that will be most appropriate for your needs.
For more information on foam rolls, check out this article from the Today Show. More
Of course we think Dr. Case is the best chiropractor in Apex, but if you’re thinking of seeing one in general, there are a few steps you should take before you begin treatment.
First, you should ask about the chiropractor’s education and accreditations. Not all chiropractors are created equal! (to learn about Dr. Case’s education and accreditations, click here). For your safety, it is very important that you see someone who has been properly trained in healthy chiropractic techniques.
Second, have a conversation with the chiropractor and be sure to mention any medical conditions you have. If you do have medical conditions, ask whether the chiropractor has specialized training or experience in the condition for which you are seeking care.
Third, ask about typical out-of-pocket costs and insurance coverage. Chiropractic is typically covered by many private health plans, Medicare, and state workers’ compensation systems. But that’s not always the case. It’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into financially right from the start.
Fourth, it’s smart to tell the chiropractor about any medications you take. This includes both prescription or over-the-counter, and dietary supplements. During treatment, if the chiropractor suggests a dietary supplement, ask about potential interactions with your medications or other supplements.
And finally, if you start seeing a chiropractor, let you doctor know. Your doctor should be aware of all of any complementary health approaches you use. By giving them a full picture of what you do to manage your health, it will help ensure coordinated and safe care. More
If you have back pain or you’re looking to prevent back pain, stretching might be a good addition to your daily routine.
Stretching will not only stretch (obviously) your back muscles and soft tissues, but it also lengthens and strengthens them. Stretching also keeps muscles supplied with a healthy blood flow. Blood flow is a key to good overall health, both mentally and physically.
Without stretching, muscles can shorten and become tight. Then, when you want to engage those muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way.
The spinal column and the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that surround it are designed to move. When they don’t move regularly, it can make back pain worse.
The Mayo Clinic has put together a list of 15 quick and easy stretches safe enough to do on a daily basis, which you can find here.
But if you’re more of a visual person, Web MD has a video full of stretches to help improve the pain and function of your back, which can be found here.
And of course, if you’re currently dealing with back pain issues, check in with your doctor or chiropractor before beginning any new stretching or fitness regimes. More
We all know you can hurt yourself when you’re active – you can dislocate a shoulder when swinging a golf club or pull a muscle when kicking a soccer ball. But did you know you can also hurt yourself by being too inactive?
It’s true! It’s called Disuse Syndrome.
The term essentially describes the effects on the body and mind when a person is sedentary.
It has received a lot of attention as it relates to back pain problems, chronic pain disorders and other illnesses. Some scientists believe it is related to “the base of much human ill-being.”
Spine Health says:
This disuse of our bodies leads to a deterioration of many body functions. This is basically an extension of the old adage “Use it or lose it.”
There are several physical consequences from disuse. These occur in many body systems, most notably those of the muscles and skeleton, cardiovascular, blood components, the gastrointestinal system, the endocrine systems, and the nervous system.
These are just some of the things can happen to your body when it doesn’t have the opportunity to be active:
Muscles, Joints, Bones
After only a short time of inactivity, the muscles shrivel and stiffen. The medical term for this is muscle atrophy.
The efficiency of the heart decreases with inactivity because the heart is a muscle similar to any other muscle in the body.
A lack of exercise promptly leads to a reduced response to hormones.
Gastrointestinal System More
Prolonged bed rest and lack of physical activity can slow down the gastrointestinal tract, alter digestion, alter the utilization of nutrients, alter protein metabolism, and disturb appetite.
Sleep. We all do it (for between six and eight hours each night, hopefully!). Actually, for some of us, sleep is the most enjoyable part of our day!
But, what if you have lower back pain? Could sleeping actually be exacerbating the problem? Maybe. And it may have to do with your mattress.
The lack of support from a mattress can reinforce poor sleeping posture, strain muscles and keeps the spine out of alignment, all of which can contribute to low back pain.
But! And this is a big but:
There is no single mattress style or type that works for all people with low back pain. Any mattress that helps someone sleep without pain and stiffness is the best mattress for that indivi
dual. Patients with low back pain should choose the mattress that meets their standards for comfort and support and allows them to get a good night’s sleep.
So, what should you do?
The folks at Spine Health recommend the following.
- Understand and inquire about the physical components of the mattress. Choosing the number of coils, type of padding and mattress depth should be determined by individual preferences.
- Find a mattress with back support. A good mattress should provide support for the natural curves and alignment of the spine.
- Achieve a balance between back support and comfort. Overall comfort while sleeping on the mattress is equally important as sufficient back support.
- Know when it’s time to get a new mattress. If an old mattress sags visibly in the middle or is no longer comfortable, it is probably time to purchase a new one.