A good stretch

A good stretch will do you (and your spine) good

by Sherry McAllister, DC, executive vice president, Foundation for Chiropractic Progress

Chiropractic care is one of the best things that you can do for your body and overall health. Your doctor of chiropractic is interested in helping your body stay in balance through non-invasive measures like spinal adjustments. He or she may offer other advice to help keep you on the right track. Enter dynamic stretching.

There’s something about maintaining a regular stretching routine that goes hand in hand with regular chiropractic care. Here’s why:

Maybe you’re the type who doesn’t stretch at all or maybe you already take 5 minutes for a quick warm-up before a workout. Regardless, it’s time you learned about dynamic stretches, which use more of the body and better prepare muscles and joints.

Static, the opposite, means holding a position for a period of time with lesser challenge to the body. These stretches can actually inhibit the muscles’ firing ability during exercise. Think of the kinds of stretches you learned in gym class growing up.

Dynamic stretches are controlled movements that warm up your body gently. These do not involve jerky motions but rather smooth swinging moves using momentum to increase range of motion. Picture a swimmer behind the blocks, getting ready for a race. She circles her arms around in different directions then pulls one knee at a time to her body. Or think of a runner lunging from side to side and then swinging his legs forward and back. These are all great dynamic stretching examples. There are lots of other routines to more effectively get your entire body ready for physical activity.

Most people stretch to warm up or to ready their muscles. But while static stretching may loosen your muscles to an extent, they aren’t actually warmed and ready to go. A more dynamic stretch can target specific areas of the body, depending on the muscles that are used. By getting your body ready for the task ahead, your range of motion will be improved, which in turn gives you a better quality workout. The muscles as well as joints are warmed and prepared, reducing risk of injury and increasing overall flexibility.


Ask your doctor of chiropractic about dynamic stretching. It’s one of the best things you can do to prepare your body for exercise. Your spine will thank you, too!

Let’s talk feet!

For the most part, our feet happily do their job each day, absorbing pressure five times our body weight as if it were nothing.

We also know when something like an annoying stubbed toe comes up, we realize how much we really do depend on them keeping us mobile. But there is more riding on those durable soles. Our feet – and even more specifically, the footwear we force them into – affect the all-important posture that keeps us pain-free. (And we’re not just talking about pinched toes!)

So if you want to avoid lower back pain – and keep that satisfying sense of well-being after visiting your doctor of chiropractic – you might want to weed these shoes out of your closet.

• Open-back sandals and flip-flops in particular make us feel free, or at least a few steps away from the beach. We are seeing them more often, even in professional settings. But they aren’t doing you any favors! Because they have no structure – think of toes used as little claws to keep them on – you’re forced to use other tendons and muscles to keep you going. And that does not provide the stability to keep you standing tall and free of back pain. Studies prove it; admit it and scrap the strappy footwear.

• You know high heels are taboo. When the heels are two inches or higher, you are pitched forward, affecting the spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet. Even worse, if you are a chronic wearer, reversing the damage isn’t as easy as changing your shoes. Your calf muscles become cramped and bulge as they adjust to keeping your body in balance. Don’t head down that slippery slope.

• And the answer isn’t flats. Again, a flat shoe offers no arch support, leading to a whole new set of woes. Anything that forces you to adjust your gait to stay in balance is going to affect your posture … and eventually your back.

• Been there already? Pitch the worn shoes that slip you into that familiar gait. It is time to give your feet some TLC with features that pamper your posture.

• So where does that leave us? They exist, but it is going to take time to adjust. Look for shoes that fit well with room for your toes. You want good arch support and an inclined sole. And be sure to do some stretching exercises, undoing the damage already done.

Your back will thank you, your feet will throw a party and you will make your doctor of chiropractic very happy. And, as always, the others are fine in moderation, like a special night out. But just watch how quickly you are ready to get out of them at the end of the night. That says it all!

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