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Heat or ice?

Read this.

What are the best shoes for my back?

Different types of shoes will work for different people. It depends on the condition of your hips and spine. However, there are two universal answers. First, your shoes have to fit properly. Your shoes should NOT be snug. They should allow your toes plenty of room to wiggle without any restriction. Second, your shoes should have the right amount of support and structure. Some people need more support, some people need none. Choose shoes that give them the amount of support they need, and no more.

How do I know if I need supportive shoes, or if my shoes fit properly?

If you have narrow feet and high arches, you'll need a narrow shoe with a bit of an arch built into it. The arch should be built into the shoe, and not rely on the flabby insole to provide the arch. Still not sure? Bring your shoes in along with your feet and we'll look at them together.

Do I need orthotics?

Probably not. Orthotics are only needed in cases where the feet are either quite abnormal in their formation, or they've been injured, operated on, or have arthritis beyond repair. Many people have orthotics they do not need. Strengthening the arches and calves and stretching the Achilles' tendon resolves many foot problems.

Are my legs unequal length? If so, do I need a lift in my shoe?

It's fairly common for the legs to be of different length. About one in ten people have leg length inequality. A much higher percentage have misalignments in their pelvis that create the appearance of unequal leg length. Some people have leg length inequality AND pelvic misalignments. The only way to tell if your legs are actually unequal or if it's pelvic misalignment is with a thorough examination, often including x-rays of the hips.

Not everyone who has uneven leg length will benefit from a shoe lift. It depends on how your spine has adapted to the inequality. Call me and make an appointment, I can examine you and order x-rays if needed.

Is cracking my knuckles bad?

No.

What about cracking my neck or back?

Yes, that's bad.

Why is it different?

Your spinal bones and joints are much more complex than the joints of your fingers. The ways that they misalign and fixate (get stuck) are complex. The corrective forces needed are very precise and 3-dimensional. Also, there are important things like arteries and spinal cords in our necks. I don't adjust my own neck. You shouldn't, either.

Is it OK to cross my legs when I sit?

Yes, it is. In fact, a study was done on this particular question. The researchers found that when you cross one leg over the other, you alter the muscle activity of your abdomen and core, shifting the load of sitting onto some structures and giving the others a rest. People naturally cross and uncross their legs and switch sides periodically while sitting, in order to distribute the strain of sitting across as many muscles and bones as possible, and give others a break. As long as you alternate crossing one leg over the other, it's good. The best thing to do about sitting is to minimize it.

What makes the "pop" during an adjustment?

The sound is made by the shifting of gas and fluid in the joints.

By the way, it is not the "pop" that makes the adjustment, it's the realignment of the bones and joint surfaces. Often, a successful adjustment will make a deep, resonant sound, but sometimes there is no sound. Sometimes the loud adjustment, with lots of deep pops, provides no improvement in the alignment and muscle tone, while some adjustments make no sound but restore alignment, increase mobility and comfort, and decrease muscle tone. Your chiropractor should be feeling your spine constantly during the adjustment to see if realignment is achieved, rather than just going for the pop.

Do adjustments hurt?

Adjustments should not hurt. The adjustment should use the minimal amount of force required to overcome the fixation and "set" the bone back into proper alignment. The chiropractor should take the time to be sure that the right vertebra is contacted and moved in the right direction, and that the surrounding muscles are relaxed enough to allow the movement. Doing so minimizes the force needed. Every so often, there is a situation where the adjustment has to be made through tight muscles. Even in those cases, it should not hurt.

What causes muscle spasms?

Muscles spasm when they do not have adequate fuel to maintain their relaxed state. That's right, muscles need energy to stay relaxed, which is why fatigued muscles tend to tighten up. Other than fatigue, the more common causes of muscle spasms are deficiency of calcium and magnesium, dehydration, and blood sugar imbalances (including diabetes).

How will I feel after an adjustment?

Depending on how badly you needed the adjustment, you may feel sore or a little lightheaded. Most people just feel relaxed. Many patients remark that they feel taller after an adjustment.

Why does Dr. Russ do so much soft tissue and muscle work along with the adjustment?

Read this.

How can I tell when to replace my shoes?

Shoes that fit well should last a long time. Most shoe wear comes from improper fit -- the big toe or ball of the foot rubbing against the inside of the shoe, or the ball of the foot wearing through the sole. These things will not happen if the shoes are well-made and properly fit. Your feet create moisture and heat, which should break down the materials before you wear through the shoe. When the materials break down, the layers tend to come apart -- the lace holes break, the sole comes off, the leather starts to fray. Giving your shoes plenty of time to dry out between wearings will make them last a lot longer. Shoes you wear every third day will last more than three times as long as shoes that you wear daily.

You should, however, replace the insoles of your shoes frequently. These are inexpensive and easy to get online or at a shoe store.  When the insole is flattened out, just get new ones and put them into the shoes.

Is it bad to carry a heavy backpack?

Yes. But if you must, fit the pack so that as much weight as possible is on the hips rather than the shoulders.

Why should I see a chiropractor if Advil makes the pain go away?

It's fine to dull the pain, but you should really fix the problem causing the pain. Pain is your body's signal that something is wrong. You can take the batteries out of your smoke alarm, but that doesn't put out the fire.

Is weightlifting OK?

Yes, weightlifting is wonderful as long as you use proper form and are lifting the right amount of weight. Get a friend or a certified trainer to watch you to be sure you're doing the exercises correctly. 

What exercises should I do?

The most important exercise is aerobic exercise (usually referred to as "cardio"). Read this article for more information about it. Once you've established your aerobic base, strengthen your rotator cuff (shoulder stabilizers) and your grip for two to three months. Then you are ready for squats, dead lifts, bench presses, rows, dips, pullups and planks.  These (and their variations) comprise a complete and safe workout for your upper body, lower body, and core. Repeat: aerobic base, shoulder and hand strength, then bigger muscle groups.

How do I find a chiropractor as good as Dr. Russ?

Look at their website. Look for an emphasis on soft tissue work along with the adjustment. Terms such as Active Release Technique, Neuromuscular Therapy, Myofascial Release, Deep Tissue Massage, Structural Integration, and Rolfing all refer to different approaches to the same basic thing: mobilization and reconditioning of muscle and connective tissue. Call the office. Ask how long a usual appointment is. It should be at least 15 minutes. Ask if most patients are on pre-paid treatment plans. If so, say thanks and hang up. Ask if everyone gets x-rays. If so, say thanks and hang up. Ask if the doctor has post-graduate training in soft tissue therapy. If not, say thank you and hang up.

I had a car accident! What should I do?

If you are bleeding, are on fire, or have bones sticking out of your skin, go DIRECTLY to the emergency room. If you are sore, achy, and stiff, see me as soon as you can. If you have shooting pains in your arms or legs, you need evaluation very quickly. I can do it, but if you can't see me within one or two days, go to the E/R. If you feel fine right after the accident but wake up the next day all sore and achy, you are experiencing what most people experience. Call me and come in as soon as possible. You have been injured.

What can I do to support adjustments and hold them as long as possible?

Holding an adjustment is primarily the job of the muscles. Weak, tight, imbalanced muscles pull the bones out of alignment quickly. Working to keep your muscles healthy is the best thing you can do for your joints. I like to say that exercise is to chiropractic as flossing and brushing are to dentistry. Stretch, work your aerobics, and when you're ready, lift some weights. You'll feel better, move better, sleep better, and have better posture. And you'll need adjustments much less frequently.

How often should I get adjusted?

An active person with healthy muscles should only need three for four adjustments a year. Sedentary folks with deconditioned muscles need adjustments about once every three weeks. Patients with chronic issues such as arthritis or degenerative discs need adjustment every week or two. Patients with acute injuries may need adjustments twice or three times per week for several weeks.

Is it OK to have a wallet in my back pocket.

Yes, it is OK, but it's better to have it in a coat pocket or hand bag.

What's the best kind of pillow?

The most comfortable one for you is the best one for you. Here is a quick guide to get started: back sleepers need thinner, firmer pillows; side sleepers need thicker, softer pillows; stomach sleepers need to change their sleeping position. Start there and try some pillows. Return them if you don't like them. IKEA will take pillows back. Keep trying until you find one you like. Then buy a few and replace them every six months or so.

What is the best kind of mattress?

There is no one best mattress. Trial and error is the only way. Don't buy a mattress that you can't return for a full refund. Return it if you don't LOVE it. Replace it every ten years.

As always, call 503-688-1219 or email me with questions!