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Stay Injury Free This Spring!

biking

It’s finally looking like spring in Chicago, and that means it is time to dust off the running shoes, tennis rackets, golf clubs, bikes or whatever equipment your favorite sport requires. Jumping back into your favorite sport on that first beautiful day can also bring on a sports injury. Follow these tips to ensure an injury free spring and summer!

  • Stretching: before you start on any activity make sure you have taken the time to stretch. Visit our Moves of the Month page for some great ideas for stretching.
  • Warm-up: take some extra time before you get started to do a proper warm-up. Warming up gradually revs up your heart rate and increases blood flow to your muscles. Choose a warm-up activity that uses the same muscles you will be using during your work-out. Walk or slowly jog before you begin to run. Bike at a moderate pace before you begin a harder ride. Take the time for some practice swings with the golf club or tennis racket.
  • Build up slowly: unless you have been training indoors during the winter for your favorite sport, you will need to build up slowly. A lot of the injuries that we see happen when people overdo it on their first day out. You need to rebuild muscle strength and endurance so that strains and tears aren’t caused from overuse or being unprepared.
  • Weight training: regular weight training is a great way to stay injury free. A weight training routine can be designed to target and strengthen the specific muscles used in whatever activity or sport you participate in.
  • Fuel and hydrate: proper nutrition and hydration are crucial for preventing injuries. Remember to drink lots of fluids and properly fuel the body before, during, and after your work-out.
  • Check your equipment: before you head out check to make sure that all of your equipment is in good working condition.

Now get out there and enjoy some beautiful spring weather after another long Chicago winter!




Floor Sitting

For this month, we are going to challenge you to spend 30 minutes each day sitting on the floor.  Now sitting on the floor for 30 minutes each day sounds like a lot of time.  However, with the average American spending 5 hours a day watching television, there is plenty of time to “practice” floor sitting.  What can you gain from sitting on the floor?  The answer is improved flexibility in the hips and pelvis.  Sitting on the floor seems like such a trivial thing, but as we age it becomes harder and harder to do comfortably.  This is because we tend to spend less time sitting on the floor and more time in chairs and on sofas.  What’s more, the greater your need to use your hands and knees to get up from the floor, the higher your risk of dying from all causes.  So whether you’re reading, watching TV, eating, or having a conversation, spend some time on the floor to improve your mobility.

At first, you may be too stiff in your hips to sit comfortably for any period of time.  If that is the case, try sitting on a few pillows or folded up blankets.  As your hips loosen up over time, you can take a pillow or two away.

Below is an illustration from anthropologist Gordon Hewes that shows how different people rest from around the world.  Mix up some of the postures during your 30 minutes each day to work on your mobility in different ways.

Floor Sitting




Tips for an injury free 2015 Chicago winter

winter

By Chicago Chiropractic & Sports Medicine 

Whether or not we are willing to accept it, another Chicago winter is upon us.  Being the responsible citizens that we are means hours of shoveling snow, breaking up ice sheets, digging out cars and getting a free workout pushing them out of a valuable parking spot.   All this activity presents significantly higher risks for back injuries.  Coupled with the tendency in winter for people to hibernate while feasting on their favorite comfort foods, we have a perfect set up for injury.

So, how do we avoid these injuries?  The advice is simple but effective.  Follow these important winter tactics to navigate your way through whatever the polar vortex or El Niño has to throw at this fine city.

 

SHOVELING TIPS

  1. Always warm up before shoveling.  Spend 5-10 minutes performing your favorite dynamic stretches.  Don’t just jump out of bed or off the couch and into the snow.  Examples of dynamic stretches include wall slides, shoulder circles, windmills on the floor, lunges with a twist, and high knees.  Dynamic stretching increases body awareness and lowers risk of injury.
  2. If you are older or have health issues, find someone young and naive to do the work. This is pretty self-explanatory, but have them read this article first.
  3. Keep upright, engage your core with abdominal bracing, and lift with your legs. Slouching over while pushing/pulling/lifting the shovel full of snow is one of the worse possible activities for your low back.  Avoid strains/sprains and disc herniation by driving the shovel through the snow with your back upright and core engaged, then lift with your legs.  Keep your knees slightly bent in an athletic stance to allow you to keep your back upright and core engaged.
  4. Lift lighter shovel loads of snow. This may seem like common sense, but when in the moment and trying to get the job done, you may get carried away by lifting too much weight at once.  If the shovel is too heavy, your form will suffer, and injury can result.
  5. If you have any health issues that you think may prevent you from following these tips, consult your healthcare provider.
  6. Stay fit and healthy. Don’t allow the snow to beat you into submission.  Maintain a healthy lifestyle by making healthy dietary choices and maintaining a workout regimen.  Not only will you avoid winter related injuries, but you will be able to kick those winter blues.  Snow is not an excuse to gorge on Lou Malnati’s and binge watch House of Cards.  Getting out of your comfort zone will pay big dividends come spring, when you don’t dread fitting into your summer gear from last year.

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Cossack Squat

The Cossack Squat is a great exercise for building strength and flexibility in the hips and adductor muscles.  It is a good exercise to work into your warm-up routine prior to working out.

Start with your feet about 2 ½ times the width of your shoulder with your toes pointed outwards and your knees in line with them.

Squat

Begin by squatting toward your right side. Slowly move your weight onto your right leg until your left leg is straight, resting only on its heel. Next, slowly shift your weight back to your center and then onto your left leg, repeating the movement.  Perform 2-3 sets of 6-12 repetitions on each leg.  You will notice that at first you may not be able to go down very far.  Just start where you are and try to get a little bit farther with each rep.

Do not lean your body too far forward as this places added stress on the knees.  Instead, sit back and use your hips to handle most of the work.
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