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10 Bad Ideas for the Chiropractic Patient

Zehr Chiropractic was established 10 years ago and I have been here for the last 6.  As part of our celebration of the 10 year “anniversary” of the practice, I thought it would be fun and beneficial to put together some useful top 10 lists related to spinal health.Over the past ten years of serving people in the Muskegon area, we have heard hundreds of different explanations about how patients "put their Atlas out."  Sometimes we hear elaborate explanations of events that are chalked up to “back luck” while some have much more to do with bad judgement.  Some make us scratch our heads while some are downright hilarious.With that in mind, I have compiled a list of things that patients do routinely that can undo our chiropractic adjustments.  If you are guilty of these, it’s okay.  Just make changes as necessary to help ensure that you hold your adjustments for as long as possible.
1. Skipping the warm up / cool down when participating in athletic endeavoursIf I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times.  Whether you are golfing, running, biking, or hiking, a proper warm up and cool down are essential to prevent muscle strain and soreness.  If the muscles tighten up because you didn’t take care of them properly, they will cause more tension on your joints and pull them out of their proper alignment.  All you need is 5 minutes before exercise and 5 minutes after so plan accordingly.  If you’re not sure what a proper warm up or cool down entails, ask your doc!2.  Falling asleep on the couchMaybe this issue is best addressed by a marriage counselor but you should not be sleeping on the couch.  Couches are soft, cushy, and comfortable.  This feels great if you’re sitting, drinking your coffee and watching the morning news.  However, couches are not built for offering your spine the proper support while you sleep for 8 hours.  The same goes for your favorite recliner.  If you are feeling sleepy, go to bed!

3.  Becoming a marathon runner or world class bodybuilder overnight

I applaud anyone who decides to make exercise a part of their life.  However, many people (especially around New Year’s Day) try to go from couch potato to fitness nut overnight.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say.  By the same token, a fit healthy body takes time to build.  Ease into it and do not try and do too much too soon.  If your muscles and joints are not used to physical activity, you need to ease them back into it, or you will end up back in our office with an aching back, or worse...in the ER with a torn meniscus.

4.  Trampolines

Just stay off them.  Trust me on this one.  Don’t believe me?  Watch America’s Funniest Home Videos and you’ll soon know why.  Rope swings also fall into this category.

5.  Driving nonstop without rest

I get it.  You want to make “good time.”  You were told it would take 7 hours to get there and you KNOW you can easily make it in 6.  But prolonged sitting, hunched over a steering wheel while stressing over the complete idiot who just cut you off puts a lot of pressure on your spine.  Anyone nursing a serious neck or back problem should get out every 90 minutes, minimum.  Just get out of the car and take a 3 minute walk.  Your spine will thank you.

6.  Wearing high heels in the winter

I understand that heels make you look taller.  I know you have a dress code at work.  I agree that you “can’t wear those jeans with flats.”  I’ve heard it all before.  I am married after all 🙂

However, when the sidewalks are slippery and the parking lots are full of slush, high heels might as well be roller skates when it comes to offering you enough traction to prevent slips and falls.  Leave the house in some “cute” hiking boots and carry your heels with you.  Not only will you prevent a dangerous fall, but you’ll keep the slush and salt off your favorite heels.  Win-Win.

7.  Lifting with your back

I know, broken record time.  Lift with your legs and arms, not with your back.  Whatever you do, do NOT twist the back while carrying something heavy.  If you need to pick something up and turn to put it down, use your legs to turn and don’t rotate your spine.  If you want a demonstration, again...ask your doc!

8.  Neglecting your stretches and exercises

I am not required by law to give you proper exercises to help your spine to get stronger and more stable.  I don’t do it for my health.  I don’t even do it for my own amusement.  The reason I take the time to prescribe and demonstrate these procedures is because it works.  But guess what?  It only works if you actually DO IT.  Crazy, I know.  Merely securing the exercises to the fridge with a magnet has not been shown to be effective, believe it or not (I know who you are).  So make it a part of your routine.  Cut 10 minutes out of your facebook/tv/email/casino/gossiping time and just get them done.

9.  Missing your appointments

It happens all too often.  A patient starts feeling good...so good, that they forget that they had a follow up appointment scheduled.  Time goes by and they start hurting again.  The problem is, over that time, much of the progress that was gained has now been lost.  Just because you are not hurting on a given day does not mean that you do not need an adjustment.  Just like cavities in your teeth, misalignments in your spine can be there whether you know it or not.  So keep your appointments and ensure that everything is staying in place while you heal.

10.  Getting carried away with your chores

Probably the number one thing I hear from a patient when they come in on a Monday hurting is “I think I overdid it, doc.”  I know it’s easy to get carried away when you start a project. I have certainly been there.  But just because there are 4 hours worth of leaves to be raked does not mean you have to do it all in one dose.  Rake leaves for an hour or so, then take a break or do something else for a while.   Then go back to the leaves.  Lather. Rinse.  Repeat.  By breaking things up, you are less likely to overuse the same muscles, which will lead to muscle strain and joint flare ups.  And then, of course, remember to stretch and ice afterward.  Treat hard labor like an athletic event.  Professional athletes ice down and stretch afterward.  You should, too.

At Zehr Chiropractic, we always want the best for our patients.  We really do take your health seriously and strive to do the best we can while you are in the office.  But what you do after you leave our office can go a long way in making sure you maintain the results you achieve during your time here as a patient.

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