Dr. Bell's Blog

What Lies Below The Surface...

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It is said that 90% of the total mass of an iceberg lies below the surface (it’s amazing they float, right? But let’s not bore each other with the physics of it). When it comes to our health this comparison holds true for many of us. We may appear healthy to most on the outside. However, what lies beneath may tell a whole different story.

Almost all of us know someone that was seemingly healthy one day and dropped dead of a heart attack the next. It is extremely unfortunate, but an all too common situation. Were they healthy the day, week, month, or year before this happened? Likely not. We have all been raised to judge the majority of our health on the presence or absence of outward symptoms, and this can unfortunately be the deadly outcome to that belief. The health of our body is far more complicated than the “warning system” known as symptoms that we all experience from time to time.

When it comes to our spine, the presence or absence of symptoms can be one of the most misleading gauges on how healthy it is. The main reason is that 90% of the make-up of a spinal nerve is either motor or autonomic. In plain terms, it’s purpose is to transmit nerve impulses to control the function of something. This can be things such as your heart rate, stomach function, or ability to digest food. That leaves roughly 10% of the nerve for sensory fibers. Pressure or damage to this portion of the nerve fiber will produce pain. Therefore, virtually 90% of the time pressure or damage to a nerve will NOT produce pain. This is disastrous when pain is our gauge as to whether or not there is a problem.

It is always an unfortunate situation to bring up to a new patient, when they present with an acute pain situation that arose mere days ago, that they have 20+ years of irreversible damage in their spine. This is not the part of my job I enjoy. We can, in most cases, still help this person. But there are limitations. We are much better at preventing this situation from arising in the first place.

Spinal subluxations (misalignments) can occur at any age (including newborns), and often present with no symptoms whatsoever. The causes of a subluxation come from what we call “The Three T’s”: Thoughts (a.k.a stress), Toxins, and Trauma. We all have these in our lives on a daily basis, so it is inevitable we will get spinal subluxations. This is why regular chiropractic check-ups for people of all ages is so vitally important. You don’t need to be in pain (and hopefully are not) to see a chiropractor. I have been under regular chiropractic care since I was a very young child and can’t count on one hand how many times I have had any significant back pain (all from a number of sports injuries).

Maintaining a healthy spine and nervous system is not just important for the structural integrity of your spine, but also for the health of your entire body. This is why we also say that regular chiropractic care will help you too…

LIVE well. BE well.

How Yoga Can Help Your Spine....And Which Poses Are Best

The practice of yoga was first developed in India 5,000 years ago. It has long been believed that the regular practice of yoga can have tremendous benefits for mind and body alike. Among other things, yoga can physically help with flexibility, muscle strength, respiration, and circulation. Of all the benefits, none is closer to my heart than the benefits it can have on your spine. The great thing about the practice of yoga is that it can be done by nearly everyone, regardless of age or physical ability. Yoga comes in many different forms and levels of difficulty, ranging from an hour and a half hot yoga session done in over 100 degree heat, to chair yoga that is regularly performed with the elderly and those physically impaired. And if you are someone that thinks Yoga is not a workout, spend an hour and a half performing 26 poses in 100 degree heat and I promise you will think differently.

7 Great Poses For Spinal Health

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Downward-Facing Dog: Back pain, particularly that of your lower back, is closely tied in with your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings will lead to a tight lower back. This particular pose is great at lengthening the hamstrings and back extensors. Hold posture 5-10 breaths, and repeat 5 times.

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Upward-Facing Dog: This is a classic yoga pose, yet very effective. It helps to strengthen the muscles of the arms and shoulders, as well as opening up your chest and stretching your thoracic spine. Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat 5 times.

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Child’s Pose: This is one of my favorite yoga poses, and is also a great way to relax your mind and body in the middle of a stressful day, or at night after a long day. This pose will once again help elongate your spinal muscles, relieving tension from them. Hold for 5-10 breaths, and repeat as many times as needed.

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Seated Spine Twist: This pose can have benefits not only for your spinal health, but also that of your overall health. It has been shown to also improve digestion, and improve menstrual discomfort. Hold for 5-10 breaths, repeat on each side 2-3 times.

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Cat and Cow Pose: This gentle and easy posture is a great way to loosen up back muscles and improve lower back mobility. This is a great beginner posture to start with as you begin your practice of yoga. Repeat 10 times in sequence.

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Locust Pose: This pose begins to increase in difficulty, but has a relatively low risk of injury. However, as always, you can make modifications to every pose to suit your ability. This posture will help strengthen back muscles, improve posture, and relieve stress.

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Camel Pose: This is a great posture to help those of you with chronic tension in your hips. It can also help improve flexibility of your thoracic spine and lengthen the flexion muscles in your neck. This is a great pose for the health of your entire spine.

One common thread you may notice throughout most of the 7 poses I referenced above is extension of your spine. The vast majority of activities we all do every day are flexion activities. That includes such things as sitting (hip flexion), bending (hip/lower back flexion), and looking down (neck flexion). Doing yoga poses on a regular basis that perform the exact opposite of those activities helps to combat the stress they cause on our body. People often ask me, “Doc, how can I get my adjustments to stay better?” Well, here is one of those things that can go a long way towards helping your spine stay in alignment a little better and a little longer. This is yet another step that can help you….

LIVE well. BE well.



DIY Natural Cold Remedies....Which One's Work?

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Some of the most taxing times for our body and immune system are when the weather changes. Our body is trying to adapt to the cooler weather, and we are getting less sunlight (and therefore less vitamin D). You may be getting less active, and many times are not eating as well as you were. All this stress on our body can make us all more vulnerable to getting sick. Traditionally most just rest and drink plenty of fluids….and this is still very important. Some reach for over the counter cold medications to make them feel better, however these many times will actually prolong the duration of the sickness. Looking for something more natural that can actually help you along to better health quicker?

Take a look at some of the ways I regularly utilize when I start to feel like I may be getting sick. As always, consult your primary physician before starting anything new.

Attack The Cold With Vitamins

Taking vitamin supplements regularly is something I believe to be necessary for most of us. When I begin to feel rundown, I will raise my intake of a few main vitamins.

  • L-Lysine: This amino acid can help support your immune system to fight off a virus. It helps specifically for the lining of the lungs and sinuses. I will generally take 3 1500mg doses 2-3X per day if I feel a crisis coming on.

  • Vitamin D3: This is an important vitamin to take everyday as well, but bump it up to 10-20,000 IU’s at the first sign of cold or flu-like symptoms. Continue to repeat for the following 2-3 days. Vitamin D is an amazing anti-microbial agent, which kills both bacteria and viruses.

  • Vitamin C: There has been multiple studies that show this water-soluble vitamin can shorten the lifespan of a cold. Taking 3,000mg every 2-3 hours is advised when you are sick or feeling like you might be. I personally take liposomal vitamin C because it will get absorbed into your system much better.

Flush It Out With a Nasal Saline Rinse

This is another very important step to take when you are not feeling well. It is important to use a warm, non-chlorinated, sterile saline solution to not cause further harm. A saline rinse can help to thin out the mucus in your nose and sinuses, and therefore flush out bacteria and viruses. If you are making your own solution, mix 6-8 ounces of water with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix solution thoroughly, and apply in each nostril with a net pot. Repeat 3-4 times per day, and have the tissues ready!

Hydrogen Peroxide

Putting hydrogen peroxide in your ears for a cold or flu has been commonplace since early in the 20th century. Research has found that in order to be effective it must be done within the first 24 hours of onset of symptoms. Simply take part of a cap full of hydrogen peroxide, place it in one ear with head tilted to the side, and leave in for at least 3-5 minutes. You may hear is “sizzling”…don’t worry…that means it is working. Repeat in the other ear when finished, and do so 1-2x per day until your cold is gone.

Finally, when it comes to being sick, doing the little things are all equally important as everything I have mentioned above. Be sure and always get plenty of quality sleep, limit your sugar intake to very little or none, and drink plenty of water. There is also nothing wrong with old “tricks” like chicken soup and a hot bath to aid in recovery. Most importantly just listen to your body and let it do what it needs to do to get you back to health, and soon you will once again…

LIVE well. BE well.

Don't Sleep On The Importance Of A Great Night's Rest.

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Sleep.

We spend roughly a third of our life doing it. It is vitally important for health and healing, yet so many of us are not getting enough of it. Are you in this group of people? Are your children? Let’s take a look at how important the quantity and quality of consistently better sleep is for you.

Why Is Sleep So Important?

This could be a blog post of it’s own. I recently read a book entitled “Why We Sleep”, by Matthew Walker, PhD., in which he went into detail on many aspects of sleep, dreams, and why we need both. It’s a fascinating read if you want further detail on this subject. The most important reason for sleep is for our body to regenerate and heal. This is vital for all systems of your body, including your immune system. Have you ever noticed when you are sick all you want to do is sleep? This is because your body wants to focus all of it’s energy at getting you back to health.

How To Get Good Sleep, and What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough?

The amount of sleep we need can also drastically vary with age. Newborns can sleep 15-17 hours per day (on average), school age kids and teenagers somewhere between 9-12 hours, and adults 7-8 hours. As an adult, if you are getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night, you are significantly jeopardizing your health potential. Your cognitive function decreases (including memory), your immune system suffers severely, as does the overall health and functioning of every system in your body. The effects are far reaching. Think sleeping pills will help? Think again. The sleep you are getting while you take them is not the kind you need, and the health risks are enormous. One study showed that you increase your odds of death by over 3x just by taking one sleeping pill in a given year. Those odds continue to increase the more you take. Don’t play with fire, sleeping pills can be dangerous and addicting.

Do you have an athlete in your family? Lack of sleep can have a significant impact on them as well. One study showed the chances of getting injured while playing sports to be around 15% if your child gets roughly 9 hours of sleep. That chance increases to over 70% if they are only getting 6 hours of sleep. That is HUGE! Even getting 7 hours of sleep will still increase their chances of injury to 60%. Other studies have also shown a significant drop off in athletic performance if you are getting any less than 8 hours of sleep.

Sleep and Your Spine

We’ve talked about the importance of the quantity of sleep you get. 8+ hours a night is the target, but the quality of that sleep matters just as much. How you position yourself during that time can impact the health of your spine. For starters, sleeping on your stomach is bad. It puts a lot of strain on your spine, most notably your neck. Back sleeping is great, but most have a hard time doing so. That leaves side sleeping. The key to side sleeping to to be sure your neck is properly supported, and you have a pillow between your legs to keep your hips in proper alignment. By doing these two things, it is a perfectly good way to sleep.

In closing, I think we significantly underestimate the importance of sleep. You can take every other step towards keeping yourself healthy, including regular chiropractic check-ups, but if you are not sleeping well it is virtually all for not. It is that important!

Get into a routine at night:

  • Stay off your phone/tablet in the hours leading to bedtime.

  • Sleep in total darkness.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening.

These few tips will help you sleep well, so you can…

LIVE well. BE well.