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The Mental Benefits of Slouching

Your mother was right, maintaining good posture is important for back health. Sitting with correct posture puts the least amount of stress on muscles and ligaments, helping to avoid back and neck pain. However, a recent study has shown that slouching may have some benefits, specifically on our cognitive abilities. The new study, led by Japanese researchers, demonstrated that a relaxed posture might improve focus and productivity during activities that require mental effort. The researchers studied a group of 28 fourth graders fitted with electrodes that tracked their core muscle activities. The researchers presented the children with simple arithmetic problems, …

How Engineers Are Helping to Predict Spine Fractures

The new tool that hopes to better predict spine fractures is not being developed by the medical community, but by mechanical engineers whose expertise lies in bridges and buildings. A professor of mechanical engineering at Boston University, Elise Morgan, Ph.D., is leveraging her engineering background and methods to create a screening technique will more accurately anticipate and diagnose spine fractures. Spine fractures are one of the most common back injuries, affecting 40 percent of women ages 80 and older, and nearly 20 percent of men over 50. The fractures occur when the vertebrae, the small bones that make up the backbone, …

The Science behind Why We Lose Height as We Age

It’s not just poor posture, chances are if you are in your forties or older, you are shorter than you used to be. On average, people lose ¼ to ½ inch every decade after age 40 with more rapid shrinking as time goes on. Several factors can contribute to why we lose height as we age. Generally, the discs between the vertebrae in the aging spine lose fluid, causing them to dehydrate and lose height. This process causes the spinal column to shorten. Our muscle mass, especially in the abdomen, also tends to weaken, which can cause uneven pressure on the …

The Best Low-Impact Exercise Equipment for Patients Recovering from Back Pain

Living with chronic back pain does not have to prohibit you from enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle. Whether at the gym or from the comfort of home, you can use exercise equipment that will not only jump start your fitness regime, but actually help alleviate the pain as well. When exercising, it is important to avoid high-impact aerobic workouts that place too much strain on the back, such as running, jumping and tennis. Low-impact cardiovascular exercise, on the other hand, increases the circulation of blood and nutrients to the back structures without jarring them, helping to relieve stiffness and support healing. Treadmill The treadmill is a smart machine for beginners, as it provides a straightforward and low-impact aerobic workout. The machine is gentle …

Back Pain and Depression: The Link between Mental and Physical Pain

A new study published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research found that those who suffer from depression are 60 percent more likely to experience chronic lower back pain than those who do not. Depression, a common yet serious illness, is one of the most frequently diagnosed mental disorders in the US, affecting approximately 6.7% of adults each year. Patients with depression typically experience persistent sad, anxious feelings and decreased energy, often resulting in physical pain, including muscle aches, headaches, cramps and/or digestive problems. The new study on the relationship between depression and back pain, led by Physiotherapist Marina Pinheiro from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Sciences, is the first of its kind. Incorporating all relevant research in the field, including 11 studies and over 23,000 people, the …

More Effective than Morphine? How Mindful Meditation Could Help with Pain Relief

Practicing mindfulness, the practice of being fully aware moment-to-moment, is often linked with various health benefits, from boosting the immune system to improving memory and attention skills. A new study to be published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that mindfulness can also be a natural healing technique for emotional and physical pain that may be even more powerful than morphine. Mindfulness, a secular form of meditation, was created as a tool for reducing pain and stress. During mindful meditation, participants focus on their breathing, recognize thoughts and feelings as temporary, and pay special attention to the body’s physical sensations. …

Multi-level Lumbar Fusion for Chronic Low Back Pain: Larry’s Patient Story

Larry, a patient of mine, stands out for his interesting path to surgery and recovery, as well as his strength and perseverance. For many years, Larry suffered from severe chronic pain from multi-level lumbar arthritis, disk degeneration and stenosis, which involved all 5 levels of his lumbar spine. I got to know him toward the end of his story, when he traveled from his home town in Pittsburgh to have surgery with me in New York. The problems first began in 1998, when Larry experienced a herniated disc in the lumbar region. He underwent surgery to correct the issue, which worked to temporarily alleviate his leg pain. …

Ayurvedic Techniques for Lower Back Pain

Welcoming discomfort is a fundamental technique of Ayurveda, a natural, alternative remedy that invites pain in the process of relieving it. In conjunction with professional medical treatment, Ayurveda can be a powerful healing tool. The natural healing technique originated in India 5,000 years ago, and focuses on the mind-body connection and the power of daily routines. The ancient medicine believes that the root of physical discomfort lies in subconscious, negative habits, such as tensing muscles, suppressing emotions, and not drinking enough water. Ayurveda’s primary philosophy is that pain is the mind’s way of alerting the body that it is pushing …

The Right Way to Stretch Before Exercising

It is widely understood that how and when you stretch can affect your exercise performance. However, have you ever considered that the type of stretching can affect your performance as well? A recent study concluded that a stretching routine with dynamic activity, stretching that utilizes momentum rather than standing still, can help enhance your workout. The study found that this type of warm up reduces muscle injuries and increases range of motion with inconsequential effects on athletic performance. This demonstrates that dynamic stretching will not wear you out or slow you down, and that it can even increase your performance. …

4 Winter Health Myths Busted

The reasons why health conditions may run rampant in the colder weather are varied, and that extra layer never hurts. However, avoiding winter health problems starts with being educated about the most common health fallacies. Find out what some of the misconceptions are regarding winter health myths to warm up to better health. Myth: The cold air makes you sick Fact: Lower temperatures alone aren’t what make you sick. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cold viruses grow best at about 91 degrees, a temperature you’re unlikely to experience if you’re outside in the cold. Myth: Don’t …