Woman going home. Tattooed young woman holding towel while going home after running in the morning, wondering about walking long distances without hurting your body.

Tips for Walking Long Distances Without Hurting Your Body

Walking is a fantastic exercise for increasing your heart rate, lowering stress levels, and improving overall health. However, many people think there’s no technique behind walking.

That’s not the case, especially if you’re walking frequently and for long distances! In fact, if you do end up walking long enough without the correct posture or technique, you could cause harm to your spine, hips, feet, and joints. Plus, using the right technique can make a world of a difference in your speed and performance! 

If you’re a huge fan of walking and what it does for you, keep reading below to learn tips for walking long distances without hurting your body.  

Perfect Your Posture 

Just as posture is important for runners, so it is for walkers! Here are some tips for using the correct posture when walking:

  • Stand up tall and straight. No leaning forward or backward. 
  • Your feet should be about hip-distance apart. 
  • Keep your toes pointed forward. 
  • Have your eyes 10 to 20 feet in front of you. This should mean your chin is parallel to the ground.
  • Avoid arching your back. 
  • To engage your core muscles while walking, suck in your stomach. (However, don’t suck in too much that you are uncomfortable! )
  • Relax your shoulders. 

Watch Your Stride 

When you’re used to walking to get from point a to point b as quickly as possible, your strides are naturally long. However, for the purposes of walking for exercise, you’ll want to shorten your stride. Not many people think to make this change, but doing so will protect your hips, knees, and Achilles tendons! 

So, next time you’re out on your walk, consciously think to take smaller steps. It may take longer, but you’ll be keeping your body safe. 

Use Your Arms 

Walking uses a majority of the muscles in your body, except for your arms. Make the effort to include them in the endeavor!  It will help increase your heart rate and burn more calories. To do this properly, hold your arms at a 90-degree angle and swing them backward one at a time, in line with your stride. 

The Right Shoes Are Key 

Wearing the right type of shoes can prevent the soreness and discomfort that often comes from walking long distances. The right padding, support, and fit makes a world of difference. So, try out different options before you commit to one pair, and make sure you break them in for at least five hours around the house before taking them on a long walk. 

If taking long walks does result in injury or discomfort or have further questions about walking long distances without hurting your body, our pain management specialists are here to help you get back to doing what you love. Reach out to us by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.

Teenage girl lying on the floor in the living room doing her homework using a laptop computer, low angle, close up, highlighting child habits hurting their spine.

How Your Child’s Habits Could be Hurting Their Spine

As parents, we want to protect children from harm to their young bodies. Yet, it can be challenging to keep track of all they do and how it indirectly impacts their health. Unfortunately, many children’s daily habits have negative impacts on their spine. 

If your child is complaining about back pain, their posture needs improvement, or you’re interested in proactive health tips, keep reading to learn how your child’s habits could be hurting their spine.

SCREEN TIME

With many schools using virtual learning, kids are finding themselves using technology as a daily part of life more than ever. Here are Alliance’s tips to help establish healthy screen time habits with the proper posture.

  • When children are looking at phones, tell them to hold it up in front of their faces. They need to avoid hunching over to look at the screen.
  • Similarly with iPads, instead of slouching on the couch, ask them to sit up straight and use the device at a table. 
  • If your child spends a lot of time sitting at a desk to use a computer, make sure the monitor is set up correctly so that the screen is at eye level and your child’s feet can rest firmly on the floor or a stool.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY 

When your child is physically active, their body is properly developing the muscles that keep their spine, abdomen, lower back, and hips in shape. Staying active can prevent injuries and pain from developing in the future for children.

Make sure your child has at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. It can be going outside to play or participating in a team sport. 

BACKPACK SAFETY  

If your child uses a backpack on a regular basis, you need to be aware of how it’s adjusted. It’s easy to overlook, which later can lead to aches and pains in your child’s shoulders, neck, and spine. 

Here are a few rules to keep in mind when adjusting your child’s backpack:

  • Ensure it sits evenly in the middle of their back. 
  • Children’s backpacks shouldn’t have more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight, meaning they should easily be able to put it on and take it off themselves.
  • No one-strap bags. In the same vein, don’t allow your child to wear a backpack on just one shoulder. 
  • Read more about how backpacks affect children’s spine health.

PAY ATTENTION TO SHOES 

Shoes with strong support are best for everyone, but especially for kids. They spend lots of time on their feet.  Try to select sneakers with support that are lightweight, flexible, and also breathable. Shoes without these characteristics can lead to issues with your child’s feet, hips, and even lower back. 

If you have any additional questions about issues with back pain or posture or how your child’s habits could be hurting their spine, contact Alliance and Spine Health to speak with our specialists or call 770-929-9033. 

Female runner running at summer park trail . Healthy fitness woman jogging outdoors, showcasing the proper posture for running.

Proper Posture for Running

When it comes to running, posture is extremely important. If you want to lower your risk for injuries, keep your level of soreness down, and also protect your joints so you can keep running, posture is vital to focus on. Running with poor posture can lead you to hurt yourself or feeling sorer than necessary the next day. Plus, running with the right posture will help improve your time.

The posture experts are here to help all runners stay injury-free and enjoy this healthy activity. We’re describing the proper posture for running below.

If You Run, Follow These Steps for the Best Posture

For the best possible posture for running, keep all of these tips in mind:

  • Avoid Bouncing: If you’re bouncing a lot when you’re running, that means you are spending too much energy lifting yourself off the ground. Focus on keeping your stride low to the ground, land softly on your feet, and run lightly.
  • Hands at Your Waist, Arms at Your Side: This tip is pretty straightforward. You don’t want to tense up your fists, because that tension will move up to your shoulders and your neck. As well, don’t keep your arms up closer to your chest because it will spend your energy up quicker.
  • Head-Up: You may be tempted to watch your feet while running to avoid tripping. However, it’s better to look about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. It will avoid adding tension to your neck and shoulders too.
  • Relax Shoulders: If you tense up your shoulders too much, it’ll lead to them feeling sorer after your run, which can discourage you and can even restrict your breathing. So, remember to relax them and don’t hunch them forward too much.
  • The Z Angle: This term refers to the proper posture of running as if you’re running with the right form it’ll make a z shape with your body. To do this correctly, ensure that your hip is parallel to the top of your pelvis, your hip is straight to the ankle of the leg that is running, and that your feet land firmly on the ground so your ankle doesn’t curve up too much.

If you have any more questions about the proper posture for running, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our pain care specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.

Male grabbing neck in pain in front of laptop, due to bad posture.

Watch Your Posture While Quarantining

While many of us are working from home and living a new reality in quarantine, one thing that can slip your mind is practicing good posture. It’s easy to forget about this important habit, especially if you’re spending more time in the comfort of your own home. 

The experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are here to remind you that good posture is important for overall health and happiness. Here are some tips we’ve curated to help you watch your posture while quarantining.

How to Watch Your Posture While Quarantining

  • Get a Comfortable Office Chair: If working from home has become part of your normal routine, now is good time to start focusing about your posture. Our first recommendation is to make sure your home office as a high-quality office chair. Chairs in bad condition are not helpful for posture improvement. Take the time to find one that will be comfortable for you and also maintain your proper posture. 
  • Don’t Forget to Exercise: While it can be tempting not to stay active while you’re working from home, it’s important to keep up an active lifestyle. It improves your well-being and helps with your posture too. Also, remember to stretch! Stretching will improve your muscle flexibility and also help correct any posture issues. If you need tips on how to keep active during quarantine, read this blog from our experts
  • Keep Your Posture at the Forefront of Your Mind: Feeling pain in your back might be a sign you need to improve your posture. However, you might not feel back pain and need to actively try to keep it on the top of mind. Make it a personal goal to try and better your posture. Schedule daily checks to see how you’re sitting and consider putting a mirror nearby to notice your reflection from time to time. 

If you have any questions about improving your posture while quarantining, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our pain care specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.

Child with kyphosis being examined.

What is Kyphosis?

Almost three million Americans experience kyphosis in their lifetime. Also known as hunchback syndrome, this common medical issue impacts the upper back and can lead to issues with posture and pain. While it may not be as common of a name as osteoporosis or arthritis, it still can impact anyone’s quality of life.

What is kyphosis? The experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are here to explain this medical condition. 

Explanation of Kyphosis

The best way to describe kyphosis is a severe curve on the upper back. While it’s more common in older women, sometimes children will develop it too. What causes kyphosis? Here are the most common reasons:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Disk degeneration 
  • Birth defects
  • Cancer treatments 
  • Previous fractures in your bones

Main Symptoms of Kyphosis

Unfortunately, symptoms aren’t visible in the early stages of kyphosis. However, a curve in the upper back can be an early sign of kyphosis. Sometimes, back pain and stiffness will also accommodate that symptom.

Treatment Options 

Here are the treatment options that medical professionals recommend for those experiencing kyphosis:

  • Consuming more calcium and vitamin D
  • Avoiding smoking products and alcohol
  • Physical therapy
  • Pain relievers, whether over-the-counter or prescribed
  • Certain medication, such as osteoporosis focused options
  • Surgery

If you have any more questions about kyphosis, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our back-strengthening specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.

Closeup of female doctor in labcoat and stethoscope holding digital tablet, reading patient report. Hands holding medical report, discussing Provocative Discography.

Why You Might Need Provocative Discography

When you’re dealing with constant and debilitating back pain, you’ll do anything to find relief as quickly as possible. However, determining the source for your back pain can be difficult if there is a long list of potential causes. It can take time and several doctor visits to discover the reason for your discomfort.

Provocative discography is a diagnostic procedure your physician might suggest to determine the root of the problem. To learn about this process and why you might need it, read more below from the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers.

What is Provocative Discography? 

Lumbar provocative discography, also called discography or discogram, helps your physician discover the source of your back pain. It identifies the disc or discs in the spine that appear abnormal and are painful. Then, your doctor can determine if surgery or another type of pain management is needed to help relieve your back pain.

How Does a Provocative Discography Work?

This procedure requires you to rate your pain during the procedure, so you will not be sleeping during it. Here are the common steps for a provocative discography.

  • Numbing medicine is applied to decrease the amount of pain felt during this procedure. 
  • A discogram needle enters the body and into the center of the disc. 
  • Then, a contrast dye is injected. 
  • The doctor will ask you to rate your pain and whether it corresponds with your normal area of pain.
  • Next, a CT scan or an X-ray is used to see how the dye spreads. 
  • If the dye spreads outside of the disc and it reproduces your pain, it could be the source of your pain. 

Why You Might Need It 

This procedure gives doctors an inside look at the quality of your spinal discs. The ones with the most wear and tear and reproduce your pain indicate the potential source of your back pain.

However, the efficacy of provocative discography in determining the source of back pain is still controversial within the scientific community. Sometimes, dye spreading past the disc doesn’t match your normal pain.

Because of this discussion, it’s best to consult with your pain physician beforehand to determine if provocative discography is the best procedure to identify your pain. 

If you have any more questions about why you might need provocative discography, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our back-strengthening specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.   

Older woman holding back in pain due to arthritis, wondering How Arthritis Affects Your Spine..

How Arthritis Affects Your Spine

When thinking about arthritis, many people think about pain and lack of mobility in the hands and fingers. However, since arthritis is a medical condition that impacts the joints of the body, it can happen anywhere there are joints: which means, the spine is fair game.

The common symptoms of arthritis are pain, lack of flexibility, and inflammation. While it can be difficult enough dealing with it in the hands, as it impacts your spine it can be even more difficult to get around and do everyday tasks.

To learn more about how arthritis affects your spine from the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Specialists, keep reading below.

Types of Spinal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

As the most common form of spinal arthritis, this impacts the lower back and is usually caused by common wear and tear of everyday life. The cartilage between the spinal facet joints naturally fades through the years, which means those joint surfaces begin to rub against each other. This then leads to the tell-tale signs of spinal arthritis, such as pain and lack of flexibility.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

An autoimmune disorder, this occurs when the immune system attacks the synovium, also known as the lining of the joints. It can happen during any age as, unlike osteoarthritis, it doesn’t naturally develop over time.

It is usually more common in other areas of the body, but it can still happen to the spine.

Spondyloarthritis

Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis is an inflammatory disease that impacts the joints, ligaments, and tendons of the spine. It can be triggered by other previous diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease or an infection.

Symptoms of Spinal Arthritis

Here are the symptoms of arthritis in the spine:

  • Pain in the back.
  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of flexibility in the back.
  • Headaches.
  • Grinding sensation in the spine when moving.
  • Swelling in the back.
  • Tenderness in the back.

Treatment of Spinal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

As with many other medical conditions, the type of treatment that works best for spinal arthritis will depend on many factors, such as type of spinal arthritis, age, and pain level.

Keeping that in mind, here are several of the most common treatment options:

  • Medications.
  • Lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking or losing weight.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Radiofrequency ablation of the nerves to the facet joints.
  • Surgery is rarely an option for spinal arthritis symptoms alone.

If you have any more questions about how arthritis affects your spine, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our back-strengthening specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.

Overworked Black Businesswoman Massaging Nosebridge At Workplace Having Eyesight Problem, Selective Focus, wondering How Stress and Fear Can Impact Your Pain.

How Stress and Fear Can Impact Your Pain

We’re all living in a stressful, unprecedented time. As the coronavirus impacts everything we know around us, it’s extremely common to feel stress and fear. Our favorite restaurants are closed, we need to stay inside all the time, and we can’t hug our loved ones. On top of all of that, the new stresses of working from home or dealing with less income have also arrived.

Needless to say, it can be rough. Even worse, stress and fear can cause more issues down the road if you’re dealing with chronic pain, which one in five Americans reportedly do. 

That’s why the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain are here to help. We’re explaining below how stress and fear can impact your pain and what you can do to help. 

Constant Fight or Flight Mode 

When you’re stressed or afraid, your body’s natural chemical reaction is to go into fight or flight mode. However, since you aren’t necessarily in need to fight or flight, your body gets confused by this and constantly stays in that mode. 

That means your body is always tense as all your muscles remain poised to strike or start to run. When you have chronic pain, this is a horrible thing for recovery and management. It’s best to relax your muscles as much as you can, but fight or flight mode is the direct opposite of that. 

Discourages Positive Mental Health 

When dealing with pain management, working on your mental health is a vital part of the process. When you’re feeling anxious or sad, your pain can often be increased or morphed. Added stress and fear only negatively impacts your mental health, therefore tampering with your back pain. 

Physical Side-Effects

Those with high-stress levels often report experiencing damage to their heart, irritable bowel syndrome and other issues with their digestive system, and even decreased fertility. When you’re already dealing with chronic pain, these combined physical effects can only make your initial symptoms feel worse. 

What Can I Do to Fight Against How Stress and Fear Can Impact Your Pain? 

To prevent the side-effects of stress and fear creating more issues with your chronic pain, here are several tips we recommend for coping:

  • Speak with others: Tell your trusted loved ones how you’re feeling. Oftentimes, they’ll understand what you’re going through and give you much needed advice, love, and attention to get you feeling better. 
  • Go to therapy: Dealing with chronic stress can often be a sign of an undiagnosed mental health issue. Speaking with a therapist can help you understand where your stress comes from, provide tips and tricks for how to deal with it, and also give you the tools to prevent the stress from arriving in the first place. 
  • Practice Self-care: When stress shows up, it’s best to lean on what brings you happiness and joy. That’s where self-care best practices come in, which means indulging in activities that make you feel happy and calm. Whether it’s pulling out the yoga mat or putting on a face-mask, don’t feel guilty for taking the time to love yourself so that stress will melt away. 

If you have any more questions about how stress and fear can impact your pain, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our back-strengthening specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.   

A happy senior couple indoors at home, doing exercise on the floor to strengthen their back.

Simple Exercises An Elderly Person Can Do to Strengthen Their Back

When you’re older in age, it becomes easier to rest more and work out less. However, it’s important for your overall health to stay active and keep exercising. Doing so has plenty mental benefits as well as physical, such as keeping your mobility up and preventing pain later down the road. 

Don’t fall into the temptation to spend more on the couch! Get up and do some workouts to keep your back happy and healthy. To make this easier for you, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain have put together a list of simple exercises an elderly person can do to strengthen their back. 

Try These Five Exercises An Elderly Person Can Do to Strengthen Their Back

All of the below exercises directly impact and strengthen your back. Whether you want to do them from the comfort of your own home or at the gym, the choice is up to you. 

  • Back Extension: Also called the superman, this exercise requires you to lay down flat on your stomach. Lift your chest up and pull your legs and back off of the ground. Hold for a few seconds and then rest before starting again. 
  • Bent Knee Raise: Lay down on your back. Have your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent. Raise one of your legs up to your chest, and repeat on the other side. You’ve done two bent knee raises! 
  • Bridges: Start off in the same position for the above exercise. This time, however, you will raise your hips off the ground until you make a straight slanted line with your body. Hold for as long as you can and then release. For an extra challenge, squeeze your abs when you lift your hips. 
  • Curl Ups: Similar to a sit-up, this exercise requires you to be on your back. Rest your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent. Curl your spine off the ground until you’re sitting up straight. Continue to do as many reps as you feel comfortable doing! 
  • Sit Backs: Essentially the opposite of the curl up, you start this exercise sitting on the floor. Have your knees bent up and your feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and slowly start to sit back until you are resting on the ground. Sit back up and do it all over again. 

If you have any more questions about simple exercises an elderly person can do to strengthen their back, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our back-strengthening specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.  

Morning meditation. Tranquil good-looking woman meditating with closed eyes while having connected fingertips, learning What Mental Exercises Can Help with Pain Management.

What Mental Exercises Can Help with Pain Management

Chronic pain often negatively impacts the mental health of those who have issues. However, the brain can also be one of the toughest and most successful weapons against flaring pain. Mental exercises can be extremely effective practices to add to other pain management treatments. Focusing on your brain, distracting yourself, and keeping yourself positive can all make a difference.

To learn what mental exercises can help with pain management, keep reading below.

Do These Mental Exercises to Help Manage Your Pain

First and foremost, we want to stress that these exercises cannot replace the advice of a physician. Before you try any of these, please first speak with your trusted pain management specialist about how these might work for you and your specific pain.

That being said:

  • Lean into your breath. Using proper breathing techniques is a huge element of many encouraging mental exercises. For dealing with chronic pain, it can help to bring focus to other things besides your discomfort in addition to often triggering relaxation in your muscles and body. Practice deep breathing for these benefits by inhaling as much as you can and as slow as you can. Do the same for the exhale. Spend several minutes a day doing this, especially if you’re experiencing a flare-up of pain as deep breathing can often help the pain pass.
  • Focus Elsewhere with Meditation. A fantastic tool that many people often utilize, meditation can help bring your attention elsewhere besides your pain, strengthen your mental focus, make you feel more positive, and reduce stress. No wonder people with chronic pain often meditate! 
  • Gentle Yoga and Flow. Yoga and other gentle flow practices like Tai Chi incorporate both of the above practices while also helping to keep your body fit and stretched. When starting yoga or Tai Chi, make sure to pick exercises that won’t cause more pain for you later down the road. Plus, don’t push yourself too hard.
  • Keep Yourself Positive. It can be extremely challenging to remain positive in the face of daily physical pain. However, training yourself to look for the good in the situation and remaining happy will distract you from your pain. Also, it will also encourage you and better your situation. To keep yourself positive, try looking up inspiring news, starting a daily gratitude journal, or thinking about things that make you happy.

If you have any more questions about what mental exercises can help with pain management, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our pain-alleviating specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.