Two Things You May be Doing that Every Chiropractor Wishes You Wouldn’t
As a chiropractor, I see dozens of spinal injuries, misalignment and problems each and every day. It’s no big thing to come across a patient who hurt their back in a way that I’ve never heard before. People actually do some crazy things. Still, thanks to my training and understanding of the cervical region and spine, I’m able to help my patients work through their injury by alleviating their pain so the healing can begin.
It’s my job to right the wrongs that people do to their backs and necks. But unlike these freak accidents and random injuries that I see each day, all the more common are back and neck injuries that are completely avoidable, if only people knew how to avoid them.
Two Things You Have to Stop Doing Right Now
Of all of these self-inflicted injuries, there are two which really take the cake. Not only because they are so common and damaging, but also because people have no idea how much harm they are causing themselves on a daily—and nightly—basis. I’m talking about sleeping on your stomach and cracking your neck. These are two of the absolute worst things that you can do for your back and neck. Let me explain why.
Chiropractor No-No Number 1: Don’t Sleep on Your Stomach
There’s a simple thing that I ask my patients to do when they tell me that they sleep on their stomach. I ask them to get up and walk around my office for three full minutes with their head turned to one side. This is the position that you sleep in when you lie flat on your stomach—think about it and try it. Get up right now and walk around your living room—or wherever you are—for three minutes with your head to your side.
If you don’t want to, I’ll tell you what happens with each and every single one of my patients within the first minute or so: they start to feel a pain in their neck or soreness in their back and muscles or a tightness. They will also start to feel dizzy and likely stop before they crash into anything. Now, the point of this isn’t to show them how silly it would look if they slept standing up, but rather show them just how much the body resists this position.
What would make you think that a body position that the body rejects while you’re standing up would be any better when you’re lying down. Just like the body rejects you walking with your head constantly to one side, it hates when you lie down on your stomach and turn your neck one way, even if you have the most comfortable pillow in the world.
The reason that even after just a few minutes of walking like this my patients feel pain is because it only takes a few minutes of wrenching your neck like this to put a ton of strain on the ligaments and muscles in and around your spine. Now, imagine the pain you feel in just a few minutes of standing up and multiple that damage by every hour you sleep for every night of your life. All of this pressure eventually builds up and damages the nerves and joints, eventually leading to spinal degeneration.
Chiropractor No-No Number 2: Don’t Crack Your Own Neck
Next up is a related problem since stomach sleepers often awake with sore necks, cracking your own neck. Now, just like you wouldn’t walk into an ER and attempt to take out your own appendix, you shouldn’t crack your own neck. Neck cracking (as it is commonly, but incorrectly, referred to) is something that should be left to the professionals. Whether you are pulling down on one side of your head, shoving one shoulder higher than the other or worse—having an untrained professional crack your neck for you, the bottom line is all you are buying is temporary relief, if that.
The proper method of realigning one’s neck should only be performed by a professional chiropractor, just like pulling a tooth should be left to a dentist. Self-manipulation is not only just a way to cover up a more serious underlying problem, it’s also extremely dangerous. That’s because there are millions of things that can go wrong when you crack your neck. Consider for a second the area that you are “cracking” and what it contains:
- Blood vessels
- Spinal cord
- Lower brain stem
Any one of these can crack, pop, snap, burst, twist, knot up or be permanently damaged, including the arteries that bring blood directly to your brain. Now, do you really want to mess around—or let someone else mess around—with that sensitive, delicate area?
Yes, it’s understandable that cracking your neck relieves pain and stiffness, but that’s just the symptom you are relieving. You aren’t curing the actual problem and in fact, you’re making it worse. Only a trained chiropractic professional can make the adjustments and realignments to your spine and neck to keep you pain free for good.
Aaron Jorgensen is a Chiropractor in Kennewick, WA. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University. He believes the best results come through a combination of chiropractic care, rehabilitation and strength exercises, and massage therapy.
You can learn more about his services and practice at his website.