Anti-Inflammatory Foods

by Ruth A. McKinney, D.C.

Many health problems currently plague our society.  High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis are some of the most prevalent.  Fortunately, these issues can be improved with lifestyle changes.  You will be instantly healthier with just a 10% reduction in weight.  Inflammation in the body has been directly linked to these diseases.  Including anti-inflammatory foods in your diet is key to improving the situation.

Green is good!  Start by adding green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collards, and swiss chard.  Add them to salads and soup for a boost of vitamins A, C, and K to protect your body from oxidative stress.

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The antioxidants in bok choy help to scavenge free radicals that can cause significant damage to living cells and tissues.  Bok choy contains over seventy antioxidants as well as being packed with vitamins and minerals.  Sauté it with onions, mushrooms and garlic; chop it and add to your salad; roast it, or add it to soups.

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve probably eaten celery.  This much-maligned vegetable is actually packed with benefits.  It’s anti-inflammatory, and is a good source of potassium (which helps to flush out toxins from the body), vitamins, and antioxidants.  It helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and fights heart disease.  The seeds are even anti-bacterial.  Enjoy it with chips and salsa, or add to salad for extra crunch.

Broccoli is a well-known staple for clean eating.  A high mineral content allows it to be both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Use it raw in salads, and steamed or roasted with seasoning as a great side for meat.

Beets don’t sound boss, but they pack a punch as a great inflammation fighter.  Their bright color is a good indicator of their power as an antioxidant.  Prepare them by steaming, roasting, or sautéing them.

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For good memory, eat blueberries.  They contain an antioxidant that fights inflammation and cancer.  Additionally, blueberries help to slow cognitive loss, keeping deficits in memory to a minimum.  Their beautiful color and natural sweetness make them perfect for snacks or dessert.

Spices like turmeric and ginger are good immune system modulators as well as being inflammation reducing.  Ginger also helps with digestion and cleanses the lymphatic system.  These spices have a strong flavor so use them sparingly at first until you get used to them.

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An anti-inflammatory diet goes hand in hand with healthy eating.  Adhere to the “white diet” and avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates like bread and cookies, ice cream, potatoes, and rice.  The brighter the color of the food, the healthier it’s likely to be.  Less inflammation in the body means less pain and a greater ability to live life more fully.

Sit Less, Move More!

In the morning you sit while having breakfast.  Next you sit in your car as you commute to work.  Once you arrive at work you sit at your desk while working on a computer.  You sit in your car again while driving home.  You sit to have your dinner.  You unwind in the evening by sitting while watching television.  Does this look like your typical day?

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Studies show that prolonged sitting impacts negatively on health and causes a higher incidence of mortality, especially for people who don’t exercise on a regular basis.  Obesity, increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar, and increased cholesterol have all been linked to sitting for long periods.  Increased risk of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease also seem to be related to too much sitting.

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Moving muscles pump fresh blood and oxygen through the brain.  When we are sedentary for a long time, everything slows, including brain function which can lead to “foggy brain.”   When we sit for a long time, the discs in the spine are compressed unevenly causing collagen to harden around tendons and ligaments.  People who sit more are at greater risk for herniated lumbar disks.

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A review of studies also shows that the risks aren’t reduced by moderate to vigorous exercise or physical activity.  This suggests that prolonged sitting is even more harmful to health than first suspected, no matter how much exercise one does.  The answer appears to be simply to sit less and move more.

The good news is there are many ways to sit less during your busy day.  Perhaps your company will consider providing you with an adjusting desk that will both stand and sit.  Train yourself to stand each time you talk on the phone.  Take hourly breaks to the water cooler or rest room.  Use half your lunch hour to take a walk.

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The impact of movement can be profound.  Increased movement will burn more calories, leading to increased energy and weight loss.  Movement also promotes important processes related to sugar and fat metabolism.   There are many health benefits to increased activity, so sit less and move more!

To learn how Chiropractic helps call our office at 423-485-8480.

When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!

Backpacks Are Hurting Our Kids!

by Ruth A. McKinney, D.C.

Ready, set, go!  It’s back to school time.  Everyone wants their child to do well in school, and part of that is providing them with the right tools for success.  We may be overlooking a threat in the form of an overloaded backpack.  Nearly 80 million children will be carrying heavy loads to and from school, and many of them will be using backpacks.

22,000 children went to the emergency room, doctor’s offices and clinics in 2013 with a variety of sprains, strains, dislocations, and fractures due to backpacks, this according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Most of these injuries were preventable.

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The results of these injuries could include missing school, missing P.E. classes, and missing after school activities including sports.  If a child also suffers from scoliosis (curvature of the spine), the consequences could last a lifetime.

Scientists in one study found the average backpack was as heavy as nearly 20% of the child’s body weight. In adults it would be the equivalent of the average 150 pound person carrying a 25 pound backpack. This would explain why two thirds of the subjects suffered muscle soreness, half had back pain, one fourth had numbness, and 15% suffered shoulder pain.

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Follow these tips to reduce the chance of injury.  Make sure that the weight of the backpack isn’t more than 10% of the child’s total body weight.  This is especially important for children in grades 1 through 4.  Don’t use gym bags or backpacks with only one strap.  Make sure children wear both straps on their shoulders to distribute weight evenly.

Look for backpacks with wide, padded shoulder straps because they help absorb the load. Narrow straps dig painfully into shoulders and cause tingling or numbness in the arms, which over time may cause weakness in the hands. Look for backpacks with a waist or chest strap, and a built in back support. This will help keep the load close to the body and help maintain proper balance.

Keeping the pack close to your hips also shifts “work” to your legs.  The bottom should rest in the curve of your lower back and the top touch just below the big knob on your neck (vertebral prominence).  Pack the heaviest items closest to the body.  Make frequent trips to the locker to replace books.

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Have your child examined regularly by a chiropractor so that any potential spinal or postural problems can be addressed and corrected.

To learn how Chiropractic helps with Backpack Safety call our office at 423-485-8480.

When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!

Better Balance

by Ruth A. McKinney, D.C.

One of the most important concepts in health is “balance.”  Why?  Because this one word says it all! We spend our entire lives trying to keep things in balance, whether it’s our checkbook, our diet or our time management.  As we age, we need to improve our physical balance to keep on doing the things we like to do.  So how do you keep your balance in good condition?  For some people it’s not easy, but it can be improved on.

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Your brain and body use a complex set of systems to balance correctly. Your eyes tell you whether you’re on slippery ice or a rocky beach. Balance sensors in your inner ear help you maintain your equilibrium. And sensors in your feet, joints, and muscles track the changing position of your limbs.

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The best activities for improving balance involve multitasking. Exercises such as tennis or dancing with unpredictable movements and fast thinking keep the body engaged and can build brain function.  Athletes who have to think to perform, such as dancers, skaters, and gymnasts showed dramatically improved brain function compared to runners and cross-country skiers who use muscles repetitiously. The reason? Once the brain learns a repetitive movement, it goes on autopilot, performing without even thinking about it.

Exercises to improve balance include those that remove one of the tripod legs to help strengthen the others. Here are four to try.  Single-leg Stand:  Stand with your legs slightly less than shoulder-width apart near a support such as a wall or railing. Balance as you lift one leg, and then close your eyes. Maintain your balance for 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

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Trunk Turns:  Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on a mini trampoline, gym mat or bosu ball.  Hold an exercise ball or a 5 to 10 pound weight chest high in both hands. Twist at your trunk to face your right. Return to center, then twist to your left and back to center. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

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Single-leg Squat:  Stand on a step stool or step, with your right leg off the stool to the side. Bend your left leg as you do a squat until your right leg barely touches the ground. Do two sets of five to ten reps on each leg.

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March in the Dark:  In a room with plenty of space and no obstacles that could bump knees or cause you to trip, march in place 60 to 100 steps with your eyes closed.

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Who couldn’t use a little more balance in life? These exercises focus on improving your balance.   Whether you are a busy mom or an athlete-in-training, the benefits of better balance will carry over into your other workouts and many areas of your life.

To learn how Chiropractic helps you have better balance call our office at 423-485-8480.

When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!

Healthy Backs

by Ruth A. McKinney, D.C.

The back is a complex mechanism made of bones, muscles, and flexible tendons and ligaments that protect a delicate network of nerves.  There are 33 bones (vertebra) stacked one on top of the next connected with joints and ligaments.  Rubbery disc pads act as shock absorbers between the bones.

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The spinal cord threads through the bones, protecting it and allowing the brain to communicate with the entire body.  Think of this cord as a large nerve cable which acts as an information highway.  Individual nerves split off from the cord and carry messages to each organ system.

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The best way to keep your back healthy is to maintain proper posture.  The spine should appear straight from top to bottom when looking at the back.  The spine from the side should appear as a gentle S-shape, which acts as a natural spring mechanism on which the weight of the body balances.

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Good posture requires attention.  Poor posture develops over a long period of time.  It can become such a habit that sitting or standing this way feels normal.  Attempting to stand or sit straight may feel odd and uncomfortable.  

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Maintaining good posture is the single best thing you can do to help keep your back healthy.  Keeping generally fit and active and doing regular back exercises will go a long way toward achieving good posture.  It’s also important to build awareness of the way you hold yourself during your everyday activities.  With good posture your body weight is evenly distributed and your joints are in a neutral position, placing minimum strain on them.

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Tips for good posture:  

– Don’t sit or stand for long periods without a break

– Keep your weight evenly on both feet when standing

– Don’t wear high heeled shoes because they throw your pelvis and spine out of line.

To learn how Chiropractic helps` to keep your back healthy call our office at 423-485-8480.

When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!

Managing Stress

by Ruth A. McKinney, D.C.

In the human body the nervous system is the master control.  The brain (central nervous system) is the main computer server to which the nerves in the rest of the body (peripheral nervous system) are networked.  Without the brain and nerves being synchronized, nothing works right, including the immune system.  Because chiropractic treatments improve function of the spine, these treatments also improve function of nerves.

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The brain sends out a message and the message travels down the spinal cord.  At each level a nerve splits off the spinal cord and goes to a specific organ.  Because the spinal cord threads through the bones in the spine, if a bone is misaligned the message may get distorted.  If the organ doesn’t get a clear message, it may not function properly.  When an organ doesn’t do its job correctly, symptoms can develop.  Think of a dropped or distorted cell phone signal.

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Stress can negatively affect the nervous system.  There are actually three types of stress.  Everyone knows what mental and emotional stress is.  Physical stress includes situations like car accidents, slip and fall injuries, and physically demanding jobs.  Chemical stress is what we eat, drink and breathe.  When stress is applied to the body a physical chain reaction occurs.  At the end of the chain reaction is the manifestation of physical symptom, which will occur in your body’s weak spot.

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1. The first way to manage stress is by eating healthy food and drinking water.  Good nutrition boosts energy and improves your mood.  Controlling weight helps to combat disease which means living longer.  Since the body is 75% water, proper hydration makes everything work better.  Drinks with sugar or caffeine are not good choices because they cause your body to lose more water.

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2. The second way to manage stress is to get enough rest.  During sleep the body performs many functions of repair and maintenance.    Studies show that people who sleep eight hours a night live longer than those who sleep less the eight hours or more than nine hours.

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3. Relax!  When you slow down and clear your mind, your body decreases the production of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.  This can lead to fewer incidents of heart attacks, strokes, and even fewer colds.  Relaxation also increases production of serotonin and dopamine, the “happy hormones,” leading to improved moods and less depression.

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4. Exercise is important for so many reasons.  It helps to keep your weight at a healthy level.  It lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and the risk of type 2 Diabetes.  By making stronger bones, joints and muscles, exercise helps to lower the risk of falls.  Aim for 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity.

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5. Stay well adjusted.  Regular chiropractic adjustments improve posture, joint function and nerve function.  Other benefits include relief from pain and muscular tension, and a natural increase in energy.  Chiropractic is the drug free and non-surgical treatment option to fit into your healthy lifestyle.

To learn how Chiropractic can help manage stress naturally, call our office at 423-485-8480.

When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!

Well Adjusted Children Through Chiropractic

by Ruth A. McKinney, D.C.

Many people think the only reason to seek chiropractic care is for treatment of pain or a “bad back”.  They are surprised to learn that chiropractors also treat children.  Parents are looking for more natural forms of health care for their families or treatments that involve fewer medications and surgeries.  For those seeking alternative and complementary care, Chiropractic can fill that need.

  • Chiropractic treatment for children is safe.  An adjustment for a child is very different than for an adult.  Very gentle forces are applied to the child’s spine, about as much pressure as you might use to press on your eye.  As most parents will attest, kids are much tougher than that!

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  • It’s never too early to have your child checked by your chiropractor.  While the birth process is perfectly natural, it can be physically challenging for the infant and result in misalignments of the spine.  I have had parents stop by my office on the way home from the hospital for the baby’s first adjustment.
  • A child’s spine and nervous system go through tremendous growth and development during the first two years of life.  Early chiropractic care can encourage healthy neural growth (plasticity) and good spinal posture.

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  • The nervous system is the Master control of the body.  If the communication between the brain and the body become distorted through misalignments in the spine, the immune system can become impaired.  Keeping a child’s spine and nervous system tuned up helps to pump up their immune system so they get sick less frequently and less intensely.
  • Before you have your child fitted with ear tubes to treat recurring ear infections, consider this:  According to the American Chiropractic Association research has shown that 80% of children who received a series of chiropractic treatments had no ear infections for a period of six months.

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  • Here are some of the conditions that children under chiropractic care commonly respond well to:  Ear infections; Colds; Constipation; Growing Pains; Scoliosis; Bed Wetting; Asthma; and Sports Injuries.

To learn how Chiropractic can help children be healthier, call our office at 423-485-8480.

When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!

Just One Exercise

by Ruth A. McKinney, D.C.

I’m often asked, “What is the one exercise I can do to help my back?”. The key to answering this question is the word, “one”.  Patients have good intentions, but when they’re given a list of exercises, they are lucky to keep up the regimen for two weeks before they quit.


  • When it comes to your back the most common problem occurs from poor core muscle strength.  This happens from sitting too often for too long.  We actually teach our abdominal muscles to relax when we sit for hours each day.  In addition, back muscles tighten up and hip flexors get shorter.  In time this can cause an array of low back pain and problems including:  Sciatica (leg pain), disc problems, facet joint pain, problems with nerves to muscles and organs, and joint stiffness.

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  • Degeneration in the disc, joint and bone begins when the joint loses its mobility. A healthy joint is one that is bio-mechanically stable and retains all of its movement.  When the joint flexes and moves in the course of everyday living, nutrition and lubrication are pumped in, and waste is pumped out.  Think of it as groceries in and garbage out, both of which are good things to have. Too few groceries in and lack of garbage out results in arthritic changes to bones and joints.

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  • Simple stomach crunches to strengthen core muscles will help to stabilize the spine.  Don’t confuse these with sit-up exercises.  To do a stomach crunch properly, start by lying on your back with the knees bent and feet close to the buttocks.  Place your hands on your thighs, then reach up to touch the top of the knees. Done correctly this should not hurt your back.  Work up to 200 crunches every day for three months.

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To learn how Chiropractic can help strengthen your core, call our office at 423-485-8480.

When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!

Texting – A Pain in the Neck

by Ruth A. McKinney, D.C.

You’ve probably put a child up on your shoulders before. Maybe you were at a concert or a football game and your child couldn’t see. After a while, your neck got sore, and you had to put him or her down. Now, imagine never taking that child off your shoulders; you’d constantly live with that strain on your neck. Well, it’s likely you’re already living with that (literal) weight on your shoulders without even realizing it. A new study published in Surgical Technology International suggests that looking down at a cellphone is the equivalent of placing a 60-pound weight — or, an average sized 8-year-old — on your neck.

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Assuming that the average weight of the human head is 12 pounds.  As the head bends forward the forces placed on the neck increase 27 pounds at 15 degrees to 40 pounds at 30 degrees, and 49 pounds at 45 degrees.  When the head bends forward to 60 degrees, that’s when the 60 pound, 8-year-old child climbs on your neck.  The average American spends about two hours and 42 minutes on his or her cellphone a day. That’s 2 hours and 42 minutes of hanging four bowling balls from your neck, which adds up to over 1,000 hours a year.  The stress of this activity could lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries.

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Hold Your Head Up!

“Text neck” doesn’t happen only to people who compulsively send text messages. Dentists, architects and welders whose heavy helmets make them especially vulnerable are at risk. Maybe it’s time to put down the phone for a little. Limit the amount of time you check Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  While texting or scrolling, people should raise their mobile devices closer to their line of sight. The Text Neck Indicator is an interactive app that alerts users when their smartphones are held at an angle that puts them at risk for text neck.

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Turn off your phone at certain times so you’re not tempted to check your messages. Only check your email at work (it’s stressing you out anyway). And if you just can’t look away from that pesky push notification, try to be conscious of how much you’re hunching over.  Try some simple neck and upper back stretches to relieve tension.  Your back and your mind will thank you for the vacation from the screen.

To learn how Chiropractic can help you with neck pain, call our office at 423-485-8480.

When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!

Low Back Pain

by Ruth A. McKinney, D.C.

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♦ Low back pain affects 31 million people at any given time.

♦ Back pain is the #1 reason people miss work.

♦ $100 Billion spent each year on low back pain treatment.

♦ 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their life.

♦ Discussion of back pain has been found on Egyptian papyrus dating 3500 years ago.

♦ Weight matters – 80% of the entire body weight balances on the low back.

♦ Back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor, second to upper respiratory infections.

♦ Half of all working Americans admit to having back pain each year.

♦ Most cases of back pain are mechanical (non-organic) – meaning they aren’t caused by cancer, broken bones or infection.

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♦ Treatment of low back pain by a chiropractor saves 40% on health care costs compared with care through a medical doctor.   This is according to BCBS of patients in TN over a two year period.  By the way, most insurance companies cover chiropractic care.


DISC PROBLEMS

♦ The disc is a pressurized shock absorber.

♦ The most common problems are at L4 and L5 in the lower back.

♦ Degenerative disc disease (DDD) vs bulging/herniated disc: DDD isn’t really a disease, it’s a way to describe changes in the spine due to trauma and every day wear and tear.  Think of a bulging or herniated disc as bulge or blowout on the sidewall of a tire.

♦ Sitting quadruples the pressure in the disc.

♦ White collar men who sit have as high an incidence as people who do manual labor.

♦ 96% of disc problems can be resolved without surgery using conservative care such as chiropractic.


To learn how Chiropractic can help you with low back pain call our office at 423-485-8480.

When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!