Training smarter, harder and without pain: Lower body

A frequently asked question in my office is: Why do I experience low back and/or knee pain whenever I up the intensity of my lower body workouts?

There are many reasons why you might experience pain or discomfort while exercising. You may have pre-existing complications such as degenerative disc disease, a disc herniation or arthritic disorders affecting the knees or hips.

Other issues that can cause you pain while training include misalignments of the spine and hips, adhesions within your muscle fibers or foot dysfunction.

All of the above mentioned disorders will lead to poor symmetry of motion, loss of range of motion, bad balance, loss of proprioception (your body's knowledge of where it is in space), slower reaction time, poor athletic performance, weakness and of course … pain.

Luckily, the solutions are fairly simple and can get you on a track of better quality workouts with less pain and more gain.

First, you need a system to analyze what's causing your pain. Here are three easy step-by-step "at home" tests to help you figure out what may be causing or contributing to your pain-related issues.

Test #1: Stand upright and march in place with your eyes shut for about 10 to 20 seconds. Then stop with your eyes still closed. Don't move your feet and open your eyes. Now look down at your feet and notice their position. If one foot is turned in toward the other, you very likely have a weakness of the muscles of external rotation on that hip. If your foot is flaring outward it is likely that you're experiencing a weakness of the muscles of internal rotation on that hip.

Test #2: Stand in position to squat with both arms out in front. Now squat down slowly with feet parallel and make sure that your knees don't extend beyond your toes. Notice your feet. If they roll in, out or one of your heels rises up in the squatting position, you may have a mobility restriction or weakness within the foot or ankle muscles.

Test #3: Perform the same test as above but this time interlace your fingers behind your head and spread your elbows wide and backward. Squat down slowly again. Notice if either heel rises off of the floor or if the same heel that lifted in Test #2 lifts even higher. Also take notice and see if you have trouble squatting as deeply or maintaining your balance throughout the squat. A positive test may indicate significant loss of range of motion throughout your thoracic spine and ribcage.

Loss of motion or poor symmetry of motion throughout your hips, ankles or mid-back, make you a solid candidate for a low back or knee injury. At the very least you will experience pain or discomfort while training.

Now that you've figured out where you have loss of motion or reduction of motion symmetry, you can go back to the gym and add corrective strengthening exercises, stretching exercises or simple modifications to your routine.

For example: If you have a loss of internal hip rotation add one or two exercises that will specifically train and stretch those muscles. YouTube can be a great resource.

Here's another simple example: If you can't do squats without raising a heel, place a thin board (1/4"-3/8") under both heels. Also add calf stretching and strengthening exercises to your routine.

Simple solutions like these can make a tremendous difference in the quality and outcome of your workout. The freedom to train intensely without pain will improve your overall training consistency — which means bigger gains.

If you suspect or know that you have a more severe complication such as a disc herniation, you should seek out the assistance of a chiropractor, MD or physical therapist that is familiar and seasoned in managing sport related injuries such as myself.

This Saturday, Jan. 12, I'll be teaching the first of a series of upper and lower body sculpt and stretch classes. Please join me at 10 a.m. sharp in my SpineFit training studio located upstairs inside of Fit Republic at 2565 Lake Tahoe Blvd. This class is free to the public, you do not need to be a member to attend.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

Train your body to defeat stress

What exactly is stress? According to numerous medical, psychological and chiropractic associations, there isn't an exact definition of stress. Stress comes in many forms and has countless sources.

To simplify the matter of what stress actually is, we can identify it as the body's reaction to any change that your body must adjust or respond to.

This applies to physical stress (intense workouts, sitting for long periods of time, sports injuries, chronic pain or auto injuries), chemical stress (cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, insecticides and fertilizers, unfiltered tap water and prescription medicine) and finally we have emotional stress (personal relationships, career, grief, finances).

Although we have exposures to various sources of stress, emotional stress seems to be the most prevalent.

First we have eustress. This is the good stuff. Eustress is when we experience a boost in adrenaline when mountain biking on a challenging trail, skiing down a steep hill or surfing a big wave. This kind of stress is actually healthy.

Next we have acute stress. This may come from either positive or negative experiences. This form of stress can also be a healthy experience. Acute stress is a normal part of life and our bodies are well wired to deal with this.

We also have episodic acute stress. This is where acutely stressful situations are the norm throughout the day. Crisis-based living has become the lifestyle. Surely you know someone like this. I refer to these types of people as "poop magnets." As you might guess, this form of stress is not healthy.

Last, but definitely not least, is chronic stress. This type of stress is caused by long-term complicated situations such as bad career choices or an unhappy marriage. Chronic stress is probably the most common and the most dangerous form of stress.

Whichever form of stress you may be experiencing, first you must identify it. If your stress is in the form of episodic acute stress, chronic stress, daily exposure to chemical toxins or negative types of physical stress (desk jobs, back breaking physical labor) it's time to take some serious action steps.

Although the various medical, psychological and chiropractic associations haven't agreed upon a single definition for stress, they all agree that almost all sickness and disease can be linked to stress.

Chronic exposure to bad forms of stress reduces our "fight or flight threshold." Additionally, long-term exposure to bad forms of stress will over stimulate a part of the brain called the amygdala. Chronically increasing activity of the amygdala leads to systemic inflammation.

This is only part of the picture regarding how chronic stress can lead to chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, weakened immune response, cancer, depression, brain fog, dementia and Alzheimer's.

Lucky for us fighting off the serious effects of stress is just a workout away!

Before I get onto my exercise soapbox, there are other great methods of fighting stress that are extremely effective and recommended for the long term. We have meditation, nutrition, learning an art or craft and overall lifestyle change (new job or eliminating unhealthy relationships) as options.

These are all great and I personally practice and participate in all of them, but discovering how to meditate, choosing healthy relationships, determining your best foods or learning how to play a musical instrument takes some time to become effective.

One session on a treadmill, bike, elliptical trainer, functional training class, yoga class or a resistance workout will change your brain chemistry and perception of your "life situation" within minutes!

If you're not already in an exercise program I recommend that you start off conservatively: 30-45 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular training four to six days per week. I strongly recommend resistance (weight lifting) training also.

After four to six weeks you can safely begin to increase your training intensity. Studies show that moderate to intense training will quickly increase your "fight or flight threshold" thanks to our body's neuroplasticity (neurological adaptability).

With the new year just around the corner, and the holiday season about to end, now is a great time to get started on your exercise program. If you'd like to start or are currently in a training program, please schedule a wellness check up with your MD or a sports chiropractor — like myself — before beginning.

I will be starting a series of FREE body sculpting classes on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. beginning Jan. 5 at Fit Republic (upstairs in my SpineFit training center). Each week I will be giving you a series of exercises for each specific region of your body. All who attend will receive a free Spinal Fitness and Neurological Stress Evaluation compliments of me, Dr. Spindler.

Keep your eyes open for class postings at http://www.tahoedailytribune.com. Follow me on Facebook (adam.spindler.54) and follow me on Instgram (spine.fit).

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

Train your body to defeat stress

What exactly is stress? According to numerous medical, psychological and chiropractic associations, there isn't an exact definition of stress. Stress comes in many forms and has countless sources.

To simplify the matter of what stress actually is, we can identify it as the body's reaction to any change that your body must adjust or respond to.

This applies to physical stress (intense workouts, sitting for long periods of time, sports injuries, chronic pain or auto injuries), chemical stress (cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, insecticides and fertilizers, unfiltered tap water and prescription medicine) and finally we have emotional stress (personal relationships, career, grief, finances).

Although we have exposures to various sources of stress, emotional stress seems to be the most prevalent.

First we have eustress. This is the good stuff. Eustress is when we experience a boost in adrenaline when mountain biking on a challenging trail, skiing down a steep hill or surfing a big wave. This kind of stress is actually healthy.

Next we have acute stress. This may come from either positive or negative experiences. This form of stress can also be a healthy experience. Acute stress is a normal part of life and our bodies are well wired to deal with this.

We also have episodic acute stress. This is where acutely stressful situations are the norm throughout the day. Crisis-based living has become the lifestyle. Surely you know someone like this. I refer to these types of people as "poop magnets." As you might guess, this form of stress is not healthy.

Last, but definitely not least, is chronic stress. This type of stress is caused by long-term complicated situations such as bad career choices or an unhappy marriage. Chronic stress is probably the most common and the most dangerous form of stress.

Whichever form of stress you may be experiencing, first you must identify it. If your stress is in the form of episodic acute stress, chronic stress, daily exposure to chemical toxins or negative types of physical stress (desk jobs, back breaking physical labor) it's time to take some serious action steps.

Although the various medical, psychological and chiropractic associations haven't agreed upon a single definition for stress, they all agree that almost all sickness and disease can be linked to stress.

Chronic exposure to bad forms of stress reduces our "fight or flight threshold." Additionally, long-term exposure to bad forms of stress will over stimulate a part of the brain called the amygdala. Chronically increasing activity of the amygdala leads to systemic inflammation.

This is only part of the picture regarding how chronic stress can lead to chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, weakened immune response, cancer, depression, brain fog, dementia and Alzheimer's.

Lucky for us fighting off the serious effects of stress is just a workout away!

Before I get onto my exercise soapbox, there are other great methods of fighting stress that are extremely effective and recommended for the long term. We have meditation, nutrition, learning an art or craft and overall lifestyle change (new job or eliminating unhealthy relationships) as options.

These are all great and I personally practice and participate in all of them, but discovering how to meditate, choosing healthy relationships, determining your best foods or learning how to play a musical instrument takes some time to become effective.

One session on a treadmill, bike, elliptical trainer, functional training class, yoga class or a resistance workout will change your brain chemistry and perception of your "life situation" within minutes!

If you're not already in an exercise program I recommend that you start off conservatively: 30-45 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular training four to six days per week. I strongly recommend resistance (weight lifting) training also.

After four to six weeks you can safely begin to increase your training intensity. Studies show that moderate to intense training will quickly increase your "fight or flight threshold" thanks to our body's neuroplasticity (neurological adaptability).

With the new year just around the corner, and the holiday season about to end, now is a great time to get started on your exercise program. If you'd like to start or are currently in a training program, please schedule a wellness check up with your MD or a sports chiropractor — like myself — before beginning.

I will be starting a series of FREE body sculpting classes on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. beginning Jan. 5 at Fit Republic (upstairs in my SpineFit training center). Each week I will be giving you a series of exercises for each specific region of your body. All who attend will receive a free Spinal Fitness and Neurological Stress Evaluation compliments of me, Dr. Spindler.

Keep your eyes open for class postings at http://www.tahoedailytribune.com. Follow me on Facebook (adam.spindler.54) and follow me on Instgram (spine.fit).

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

Snow shoveling dos and don’ts

Whether you haven't been to the gym for a few months or a few years, you usually ease back into it to avoid serious injury.

That's common sense. When you have to shovel snow for the first time in months or years, y'all just go for it! Throw on your coat, slip on your boots and dig in. When there's a couple feet of fresh powder on your driveway and you've got to get to work, all reasonable thought goes out the window.

If you are in peak physical condition you'll probably be just fine. If you're not, you may be putting yourself at great risk.

The most common injuries associated specifically with the physical exertion required to shovel snow are:

1) Lower back injuries;

2) Shoulder injuries and;

3) Heart attacks.

Some of the risk factors for lower back and shoulder injury include lack of physical conditioning, history of previous lower back or shoulder injury, cold temperatures, caffeine, alcohol and early morning shoveling.

Risk factors for heart injuries include poor cardiovascular and muscular conditioning, cold temperatures, high blood pressure, pre-existing heart disorder, gender (men are 200 percent more likely to have a heart injury), age (over the age of 55 increases cardiac risk by 400 percent), caffeine consumption and smoking cigarettes.

Poor cardiovascular, strength and core conditioning are pretty obvious and self explanatory as risk factors for snow shoveling or any other high exertion activity. It's the less obvious risk factors where much of the more serious danger exists.

Some of the less obvious factors include early morning hormone balance, cold weather, cigarette smoking, caffeine and alcohol. All cause significant vascular restriction.

The above risk factors are all very dangerous when you're about to participate in a high exertion activity. You wouldn't train in the gym under any of these conditions without taking precautionary measures, would you?

Another interesting and less obvious risk factor is the intense isometric exertion of your legs while snow shoveling. As a chiropractor and strength coach, I'm very cautious in regard to which patients I'll teach isometric conditioning to. Isometric means contraction of the muscles without movement which significantly increases your blood pressure. When shoveling snow almost all leg activity is isometric. In other words you are contracting you leg muscles with significant exertion without actually moving your legs.

To sum this up, most of the serious snow shoveling injuries are associated with a combination of maximum physical exertion and increased blood pressure while our blood vessels are restricted.

Thank goodness we have a solution for every potential problem. Preventing injury while snow shoveling is easy.

The following is a practical list of dos and don'ts:

SNOW SHOVELING DON'Ts

1. Avoid caffeine because it will elevate your blood pressure and restrict blood flow to your major muscles.

2. Avoid a large or heavy meal prior to shoveling because blood flow will increase to your stomach instead of your heart.

3. Do not smoke before, during or for at least a half our after shoveling. For that matter … don't smoke at all!

4. Don't twist. The discs in your spine are designed to handle some flexion, extension and compression. Adding twisting under load to any of the above will greatly increase your chances of a serious back injury.

5. Don't shovel if you have heart or lung problems. Ask your kids or your neighbor's kids.

6. Don't throw the snow over your shoulders as this can put excessive pressure on your neck and strain on your shoulders.

SNOW SHOVELING DO'S

1. Wait until you've been awake for at least 45 minutes.

2. Warm up your heart and other muscles on an exercise bike, elliptical trainer, treadmill or jog in place for 5-10 minutes.

3. Stretch for a few minutes to prepare your joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

4. Stay hydrated! Intense physical exertion at high altitude will dehydrate you quickly. Consider an electrolyte drink or a vitamin C packet with electrolytes.

5. Use a smaller shovel, or put less snow on your shovel.

6. Push the snow instead of lifting it.

7. Move your legs throughout your shoveling session. This helps to lower your blood pressure.

8. Bend with your hips and knees instead of your lower back.

9. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth because this will relax your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure.

10. Maintain the curvature in your lower back and neck because this will greatly reduce muscular tension throughout your spine.

11. Think of snow shoveling as a full body workout. Use all of your muscles. Break up your session into sets with a specific number of reps and rest between sets … just like training in the gym.

12. Take breaks.

13. Wearing a scarf will keep cold air from going down into your lungs, which can trigger angina or asthma.

14. Attend my free " 'Winter Body' Strength and Conditioning Workout/Workshop" this Saturday, Dec. 15, at 10 a.m. We will meet in my SpineFit Training Center located on the second floor if FitRepublic, 2565 Lake Tahoe Blvd. 530-544-4400.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

Is your body winterized?

As soon as the fall temperatures start to dip, most locals begin their winterization traditions. Storing the boat, putting away the lawn furniture, testing the snow-blower, generator and snowmobile, doing a snow shovel inventory, ski equipment check, and last but not least … putting on the snow tires.

As a chiropractor and strength coach, I hear about these chores all day long, but very few people are taking the time or even thinking about the most important winterization task of all. Can you guess what I'm referring to? Of course, it's our bodies. How the most important machine of all — the human body — gets over-looked is always a mystery to me. Most people don't start taking care of their body until injury or illness strikes.

There will be approximately 12,000 snow shoveling injuries that will be reported by emergency rooms this winter. There will most likely be many thousands more that occur, but will go unreported. Many people prefer to see a chiropractor when they get hurt and some will choose to do nothing. Remember, the 12,000 injuries stated above are from shoveling snow — but this is Tahoe.

We have so many other ways of injuring our bodies. There's skiing and boarding. There's snowmobiling and tubing. Let's not forget slipping on the ice and landing on a frozen pine cone while walking the dog. If you have not winterized your human body machine yet, you need to do that now.

The most common winter injuries that people seek treatment in my office for (in order of frequency):

No. 1 — Low Back Sprain/Strains

No. 2 — Shoulder Strains and Tendonitis

No. 3 — Disc Herniations (low back or neck)

No. 4 — Neck Sprain/Strains

No. 5 — Mid Back Pain (with discomfort taking a deep breath or sneezing)

No. 6 — Groin Strain (from breaking a fall on the ice)

Being conditioned for prevention of an injury or rapid recovery requires these six easy and practical steps.

Step 1: Full Body Strength and Conditioning program that emphasizes shoulder, lower back, legs, hips, upper back, neck and core muscles. Do this at least three times a week for about 30-40 minutes. Be sure to include about 10 minutes of functional training in your program (this will address speed, agility and improved reaction time).

Step 2: Cardiovascular Conditioning program with intervals mixed in to prepare for snow shoveling and cross-country skiing.

Step 3: Core Conditioning routine to protect your spine. Abdominal exercises with emphasis on various planking exercises to build your "spinal pillars."

Step 4: Flexibility and Symmetry. Without these you are susceptible to injury no matter how strong you are. Stick Yoga (which I teach to many of my patients), yoga and Pilates are some great options. Static stretching is forbidden.

Step 5: See your chiropractor for a spinal check up and maintain "tune ups" about every two to three weeks.

Step 6: Come to my FREE "Winter Ready Strong" Strength and Conditioning class on Saturday, Dec. 15. Class begins at 10 a.m. and will be taught in my SpineFit training studio located on the second floor of FitRepublic. All attendees will receive a certificate for a free "Winter Ready" spinal fitness evaluation.

This Saturday, Dec. 8, I will be teaching a free "Chest and Upper Back" Strengthening and Sculpting Workshop. Class begins at 10 a.m. and will be taught in my SpineFit training studio located on the second floor of FitRepublic. All attendees will receive a certificate for a free Spinal Fitness and Neurological Stress analysis.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.