5 Easy Ways to Relieve Back Pain

We’ve all had days ruined by back pain, some chronic sufferers have had weeks, months, or even years ruined by it.

But what causes back pain and how can we fix it?

There are many sources of back pain, and most are rooted in things like poor posture, lack of core strength and stability, and general misalignments. These conditions all can be aggravated by the continuation of bad habits, like maintaining poor posture or a sedentary lifestyle.

If your struggles with back pain aren’t stemming from an immediately serious condition (and don’t worry, most aren’t), you’re in luck—you’re probably dealing with something easily treatable. From stretches and exercise to shoe inserts, here are 5 easy ways to relieve back pain and create a stronger, healthier spine.

Note: A great first step is to visit your chiropractor and have him check for any misalignments or other issues with your spine. A proper adjustment is a great way to jumpstart your path to more complete spinal health.


5 Simple Ways to Remedy Back Pain

1. Select the Proper Footwear

Many of us wouldn’t think a healthy spine has any relation to healthy feet, but just like a house, countless back problems can be attributed to a bad foundation. When your shoes aren’t providing

Making sure you're wearing the right shoe is essential to your workout

Making sure you’re wearing the right shoe is essential to your workout

you with the support you need, over time, this can result in misalignments, particularly in your lower back.

Footwear like heavy boots, shoes with little arch support and, of course, high heels, all are leading contributors to foundation based lower back pain. Luckily, this is one of the easiest issues to fix.

Purchasing shoes designed with the right support can do wonders for your back, but if fashion is a priority in your footwear of choice, inserts can be extremely effective in mitigated back pain.

2. Develop Your Core

Sure, six pack abs are a reward in and of themselves, but a strong core can also mean a healthier back.

Back Pain often stems from weakness in the core

Back Pain often stems from weakness in the core

Of course you don’t need six pack abs to have a strong core. That said, doing some simple exercises a few times a week can help you develop the core strength and support to maintain the proper alignment of your spine.

Click here for some simple yet effective ways to increase your core strength in no time at all.

3. Sleep Aligned

People tend to think that sleeping flat on your back on a firm mattress is the ideal way to sleep and maintain posture—not true.

The best way to sleep actually encourages a curve in your spine, maintaining natural alignment rather than rigid structure.

Sleep like this

Sleep like this

While there are plenty of ways to make sure your spine maintains its natural curvature with hi-tech mattresses, pads and a host of other expensive solutions, the best tool may already be on your bed.

By simply utilizing a pillow to adjust your body while you sleep, you can make sure your spine stays in line, translating to better posture and overall spinal health!

4. Exercise

exercise

Strengthening your body braces your back and can prevent misalignment in your spine

Many people who have back pain have a few basic things in common, not the least of which is a sedentary lifestyle. If your job forces you into inactivity most of the day, it’s important that you find time to workout to maintain your health and mitigate the potential for back problems.

In fact, for office workers, back pain—specifically back pain rooted in inactivity—is one of the top health complaints. Here’s how to start exercising

Simply walking, hiking or biking are all great ways to break the inactivity-to-back-pain cycle. Check out another of our blogs, 5 Great Outdoor Activities in Philadelphia, and get inspired to be more active!

5. Be Flexible

Back pain isn’t always due to misalignment. Tightness in your back is a leading cause of back pain, i.e. those “knots” massage therapists are always talking about.

Improving flexability relieves tension and painful, tight muscles

Improving flexability relieves tension and painful, tight muscles

Whether you choose to go the route of deep tissue or electronic muscle stimulation at your chiropractor, get a jump on your way to flexibility by loosening up.

 

Once you have a clean slate, try picking up a flexibility based fitness regimen, like yoga or pilates. Even if you don’t have time to go to the studio and work on your posture, there are plenty of simple routines you can do to increase flexibility at home or work.


There are plenty of ways to mitigate the pain and negative health effects of a bad back, and the chiropractor is a great place to start. You don’t need to suffer endlessly—take control of your pain and make it a thing of the past.

At East Falls Chiropractic, we offer free consults for first time patients and guarantee the safe, affordable care and quality advice to make you feel your best.

As always, yours in health,

Dr. Tom Caley

Springtime Fun: 5 Great Outdoor Activities in Philadelphia

Spring has finally sprung—hopefully for real this time. If the warm weather is here to stay, that means outdoor activities, and make no mistake, the city of Brotherly Love has plenty to offer.

Running for SpringWhether you’re into hiking, boating, biking, rock climbing or running, Philadelphia offers its best to the outdoor enthusiast come during the spring and summer months—here’s how to take advantage of them.

Hiking

The Wissahickon Valley Park is truly one of the great treasures of Philadelphia. The 1,800 acre parcel is all within city limits and offers day trippers excellent hiking opportunities close to home.

Scenic Trails like this can be yours... even inside the city limits.

Scenic Trails like this can be yours… even inside the city limits.

The park is home to over 50 miles of trail, many of which parallel the beautiful Wissahickon creek. There are variety of hiking options from single-track hiking opportunities (for the more dedicated hiker) to large open trails perfect for an easy outdoor activity with family and friends.  

In addition to the great hiking in the Wissahickon, check out the top 5 day hikes around the Philadelphia area.

Boating

Maybe it’s still too cold for a swim, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be on the water. The Schuylkill river boasts some excellent boating conditions.

Home to the famous boathouse row, kayakers, crew enthusiasts and canoers alike have long since called the Schuylkill river their home water. The gentle currents and wide open swaths of water make the picturesque outer limits of Philadelphia yours to roam.

Any boat registered in the state of Pennsylvania can use one of the many launch ramps, making accessing the river incredibly easy. Click here for a river map.

Rock Climbing

Climbers can find opportunities to climb natural rock inside the Philadelphia city limits.

Once again, we’re back at the Wissahickon. Wissahickon Valley Park offers great bouldering opportunities, easy access, and scenic views for urban climbers looking to get away for an afternoon. An ideal mix of easy to challenging bouldering (V0-V11) is all tucked within the beautiful Wissahickon, ready to be explored.

Excellent, natural-rock opportunities are plenty in Wissahickon Valley Park

Excellent, natural-rock opportunities are plenty in Wissahickon Valley Park

For more detailed information, MountainProject.com has a full summary including climbing conditions, route options and difficulty ratings.

Biking

Whether you own a top of the line road bike or you’re renting from Philadelphia’s excellent bike-share program, Indego, there’s no shortage of fun and diverse ways to bike Philly.

Philadelphia is one of the best cities in the country for the bicycle enthusiast!

Philadelphia is one of the best cities in the country for the bicycle enthusiast!

Currently, you can tour nearly 60 miles of the Schuylkill River Trail, but once the project’s complete, it will span nearly 130 miles of river. Flat, wide and scenic, this trail is perfect for either the competitive or the casual rider.

Runners

Philadelphia is home to many great runs. From the famous route used by Rocky Balboa to the ever beautiful Schuylkill river trail, there are no shortage of options for the running enthusiast.

Forbidden drive, once again part of the Wissahickon Valley Park, offers great running through the outdoors. With wide, flat paths, it makes for an ideal distance run.

Along the Schuylkill River Trail, you can find more than 60 miles of uninterrupted trail. On the other side of the river, East River drive offers some excellent running with limited crowds.

 

Regardless of your choice of activity, Philadelphia offers no shortage of options for the outdoor enthusiast. Take advantage of the excellent weather and get out today!

As always, yours in health,
Dr. Thomas Caley

Getting Back Into Shape for Spring!

It’s mid-March and spring is right around the corner!

Getting back into shape isn't a sprint.

Getting back into shape isn’t a sprint.

Whether you’re dusting off your bike, making the transition from treadmill to trailhead or lacing up your favorite hiking boots for adventure, many of us are beginning to gear up for some serious outdoor activity this season.

But what if winter hibernation has gotten the best of us?

With the holidays come and gone, their residual effects may be overstaying their welcome. Maybe it’s a few extra pounds hanging on from Thanksgiving and Christmas, or perhaps just the stiffness that comes with being dormant for the last couple of months.

Either way, getting back into shape isn’t nearly as difficult as you think.

Here are three essential tips to start your transformation!

Start Slow

As soon as the weather makes a turn for spring, it can be very tempting to be out and about as much as possible!

However, after such a long period of reduced activity through the winter, it’s important to start slow and build into your spring and summer fitness goals.

And remember to stretch!

And remember to stretch!

For instance, as a casual runner, if you were to run a 5k the very first day you were back on pavement, an injury could end your season before it began! Your body, having spent the winter less-active than normal, needs time to get used to the impact of real running as opposed to running with the reduced impact of a treadmill or elliptical.

By simply working up to a 5k over the course of a few weeks and allowing your body to properly adjust, you can avoid injury.

The point is, if you build to your fitness goals, you will stay healthy enough to achieve them.

 

Eat Right and Hydrate

Let’s face it: it’s hard to stick to a winter diet.

With all the holidays, comfort food and simply spending most of the time inside, winter can wreak havoc on a diet!

But fear not, in can all be undone, and perhaps even easier than you think.

Just because it isn’t officially spring yet doesn’t mean you can’t opt for that spring salad on the menu. Another great change of pace is replacing fatty animal proteins like pork with healthier plant-based options, like chickpeas (click here for some excellent high-protein vegetarian recipes).

In addition to diet, hydration has a lot to do with weight loss and overall well-being. One of the most important components of any successful diet is proper hydration—water will help you burn calories, curb appetite and stimulate your metabolism.

Click here for a more in depth explanation of water and weight-loss.

New levels of physical stress put new levels of strain on your system, so make the transition as easy as possible! Proper hydration ensures a better workout, aids in recovery time and reduces levels of fatigue. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average woman needs 9 cups of water each day, while a man needs 13

Be your own fitness hero

Be your own fitness hero

cups, with an additional 2 and ½ cups per hour of exercise.

Make sure you’re getting yours!

Rest

While we all know rest and recovery are both important parts of any fitness regimen, few of us realize how important they are.

Both muscular endurance and muscle growth require periods of exercise and rest. During exercise the muscle cells breakdown, followed by cellular rebuilding—and growth—during rest.

Without rest, the muscles will simply continue to breakdown. This means muscles will grow slowly or not at all, which in many cases, leads to injury.

Taking a rest day isn’t lazy—it’s smart.

The Take Away

Whatever you do, as small as you start, just get out there and do it. A healthier you is a better you, and your physical well-being has been proven to be an essential component to your happiness.

I don’t know about you, but I’m welcoming spring with open arms!

Yours in health,

Dr. Thomas Caley

What We’ve Learned Since Starting Our Family: An Interview

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What better reason to stay healthy than your family?

This month, I want to share with you easily the most beautiful (and sometimes frustrating!) experience I’ve ever had: Becoming a father!

With the help of a friend, I sat down and hashed out what I believe are some essential questions for a new parent to ask!

We had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you guys enjoy reading it!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Thomas Caley, DC

 

What’s the single most ridiculous things that’s happened to you since becoming a parent?
There have been so many outrageous moments, sounds, and experiences thus far, it’s hard to pick just one.

A few weeks after her birth, Evangeline was fifteen minutes away from her typical feeding time when I was just holding her in one arm admiring her. I leaned in for a kiss and just then she managed to latch onto my cheek like she was trying to nurse! And then, I had an idea…

I thought it would be funny to see if she’d latch on to my nose. Sure enough, as soon as I got close, her lips adhered to the tip of my nose like a little sucker fish!

I was laughing and thinking it was hilarious, and but all the while Kristin was sitting beside me with a look that said, “you are going to be very sorry.”

After a few moments, I finally managed to pry Evangeline off my nose. I turned to Kristin, who audibly gasped.

I ran to the mirror and there, right on the tip of my nose, was a dime-sized, bright red hickey.

It was there for friends, family, patients and everyone I encountered for the next three days to admire. I was embarrassed to say the least!

What has been the most challenging part of being a parent so far?

The most challenging part is definitely getting over the thought that we are going to be perfect parents from the start. Almost 100% of being a good parent is about the effort.  If your little creation wakes up each morning cooing and fussing or content and smiling, you’re doing a good job. If you forget to pack extra clothes in the diaper bag and your baby blows out the diaper, the onesie and the pants while out at a coffee shop so you are left swaddling her in Mom’s scarf, you are still doing a good job.

Personally, the first few weeks I wanted there to be no crying, fussing or spitting up,because to me that would mean I am doing things right.

Newsflash: They’re going to fuss. They’re going to spit up. Sometimes, they’ll even cry so hard that they’ll lose their breath!

As long as she’s gaining weight and filling up diapers, you are doing a good job.


What has been the most rewarding part of becoming a father?

The way I can see her respond to me like she does to no one else!

Evangeline instantly reacts when she hears my voice or senses me in the room. To see her eyes look in my direction is an instant confirmation that all the anticipation during her pregnancy, all the sleepless nights and all the shirts ruined by spittle are well worth it.

I love how I can immediately tell I bring her a sense of calm and security, and the way she reciprocates the love I’ve had for since before she was even conceived!

Is there anything that surprised you about becoming a father?

While it isn’t surprising that Evangeline has helped me become a more practical, consistent man, I was surprised by one essential skill she’s really brought out in me–the ability to say “no.”

Of course, not to her. I’m still working on that.

What I mean is that, prior to her birth, I would say yes to pretty much anything anyone asked of me, and bite off more than I can chew in an effort to please others. My intentions were good, but I was spreading myself too thin! In the end, I wouldn’t be able to help anyone. Now that I’ve come to realize my time is also Evangeline’s time, I make sure that no matter what I’m devoting myself to, every second counts and has my full attention.

What kind of mistakes did you make?  

Every new parent makes mistakes and thinking Kristin and I weren’t going to make any mistakes was definitely a big one!

The biggest mistake we made was probably over-stimulating Evangeline before bedtime. Did you know newborns are only supposed to be awake for maybe an hour at a time?

I sure didn’t!

We thought cramming in as much quality time as possible with Evangeline was the best thing to do. In the evenings, Kristin and I would I dance around, play with her and sing to her.  We’d spend time together until WE were ready to go to bed! We were just trying to nurture her mental development in any way possible, not realizing we were setting up the perfect storm to have a totally cranky baby on our hands!

So, even though we did our best to tire her out, as soon as we put her to bed, she’d enter full fledged meltdown mode. The confusion was insane—Kristin and I were going crazy trying to deal with it for weeks! Like I said, we didn’t realize newborns were only supposed to be up for an hour or so at a time.

Thank God a dear friend with much more parenting experience showed us the error of our ways. When you keep a baby engaged like that for such a long time, they end up overly stimulated and can’t sleep, and when that happens, so do tantrums!

In the end, we not only learned to let her sleep more, we learned that mistakes happen and recognizing them is what really makes a good parent, not being perfect from the start.


What’s it like being a modern dad?

I’ve always been told I’m an old soul in the ways I treat others, the way I dress, speak and act, and now that I’m a dad, this rings true even more.

Today’s culture encourages us to be self-absorbed, glued to our smartphone screens, snapping selfies and constantly striving to be hip. This is the way of the modern man.

But to me being a modern dad means bucking those trends and investing in activities that will make me  a better role model: read, travel, play an instrument, volunteer.

Wouldn’t you rather talk to her about the interesting book you just finished or the beautiful cities you’ve seen instead of the selfie you posted on Instagram that got 97 likes?

Bottom line: I want to set an example  in the best way that a father can. The impressions you expose your child to will last a lifetime.


Do you have any other anecdotes you want to throw in there about your first month as a father?

There’s an overwhelming sense of love and responsibility that comes over you when your first child is born.

It hit me right there when she was 25 seconds old and laying on Kristin’s chest, taking her first breaths.

She grabbed my out stretched finger and held it for the first time, and then I knew: this will be the one and only time I’ll have her wrapped around my finger.

Staying Well Through the Holidays

Well, the holidays are officially here! This means that in the coming months, many of us will be traveling to gather with loved ones and celebrate! Aside from family and friends, if two things are synonymous with holiday festivities, they seem to be food and travel. Unfortunately, these two things can also be the greatest threats to our health.

 

No one wants to be sick over the holidays, and there’s nothing worse than having a cold caught in the airport spoil a visit with family.

 

Then there’s the food.

 

While holiday cookies make for tempting treats, a New Year’s Resolution to learn a new language or instrument is way more fun than trying to lose holiday weight you never had to gain in the first place!

 

So what can you do? Read on for some great ways to make sure you stay fit and healthy this holiday season!

 

How Avoid Getting Sick This Holiday

 

Tip 1: Stay Hydrated

While it seems obvious, staying hydrated is a huge part of combating illness, particularly that “airplane cold” we’ve all caught at one time or another. When your nasal cavities dry out, your natural defenses are significantly compromised, leaving you susceptible to all sorts of airborne pathogens, like the common cold. When you’re dehydrated, it also makes getting better more difficult, so even if you’ve already succumbed to the dreaded holiday cold, make sure you drink plenty of fluids!

 

Tip 2: Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Whether on the plane or in the airport, keep your hands to yourself! On a hard surface such as the cabin wall of an airplane, the flu virus can survive for up to twenty-four hours. In short, if you don’t have to touch something, don’t. Remember: a travel bottle of hand sanitizer coupled with frequent hand washing can go a long way towards protecting your health!

 

Tip 3: Supplement

Supplements can be one of your best friends when combating or preventing the common cold and other ailments. Supplements like Emergen-C and Counterattack have large doses of vitamin C to prevent illness, making them great pre-travel choices. Vitamin D3 is another great way to boost your immune system, particularly as the days get shorter and the natural vitamin D produced when you’re out in the sunshine fades. Make sure you take Vitamin D3 specifically. It’s the best for your body.

 

Other supplements, such as Oscillococcinum, work as holistic remedies to reduce the length of time you’re sick once a cold has struck. Another great addition to your diet is a probiotic. Probiotics maintain an essential balance of healthy bacteria in the gut—one of the most important lines of defense against illness!

 

Make sure you talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before starting any regular supplementation.

 

How to Avoid Holiday Weight

 

Tip 1: Try Substituting Ingredients with Healthier Options

Things like unrefined flours for their refined counterparts might not save you a ton of calories, but making the changes will be better for you in the long run. Opting for flour made from whole wheat—or even rice, coconut and almond flours—allows you to add complex carbohydrates to your diet, meaning that dinner roll you ate will give you longer-lasting, steady energy, making you less likely to eat two.

 

Tip 2: Smaller Plates and Portions

Whether in the buffet line or around the dinner table, it’s often tempting to fill our plates around the holidays. With such abundance, it can be hard to say “no.” One way to trick your mind into thinking you’re eating more than you are is by choosing a smaller plate and limiting the amount of space to pile on food. This way, your mind says “feast” while your body says “just right.”

 

Tip 3: Go Easy on the Libations

While a glass of wine or two isn’t the end of the world, holiday alcohol consumption can be a real problem, particularly for your waistline. One average beer is the direct equivalent to seven slices of bread! By cutting down on your celebratory drinking over the holidays, you can ensure that all those extra carbs won’t come back to haunt you in the New Year! (Plus, you’ll avoid any nasty holiday hangovers and save face at the Christmas office party.)

 

So there you have it: six quick, easy and effective tips to stay well over the holidays and head into 2016 healthy and happy! Check back with us next month for our latest blog post and like our page on Facebook for new and exciting articles updated regularly!

 

Yours in Health,

Dr.Thomas Caley

6 Ways To Get A Better Nights Sleep

EFCSleep

It’s a universal truth—everyone would like to sleep better.

So what are the essential factors in getting better sleep?

Obviously, there are many habits we can adapt to aid in a better night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation suggests developing a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading before bed, to slowly ease the mind and body into a calmed state, making for easier an easier time drifting off.

Additionally things like quitting smoking, limiting caffeinated beverages and putting away the electronics before bed can all result in more restful sleep.

But what if, after all of this, you still find it difficult to drift off?

For many us, work, stress or external stimuli aren’t the only factors keeping us up at night—according to a study appearing in the Journal of Sleep Research, as many as 53% of chronic pain suffers are also potential or fully-diagnosed insomniacs.

Although millions of people suffer from chronic spinal pain (resulting in poor sleep), the good news is there are plenty of things you can do!

Before you head to bed, consider doing the following:

  • Develop a regular exercise routine with a specific focus on core exercises. Not only will this increase your overall physical and mental health, but it will also provide the essential stabilization your spine needs. This means your spine will be less likely to fall out of line and retain its ideal form, which translates into less pinching and aching, making for a better night’s sleep!
  • Try Yoga before bed. Yoga has been proven to relax the muscles and release core tension. Another significant advantage of doing yoga before bedtime lies in its ability to align the spine. Starting out with a positive alignment of the spine ensures you start off right and can work to eliminate the chance of exasperating a misalignment—leaving you tossing and turning instead of restfully sleeping.

If these two tips don’t seem to be helping as much as you’d like, or you feel as if you could do something more, consider these changes for more quality rest:

  • Consider a new mattress. According to the UK Sleep Council, if you find that you are waking with aches and pains that begin to disappear of the course of the day or if you feel you were sleeping better a year ago, it is probably time for a new mattress.
  • When purchasing a new mattress, avoid an overly soft one. While these can feel comfortable at first, they can easily over-contour to your body, providing little to no support in places essential for correct spinal alignment.
  • If you experience neck pain, opt for a firmer pillow. When the weight of a person’s head rests on a pillow night after night, soft spots begin to develop. These spots allow the neck to fall into misalignment and can result in chronic neck pain.
  • Pay attention to your posture at work. Many people who spend their days at a desk exhibit poor posture, which manifests itself in poor spinal alignment. Try sitting on a yoga ball or adopting a standing desk, both of which have been proven to aid in achieving better posture over time.

While many people suffer chronic neck/back pain and the resulting insomnia, there are many, many ways to get a better night’s sleep. With a few simple changes, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be enjoying the level of restful, comfortable sleep we’d all like to experience more frequently.

And remember, if you’re experiencing sleep problems, visiting your Doctor of Chiropractic is a great first step. Just a few short sessions can jumpstart your way to a better nights sleep!