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How to Best Protect Your Muscles and Joints during Cold Winter Months

How to Best Protect Your Muscles and Joints during Cold Winter Months

Feeling a little stiffer after a day in the office now that autumn has turned to winter? Does it take your arms and legs a little longer to wake up when you’re preparing for your workout? Is your uncle complaining that his knee hurts so a storm must be coming? Well the good news is that you’re not alone. These are all just symptoms of wintertime cold weather and its effect on the human body. The effects of cold on your muscles: When temperatures drop, muscles contract more slowly because oxygen is not transferred to the muscle cells as efficiently. This means your muscles need to work harder to produce at their normal levels, raising the risk of muscle tears and injury. Muscles are also not as likely to receive the normal amount of attention and exercise because the cold weather forces people indoors and into a more sedentary lifestyle. Finally, cold weather can numb sensory mechanisms so that it’s harder to feel when you may be pushing certain muscle groups too hard during workouts. This can lead to serious injury as well. How to minimize these effects: Warm up and stretch before workouts. This is always important, but it’s even more so when your muscles are cold and stiff from the weather. Stretching prior to the workout should be more aerobic and cardio focused. While great post-workout, static stretching prior to can actually cause your muscles to tighten more from the strain. Dress warmly and cover your extremities. The body’s thermoregulatory mechanics highly prioritize internal organs, so you need to pick up the slack when it comes to keeping your arms, legs, fingers, toes, and ears warm and safe. Eat high-energy foods. Make sure you’re getting your daily servings of protein for quicker and more effective muscle recovery time. Also try to stay hydrated and eat foods rich in B Vitamins and iron.   The effects of cold on your joints: The effects of cold weather on your body’s joints are tougher to definitively prove than cold weather’s effects on your muscles, but there is a generally universal consensus that they do exist. The most stereotypical one is cold weather causing more pain for people suffering from arthritis. Changes in the weather cause the arthritis to flare up, oftentimes allowing the person to predict weather changes before they actually happen. The most widely accepted explanation for this phenomena centers around barometric pressure, which is essentially the pressure that Earth’s atmosphere is applying to us at all times. Weather changes cause the barometric pressure to rise and fall which makes the inflamed arthritis tissue expand and contract causing the pain. How to minimize these effects: Dress warm. Exposure to cold can cause your muscles to contract which leads to joint issues. Take warm baths, hot tubs, or swims in heated pools. The heat loosens up your muscles, and swimming may be the best way to get a great workout while applying the least amount of stress to your joints. Consider Vitamin D supplements. Arthritis pain and Vitamin D deficiency have been linked, so make sure you’re getting enough of it in your diet. Use a heating pad during periods of inactivity. A little focused heat on a painful joint can loosen up the surrounding muscles, widen the veins, and...

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6 Tips for How to Safely Exercise During the Extreme Heat of the Summer

6 Tips for How to Safely Exercise During the Extreme Heat of the Summer

Whether it’s exercising more often to keep up that ‘summer bod,’ or just having more fun playing sports outside on a nice day, when the sun comes out, we become active. Yet with that summer sun comes the heat, which can have significant effects on your muscles and the way your body works. Here are a few things to be aware of when playing outside this summer. Muscle Fatigue, Dehydration & Heat Stroke Your body is constantly doing things to regulate its internal temperature. Too keep it cool, either from exercise or air temperature, it creates sweat to reduce body heat through evaporation while pumping more blood to circulate through your skin. During exercise, your muscles are in higher demand for oxygen, which they receive through blood flow. If you’re exercising in hot conditions, it creates a stiff competition for the blood flow in your body, as a result your body temperate can rise, and if you’re muscles aren’t getting enough oxygen through blood flow you might notice them becoming fatigued or cramped. Dehydration is a common effect of exercising in the heat. As your body is trying to cool itself through sweat, its expelling fluids, and if you lose more water than you take in, dehydration can occur. Mild dehydration will cause fatigue and dizziness, while extreme dehydration can be more dangerous, causing mental and physical deterioration, even fatalities. Dehydration also reduces blood flow in the body, which in turn hiders its ability to cool itself, raising your internal temperature. Both exercise and hot weather will cause your body temperature to rise. If your internal temperature is taking on more heat than it’s dissipating, then it can reach the point of heat exhaustion. This is where your body temperature rises as high as 104 F. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness, and cold, clammy skin. If this goes untreated, it can lead to heat stroke, which is when your body temperature is above 104 F, and can be a life-threatening situation. How to Safely Exercise During the Scorching Summer Months: Be extra careful when exercising in very humid conditions, as it will hinder the amount of sweat that is actually evaporating from your skin, and reduce your body’s cooling effects. Drink lots of water. As your body continues to cool itself, it will need extra fluids to expel through sweat. Not consuming enough liquids can result in dehydration and the body overheating. Staying hydrated is critical to keeping body cool and restoring electrolytes and water you sweat out. Glycerol is a 3-carbon molecule that’s produced naturally in the body under healthy metabolism. Taking extra glycerol can help you retain more fluids and electrolytes during lengthy exercise so you don’t give up all your essential nutrients while you sweat. Cool yourself down before you begin. Studies have shown that lowering your body temperature before exercise will prolong the time it takes for you to heat up, and actually improve performance in hot weather. Dunk yourself in a frigid stream, take a cold shower, water or yourself in a cold room before you work out. Listen to your body when it’s hot out. Studies have shown that your brain will anticipate your body overheating and actually you slow down if its temperature is getting too hot. If you’re paying attention,...

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How To Warm Up Your Arm For Throwing

How To Warm Up Your Arm For Throwing

When you’re a pitcher on a baseball team, you have to make sure that your shoulder and arm are prepared to throw 50 to 75 pitches during a game. Injuries happen when your muscles aren’t ready to exert that kind of force. It stresses your muscles and joints, so you need to have a plan to warm up. Before you do anything, make sure your muscles are relaxed and loose. If you worked out the day before or just pitched a game, it tightens the shoulder muscles. Self myofascial release is a technique you can use if you can’t afford your own personal massage therapist. Warm-up Warm-ups for your muscles should work the same types of movement patterns that you’ll use when pitching. These include your scapula and rotator cuff muscles, but don’t underestimate the need to work out your entire body. Experts recommend resistance tubing. Warm-ups shouldn’t make you fatigued, nor are they a substitute for strengthening exercises. Work with your trainer and coach to find the right warm-up for your own level of play. Ease into Practice Don’t start by throwing fast pitches at a long distance. Throwing is stressful on your body. Throw pitches at short distances with your catcher standing up to begin. This gets your body prepared for the upcoming work it’s going to do. Every pitch you throw shouldn’t be an attempt to gain velocity or strength, because of the stress it puts on your muscles and joints. As you practice, increase the distance. Throw the ball with a bit of an arc, like you’re attempting to hit your catcher in the chest. The ball shouldn’t fly past them. If it does, you’re throwing too hard for the distance. It’s okay to ease your body into throwing so that when you are ready to do the hard work of gaining strength and speed, your arm and shoulder aren’t injured. Maintaining Your Arm Regular chiropractic care can benefit your spine and muscles. Many professional baseball players use the professional services of a chiropractor to help them maintain their pitching arm. The American Sports Medicine Institute recommends that youth pitchers have a program to build their strength and throwing ability. This is good advice no matter what age you are. Always make sure that you listen to your body. Fatigue and pain are indicators that your muscles and joints are stressed. Talk to your coach and trainer so that they can evaluate your ability to practice so that you avoid an...

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Sitting Is The New Smoking

Sitting Is The New Smoking

There is no denying that smoking is a lifestyle choice with serious health repercussions. Most people are aware of this and have made a conscious decision not to start smoking. Unfortunately, these same people may face just as high of a cancer risk if they lead a sedentary lifestyle. Unlike past generations where most people engaged in physical labor to earn a living, we live in an era where it’s common to spend all day in front of a computer at the office and then come home and spend the evening in front of the television. If we’re not in front of some type of screen, we’re driving somewhere in our cars. All of this sitting is having serious consequences for our health. Deadlier Than Tobacco Recently, a reporter from the Los Angeles Times interviewed Dr. James Levine, the director at the Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Levine also invented the treadmill desk as a way to keep office workers moving during the day. He has discovered through his research that prolonged sitting greatly increases the risk of several types of cancer as well as heart disease, high cholesterol, and Type II diabetes. Like smoking, extensive sitting affects the body for years. This remains true even after people decide to incorporate more physical activity into their lives. Dr. Levine goes so far as to say that sitting for hours every day, year after year, is more dangerous to our health than years of smoking. Stating the Obvious: Too Much Sitting Leads to Obesity People who spend six or more hours per day sitting are far more likely to gain weight than those who make an effort to limit sitting to three hours a day or less. While a healthy diet and exercise are key to maintaining a desirable weight, so is moving frequently throughout the day. When we spend most of our waking hours at a desk or on the couch, there is no opportunity to burn off the calories we consume from meals and snacks. Obesity and all of the health complications that go with it is the natural result of so much inactivity. Stiff Muscles and Arthritis In addition to serious health consequences like cancer, prolonged sitting can cause problems with muscle stiffness that eventually causes arthritis and mobility problems later in life. Being locked in a seated position with elbows bent and leaning forward to stare at a screen slowly destroys the muscles over time. After decades of sitting like this, the muscles in the arms, neck, back, and legs become painful to move. That is because they were locked in place for so long that they lost their pliability. Sitting Less Improves Physical and Mental Health A steady, serious decline in physical health is not the only consequence of too much sitting. Medical researchers have also implicated it as a leading cause of clinical depression. Those who sit frequently and don’t exercise at all have nearly a 100 percent greater risk of struggling with this serious mood disorder. Physical activity increases levels of dopamine in the brain, a chemical that is responsible for mood regulation. People who lead a completely sedentary lifestyle can make small changes every day to help improve their health. As they meet each new goal, it only helps them feel better...

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Reduce Shoulder Pain & Increase Strength

Reduce Shoulder Pain & Increase Strength

Your shoulder is a complex joint made up of many tendons and muscles. When injuries or strain occur, it’s important to seek treatment from your physician. Sometimes, these injuries require surgery, but many conditions can be treated with physical therapy or exercises that focus on maintaining shoulder health. Check with a health professional to make sure the exercises listed below are appropriate for you. These exercises help with stability, flexibility, and strength – all of these are important for preventing strain or injury. Before You Begin Warming up the body to prepare it for exercise is important. Typically, a warm-up prior to exercising the shoulders consists of a few minutes of light aerobic exercise followed by some gentle stretches of the shoulders and arms. Aerobic exercise can be as simple as walking or light jogging in place. For a light warm-up stretch, try this: Lean forward so your back is at about a 45-degree angle and place one hand on a table or other similar support. Your other arm will hang freely. Gently swing your free arm forward, then back. Repeat for about ten seconds. Now, let your arm swing side to side. It will move toward your body and the support, then away. Let it swing gently but freely. Do this for the same amount of time: about ten seconds. Lastly, swing your arm in a slow, circular motion for ten seconds. Repeat this series of movements on the opposite arm. Stretch and Strengthen These four exercises will help stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons of the shoulder while also enhancing flexibility. Regularity is key – for best results, make an effort to do these exercises five to six days each week.  Crossover Stretch. This stretch strengthens the posterior deltoid muscles. Simply sit or stand, relax the shoulders, and pull one arm across the chest. Be careful not to put pressure on the elbow. Switch sides. Repeat four more times on each side. Bicep Curl. Curls help strengthen the bicep and take pressure off of the shoulder. Stand or sit, relaxing the shoulders. Grip a light weight (one to two pounds) in each hand. Keeping your elbows snug against your sides, curl the weight in toward one bicep, then release. Repeat with the other arm. Movements should be slow and steady. Do five repetitions on each side. Internal Rotation.  This exercise helps maintain the pectoralis muscle. Stand comfortably with shoulders relaxed. Raise the arm so it’s in a straight line out from the shoulder., palm facing forward. Slowly bring it diagonally across the body, palm facing inward, until the arm touches the body, then back up to the starting position. Repeat four more times. Do the same with the opposite arm. External rotation. This is essentially the opposite of the internal rotation. Start with a straight arm snug against the body diagonally. Sweep the arm out and up, ending with the arm straight out from the shoulder, palm facing forward. Repeat for a total of five times with each arm. This exercise will help strengthen the deltoids and upper back muscles. Finish up your shoulder exercise routine by repeating the warmup stretch. Try to maintain a habit of doing these exercises five to six days each week and take note of improvements in shoulder pain, mobility and...

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Preparing For A Big Race

Preparing For A Big Race

You’ve already put in the long hours of conditioning, long-distance runs, speed work and stretching for hours every day. Now your 5k, half-marathon or full marathon (defined as a 26.2 mile race) is right around the corner. Hopefully at this point you have some idea of how to prepare for the race, but we want to give you some pointers on how to stay healthy and enjoy the race. It’s important that you do more than stretch and practice good nutrition. Protecting your health, along with your posture and joints, is imperative before taking on a race of this magnitude. Let’s take a look at practice recommendations, sleep requirements, the proper clothing and marathon preparations the day before your big race. Practice Recommendations Leaving yourself enough time to prepare for the marathon helps to ward off injury and ensure a smooth and steady race to the finish line. It’s always best to check with your primary care doctor, nutritionist and physical therapist or chiropractor (if you have any preexisting conditions) to make sure you’re healthy enough for a marathon. You can also get tips and advice from these professionals regarding nutrition and optimal performance as well. For example, appropriate training and proper weight distribution are absolutely crucial when it comes to the joints such as the knees, says Runners World. Healthy joints result from compressive forces that are even in terms of amount and direction, so learning the proper running form, wearing the right shoes, offsetting running regimens with cross training, and avoiding over-taxed joints are all keys to success. Race Day Before the big day, take it easy. There’s no need to run at all on this day; don’t worry, you won’t lose any conditioning, says Active. You want to warm up before you race, but don’t deplete your energy doing so. You’ll be doing enough walking by heading down to the race site, registering and picking up your number (many marathons do this the day before, not the day of). The night before, feel free to participate in carbo-loading but this isn’t a necessity. Many runners find that a lot of extra carbs help with energy levels during a long grueling race like a marathon. Don’t east too much and stuff yourself though. Eating too much can be counterproductive even though runners are historically told to eat a lot. A better rule of thumb is to practice a healthy eating plan, which you can replicate again the next day. This is where you want to consult with an expert to ensure you have the right nutrition for you. There’s nothing worse than running on a full stomach or not feeling well because you’re not used to loading up on pasta. Eat what’s right for you and that gels with your nutrition routine. Sleep You may have aspirations of sleeping like a baby for hours upon hours the night before the marathon. This lofty goal is not always attainable but definitely try your best to get some good rest. That being said, don’t stress about not getting enough sleep. Often the biggest hindrance to getting a good nights sleep the night before a race, is the desire to have a good nights sleep. Relax and let nature do it’s thing. If you’re nutrition is on point and you’ve...

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How to Identify A Disc Injury

How to Identify A Disc Injury

Disc injuries are one of the most debilitating types of back injuries you can experience, and there is little to no way to prevent them, other than being cautious. But sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’re just experiencing common lower back pain, or an actual slipped disc. Disc injuries can be incredibly painful and cause serious damage to your spine or neck if left untreated, so here are a few ways to determine whether or not this is what you’re suffering from. What causes slipped or herniated discs? A slipped disk happens when the outer ring of the disc in your veterbrae becomes weak or torn and allows the inner portion to slip out. This is particularly common when you get older. In fact, people between 35-45 years old are more likely to suffer from a slipped disc injury as disks begin to lose some of their protective water content as we age. Certain movements may also cause a disk to slip out of place, especially if you are twisting or turning to lift an object. As you’re probably aware, lifting large, heavy objects can place great strain on your lower back, so if you have a very physically demanding job that requires a lot of lifting, you may be at increased risk for this kind of injury. Overweight people also run an increased risk for a herniated disk, because their spines must support their extra weight. Other contributing factors include: weak muscles and a sedentary lifestyle. What are the symptoms of a slipped disc injury? Slipped disks can happen in any part of your spine, from your neck to your lower back. However, the lower back is where slipped disks commonly take place. Since your spinal column is a complex network of nerves and blood vessels, a herniated disk might place extra pressure on the nerves and muscles around it, and potentially cause nerve damage if left untreated. See a doctor immediately if you are experiencing these types back pain with any of these symptoms: Pain and numbness, most commonly on one side of the body Pain that extends to your arms and/or legs Pain that worsens at night Pain that worsens after standing or sitting Pain when walking short distances Unexplained muscle weakness Tingling, aching, or burning sensations in the affected area How can I prevent having a slipped disc? While there is no sure way to prevent a slipped disc, being careful and living a healthy lifestyle are an important part of keeping your spine strong and healthy. Here are a few ways you can do that. Try and stay at a healthy weight through diet, activity and exercise. Be careful when moving heavy objects, always making sure to use safe lifting techniques: Bend and lift from your knees, not your waist. Do not stay seated for extended periods; get up and stretch periodically. Do exercises to strengthen the muscles in your back, legs, and abdomen. Go for regular chiropractic adjustments to keep your spine in...

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Easy Stretches For Back Pain Relief

Easy Stretches For Back Pain Relief

Back pain can be one of the most uncomfortable parts of getting older. It’s also a fact of life for people living with injuries and other spinal conditions. But even if you don’t suffer from any debilitating discomfort, you will benefit from from stretching the soft tissues – the muscles, ligaments and tendons – in your back, legs, buttock, and around the spine. Our spines are designed to endure continuous movement, and things like poor posture and lack of exercise can have negative effects on your spine’s health. Regular stretching, even for as little as 15 minutes every day, will help keep your spine healthy and prevent back pain in the future. Stretching For Back Pain Relief Stretch on a clean, flat surface in an area where you have enough space to move freely. Always wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement. Stretching shouldn’t hurt. Don’t force your body into any positions that cause discomfort. Pace yourself by moving into the stretch slowly. Avoid ‘bouncing’ as this may actually tear muscles. Hold the stretches for about 20-30 seconds, this gives the muscles and joints enough time to become ‘loose.’ Repeat the stretches 5-10 times, working up to more repetitions gradually. If you already have back or neck pain, always consult a doctor before adding any new stretches to your exercise routine. This will prevent further injury. Stretches If you suffer from back pain first thing in the morning, these two stretches will help strengthen those muscles, ease tension and improve mobility. Back Flexion Exercise While lying on your back, pull both your knees to your chest while simultaneously flexing your head forward until a comfortable stretch is felt in a balled-up position Knee to Chest Stretch While lying on your back with your knees bent and both heels on the floor, place both your hands behind one knee and bring it to your chest. One of the side effects of a stiff back is a stiff neck, which can be very uncomfortable and a source of tension headaches. These stretches will help loosen up your neck and shoulder area. Flexion Stretch – Chin to Chest While standing or sitting, gently bend your head forward while bringing your chin toward your chest until a stretch is felt in the back of your neck. Lateral Flexion – Ear to Shoulder This exercise stretches the neck area below the ears as well as the top of the shoulder. To begin, gently bend your neck to one side as if to touch your ear to your shoulder until a stretch is felt in the side of your neck. Switch to stretch the other side. The hips and buttocks (where the gluteus muscles are) support the lower back, and stretching these muscle groups will help keep your spine flexible and combat lower back pain. Hip Stretch While standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, take a half-step back with your right foot, bend your left knee and shift your weight back to your right hip. Keeping your right leg straight, bend forward more and reach down your right leg until you feel a stretch in your outer hip. Piriformis Muscle Stretch The piriformis muscle runs through the buttock and can contribute to back pain or leg pain. To stretch the this muscle,...

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Fixing Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Fixing Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Posterior Pelvic Tilt is a common problem that affects many Americans. A person can be affected by PPT if they don’t lead an active lifestyle or have poor posture whilst sitting at their desk. While the severe PPT can cause joint, knee and hip pain, it also makes your butt and gut protrude a lot more. In addition to the pain, this can affect the way your clothes fit, and maybe even your self confidence. Unfortunately, because this is a muscular/ skeletal problem, no amount of weight loss will help you get rid of that gut. Here’s some information to help you understand PPT a little better, as well as a few suggestions on how to combat it. What is Posterior Pelvic Tilt ? Posterior pelvic tilt is the medical term for hips that are excessively tilted backwards. The most common cause of this posture problem is sedentariness and lack of everyday activity. How Posterior Pelvic Tilt Happens If we sit a lot, our hip flexors “shorten” causing compensatory tension in the hamstrings. If you stand up and you have short hip flexors, the hamstrings will pull on the the hip, as well as your lower back. This is what causes the hip to tilt backward and the curvature in your lower back to flatten, thus making your butt and gut seem more prominent. How can I tell if I have Posterior Pelvic Tilt? To a certain extent, a slight pelvic tilt is common in humans. It depends on the way your body is built, your genes, etcetera. In fact, a slight pelvic tilt is more common in women than in men. However, one of the ways you can figure out if you have PPT is to perform the Thomas Test. To do so, get a friend to observe you, or film it with your cellphone/ webcam. Sit on the edge of a table or another stable surface, grab both of your knees and lean back until your back is flat on the surface. Now, let go of one leg and extend at the hip until your thigh touches the table. You don’t have PPT if: your thigh touches the table and the knee is bent with neither hip nor leg rotating or moving outward. You might have PPT if: you need to extend the knee (i.e. straighten it) to touch your thigh to the surface of the table. This means your rectus femoris is short. Also, if your thigh cannot touch the table even after you’ve extended your knee, your psoas are short. If your leg and hip need to move to the outside for the thigh to touch the surface of the table, your tensor fascia latae is short. If you notice any of these things, and your spine is even slightly curved, you will benefit from a few PPT corrective drill or exercises. What can I do to fix it? Exercises and drills. If you’re suffering from sever PPT, there are a number of valuable exercises and drills videos available online to help you fix it. Focus on drills that strengthen your psoas and quads, and stretching your glutes and hamstrings. Be more active. Sedentariness is the number one cause of PPT, so get out there and move your body. If your PPT is mild, something...

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Benefits of using ArthroStim Instrument

Benefits of using ArthroStim Instrument

As technology advances, your chiropractor might discover new ways to provide treatment to his/her patients. As you can imagine, your doctor sees many different types of people of all shapes and sizes every day, each with different sensitivity levels and pain thresholds. With such a wide variety of patient needs, sometimes the manual adjustment a chiropractor can provide might not be as effective or efficient, which is why your doctor might use a tool like the Arthrostim Instrument to enhance their treatment sessions. What is the Arthrostim? The ArthroStim Instrument is a handheld machine that aids your chiropractor in performing adjustments. This powerful tool delivers 12-14 incremental thrusts per second, making it much stronger and faster than a typical single thrust administered by a chiropractor. By dividing the energy of a single thrust into rapid successive inputs, the ArthroStim Instrument modulates the force your physician applies in treatment, but in a much more comfortable and effective manner. How does it work? In order to understand how an Arthrostim Instrument works, you have to understand how chiropractic adjustment works. A chiropractic adjustment produces precise movements which stimulate ‘neural receptors’ in an injured/affected area. These receptors will then produce nerve impulses which transmit important information to the brain. The brain will process this information and use it to update its awareness about the condition of an area. Once the brain evaluates the changes prompted by the adjustment, it can begin sending out self-correcting commands to the muscular system, and other systems, to bring about healing within your body. The Arthrostim is just another way to administer these adjustments, but it is faster, more comfortable and efficient due to its controlled repetitive input. This input produces a ‘snowballing’ effect on neural receptors and allows it to transmit more information to the brain with less effort, pain and force. What are the benefits? The ArthroStim Instrument allows your doctor to maintain the effectiveness of your treatment while greatly reducing the amount of force that is applied, which makes it easier to use on a wide variety of conditions and ailments. Individuals that may especially benefit from the use of the ArthroStim Instrument include: Infants and young children Individuals with acute or extreme pain Particularly sensitive individuals Individuals who dislike being “cracked” Elderly individuals Even people who are larger and stronger and therefore more difficult to adjust from a standard single thrust will benefit from the ‘neurological assist’ that the ArthroStim Instrument provides. Typically, your chiropractor might use the ArthroStim Instrument by itself or in combination with other adjusting techniques, but of course this will depend on the approach they feel is best for your specific treatment. Speak to your chiropractor to find out about the methods they use, and whether or not they think Arthrostim will be right for...

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