Protect Yourself This Winter

How to prevent injuring yourself while shoveling snow & carrying firewood

As the beginning of winter is upon us it’s important to make sure you are taking care of yourself while performing activities such as shoveling snow from your driveway or carrying firewood inside. Slip and falls on the ice are the most common low back injury in the winter, while shoveling snow is the runner up.

It’s easy for us to forget to take care of ourselves and use proper mechanics while in a hurry to clear the walk or warm up the house. To make it easier for you- we have included several tips to help you stay safe this winter!

1. Pick the correct size and type of shovel for your body. Adjustable shovels for your height is best, and can minimize the amount of bending you must do to keep the blade on the ground. You should also pick an ergonomic design with a curved handle. Pick a weight that is proper for your size to minimize the amount of stress on your back while moving the shovel.

2. Warm up and stretch before shoveling snow or carrying fire wood. Just as you want to stretch and make sure your body is prepared to lift weights or play sports, you should warm up your arms, legs and core muscles before going outside. You also want to make sure you are well stretched and warmed up to help decrease the chances of your muscles tightening up in the cold, causing injury. Wear proper clothing and layers while outside to help keep your body warm.

3. Don’t forget your proper bending and lifting mechanics! Be sure to activate your core and breathe while performing any work.

For picking up firewood, place your body in front of the wood you will be lifting with your hips and feet squared towards the wood. Squat using your knees and drop your hips- do not bend over at the waist. Carrying smaller loads while holding them in close to your body helps decrease the load/stress on your low back. Avoid any twisting motions while squatting down or standing back up. Stand straight up from the squatting position while contracting your core muscles (Abdominals & Glutes) without bending forward.

While shoveling snow, keep the shovel in front of your body. Bend at the knees (NOT YOUR BACK!) while pushing the snow in front of your straight ahead. If you have to scoop the snow be sure to bend at the knees, keeping arms in close to your body, and turn your entire body-do not twist! Bending forward and twisting puts the greatest amount of pressure and stress on your low back, and is the most common way to cause injury. Avoid throwing the snow with the shovel, instead tilt the shovel to allow the snow to fall. Switch sides regularly as opposed to always turning to one side while shoveling.

4. Wear proper snow shoes or boots while outside, especially if there is ice. You want to make sure you can grip and keep contact with the ground so you don’t slip and fall. Spreading salt or sand on the ground can help you grip and maintain traction while working.

5. Finally, give yourself plenty of time to complete your task. Don’t rush! Instead, take breaks if you have a large amount of firewood to move or a long driveway to clear off. Stretch while taking a break to keep your muscles warm and your body ready to continue working.

The Secret About Supplements

What you are really getting out of your low-quality supplements?

The shelves in the store are full of them. We scroll past them on our Facebook newsfeed every day. They’re everywhere, and gaining popularity as people continue to talk about improving your health. That’s right, we’re talking about your supplements and vitamins. But who can you really trust? The youthful looking actress on the One-A-Day commercial? Your friend who is making money from the multi-level marketing company? With all of the choices available how do you know which one is best? Or which one you should absolutely avoid?

There’s an easy way to answer this question- look at the labels. The first thing you should avoid are products where all ingredients aren’t listed. If your buddy wants you to buy a supplement they’re selling, and they can’t tell you EXACTLY what is in it, EXACTLY what that compound is made of, or how it effects your body- you should avoid it. This is especially true for any of our athletes who may undergo randomized drug testing. Being in the athletics world I have unfortunately seen it happen. An athlete that is taking a supplement bought from a superstore or a friend, unsure of the full ingredients list, and then fails a drug test. Is it REALLY worth ruining your athletic career?

You then have to look at the amount of the ingredients listed and how it is named. For example, the vitamin that says: Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) – 168 mg; 279% of Daily Value. You may look at that and think, “Wow! I am getting more Vitamin C in one pill than I should be getting ALL day! What a great deal!” – WRONG. Ascorbic Acid is just one small part of Vitamin C as a whole. When you are taking a huge dose of just one part of a vitamin, you are not getting the full immune supporting effects that come with taking a whole Vitamin C.

Think of Vitamin C like an egg- The Ascorbic Acid is the shell. All of the other pieces of Vitamin C are the yolk. The “Yolk” consists of Tyrosinase (to help the body absorb the Vitamin C); Bioflavinoid Complexes (promote structure & function of your circulatory system, an anti-mutagenic, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-aging); Ascorbigen (For pain/fibromyalgia relief); and Co-Factors (to help with blood clotting and supporting blood vessels). So you have just taken way more than your daily recommended dose of egg shells, but left out the important properties of the yolk. You just got short-changed on your supplement purchase.

Unfortunately, this is true of many supplements and vitamins. The large mega-dose of one part of a vitamin means they are also synthetic- made in a test tube in a lab and designed to mimic the actions of a natural vitamin in the body. This also means your body cannot digest all of the vitamin, leaving parts of it to either sit in your digestive tract, or your body to dispose of it.

So what’s the solution? You should only be buying Whole Food Supplements. These are of the highest quality which consists of the entire supplement (the egg shell AND the yolk). They include all of the nutrients, enzymes, cofactors and trace minerals that only come from food sources, which your body needs to stay healthy. This is also extremely important of your child’s multi-vitamin. If you’re not sure if your vitamin/supplement is of high quality, bring it by the office. Our doctors will be able to review them with you and help you make the best decisions for your health. We also carry a line of physician’s grade, organic, whole food supplements from Standard Process available for our patients. We care about your health and what you are putting into your body! Give us a call to set up your nutritional consult with our doctors!

Two sports are better than one


An increasing desire for young children to play college and professional sports results in increased time spent practicing. Most youth athletes have practices and games a minimum of 3 days per week- but most are playing daily. When parents notice their child may be excelling in one sport, that sport then becomes the emphasis of their schedule. This leads to more practicing, individual lessons, and unfortunately overuse injuries. Where I feel most people are setting their child up for these injuries is by only concentrating on one sport.

Playing the same sport all year long is just like working in an assembly line and performing the same action, over and over every day. The body adapts to performing that motion repeatedly, which sets the body up for overuse injuries like tendonitis. Lets take for example, a child who plays soccer all year long. Even though soccer utilizes both legs for running, they have a dominant leg for kicking which is used over and over while playing. The body adapts to strengthen that dominant side and overall body mechanics change for dominant lower body movements. This athlete rarely develops the skills for performing an overhead sport and causes an imbalance in their development. The child who plays soccer will begin to work a completely different set of muscle groups by playing baseball, and improve their overall strength. If you look at a pro soccer player’s gym routine when off the field, it is focused on other areas of the body- not continued concentration on their dominant leg.

Under the skin and over the muscle lies a thin fibrous layer called Myofascia. The myofascia has a certain pattern in which is lies over the muscles and runs across our bodies called myofascial slings. These slings help propel our bodies with certain motions we perform. When the same motion is performed repeatedly one sling becomes too strained, or tight, and can lead to injury. If one myosfascial sling becomes too dominant, and the other slings weaken. Allowing children to play multiple sports helps balance these slings resulting in improved body movement which decreases chance of injury.

Cross training with multiple sports contributes to increased speed, agility, and proprioception for an overall well-rounded athlete. There is a reason that football and baseball season are offset in the year. This allows for children to cross train their bodies and become stronger. There is always an adaptive period when transitioning from one sport to another- and we will be doing a future blog on how to prepare your body for these transitions. Playing multiple sports also benefits kids mentally and prevents burnout. I have personally experienced this when speaking with a college soccer goalie I worked with. He stated he had no desire to continue playing soccer, but it gave him a college scholarship and he didn’t know what else to do. That mentality can be detrimental in a college or professional athlete.

Our priority at Columbia Chiropractic Group is empowering our athletes to succeed by helping them withstand the stresses placed upon their body while playing sports. We are happy to analyze your athletes movements to ensure their training is not setting them up for an overuse injury. Please give our office a call at 573-397-5980 or stop by to see us.

Recovery matters


Recovery is an essential part of any athlete’s workout regimen. Stresses are placed upon the muscles, joints, and bones of the body during workouts, runs, or weight lifting sessions. The recovery time is pertinent, as it allows the body to adapt to the stresses that were placed upon it.

It is important to know how our muscles get bigger and stronger following workouts to understand the importance of recovery. In simple terms, there are small tears, or micro-damage, that occurs in muscle when it is placed under stress. As the muscle fibers heal, they fuse together to become bigger, called hypertrophy. This is a very condensed explanation, as there are other factors that aid in the cellular processes of healing such as blood flow, growth hormones, and other cellular proteins.

If too much repetitive stress is placed upon the muscles or a specific area of the body, it can lead to injury. The area of the body does not have time to heal and regenerate. Think of it like a rubber band that is continuously stretched and relaxed over and over. Eventually, the rubber band will weaken and tear in half. This is why athletes do not work out the same muscle groups every day.

I get asked quite a bit what are the most important factors in recovery? I tell my patients that rest is the most important. I advise giving around 3-5 days before working out the same muscle group again, depending on the workout intensity, and the patient’s workout goals. Hydration and nutrition are also important. (look out for an upcoming blog on hydration for athletes!) It is important that the body receives the proper nutrients it needs for optimal and efficient healing and functioning. Stretching and foam rolling, when done correctly, also helps increase mobility of the extremities, and decrease unwanted adhesions from occurring in the muscles and surrounding tissues.

Lastly, I also recommend my patients to use the NormaTec at our office. The NormaTec is a piece of equipment with leg sleeve attachments. The sleeves are zipped around the patients legs, and the patient can set the intensity to their comfort level. The NormaTec uses chambered sections of the sleeves to apply compression and massage to the legs to flush out lactic acid and waste while increasing blood flow to the muscles. This increases the healing time of the muscles and decreases soreness following workouts. To learn more about our NormaTec Recovery System and set up your first session, give our office a call!

Our own Dr. Ramirez using the NormaTec Recovery System after a leg workout

What is an athletic trainer?


A few days ago I was asked "So what does the Athletic Trainer on your business card mean?" I also get asked, "Is it like a personal trainer?" - No. "Are you a strength coach?" - No. Have you ever watched a pro sports game and someone get injured while on the field? Ever notice the person running out on the field first to assess the athlete and the injury? THAT's the Athletic Trainer.