Summer Travel Plans Ahead? Don’t Miss These Simple (But Powerful) Tips To Avoid Back and Neck Pain

Summertime is in full swing. For many of us that means longer days, more time with family, a slower pace – and maybe a fun trip or two out of Chandler.

But summer travel can also result in back pain and a stiff neck for many people. What are the likely causes and how can you proactively prevent the onset of aches and pains?

Extended Travel Times

If you’re spending long periods of travel time while sitting in the same position, you might find yourself dealing with back pain, a stiff neck, or leg cramps. And it’s no wonder! Efficiency has replaced comfort; airlines have reduced legroom and seat padding with many automobile manufacturers following suit.

At the end of your journey, it’s not uncommon for your back, neck and legs to ache. How can you mitigate your pains and make your trip more enjoyable?

  • Do your preflight homework. Did you know you can compare airlines and airplane configurations on websites like SeatGuru? Get familiar with the various carriers and jet models, some of which have significantly more leg room and seat width.
  • Consider flying first class, if your budget allows. The added room that comes with first class or business class can be a great investment, with so many airlines flying through the Phoenix airport there should be some good options. If first class is not an option, keep your eyes open for other seating choices that allow for more leg room. Extra leg room lets you lean back and maintain a neutral spine position plus stretch your calves, making a stiff neck, leg cramps and back pain far less likely.
  • Get help with your carry-on. Don’t forget to keep your carry-on luggage as light as possible and never hesitate to ask the cabin crew for help when lifting your belongings into the overhead bins. It’s better to pack two or three smaller bags than one large suitcase.
  • Pack external support. Don’t leave home without your secret weapon: external support systems like back braces, cervical travel pillows, or lumbar rolls. You’ll love the extra spinal support, especially when your window airplane seat, crowded train, or traffic jam make are keeping you confined to your seat.

If you’re using a brace to reduce back pain, apply the back brace while standing up and looking straight ahead to keep a neutral spine.

Your travel pillows and lumbar rolls should be big enough to support the natural curve of your neck and low back, but not large enough to push your entire body away from your seat. The back of your head, for example, should still be touching the seat.

And if your legs don’t reach the floor, bring along a folding footstool; your feet should never dangle.

  • Take stretch breaks. Whether you’re travelling by plane or car, stretching every 60-90 minutes can ease lower body cramping and swelling. In a plane, stand in the aisle flat-footed, then lift your heels upward keeping your toes flat on the floor. Choose an aisle seat so you can get up and stretch more frequently without worrying about troubling others. If travelling by car, use fuel stops to stretch your back and legs. Increasing your circulation will reduce that bloated feeling that often accompanies long journeys.

Broken Routines

Later starts to your day, increased family activities– even with the best of intentions, summertime can destroy your regular routine. How can you maintain your diet and exercise habits while on the road?

  • Enjoy your snacks, but choose healthier versions. It’s tempting to go into vacation mode and indulge in all your favorite foods. You’ll feel better if you stay well-hydrated and avoid excessive junk food, caffeine, and alcohol. When that salty snack craving hits, replace your go-to potato chips with a popped-chip alternative. You’ll still get the satisfying crunch with the lighter, healthier popped chips that have about half the fat of regular potato chips. Other healthy (and delicious) substitutions include swapping out your favorite candy for yogurt-covered raisins or choosing a protein bar instead of a sugary granola bar.
  • Don’t skimp on exercise. Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor exercise–you can walk and run just about anywhere! Renting bikes or heading out for a hike are fun family activities and also great ways to explore a new area. Be on the lookout for fun local workout opportunities, too, like yoga in the park. Remember, hitting the gym every day isn’t necessarily a requirement– the goal is to stay active.

Summer travel means switching up your surroundings, but it doesn’t have to mean taking a break from self-care and healthy practices.

Summer is the perfect time to book an appointment with us. If you’re experiencing back pain, a stiff neck or other joint pain, schedule an initial examination online.

The Causes & Best Treatment For Piriformis Syndrome

Hip pain. Pain and numbness that runs down the back of the legs. Pain and tingling in the center of your butt. Pain. Pain. Pain!

If you can relate to these symptoms, chances are you’ve been suffering from piriformis syndrome on some level. Though the symptoms can be highly uncomfortable and seemingly constant, there are some simple, at-home methods to help get your recovery process jump-started. Let’s dive in.

What Is The Piriformis?

With symptoms that can range slightly in location, it’s important to understand what the piriformis is to better grasp its reach within the body. The piriformis is a band-like muscle that runs diagonally from the midline base of your spine to the outer hip bone. This means that the piriformis is responsible for any hip rotation and turning of your legs and feet. It helps us walk, stabilizes our movement, and overall helps us maintain balance and control of movement. In short, it’s a pretty well-used muscle–and one you’ll want to protect!

The tricky caveat to piriformis syndrome is its placement in relation to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic is a long nerve that travels through and under the piriformis muscle. It also runs down the back of the legs, and eventually branches off within the feet, making its extension delicately intertwined with the piriformis muscle.  Sounds complicated…is it?

The Significance of the Piriformis Muscle

The piriformis is a prime target for high-repetition injury. When it is overused without the proper recovery time, symptoms of piriformis syndrome can manifest in a couple ways. The most common response is for the muscle to tighten substantially, causing compression of the sciatic nerve. This can cause highly uncomfortable spasming. Other symptoms of piriformis syndrome include pain around the outer hip bone, pain in the center of the glute, and pain that travels from the glute down the back of the leg.

Because the piriformis is in such a high-use area, it’s fairly easy to succumb to at least some form of piriformis syndrome. Extended sitting, running, and intense exercises can all lead to some level of piriformis syndrome if you’re not careful. It’s important to understand how to best take care of this muscle in order to keep movement pain-free in the long-term.

How To Prevent Piriformis Syndrome

Of course, the best way manage piriformis syndrome is to prevent it before it begins. Though it can be difficult to completely eliminate your chances of developing piriformis syndrome, it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Once the piriformis has experienced previous injury, it becomes much easier for piriformis syndrome to become reoccuring or even chronic.

Many instances of piriformis syndrome stem from overuse with poor form. When you’re running and exercising, be sure to practice good form and avoid uneven surfaces that may compromise your ability to hold the steady posture. Also make sure that you have a substantial warm-up and cool-down routine to help your piriformis muscle ease in and out of intense activity.

How To Relieve Piriformis Syndrome Pain

If you find that your pain increases with certain activities or with sitting, try changing your routine to counteract these previous habits. Many have also experienced relief by using ice, or occasionally even heat on the affected area.

There are also some great physical therapy exercises and stretches that, when performed regularly, can significantly help relieve the pain and discomfort that stems from piriformis syndrome. Be diligent in your use with these, and you could see real results.

How Chiropractic Can Help Piriformis Syndrome

Consistent chiropractic treatment can offer significant relief to those suffering from piriformis syndrome. Between a combination of spinal and extremity adjustments, chiropractic care can help to take the pressure of overly tight areas, realign your body, and keep your nervous system functioning properly. When your spine is out of line, it has a more difficult time communicating properly with your entire body. Adjustments can help to keep your healing process on track.

By scheduling regular chiropractic care, you can help to keep your body’s response system in tip-top shape. Your chiropractor can also help prescribe the best at-home exercises to implement to quicken your recovery time. During the initial evaluation, we will go over your symptom history in detail and construct a treatment plan that you are completely comfortable with before moving forward. Don’t put off your healing; schedule an appointment online.

This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.

Sciatic Pain and a Tennis Ball: What They Have in Common

80% of people in the U.S. will experience some form of back pain (also called “sciatic pain”) during their lifetime. That’s far too many days spent sitting on the sidelines and struggling through daily tasks.

What might be causing your back pain isn’t always easy to determine, in part because most back pain starts days — sometimes even weeks or months — before the first symptoms ever show up. This can make it difficult to connect the pain back to its root cause.

We do know things like sports injuries, car accidents, inactivity, obesity, and poor posture are some of the most common culprits. What are some preventative measures you can take to ease the tension in your back?

7 Ways to Prevent Lower Back Pain

  1. Exercise at least twice each week. You’ll strengthen the muscles in the spine as you improve flexibility and balance. Unsure where to start? Try some gentle yoga to begin.
  2. Drink water! Half your body weight in ounces is a great guideline.
  3. When you’re sitting down for long periods, incorporate breaks. Be sure to stand up periodically and spread your weight evenly on both legs.
  4. Consider supplementing with vitamins D and k2. Be sure to ask your doctor before starting any new regimen.
  5. Stretch before bed. If possible, sleep on your side.
  6. Stop smoking. We’re all aware of the cardiovascular health risks — but did you know smoking also lowers the blood flow to the lower spine and promotes degeneration of the spinal disks, too? More great reasons to give up the habit.

Sometimes, though, we all struggle with an aching back. When it comes to treatment, the most common course of action is to simply take a “wait and see” approach — in most cases, back pain will resolve on its own within a month. Many people also find relief through acupuncture, chiropractic care, or perhaps anti-inflammatory herbs such as ginger, curcumin, and Boswellia.

And there’s another mode of treatment you may have heard about that can be amazingly effective…a tennis ball.

Tennis Ball Therapy – How it Works

How does a common tennis ball relieve your sciatic pain? It presses and treats the trigger points in the piriformis muscle, located beside your sciatic nerve. As your body weight presses into the part of your back that’s causing you pain, your muscles will relax and release. You’ll also improve your mobility and increase circulation.

It’s empowering to take charge of your own healing journey as you combine the benefits of massage, acupressure, and reflexology. You’re relieving muscle tension and soothing your sore muscles — all with a tennis ball.

How To Administer Tennis Ball Therapy

Massaging your body with a tennis ball is what’s called “self trigger point therapy,” because you can administer treatment yourself, and, it can be done in the comfort of your own home. As this treatment method grows in popularity and information continues to circulate, it’s very important to make sure you’re doing it properly.

Start by watching this instructional video:

Then, try it for yourself:

1. Lie down on the tennis ball.

2. Adjust the tennis ball so it’s right at the painful spot on your lower back or glutes.

3. Relax and roll up and down on the ball, holding the ball on the most painful spot for 30-60 seconds.

4. Move the tennis ball on to the next painful spot, and repeat.

Total time spent: 5-10 minutes.

Similar to when you get a deep tissue massage, you might experience pain initially — but don’t worry, you’ll soon feel relief.  

More Serious Back Pain

What if you’ve tried the preventative measures, done the tennis ball therapy, but your back still isn’t feeling better…now what?  If you have persistent back pain, you should always see a medical professional when symptoms start affecting your daily living. Planning life around your symptoms or putting activities on hold due to pain are clear indicators it’s time to make an appointment online and discuss a personalized treatment plan.

Chiropractic care and gentle adjustments of the spine can help reduce your pain; massage therapy eases the tension in your muscles and increases blood circulation. The combination of the two is especially effective and ongoing treatment can help you maintain good posture, improve your range of motion and keep your spine aligned, thereby putting an end to your back pain once and for all.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.

Herniated Discs – Here’s How To Recover Quickly

If you have a herniated disc, you’re all too familiar with the neck or back pain that comes with it. You might also be experiencing the radiating pain in your arms, hips, buttocks, or legs.

You might be wondering how this all happened, and which treatment options you should consider. Keep reading to get your pressing questions about your painful herniated discs answered.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

Herniated discs are sometimes called ruptured or slipped discs. When your spinal disc ruptures it sometimes causes nerves on the hard outer layer of the disc to become irritated. This causes pain in the area around the disc. If material from the inner disc causes spinal compression your symptoms may shoot out to other areas of your body, causing you to experience and combination of:

  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Weak muscles and muscle spasms

Herniated discs in your neck can cause the above symptoms in your shoulders and arms, while a herniated disc in the lower back can cause these symptoms to show up in your buttocks, thighs, and even your feet. These painful symptoms are also a common cause of sciatica.

Herniated Discs: The Basics

Over time discs can simply become worn down, a process called disc degeneration. Spinal discs lose some of their water content with age, making them less flexible and more at risk of rupturing, even with a seemingly-minor strain that comes with everyday living. While most patients can’t pinpoint the cause of their herniated disc, others report that it was a powerful sneeze caused a disc to rupture or tear!

When the liquid center of the disc spills out into the spinal column through the tear in the outer lining of the disc, painful, life-affecting symptoms can result.

The 3 Most Common Types of Herniated Discs

When you’re experiencing the effects of a herniated disc, the type of symptoms depends largely on the location and severity of the damaged disc.

Your spine is made up of three regions: cervical, thoracic and lumbar. The soft-yet-strong discs that provide cushion for each section of your spine make it possible for your spine to support your upper body, maintain a wide range of motion, and support your head all at the same time.


The three main types of herniated discs are:

  • Lumbar herniated discs are between any of the vertebrae numbered 1 – 5 in the lower back. This is the most-common type of herniated discs, as it supports so much weight and movement. Tingling, numbness, and lower body muscle weakness are all symptoms of a lumbar herniated disc.
  • Cervical herniated discs. These are located between any of the vertebrae numbered 1 – 7 in the neck, and have the complex task of supporting and moving your head. Symptoms here can begin in the neck and travel out to the shoulders, arms, and hands. Shooting pain, numbness, and impaired fine motor skills are also common symptoms of cervical herniated discs.
  • Thoracic herniated discs are found between any of the vertebrae numbered 1 – 12 in the middle back. This type of herniated disc is comparatively rare since vertebrae are attached to the rib cage and don’t move. A traumatic injury such as a car accident is more likely to cause thoracic herniated discs, rather than age alone. Pain symptoms are usually reported in the chest and abdomen.

Treatment for Herniated Discs

A combination of treatment options can be used through at least the first six weeks of pain and discomfort:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Physical therapy
  • Ice and heat therapy for pain relief
  • Medications including ibuprofen, naproxen or COX-2 inhibitors
  • Narcotic pain medications
  • Oral steroids
  • Epidural injections

Surgery is also a widely-used treatment option for a herniated disc, including an operation that surgically removes the entire damaged disc. However, surgery carries with it inherent risks, and its long-term effectiveness is becoming more widely questioned. Instead, many patients are turning to chiropractic care and experiencing huge relief.

Options include chiropractic care as well as non-surgical spinal decompression tables. Surgery should be a last resort when no other treatments have been effective.

Chiropractic Care for Herniated Discs

Chiropractic care thoroughly assesses your medical history while factoring in the results of a physical exam, orthopaedic, and neurological tests. Everything from your posture to reflexes are thoroughly considered.

Chiropractic care is always focused on you as an individual, and your body as a whole. Even if, for example, you only have lower back pain, chiropractic care assesses your entire spine for overall functioning. What happens in one area of your spine can have a huge impact on other parts of your spine and body.

A common and powerful chiropractic treatment for a herniated disc is known as the spinal manipulation, or adjustment, which applies gentle pressure to the affected areas. Many patients report experiencing instant pain relief.  Then, your ongoing individual treatment plan is customized to your pain levels, activity, overall health, and more.

You shouldn’t have to struggle with pain that interferes with your enjoyment of daily life – especially when relief can be simple and long-lasting. Make an appointment online so our team can collaborate on helping you feel better right away.

Information in this article is not a substitute for medical advice.