Dr. Ducat's Blog

Computer Ergonomics for Children

April 17th, 2014

At least 70 percent of America’s 30 million elementary school students use computers and as a result, doctors of chiropractic are treating more young patients suffering from the effects of working at computer stations that are either designed for adults or poorly designed for children. If children and adults in your home share the same computer workstation, make certain that the workstation can be modified for each person’s use. Specifically, for children:

  • Position the computer monitor so the top of the screen is at or below the child’s eye level. This can be accomplished by taking the computer off its base or stand, or having the child sit on firm pillows or phone books to reach the desired height.
  • Make sure the chair at the workstation fits the child correctly. An ergonomic back cushion, pillow or a rolled-up towel can be placed in the small of the child’s back for added back support.
  • There should be two inches between the front edge of the seat and the back of the knees. The chair should have arm supports so that elbows are resting within a 70- to 135-degree angle to the computer keyboard.
  • Wrists should be in a neutral position while typing – not angled up or down. The mousing surface should be close to the keyboard so your child doesn’t have to hold his or her arm out.
  • The child’s knees should be positioned at an approximate 90- to 120-degree angle. To accomplish this angle, feet can be placed on a foot rest, box, stool or similar object.
  • Reduce eye strain by making sure there is adequate lighting and that there is no glare on the monitor screen. Use an antiglare screen if necessary.
  • Limit your child’s time at the computer and make sure he or she takes periodic stretch breaks during computing time.

From the ChiroHealth newsletter by the American Chiropractic Association.

Pregnancy and Chiropractic

February 13th, 2014

As many new mothers can attest, the muscle strains of pregnancy are very real and can be more than just a nuisance. The average weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds, combined with the increased stress placed on the body by the baby, may result in severe discomfort. The American Chiropractic Association recommends the following tips for pregnant women.

Exercise

  • Safe exercise during pregnancy can help strengthen your muscles and prevent discomfort. Gently stretch before and after exercise.
  • Walking, swimming, and stationary cycling are relatively safe cardiovascular exercises for pregnant women because they do not require jerking or bouncing movements.

Safety

  • Wear flat, sensible shoes.
  • When picking up children, bend from the knees, not the waist. And never turn your head when you lift.
  • Get plenty of rest. Take a nap if you’re tired, or lie down and elevate your feet for a few moments when you need a break.

Pregnancy Ergonomics

  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Full length “body pillows” or “pregnancy wedges” may be helpful.
  • If you have to sit at a computer for long hours, make your workstation ergonomically correct. Position the computer monitor so the top of the screen is at or below your eye level, and place your feet on a small footrest to take pressure off your legs and feet. Take periodic breaks every 30 minutes with a quick walk around the office.

Nutrition

  • Vitamin B6 has been found to help alleviate nausea and provide relief to many pregnant women. If you are experiencing nausea, ask your practitioner if this remedy might be right for you.
  • Snack on crackers or yogurt-bland foods high in carbohydrates and protein.

Dr. Erin Ducat is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician who has helped many women stay active and comfortable both during and after pregnancy.  From coordinating care with your midwife or OB/Gyn to providing relaxing prenatal massage to administering safe exercise programs, Dr Ducat’s practice emphasizes natural, drug-free care for women during this important transition to being a mom.

Are you not getting anywhere with your stretching?

January 31st, 2014

Static stretching has been the go-to remedy for increasing flexibility for years.  In fact, we’ve taught (and still teach) static stretching to our patients when they need to increase their range of motion in a certain joint or muscle.  For those unfamiliar with the terminology, static stretching is when you isolate a muscle and force it to lengthen by holding a position for a length of time, usually 15-60 seconds (traditional stretching technique).

Sometimes this approach works well and the flexibility improves quickly in the muscle you’re stretching.  At other times, you might be stretching a given muscle for weeks or months and not seeing any results.  This can be really frustrating for the patient and for the doctor or therapist who prescribed the stretch.

New research suggests that movement-based mobilizations may be more effective than static stretching.  A movement-based mobilization usually integrates small, repetitive stretches/movements in several different angles in order to increase flexibility in a region.  Instead of focusing on one muscle, these mobilizations zero in on a group of muscles and/or joint.  Here’s an example of a hip mobilization drill for golfers on You Tube.

Movement-based mobilizations increase blood-flow to the area by emphasizing motion.  This helps the body bring nutrients to the muscles that need to heal/stretch by working almost like a “pump” with the repetitive movements.  These mobilizations also stretch several muscles at once — allowing more “bang for your buck” than stretching only one muscle.  In addition, movement-based mobilizations include the joint and connective tissues connected to the muscles.  Sometimes the “tightness” you think is in the muscle, but actually be in the connective tissue or joint!

If you’ve been using static stretching and are not seeing the results you’re looking for, give our office a call at 224-653-8094 or email us at frontdesk@ducatchiropractic.com.  We can reserve a time to evaluate your flexibility and prescribe movement-based mobilizations to increase your mobility!

Dr. Erin’s 3 Top Tips for Improving Your Health and Fitness in 2014

December 15th, 2013

After gaining 45 pounds while pregnant with Emmett this Summer, I found myself trying to slim down over the last few months to get into a healthy weight range.  Losing weight is never easy, but there are a few tricks and tips that I came across that made the journey a little less painful.

1. Exercise is your friend.  It boosts your metabolism and burns calories.  Just don’t overestimate the calories you burn while working out!  If you weigh 150 lbs and walk at a brisk pace, you will burn 5.67 calories/minute.  A regular size package of M&M’s contains 240 calories.  You would need to walk for 43 minutes to use up enough calories to eat the package of M&M’s without changing the total calorie count for the day.  A good resource to see how many calories you burn for various activities is the website, Calories Per Hour.

2. Eat enough food!  People often go on “extreme” diets to lose weight, cutting 1000 calories or more per day.  The problem is that if you cut too many calories from your diet, your metabolism will slow down to compensate.  You can determine how many calories you need, based on your age, height, weight and activity levels on a variety of platforms including My Fitness Pal and Calories Per Hour.  A good rule of thumb is to reduce your net calories (after food and exercise) by about 500 calories a day and you will lose 1 pound a week.

3. Be realistic about your portion sizes.  Do you really know what a cup of cooked spaghetti looks like?  If there is any doubt in your mind, get out your measuring cup and start to learn what a real “serving” is.  Initially your brain might get a little upset because it will look like “not enough food,” but after a while you will get used to the new normal.  Write down every morsel that enters your mouth in a journal or use an electronic tracking system like My Fitness Pal to calculate what you are actually consuming and burning each day.  I promise you it will be an eye opener!

Dr Erin Ducat is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician who encourages patients to have a healthy lifestyle to prevent chronic diseases including osteoarthritis.  For more information about her Bloomingdale practice, go to www.ducatchiropractic.com

Survival Tips for Standing in Line This Holiday Season

November 20th, 2013

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of what can be a hectic holiday season. Whether you’re shopping for presents, waiting to pick up the perfect dessert or checking out a holiday performance, chances are you’ll spend a good deal of time standing in line.

Follow these tips to help you avoid muscle cramps, neck stiffness and back pain while waiting in line. Start with your toes and work your way up.

- Spread your toes out as wide as you can and hold for a few seconds and then bring them back to neutral.

- Stand on one foot while you rotate the opposite ankle and then switch legs.

- To stretch your calves, lean forward on your toes keeping your legs straight. Bend your knees a little bit, just 5 to 10 degrees, and then straighten them.

- Tighten the muscles in your thighs and bottom and hold for 5 seconds and then release.

- Tuck your butt underneath while sticking your bellybutton out then switch and stick your butt out. This pelvic tilt can be a very small movement, but it is great for taking the pressure off your lower back.

- Roll your shoulders backwards several times and then push your shoulder blades together to stretch out your chest.

- Open your hands as wide as you can and then gently close them.

- In addition to stretching, shift your weight and alter your stance every 3 to 5 minutes to give your body a postural break.

Dr. Erin Ducat is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician who treats muscle and joint pain from a non-surgical, non-medication perspective.  Contact her practice, Ducat Chiropractic & Sports Medicine in Bloomingdale at 224-653-8094 or read more about her practice by going to www.ducatchiropractic.com

Can children be adjusted too?

October 13th, 2013

Many of my patients are intrigued when I mention that I use chiropractic adjustment techniques on my two boys, aged 2 years and 8 weeks old.  Pediatric chiropractic manipulation (adjustments) are safe and effective for sprain/strains from childhood “roughhousing,” musculoskeletal strain from childbirth, headaches and gas/spitting up/fussiness in infants.

I use low force techniques that vary with the age and size of the child.  Small infants may only be adjusted with the Activator instrument, that provides a small “push” along a vertebrae with a clicking noise.  Toddlers may receive similar adjustment techniques to their parents — with the force reduced to match the patient’s size.  Older children can benefit from chiropractic care combined with sports medicine and exercise therapy to fully bounce back from sports injuries.

Take a look at the two following videos.  The first one is of me adjusting my son Emmett at 8 weeks old and the second is of me adjusting my son Oliver at 2 years old.  Feel free to ask questions about pediatric chiropractic at your next visit.  If you know of a child that might benefit from being adjusted, we would love to assist them!

Are Chiropractic Adjustments Safe?

September 16th, 2013

Many patients who come to my practice have never been to a chiropractic physician before.  They know that we often use  manipulation, or adjustments as they are commonly known, to help relieve muscle and joint pain and are a bit nervous as they walk in our front door.  Perhaps they had heard a horror story from someone or saw an amateur trying to manipulate someone on You Tube.  Regardless, they have a feeling that manipulation will help them, but are afraid that I’ll “break” something or they will never get up off of my treatment table.

As with every medical procedure, there is risk associated with manipulation.  This is why I insist on examining every patient and going through a full medical history before adjusting them and whenever they have a new injury or complaint.  I have to make sure manipulation is the appropriate treatment option for them and won’t do more harm than good.

The good news is that the risk associated with manipulation is small, when performed by a licensed chiropractic physician and the patient has been properly examined.  Even adjustments of the neck are quite safe with only one to two adverse events per ONE MILLION neck manipulations.  Let’s put these numbers in perspective.  That risk is lower than the risk we all have that we will be struck by lightening one day.  It’s even lower than something going wrong after taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen!

Chiropractic manipulation is one of the safest, most effective treatment options available for neck and back pain.  The next time you put off going to the chiropractor because of your fears, think about these statistics and let’s talk about the relative risks in your case so that we can pick a treatment option you can be comfortable with.

Dr. Erin Ducat is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician who identifies her patient’s health goals and customizes treatment plans to help meet them as quickly, safely and effectively as possible.  She practices with Ducat Chiropractic & Sports Medicine in Bloomingdale, IL.  For more information, go to www.ducatchiropractic.com

Take A Stand Against Knee Pain

May 15th, 2013

Knee PainAvoid one of the most common orthopedic complaints by following these tips by Bloomingdale’s Sports Medicine Specialist.

1. Wear supportive shoes.  Flip flops, “fashion” athletic shoes and dress shoes do not properly support your foot when you walk, which increases the pressure on your knee.  Try to wear supportive athletic shoes when you will be on your feet for an extended period of time.

2. Keep your hips and ankles flexible.  The knee joint suffers when the hip and ankle cannot move well because of tight muscles.  Make sure you keep yourself balanced by stretching your hips (hamstring, piriformis, hip flexor) and your ankles (gastrocnemius) on a regular basis.

3.  Use it or lose it.  The cartilage that lines the knee joint needs movement to stay healthy.  People who exercise at least three times a week have a lower risk of knee pain.  Start with low impact activities such as riding a bike, walking or swimming and increase in intensity as you feel ready.  Just think of it as a “mini oil change” for your knees every time you work out.

Want to learn more?  Watch a video on how to keep your knees healthy through proper stretching at www.ducatchiropractic.com.

Dr. Erin Ducat is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician who specializes in the non-surgical treatment of knee pain through chiropractic, rehabilitation exercises, manual therapies and acupuncture with Ducat Chiropractic & Sports Medicine in Bloomingdale, IL.  For more information about her practice, go to www.ducatchiropractic.com

Lifestyle changes that can protect your back

March 25th, 2013

Why do certain patients seem to recover quickly from low back pain and others suffer for a longer period of time with repeated flare-ups?  Recent research is indicating that your general lifestyle habits have a lot to do with injuring your low back and how long it takes for you to recover from the pain.  Here a few lifestyle changes that can make a big difference for your spinal health.

Keep your blood sugar under control.  Patients with higher blood sugar levels have a higher risk of sustaining back injuries and take longer to recover because the circulation in the discs and ligaments of the spine is compromised due to sugar “clogging” the capillaries in the area.  Try eating less refined grains, sugars and balance naturally sweet foods like fruit with a piece of cheese or a handful of nuts.  This will help your body avoid blood sugar spikes.

Avoid smoking and tobacco.  Smokers have a higher risk of disc injuries and often take longer to recover from back pain and back surgeries than non-smokers.  Nicotine, the drug in tobacco, makes the blood vessels smaller throughout your body, including your back, and prevents the good nutrients in the blood from getting to the injured area.

Make exercising and stretching a daily habit.  Exercising can’t prevent all injuries, but you’ll reduce your risk of arthritis and chronic back pain by staying active.  Make sure you have a good workout program that balances your body’s muscles and doesn’t overwork one area at the expense of another.

Dr. Erin Ducat is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician in Bloomingdale, IL that specializes in the treatment  and prevention of acute and chronic back pain.  For more information about her practice, go to www.ducatchiropractic.com

Don’t Let Low Back Pain Creep Up On You!

February 20th, 2013

Three tips to prevent back injuries from Bloomingdale’s Sports Medicine Specialist.

1. Keep your hips flexible.
Tight hip muscles put additional stress on your spine every time you sit, bend over or take a step. Hamstring, piriformis and groin stretches are a must for anyone who wants a healthy back.

2. Pay attention to ALL of your “core muscles.”
Your “core” is more than just your abs. Make sure you mix in exercises that target your glutes, pelvic floor and abdominal muscles to keep your spine strong.

3. Don’t punish your back by sitting all day.
Sitting for extended periods of time promotes bad posture and increases pressure on the discs in your low back. Help your back out by taking “mini-breaks” to stand, walk or stretch while you’re at work.

Want to learn more? Watch a video on how to keep your back healthy through proper stretching at www.ducatchiropractic.com.