Ringing in the New Year doesn’t have to end when the celebrations and champagne do.
If you plan it properly, it could be the start of helping your patients push the reset button on that one goal they’ve struggled with all year long — making their health a priority.
Staying healthy and avoiding back pain is perhaps the most important resolution your patients can make. This time of year can provide your practice with a prime promotional platform to educate them about back health, while elevating your brand in the process.
Whether you’re looking to take your practice to the next level, or just get back to basics, now is the ideal time to offer patients a solid wellness program. To get you started, here are seven simple steps to help your patients reduce their pain in 2017.
1. Build your core
The multifidus muscles are some of the most important in stabilizing your spine. They are also the most overlooked. These are those deep muscles that support the spine and contribute to our controlled motion. If your patients sit at a desk for long hours, it can cause these muscles to become infiltrated with fat.
When that happens, they become atrophied or “fatty,” don’t work as well, fatigue very easily and cause pain. To strengthen the muscles, encourage your patients to attend chiropractic visits, practice Pilates, or incorporate yoga into their exercise routines.
2. Embrace ergonomics
The way your patients work at their desk can determine the level of pain they’ll experience. It comes down to the position of the body while performing a task. Proper ergonomics at workstations are absolutely essential to reducing pain and dysfunction.
Advise them to keep their eye level about 20 percent down from the top of the screen and use a pillow to support the lumbar spine while sitting. It’s also helpful to bring laptops up to eye level, which will help alleviate strained neck muscles.
3. Drink it in
Staying hydrated can mean different things to different people. That’s why encouraging your patients to start small, with simple changes to their habits, can significantly impact their health for the better. Our bodies are predominately made up of water. When we’re well hydrated, it improves every single function of our body.
One idea is to have patients trade their lunchtime soda or juice for a cup of water. By starting small and tracking progress, they can make more gains than they thought possible.
4. Become a fan of foam
It has some of the same advantages as a deep-tissue massage, but this simple form of “self-therapy,” can pack far greater benefits. Ask your patients to commit to foam rolling. The best part of this request is patients can do it at home.
Foam rolling each day can help offset the negative effects of prolonged sitting or standing at work. It’s also a great way to reduce muscle tension while breaking up any adhesions they may have.
5. Fuel up on healthy foods
While hydration and exercise can play a major role in back health, stocking up on the right foods is equally important. An anti-inflammatory diet is the best way to stay lean, healthy, and reduce the body’s propensity for aches and pains. David Seaman is one of the leading experts on this diet and someone who I was fortunate to study under in chiropractic school. Be sure to check out his book The DeFlame Diet because it’s the essential primer for a modern anti-inflammatory diet.
6. Join a team
One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to get your patients fit is while they’re having fun. So, why not have them join a group fitness class or visit their community center? Both can be fun and motivational options for patients who want to get active in a way that’s affordable.
Many free and low-cost activities are listed in the local paper or even online. Remind them to choose a group that resonates with them. And make sure they know to build up endurance slowly to avoid injuries. It would be unfortunate for your patients to suffer an injury just as they are starting to get more active.
7. Track progress
Encouraging your patients to keep a journal allows them to play an active role in tracking their health and wellness goals. It also serves as an important benchmark, showing them where they first began the journey to wellness and measuring how far they’ve come in reaching their desired result. Keeping a journal can also remind them to mark major milestones, such as accomplishing a fitness or diet goal.
What gets tracked, gets measured and that shows the results. There are hundreds of apps that track important health indicators, so have them take advantage of this technology. Using a smartphone to track progress can help patients celebrate the small wins along the way.
Helping your patients maintain nutrition, fitness, and health goals isn’t always easy. But these resolutions should give them the framework they need to stay the course. And if they do falter, share some advice with them.
No one is perfect, so encourage them to do the best they can. Even if your patients aren’t able to incorporate all of the tips above, have them just pick a few. It could give your patients the momentum they need to keep going. And from there, they can look back and be proud of the small changes they did make to create a better, healthier tomorrow.
Jeffrey Langmaid, DC, is the founder of The Evidence Based Chiropractor, a leader in chiropractic communication and research. He is also a chiropractor with Laser Spine Institute based in Tampa, Florida, with seven facilities across the country. Laser Spine Institute has helped more than 60,000 people find relief from neck and back pain. He can be contacted through laserspineinstitute.com.