Chriopractic and Yoga - A combination for better results

Both yoga and chiropractic center many of their principles on the idea of balance. In yoga, balance exists between a pose and counterpose, effort and rest, and prana (the breath that enters the body) and apana (the breath that exits the body). In chiropractic, balance exists in the assessment and treatment of  restricted and hyper mobile joints, taut and lax ligaments, and strong and weak muscles. Both yoga and chiropractic aim to balance the body to improve posture, range of motion, and strength in order to obtain optimal health.


Most people come to me as a chiropractic patient because they are in pain. If I've had the opportunity to teach them in a yoga class, I already have a fair assessment of what spine and joint dysfunctions they are experiencing. When I get them in the office, I do a few more functional screenings to confirm the issues that are causing them pain or reducing their ability to reach their full potential in yoga and other activities. Our goal through chiropractic is to treat the cause of the symptom - not just the symptom itself.


On the other side, I generally encourage people who are regular chiropractic patients to begin a yoga practice. During their chiropractic treatment, proprioception (awareness of the position of one's body) is heightened, making patients more aware of their posture. While I am correcting imbalances with adjustments, adding yoga helps patients recover and heal even faster while helping prevent future injuries. Additionally, patients who add yoga to their routine will develop the skills to keep themselves healthy and balanced so they can go longer between chiropractic visits. They ultimately become in tune with their bodies and become self aware of when something is off and when they need to come in for an adjustment instead of waiting until they experience pain - which is typically a longer recovery process.

If more of my patients practiced yoga, I wouldn’t have to see them nearly as frequently. Alternatively, if more of my yoga students received adjustments, their practice would improve and they would prevent injuries. While I do, in fact love, seeing every one of my patients, my goal is to get them feeling and moving better so they can come see me to maintain health, not just recover from an injury or get out of pain.

You don't have to keep coming back for adjustments once you start (which I've found to be a belief that some people have) although you may want to. Just like in your yoga practice, you can have a great class and feel amazing for a day or two after, but ideally you want to maintain that so you can continue to stay healthy and move uninhibitedly as you progress in life. A healthy individual who practices yoga, exercises, and eats a healthy diet may just need to come in every few months for an adjustment to maintain health and prevent injury.

Bottom Line:

Along with breathing and meditation, the physical practice of yoga promotes balance, strength and flexibility, making chiropractic care and manipulation easier and more effective. Having a yoga practice in conjunction with chiropractic care empowers patients to understand their own misalignments and imbalances, allowing them to have more control over the correction of their spine in their yoga practice and in other daily activities. When combined, yoga and chiropractic care work together to make you stronger, more flexible and happier.


Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally: Through Nutrition and Movement

Many different things contribute to high blood pressure including poor diet, lack of exercise, and poor stress management. The good news is that you can reduce your blood pressure naturally through lifestyle changes.

To understand some of the workings behind things that contribute to high blood pressure, I want to discuss two filtration systems in your body. First, the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is one of the waste disposal systems in your body and it also helps fight infection and carries dietary fats. Your lymph system cannot circulate on its own, but relies on your movement and muscle contractions. When your lymph system gets backed up from lack of movement, too much fat in the diet, or even regularly eating high fat meals before sleeping, the pressure in the lymph system increases. This stagnation can cause the blood pressure to increase. When this happens over a period of time, joints in the spine become fixated. You will notice that you will feel stiff and maybe a little achy. Chiropractic adjustments help to restore motion to fixated segments and help get stagnant lymph moving again.

The other filtration system in play here is in the kidneys. When blood flow to the kidneys is decreased for whatever reason (atherosclerosis or plaquing of the arteries for example), your kidneys assume that it is due to dehydration. They respond by producing hormones that cause the body to retain sodium and water, which ends up increasing blood volume and therefore blood pressure even more.

So to put it very simplistically, one of the things that contributes to high blood pressure is a back up of your body's cleaning and elimination systems. How do we fix this? Through movement!

Ideally it will be movement through exercise (both cardiovascular and strength and flexibility training). as well as movement through chiropractic adjustments. You will also need to get things moving on the inside so that your digestive, renal, and lymph systems start moving properly so your body can filter and heal. Another benefit of physical exercise besides strengthening your heart and moving lymph is stress relief.

Emotional and mental stress can also raise your blood pressure by elevating hormones that cause your blood vessels to constrict and your heart to beat faster unnecessarily. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress. Yoga is especially helpful because you practice mindfulness and breathing techniques while moving, so you get the best of both forms of pressure reduction. You can also practice mindful breathing techniques to lower stress throughout your day. Simply counting your inhales and exhales and keeping them the same length can bring you out of your head and into your body, reducing stress and balancing the nervous system.

And finally, nutrition. You will want to eliminate or at the very least reduce added sugars. Unnatural sugars like high fructose corn syrup and the sugars in processed foods have been shown to raise blood pressure even more than salt. Plus, these added sugars are inflammatory, and inflammation increases blood pressure systemically. You will also want to eliminate other inflammatory foods like hydrogenated oils and processed foods.

Instead, consume foods high in potassium, which balances the body's sodium levels, Omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory, and magnesium, which helps relax blood vessel walls. So the bottom line is, eat more fruits and vegetables. Some good suggestions that include these vitamins and minerals are avocados, chia seeds, figs, and berries.

Finally, let's talk about moderation. If your system is extremely toxic and congested, you can't start with moderation and expect to see a great deal of improvement. You have to go to the other end of the spectrum, almost like a detox, and get cleaned up first. Once you get to a healthy baseline, then you can enjoy moderation. At our office, we may help this process along by recommending supplements to help clean and detoxify your system in addition to specific dietary changes to get you feeling better and healthier.

Healthy Holidays


The end of the year is once again upon us. While it is a season of celebration and joy, it can also be stressful. You may feel pressure to host a stellar holiday party, give the perfect gifts,  and entertain family and friends while still finding time to stay healthy and exercise. How can you find a good balance between giving and receiving this season? Below are some tips to help you stay healthy and happy this winter.

Practice Compassion. Overindulging is ubiquitous this time of year and it is ok as long as you don't make it an everyday occurrence. When you do have a high-calorie or high-sugar setback, find an attitude of compassion for yourself. If you forgive yourself for one setback, you will be less likely to keep eating. So if you lose control on one dish, instead of thinking, I've blown my diet, might as well eat more, just forgive yourself and move on.

Be a food snob. If you don't love it, don't eat it. At parties and gatherings, look for foods you truly like and skip the dishes that are available all year long. Go ahead and indulge in your personal holiday favorites, then find a seat and slowly and mindfully enjoy your food. And prior to the party, eat normally. If you skip meals to "save up"  calories for your party, you will have a tendency to overeat once you get there.

Protein and healthy fat are your friends. If your holiday go-to treats are of the sweet variety, it is important to understand that consuming extra sugar gives you more than just an excess of calories. Simple sugar leads to a cascade of hormones causing your blood sugar to spike and crash, sending a signal to your brain that you are still hungry even though you just consumed a lot of energy. But if you eat lean protein and healthy fat (avocados, nuts, full fat dairy), hormones are released that tell your brain that you are full and satisfied. Aim to minimize your consumption of extra sugar and keep yourself satisfied by eating healthy fats,  protein, and fiber.

Eat your fruits and veggies. Aim for 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The fiber content will keep you feeling full and the vitamins and nutrients will nourish your body helping you stay healthy during the winter.

Schedule Your Exercise. Your schedule will likely be hectic this season. Schedule your workouts just as you would any other appointment. It's ok if you can't make it to class, but make sure that you work up a sweat at least three days per week.

Get Adjusted. Whether you're traveling or staying home, maintaining your spinal alignment will help you feel and function your best so you can stay healthy and reduce your stress level.

Rest easy. It is always important to get adequate sleep, but during this busy time of year (and cold and flu season) it is especially critical. To get the best quality sleep, avoid foods that are high in fat or protein and alcohol 2-3 hours prior to bed. Fats and protein require your body to work harder at digestion which interferes with your sleep. And while alcohol helps you fall asleep quickly, when your body starts to metabolize it your sleep is disrupted. You may wake up frequently (even if you don't remember doing so) and you will miss out on restorative sleep. If you’re still hungry close to bedtime, have some complex carbohydrates like whole-wheat crackers, popcorn, or fruit.

Boost your mood. This time of year is typically cold and dark for us in the metro DC area. For many, this can lead to seasonal mood changes. Due to the lack of sunlight, I recommend supplementing with vitamin D3 (400-1000IU/day). You may also want to supplement with the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They have been shown to improve symptoms of depression and aid in brain function. Even if the weather is not the best, try to get outside for at least a few minutes a day for fresh air and sunlight.

Avoid comparison. You’ve read the status updates and have seen gorgeous instagram photos about glamorous vacations, perfectly-behaved kids, and well decorated house, but remember that those people have bad days too. Most people put their best self forward social media, so don't compare your life with those dreamy-sounding posts. Find at least one thing each day to be grateful for and enjoy the season!

Chiropractic Care and the Immune System

Cold and flu season is upon us once again. In addition to eating right, exercising, and getting a flu shot, what else can you do to prevent ailments this season? Get adjusted!

The reason? Adjustments affect your autonomic nervous system which, among other things, controls your lymphoid organs such as the lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus. These organs in turn, control your immune response. Specific adjustments have been shown to increase the number of white blood cells (neutrophils) which combat diseases.  Other effects of autonomic regulation via spinal adjustments include lowering blood pressure, relieving anxiety, and reducing inflammatory cytokines and pain. Chiropractic adjustments do not treat these conditions directly; they address and remove spinal dysfunctions that are interfering with your nervous system and encourages a cascade of reactions that allow your body to defend itself and heal.

Once you have had an adjustment, it is important to make sure your diet is up to par so that you give your body the nutrients it needs. If you don't have the proper building blocks, or if your are eating foods that are immune compromising (sugar), you will not be able to defend from illness nearly as well.

Eating refined sugar essentially "turns off" your immune system, or at least impairs its function for up to 3 hours after you eat it. So while it is ok every once in awhile, make sure you're not eating refined sugar regularly, and especially don't eat it if you are already sick or feeling down as it will further weaken your immune system.

Aim to get at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Get a variety of fruit and veggies including citrus fruits, berries, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, and others that are good sources of vitamins and nutrients including vitamin C and E, beta carotene, and zinc.

Of course, make sure you get at least 30 minutes of movement a day and adequate sleep to keep you feeling healthy and happy now and all year long.


the mind of an architect

The drawing above was done by Dr. Sean Woods when his wife was just starting chiropractic school. The story goes that she was using a dry (plastic) spine to study when the then architect student couldn't pass up the opportunity to draw something so structurally sound. As his wife was going through school, Sean fell in love with chiropractic and the relief it brought to people. He switched career paths and joined his wife in school. They went on to open this practice together in 1997 and have been going strong ever since.