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Viscoelasticity: The Hidden Ingredient

viscoelasticity
Regular Chiropractic Care and Spinal Health
Spinal health depends on many factors. Positive benefits are obtained with regular physical activity and exercise. Negative predictors of spinal health include high levels of psychosocial stress as well as a sedentary lifestyle. The majority of these externals are under our control, to a greater or lesser extent. We may choose to make a shift in a sedentary way of living by committing to a program of regular physical activity. We may choose to help manage our stress by beginning a series of yoga classes or starting a meditation practice. Regular chiropractic care can help us significantly in all these activities by addressing internal factors that impact spinal health.

Physiologically, spinal health depends on the ability of spinal vertebras to move freely throughout a full range of motion. Spinal misalignments negatively impact this ability, restricting spinal motion and causing nerve interference. Nerve interference irritates spinal muscles, further restricting mobility. Regular chiropractic care detects and corrects these spinal misalignments, helping restore optimal nerve system function and optimal spinal health. By helping return your spine to good health, regular chiropractic care helps you achieve long-term overall good health and wellness.

Most of us have experienced a painful bout of low back pain brought on by a seemingly innocuous movement such as bending over to pick up a pencil or a dropped set of keys. These painful episodes may last a couple of days or be more severe and last more than a week. We're left wondering, "What exactly happened?" After all, we weren't trying to pick up a 100-pound crate. When our chiropractor asks what caused the problem we say, "I don't know. I didn't do anything." For the patient, the mystery often remains unsolved. But it's important to know there is an answer. The deep background to these unexpected, troublesome back problems is loss of viscoelasticity.

Viscoelasticity is a physical property of both materials and soft tissues. When these structures undergo deformation, they exhibit properties of viscosity and elasticity. Materials and soft tissues that demonstrate viscoelasticity resist shearing forces when a stress is applied (viscosity) and strain when stretched or compressed and quickly return to their initial state after removal of a transient load (elasticity). For viscoelastic structures, the relationship between strain and stress depends on the factor of time.

In terms of spinal biomechanics, viscoelastic structures include joint cartilage (for example, intervertebral discs), ligaments, and tendons.1 If a substantial load is placed on the low back when viscoelastic properties of intervertebral discs and spinal ligaments have not returned to optimum, injury to low back muscles and ligaments may result.2 For example, if you've been sitting for more than 15 minutes the soft tissue structures of your low back have been compressed for that length of time. Standing up and bending over to retrieve something causes your low back to attempt to support all the weight of your torso and head. If you haven't prepared your low back to receive this substantial burden, that is, restored viscoelasticity, you will likely suffer an injury that may be not only very painful but also inconvenient in terms of time and resources spent on recovery.

Injury prevention in these circumstances largely depends upon understanding.3 Being aware of the requirements for maintaining viscoelasticity will help you remember to "wake up" the soft tissues of your low back prior to any load-bearing activities such as bending over or twisting and turning. A simple way to restore viscoelasticity is to pause before suddenly changing a position you've been in for a while, such as getting out of a chair after working at your desk for 30 minutes, and gently rotating your torso from side to side eight or ten times. These rotational movements immediately restore viscoelastic properties to baseline and increase circulation to intervertebral discs, muscles, and ligaments. The result is a spine that is ready for action and prepared for the demands of new physical work. As always, proper preparation and attention help prevent injury.


1Troyer KL, Puttlitz CM: Nonlinear viscoelasticity plays an essential role in the functional behavior of spinal ligaments. J Biomech 45(4):684-691, 2012
2Freddolini M, et al: Stiffness properties of the trunk in people with low back pain. Hum Mov Sci 36:70-79, 2014
3Mörl F, Bradl I: Lumbar posture and muscular activity while sitting during office work. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 23(2):362-368, 2013

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We value our patients' experience at Stamford Sports & Spine. If you are currently a patient, please feel free to complete the following Client Experience Questionnaire. The Questionnaire is in Adobe Acrobat format, and requires the free Acrobat Reader to view.

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Dr. Andrew Zomick & Dr. David Avallon

I have been coming to Stamford Sports and Spine for almost 10 years. I am active and have unfortunately been in a few car accidents. The care and treatment offered at Stamford Sports and Spine is world class and without them I would be living with an inordinate amount of pain and discomfort. Going to Stamford Sports and Spine has made my injuries manageable.

--James


Very good team of therapists. Flexible and available schedule. They helped get my teenage athletes back on the field in half the time.

--Shawn


I was experiencing some pain in my right shoulder and numbness down my arm to my hand. The range of motion in my shoulder was limited and I could not participate in volleyball. Dr. Z came to our office offering a free chair massage and a chance to come in for an evaluation. I did this and we worked out a treatment plan that included therapy and adjustments. I noticed in the first few weeks the pain subsided greatly in my shoulder. The numbness in the arm and hand were present but noticeably better. After three weeks, the range of motion in my shoulder was back to normal and the pain was gone. Now after one month of therapy the numbness in the arm is extremely better and I do not notice the symptoms as often as I used to. Coming into the office has helped tremendously. I can now play volleyball pain-free.

--Mary


After moving from London to the USA, two weeks into living in Stamford and having carried and unpacked a lot of heavy boxes my shoulder froze and I was in a great deal of constant pain. After finding Stamford Sports & Spine on the internet I made an appointment and the corrective programme S.S.S. put together for me meant that I immediately had some pain relief, and over the next few weeks the pain left completely. The programme is also ensuring that I am not only pain free but fully corrected so as this problem should not occur again. Very friendly staff and very detailed assessment programme that has ensured my full recovery.

--Laura


From my first visit to Stamford Sports & Spine I was extremely impressed and pleased with their service. Everyone including staff and doctors were very knowledgeable with their chiropractic services. I learned a great deal about my symptoms and overall care more than I expected. I have visited a few other chiropractors but none were as thorough as Stamford Sports & Spine. I was experiencing severe pain in my shoulder and arm and after a few visits my pain decreased substantially. I really appreciate all the services from the adjustments, rollers and even exercise room. I would highly recommend this facility to everyone. The entire staff are friendly, professional and just simply great!

--Sherri


Everyone was incredibly professional and helpful.  The staff is friendly and goes beyond what was expected to meet my needs and education me about my condition.

--Jon


Came in with severe and constant numbness and tingling in my legs and feet. The treatment worked quickly and resolved all of my symptoms. Thanks!

--Erik


My arms were falling asleep every night and had numbness and tingling during the day. I no longer have any of those symptoms during the day and have very rare episodes of pain at night due to my treatment here at Stamford Sports & Spine

--Eric


I came in for hip pain and stiff neck that also affected my right arm and hand. Using the relaxing rolling / traction bed and electrical muscle stimulation along with stretching and the adjustments my hip pain is gone. I can walk without sharp pains running up and down my legs. My neck range of motion has improved and my muscles are more flexible and less spastic.

--Karen


I had severe neck pain which was aggravated by a recent move. I have been coming to be adjusted for a few weeks now and not only has it helped with the neck pain I had been experiencing, but it has also made me feel better overall. I feel like I am able to sit up straighter, and my muscles are looser and less tense. I no longer have the intense pain I had once been experiencing

--Kim


When I came in my pain was a 10 out of 10. After just one week of care my pain went down to a 4 and has been improving ever since. The staff are very friendly and great educators. I learned a lot about my body and how to take better care of myself.

--Heidi


After a car accident,  I had to seek help for my upper back and neck pain. Slowly but surely I started to feel better, not immediately, but by keeping up with my visits with Dr. Q & Dr. Z. Now I can tell you that I feel leaps and bounds better, and am now looking forward to a pain-free summer.

--Rudy


I have been with Stamford Sports & Spine for more than a year now. I still remember how much pain I was in during my first session. I can now walk in and out without any aches or pains.

--Rick


When I first started going to Stamford Sports & Spine, my back had been seizing up with alarming regularity. After just a few months of working with Dr. Z and Dr. Q, I feel much more confident in my daily activities and have even been able to return to the gym.

--Dan


Thank you to Dr. Z, Dr. Q and the whole Stamford Sports & Spine team! For many years, I have been suffering from severe back pain that would sometimes keep me from going to work. The recurring pain would come and go and I couldn't figure out what I was doing to cause it. When I came to the office, Dr. Z took x-rays, did a complete examination and educated me as to what was happening and why. I began treatment and was given exercises to prevent these injuries from happening in the future. Since starting the treatment, I have seen a great improvement in my back. The pain is gone and I have an increased range of motion. Thanks again to the entire staff who are very friendly and always willing to accommodate my hectic schedule when I make appointments.

--Ron


The strabismus in my eyes caused a vertical deviation in my eye placement.  This resulted in my head naturally tilting to the right and throwing my muscular structure in my neck and shoulders off.  I had accepted the tilt and tightness as a way of life and a natural dis-figuration of my spine.  I almost didn't sign on for initial treatment.  After 3 visits I have already noticed a difference in the position of my head, my posture and regular comfort levels.  There is still a ways to go to rid that area of  a lifetime of dysfunction, but what a relief to know it's treatable and already improving.

-Jenn


I found Dr. Z and Dr. Q earlier in the week after experiencing some back pain and sciatica. After the consultation and x-rays I began therapy. After just 2 treatments I felt much better and had a significant reduction in discomfort in the area of concern. I am looking forward to continuing my treatment in an effort for long term recovery and a return to my heavy exercise routine.

--Tom


FANTASTIC. When I leave I feel like a whole new woman. I have been going there for my neck pain and headaches for about 1 year now; off and on and ever since I started treatment there my headaches have been reduced to one every few months instead of a few every month. The intensity of of my pain has also been reduced to almost nothing. The doctors seem to have a very friendly relationship with all of the patients and I feel very welcomed by the staff as well. Not to mention I love how they incorporate therapeutic massages into my treatment. I have since sent over many of my colleagues and family, who also share the same feelings. Thank you.

--Bri


I had a great experience. My low back pain is completely gone. I found the staff extremely knowledgeable, accommodating and friendly. I would highly recommend them.

--Jay F.

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