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Low Back Pain, its Impact on You and Society

Low Back Pain, its Impact on You and Society Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to do one thing: move,” says James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and author of “Move a Little, Lose a Lot.” “As human beings, we evolved to stand upright. For thousands of generations, our environment demanded nearly constant physical activity.”

Since prehistory, humans have been physically active to survive and thrive.  In the last century, global industrialization has reduced an individual’s daily requirement for physical activity and has replaced it with sedentary activities in the modern office and home.   At the current time:

  • The U.S. healthcare system spends $70 billion annually for the treatment of low back pain.
  • Low back pain causes a productivity loss of $100 billion to the US economy annually.
  • Low back pain is the second leading reason for absence from the workplace after the common cold.
  • Low back pain is the #1 disability claim in the U.S.

Low back pain (LBP) is one of our country’s most prevalent and costly healthcare challenges with more than one-fourth (26.4%) of American adults reporting back pain in the past three months and accounting for 20 million physician visits per year [Deyo, 2006][1].

The lifetime incidence of low back pain is 80% [Deyo, 1998][2].

In the workplace, LBP is the leading (and most expensive) cause of disability for people under the age of 45 [Andersson, 1999][3].

Further, LBP remains one of the leading causes for U.S. workers’ compensation claims and absenteeism with an estimated 102 million lost workdays annually [Guo, 1999][4].

Approximately 7 million new low back pain cases seek medical treatment every year. The total cost to the U.S. economy associated with LBP is estimated to exceed $100 billion per year [Katz, 2006][5].

Low back pain can be caused by a number of etiologies or causes ranging from ruptured discs with a clear physiological causation to nonspecific with no clear physiological causation.

Non-specific low back pain is with ~80% the largest contributor to the diagnosis of low back pain.

70 % of the nonspecific low back pain cases can be traced to an atrophied Lumbar Multifidus muscle.

The modern chair contributes to the problem.  The modern chair has evolved into a device which promotes relaxation and equatingit with lack of movement. This causes complete atrophy of the human body, specifically the lower back.

Conventional, “ergonomic “office chairs are designed to cradle the stationary human body with adjustments for arm and foot rests, lumbar support and other body parts.

The only movement/ exercise the sitter gets in these chairs is by manipulating the adjustments because no single setting feels comfortable for an extended period of time.

All established seating manufacturers are now beginning to acknowledge the need to change this goal and are seeking active seating alternatives.

The combination of a sedentary life style and the modern chair design is causing a major health problem.

Do you need help with exercise to help with your back?

Contact me at healthybellingham@hotmail.coom

Jaime Hernandez

Health and Exercise Prescriptions


[1] Deyo RA, Mirza SK, Martin BI, “Back Pain Prevalence and Visit Rates,” Spine 31(23): 2724-27, 2006

[2] Deyo RA, “Low-Back Pain,” Scientific American 279(2): 48-53, 1998

[3] Andersson GBJ, “Epidemiological features of chronic low-back pain,” Lancet 354:581–85, 1999.

[4] Guo HR, Tanaka S, Cameron LL, “Back pain prevalence in US industry and estimates of lost workdays,” Am J Pub Health 89:1029-35, 1999.

[5] Katz JN, “Lumbar disc disorders and low-back pain: Socioeconomic factors and consequences,” J Bone Joint Surg (Am) 88: 21-24, 2006.


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Does your back and neck hurt from sitting long hours?Why Therapeutic, Dynamic Office Seating is good for you!

Nowadays chair design is guided by the principles of ergonomics.

Ergonomics is defined as:

Ergonomics is the science of designing jobs, equipment and workplaces to fit workers. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability.

However there are different ways to interpret this requirement for an injury free work place when it comes to seating.

In the United States this definition has been interpreted to:

  • Minimize the energy expenditure through extensive cushioning and support  and minimizing the need for movement while seated to avoid fatigue
  • Provide extensive support to the lumbar spine and take pressure of the lumbar discs to avoid low back pain
  • Take pressure of your discs through reclining, the so-called Neutral Posture Approach
  • Create seat cushions that eliminate propensity to pressure sores
  • A 90 /90/90 degree sitting posture has been postulated as ideal

This approach of total comfort by minimizing energy expenditure through providing support to keep you in a relaxed and well supported sitting position and minimizing the amount of “unproductive” movement, to seating product design has lead to an epidemic of sitting induced low back pain and a wave of obesity, as documented in the latest research into low back pain and obesity.

Because of this design approach, sitting in traditional ergonomic chairs leads to a reduction of sensory input and therefore a reduction of stabilization signals to the core muscles, causing atrophy and making them prone to injury.

Additionally the speed of our body’s response to external perturbation, like stumbling or twisting, depends on its ability to rapidly recall muscle activation patterns that are stored in your brain’s memory.

As with a language, if you  don’t use it you will lose it or it will be difficult to recall, if you don’t continuously feed your central nervous system with  the proper sensory input your brain will  take longer to react to a sudden external perturbation and your propensity to injury gets greater.

In Scandinavia and Northern Europe the emphasis has been on providing a more dynamic approach to sitting, the chair is supposed to be:

  • supportive
  • enable you to assume any posture your body would like to.
  • achieve even pressure distribution over the discs in the lumbar region through a departure from the postulated 90 / 90 / 90 degree rule

This approach has been pioneered by the Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik and by the Danish surgeon Dr. A.C. Mandal.

Providing low grade balancing movements that are automatically compensated for by the central nervous system without your conscious interaction is where the CoreTherapy technology derives its unique benefits from and provides its health benefits

If you have any questions about our product please contact me.

Jaime Hernandez


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Part one of two:Do you have back pain? Are you doing the right exercises? Spine health 101

Part One of Two

Most adults have back pain at some point and time in their life. Back pain is one of the most debilitating injuries that is suffered by the majority of Americans. This blog post is for everyone nurses, parents and lawyers, butchers, bakers and software makers who all need a healthy back to do their jobs and perform their everyday activities.  It is also a blog post for people who run(like me:), ride, swim or skate; people who throw things, swing things, paddle things or kick things!!…a blog post for people who want to avoid injury and improve their life and sport.

 Recent research strongly suggest that if the nervous system is deprived of this position-sense information, it will lose the ability to activate certain middle layer muscles, muscles which protect and stabilize the joints of the spinal column.

Did you know that 80-90% of people are doing the wrong exercises to help with their back issues.

Stabilizing your spinal segments is the key to help your back pain. We now know through much studied science that the spine has many muscles that perform different functions, some act as sensors, some act as stabilizers and other work to create powerful movements. Now that we know these differences  and understand spinal function we can better develop an exercise prescription that will train trunk muscles for their specific functions.

It is always a good idea to go to your primary care physician and get the “OK” before you start an exercise program. Also at Health and Exercise Prescriptions we create exercise prescriptions that are made for the individuals and their special conditions/Medication and or previous injuries.

How fragile is our spine? Did you know that the spine would buckle under 20 lbs of load with out our supporting muscles; becoming injured. Normal every day activities put at least 175 lbs of pressure on our spine. As you can see our supporting muscle are essential for everyday normal task, lifting, bending, etc.

Your back pain keeps coming back not because of a “muscle problem” but, more a” neurologic problem” most likely from the injured nerve.Our neurologic system plays a key role in spinal stabilization….our muscle are controlled by our nervous system to function. If you “pinch” a nerve it makes the nerve impulse less strong; example if a muscle usually contracts at 100%… after a nerve gets “pinched” it my only contract at 60%  of full strength.So the weakness is neurological and not so much muscular. Neuromuscular re-education is a specific way to train the segments of your spine and the muscles that where effected directly by the nerve being “pinched”  so as to regain the full contraction of the muscle being recruited during movement activities.

Spine 101

Our spine has 25 individual bones called vertebrae which are connected by ligaments and spinal disc in between the vertebrae. The disc and ligaments attach one vertebrae to the next and limit the small amount of motion that occurs between vertebrae when ever moving.

Upper region of the spine is called the cervical spine, the middle of the spine is called the thoracic spine and the lower back is lumbar and sacrum respectively. Each segment of your spine (which there are 25) has nerves that feed out to muscles and organs to communicate to them. These nerves feed out of the spine through holes called  inter-vertebral foramina ; when the joint is not aligned up it can impinge these nerve roots ,effectively shutting down communication to certain muscles and organs.

All movements of your body result in some degree of motion at the spinal joints. The key to healthy movement is spinal stability!

Did you know that your disc and ligaments are the weak link in your spine! The disc and ligaments can only take approximately  13-20 lbs of load before an injury occurs. Without the many layers of muscle to support your spine it would collapse.

Lets summarize what we have just read….all joints in the body must be properly aligned for the joint to function properly just like a door hinge. If your door hinge was not properly aligned the door would probably not shut or function properly.

We now know that there is a difference between spinal stability muscles(stabilize vertebrae segments) and spinal movement muscles(are big muscles). Stabilizing muscles are small and are generally  in the middle layer of the trunk muscles and usually only cross a couple of spinal(25) segments. Spinal Movement muscles are bigger muscles and are more the outer layer of muscle such as the Abdominal and obliques. 

As you can see back pain can be more complicated to rehabilitate than just doing some crunches and back extensions. The next part of this series we will discuss which muscles are working when you are exercising stabilizing muscles and  give you one example of an exercise that does just that.

Well I hope this helps you out little bit understand your spine and the differences between stabilizer muscle training and the bigger spinal movement muscles.

If you would like a personal Health and Exercise Prescription that would encompass your whole body please contact me.

Thank you for your time and energy….Be well

Jaime Hernandez

Health and Exercise Prescriptions

Health and exercise prescription's Blog

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Three sure fire ways to Increasing your metabolism to help burn body fat.

Why is increasing your metabolism a great way to help mange your weight? 

Increasing your metabolism can help to burn unwanted calories over a long period of time.These healthy habits of increasing your metabolism can truly help to transform your life if you apply them on a regular basis as to gain the accumulative greatest benefit.

Number one healthy way to increase your metabolism.

The Best way to increase your metabolism is to gain more muscle.Most people gain around 3.5 pounds in three months weight training 3 times a week for 30 minutes. The average increase in  daily metabolism is 120 calories with a 3.5 pound increase in muscle. that would be burning an extra 3,600 calories a month and over a year that 43,200 or 12 lbs of body fat. Remember that you should eat the recommended amount of calories for the weight you are going to be.Also if you over eat over your body’s calorie needs you will gain body fat regardless of the increase in muscle.

Number two healthy way to increase your metabolism

Increase the number of times you eat in a day to 3 small meals and 2 balanced snacks to curb your hunger, keep your blood sugar in check(insulin is an anabolic ) and also keeps nutrients continually bathing your body’s cells so they function to their peak performance.

Also make sure to use foods that have a higher thermic value during digestion. That means that different foods require different amounts of energy to digest them. Digesting protein can have an energy expenditure during digestion up to 10-30% where as fat may only have a 2-3% use of energy because it is so easy for your body to break down. Chosing green and fibrous vegetables to add to the lean protein that you chose to eat. This will be a great combination to burn some of the calories that are consumed just with the digestive process.

Some lean proteins to choose from.

  • chicken breast
  • turkey breast
  • game meats (venison, elk, etc)
  • bison, buffalo
  • very lean red meat such as top round and lean sirloin (grass fed is especially nutritious)
  • almost all types of fish
  • shellfish and other seafood
  • egg whites (whole eggs in moderation)
Some green and fibrous vegetables
  • asparagus
  • green beans
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • salad vegetables

Number three healthy way to increase your metabolism

Drink a mild thermogenic drink such as black, green tea or yerba maté.

The mild stimulant increases your body temperature and  heart rate there for has to work harder to keep you cool burning more calories at rest. There has been an estimation that you can burn an extra 80 calories a day by drinking 2-3 strong cups of green tea or yerba maté. I also like to add cayenne and cinnamon to my tea which also has a mild stimulant effect.

Remember it is going to be a combination of all of theses tips that will give you the overall best outcome. The more regular the better the result.

Well I hope that these tips help to take control of your metabolism!! If you would like a specific program design for your goals and or special conditions please contact me. Always contact your doctor before starting any new health or exercise program.

Thank you for your time and energy ….Be well

Jaime Hernandez

Health and Exercise Prescriptions

Health and exercise prescription's Blog