How to Choose the Right Mattress for Your Back

Woman sitting on bed stretching

Back pain can wreak all kinds of havoc in your personal life. It can stop you from being active and enjoying your free time, it can be one of the biggest distractions when you’re trying to get work done, and the discomfort it causes will generally ruin your mood.

With so much at stake, you may be wondering what you can do to stop back pain. Regular visits to the chiropractor are a great way to get some instant relief as well as put you on the road to recovery. Our clinics in Falmouth and Bridgton, Maine offer the best treatment for back pain around. It is also important, however, to attack the problem at its source.

Your Way of Sleeping Is Unique

You will spend almost a third of your life asleep, so it makes sense that you should spend that time wisely. This means finding the best possible mattress to fit your sleeping style.

As a general rule of thumb, you should base the firmness of your mattress on your preferred sleeping position. If you tend to sleep on your side you should try to get a softer mattress that will support your shoulder and hips without hurting them. Firmer mattresses are for stomach sleepers, as they give plenty of support. However, if you like to sleep on your back, you need to find something in between. A soft mattress will not give you enough support with your spine directly on it, while a firm mattress won’t offer enough leeway to fit the curvature of your spine.

About Memory Foam

While it’s good to know about mattress density and how it relates to your preferred sleeping position, the truth is that most of us don’t know how we end up sleeping during the night. Many of us are very mobile while we sleep, meaning our sleeping positions are hardly ever the same night-to-night.

Memory foam is perhaps the best solution for this, as long as it is good quality. The foam provides mattress flexibility that metal springs just can’t compete with. It supports the natural curves in your spine, without putting too much pressure on it. Memory foam mattresses come in a wide variety of densities, so if you do sleep on your side or stomach, you can still find one that suits your needs and provides the benefits of the foam.

Good Spinal Health Starts at Home

You can also relieve chronic back pain by practicing good posture or being more physically active. To find out exactly what your spinal needs are, set up an appointment with Heritage Health and get your back looked at by a chiropractic professional!

Boost Spinal Health with Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is a drug-free, non-surgical approach to relieving chronic back pain, neck pain, or pain associated with muscles, joints and spinal disorders. Chiropractic is considered a safe, effective treatment for optimal spinal health.

The Human Spine

Besides being the center of our physical structure, the human spine is a powerful nerve center that houses the infrastructure for our brain to send electrical signals to many other parts of our body.

The spine is made up of 4 groups of individual bone segments called “vertebrae”. These groups in order from the top of the spine to the bottom are:

  • the “cervical vertebrae” (7 total)

  • the “thoracic vertebrae” (12 total)

  • the “lumbar vertebrae” (5 total)

  • the “sacrum” (1 total)

  • and the “tailbone” (1 total)

Altogether there are 26 vertebrae with 23 spinal disks in between most of them (the exceptions being between the skull and the top vertebrae, and between the next two vertebrae). The disks are made up of a flexible cartilage that allows the spine to bend and flex, not only allowing us to stretch and turn with relative freedom but protecting our backs from breaking from even just a moderate amount of force.

As you can see, the spine is a fairly complicated body part and is very important to take care of. The most popular method of spinal care is through a chiropractor.

How Can Chiropractic Care Help Me?

“Chiropractic” stems from the Greek words “cheir” and “praxis”, which mean “hand” and “practice”, respectively. This is appropriate as chiropractors use a literal “hands-on approach” when adjusting your back.

An adjustment consists of your chiropractor performing an examination to determine the right course of action to correct your back trouble. The chiropractor may assess your range of motion, analyze your posture or perform hands-on spinal manipulation to relieve pressure from joints and nerves. Manipulation of the spine must be done slowly and carefully in order to be safe, so it may require several visits to get long-lasting relief from back pain.

Your chiropractor may utilize any number of the aforementioned techniques. It is important to be honest and realistic about the amount of pain or discomfort you are experiencing when going to all follow-up visits so the chiropractor can keep a close eye on your progress and make changes to your treatment plan as necessary.

Your chiropractor will also educate you on ways you can protect and treat your spine through nutrition, stretches, and general prevention techniques.

Professional Chiropractic Care in Southern Maine

Mainers have a fantastic option when it comes to chiropractic care. Heritage Integrative Healthcare in Falmouth, Maine uses the most effective chiropractic methods to ensure amazing results for a wide variety of muscular, joint and spine problems.

Schedule an appointment now to see how you can end your back pain once and for all!

Back Pain: When Is It Time to See a Doctor?

The occasional sore back, especially after a long day doing any kind of physical labor, is common and not a cause for concern. However, if you find yourself frequently complaining about a stiff or sore back, or if the pain is severe and coupled with other symptoms, it could be time to see a doctor.

Chronic back pain is common and it’s notoriously hard to fix, but it’s not always cause for immediate concern. Visits to your chiropractor can go a long way in managing these problems and improve them over time. However, there are some occasions when back pain is an indicator of a larger problem. Here are a few things you should look out for.

Fever and Back Pain

Back pain coupled with a fever can indicate a serious infection. If you have an achy back and fever during the flu, you may not need to worry. But if the fever does not break, you may be dealing with something more serious than the flu. Be sure to see your doctor immediately if you experience an unresponsive fever and back pain.

Trauma and Back Pain

This may be obvious, but if you are experiencing back pain as a result of trauma (a car accident, for example) you should see a doctor. The problem may be a simple fix, or it may need a more comprehensive course of treatment. Be sure to get this taken care of quickly so the problem does not get worse.

Numbness or Tingling

If that “pins-and-needles” feeling won’t go away, it could indicate some pretty significant back problems. The presence of numbness and tingling is a sign of nerve damage. This means you should have a herniated disc or spinal stenosis causing pressure on the nerves in your back. Be sure to report these feelings to a specialist.

Night Back Pain

If you are experiencing no back pain during the day but find yourself woken up by back pain in the night, you could be dealing with disc degeneration or a sprain. In some cases, this can be a sign of a serious problem like a tumor or cancer. Be sure to get this problem checked out by a specialist.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Unexpected or unexplained weight loss coupled with back pain could indicate possible infection or cancer in your back. Be sure to get this problem looked at immediately.

Are you experiencing chronic back pain? Here at Heritage Integrative Healthcare, we employ a number of treatments and management methods to help you get back to your life – without back pain. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with our chiropractors here at Heritage IHC, contact our Falmouth office today!

3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Health in 2018

Sneaking in small improvements can sometimes be more successful than trying to make large changes all at once. It is well known that breaking large goals into smaller, more manageable chunks makes the large goal look less daunting and intimidating. So, we compiled a list of things to get you closer to that big goal of living a healthier life – without feeling intimidated.

Take Up Running and Walking

If you are not used to running on a regular basis, it can seem like a bit much. But you don’t need to start running 5Ks on the weekend right away! Start with a quick jog around a track, and walk if you need to. You’ll find that the more often you do this, the easier it becomes to run further and push yourself more. If you need something lower-impact because of joint problems, a few minutes on an elliptical may be better for you. Just make sure to get your heart rate up!

Stop Dieting

Diets don’t work. You have to change your lifestyle. For a lot of people, this mindset can actually be a lot easier to achieve. Because you are not placing unnecessary restrictions on yourself and just changing your mindset and lifestyle, you may find that your new “diet” is more sustainable and successful long-term. This is not something you do if you want to lose 10 pounds in a week (which we do not recommend), but if you want to live a healthy life and maintain a healthy body weight.

Drink (More) Water

If you’re like most people, you aren’t properly hydrated on a daily basis. When drinking the amount of water you are supposed to be drinking each day, it can seem like a bit too much. But it’s not! Drinking the right amount of water can give you more energy, promote urinary health, and help you avoid a lot of different diseases.

If you are interested in other ways you can improve your everyday health, contact Heritage Integrative Healthcare. If you are living with the after-effects of an injury or another health issue and you are having trouble finding ways to get active, contact us. Contact us to schedule an appointment and get back to living the life you want!

What Is Tendinitis?


If you’re an adult that prides themselves on living an active lifestyle, chances are you’re no stranger to the injuries that physical activity can cause. Physical activity and exercise are very important to keep you healthy and happy, but as with everything in life, balance is key. Too much of a good thing can cause issues down the line. One example of this is the overuse of certain joints, which can cause tendinitis.

What Is Tendinitis?

Tendinitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the tendons, which connect muscle to bone. Tendons work with muscles and exert a pulling force. Tendons are tough and can withstand a lot of tension. However, when tendons are overused, they can become inflamed and painful. This is known as tendinitis, or tendonitis.

Tendinitis can occur as a result of an injury, but most often occurs as a result of a repeated movement over time. Most people develop tendinitis as a result of a repetitive motion required by a job or a hobby. Those with jobs that involve repetitive motions, awkward positions, frequent overhead reaching, and forceful exertion are more likely to develop tendinitis. Those whose hobbies include sports such as basketball, golf, tennis, bowling and running are more likely to develop tendinitis.

Symptoms of Tendinitis

There are many types of tendinitis that occur in different parts of the body. Symptoms are typically the same wherever tendinitis occurs. Symptoms are often described as a dull ache and tenderness, especially when moving the affected joint. Mild swelling around the joint can also occur.

Tendinitis Treatments

Doctors are typically able to diagnose tendinitis through a physical exam alone. Occasionally, an X-ray may be taken to help diagnose tendinitis. Once diagnosed, there are a number of medical and self-care treatments that can be used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Medications that can help relieve pain and inflammation include over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen, steroid injections and platelet-rich plasma injections. If those treatments do not work, physical therapy or surgery may help.

At home self-treatments are key to keeping tendinitis symptoms under control. Resting the affected joint, as well as using ice, elevation and compression to reduce swelling can be helpful.

Do you suspect that you have tendinitis? Contact Heritage Integrative Healthcare to schedule your appointment today!

What Are Hormones?

What are hormones? Falmouth, ME

Ever find yourself blaming “hormones” when you’re feeling particularly moody or emotional one day? While some hormones can certainly make you feel out of sorts, your hormones do a lot more good than bad! Turns out, many people blame hormones when they aren’t entirely sure where they come from or what they do. So, what are hormones, and what is the endocrine system?

What Is the Endocrine System?

The endocrine system is the network of glands that are responsible for producing and dispersing hormones. Your endocrine system is responsible for regulating some pretty important bodily functions including body temperature, metabolism, body growth and sexual development.

The endocrine system is made up of primary and secondary organs. The primary organs include the pancreas, hypothalamus and the pituitary, thyroid, pineal, and parathyroid and adrenal glands. The secondary organs include the kidneys, heart, gonads, and thymus.

What Are Hormones?

Hormones are essentially chemical messengers. Hormones are secreted by the endocrine system and travel through your bloodstream. These hormones only stick to cells that have receptors for them, which explains why certain hormones only affect certain systems. Once received, the hormones affect the behavior of the cells. If one type of hormone binds to enough cells, it will cause a change in body and organ function.

How Do Hormones Get Released?

Like most bodily functions, it all starts in the brain. Located in your brain are the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands, which are the command centers of your endocrine system. The hypothalamus receives signals from other parts of the brain and translates them into endocrine language: hormones (which then travel to the pituitary gland). Once these signals are set in motion, other signals decide whether to inhibit or release certain hormones. Some of these hormones will act directly, affecting muscular development or starting processes such as birth and nurturing. Others will send signals indirectly to secondary organs.

What Do Hormones Do?

Well, a lot. As we mentioned above, your hormones are essential to many different bodily functions and changes. Your hormones play a huge part in everything from puberty and childbearing to feeling sleepy or happy. They can make you gain or lose weight, trigger the “fight-or-flight” response, and regulate ovulation and menstruation. The list of functions affected by hormones is almost endless.
The health of your hormone-producing glands can have a huge impact on your life. For instance, if a part of your endocrine system isn’t working, you can expect to see a significant impact in your life. Symptoms will vary depending on which organs or glands are affected.

Interested in learning more about your endocrine system and the various issues surrounding it? Contact Heritage Integrative Healthcare in Falmouth or Bridgton to schedule an appointment today!

Why Sitting Is Bad For You

We all know that a sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on the body. If you’re like a large amount of Americans, you spend at least 8 hours a day sitting down. If your job requires you to sit at a desk, you may be at risk for a host of conditions as you age.

While sitting is not inherently bad for you, the amount of time that Americans spend in front of their computers or on the couch is a huge contributor to disease. Why is that the case?

Why do we sit so much?

Unfortunately, our society is set up in a way that makes sitting for long periods of time less of a choice and more of a necessity. If you hold a job where you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, it’s difficult to get up and move as much as you should. Standing desks are a start, but are no replacement for exercise. Studies show that even with exercise, sitting for long periods every day can greatly increase your risk of disease.

The role inactivity plays in our health

Like most things, sitting is not harmful if done in moderation. Sitting is so ingrained into our culture that it seems like seconds nature. Work, socializing, studying and travelling are all typically done from a seated position. So, how can one of our most natural positions be so harmful to our health?

It’s like eating. It’s a necessary part of your life, but if you do too much of it, you pose a serious risk to your health.

Inactivity in general is linked to obesity. Longer sitting hours mean less physical activity, which means less calorie burning and more weight gain.  With obesity comes a host of other problems. Obesity is a known cause of conditions like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. All of these conditions can lead to shorter lives.

What can you do?

We get it. If your job requires you to sit for long periods of time, there isn’t too much you can do to eliminate the issue altogether. However, you do have control of what you do outside of work. If you get home from work every day and plop down on the couch to watch TV, that’s a problem too.

Be sure to incorporate plenty of exercise into your after-work routine. If you can, go on a walk during your lunch break. Get up and move as frequently as you can.

If you would like more advice on how to minimize your risk, or if you would like to schedule an appointment with us, contact Heritage Integrative HealthCare at our Falmouth, Maine location.


Why Sports Drinks are a Bad Idea

Most people believe that sports drinks are the best alternative to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes when exercising, but that’s simply not true. Many sports drinks contain as much as two-thirds the sugar of sodas. They also typically contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial flavors and food coloring, none of which contribute to optimal health.

Sugar After Exercise

Furthermore, consuming sugar after exercise will negatively affect both your insulin sensitivity and your human growth hormone (HGH) production.  Ironically, while these drinks are often referred to as “energy” drinks, in the long run the sugar they contain does just the opposite. After causing a quick explosion of energy, your energy plummets as your pancreas and other glands do all they can to balance out the toxic stimulation to your blood sugar.

Too Much Sodium

Most also contain high amounts of sodium (processed salt), which is meant to replenish the electrolytes you lose while sweating. However, a far better option is to simply add a small amount of natural, unprocessed sea salt to your water. Contrary to processed salt, this natural salt contains 84 different minerals and trace minerals that your body needs for optimal function.

Coconut Water as an Alternative

Another excellent option when you’re sweating profusely is pure coconut water. It’s one of the highest sources of electrolytes known to man. Some remote areas of the world even use coconut juice intravenously, short-term, to help hydrate critically ill patients and in emergency situations.

And, if your sports drink is low-calorie and sugar-free, be warned that it likely contains an artificial sweetener, which is even worse for you than fructose.

The Truth about Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are necessary to your health, because every cell in your body uses them for energy. In fact, your brain can only use carbohydrates for energy.  With the popularity of low-carb diets, many people are afraid to eat any carbohydrates, but it’s important to distinguish between the health-robbing effects of simple sugars and other carbs, and the health-giving properties of complex carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are high-fiber foods, which improve your digestion; they help stabilize the blood sugar, keep your energy at an even level, and help you feel satisfied longer after your meal. The healthiest foods are high in fiber, and contain complex carbohydrates along with many other vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They will also contain other nutrients, such as protein and fats, in moderation. These foods will not be highly refined.

Some examples of healthy foods containing complex carbohydrates are:

Spinach Whole Barley Grapefruit
Turnip Greens Buckwheat Apples
Lettuce Whole wheat bread Prunes
Water Cress Oat bran bread Apricots
Zucchini Oatmeal(steel-cut oats) Pears
Asparagus Oat bran Plums
Artichokes Muesli Strawberries
Okra Wild rice Oranges
Cabbage Brown rice Yams
Celery Multi-grain bread Carrots
Cucumbers Pinto beans Potatoes
Dill Pickles Navy beans Soybeans (tofu)
Radishes Rice milk Lentils
Broccoli Almond milk Garbanzos (chickpeas)
Brussels Sprouts Plain Yogurt Kidney beans
Eggplant Whole mealspelt bread Split peas
Onions Cauliflower
Tomatoes Hummus


Simple carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are more refined, are usually found in foods with fewer nutrients, and tend to be less satisfying and more fattening.  They can alter your mood, lead to cravings and compulsive eating, cause wide swings in your blood-sugar levels, and cause weight gain in most people.  In addition, a high consumption of sugar can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you finally decide to improve your diet and forgo the sweets. Unfortunately, over-consumption of sugar and other highly refined carbohydrates has been associated with a higher incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even breast cancer.  Sugars and other simple carbohydrates are also a leading factor in the worldwide obesity epidemic.

Some examples of foods containing simple carbohydrates are:

Table sugar
Corn syrup (high fructose corn syrup)
Fruit juice
Snack foods
Bread made with white flour
Pasta made with white flour / rice mixes
Soda pop, such as Coke®, Pepsi®, Mountain Dew®, etc.
Junk food / Fast food
All baked goods made with white flour
Most packaged cereals


If you are trying to eliminate simple sugars and carbohydrates from your diet, but you don’t want to refer to a list all the time, here are some suggestions:

  • Read the labels – If the label reads sugar, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, white or “wheat flour,” these foods contain simple carbohydrates.  If these ingredients are at the top of the list, they contain mostly simple carbs and little less and should be avoided.
  • Look for foods that have not been highly processed or refined – Choose a piece of fruit instead of fruit juice, which is high in naturally occurring simple sugars and fiber.  Choose 100% whole grain breads instead of white bread.  Choose whole grain oatmeal instead of instant oatmeal or packaged cold cereals.  The closer you get to nature, the closer you get to health.

The Importance of Proper Hydration

Water is life.  You need water to eliminate toxic substances, produce digestive enzymes, maintain healthy skin, hair and organs, and to help your body absorb essential vitamins, minerals and natural sugars.  Water also regulates body temperature, stimulates metabolism and helps promote regularity.  Fluids other than pure water don’t act the same as water in your body, and they don’t meet your needs for hydration like water does.  Most people are slightly dehydrated from relying on other fluids besides water for their fluid intake.  Coffee, tea, alcohol, sodas (or any other caffeinated beverages) don’t count; they’re diuretics, which means they actually remove water and nutrients from the body.

Chronic dehydration

Chronic dehydration has been linked to the following symptoms and disease processes:  Fatigue, constipation, headaches, indigestion, muscle and joint aches and pains, high blood pressure, depression, allergies, lack of mental clarity, skin issues and excess weight.

Whenever you’re thirsty or hungry, reach for water first to see if it satisfies you.   At Heritage IHC, we recommend drinking spring water—Evian or Fiji bottled water is preferred (due to proper pH levels).  Drink as many ounces of water every day as are equal to half your body weight in pounds (e.g., body weight 150 pounds = 75 ounces of water a day).  Use more water in hot weather or after strenuous exercise.  When you’re actually drinking enough water, your urine will be essentially clear.

Many digestive problems, joint and muscle issues, problems with fatigue and even your complexion will clear up with the use of more water, especially when you limit or eliminate fluids that actually dehydrate your body (sodas/caffeinated beverages/alcohol).

It’s okay to drink some water with meals because digestive enzymes are hydrolytic (they are activated by water).  So drinking a little water with meals is fine .  The bulk of the water you drink throughout the day, however, is best taken between meals.