Hamstring Stretch to Relieve Back Pain and Sciatica

By Kathryn Haynes, D.C.

With a plethora of causes for back pain and sciatica (leg pain), tight hamstrings are often a major contributing factor. 

Hamstrings are a large muscle group in the back of the thigh.  Your sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in your body.  It is also located in the back of the thigh and also travels to the bottom of your foot.  The sciatic nerve controls almost all the skin of your leg and the muscles in the back of the thigh and leg.

If anything puts pressure, or chokes, the sciatic nerve then you can feel symptoms anywhere along the path of the nerve.  The symptoms you feel is called sciatica.

You might have sciatica if you have any single or all of the following symptoms:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the back of the thigh or leg or bottom of the foot
  • Pain that feels better when lying down or walking
  • Pain that worsens when standing or sitting
  • Pain that is typically described as sharp or searing
  • A “pins-and-needles” sensation
  • Numbness or weakness in the leg
  • A prickling sensation down the leg

Tight hamstring muscles, among other reasons, can squeeze the sciatic nerve causing sciatica.  Keeping the hamstrings flexible is an important, and often forgotten, step to relieving and preventing back pain and sciatica.

When stretching the hamstrings, you should feel the stretch in the belly (middle) of the muscle.  Feeling the stretch in your low back or behind the knees can cause harm to your back and knees.

The best way I have found to isolate the hamstring stretch to the belly of the muscle is to:

  • Stand with your legs shoulder width and a half apart.
  • Bend your knees about 30 degrees.
  • Slowly bend forward, bending from the hips, not the low back. This will feel like you are sticking your buttocks straight up in the air.
  • As you bend forward, let your head drop down toward the ground.
  • You should feel the stretch in the belly, or middle, of your hamstring muscle.
  • If you do not, try bending your knees more, sticking your buttocks up higher in the air, and dropping your head further downward. ALL WHILE BENDING FROM THE TRUE HIP, not the low back.

You know you are doing it right if you feel the stretch in the belly of the hamstring muscle.

There are many causes for low back pain and sciatica and having tight hamstrings are a major cause.

Our office helps people to relieve and prevent back pain and sciatica every day.  If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of back pain or sciatica and want to find the real cause, call our office today.  We might be able to help.

“When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!”


(423) 265-2225

Relieve back and neck pain while traveling in a car or on a plane?

By Kathryn Haynes, D.C.

Holiday season is here.  For some, the holiday season can mean a lot of traveling. And with traveling… often comes a lot of sitting. Sitting in cars, in planes, at the dinner table and on the couch spending time with family or watching football.

Sitting puts 3 times more stress on your back than standing!

So, how can you relieve the back stress of sitting in a car or plane? The short answer is, “Move and use good posture.”

For both the car and plane, it is important to use good posture and to move. Space is limited in both locations but there are still some exercise movements that you can do to keep the blood flowing.

The below is a sample exercise routine that I use for both the car and the plane. It not only helps prevent and relieve back and neck pain, but it also helps the time pass.

Exercise routine you can do in the car or on a plane:

(Try picking a different exercise every 20 minutes)

  • 50 calf raises
  • 50 buttocks contractions
  • Neck movements (slowly and gently, keeping eyes on the road if driving.)
    • 10 side to side
    • 10 front to back
    • 10 neck circles

Posture while sitting in a car or plane:

  • Use the headrest
  • Keep your hands on the sides or bottom of the steering wheel.
  • Adjust your car seat
    • Just a slight recline of the seat is best. If in a car, you should be able to comfortably put your hands on the steering wheel while still using your headrest.
  • Keep your knees at the same height.
  • Use the lumbar support in your seat. If you do not have one, you can fold a towel to create the lumbar support.

In summary: To prevent and relieve back pain while traveling it is important to perform a combination of exercise movements every 20 minutes and use good posture. Your back will thank you.

“When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!”



What Shoes will Make you Look Thinner and Won’t Kill your Back?

By Kathryn Haynes, D.C.

If you are like 100% of women in the US, you are attracted to fashion that makes you look better.  And what does a better job of making your legs look “better” than a pair of high heels? It is no secret that high heels make your legs look longer and thinner.

Most women ignore the fact that high heels hurt your back and your feet.  You want to look good and high heels often do the trick despite the toe cramps and back pain.

Flat shoes with plenty of toe room are best but if you are not going to wear them, at least choose a shoe that will make you look thinner AND will minimize the damage to your back?

This information should be posted EVERYWHERE because these tips not only make you look good, but they will help protect your back too!

It has been said that “if our spine were on our face we would take better care of it.”  So, if there is a way to look good AND take care of your back (spine), why not try it?


1. Pointed toe shoes

 Pointed flats or pointed shoes with a low heel (1” or less heel) will still make your legs look thinner AND are a healthier choice for your back.

Also, when choosing a pointed toe shoe, go about ½ size bigger than your regular size.  This will allow room for your toes and will help avoid foot pain and bunions.

2. Knee high boots

Knee high boots without a heel, or with a low heel, will make your legs look thinner AND is a healthier choice for your back than heels.

3. Match your shoe color to your legs skin tone

Wearing a shoe that is the same color as your leg will give the appearance of a longer and thinner leg.

This fashion trick also works for tights, leggings and pants. Wearing a shoe color the same as the tights, leggings or pants will also give the appearance of a longer leg.

4. High heels

There is no denying it.  High heels with a thin heel and a pointed toe work best for making your legs look longer and thinner.  They are also bad for your feet and your back.  BUT… we aren’t here to judge.  We all want to look good. So… if you are going to go this route, the below tips will help minimize the damage to your feet and back.

Choose a heel that is no higher than 2”. You will get the same thinning effect with less damage to your feet and back.

Go about one size bigger than your regular shoe size. You may want to choose a shoe with a nude strap around your ankle or an ankle boot to keep the shoe on your foot.

Everyone wants to look their best.  Remember, flat shoes with plenty of toe room are the best for your body. But for the thinning effect, a shoe that is nude, has a pointed toe, and a ½” heel and that is about a ½ size bigger than your normal shoe will help your legs look thinner AND will protect your back more than the 6” stiletto!

“When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!”


Bye Bye Pregnancy Back Pain

                                  By Kathryn Haynes, D.C.

Although back pain is common while pregnant, it isn’t necessarily normal.  Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.  Luckily, if you learn to listen to your body, the pain is often something you can relieve… or even better, prevent from happening in the first place.

When you first become pregnant, your body may look and feel the same, but it is preparing for big changes.  Your hips will widen, your weight distribution will change, the way you walk will change, and the stress on your spine will increase.  With this said your body will be getting a work out every day and if you prepare yourself properly, you can enjoy the pregnancy pain free.

Below are just a few simple tips that can help prepare your body for pregnancy and labor.  If you are well into the pregnancy, you can start these tips at any time.


If you are a stomach sleeper, stop. Stomach sleeping puts serious stress on your neck and back. Sleeping on your stomach might be the way you currently know how to get to sleep, but as the baby grows, you will not be able to sleep this way.  So, it might be smart to get in the habit of sleeping on your back or side early on.

While on your back, place a pillow under your knees.  This will take pressure off of your low back, and as the baby grows, you will certainly need the relief.

While on your side, place a pillow between your knees.  This will take pressure off of your hips and back. As the baby grows, the side sleeping position will most likely be the most comfortable.


Curb walking is a great exercise to keep your hips moving.  Find a curb with a flat top.  Walk with your right foot on the curb and the left foot on the ground. Do this for 25 steps.  Then turn around and walk another 25 steps with your left foot on the curb and your right foot on the ground.  Doing this at least 3 times per day will relieve stress on your spine and keep your hips moving… which is said to help make pregnancy, labor and delivery easier.  Sitting on an exercise ball and stair climbing are also helpful. The goal is to keep moving.

Curb walking


Chiropractic adjustments are an excellent way to relieve and prevent back pain during pregnancy.  There are special chiropractic adjustments that are gentle and safe for pregnant women.  I was adjusted throughout both of my pregnancies.  I loved getting adjusted (still do), it felt great, and I stayed pain free.

Family pic

SLEEPING ON YOUR BACK OR SIDE, keeping your hips moving with an exercise like CURB WALKING and CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS are just 3 simple ways to help relieve and prevent back pain during pregnancy.

Congratulations if you are pregnant and reading this.

You are about to embark on an amazing journey and you are already on a great path to making this pregnancy a healthy one.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, to join our Free e-newsletter with more tips, and/or to make an appointment.

I am here to help!


(423) 265-2225


Packing a Healthy Lunch for Kids

By Kathryn Haynes, D.C.

Packing a healthy lunch and keeping them hydrated is not only important, but can also be challenging sometimes. Having done a lot of research and having asked a million questions, there are a few things that make packing lunch a little easier for me. Keep it simple. Keep it healthy. Be reasonable with what you pack and stay strong in your purpose to offer your child healthy food options.

Start with a list of foods that you know your child will eat. Write the headings: Protein, Vegetable, Fruit, and Treat. Then, with the help of your child, fill in the list together. When packing the lunch, pick a food from each category. Even better, let your child pick the food from each category. A sample list and lunch might look like this:


Also, try adding a new food to the mix every now and again. It is recommended that we offer children the same new food on at least 10 different occasions before accepting that they “don’t like it”. It is said that we should offer a new food to them, if they say no, ask if they will at least try it, if they say no again, move on and try it another day. It is a lot less stressful… and seems to work. They eventually do try most of the foods. It just takes some patience and persistence.

Next, think about the packaging you are using to pack the lunch in. There are a lot of harmful chemicals found in plastic packaging. If you do choose to use plastic, pick one that is BPA free and never heat foods or freeze foods in the plastic container (including plastic wrap). Heating and cooling the plastic releases the chemicals that are in the plastic into to the foods, and then into the person eating it. A stainless steel Bento Box is a good alternative to plastic. You can also get them with separate compartments… which the kids seem to love. This is a picture of the one we use. Cupcake liners make it colorful and help keep food in place.


Remember hydration. Water is best. Try using a stainless steel water bottle. Again, if you are going to use a plastic bottle, choose one that is BPA free. If you have to use a disposable water bottle, it is recommended to only use it once. These are designed for one time use only, as the plastic slowly breaks down and the chemicals are released into the water. Re-usable bottles save money, are better for the environment, healthier to use, and they come in a variety of colors and patterns that kids like.

Packing a healthy lunch can be a challenge but you can do it. Prepare, be patient, and be persistent.

For more healthy tips each month, join our Total Health Minute newsletter. To get started, simply email us with your email address.

“When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!”


6 Ways to Prevent Back Pain


By Kathryn Haynes, D.C.

September, 2015

Back pain is the number two reason people go to their medical doctor and the number one reason people go to the chiropractor.  Although there are some unavoidable and sometimes unexplainable reasons why back pain happens, there are also several ways that we can prevent back pain.  Below are my top 6 ways to prevent back pain:

1. Use proper posture throughout the day and while sleeping

At your desk:

Posture.  Sit so that your chin is parallel to the floor, your shoulders are gently pulled back, there is a slight curve in your low back, and both of your feet are on the floor.

Monitor. Adjust your computer monitor so that it is at eye level or slightly above eye level.  If you use a laptop, set the entire laptop on something to make the monitor at eye level or slightly above eye level. Then use a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse.

Mouse. While using a mouse, pull your elbow in toward your body, so that your elbow grazes the side of your ribcage.

Stand & Move.  If you sit at a desk, stand up and move at least one time every hour.  If you have a sit-stand desk, use it. Changing position throughout the day is a great way to prevent back pain. The best position is not just one position.  


Sleeping on your back or side is best. Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it will put significant stress on your neck and low back, causing pain.

Back sleeping.  While sleeping on your back, place a pillow under your neck to support its natural curve.  Also place an additional pillow under your knees.  This will take pressure off of the low back.

Side sleeping.  While sleeping on your side, place a pillow between your knees.  This will take pressure off of your back and hips.  Also be sure your pillow is thick enough to keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine.  

2. Maintain a healthy weight

This is sometimes a touchy subject, but an important one to touch on non-the-less.  Simply put, continuous extra weight or stress on your spine can lead to back pain.

3. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.

Eating a diet of grass fed meats, organic vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds can significantly reduce the risk and help prevent back pain.  

4. Exercise

Your spine is literally the backbone of your body and needs to be properly supported by muscles.  Exercising in proper posture is imperative.  The best exercise is the one that you will do.  Just do it in a good posture and do it regularly.  

5. Stretching

Stretching is as important as is exercising.  It is best to perform dynamic or active stretching before exercise and static stretching after exercise.  The active stretching warms the muscles up to prevent injury and the static stretching, after the muscles are warm, will increase flexibility.  Having flexible glutes and hamstrings are keys to preventing back pain.

6. Find a good chiropractor

Chiropractic adjustments relieve stress in your spine and takes pressure off of pinched nerves.  This allows your body to function at its best and feel the best.

If you implement these 6 ways to prevent back pain into your life, your back will thank you…. for years to come.

“When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!”

The Cause and Effects of Stress

By Kathryn Haynes, D.C.

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
~Mohandas K. Gandhi

Stress is a common word used in every social and economic class.  We hear the word often and even know ways to reduce stress like, meditation, exercise, prioritizing your life, etc… but what about social engagement?  How can “getting out”, having a girls night, guys night, trivia night, going to a wedding, or another similar social event to help reduces stress?

I guess the best way to understand the answer to this question is to understand stress a little better.  Like what is stress?  What are symptoms of stress? How does our body respond to stress?  What turns stress on? And what turns our stress off?

Stress can be defined as the brain’s response to any demand.  Something happens within us or around us, and our body reacts.  It responds.  We hear our baby cry… our body responds.  We are running late for an important meeting… our body responds.  We are watching a game when the score is tied, there are seconds left on the clock, and the quarterback has just thrown the ball to an open man in the end zone… our body responds.

The stress response can look different and affect people differently as well. Common stress responses look like fatigue, anger, indigestion, “butterflies”, constipation, and/or depression. There are many more stress symptoms that we should be aware of. The symptoms can be broken into 3 categories: physical, emotional and behavioral stress symptoms.

Take a look at the below list.  Are you experiencing any of the below symptoms yourself?  How many?  One or more symptoms might warrant a closer look into reducing stress in your life.  

Physical symptoms of stress

  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Digestive disorders (constipation, diarrhea ,etc.)
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Emotional symptoms of stress

  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Depression
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Forgetfulness

Behavioral symptoms of stress

  • Eating changes
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

All of the above symptoms can be our body’s response to stress. By why does our stress response “turn on” in the first place?  Another term for our stress is called the “fight-or-flight” response.  This “fight-or-flight” response “turns on” to protect itself from something physically, chemically, or emotionally dangerous.  

Say you’re walking down the street, and you see a saber tooth tiger.  You would sense a dangerous threat and your fight or flight response would turn on.

Your heart rate would increase, pumping blood to your head, arms and legs.  Your adrenal glands would pump stored sugar in to the bloodstream to fuel your brain and muscles. Your respiration would increase providing more oxygen to your brain and muscles.  Digestion would slow down, to conserve energy to fight or flee from the tiger. All these reactions happen automatically. Your body would get you ready to fight-or-flight to innately protect you.   This response is also called “stress.”

Realistically, the above scenario isn’t going to happen.  But, the threat can be chemical, physical or emotional to turn the stress response on. You could be threatened by losing your job, worrying about your children, going through a divorce, moving your home or the plethora of other potential threats in today’s life like:

  • Change
  • School
  • Work
  • Traveling
  • Moving
  • Winning a race
  • Watching a scary movie
  • Riding a roller coaster
  • Foods
  • Drugs
  • A chemical in the air
  • Daily responsibilities
  • Getting your child to school on time  
  • Getting yourself to work on time
  • Traffic

Over time, continued stress on your body from routine stress may lead to serious health problems.  

So far, you have probably known, or at least heard about, most of what you just read.  We know that most of our society is stressed and we know we that we are exposed to thousands triggers that turn on our stress response every day.  Let’s now look at what can Turn Off the stress response.

Turning off the stress response is as important to our health as is turning it on.  In addition to eating healthy, getting appropriate amount of sleep, and meditation there are 3 more I would like to discuss in a little more detail.

  1. Move.  Remember how during fight-or-flight your body releases fuel into the bloodstream for your brain and muscles?  The fuel is glucagon (sugar).  This sugar is put into the bloodstream to be used.  If the stress we encounter causes us to run from it or to fight, then we will use up the sugar.  If the stress does not cause us to actually fight or flight, then the sugar will sit in our bloodstream.  Over time this can lead to diabetes and other illnesses.  So… we need to use up the sugar.  Running, walking, yoga, dancing, etc.… will all help to counter the effects of stress.
  2. Chiropractic care.  Chiropractors deliver adjustments that can relieve pain, decrease muscle spasm, increase circulation and turn off the fight-or-flight response.
  3. Social engagement.  Believe it or not, we are the only mammal that can use social engagement to calm our nervous system.  The interactions between you and other people can stop the fight-or-flight response and calm your nerves. The key is to be engaged in the interaction where your senses are pre-occupied with listening, making eye contact and talking calmly.

In summary, managing stress is best done when you are able to recognize the signs of stress, eat healthy, exercise, see a chiropractor regularly, and remember to attend social events with people you care about and that support you.

“When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!”

What is chiropractic?

Welcome to Total Health Chiropractic.  My name is Dr. Kathryn Haynes and I am a chiropractor at the downtown location of Total Health.

A few things that make our office unique is that, we will see you promptly and honor your appointment time, we are affordable and accept most insurance, and most importantly, we genuinely care about you and your health.

It is our goal to help every existing and potential patient to reach “Total Health” in the most natural, caring and efficient environment we can create.  

For those of you who are new to Chiropractic, chiropractic is a natural health care profession in which doctors use their hands to gently adjust the spine to take pressure off of pinched nerves. This allows the body to heal and function optimally.

All of your bones should be in a certain place.  If any of the bones are out of place, even a little bit, it can put pressure on nerves. And whatever those nerves are going to aren’t going work properly.  It is our job to figure out if any bones are out of place on you and if any nerves are being pinched.

Then we use natural techniques, called chiropractic adjustments, to gently put proper motion into the bones to take pressure off the nerve.  We spent 8 years learning how the body works & practicing specific adjustments that can take pressure off of nerves so that the body can function at its best.

People mostly commonly come to us for headaches, neck pain and back pain.

However, our adjustments take pressure off of pinched nerves which helps your whole body and relieve other symptoms like ear infections, sinus problems, carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica just to name a few.     

We adjust and help people of all ages and with a wide range of symptoms.  Babies, children, adults, seniors, pregnant women, people who have been in car accidents and people who have just had surgery get adjusted. We only use safe and gentle techniques. I adjusted my babies 30 minutes after they were born.

Chiropractors figure out the cause of the problem and how we might be able to help.

Our approach will choose natural first, drugs second and surgery as a last resort.  

Chiropractic works!

We believe in what we do and we help people like you every day.  If you want to see if we might be able to help you, call us today for your Free Exam and X-ray.

“When it comes to your health, we’ve got your back!”