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Wellness Resources


Mattress Replacement

The age and quality of your mattress have a major impact on how you feel. A worn-out mattress can certainly contribute to back and neck problems. Most experts agree that traditional mattresses should be replaced every 5-8 years. A traditional mattress is one with springs inside, as opposed to a mattress made from memory foam or rubber. Since you spend about one-third of your life in bed, choosing the right mattress is critical. Unfortunately, mattress selection is a highly individual process as there is no single “best” mattress. It is also to remember that like with running shoes, spending more won’t necessarily guarantee you a better night. The following tips will help you make an informed decision:

• Choose a medium-firm model. Mattresses that are either too soft or excessively firm can aggravate back pain.

• Keep the pillow-top relatively thin. An excessively plush topper is the equivalent of placing a cheap mattress on top of a good one.

• Always replace the box spring foundation when you replace the mattress.

• Don’t choose the most expensive mattress in the store- but don’t set your budget unreasonably low. Bargain mattresses are not a good option. Your savings should be focused on avoiding unnecessary add-ons (mattress covers, custom sheets, pillows, etc).

• Look for vendors that provide an in-home warranty that allows you to exchange the mattress if it does not meet your expectations.  I think this is very important, a good company will stand by their product.

• Your chiropractor may be able to provide additional suggestions to help you choose between coil spring, memory foam, water and air beds.


Foam Rolling

Foam Rolling

You may have heard of foam rolling.  It can help relieve back pain and also be performed as a relaxation exercise.  If you have a foam roller at home, give this back exercise a try.  While seated on the floor with a foam roller positioned directly behind you, lie back onto the foam roller. Elevate your pelvis and begin gently rolling back and forth over the roller. If less pressure is desired, this exercise may be performed upright, against a wall. Perform for one minute, twice per day or as otherwise directed. Additionally, laying on the foam roller with your tailbone, spine, and head resting on the roller is a great relaxation exercise. Allow your arms fall to the side with elbows touching the ground as you relax on the roller for a minute or so.

Foam rolling doesn’t need to be an all-day activity. A few minutes here and there can be a helpful self-care tool but spending too long on it can be counterproductive. This can be a wonderful exercise to do when you get home from work and have finished with work for the day. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]  Or check out our home page for more information.

Fun ways to Exercise in Charlottesville

I know, not everyone thinks exercise is fun, and then others love it! I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite places to work out in Charlottesville.  Now, we all know everyone should exercise. But just because you should do something doesn’t mean it actually happens.  And continues to happen. I think that the most important thing with exercise is finding something that you actually enjoy doing. So you look forward to it, like it, and make it a priority.  So take a look at the list below and see if it gives you some ideas. #cvillesweats

If you love being outside:



Seal Team Training

If you think Dance might be more your thing:

Salsa Nights

Contra Dancing

Hip Hop

If you’d like to release your inner ninja:


Kung Fu

If you want a rock solid core:


If you want to get bendy and you like the hot

Hot Yoga Cville
Fly Dog

If you want to try something adventurous:


Outdoor Adventures

Social Kickball

You want an all round full body workout:


You’ve always wanted to be the Incredible Hulk:

The Gym

You aren’t sure and want to try somethings:


There are countless other ways to get out and be active.  Charlottesville is a wonderful area with loads of resources. This list is just the tip of the iceburg.  A little googling and you are sure to find what you’re looking for.  But exercise can be much more fun than staring at the treadmill in your basement with your sweatshirt hanging on it to dry…



4 Ways to Alleviate Back Pain While Driving

Entering and exiting your vehicle is a potentially risky activity for back pain sufferers. 

I hear from patients all the time about difficulties getting in and out of cars while they are suffering from back pain so I came up with 4 tips on ways to alleviate the pain while riding in the car.

1. Entering the car

Open the door and stand with your back to the seat, legs close to the side of the vehicle. For larger vehicles, you may wish to begin by standing on the running board. Place your hands on the door and doorframe to keep your movements slow and controlled, then slowly lower your body into the vehicle.

2. Tuck your head into the vehicle 

Keep your knees close to each other, as though they have been taped together, brace your abdomen as though you are about to be punched in the stomach and pivot your body as a whole without twisting or bending at the waist. You may grasp the steering wheel with your right hand to help you pivot.

3. Use a lumbar roll to ease pain

Or another support to help maintain good posture. Position the roll slightly above your belt to support the small of your back. Adjust your seat so that your knees are slightly lower than your hips.

Lumbar Roll on car seat

4. Getting out

Before exiting, create adequate space by pushing your vehicle seat back as far as possible and move the steering wheel up and out of the way. To exit, first scoot slightly to the edge of your seat closest to the door, then keep your knees together and pivot with the same cautions that you used to enter the vehicle. When your feet are shoulder-width apart and firmly on the ground or running board, grasp the door and doorframe, lean forward but be sure not to bend your back, as you tighten your abdominal muscles. Tighten, but don’t suck in or push out with your belly. Slowly thrust your hips forward to stand up.

If back pain is affecting your day to day, book an appointment or contact us today. 

About the Author

Dr. Samuel Spillman attained his chiropractic degree in 2008 from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon. His undergraduate study was spent at Miami University of Ohio where he earned dual bachelor’s degrees in Interdisciplinary Philosophy and International Studies in 2001.

Feel free to email me with questions!

How To Make An Exercise Plan In Charlottesville

A Healthier You in 2016 –Safe and Effective Exercise in Charlottesville

A healthier youMost people are aware that exercise is a key to physical and emotional health. However, most people do not give exercise enough attention. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the specifics of a healthy exercise regimen. It is not realistic that everyone will become an elite athlete, but it is realistic that everyone can improve on what they are currently doing. If you’re just starting out, you’ll need to design a program that you can sustain. This is where beginners have the most questions. What should I do? How often? How intense should my workouts be? How long? Let’s dive into some of the basics so that you can come up with a safe and enjoyable program that works for you.

An ideal exercise program includes both resistance exercise for your muscles and aerobic exercise for your heart and lungs. Aerobic exercise is brisk physical activity that requires the heart and lungs to work harder to meet the body’s increased oxygen demand. Aerobic exercise promotes circulation of oxygen through the blood. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines aerobic exercise as “any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature.” It is a type of exercise that challenges the heart and lungs- causing them to work harder than at rest. The most important idea behind aerobic exercise is to get up and get moving today!!

Aerobic Exercise Recommendations in Charlottesville

Exercises: Activity selection depends on several factors: Your current level of fitness, joint health, resources and interests. You should use a variety of exercise options to prevent overuse injuries and to maintain interest. Examples of aerobic exercise are bicycling, swimming, treadmills, eliptical exercisers, rowing machines and low-impact aerobics (i.e., walking, dance, or Tai Chi). Other options include basic activities such as walking the dog, mowing the lawn, and raking leaves. We recommend aquatic exercise as a good alternative for patients who cannot tolerate weightbearing exercises. This is an excellent option for patients with osteoarthritis and other degenerative conditions.  Charlottesville has many wonderful exercise options. ACAC offers a wide variety of choices from classes, to open cardio and weight areas to pool based exercise and swimming programs. The area has many yoga and pilates studios. I’m personally a fan of Hot Yoga Cville and FlyDog for yoga and Tru Pilates for pilates classes. Madabolic offers an all inclusive workout program combining cardio, functional movement and strength training. The Gym offers great strength training programs. The area also has two crossfit boxes and a wide variety of hiking and running clubs, dance and martial arts studios, fencing, climbing gyms and more. I’m composing a more complete list of resources and will post it soon.


Intensity: This is very subjective and is usually better addressed on an individual basis depending upon your health status. An easy starting tool is what is referred to as the “talk test” (whether an exerciser can converse comfortably during the activity without getting short of breath). If you are able to carry on a conversation, your exercise is light to moderate. If you are unable to carry a conversation, your exercise is considered vigorous. A more involved measurement is to workout at your target heart rate. This is calculated by maintaining between 50-75% of your maximuum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age in years. The table below will help, but remember this is only a guideline. If you have heart disease or are on medication it may alter your heart rate and you should consult with your primary physician before beginning any exercise program.

Target Heart Rates

Age                                                                      Target Heart Rate Zone 50-75%                             Average Maximum Heart Rate 100%

20 years                                                                      100-150 beats per minute                                                           200

25 years                                                                      98-146 beats per minute                                                              195

30 years                                                                      95-142 beats per minute                                                              190

35 years                                                                       93-138 beats per minute                                                             185

40 years                                                                       90-135 beats per minute                                                             180

45 years                                                                       88-131 beats per minute                                                              175

50 years                                                                       85-127 beats per minute                                                              170

55 years                                                                       83-123 beats per minute                                                              165

60 years                                                                       80-120 beats per minute                                                             160

65 years                                                                        78-116 beats per minute                                                              155

70 years                                                                        75-113 beats per minute                                                              150

Volume: The recommended amount is generally 20-30 continous minutes per day. For those of you who think this is not feasible, you can start with shorter sessions spread out through the day and slowly increase up to the 20-30 minutes. Specific suggestions include such easy changes as taking a walk during lunch breaks and climbing the stairs instead of using the elevator. • Frequency: You should perform aerobic exercise around 4-6 days per week.

Progression: The progression of aerobic training intensity and volume should be gradual in nature- as with any exercise.

Precautions: More often than not, injuries can be avoided if you gradually work up to the desired activity level and avoid excessive increases. Other precautions relate to your specific health risks and we would be glad to discuss this individually. However, remember there is always something each one of us can do to increase our aerobic activity without aggravating other conditions.

Resistance exercise should be performed 3-4 times per week. Beginners can start with elastic tubing and progress to machines or free weights. Tubing or free weights may be a better option for long-term programs as they may pose less of a chance for overuse injury compared with “one motion fits all” machines. Begin with light weights and progress slowly. A lifting program is not beneficial if you injure yourself by lifting heavy weights too soon. Lifting lighter weights for higher repetitions (12-20) will build strength and endurance. Lifting heavier weights for fewer repetitions (6-10) builds strength and bulk but also poses a greater chance for injury.

Make sure that your lifting program balances muscle groups. Lifters often focus on the large muscles that are more noticeable (i.e. chest and shoulders) and forget about the reciprocal muscle groups (i.e. scapular stabilizers). This leads to postural imbalance and an increased chance of injury. Many rotator cuff injuries result from this seemingly harmless imbalance. A good rule of thumb is to balance “pushers” with “pullers”. Pushers include; shoulders, chest, triceps, abs, quadriceps, and calves. Pullers include; biceps, back and posterior shoulder muscles and hamstrings. Pushers and pullers do not need to be worked during the same session; in fact they should probably be worked on different days.

While all this may all seem like a lot of work, the benefits of exercise will actually make your life a lot easier. Participating in physical fitness can help you more easily perform many of your day-to-day tasks. For example, being more flexible will help you do things like reaching into your cupboard and tying your shoes. Being stronger and having more balance will help you lift and carry items like groceries and will make it easier to get in and out of chairs and the bathtub. Improving your cardiorespiratory endurance will allow you to do things like climbing stairs, dancing, or playing with grandchildren without getting out of breath.

All are very good reasons to start exercising today! Just remember to make gradual changes to avoid injury and experiment with different activities until you find something that works for you.

Healthy Cycling in Charlottesville

Proper adjustment of your bicycle helps to minimize fatigue, discomfort, and overuse injury. The following guidelines should help fit your bike to your body:

• Choose the right size bike – a rough estimate for choosing the proper frame size is to subtract 10.5 inches from your inseam. Straddling a proper-sized bike will leave approximately 1” clearance between your groin and the top of the frame. • Adjust the saddle so that when the ball of your foot is on the pedal (with your leg fully extended in the six o’clock position) there is approximately a 10-degree bend in your knee. The saddle surface should be horizontal or tilted slightly up at the neck. Off-road riders may benefit by using a stem that contains a spring for additional shock absorption.

• Your stem height should be somewhere between parallel and 1” lower than the top of your saddle. A gentle rule of thumb for selecting the proper stem offset is to place your elbow on the nose of your seat and stretch your arm forward over the stem. The tips of your fingers should touch your handlebars. • Cycling accessories can dramatically affect your comfort level. Padded bicycle shorts are the single most important piece of clothing for long rides. Wearing cycling gloves

• Choose the right size bike – a rough estimate for choosing the proper frame size is to subtract 10.5 inches from your inseam. Straddling a proper-sized bike will leave approximately 1” clearance between your groin and the top of the frame. • Adjust the saddle so that when the ball of your foot is on the pedal (with your leg fully extended in the six o’clock position) there is approximately a 10-degree bend in your knee. The saddle surface should be horizontal or tilted slightly up at the neck. Off-road riders may benefit by using a stem that contains a spring for additional shock absorption.

• Your stem height should be somewhere between parallel and 1” lower than the top of your saddle. A gentle rule of thumb for selecting the proper stem offset is to place your elbow on the nose of your seat and stretch your arm forward over the stem. The tips of your fingers should touch your handlebars. • Cycling accessories can dramatically affect your comfort level. Padded bicycle shorts are the single most important piece of clothing for long rides. Wearing cycling gloves helps to relieve hand pressure associated with riding. Choose sunglasses with UV protection, and most importantly, always wear a helmet.

Hamstring Stretching

It is getting to be running season again…and that is as good a time as any to get some hamstring stretching in. Your hamstring is the group of muscles in the back of your thigh that flex your knee, i.e., moving your heel toward your buttock. Tightness in this muscle is a common contributor to low back pain, especially in those who sit all day. This can be for a variety of reasons: quadricep dominance, weakness in the hamstring, weakness or inactivity in the glutes or many other issues.

Here’s an exercise to help stretch your tight hamstrings. Remember that static stretching should NOT be performed within 2 hours of a run. Stretch after your workout but not before. Static stretching beforehand leads to weaker muscle contraction, poorer performance and increased risk of injury.


<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/JiReHZmOcVg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

A clinical tip:  if your hamstring is persistently tight and stretching on your own hasn’t helped, it may only feel tight. But it could be neural tension or limited mobility in a joint elsewhere in the body. You can also see this video here on youtube.

Chiropractic As A Component Of Medical Management

Chiropractic As A Component of Medical Management

The Ontario Ministry of Health has funded a study to determine the value of MD/DC collaboration in the management of lower back pain. Study participants were evaluated by their primary care physician and also by a chiropractor, in the same office. Physicians and chiropractors partnered to discuss decision-making for; appropriateness of advanced imaging, specialist referral, patient education/ self-management and care plans.

The study’s outcomes are as followed: • High patient satisfaction (94% of patients said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied”) with care. • High provider satisfaction. All physicians made reference to the value in referring Low Back Pain patients to the consulting chiropractor assessment. • The majority of physicians perceived the consulting chiropractor’s assessment and management of Low Back Pain as being of higher quality than physicians. • Increased patient confidence in diagnosis and treatment options. • Decrease in referrals for imaging and specialists (71% of physicians reporting).

Endicott, A. Working with MD’s to Treat Back Pain, Dynamic Chiropractic, Vol. 30:20, September 2012

Living Our Best Lives in the New Year

Balanced Chiropractic chiropractor CharlottesvilleIt’s the first week of the new year, when our resolutions are still shiny and new and unbroken. As a healthcare provider, there are a few resolutions I consistently hear clients talking about (regardless of whether it’s a new year or the middle of July!):

  •      Growing family and friend relationships.
  •      Cultivating their value at work.
  •      Improving fitness.

While I can’t give you a step-by-step guide to achieving all of these things, I have learned tools for creating your own map and sticking with the journey.

  1. Pay attention to what you want, not what you don’t.

In martial arts, we study balance. An important principle of balance is that where the head goes, the body follows. You must keep your head pointing in the direction you want to move.

The same is true for life. Our actions go where our vision goes. If we’re focused on not eating a brownie, soon all we can think about is brownies, and we are more likely to end up eating the whole pan. A more effective approach to living well is focusing on what we want: to go for a walk, to read books with our children, to cook dinner with our partner, or to pick up the phone and call or text a friend.

A Native American proverb states that there are two wolves that live inside us. One is evil, full of anger, worry, and greed. The other is good, full of love, compassion, and peace. The two wolves are in a battle. The one we feed the most is the one that wins.


  1. Use precommitment: planning ahead.

Precommitment means planning what you will do to avoid obstacles that would derail you from meeting your goals. This could mean setting your alarm for ten minutes earlier in the morning so you can finish your physical therapy exercises before your day gets busy, or doing dinner prep on the weekends, so you have more time to help your kids with their homework on week nights.

As you practice precommitment, reach out to people who can help you come up with ideas for tackling those obstacles. If you want to grow in your job, ask someone you respect in your field if they could serve as a professional mentor, or if you could take them to lunch and ask them questions.

Of course, for increasing fitness, a healthcare provider is a great resource. Creating health plans with clients is one of my favorite parts of my job. Read my blog about precommitment for more practical ideas and schedule an appointment if you would like assistance in coming up with a plan to help you move more and feel better.

  1. Start small; grow big.

Your resolutions should be doable. We don’t start with 50-pound weights; we start with 5 pounds. If it’s the end of January and you still haven’t enacted your plan, your plan is too hard. Set your sight on an action that is easier for you to take right now, as you are. Haven’t run a mile yet? Try walking to the mailbox. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Park at the end of the parking lot so you walk farther to get to the store.  Believe it or not, the great Bruce Lee employed those exact strategies, and couldn’t we all be a little more like Bruce? The sense of accomplishment you feel when you achieve a smaller goal will give you the energy you need to do something harder.

If I had to summarize my advice for a healthy life into one sentence, it would be a short one: eat well, sleep enough, and move around (which happens to be the secret to avoiding the doctor entirely).

  1. Enjoy the now.

Planning ahead is good – I’ve already suggested you do it! – but a healthy life is one in which planning is balanced with being present in the moment.

In a research study aided by an app called Track Your Happiness, it was found that, “[P]eople are substantially less happy when their minds are wandering than when they’re not.” The researchers probed a little deeper to try to determine whether our minds wander because we are unhappy, or if we tend to be unhappy because our minds wander. The evidence seems to be shaping up that it’s the latter: a wandering mind makes us less happy.

Being mindful of the present is a habit, just like exercising. Some people start with small steps, like asking themselves a series of short questions throughout the day, such as, What does the room I am in feel like? Is it hot or cold? Can I feel my feet on the ground? What is my breathing like? Can I slow my breath down? What does it feel like to take a deep breath?

Any small question that draws your attention to the physical sensations you are experiencing can help you begin to notice your present.

While you’re in the moment, find something to be thankful for. Again, it can be something small. You can be grateful for how good your morning coffee tastes. Thankful for the hug your child just gave you. Thankful to be wearing your favorite pair of shoes.

Studies have shown that gratitude has many benefits for our health, including improving our sense of wellbeing. Gratitude can help us keep our balance, standing in the present while looking up and ahead at the life we are creating.

Balance Chiropractic in Charlottesville: Past & Present

charlottesville chiropractorAs 2015 draws to a close, let’s take a look at the history of Balance Chiropractic and Physical Therapy – and where it’s going next!

Balance Chiropractic in the Charlottesville Community

Seven years ago, Dr. Sam Spillman moved to Virginia to work with Dr. David Brown, a fellow chiropractor and businessman who was also serving as the mayor of Charlottesville. Dr. Spillman was from upstate New York and had lived in Japan, but it didn’t take long for Charlottesville, with its friendly people and focus on healthy living, to begin to feel like home.

In 2008, Dr. Spillman became the primary chiropractor of Balance Chiropractic and Physical Therapy, the practice Dr. Brown had created in 1982. Dr. Spillman says of taking on the practice from Dr. Brown – who in 2014 was appointed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe as eighth Director of the Virginia Department of Health Professions – “I had big shoes to fill. It was an honor and a challenge to take on the practice David had started.”

Since then, Dr. Spillman and his colleagues have worked hard to make sure Balance continues as a vital part of the community where it began and contributes to Charlottesville’s growth.

Through Balance, Dr. Spillman donates to local nonprofits that focus on empowering women who have experienced violence or are survivors of human trafficking. (For more information about the nonprofits and how you can help, please see the links at the bottom of this page.) Dr. Sarah-Ann Eng, a chiropractor Dr. Spillman brought on board at Balance, volunteers time with Habitat for Humanity.

Balance is also part of the revitalization of a historic Charlottesville area on Preston Avenue. In February, the practice is moving to the restored King Lumber warehouse. King Lumber was once the largest employer in Charlottesville, and at one time over 300 people were working in the warehouse. Its restoration is part of a larger plan to bring more employment opportunities to the Preston Avenue corridor.

The move will give Balance more space for performance enhancement services for Charlottesville’s running and sports enthusiasts, including Titleist Performance Institute golf analysis and corrections to help golfers improve their game.

Dr. Spillman gains a lot from Charlottesville, as well. An avid runner, he has participated in the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation 8 K, Cville 10 Miler, Run for Autism 5k, and the Pepsi 10k. He practices at Charlottesville Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (he decided to become a chiropractor after chiropractic care helped him recover from a martial arts injury), attends classes at tru PILATES and Hot Yoga Charlottesville, and works out at acac.

When asked what his favorite part of Charlottesville is, Dr. Spillman replies, “My patients. They are always telling me about new things to try, from restaurants to the best running trails. I also like that everything is close. I have easy access to great food, fun, my work and my friends all within a few minutes. I’d much rather spend my time with people that are important to me than in the car!”

He follows up, “I look forward to being part of Charlottesville for many years to come.”


Balance Chiropractic supports the Sexual Assault Resource Agency and the Arbor. Please click on their names to follow the links to their websites, where you can learn more about these important Charlottesville community services.