Spend more time looking up. Most people are looking down on their phones all day instead of taking in all the beauty around them. Therefore, I encourage people to look up more. I even have patients send me photos of what they saw when looking up. Great enjoyment for both me and them.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sebastian Kverneland DC. Kverneland holds a Doctorate in Chiropractic from Southern California University of Health Sciences and is in the process of being certified by the Institute of Functional Medicine. He is the founder of the Scandinavian Health Institute and has worked as a chiropractor in the US, Germany, and Norway. Kverneland is originally from Stavanger, Norway, and currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife. For more information — visit www.drkverneland.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to share on a topic that I am very passionate about.
I first got involved with fitness and wellness in my early childhood years in Norway, as I was a very active young athlete playing soccer. Being active taught me that I have to take care of my body to continue the activities that I love. The older I get, the more appreciative I am of staying healthy as long as I can. Therefore, I decided early on to pursue a profession in healthcare which led me to the US. I started leaning towards the chiropractic profession and decided that it was the ultimate match for my passion and interests. Later on, I expanded my practice to include functional medicine to better assess patients’ integrative health.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
One of the things that I love about my career is that there are so many interesting moments. I am lucky to help people with their pain and improve their quality of life. Early on in my career, one experience had a great impact on me and really solidified that I had found the right career.
A man came into my office and complained about his neck and vision. It affected his life but also his passion. He had been to several ophthalmologists and different “eye specialists” and could not get any answers. He loved reading books in his free time and now he was unable to do so. I told him I didn’t know if I could help him with the vision but that I could help get movement back in his neck. So, I started working on his neck to get mobility back. After two treatments, his eyes started to focus again. He could see things properly and read again. He cried as he told me the news. Experiences like these make the long days worthwhile and I feel very lucky to be able to help people.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
When I started working in Germany, my German was not as strong and my interpreter wasn’t always available to assist me. There were definitely some humorous occasions where patient history and instructions were lost in translation. Luckily no harm was done. We had some good laughs and if anything, it brought me closer to my patients. And it proved to be a valuable lesson in communication and how I need to make sure that instructions are given more than once.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
My authority in this field is due to a combination of education, knowledge, and experience. As a chiropractor, I have extensive education in understanding how the body is supposed to move. I know what muscles tend to become weak and have learned to identify the patterns to help people find the root cause of their pain.
My unique contribution besides my experience and knowledge is my honest and qualitative approach to offer each patient the highest quality care. I am a firm believer in comprehensive, evidence-based chiropractic care, so I spend a lot of time educating both patients and the industry about my approach. Knowing that my specialty is headaches, chronic pain, neck and back pain, it has always been a great focus for me to be pro-collaboration with other professions such as medical doctors and physical therapists. This not only aids the patients but aids the entire health, wellness, and fitness profession industry. Cross-collaboration will aid patients and be in the best interests of society.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are many people that have impacted my career and how I approach life in general.
My father has from an early age instilled how important hard work and one’s work ethic is. He always said that the work you do will have your name on it and it reflects your integrity. The work that he put into his own profession as an engineer truly reflects that and his work quality truly precedents him, even now after he recently retired. He has definitely motivated me to always stay focused on quality and always expanding on my knowledge to best serve my patients.
Dr. Leonard Faye DC is a great mentor. He helped me make sense of the chiropractic profession. From a scientific point of view, the truth is that we don’t really understand why manipulation works. He is the one who helped me bridge chiropractic with a scientific rationale and that was a game-changer in my early school days. It is also so inspiring how Dr. Faye has been a pioneer in the field of chiropractic science and keeps pushing the whole profession in new directions.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
This is a great question and this rarely gets enough attention. One hindrance that comes to mind is that the social norms and environments we are in can be a great blockage. Many people who want to change their daily habits and health have to make changes that are not considered normal. This takes courage and many people are not able to do that. This is something I often train my patients in dealing with. Another blockage is that we as humans are habitual and don’t like change. It’s hard to break habits and it’s hard to stay on track. The third blockage, I think we need to talk more about is that a lot of times addiction stand in the way for change. For example, sugar is an addictive substance, and if someone has been told to curb it without knowledge on how to deal with addiction, it will be very hard to succeed.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
Being a chiropractor, I know how important your posture is. It can contribute to many ailments and there are several simple steps people can take to improve it. Proper posture is important for your overall physical and mental health, longevity, mood, sleep, and can help decrease tension and muscle fatigue. Over the years, I have collected and educated my patients on some lifestyle tweaks that really can help improve your posture.
1) Don’t drive or sit for an extended time with a pony-tail or hat. This will push your body forward and you automatically make your body sit in a non-ergonomic position. So, when driving, flying, commuting or even sitting in front of your TV, keeps this in mind.
2) Spend more time looking up. Most people are looking down on their phones all day instead of taking in all the beauty around them. Therefore, I encourage people to look up more. I even have patients send me photos of what they saw when looking up. Great enjoyment for both me and them.
3) Spend less time texting and on social media. It is not only bad for your posture but also can increase the chances of decreased sleep quality and carpal syndrome. If you have to spend time on your phone make sure to hold it in front of your face so you don’t have to bend down.
4) Wear comfortable clothes. You may have noticed that if you wear a tight shirt it is harder to sit up straight. Clothes that are tight or uncomfortable to wear will make your posture adapt similarly. For my female patients, I also recommend making sure that their bras are fitted well for the same reason.
5) Incorporate a stretching routine for your neck and back. This will help your muscles get relief and decrease tension. A good way to incorporate stretching is to do it while watching TV or listening to a podcast.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
It is hard to limit the countless benefits of daily exercise down to three benefits. But the most important in my opinion is heart health, pain prevention, and mental health. Cardio training aids your heart which is important as heart diseases are the leading cause of death. Training muscles like the glutes and traps will help the body’s structural integrity which again can be linked to the prevention of joint and muscle-related pain disorders and possible arthritis. In addition, working out also plays a big part in the mental aspect of your overall well-being and keeping a healthy mind.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
The three exercises I would recommend are squats, rowing, and pullups. Squats are a great exercise because it activates the glutes — the largest muscles in our body. These muscles tend to become weak and cause other muscles to become recruited to do some of its jobs and over time this will cause problems. Rowing is good because it helps to keep your back in a good posture. This is especially important with our daily habits of sitting in front of a desk and looking down on our phones. Pull-ups are also an important exercise because it activates many muscles that help you keep your good posture, preventing you from rolling your shoulders forward and compromising joint integrity. It is important to not overdo any of these exercises and ensure proper form.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
It is a common problem that people discontinue their exercise regime because often people do too much too quickly. I would recommend to go easier with the regimen, make sure you warm up with stretching, especially doing dynamic stretching. Doing something well and in good form is better than doing a lot wrong or than doing nothing at all. Having a healthy lifestyle will also help with recovery, so make sure to get the appropriate nutrients and plenty of sleep.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
My diet changes as I am always testing what I am learning from research. At the moment, I’m not following a particular diet, it would probably be called pegan if anything. Everyone is different, so it is hard to recommend one diet not knowing someone’s patient history and lifestyle. However, I do recommend everyone looking into the fasting mimicking diet by Dr. Valter Longo. It is a type of fasting that you can do 2–3 times a year and has shown very impressive results.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
There is one book that especially stands out that I recommend everyone read. The Stress of Life by Hans Selye. It completely changed the way I look at stress and how it impacts the human body.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
One movement I am very passionate about is to work on getting people to be less on their phones. It is something I emphasize to all my patients. Being less on your phone is healthy for your mind, your posture, your sleep, but also your social relationships. In my opinion, you can only truly appreciate the world and its beauty if you look up more. The more people that join me in this movement the better!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“The dancing people were considered insane by those who could not hear the music” is my all-time favorite quote. I think we have a lot to learn from history and how being the first to state something might not always be the most popular. Just because something is considered normal does not make it right. It is often hard to realize this, which is something that I have to remind myself of when new findings and studies come out and challenge common thinking. It has also helped me continue to do the things that may not industry norms and push my own practice in the right direction for my patients.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
It would be great to meet Dr. Dale Bredesen, who is a pioneer in the research on Alzheimer’s disease. He has dedicated his career to research and find ways to reverse Alzheimer’s and that is both impressive and inspiring. Having worked with many patients who have been affected by the disease, I know how it affects not only the patient but also surrounding family. I would love to learn more about his important work and more about him.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
@drkverneland on Instagram
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!