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Gardening without back pain

Gardening, like most other forms of yard work, is exercise!  The mistake many people make is starting to do yard work and gardening without warming up first and not knowing your limits.  Have you ever heard of the term, "weekend warrior"?  These are people that do excessive amounts of work around the house/play sports sporadically, without properly warming up, stretching, cooling down, with improper ergonomics, or continue to work through the pain, and then are in a great deal of pain by the time Monday comes along.

Gardening is a fun way to get outdoors and stay active without going to the gym.  Raking and carrying leaves is a great way to build endurance and strength, while pulling weeds and other tasks can help to maintain and improve flexibility.  Gardening is not only good for the body physically, but also mentally.  Getting outside to garden is a great way to de-stress from work, technology and other things that complicate life.

Gardening/Yard Work injuries can include traumatic injuries. Commonly from improper tool use and repetitive stress injuries (RSI) from repetitive work, many times due to improper form.

Common Repetitive Stress Injuries:

  • Back injuries from heavy lifting
  • Hands/arms/shoulder pain
  • Knee pain

 

ALWAYS-->

  • Warm up/Stretch BEFORE
  • Use a wheelbarrow/cart/friend to help carry heavy loads or make frequent trips if working alone
  • Lift with your hips, not your back
  • Alternate sides when raking, hoeing, etc.
  • Know your limits
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Pace yourself
  • Stay hydrated
  • Don't work through pain
  • Use long-handled tools to avoid kneeling, bending, or squatting
  • Alternate tasks in the garden/yard (kneeling work for 20 minutes, standing work for 20, etc.)
  • Cool down post gardening
  • Never bend and twist; always "square up" your hips and shoulders
  • Don't sit/lay down for extended periods post yard work.  Warm muscles are pliable and will mold to whatever position you cool down in; ie: a chair

To minimize injury

  • Foam tubing for garden tools
  • Dig weeds from a standing position (various alternatives available online)
  • Use long handed tools
  • Use the right size tool for you; smaller hands need smaller tools
  • Choose lightweight tools whenever possible
  • Stop working immediately if you think you injured yourself, don't continue to work!
  • Seek chiropractic treatment to address any muscular or joint pain; the sooner after injury, the better
  • A chiropractor can also suggest different ways to modify your positioning, specific to your injury and activity
  • Avoid laying on the couch/bed for prolonged periods after intense work/possibly injury
Tools with foam to cover the handles for decreased grip strain

Tools with foam to cover the handles for decreased grip strain

 

Sources: http://www.slideshare.net/ElisaMendelsohn/can-you-dig-it-the-ergonomics-of-gardening

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Sugar and Pain

Have you heard all of the news about sugar lately?  Some sources are even saying that sugar is far more harmful to our bodies than fat!   Whether you are in chronic or acute pain, sugar may play an important role in the inflammatory process, which may be contributing to your persistent symptoms.  Read on to find out more!

Excess sugar in the blood leads to a pathological process, called glycation. Glycation is the process of sugar molecules adhering to fascial proteins, causing stiffness and thickening (Cameron, 2014).  Robert Lustig, MD has become an anti-sugar advocate, exposing just how toxic sugar is.  See his presentation, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" here.  Dr. Lustig has published several peer reviewed research articles regarding sugar and its connection to degenerative diseases.  Throughout his research, Dr. Lustig has concluded that about 75% of all diseases in America are in fact, preventable.  UCLA conducted a study on the impacts of fructose and high fructose corn syrup on the brain.   The professor of neurosurgery concluded that, "eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain's ability to learn and remember information" (Schmidt, 2012).  Based on the research study, he believes that "eating too much fructose could block insulin's ability to regulate how cells use and store sugar for the energy required for processing thoughts and emotions". 

Dr. Teitelbaum has written many books on chronic pain and is currently a medical director at a fibromyalgia center.  He notes that, “Sugar aggravates low blood sugar and adrenal problems, yeast (Candida) overgrowth, and nutritional deficiencies that worsen fibromyalgia,”.  He has seen patients experience a decrease in their pain, a sharper memory and more energy after coming off of sugar in as little as 10 days.

The Oxford Journal of Rheumatology performed a 2 year study, and found that 45% of patients had an increase in symptoms after consuming sweets and refined sugar.

Not only does sugar cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, release of cytokines (inflammatory messengers), and contributes to your risks of developing diabetes, it also attacks cells and tissues in the body.  The sugar and inflammation/chronic pain connection has been researched more and more over the past several years.  Many medical providers are advising all patients to reduce their sugar intake, now more than ever before.  White flour and other simple carbohydrates break down into sugar, so it is essential to eliminate/reduce actual sugar, along with white flour.  Chronic low grade inflammation, greatly contributes to atherosclerosis, strokes, memory loss, and more scary health conditions.

Common chronic conditions negatively affected by sugar:

  • fibromyalgia
  • arthritis
  • autoimmune conditions
  • leaky gut
  • adrenal fatigue
  • strokes
  • peripheral artery disease
  • irritable bowel disease (IBD)
  • arthritic conditions
  • colon cancer
  • diabetes
  • cataracts
  • poor memory
  • heart disease
  • osteoporosis

As you can see, sugar is not only costly to the human body, but also on the economy.  An estimated 40% of healthcare costs are due to excessive sugar intake (and this is probably a low estimate).  When you make the commitment to quit sugar for good, you will realize just how sweet today's foods are!  Sugar is addictive, don't get me wrong, but the more we consume, the more we crave it, like a drug.  There are several resources online that can help you to wean yourself off of sugar, and structured programs and books, such as the "21 Day Sugar Detox".  I remember seeing a baking tip years ago, that you could half the amount of sugar in any recipe and not notice a difference.  Since I've gone Paleo, I use honey or coconut sugar in recipes, but they usually only call for a few tablespoons, not multiple cups of refined white sugar!  After eliminating sugar and you taste sweet things that you used to crave constantly, you will realize just how sweet and sugar laden they were.

Consider going cold-turkey, signing up for a monthly sugar detox, or start tracking your daily meals, just to see how much sugar you are consuming!  Many products contain sugar, that you might not realize, such as: ketchup, salad dressings, yogurt, dried/dehydrated fruit, sauces, and more. 

If your pain is not going away with over the counter products or routine care, consider eliminating sugar from your diet!  Chiropractic and other holistic forms of healthcare can help to resolve musculoskeletal conditions with a proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan, but sugar may be hindering your progress and overall health and well being.  Remember, things labeled as "sugar free", are not necessarily better alternatives, if they contain harmful artificial sweeteners; always check the label and choose minimally processed foods.

 

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Do you have a Baker's Hump?

Are you a professional baker, chef or even a tattoo artist? Constantly looking down to chop or knead away?  You may start to develop, or already have, what is known as Dowager's Hump, or a "Baker's Hump", as it is sometimes known in the culinary industry.  Standing all day in a slouched posture can wreak havoc on your spine. 

A lot of recent news articles discuss the dangers of sitting at a desk all day and how detrimental it can be to one's health.  But, standing on your feet all day in a slouched posture, can be just as harmful, causing a myriad of acute and chronic symptoms.  I've also noticed similar conditions in tattoo artists.  While, one's job may require you to be in such a poor posture for long hours day in and day out, the long-term effects can be extremely frustrating. Read through the tips below and schedule an evaluation with a chiropractor today!

What Can You Do?

  • sit to chop/prepare foods if possible
  • raise/lower table heights so you don't have to bend or reach up; elbows relaxed at your sides is an ideal height to chop at
  • take regular stretching micro breaks before, during and after work
  • set a timer to take breaks if standing/sitting too long, every 10, 20 or 30 minutes
  • add a rubber floor mat to your work station; prolonged standing on hard/concrete surfaces can aggravate your symptoms and increase pain
  • wear supportive/comfortable shoes
  • stay hydrated; dehydrated muscles cause more pain and are more prone to injury
  • use a foot stool to alternate bending one leg as needed
  • make sure you square up your hips/shoulders when lifting heavy items; half kneel instead of squatting if necessary (the half kneeling position can also be helpful when plating items, etc.)
  • Get adjusted by a chiropractor as needed!
  • Strengthen back and gluteal muscles on a regular basis to help to counteract constant flexed/hunched posture

Image Sources: http://chefschool.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/sous.jpg

http://www.baker.edu/site_media/244/m/

http://www.bakerchiropractic.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Dowagers-Hump.jpg

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Cold and Flu Season: Boosting Your Immunity Naturally

In today's society we are used to going to the doctor only when we are sick (sick care), instead, we need to focus on preventative care. Do you want to mask symptoms or get the underlying problem fixed? Treating problems before they surface is more effective and cheaper. Boost your immune system year round with supplementation and chiropractic care to minimize sickness.  Eating healthy year round can help you stay a few steps ahead of illness.

Food as medicine

  • Onion: Red/Yellow; contain flavonols and quercetin, powerful antioxidants that help to decrease histamine release. Sulfur found in onions and garlic have anti-inflammatory properties which help to ease aches, pains and congestion caused by the cold/flu.
  • Garlic: Contains allicin, an antioxidant with anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal capabilities. Helps to shorten and reduce cold symptoms. Allicin becomes active after being chopped/minced/crushed and is destroyed at high temperatures, so try to sprinkle freshly chopped garlic in soups, on pizza/pasta, etc. Allow garlic to "sit" for 10 minutes before ingesting to allow immune-boosting properties to become activated.
  • Echinacea: Fights inflammation, bacterial/viral infections; boosts the immune and lymphatic systems by stimulating white blood cells. It can help to reduce the duration of a cold by several days when taken at the first sign of symptoms.
  • Zinc lozenges: Decrease cold duration and helps to attack nose and throat viruses while boosting overall immunity. Take at the first sign of a cold for best results.
  • Goldenseal: Contains the anti-fungal phytochemical, Beribine, which fights infection/inflammation and helps to strengthen the immune system. It can be found in combination with Echinacea; alcohol-free varieties are best. (Note: not to be taken for extended periods of time; take as directed by your healthcare provider.)
  • Local honey: Boosts immunity by fighting viruses/bacteria. "In a Penn State University College of Medicine study, researchers found honey to be more effective than dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant) at reducing the frequency and severity of nighttime coughing" (Lissandrello, 2008). (Note: not for children under 12 months old.)
  • Ginger: Contains anti-inflammatory phenols, gingerols and shogaols to help relieve cold/flu aches. Ginger also helps to decrease fever, eliminate toxins and allows the body to sweat, without the harsh side effects of ibuprofen. Use in teas/meals; fresh is best.
  • Cayenne: Well known to help with joint pain, it also contains antiseptic properties to ease sore throats and decrease congestion by thinning mucus. (Note: not for nursing mothers or children under two years old.)
  • Astragalus: (Herb) promotes white blood cell production to fight infection.
  • Avoid sugar: Suppresses our immune systems and feeds bacteria.
  • Kiwi: High in vitamin C and can reduce the severity and duration of upper respiratory infections.
  • Siberian ginseng: A known adaptogen, allowing the body to restore balance and helps to strengthen the immune system.
  • Probiotics: Healthy bacteria for vital for our bodies; suggested dosage is 3-5 billion live organisms daily. (Yogurt only contains 100-200 million organisms and less effective strains, along with excessive amounts of sugar and additives).

Year-round health

Minimizing and eliminating sugar, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, dairy products, preservatives/artificial chemicals will help to decrease stress placed on our bodies. Eating more vegetables, fruits, and incorporating different vitamins/herbs/minerals/spices into your daily lives for overall health is essential. Seeing your chiropractor regularly to make sure your nervous system is functioning optimally is also important for overall wellness. Chiropractic adjustments help to reduce dysfunction and allow your body to heal itself.

Keeping your immune system running at its best will help to prevent sickness. Fueling your body with the nutrients it needs on a daily basis, not only when you are sick, will help with overall health. Taking a variety of herbs and vitamins at the first sign of sickness is important to help decrease the intensity and duration of colds. Getting sick a few times a year doesn't have to be the norm; think about boosting your immune system year round to minimize the not so inevitable common cold.

Sources
http://www.naturalnews.com
http://www.foods-healing-power.com/health-benefits-of-onions.html
http://www.google.com
http://health.slides.kaboose.com
http://www.naturalnews.com/037449_kiwifruit_common_cold_immunity.html
Kitchen Prescriptions Lissandrello, Maria Source:Vegetarian Times, Nov/Dec2008, Issue 363, p78-83, 6p
Prescription for nutritional healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

*Main image source: http://www.oralanswers.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/teeth_getting_hurt_this_cold_and_flu_season.jpg

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Sitting Sucks!

I'm often asked by patients about what they can do to prevent acute or chronic back pain.  Moving every day is vital! Not just rolling out of bed, sitting in your car while driving to work, sitting 8-10 hours at work, then sitting again on your commute home, and sitting on the couch to watch TV before bed.  As a nation in general, we sit too much, hence the new "sitting is the new smoking" campaign.  Sitting diseases are a real thing.  We just aren't moving enough anymore. There's even a #sittingisthenewsmoking hashtag!

Sitting diseases are shown to reduce your life expectancy.

What are sitting diseases:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Breast and colon cancers

You also have an increased risk of:

  • Forward head posture
  • Forward rounded shoulders
  • Hyperlordosis
  • Thoracic hyperkyphosis
  • Tight psoas = low back pain
  • Deconditioned core and spinal musculature

Your chances of developing a sitting disease increases the more sedentary you are.

For more information, check out this article I wrote titled, 'Standing up for your Health' in 2012.


<div xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" xmlns:dct="http://purl.org/dc/terms/" about="http://www.juststand.org/tabid/674/default.aspx"><span property="dct:title">Sitting Disease Infographic 1</span> (<a rel="cc:attributionURL" property="cc:attributionName" href="http://www.ergotron.com">Ergotron</a>) / <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/">CC BY 3.0</a></div>

<div xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" xmlns:dct="http://purl.org/dc/terms/" about="http://www.juststand.org/tabid/674/default.aspx"><span property="dct:title">Sitting Disease Infographic 1</span> (<a rel="cc:attributionURL" property="cc:attributionName" href="http://www.ergotron.com">Ergotron</a>) / <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/">CC BY 3.0</a></div>

What Can You Do?

1. Change your desk!

Alternatives to traditional desks:

  • Standing desks
  • Treadmill desks
  • Half kneeling at your desk

Benefits:

  • Improved posture
  • Improved blood flow
  • Possible increase in productivity and energy levels
  • Burn more calories

2. Bike/Walk to work if at all possible.  If not daily, then try a few days per week

3. Set a timer to get up every 30 minutes to stretch and move around.  Many new activity trackers will alert you when you've been inactive for a certain period of time.

4. Get up during commercials at home to do chores or perform squats, jumping jacks, etc.

Next blog topic will cover stretches and specific exercises to keep your spinal muscles and joints healthy!

*Main image source: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/sitting-standing-walking-work

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October is National Chiropractic Health Month

October is known as 'National Chiropractic Health Month'.  According to Dynamic Chiropractic, One in 10 suffers from chronic musculoskeletal pain. Of these, more than half don't understand chiropractic care is an effective, non-drug choice for their pain.  Prescription pain killers mask your pain, leading to over-exertion, delayed/improper healing, and possibly a permanent injury.

This year's American Chiropractic Association's campaign is about the overuse of prescription pain killers and stressing a "pain free nation".  The number of deaths from prescription opioids (pain killers), is on the rise and considered an epidemic by the CDC.  Having a conservative care first approach is one of the key messages from the ACA.  Not only is chiropractic care effective for pain management, but also more economical than having unnecessary imaging and surgeries.  The Joint Commission recently revised its' pain management standards to include chiropractic and acupuncture.

Chiropractors are trained to identify joint dysfunction, muscle over or under activation, faulty gait patterns and more.  A combination of these things may be contributing to your pain, something a pain killer or muscle relaxer will never fix. #painfreenation #NCHM2015

To find out more, you can see the ACA's campaign here!

To find an evidence based chiropractor in your area, click here!

Main image source: http://www.premierptsolutions.com/pages/integrative_physical_therapy.aspx

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