Sleep Considerations For A Healthy Spine!

Sleep is the time during which your body can focus on the activities of growth and repair. My hope is that you are sleeping 7-8 hours, and that during this time your body is in fact healing and recharging, but the position you sleep in, the type of mattress and pillows that you use can do more harm than a good night’s rest! Let’s review some of the considerations for each of these:

Mattress

Without proper support of your spine while you are sleeping you can create strain on the muscles and ligaments, and cause the spinal joints to become irritated. If you wake up in the morning uncomfortable or with low back pain, but can stretch and get rid of it, likely the mattress is not right for you. In general, other types of back pain will stay consistent throughout the day, and will be affected by different types of movement and activity.

When shopping for a new mattress determine your budget and needs, then do your homework before you go to the store. There are different types of mattresses, such as inner spring, latex, or memory foam, and it can be helpful to understand the benefits of each before you start testing them out. There are concerns about the fibres or composition of some mattresses, environmental and toxicity concerns with some of them, so be sure to learn as much as you can so that you can make a choice you are comfortable with. Most stores have a good return policy, be sure to take it vantage of it if you’re not comfortable on it after a series of nights.

Pillows

The type and number of pillows you use will either support your neck and all the spinal joints, ligaments and muscles, or cause damage! Your head should always be in a neutral position if you are sleeping on your side or back. Problems arise when people either use too many or too few pillows: With too many pillows the neck can be too elevated, hyper-flexed and tilted upwards, with too little support (a really flat pillow) the neck can be tilted back too far. One pillow usually sufficient it should have enough fluffiness to give you comfort, but not stretch your neck too far up her too far down, right in the middle at neutral is best. Memory foam pillows are great because they will contour to your shape. A good pillow can be expensive but it’s worth the investment to find a pillow that’s best for you.

Which Position Is Best To Sleep In?

An easy answer for me here: Side, or back. Never on your stomach!
When you sleep on your stomach you need to rotate your head one direction, and when you stay in this position for 7-8 hours you will strain and stretch the muscles in your neck. When people tell me they wake up in the morning with muscle spasms, extreme tension, and lack of mobility it’s often because their head was twisted to one side all night log. Another concern with sleeping is the position of arms. When you sleep with your arm up over head, you’ll develop shoulder injuries due to the lack of circulation, and interestingly this position also causes the lumbar spied to become compressed. Both are problems for the spine!

Sleeping on your side or back is always preferable. If you feel this is uncomfortable or causes any strain (see your Chiropractor to correct the problem!) but you can also place a pillow between your legs, or under your knees to see if that helps.

So Much More Than Relief From A Muscle Spasm

Some of you know I recently attended a research day at Collingwood General & Marine Hospital during which time I shared information about how spinal adjustments impact brain function. This type of research brings me back to days of studying neuroanatomy and neurophysiology while I was completing my chiropractic studies, and I love it! I do realize though that the exact mechanisms by which a spinal adjustment affects your entire body may not be entirely entertaining to you, so let me try and break down some of this into a few simpler more applicable points:

Consider this 2011 study by 9 doctors using PET scan technology (neuro-imaging technique), which concluded that ONE CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENT did the following:

1. Sympathetic tone was inhibited (ie. anti-stress effect) 

            When you experience a stressful feeling, the sympathetic tone goes UP, creating more muscle tension among other sensations. When you get adjusted this ability for the tone to go UP actually is restricted from happening. This literally means that your body has a harder time feeling stressed when you get adjusted.  Think about that!   Wow!

2. Salivary amylase was decreased (drop in the feeling of being stressed)

            This is a measurement of the type of saliva that is present in someone who is highly stressed. When you get adjusted the amount of this ‘stress saliva’ present in your mouth goes down.

3. Regional brain metabolic changes (the brain is greatly influenced by the spine)

            The metabolism of your brain is altered – it becomes more efficient in its firing (hence your general feeling of more energy) and it quiets down, just like it would in a stress-free environment.  This is why you will feel greater clarity of thought, more energy and greater focus when you are adjusted. It’s also why many children who struggle with attention in the classroom respond favourably to chiropractic care, and are able to increase their school performance without resorting to any medication.

4. Decreased muscle hypertonicity (relaxation of muscles)

            Muscle ‘hypertonicity’ means the muscles are more tight than they naturally should be. During a spinal adjustment the muscles around the neck, shoulders and back all release their tension – even in areas of the spine that weren’t actually touched! This is why for so many of you a proper upper spine adjustment is exactly what is required to release the tension in your lower back, and why after I adjust your neck the range of motion in your hips improves!

5. Decreased pain intensity (feeling better)

            Pain is a chemical reaction! It is also highly subjective, some people can tolerate a great deal of discomfort while others cannot. After an adjustment, the level of mechanoreceptors and pain receptors are altered to a level that they would be in a stess-free person. This means that the potential to experience the feelings of pain is greatly reduced.

It is because of all these reasons that Chiropractic care is not only a great solution when you are immobile or in pain, but essential to a healthy life! Curious? Book your complimentary consultation and let’s see if my practice is the right fit for you.

How Can You Find The Right Chiropractor for YOU?

One of the things I hear regularly within my practice, from new people I meet with, is the negative experience they may have had within a different practice. Or possibly that they have never been to a Chiropractor, but what they have heard has not been positive.  It’s upsetting because I know how much they are missing by not having their spine regularly checked and adjusted by the RIGHT Chiropractor for them, and it makes me tremendously happy when they have a different experience in my practice because I know they are the path to better health.

A big reason for this is because on the first few visits with someone new I spend time getting really clear on what outcomes they are aiming for, and I’m willing to refer them to a different practitioner if I don’t feel I’m the right one for them. I believe everyone should have a Chiropractor on their health team, but who that particular Chiropractor is for each person will depend on their skills, techniques, approach, and the type of environment. What it really boils down to is FIT: finding the right Doctor for you depending on what your needs and health goals are.

If you had a really bad meal at a restaurant, would that mean you never ate out at a restaurant again? Of course not, you’d just try a different place. If you had a really awful haircut, would you never go for a haircut again? Of course not, you’d just find a different stylist. The same can be said for your experience with all other professionals or services you seek out.

What I hope you get from this post is a new willingness to try Chiropractic again. Here are some questions to consider when finding a Doctor who is right for you:

  1. Did you feel heard? Were the reason why you sought help understood and validated?
  2. Did you like the environment of the practice? The energy, the team, the location?
  3. Did you have opportunity to ask questions? Were your questions adequately answered?
  4. Did you feel a genuine connection with the Doctor? Everyone has a different personality. Some people become fast friends, while others have nothing in common. Your chiropractor is not necessarily your friend, but if you don’t feel like they are someone you want to have a relationship with…you might need to reconsider.
  5. Do they seem like the kind of Chiropractor you are looking for? If you’re looking to have a sports injury experience but the office is designed for paediatrics, it might not be right one; if you’re looking for a calm serene environment and hour long appointments, but find yourself in an high energy family practice…again not the right spot for you.

If your answers for any of these questions are NO, look for another Doctor.

If you can honestly answer YES to these questions, then you are likely in the right spot.

If you’re still not seeing the results you want, it could be that you just need to give it time. Restoring proper joint movement and function is a process, and all healing takes time. Ask your questions, get clarification about the care you are receiving, believe you will be well and be open minded to the suggestions your Doctor is providing you.

Take A Break!

Your body was designed to move! However, due to workplaces and lifestyles the average person sits 6-7 hours per day, and  prolonged sitting can be tough on your spine and other joints. 

My biggest recommendation if you cannot avoid sitting at a work station is to try and vary your tasks as much as possible – Can you walk during a meeting? Can you stand if you’re on a phone call? How can you change your work habits so that you are not doing the same activity for more than 60 minutes at a  time?

Aim to go through this 2 minute routine at least once a day, but as much as possible during prolonged work periods!  Whether you are at home or office, doing these 2 minute stretches make a big difference in your mobility and energy:

1) Lying on your back, bring your knees to your chest and hold for 4 seconds.

2) Lying on you back, bring your knee to the opposite shoulder and hold for 4 seconds. Repeat with other knee to opposite shoulder.

3) Leaning on a chair or table edge perform a cat stretch by arching your back towards the ceiling with

your head looking down, rounding your back. Hold for a count of 10.

4) Interlock your hands behind your lower back, stretch your shoulders backwards and point your nose to

the ceiling while pushing your hands towards the floor. Hold for a count of 10.

5) Roll your shoulders backwards, then forwards, doing 10-20 rotations each way.

6) Interlock your fingers and push your hands in front of you and away from your body. Hold for a count of 10.

7) Roll your neck right then left, repeating several times both directions. On your last turn to the right hold the position for a count of 10. Repeat with other side.

8) Perform circular motions with your wrists for 60 seconds.

9) Point and flex your feet, alternating each side.  Roll your ankles around in a clockwise direction for a

count of 10, then change direction.

Gardening Tips For A Healthy Spine!

Many people love the spring because they are passionate about  gardening. I am not one of them, but I do appreciate the efforts and results of others!  Once the weather warms up and people start cleaning up their yards and getting excited for planting season, I typically start to see similar patterns in people’s spines and hear about similar aches and pains from people on their visits.

Working outdoors in your garden and yard is a great form of physical activity, even better if it’s something you love. To protect your body and avoid injury, consider some of these tips when stepping out to get your garden started this season:

1) While mowing the lawn, keep your head up and stand directly behind the mower so you can keep your hips and shoulders in line with your spine. Push the mower uphill rather than pulling. Always use both hands rather pushing  or twisting with one.

2) When working in the dirt, crouch down, sit on a stool, or squat instead of bending at the waist which can strain the joints in the low back. Bend your knees when lifting anything so that you can use the strength of your legs.

3) Keep yard waste bags close to your body while lifting them.  Hold a rake with one hand at shoulder height, one hand at waist level and walk or drag the pile. Most importantly, vary your tasks and take breaks when necessary.

Avoid staying in prolonged postures involving the lower back and neck.

Your best bet for protecting your back? Consider Chiropractic care!

Waiting until symptoms appear before taking care of your body often can make the problems worse, ultimately causing them to take longer to heal. Chiropractors assess your posture and spinal joints to ensure they are moving properly and that your body is physically balanced. The results people experience from regular spinal care are profound, and the increases in their quality of life measurable.

Curious? Book your complimentary 15 minute chat with me to find out more! 705.446.9733

Easter Treats For Your Family

The ritual of hunting for easter eggs is something that all children enjoy (even my teenage son still enjoys easter treats and the hunt for eggs – just don’t tell him I told you!), but let’s think about some of the items we place inside the eggs.

Traditional easter baskets are filled with chocolate. Chocolate tastes great, I’m a huge fan! However, our kids are not likely to appreciate the organic-fair-trade-dark chocolate that actually can benefit your health in small doses. Commercial candy and confections are filled with sugar, artificial colours, and flavours, and although they tastes great, they don’t promote health, and for many children there are adverse effect on their behaviour due to the sugar and caffeine.

Chocolate, jellybeans, and candy are fun treats for all of us, and we’ve been having fun with them in the practice all week, but consumption in moderation is the KEY! Even a teaspoon of sugar causes the immune system cells to drop substantially, and can dramatically affect behaviour. With the chocolate on the reception desk this week I’ve been using it as a great time to remind all the kids in the practice that their body needs good foods to stay healthy, and we’ve been talking about other things they need to also be doing to keep their body healthy.

This year why not consider some other ideas too? 

I’ve been asking families in the practice some of the ways they celebrate easter weekend with their children and they have shared some fantastic, creative ideas.  Whether you create a basket for children in your life or conduct an easter egg hunt, consider these tips to avoid the overdose of chocolate, sugar and unnecessary waste that is often created with commercial packages.

If you enjoy filling eggs, purchase ones (yes even plastic) that you can reuse every year and try some of these items to place inside…

  • Stickers, coins, small toys
  • Small cookies or animal crackers
  • For older children try little pieces of paper with bigger ‘prizes’  written on them. Then create a scavenger hunt to find them too!
  • Use numbers or symbols inside the eggs, and have a corresponding chart for them to follow on – they will love the challenge and skills they will build!

As with all gift-giving, don’t forget about the gifts of ‘experiences’. Many of us already have enough ‘stuff’. Movie/event tickets, lessons for a sport or hobby, gift cards for music or clothing, jewellery, sports cards, games (especially if they are ones you can play as a family!)

Get creative, have some fun, and share  some of your favorite ideas too!

ERM 037: Lorri Fleming | Nurturing Families At The Womb

Lorri Fleming is a mom to 2 adult children, Cole 22 and Kyra 19 and has been happily married for almost 25 years. Lorri is a Doula, Parent Educator and Co-founder of The WOMB in Milton, Ontario where she is passionate about Nourishing, Nurturing and Inspiring families through life!

In this conversation with Dr Melissa Longo Lori talks about how life changes with adult children, and why she believes that nurturing comes from wrapping our arms around our children, while at other times from letting go. Lori openly shares some of the struggles she and her husband have experienced, but how their faith, strong communication and the support of others has helped keep their family strong.

With her children growing up Lori has been able to focus her attention on opening her dream business – The Womb, a place for all things pregnancy, postpartum and life with children. In this space Lori shines and works with other moms to help them find support, inspiration and ways to care for themselves and their new families.

Another great conversation with another everyday rockstar mom!

Healthy Hearts! Lifestyle Tips & How Chiropractic Helps

Cardiovascular health is important throughout our lives, and our cardiovascular organs are part of an incredible system within our bodies that gives every single cell in our bodies the fuel to function. Your heart pumps blood to all parts of your body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to every single cell through the arteries. Once the cells have received the oxygen, the blood is returned to the heart through the veins. The systematic, rhythmic relationship between your lungs and your heart is what refuels the blood with oxygen so that this cycle can continue endlessly. With every beat of your heart, blood is moving through the chambers of your heart and then being pumped through your body. Its truly an amazing system!

Heart disease results when the heart has to beat faster than the normal healthy rate to perform its job. When the arteries are clogged blood needs to be pumped through them at a faster rate with greater force (“high blood pressure”). The sad news is that far too many times the first symptom of heart disease is a serious heart attack! We can’t see the heart gradually losing it’s ability to function properly, which is why waiting for symptoms to start isn’t the  wisest approach. 

Most people can quickly think of all the known risk factors for heart diseasesmoking, high cholesterol, alcoholism, obesity, lack of physical activity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a poor diet. It’s estimated 9/10 Canadians have at least one of these risk factors, and 4/10 have 3 or more.

There is another risk factor! Did you know spinal misalignments can contribute to heart health too? When the vertebrae in the spine are not moving properly(subluxation) the heart’s ability to internally regulate itself is disrupted due to impingement of both the nerves and the arteries. Once proper function and movement is restored with spinal adjustments, proper nerve and circulatory flow returns. Research has shown that chiropractic spinal adjustments can lower both blood pressure and heart rate, allowing your cardiovascular system to function the way it was designed to.

Although heart disease remains one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide, the great news is that the majority of risk factors are lifestyle choices! Change your habits and you change your risk.

Make choices to keep your heart working properly by considering the following:

Stress Less: High stress levels cause blood pressure to rise, heart rate to increase, and disturbances in heart rhythm. Evaluate the stressors in your life and make changes! Learn how to cope with stress effectively, and find professional support as needed.

Eat Well: Choose a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Avoid packaged and processed foods which contain extra fats, sugars, preservatives, and sodium. Avoid high consumption of fried, fatty foods. 

Quit Smoking! Just do it. There is nothing health promoting about this habit whatsoever!

Get Moving: Move your body everyday for at least 10 minutes. Exercise helps relieve stress, and supports every system in your body including your cardiovascular system.

Get Adjusted! To support nerve function, heart function, and for a healthier body overall!

Have questions or need more direction? Let me know how I can help.

~ Dr. Melissa

ERM 036: Kathy Boose | Entrepreneurial Life, Active Living & Listening To Your Own Voice

Kathy Boose lives an active life in Collingwood Ontario with her husband Jason and two children, Damen and Abby.  She has spent her career in Recreation, Fitness, and leads classes at various studios in the Collingwood area.

Ready for a change to better support her active family’s needs, Kathy decided to use her 20 years of expertise in Lifesaving skills to launch her own business and now teaches Standard First Aid, CPR and AED training sessions, as well as training for youth such as Babysitter, Home Alone and Lifesaving Courses.

Kathy is passionate about her family and her business, and you’ll hear it in this interview with Dr. Melissa Longo!  During the conversation Kathy shares the big risk she took to become an entrepreneur, but why it has been an amazing change in her lifestyle and allows her to be more present with her kids. Kathy shares some of the ways she manages mom-life and business life, as well as how she and her partner keep their marriage strong.

Living life to the fullest and putting her family first are her ultimate goals. You can learn more about Kathy on her website www.trainingforlife.ca or contact her at kathy@trainingforlife.ca.

Another great conversation with an everyday rockstar mom! Check it out!

Colds, Coughs, Congestion & Chiropractic!

Many times when people in the practice are dealing with colds, coughs, sore throats, or congestion they want to stay home, but you’ll often hear me encourage them to come get adjusted and stress the importance of it during illness.

If germs were the only factor that made us sick, we would all be in serious trouble! But a healthy body is dealing with germs everyday, and does not become ill. Sure, some bacteria or viruses are more threatening than others, but in general when we become ill it’s because our body’s ability to cope with the demand on our immune system has failed.

Congestion, coughing, sneezing, fevers, and a runny nose are all signs the body is effectively creating an immune response to help the body eradicate the bacteria or virus causing the infection. This is a good thing and not to be suppressed! Medications to make you feel better offer temporary relief, but often create other imbalances in the body that can affect your long-term health.

As per any ailment, my recommendations are always to support the body as best as you can and strategize to boost the immune system, and Chiropractic care is a huge contributor to a healthy immune system!

Chiropractic works:

A study by a neurologist found that 92% of children with chronic tonsillitis had upper cervical misalignments, and after studying 76 children with chronic tonsillitis it was concluded that “tonsillitis goes hand in hand with movement restriction in the cranio-cervical skull and neck junction”

If you’re sick and suffering make a spinal check-up high on your priority list. In addition to increasing fluids, sleep, and nutritional support, your body will likely recover without any other intervention and give your body better health moving forward.

~ Dr. Melissa