Sleep Solutions 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.

Add Life to Your Years!

As the physical body matures (and our minds become wiser!), many look for ways to maintain their vitality and continue their quality of life.

“I’m 70 and was starting to feel old and achy. Now I don’t. Everything is better!”

Maureen

Studies have shown that chiropractic patients in their senior years report better overall health, have fewer chronic conditions, spend fewer days in nursing homes and hospitals, are more mobile in their communities and are less likely to use prescription drugs than non-chiropractic patients.  Even when the demographics were nearly identical, the chiropractic group reported fewer ongoing health problems.  Moreover, 87% of these chiropractic patients described their health as good to excellent, compared to just 67% of the non-chiropractic group.

What’s the connection?  

Structure dictates function. Chiropractic is a completely natural approach to strengthening the structure and function of the body.  Based on a simple truth: the human body is self-healing and self-regulating.  What enables it to do this?  The amazing and complex nervous system.  Housed within the protection of your skull and vertebrae, the brain and spinal cord – a vast communication network inside your body.  Each of your 750 trillion cells is connected to a nerve.  The nerves carry life-sustaining energy to and from the brain and all your organs.  For the body to be healthy and working well, there can be no disturbance to this remarkable system.

The problem however, is that interference can be introduced to the spinal cord and nerves by misalignment or poor movement of the vertebrae.  When one, or several, of the vertebrae become stuck or malpositioned, the body’s ability to function optimally is compromised.  Every cell and organ is affected – your digestion, breathing, movement, immune system, and circulation, just to name a few.  When your structure is weakened, so are all the functions in your body.  Using a variety of techniques, Doctors of Chiropractic re-align the spine to restore balance to the body.  Without drugs or surgery, Chiropractors help your body work the way it was designed to.

Whether you simply want to resolve a painful condition, or restore balance to your body on the path to wellness, a Doctor of Chiropractic can help you.

By far the most common phrase I hear from the senior people in my practice is “I wish I knew about this years ago.”

Chiropractic care has restored a wonderful quality of life and refueled the passion for living in countless senior citizens worldwide.  After all, isn’t that what the retirement years are supposed to be about?  Enjoying the freedom to participate in activities and hobbies with time that was once consumed by a career or growing family?

Enjoying the freedom to participate in activities and hobbies with time that was once consumed by a career or growing family? Whether it’s playing with your grandchildren, participating in sports or pursuing hobbies, or functioning pain-free in your day-to-day living, restoring balance to your body and nervous system will help you regain and maintain a sense of vitality for years to come.

Episode 12: Other People Knocking You Down? Be Great Anyway!

In my practice I’ve observed that sometimes when people become healthier, feel better, maybe even get more fit, lose weight, or seem to have more energy they are met with unwelcome comments and even criticism from others. They share with me that friends, coworkers and even family members question them, or are unsupportive of their efforts and results. In this week’s show I share the conversation that often follows, and why I tell them to “Be great anyway!”.

Read my other tips on living with a happy heart here

Read my blog post on gratitude here

What’s Your Philosophy for Health?

A conversation that has been coming up lately in the practice is that there are different ways to approach your health. From my perspective, there are three ways:

  • Reactive: Managing symptoms. Responding to health challenges as they arise using appropriate interventions, therapies, professionals, and coping mechanisms.
  • Prevention: Developing habits and using therapies and professional services, to support good health and prevent disease from occurring.
  • Wellness: An active, lifelong process of becoming aware of choices, and making decisions towards a more balanced and fulfilling life. Wellness differs from prevention.  Wellness activities focus on maximizing the body’s performance and taking an active approach to health.

When it comes to your health, I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that prevention always works better than reacting, and that wellness is even more rewarding. The reactive approach typically costs more, and it takes longer for healing to occur when there is a crisis.  However, your approach to your health is just that – YOUR approach. My job is to facilitate knowledge, provide you with care, and support you in your choices.

What’s your perspective?

Do you want to react to problems in your body, prevent them from occurring, or pursue exceptional health?  Obviously there is some overlap here. We can consistently behave in ways to prevent illness and optimize our bodies function, and still experience a health crisis that requires more serious intervention. However, what’s the dominant approach you are taking? Does it match the personal philosophy you have?

Once you start thinking about it, you’ll realize your attitude might also be evident in other areas of your life.

Are you being reactive in your relationships? With your finances? With your home? With your career? With your children? Or are you taking preventive measures to ensure they ‘perform’ the way you would like them to? Better yet, are you taking steps to enjoy them in a more fulfilling way? Any form of stress will negatively affect your health. If there are stressors in your life they will continue to challenge you until you take some steps to either accept them, or resolve them.

Hopefully, in thinking about this, you discover that your behaviour is in alignment with your intentions. If there are any incongruencies in what you think, and the actions you are taking – it’s time to change!

RYH Episode 11: 8 Ways To Support Your Baby’s Brain

Last week we talked about how to keep stimulating and challenging YOUR grown up brain, but what about your baby? In this week’s show I share ways you can support your child’s natural development and have some fun doing it!

Read this blog post about baby brain development

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for neurological issues in children.

3 Tips For Dads

Dads offer unique perspective to parenting and their own set of skills and nurturing, but many dads I speak with aren’t sure their place in responding to the needs of a newborn, or what specially they can do as a father. Most men I speak with can easily relate to being with their children in the toddler or school age years, but aren’t sure what to do with a baby.

To all the dads out there: Know that you make a difference, that you’re not alone in feeling this way, and consider these 3 tips: 

Take the time to do something for YOU

Play a sport, hang out with buddies, just be a guy. I know some of you might be rolling your eyes, when I taught classes I saw them. But truly, this is something I stress for both women and men.

If you don’t make your emotional and mental health a priority life with a newborn, especially the first baby, can become overwhelming. Every parent can give more to their children when they have some time out – even if it’s just an hour a week. Something is better than nothing and you might be surprised by how rejuvenating it can be.

Spend time with the newborn – get involved 

Infants need their momma, especially if being breasted, and infants know their momma better. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need their dad. If you’re having trouble connecting, or want to increase your time with the baby, try these simple things:

  • Skin to skin contact
  • Within the first few weeks of newborn life, men’s hormones start to slightly shift. Testosterone drops a little, and oxytocin increases. In women it is important for childbirth, bonding and breastfeeding. In men it helps develop fatherly nurturing behaviour. Oxytocin is the ‘love and nurturing hormone’ and it plays huge role in social bonding. The good news is your body has everything it needs inside! Hormones are amazing and purposeful. You can expand your confidence as a dad, by being with your baby. The more you hang out with your baby the more oxytocin will be produced and the more like ‘dad’ you will feel.  
  • Ask your partner how you can get involved! Ask them for guidance in tasks.

Move your body

Make sure to engage in activities that help you feel strong, relaxed and whole. New parents tend to be sedentary – they’re tired and spent – but your body needs to move! You don’t need a gym membership, a trainer or even any weights. You can use your own body as weight and try HIIT training in your home. It’s quick and effective and you can find workouts everywhere! Just do a quick search for an app or on YouTube.  

There are so many benefits of exercise that can help combat the challenges of new dad life, lowering your stress, building up your immune system, and improved overall health.

Episode 10: Learn Something New!

Your brain is the most amazing and important muscle in your body and has the same requirements as other muscles to stay strong and healthy – to keep building it you need to challenge it! In this week’s show I discuss ways you can easily and consistently strengthen your brain, and have fun doing it!

You can read the blog post with more details here

You can read the blog post about 5 Ways To Strengthen Your Baby’s Brain here

How Are You Adapting?

During one of my recent travels, when my flight was changed, then cancelled, and I pulled an all-nighter at the airport, I thought about how important it is to stay flexible. Ha! Yes, as a Chiropractor I mean that in more ways than one!

Being adaptable, going with the flow, taking life as it comes is not just for the spiritually aware or those with some metaphysical practice. Learning to handle stress with more ease is a good practice for all of us! For my tips on living with a happy heart and dealing with stress read these blog posts.

What I want to remind you of in THIS post is this simple fact: YOUR body is always adapting.

Our bodies are amazing machines, with an incredible innate wisdom inside that helps us constantly adapt to the changing demands placed on us.

Consider this:

  1. When you eat, your body adapts by extracting nutrients and using them, and getting rid of the ones that are not necessary by creating waste. If you eat something poisonous to your body, you also adapts and your body gets rid of it as quickly as possible!
  2. When you exercise, your body adapts by increasing the blood flow to your heart, and by increasing your breathing rate to bring more oxygen to your lungs.
  3. When you cut yourself, your body adapts by forming a clot and then growing new tissue.
  4. When you are exposed to bacteria and viruses, your body adapts by mounting an immune response. You sneeze, cough, have a runny noses, vomit, or perspire to get the toxins out, and a fever develops to raise your core temperature so that the bacteria cannot survive.

Where does chiropractic fit it? It helps your body adapt better! A body that is mechanically balanced with joints that are moving properly will better adapt to the physical demands of sports, hobbies, household chores or work responsibilities. A body with a strong, straight spine will adapt to the forces of slips, falls, motor vehicle collisions or repetitive strains with greater ease, resulting in less injury. A body that is neurologically balanced (with a spinal cord free of irritation) will adapt better to stress, be calmer and happier, digest easier, sleep well, have balanced hormones, breathe easier, and exhibit a stronger immune response.

It’s for theses reasons so many people choose regular Chiropractic care, because they know their bodies are stronger in every possible way! Life is not static, and neither is your body. Change is constant, how are you adapting?

Episode 9: Go Jump In A Lake! Cold Water Immersion & The Benefits For Your Health

When cold showers were first mentioned to me as a supportive health practice, my first reaction was “NO WAY!”. Maybe you’re feeling the same way just hearing the suggestion of it!  Now I’m converted, and in addition to jumping in Georgian Bay whenever I can, cold showers have become a healthy habit I regularly practice. In this week’s show I discuss 4 reasons to give this a try, and why it might just be easier than you think.

Read more in this blog post