Sleep Considerations For A Happy 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 is 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 spine 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. 

Dr. Melissa 

Give Gifts of Experience This Year!

There are many ways to show affection and pamper the ones you love without purchasing ‘things’. I’ve noticed many people choosing ‘experience gifts’ instead of tangible items. Consider giving someone you love the gift of time together or the experience of doing something they love. I’ve done this with my sons for the past 6 years and we’ve had many memorable times together such as going to Great Wolf Lodge, a trip to New York City, or catching Raptors games. We’ve also gone skating on the Rideau Canal (after a hockey game) and seen Coldplay perform live.

Now when they make their Christmas wish lists they often include ‘things to do’ as some of their items! For the people in your life, what about vouchers for ski passes, yoga passes, gift certificates for restaurants and cafes? Cooking classes, music or art lessons? Spa services are always a popular choice, and tickets to the movies, theatre, concerts, sporting events are always fun.

GIVE THE GIFT OF HEALTH

Another option is to look around your community for services you use, ones that have made an impact on your quality of life, and consider giving your loved ones a certificate to try out those services. Gifts of health are always well received! I’ve had many people purchase an initial session with me or a series of adjustments for people they care about, and there is a tremendous amount of gratitude expressed to me by the recipients.

SHOP LOCAL

If you choose to give gifts during the holiday season, consider ones that are from local stores. Shop within your community if possible and you’ll save on gas, meet new people and support a small business.

But remember, time together is more valuable with the ones we love than any object, and you’ll get the benefit too! Take the stress away from shopping and get creative giving gifts of the heart in other ways this holiday season.

5 Ways You Can Stay Healthy Through The Holidays

During the holiday season many people are overstimulatedover-committed, and that leads to being overwhelmed.  This can leave people feeling emotionally and mentally drained, and certainly getting a lot less sleep than they would like! In my experience, January is a common time for people to get sick…

There are lots of opportunities during the holiday season for indulgent foods and extra alcohol. With the busier pace many people find themselves moving less and workout routines can also slip away. However, this doesn’t have to be how you spend your December! You can celebrate, indulge and still feel good! 

Make a few adjustments in your social calendar and you will enjoy the holiday season and start 2020 in good health.

1. Set intention and stick to it!

See this blog post for more ideas.

2. Be mindful of your food choices.

Eat regularly & prepare for outings. This should be a consideration for all year round, but what happens in the holiday season is that the sheer volume of parties and events can add up to over-consumption. If you are going to  a party or dinner, don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation.  Doing so will  slow your metabolism, leave you ravenous and more likely to overeat later in the evening. Instead, eat small meals or snacks throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to overindulge when you are out. If you are planning on consuming alcohol remember there is sugar and calories in every drink, and if you consume too many your judgement will surely be off.  Be sure to increase your intake of water to compensate for the dehydrating effects. Often we mistakenly believe that we are hungry when really what our bodies need is more fluid. Keep this in mind when you head for the table of food at your next event and try having a glass of water instead.To give your body time to digest and detoxify, consider 12 hour fast overnight. This is an easy habit and if done consistently can make a huge difference! Whatever time you eat your dinner, allow 12 hours before you eat your first meal the next day. (if you finish eating at 7pm, don’t eat breakfast until 7am or later the next day) If you have regularly been practicing intermittent fasting, keep it up!

3. Move your body.

Physical activity makes every system in your body work better. Instead of taking a break from your exercise routine during the holiday season, keep it up! Or consider getting started! You don’t have to wait until January to resolve to get in better shape.  The fact is, exercise is simply something most people have to build into their lives, work into their schedules. You will always find something better to do with your time!(Trust me, I make excuses and procrastinate sometimes too! Ask my trainer!) Exercise helps relieve stress and prevents weight gain.  Moving your body will always give you a boost, even just a some stretching or a brisk walk will rejuvenate your body and mind.

4. Get social, but with intention.

(Again, see the blog post on why this is an important step!) Be choosy about how you spend your social time. Be assertive and learn to say no to situations that will upset you. Decline invitations (if you can do so without grossly offending the invitee) that create unnecessary emotional stress, or will simply burden your schedule and shortchange you of sleep. At the other end of the social spectrum is loneliness. With changing family dynamics, different living arrangements, and simple geography for some people, many are left alone during the holidays. If you feel lonely or isolated consider getting involved in different activities, volunteering your time at seniors homes, food banks or other organizations geared towards helping others. Reach out to people who may find themselves alone during the holiday season and consider including them in your plans. The rewards will be far greater than just the social stimulation.

5. Give your body added support.

During times of added physical demand or emotional stress, it can be helpful to give your body MORE attention. Although I will always remind you to address the cause of stress in your life and in your body, if there are times when it’s unavoidable then helping your body adapt better will help. Keep up your consistent Chiropractic care, consider using essential oils to support your body, take epsom salt baths to relieve muscle strain and help detoxify, meditate, consider supplementation – whatever healthy habits you have used and loved in the past – keep them up or add more of them to your routine for December!

Healthy habits are always a choice!

Healthy holidays ARE possible. If you make a few small adjustments to your habits you’ll feel good throughout the season.

You CAN think about how you want to feel and make choices that align your holidays with that intention so that you make the right choices for you.

Episode 22: 5 Ways You Can Have a HAPPY & HEALTHY Holiday Season!

There are lots of opportunities during the holiday season for indulgent foods, extra alcohol, social engagements and festive fun! However this season can also be physically and emotionally draining if you don’t keep a few important health habits in mind. You can indulge, celebrate and feel good during the holiday season and head into the new year ready to rock! These 5 tips will give you a good start.
 

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of the Rock Your Health Podcast episodes!
If you’re more of a reader than a listener, you may prefer checking out some blog posts!
If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!

The One Thing You Should START Your Holiday Season With

In my experience in practice over the past 17 years, December tends to be a month filled with fun. But it can also be filled with so much added stress!

One thing that I’ve been suggesting for the past few years that has made a profound difference for people, and in my personal life too, is asking yourself this simple question:

What’s your intention this holiday season?

You’ve likely set goals for your health (and if you haven’t – get in touch! We can help!).

You’ve likely set goals within your work life, perhaps within your family life, finances, and maybe around your home for projects. Why not set a goal for the most-wonderful-and-busiest time of the year?

Decide what you want the holidays to mean, what your priorities are, and how you want feel. Then I want you to write it down.

Choose 3-5 words or perhaps write a brief statement or sentence, then put it somewhere you can see it. You can get creative with this! Make it look pretty or decorative if you like, but what really matters is that you will see it and be reminded of what you wrote. Whether you post it on your fridge, put it on your phone, or write it in a journal that you will look at every day, this is the most important step!

When thinking about this, be realistic and consider:

Every year our lives are a little different, and it’s important to change our expectations accordingly.

What’s happening in your life these days? Where are your children or extended family in the current stage of their lives? Given their ages and interests, what do you want the holidays to look like for you?

Maybe you have a holiday planned, or there is someone in your family who having a tough time, or perhaps your grieving a loved one? There may have been a change in your home or work life. Maybe your finances are more strained than usual? Depending on your reflection on these areas of your life and the people in it, you might want to adjust your plans and celebrate a little differently this year.

When you have an intention to refer to, it will help you make solid decisions about how you spend your time and money this holiday season. You’ll feel better about your choices because they will be more realistic with your current lifestyle, and this will ease your mind, and help you find more JOY (and less stress) holiday season. Give it a try and let us know how it works for you!

Episode 21: Why Is Posture Important For Your Health?

Today we’re talking about POSTURE. Posture is about more than standing and sitting up straight. Listen in to learn more about how posture develops, why it’s so important, and how it affects your overall health on today’s episode.  

For further research you can check out this blog post, or check out this related episode.  

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of the Rock Your Health Podcast episodes!
If you’re more of a reader than a listener, you may prefer checking out some blog posts!
If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!

5 Little Things You Can Do to Improve Your Health

Taking care of your spine and nervous system is an amazing way to improve your health, but there are many other lifestyle factors that will help you feel fantastic. For some people though, the thought of improving their body and making some lifestyle changes can leave them feeling intimidated, and even overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be this way though! 

What if you just tried to do 5 daily things to improve your health? 

Imagine doing 5 little, yet important, intentional acts everyday to get you closer to your most important health goal: feeling and functioning well.  I’m not talking about massive, major changes to your health that require a dramatic lifestyle change, but small daily things that ultimately create a bigger impact because you are actually doing them.

“Success in anything is created through the performance of a few small daily disciplines that stack up over time to create stunning results.”

Robin Sharma

It’s much easier to build on small steps and gradually add more, than to attempt a massive change. 

It’s likely that you’re already doing some great things to support your health, but perhaps they have already become so routine for you that you’ve even forgotten they are good for you! 

Focusing on the good things you are already doing, and all the good things your body is capable of doing is also a powerful gratitude reminder and can motivate other small changes.

Can you think of 5 things that you do on any given day to support good health?

Need some ideas? Here’s some to get you thinking:

  • reduce your caffeine or alcohol
  • drink more water
  • go for a walk/run/swim/bike/hike….
  • visit a friend
  • eat some fruit
  • go to bed a little earlier
  • play with your children
  • read a book
  • put that donut or cookie down
  • take a yoga class
  • breathe (with awareness! consciously relaxing, with full deep breaths)
  • do something you love
  • learn something that can help you live healthier
  • get adjusted!

Need more ideas? Just ask!

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of our blog posts!
If you’re more of a listener than a reader, you may prefer tuning into my Rock Your Health Podcast.
If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!

Episode 20: How Do I Deal With Illness In My Family?

Despite being 13 and 17 years old respectively, neither of my sons have ever taken any medication. The only support they’ve had from pharmaceuticals is when dealing with broken bones and pain management. If they have colds, congestion or any other common illness, my approach since they were born, was to let the body handle it naturally. I have the support of an amazing health team, including a great physician and a naturopath who have always been there for advice, and thankfully, believe in the power of the body to heal itself. To find out how we’ve done it, tune into today’s show.

For more information on how to handle illness naturally, check out this blog post, and this one too.

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of the Rock Your Health Podcast episodes!
If you’re more of a reader than a listener, you may prefer checking out some  blog posts!
If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!

Have a Happy, Healthy Halloween!

Dressing up and celebrating Halloween can be fun for kids, and adults, but it can also be unhealthy for your body and the environment!

Consider these tips this year:

Have fun and walk with your kids!

When my sons were younger I sometimes saw parents driving slowly while their children trick or treated. If you are injured and this is absolutely necessary, I totally understand. But if you can walk I’m going to suggest that you do! Move your body a little and appreciate the fresh air. It’s also much more entertaining!

Give Treats You Would Like Your Children to Receive

Enough said.

Create a Low-Impact Costume

Rather than buying a new costume every year, get creative with items you already own, swap with friends, or shop the local resale shop.

Be Mindful of Toxic Chemicals

Most makeup, face paint, and coloured hairsprays contain ingredients that do not support healthy bodies. Even though you might argue “it’s only once a year” I’m still going to remind you there are alternatives! Get creative and have fun with costumes without using chemicals that don’t belong on your children’s skin, or that you wouldn’t want them to inhale.

Decorate Naturally

Grab pumpkins, gourds, hay bales from a local farm. Reuse decorations you have from previous years rather than purchasing disposable items every year that add to the landfill.

Have a Happy, Healthy Halloween!

It’s totally possible to have lots of fun this Halloween, while protecting your health and the environment. Hope you have a great one!

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of our blog posts!
If you’re more of a listener than a reader, you may prefer tuning into my Rock Your Health Podcast.
If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!

Baby Won’t Poop? Chiropractic Can Help!

I never knew once in practice I would get so many email, calls and texts from happy mothers who report that after their child’s adjustment their bowels were working better! We all know how uncomfortable constipation, diarrhea or any gastro-intestinal dysfunction can be –  imagine how your little one feels! There can be many causes of tummy troubles with infants, toddlers, and children of all ages such as food sensitivities, dehydration, stress, food poisoning, and lack of movement within the spine and nervous system!

Chiropractic Care Sets the Body Up For Health

Chiropractic isn’t a ‘cure’ for anything, but rather a way to support the body so that it can heal from within. When there are misalignments in the spine (subluxation), particularly in the lower spine where the nerves branch off the spinal cord and supply energy to the digestive organs, it will lead to dysfunction. When we restore proper joint movement through a chiropractic spinal adjustment, this also relieves tension within the nerves and allows them to function the way they were designed to. The colon works better, the heart works better, the lungs work better, your legs work better, and so does your brain, reproductive system and virtually every other part of your body!

If your child is struggling with digestive system complaints it’s time to take a look at the cause and start restoring proper function to your whole digestive tract. Chiropractic care will remove any structural imbalance, and then we can work at examining their diet, stress levels and making some other adjustments to your lifestyle so that their body can heal from the inside out.

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of our blog posts!
If you’re more of a listener than a reader, you may prefer tuning into my Rock Your Health Podcast.
If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!