Infant Massage

Massage is an amazing way to bond and connect with your baby, but more importantly, touch is crucial for their brain development! Touch is the second sense to develop after hearing, and they have receptors for touch all over their skin (just like us!). Stimulation of these touch receptors stimulates their awareness, speeds development, improves circulation, tones muscles, and often reduces irritability. It also teaches them to appreciate the power of touch, and its been said that it makes them more comfortable with their own bodies as they grow into toddlerhood. In addition to holding, squeezing and kissing them, a regular routine of massage can be a great experience for both parents and their babies.

When Is a Good Time to Try It?

Whenever you are comfortable and ready to! Infants of any age benefit. Pick a time when you are not rushed or preoccupied and you can be 100% involved in the process. Its wonderful to combine the massage with an evening bath (after) as they can be very relaxed, but any time of day is the right time.

Expect that your baby might not want to lie there for 15 min the first time you try it, you might need to start with 3 minutes and build up to progressively longer sessions, depending on their temperament. Some infants will readily enjoy a massage, others are more sensitive and may take longer to get used to the stimulation, and others just might not want to hold still! Know your baby and do what you feel is best for them watching their cues.

What Do You Need?

Pillow, blanket, waterproof pad (optional), bath towels, olive oil, or a specially formulated baby massage oil…be careful with scented aromatherapy oils, which are too strong for baby’s skin, too pungent for their sense of smell.

How Do Your Do The Massage?

These are guidelines – remember that what you are trying to achieve is time with your baby and stimulation of their brain, don’t get too caught up in the process or feel their is a very specific system necessary to the massage. Feel free to get creative and develop your own routine too! Have fun with it!

Get everything ready before you start, and go slow with all movements. Talk to your baby and maintain eye contact as much as possible. Watch their body language during the process – do they seem to be enjoying it? Are they squirmy? crying? smiling & laughing?

With all the movements below think of repeating them 3 times to create more of a flow to the routine. Start at the feet and work your way up to their head.

Feet – thumb over thumb movement taking turns to stroke upwards on sole with alternate thumbs, moving in same direction; squeeze each toe gently, massage over ankles

Legs – moving up the leg do the ‘rope twist’ (gently alternating hands so that you are effectively ‘twisting the skin and muscles, increasing the circulation in their legs) Do this all the way up the legs

Buttocks – slide both hands/fingertips under buttocks and gently drum fingers into skin, or use palms to massage the skin (depending on age/size)

Belly – rub in circles, then using both thumbs stroke away from belly button out to sides of body

Chest – rub in circles, trace a heart or the alphabet, sing a song,

Arms – gently cap their shoulders, rub a few times then rope twist movement (similar to legs) moving downward

Hands – palms up gently use thumb to make circles, then pull on each finger

Face – stroke forehead starting at point between eyes and drawing circles out around cheek bones ending at nose; stroke from ears along jaw line; rub ear lobes

Back – starting at top of spine stroke downwards to hips; use fingertips to ‘drum’ skin lightly from top to bottom (like playing a keyboard), stroke outward from midline to sides, make circles down both sides

Whether you use the movements above or develop some of your own, try to stick with some kind of routine to the massage. Most babies like routine and knowing what to expect – some temperaments appreciate this more than others so respect the individuality of your baby and their sensitivity. If they don’t like it, take a break, console them and try again another day for a shorter period of time.

 3 Reasons Why Attending a Local Market is Good for Your Health 

I love our local Collingwood Farmers market and have been attending it for the past 10 years. It’s become part of my Saturday routine, and is something that I recommend to people in my practice. While there are many benefits these three are my favourite reasons.

Fresh Food

See what you are buying, connect with growers, try new foods! Buy food that is freshly harvested, higher nutrient quality  early in season you can also buy plants to grow your own!

Connection/Fun

See other people! Conversations, interactions with others good for our health

Low Toxicity

Food that is made locally has fewer pesticides (you can ask farmers their protocols). Markets also make it possible to get local animal products, animals who were treated humanely. Not to mention the non toxic personal care products and cleaners.

Getting out to your local farmer’s market gives you access to fresh, often handmade, products that aren’t readily available on store shelves. It is also great knowing that you’re supporting local businesses, and often, these businesses don’t have a storefront location. Markets are how they make the money they need to follow their passion making/growing/sharing quality, local items.

Want to learn more? Check out this Rock Your Health podcast about the benefits of markets.

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.

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!

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.

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?

Summer Fun Tips!

My favourite season is summer! I love the sunshine, relaxed schedule, outdoor living and so many sports and hobbies. Here’s a few ideas to help deal with the parts of summer that can occasionally make it a little less fun…

Sun Safety  

Natural sunlight is essential for good health, time in the sun is a question of balance.  Daily moderate exposure enables the body to produce vitamin D and make melanin (our body’s natural sunscreen).  However, overexposure causes damage to the skin, accelerates aging, suppresses the immune system, and can lead to cancers.  Children are much more sensitive than adults so taking some precautions is wise. Use hats, and cover the skin with clothing when possible. Seek out the shade and balance time out in the sun with breaks indoors. This also helps prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration.  If you are choosing to use sunscreen, be mindful of the toxic chemicals in many sunscreens that can be worse for the body than sun exposure!  Check out  for a list you can shop with.

Bites and Stings 

Stings from a bee or wasp are not usually dangerous unless you suffer from an allergy, but they should always be treated immediately nonetheless.  Apply a paste of baking soda and water to a bee sting to relieve pain; make a compress from a pad of cotton soaked in lemon juice and apply to a wasp sting. *Multiple stings, or stings to the eyes, ears or mouth should be treated in the hospital.*

Mosquitos 

Avoid bug repellents that contain DEET which is effective for repelling insects but also extremely hazardous to your health. Instead, prevent insect bites by diluting a few drops (or combination of) any of the following essential oils: eucalyptus, citronella, peppermint, rosemary, clove, citronella or lemongrass in half a mug of water, gently apply to exposed areas avoiding the eyes and mouth.  Experiment and find a scent that you like, place in a spray bottle and keep on hand for easy access when enjoying the outdoors. Cider vinegar can be used the same way and the smell evaporates as soon as it dries.

Cuts & Bruises  

So common in childhood, but also with active grown-ups, or random accidents! If there is extensive bleeding, or any other unusual symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, or a head of injury, take your child to the hospital for emergency treatment. Carefully clean the area and than apply a clean cloth soaked in witch hazel or a cold compress and some TLC!  Arnica cream is also useful for soreness.

First Aid Remedies

Check out this post to find out what I keep in our summer adventure first aid kit!

Stretch Yourself

I recommend stretching to every person in this practice, it’s a dialogue I have almost daily…but I must confess, I’m guilty of not stretching enough! When I was doing my TV show, Good Living, Good Health, we recorded an episode all about stretching with a great panel of guests including a Trainer, a Physiotherapist, and a Pilates/Yoga Instructor. We had a great conversation!

Here are some of the highlights: Our lifestyle habits and daily stressors will inevitably create tightness, aches and pains, and can even predispose people to spinal subluxations and other joint injuries. Adequate muscle flexibility is just as important as muscle strength for performance in athletics and life in general.

Most people know this! However, many people complain they don’t have time to exercise, let alone improve flexibility. What are some practical strategies?

Think “intermittent and often”. I’ve now started stretching briefly while brushing my teeth! What else to do during those 2 minutes? I’ve also started stretching in the evenings while we are often relaxing and watching a movie or television. I listen to tons of audio training and podcasts, so now rather than just sitting still I find myself moving and doing some simple stretches. You can always find small moments to stretch if you are aware it is something you should do! So consider this a reminder.

Healthy movement involves: (1) proper joint alignment (this is where Chiropractic comes in) and (2) muscles that are capable of expanding and stretching to their full capacity; muscles which are full of oxygen and given the opportunity to move through their full range of motion.

Doing a few simple stretches intermittently and often can make a tremendous difference in your overall mobility as well as help you hold your adjustments and build a healthier spine. Including stretching as part of your healthy lifestyle will improve your sports performance, help with daily lifestyle tasks, and prevent injuries! If you need ideas ask me for a copy of the spinal stretches or borrow one of the many books in the practice.

Should we abandon the term “clean eating”?

I recently read an article where the author suggested we eliminate the term “clean eating” and although it was a well written article, I don’t agree with the idea that  the term ‘clean eating’ is a bad thing. 

To me, using the term ‘clean eating’ is the one unifier with all the different approaches to nutrition. 

Whether you prefer paleo or keto, whether you choose to eat animal protein or are vegetarian, the one thing that is consistent with every approach to food I’ve observed, and the majority of health professionals would agree with – eating real food will always be better for you than anything processed or packaged, which contains artificial sugars, colours, preservatives, thickening agents and so much more. 

Clean eating is the simple idea of eating whole foods as the primary foods in your diet. With the huge variety of perspectives out there, the diets and even some fads that tell you what and how to eat, this is one principle that everyone can agree on. Whole food, real food, is always going to be better than artificial food that comes out of a box. Whole foods are found in nature, and made of one ingredient. Fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, meat, fish, nuts and seeds are some examples.

To me, ‘clean’ is a reminder that choosing good quality food, (local and organically grown is even better) should always be the goal. It’s also an idea that is more easily adopted by most people, rather than the restrictions of most dietary protocols. To me, it also means that yes you can choose homemade brownies, cookies, cakes, even the occasional fried food when it’s made with real ingredients and by the hands of a human being in a real kitchen. 

Check out this post about the basic nutrition recommendations I give people to get started making healthy changes to their diet.