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.

Movement is Life!

One of my favorite quotes that pertains to Chiropractic doesn’t come from a Chiropractor, but from a brain researcher…

Roger Sperry, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in 1982 for his work in brain research, stated:

“The more structurally distorted we are, the less energy we have for metabolism, for healing and for thinking.”

This is Chiropractic 101!

Without movement you could not sustain life. Blood cells that don’t move cannot transport oxygen, lungs that don’t move cannot breath, hearts that don’t move can’t pump blood, and spines that don’t move can’t create the motion needed for proper joint nutrition or body mechanics.

Most importantly, spines that don’t properly move cannot adequately stimulate the joint-brain pathways for the regulation of hundreds of internal functions your body performs each and every day.

Movement and alignment of the spine is required for healthy brain function, specifically the coordination of activities such as concentration and learning, emotions, motor control and organ function.

Chiropractors ensure your spinal joints are moving the way they were designed to, so that YOU can move, think and feel the way you were designed to!

My Summer Adventure First Aid Kit

I love summer!  I love getting outdoors with my sons on the trails or at the beach. Even though it’s starting to get a little tougher to recruit them to spend time with me in their teenage years with their own sports involvement, jobs and their own friendships, time together outside is consistently what I’m aiming for.  At all ages, during every season, there are minor injuries that can happen, and I’m often asked how I deal with them in my home.

In our home there are no pharmaceuticals, harsh chemicals or commercial preparations, period. The majority of minor scrapes, bruises, burns, rashes, I have always been able to support with some of the items listed here, as well as herbal medicines, foods, fluids, rest, and spinal adjustments, particularly if there has been a tumble or fall or sports collision. Based on my training, I am comfortable handling many injuries but we have still made trips to the ER for stitches and broken bones! 

Here’s what I keep in my home, and in a pack that I can easily throw into a basket or backpack if we are heading out the door.  Please remember, if you’re ever in doubt about how to handle an injury or illness, get in touch with me, contact your medical doctor or head to the emergency room for further advice. 

Arnica cream or Traumeel – for aches and pains, to help reduce inflammation

Arnica 30c (homeopathic remedy) – for bites, bruises, cuts, broken skin, burns, scalds, nosebleeds, stings, sprains, fractures, muscular aches and pains, (or virtually any injury to the body)

Aconite 30c (homeopathic remedy) – for fear, anxiety, restlessness, sudden illness, intense pain, shock.  Give it to any child who has been hurt or traumatized in any way

Chamomilla 30c (homeopathic remedy) – for teething, insomnia, earaches, digestive troubles, anytime they need

Band-Aids, gauze, wet-wipes (for traveling only, when at home I just have soft rags and water or peroxide for disinfectant)

Tweezers, Ice packs

Hydrogen Peroxide, Rubbing Alcohol – Basic disinfectants, but the best way to clean a wound is to first wash your hands, then wash the wound with mild natural soap and water. This is what I use 95% of the time!

Witch Hazel – Strong natural antioxidant and astringent; good for disinfecting and promotes healing. Also helps with itching and inflammation

Bach Rescue Remedy –  A flower remedy designed for shock, trauma, any type of anxiety.  Can be taken orally. Very relaxing and soothing.

Calendula cream – Great healing salve for cuts, stings, burns, scrapes and scratches, any skin irritation. Easy to find at any natural health store or at markets throughout the summer!

Olive oil – soothing to the skin and a great carrier oil for using essential oils. Coconut oil is also a favourite. Use about a 1/4 cup combined with 6-10 drops of the essential oil. Essential oils are highly concentrated and should not be used directly on the skin. There are so many essential oils of benefit to keep in your home, these are my top 3:

Tea Tree Oil – antibiotic, anti fungal, antiseptic and antiviral

Eucalyptus – antibiotic, analgesic (pain relieving), antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory 

Lavender – antiseptic, antibiotic, analgesic, antiviral, anti fungal, antidepressant, healing, and sedating

Smoothly Starting Your Day

Most mornings my sons start their day off with a smoothie. I’ll often make extra in the warmer months and pour the leftovers into popsicle molds – a much better alternative than the sugar-filled commercial frozen treats.

Why are smoothies great for growing kids?

Because you can pack a whole lot of goodness into these drinks! When my sons were younger I had more control over their food choices. As teenagers it’s a little tougher, but with a smoothie in the morning and healthy dinners in the evening I can stress a little less at what they might consume during the day. (Read my other tips about feeding kids healthy food here.)

You can read this blog post for some of the favourites within my practice, but most mornings it’s a pretty quick and easy recipe before my sons are dashing out the door to school:

  • 1-2 bananas
  • 1 scoop or protein powder (I always opt for something that is a vegan product as I don’t like whey or soy proteins)
  • 1/2cup – 1cup frozen fruit (whatever we have! Berries are a consistent favourite)
  • Add water or orange juice to cover
  • Blend it in a Vitamix & pour!

4 Tips To Protect Your Back When Golfing

Golf is a great sport for many reasons. The mental challenge, time outdoors, social connection, stress reduction and physical activity all support the body and mind in so many ways. However, given the nature of the golf swing, it can also be highly demanding on the spine and joints and trigger nasty problems in the back. The good news is there are ways to support your body, minimize injuries and even play a better game!

Consider these tips:

Be Careful When Handling Your Golf Bag. Choose a portable hand-pull cart and alternate sides when carrying your golf bag or pulling the cart. Use proper lifting techniques when moving your golf bag. Avoid twisting, and instead use strength of your legs, hips, arms, and core muscles. 

Walk the Course.  It’s a simple way to dramatically improve your fitness level and strengthen your bones. Walking elevates aerobic activity, increases stamina, and boosts immunity.

Warm-Up! Jolting stiff muscles into action can trigger muscle strain and spinal misalignments. Golfers who stretch and warm-up before playing typically demonstrate greater swing flexibility, muscle endurance, and report fewer aches and pains while playing.  

Improve your Posture. There is good reason 70-75% of the athletes who tour with the PGA are under regular Chiropractic care to both prevent injuries and optimize their performance.  Healthy posture and spinal movement benefits your entire body, but it can particularly offer tremendous advantages when playing golf. A healthy spine moves properly, which minimizes tissue damage, degeneration, and muscle imbalances that can lead to injury.   The neurological benefits of spinal adjustments have also be shown to enhance mental clarity, induce a more relaxed state, and quicken reaction time and agility.

and don’t forget…BETTER HEALTH MEANS BETTER GOLF!

Fuel Wisely: Junk food makes junk parts!  Think about what your are putting in your body on a regular basis. Avoid processed and packaged foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and choose fresh, whole foods. Try new foods, eat in season, and vary the nutrients into your body. Stay hydrated.

Move It: Exercise improves your body in every possible way! Strive do some type of physical activity everyday. Vary activities to develop muscle strength, endurance, flexibilty and cardiovascular stamina. Cross-training helps target all muscle groups, and reduces risk of injury.  

Sleep: The time when your body repairs and rebuilds itself! Strive for minimum of 7 hours. Avoid prolonged periods of sleep-deprivation due to work or leisure. 

Get Connected: Social stimulation and good relationships support our health. People with friends tend to live better and even longer.Laughter is “the most inexpensive and most effective wonder drug”. A good laugh suppresses stress hormones, boosts your immune system, and reduces inflammation.

Align Yourself: Optimal Spine = Optimal Health. Spinal misalignments cause joint degeneration, muscle imbalance, pain, weakness, and neurological symptoms. Structure determines function, and poor spinal health weakens the function of all body systems. 

Keep your spine healthy with Chiropractic care! 

A Little Heat is Good For You

I’m not talking about applying heat topically with a heating pad, or sitting in a hot tub to relax your muscles, that’s a different discussion altogether.

I’m talking about adding a little heat to your body in the form of spice! I have a slight addiction to these little peppers, my sons tease me that I carry them to the table for every meal. It’s true. I enjoy the taste, but there are many benefits to these tasty little morsels:

Chili peppers contain Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and B6. Beta Carotene and Capsaicin (which gives the heat) are also a powerful antioxidants to support countless functions in your body and support your immune system.

Add a little spice to your life and give chili peppers a try! There are plenty of options at your local grocery store and soon easily found at farmers markets.

Do you have a disc hernation?

Maybe, but maybe not. To be honest it’s a term I hear thrown around too easily, and often inaccurately.

Unless it happened in a traumatic situation, in the majority of cases when vertebral discs bulge or herniate, it’s not because it’s genetic or it just randomly happened because of bad luck. Often It’s because the movement patterns within the spinal joints have deteriorated and there is added stress on the vertebral joints.

Just because you have back pain does not mean you have a bulging or herniated disc. (Not sure the difference? Read this blog post!) In fact, research has shown that many people are walking around with bulging discs while experiencing NO symptoms!

How do you know if you have a disc herniation?

By having a  thorough, assessment with highly trained Doctors who spend 4 years (after completing a university degree) studying the anatomy and mechanics of the spine. Yes, that’s right, see a Chiropractor and have a proper evaluation rather than relying on “Dr. Google”. (Read this post about why this can be dangerous.)

Your physical assessment should include postural testing, an evaluation of your range of motion and functional abilities spinal joint palpation, gait analysis, orthopedic and neurological tests. You might even have further diagnostic testing such as surface EMG or X-rays.  

The clinical results from this type of assessment gives us plenty of information as to what might be going on within the body.  Within the first few minutes of any examination I quickly know whether there is irrigation within the disc or not, and if the healing process can begin, or whether further diagnostics such as an MRI are needed.

So, if you’re struggling with back pain and guessing you might have a disc herniation, consider having a consultation with a professional first.

Check out these blog posts for more information:

What to expect on a first visit.How to find a Chiropractor that is right for you.


Does Your Child Seem Clumsy?

One of the benefits of being a Family Chiropractor and looking after children in my practice is that I have the privilege of watching infants develop into toddlers, then attend school, become teenagers, and after 17 years in practice I have watched some of the kids in my practice graduate high school and head to college!  

Observing children’s movement development is still so fascinating to me, the innate ability of the body to develop the skills required to roll, sit, crawl walk, run, jump, and climb. 

This ability does not need to be coached, or actively developed, the body just knows how to figure it out in a sequential pattern, without any intervention. 

For more information about how this happens, read this post and for the benefits of chiropractic for children read this one.

Can Chiropractic help your child’s movement development? Possibly. The focus of chiropractic spinal care is not to cure any problems in the body, but rather to maximize the healthy natural movement patterns so that there are no limitations to proper growth and maturation. If there is any irritation within the spine and associated muscles, there can be subtle changes in the ease of development and as a parent you might notice:.

  1. Your child seems clumsy and uncoordinated. 
  2. Your child drags a foot or rolls it in when they are trying to crawl.
  3. Your child never really crawls, instead they push themselves around backwards or pulls themselves forward using an army crawl. 
  4. Your child seems exceptionally intimidated with trying to learn how to climb stairs.
  5. Your child seems to walk on their toes instead of planting their whole foot on the floor when they walk. 
  6. Your child seems to veer to one side when they are running.

And the list goes on an on….

If you notice anything asymmetrical with your child’s movement patterns, keep in mind that subtle shifts in their pelvis or within their spine can be contributing to assymetrical development, and they are easily addressed by a visit to a Pediatric Chiropractor! 

In my experience, children respond quickly and heal fast. After a thorough evaluation, and with some gentle corrective care they are more balanced, they move with greater ease, and without any interference to their development they are ready to thrive.

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

Do Your Ribs Need To Be Adjusted?

Have you ever felt a sharp stabbing pain in your chest, that’s worse when you inhale or sneeze? I have, and it can be quite unsettling, and uncomfortable! 

The good news is that it just might be coming from something that is easily resolved with Chiropractic spinal adjustments.

The ribs attach to the vertebrae in the thoracic spine and wrap around the front to create protection for the heart and lungs. They give us structure, and points of attachment for many muscles. Depending on the sports you play, the repetitive strains you might experience with your work, your posture, or accidents you may have had, the ribs can occasionally slip out of their proper alignment with the spinal joints and create problems.

What does it feel like?

Pain in the ribs, often sudden, sharp, that is worse with sneezing, coughing, inhaling. Sometimes the pain can also radiate around front of chest.

If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, or other symptoms of acute cardiac distress, it’s best to consult your medical professional or head to your local  emergency room. However if what you’re feeling sounds similar to what I described above consider consulting your Chiropractor first. Your chiropractor can easily diagnose whether you are dealing with an acute subluxation of the ribs, or whether you need immediate medical attention. 

If your ribs are not moving properly, and are the source of your discomfort, then a few gentle adjustments will be all that is needed to restore proper function and feeling to your body.