Cold Water Immersion & Your Health

When cold showers were first mentioned to me as a supportive health practice, my first reaction was “NO WAY”. Like you might be feeling reading this, the thought of being cold was not something that excited me, but at the time I was recovering from an acute muscle strain and I was open to whatever would help me heal the fastest. Now I’m converted.

In addition to supporting your cardiovascular health, regular cold water immersion give you these added benefits:

 

Improves Lymphatic Circulation – Your lymphatic system is an effective network of vessels that essentially cleans up the waste in your body. Unlike your cardiovascular system though, there is no ‘pump’ to keep lymphatic fluids moving well. Your body instead relies on the effective contractions of muscles to support this function (yes this is why you need to be moving your body everyday too).  Cold water immersion helps this process because it causes your lymph vessels to contract, forcing your lymphatic system to pump lymph fluids throughout your body, essentially flushing the waste out of the area. This then triggers the immune system’s white blood cells to attack and destroy any unwanted substance in the fluid. By supporting the lymphatic drainage you’re supporting your immune system, which supports your overall health.

Reduces Muscle Inflammation – When you exercise and push your body to gain additional strength, endurance and power, you’ll develop microscopic tears in your muscles in the process. When the body goes into repair mode you’ll gain new muscle, but the process often involves some soreness known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is normal, but not fun. Cold water immersion has been scientifically shown to help counteract this. Since I’ve been doing cold showers after intense training sessions, the amount of DOMS I experience during recovery has dramatically decreased. This is also something I recommend when people are dealing with an acute injury. Similar to using an ice pack to help control the amount of inflammation, cold water immersion lowers the temperature of the damaged tissue and constricts the blood vessels, which reduces swelling and inflammation. It also temporarily numbs the nerve endings so you’ll feel less pain, which is much better for your body than taking a muscle relaxant or anti-inflammatory medication. If you love physical training, or if you’re dealing with an acute injury, cold water immersion will facilitate faster recovery.

Boosts happiness – I will admit, what keeps me taking cold showers is how great I feel afterwards! Invigorated, energized, and completely refreshed anytime of day.  Cold water triggers a flood of mood-boosting neurotransmitters in your brain, which makes you feel happier. It’s even been shown to be an excellent supportive practice to help reduce symptoms of depression. The science explaining what happens in your body is fascinating, you can read more about it in this article here.

Supports Weight Loss – While nothing replaces healthy clean eating and consistent exercise, consistent cold water immersion boosts your metabolism because your body needs to work harder to keep you warm, burning calories in the process.

If there is ever a season to give this a try, it’s summer!

It’s a great way to beat the heat and quickly cool your body temperature, with so many other added benefits to support your overall health.

What’s The Difference Between a Disc Bulge & Herniation?

Often times these two terms are used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same problem. Vertebral discs are securely attached between two vertebrae (no, you can’t have a “slipped disc”) and they are made up of 2 parts: tough annular fibres that surround an inner nucleus (semi fluid gel). For simplicity with people in my practice I often use the metaphor of a jelly donut: think of the inner nucleus as the jelly, and the ‘dough’ as the outer annular fibres.

Disc bulges: This is when some disc material moves because of faulty joint mechanics and subsequent degeneration. Think of a jelly donut, that has slight pressure put upon it so that the dough bulges out the sides slightly, but not enough pressure that some of the jelly comes out. Disc bulges can happen with absolutely no symptoms, but if the spinal joints are not encouraged to heal, further problems will develop.

Disc herniation:  This is what happens next, following excessive tension on the disc fibres, often over years, a bigger problem develops. Remember the jelly donut?  Now it’s been under enough to pressure, for long enough, that some of the jelly inside starts to squeeze out. Disc herniation’s can cause sciatic type pain because of how they will bulge out and put pressure on the nerve going down the back of the leg. The nerves coming off the spinal cord in the lumbar spine are highly complex, and depending on which area of the disc is herniating, the pain pattern can also affect the side or front of the leg, and travel all the way right down into the feet.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

The good news is that Chiropractors can provide great care and great results! In my 16 years in practice I’ve seen many people find complete recovery and enjoy an incredible quality of life without any pain or discomfort. If you’re suffering with back pain, it could be attributed to problems within the discs, and treatment will depend on your goals and the approach you take to your health.  Do you react, prevent or pursue wellness?

You can prevent both disc bulges and disc herniating from happening with spinal care, core strengthening, proper lifting techniques, watching your stress level and choosing a high quality diet.

If your approach to caring for your body is more “I’ll fix it when it’s broken” and you seek to support your health only when there are problems then certainly consider radiating pain down your legs, any loss of mobility, as signs there is a problem. If you’re also having changes in bowel or bladder function, consider that a next level warning sign.

Questions? Reach out. You can be feeling and functioning better! Often times the hardest part is taking that first step.

Stay Hydrated In The Heat! My Best Tips

Your body is approximately 80% water, and it requires an on-going supply to stay hydrated, especially in the warmer months when we perspire more. Water contributes to our cellular composition, and is essential to flush toxins out of our body at all times, but especially during a cleanse.  Drink a minimum of 5-6 8 oz glasses per day of pure water, and clear fluids such as herbal teas, broths, and diluted juices.

Beware of fluids that further dehydrate your body such as caffeine, sodas, and alcohol. If you simply cannot give them up, make it a routine to counter your cup of coffee or tea with a glass of water when you’re done.

I always recommend keeping water in various places so that it’s easily accessible and will subtly remind you – a glass in various rooms in your home, a bottle in the car, at your desk.

When at home, I often pour a glass and carry it with me to whatever room I am going to and then leave it there, and before I start my day in my practice I strategically place glasses of water in the various places I know I will be in.

If you’re not fond of plain water try adding fresh herbs or fruit to it! Recently at an event we made “spa water” and filled a beautiful glass pitcher with grapes, strawberries, and orange slices. The water became lightly flavored and it certainly looked lovely!  

Other combinations I have tried are:

~ lemon slices and a few springs of fresh rosemary

~ lime slices and fresh mint

~ cucumber slices

~ green apple and ginger

Experiment and create your own!

Herbal teas are delicious and can be highly nutritious depending on the blend. They can be consumed hot or cold. Avoid black teas or excessive amounts of green tea which has some caffeine in it.

Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are great too!

Quick, Easy & Delicious Meal For Anytime of Day!

I’ve started doing some food demonstrations at the Collingwood Downtown Farmer’s Market, and the first one was a success!

Our focus is to highlight ingredients that can be found at the market, and how simple it can be to create a nutritious and delicious meal using local produce. Other scheduled days I will be there include July 7, July 21, August 18 and September 15.

 

This past Saturday I shared my favourite go-to recipe, here it is!

Dr. Melissa’s Anytime Salad

The great thing about this salad is that you really can make it anytime for any occasion using whatever local, seasonal produce is available. Be sure to choose a variety of colourful vegetables, mix up the type of protein, and try any combination of oils and vinegar that appeals to you. The possibilities to enjoy this healthy salad with different ingredients is endless!

1 Cup/handful of greens (your choice: kale, spinach, chard, beet greens, salad mix)

3/4 cup protein (ie. beans, chopped chicken/turkey/steak, hard boiled eggs, tuna, salmon,

3/4 cup assorted chopped seasonal vegetables

Dressing:

2 TBSP  Tuscan Herb Olive Oil (Collingwood Olive Oil Company)

2 TBSP Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar (COOC)

Pinch sea salt, ground black pepper to taste

*use a 50/50 ratio for your olive oil & balsamic, and use any combination you like!

Emotional Stress & Your Spine

Stress comes up almost everyday in my practice, not only in what people share with me but in what I observe in their body even if they don’t say a thing. There are three different types of stress –  physical, chemical & emotional. All three types of stress affect your nervous system, but whenever I ask people which one has the greatest impact on their health, the answer is always the same: emotional stress! So it’s an important one to understand and try and find solutions for, although certainly not easy.

How does emotional stress create stress in the spine?

An emotional event or trigger happens -> Brain perceives and recognizes it -> Creates a stress response -> Creates muscle tension   -> Pulls your spinal joints out of alignment -> disrupts healthy flow of signals going to and from your brain and regulating all your body.

Chronic emotional stress causes:

    • chronic muscle tension
    • chronic increase in cortisol and adrenalin (stress hormones)
    • increased stimulation of your sympathetic nervous system
    • decreased overall nervous system function
  • decreased immunity

Why is emotional health important to me as a Chiropractor?

Quite simply, because I care about the wellbeing of people in my practice! Clinically though, if there is emotional strain causing stress in the body, which as noted above affects your spine, nervous system and muscles, and we don’t get to the cause and find a solution, we may be missing part of what you need to fully heal.

The heart of my clinical approach is not just responding to the symptoms that your body is creating, it’s also addressing the cause of the problem. For some people this involves changing their ergonomics or a repetitive strain caused by work or athletics. In other cases there is an underlying food intolerance causing inflammation. Most people have some type of emotional stress in their lives, and this conversation comes up consistently.

We might not be able to change some of the circumstances we face, but we can always change our perspective and how we respond. Our brain has to perceive something as stressful in order for our physiology to change, so if we don’t THINK something is stressful, it won’t affect us negatively.

Check out these blog posts with some of my top recommendations on how to change your perspective when dealing with stress so that it doesn’t affect your body negatively:

http://Happy Hearts, Healthy People

https://drmelissa.ca/2017/09/practicing-gratitude/

I Love Shoes, But Barefoot is Best!

One day a fews years ago while I was adjusting on a regular afternoon, my shoes were hurting my feet, so I took them off. After adjusting a few people, however, I was, almost instantly, converted. I felt stronger, more sure on my feet, grounded. More purposeful and connected with each adjustment. So I started doing a little research.

I asked some colleagues and was not surprised to find that many of them also adjust barefoot – the simple answer when I asked why? It’s more natural and the way we were designed! I was also surprised to learn so many people in my practice prefer being barefoot, finding it more comfortable on a regular basis.

Many health experts agree that bare is the healthiest state for your feet to be in. Most shoes have no relation at all to the natural shape of the human foot. It’s also been argued that most adult foot trouble would not exist if properly shaped shoes, or better yet, no shoes at all had been used during childhood.

What are the some of the benefits?

– natural shaped feet, including straighter toes free of corns, hammer toes, bunions and callouses in the wrong places

– well shaped legs resulting from a natural and balanced gait.

– a more natural motion, free of weight brought on by shoes

– prevention of blisters, ingrown toenails, and plantar warts – better posture & spinal health!

It’s also been suggested that people who are barefoot tend to be less stressed and authoritative, leading to a more relaxed environment at both home and work. Many cultures believe that the positive energy of the earth, known as chi, prana, is absorbed through the soles of the feet. When you are walking barefoot your body is absorbing this positive energy, allowing you to think more clearly.

AND…there is evidence that the natural motion of barefoot positively affects brain function!!!
Other than the spine, the foot is the region of the body which contains the most proprioceptive sensory receptors, the distinctive nerve circuits that help your brain know where your body is in relation to the space around you. With this abundance of sensory information, the natural unrestricted movement of the feet is vital for overall neurological health!

Given all these benefits, kick those shoes off! Don’t be surprised if you find me barefoot in the office too!

Challenge Your Brain & Get Smarter!

Your brain is the most amazing and important muscle in your body and has the same requirements to stay strong and healthy – to keep building it you need to challenge it!

Your brain has the ability to constantly grow and change. It can grow new neurons, make new connections, and even learn to inhibit dysfunctional pathways that don’t serve you (such as cravings, addictions, negative thought patterns, hyperactivity, poor memory or concentration, etc.)  It’s a huge topic, but for now let’s just focus on ways to boost it with challenge and activity.

Giving your brain new experiences helps it form new nerve pathways necessary for that activity, particularly if its something you have not done before. Trying new activities is powerful for your brain because doing so stimulates brain centres that have been dormant, or helps create entirely new pathways to complete the task at hand. Your brain is an amazing machine that can adapt to new processes and challenges, you just need to give it the experiences to do so! If you have children in your life, they are some of the best companions with their eagerness and love of adult attention.

Consider trying some of these activities on a regular basis:

    • Learn a new language
    • Do mind games (sudoko, word scrambles, brain teasers)
    • Try a new sport (builds coordination, precise muscle control, memory, strategy, plus increases blood flow to your brain!)
    • Read! Read! Read! 
    • Pursue something creative (painting, photography, sculpture etc.)
    • Try a new instrument (or play one you know), sing, dance
    • Learn to build models
  • Play board games or work on a puzzle

There are unlimited ideas, these are just a few. Like moving your body, it doesn’t matter what you do, just do something that will engage or challenge your brain. Choosing something you find intriguing or joyful will strengthen your resolve to keep doing it…but remember you might not know you enjoy a new activity until you try it!

Can Adjustments Strengthen Your Brain Function?

Chiropractic strengthens your body in so many ways, but could there be anything more powerful than being able to strengthen your brain?

Check out this study*: 30 subjects received 4 weeks of chiropractic adjustments compared to 10 control subjects. The brain activity was measured by a computer generated and scored test called Microcog. This program tested attention control, memory, calculation, and general brain functioning.

All 30 subjects demonstrated significant improvements in all areas of brain function while the control group displayed no changes.

Restoring healthy joint function does more than relieve your back pain, neck pain, headaches, joint pain, or whatever symptom brings people initially into the practice. It’s the same reason people consistently tell me how once getting adjusted their digestion is better, their breathing improves, they are sleeping better, and feeling calmer.

Consistent chiropractic care supports your health because it restores the connection between the vital intelligence that runs your entire body – the one between your brain and the rest of your body! When this internal power is turned on your body will function and feel the way it was designed to. It’s the simple (and yet very complex!) way your body is designed, and 16 years in practice I never tire of witnessing the healing I observe with the people I work with when proper internal function is restored.

Chiropractic is the largest and most established profession within the new wellness industry. Not just for the sick, wounded and stressed, Chiropractic care can help you thrive physically and mentally.

~ Dr.Melissa

*Kessinger, R. Boneva D.  Neurocognitive Function and the Upper Cervical Spine. CRJ 1996;6:88-89

Make Time To Play!

Life is for living! Are you having fun?

Recreation is defined in the dictionary as “refreshment of one’s mind or body after work through activity that amuses or stimulates play; activity that refreshes and recreates or activity that renews your health and spirits by enjoyment and relaxation.”  We all need time to re-energize and refocus.

When was the last time you did something spontaneous and fun? Do your hobbies make your heart smile? I love being on my mountain bike in the warm months because I feel like a 10-year old every time – even more so when my friends and I put backpacks on and head to the beach! My sons also keep ‘play’ in my life because much of our time together is spent doing so! As they are grow older and their interests change, I’m gaining opportunities to try new activities, which is always bound to make us all laugh! Children are a great reminder for all of us to make time for fun, and often provide us ample chances if we indulge ourselves. I’m going to challenge you to do so!   

Recently someone in my practice noticed all the silly faces the children in my practice on the wall, and she commented that adults seem to lose some of that ability to be silly, and that so many people lose their sense of fun because they care too much what others will think. Perhaps it’s because as adults we can easily get weighed down with responsibilities and lack the time. The good news is we can always reroute and make some changes in support of more balance in our lives. We can choose to prioritize time for fun knowing it’s a step in the direction of better health. Enjoying an activity, time to yourself or connecting with friends, moving your body…are all important parts of a healthy lifestyle.

Time for recreation and play is time worth spent to make the rest of your life more productive, and all your relationships better, including the one you have with yourself.

Making adjustments part of your life is a step towards ensuring you will be able to ‘play’ and enjoy a great quality of life, without being stopped by problems in your body!

This month I challenge you to get out and PLAY more!

~Dr. Melissa

By the way, healthy joints need to move to constantly nourish and cleanse themselves, and exercise is what is needed!  All physical activity supports the body physically, but recreational pursuits are the perfect way to combine fitness with fun.

If aches and pains are stopping you let me know and let’s figure out what’s causing the problem.

If someone you care about is limited in their ability to pursue hobbies, sports or leisure activities, tell them about chiropractic and let’s get them feeling better! We have a huge network of doctors and can easily find a suitable referral for them if they don’t live close by.

How Do I Manage Illness In My Family?

My sons are 15 and 11 years old, and have never had any medication whatsoever. Do they get sick sometimes? Of course they do, but at a much lower frequency than many of their peers. People often ask me what our ‘secret’ is, and I’m happy to divulge it: They eat really well, get plenty of rest, are active, happy, and get adjusted regularly!

If they develop symptoms that there body is dealing with a bacteria or virus, we honour the innate wisdom of the body and it’s power to heal from the inside-out, and support their own ability to heal. 

Each illness a child experiences helps to strengthen and enhance their natural immunity.  Rather than suppress their symptoms, I encourage the immune system to process the bacteria or virus  as effectively as possible by supporting cellular function.

When they get a cough, cold, or some congestion, in addition to spinal adjustments to support their immune system, here are some other practices I use:

  • Encourage added sleep and rest.
  • Keep them home from school until they have no fever and their energy is back.
  • Supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin D, and a high quality multi vitamin.
  • Eliminate all refined sugars and dairy products from their diet, keep foods simple and nourishing.
  • Offer increased fluids, nutrient-dense smoothies, and warm herbal teas.
  • Mix some olive/coconut oil with a few drops of the essential oils of tea tree and eucalyptus, rub into their chest and under their collar bones to encourage drainage of the lymph glands in those regions.
  • Offer natural raw honey to soothe the throat.
  • Have them gargle with salt water (1/4 tsp sea salt with 1/2c water) to flush bacteria out of the mouth and to ease discomfort in the throat.
  • Offer lots of love, comfort, and reassurance!

I’ve also found that illness is always a great teaching moment with them. Helping them understand how their bodies work, what is happening when they have a fever, and are coughing/sneezing, and what their body needs to feel and function well is a lesson that everyone needs! 

Although we have a great team of  doctors to call on if needed, this approach has never failed us, and they have often been back feeling themselves in no time at all.  I’m also confident their developing brains and bodies are stronger for it.  

Next time your children are ill, consider supporting their body naturally, and working with health professionals who can help your body recover from the inside-out. 

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for colds and flu.