Heading to the Golf Course? Support Your Spine While You’re 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, flexibility 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!

Taking Care of Your Spine While Gardening

Are you a gardener? I am not, but I do appreciate the efforts and results of others!

Working outdoors in your garden and yard is a great form of physical activity, even better if it’s something you are passionate about.

To protect your body and avoid injury, consider some of these tips when stepping out to get your garden started this season:

Keep Your Posture In Mind

While mowing the lawn, keep your head up and stand directly behind the mower so you can keep your hips and shoulders in line with your spine. Push the mower uphill rather than pulling. Always use both hands rather pushing or twisting with one.

Get Down Before You Get Dirty

When working in the dirt, crouch down, sit on a stool, or squat instead of bending at the waist which can strain the joints in the low back. Bend your knees when lifting anything so that you can use the strength of your legs.

Lift Carefully

Keep yard waste bags close to your body while lifting them. Hold a rake with one hand at shoulder height, one hand at waist level and walk or drag the pile. Most importantly, vary your tasks and take breaks when necessary.

Keep Moving

Avoid staying in prolonged postures involving the lower back and neck.

Injury Prevention Works

Your best bet for protecting your back? Consider Chiropractic care!

Waiting until symptoms appear before taking care of your body often can make the problems worse, ultimately causing them to take longer to heal. Chiropractors assess your posture and spinal joints to ensure they are moving properly and that your body is physically balanced. The results people experience from regular spinal care are profound, and the increases in their quality of life measurable.

Find a Chiropractor who fits your needs and will work with your other health professionals to keep you feeling and functioning your best.

Episode 32: Three Simple Ways to Improve Your Sleep

If there is one thing that all healthcare practitioners can agree on, it’s that high quality sleep is absolutely critical for good health. If we were as diligent about recharging our cell phone batteries as we are about recharging our body batteries we’d be in great shape! Check out today’s episode for some ideas on how to improve the quality of your sleep and your overall health as a result.

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of the Adjust Your Life 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!

Episode 31: Should You Try Fasting? Here’s Why I Love It

Fasting is known to be a healing intervention for a number of chronic and degenerative health challenges, but it also has tremendous benefits when you are healthy and well and want to stay that way for a long time. By consistently adding fasting into your life you will support your digestive system, improve the function of your immune system, help your body get back to it’s natural size and shape, and even slow down the aging process.

There is a ton or research and resources about fasting, but the simplest thing for you to understand with fasting is this:

When you limit the energy required for digestion within your body, it frees up energy to focus on healing and repair.

When you do this consistently the effects of this are cumulative!

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of the Adjust Your Life 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!

Don’t Rush It! Why Babies Need to Crawl Before They Walk

So often parents, grandparents, are so excited to see the young ones start taking their first steps, but as a Chiropractor concerned with healthy motor development, I have a simple reminder…let’s not rush this process!

There is a reason for every developmental stage in the human body – the body is not dumb, and there are no mistakes! The body has an amazing innate intelligence that governs and directs all functions in the body, this belief is at the core of chiropractic.

There is a very sequential order to the development of infant motor patterns. There is a reason infants don’t come out and start walking, and why they need to sit before they crawl or stand. We need to respect this process, and not force it. If development not progressing the way it naturally should be, we then need to look for the potential causes, find them, and restore balance so development can continue.

A healthy adult spine has 4 curves, but only two are present at birth: the thoracic (mid back) and sacral (tailbone – which at birth is not actually yet 1 bone but 4 separate pieces until it matures). Curves in the spine are essential because they help us stay flexible and balanced, and help absorb stress through gravity and daily activity. Curves in the spine develop as an adaptation to gravity – and this is a crucial step in how muscles develop the strength necessary for stability. An infant develops the curve in their neck when they begin to lift and support their head, and the curve in their low back when they sit. This happens during the first 6 months. Once infants can sit independently they have gained substantial strength in their torso, and their next step is to start to pull themselves up and develop strength in their hips and legs….this is the natural order, the way the body was designed to mature.

Placing infants in an upright position before they have reached this milestone can lead to instability within the spine and hip joints, and it’s the main reason the majority of Pediatric Chiropractors do not recommend infants be placed in jolly jumpers prior to this developmental stage, if at all. The premature stress they place on the hip joint can lead to problems in the spine and nervous system later in life – many of which we see in our practices and need to correct!

Children grow up far too quickly as it is – be patient with their development, don’t compare them to other children, and let their body do what it does naturally on its own, in its own time.

Holistic Pediatric Care

With my extensive training in pediatrics I have a lot of fun in my practice caring for families, and always love seeing children. If you’re curious as to why I see children and why kids benefit from Chiropractic care, check out these blog posts: here and here.

Just like in adults, there are many lifestyle factors that will affect a child’s expression of health and their response to Chiropractic care. The quality of food they are given (and any intolerances), how much movement and play they are experiencing, their sleeping habits, and any emotional or mental stress they may be experiencing will dramatically affect their health.

I have many conversations had with parents about what else they can be doing to support their child’s health, and I encourage all parents to ask questions and gather information to make informed decisions, and providing information has always been one of the foundations of my practice

In addition to clinical care, there is an extensive lending library in my practice, workshops, an interactive web community, videos, the Adjust Your Life Podcast, and weekly articles for parents. I also have an extensive network of other health professionals and resources within our community with whom I can connect you with to make other changes in your health.

If your child is not experiencing the level of health they deserve, what are you missing? Is there something else that might be supportive to their health that you may have overlooked? Can you speak with your health professional about it? Do you need a referral to someone else to help you find the answers you need?

In my experience, when lifestyle changes are combined with chiropractic care, the transformations are profound. If your child is struggling with a health challenge, reach out! We might be able to offer you some ideas and help get you on the right path to health.
let’s make some changes!

6 Ways to Support Your Immune System

Many people in my practice comment that they seem to get sick less often, and that when they do succumb to cold, flu or infection of some kind, they recover faster.  Chiropractic care is not a treatment for your immune system, it’s simply one of the things you can be doing to keep your body healthy and support your resilience.

Some other tips to support your immune system include:

1) Wash your hands with soap throughout the day. Avoid antibacterial products.

2) Reduce/Minimize/Avoid sugar and processed foods. Load up on antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables.

3) Hydrate! Increase your water intake to continuously flush your system of toxins.

4) Move your body every day with some form of physical activity.

5) Use salt water rinses to flush your nostrils and gargle with it once a day. Salt water will help the proliferation of bacteria.

6) Get plenty of good quality sleep! Sleep is when your body heals and regulates many functions.

Give your body what it needs to function properly, and you’ll be surprised at how well your immune system will perform!

Child with a fever.

Everything You Need To Know About Fevers

As both a Chiropractor and a mother, I have personally seen the benefits of a more natural approach to children’s health, and seen hundreds of children thrive without reliance on pharmaceuticals for everything that ails them. My sons are 13 and 17 years old, and I can  count the number of times I have taken their temperature.

They rarely get sick, but when they do fall ill, I understand the importance of monitoring them, giving them love, fluids and nourishment, and letting their body deal with the bacteria or virus on their own. They have never taken any medication (and yes, that is a fact I am proud of!) and I have certainly never given them any medication to treat a fever. Here’s why:

What is a Fever?

A fever is a raise in the body’s core temperature above:

37.8    If taken orally
37.2    If taken under the arm

Fevers Are Part of a Healthy Immune Response

Fevers are actually one of the body’s first lines of defence against bacteria and viruses.  By raising the temperature inside the body bacteria cannot survive!  The number of circulating white blood cells increases (important immune system fighters), the amount of iron in the blood (which bacteria need to survive) is moved into the liver where it is stored, and many toxins are released through perspiration.

Fevers Are a Good Thing!

They are the sign of a healthy, functioning immune system.  A fever on its own is not a reason for concern.  It’s important to monitor your child for other signs of possible illness (runny nose, tugging at ears, coughing, etc.) before assuming they are sick.  Other factors can also be responsible for an increase in body temperature (i.e.over-dressing, physical activity, heat exposure). When in doubt, seek advice from a health professional.

If Your Child Has a Fever

Watch them for other signs of a possible illness. Ensure they eat nutritious food (unprocessed, low-sugar, unrefined, whole foods), get adequate rest, and increased fluid intake (broth, diluted juice, H2O). If they are breastfeeding increase the frequency of feedings. Give them extra love, comfort, and reassurance their body is strong and working well to help them heal.

Can Chiropractic Care Help?

Yes. Spinal adjustments can provide beneficial support of the immune system, and subsequently, can help reduce a fever since the body is more easily able to process the bacteria or virus within. Fever is no longer needed because the infection subsides.

Can a Fever be Dangerous?

Untreated fevers caused by viral or bacterial infections do not rise inexorably, and will generally not exceed 105 degrees because the body actually has a built-in mechanism to prevent an infection induced fever from reaching 106.  Temperatures that climb to these levels are part of the cycle that normally occurs when the body is trying to fight the infection.  Although 95% of childhood fevers never reach 105, those that do often peak and then start to descend as the body heals.  Only in the cases of externally caused fevers (heatstroke, poisonings, etc) does the body’s inborn mechanism fail, and it is in these cases where fevers can exceed 106 and warrant immediate attention.

When to Visit the Emergency Room

Head to the emergency room if your child has a fever that persists for more than 3 days, develops other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, vomiting repeatedly, muscle twitching or other strange movements; is an infant younger than 2 months of age; cries inconsolably, has a high-pitched or weak cry; is difficult to waken, excessively drowsy, confused or delirious; has been exposed to an environmental toxin or ingested something poisonous; has had a seizure, a stiff neck or has purple spots on their skin; has difficulty breathing and does not feel better once nose is cleared; is acting very sick; or has underlying risk factors for serious infection.

If none of these are present, TRUST the body’s wisdom to use a fever as an adaptive response to restore health. Look to support your child’s health overall with a variety of preventative measures rather than symptom management. The long-term benefits are proven and your child will thank you!

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

Don’t Stress! Your Heart Will Thank You

As a Family Chiropractor I am lucky to see people everyday who choose to invest in their health and are actively making choices to feel and function their best. Something that comes up consistently in conversation with people is stress, and it’s often connected to the changes I observe in their body and the injuries I see.

According to The Heart & Stroke Foundation, “Although stress happens first in the mind, it has strong effects on the body. People who have high levels of stress or prolonged stress have higher cholesterol or blood pressure. They may be more prone to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), a stroke risk factor.”

Emotional and mental stress create tension in your body and affect all body systems, including your muscles and joints! It’s important to regularly check in with yourself, assess your emotional health, and make changes if needed.

These are the 5 tips I suggest often, and ones I implement in my own life:

Let Go

You always have a choice in how you handle any situation and how you let it affect you. Holding negative feelings toward someone doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you! Who are you holding anger towards? What do you need to let go of?

Focus on the Good

What you dwell upon expands. If you focus on what you don’t have, that’s all you will see. Focusing your thoughts on victories instead of defeats will help you develop an attitude of gratitude and a greater sense of self-worth. When you change the way you look at things, often the things you are looking at change.

Be Thankful

The secret to happiness is not found by seeking more, but in developing an appreciation for what we have. A powerful exercise is the use of gratitude journal to reflect on day-to-day success, or simply take a few minutes to think of 5 things you are grateful for in your life. You will be pleasantly surprised how it will shift your mental state.

What’s Your Purpose?

A big question I know, but one that you need to make the time to think about. Are you living your life with purpose, plans and passion? If you could do anything you wanted to, what would it be? It’s never too late to re-design your life and pursue any dream you have. What steps can you take to start moving in that direction? Baby steps still take you forward!

Laugh!

Laughter is “the most inexpensive and most effective wonder drug”. It suppresses the secretion of stress hormones, boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation. Let’s face it – there is nothing like the feeling of a deep belly laugh! Are you laughing enough? Connect with others and share some fun.

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