Tips For Shoveling Snow

ID-100128966Snow season often means I will see a very consistent pattern within people’s spines, and it’s no surprise when you consider that an average shovelful of snow weighs 5 to 7 pounds! Take this load and repeat it over and over to clear a walkway or driveway, and you’ll quickly realize how much weight is lifted in one session of snow clearing — on average, several hundred pounds!

Shoveling snow can be a pain in more ways than one…. Keep these tips in mind to prevent hurting yourself while dealing with the snow on your property:

• Don’t let the snow pile up: If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shoveling will allow you to move smaller amounts of snow each time. This approach is far less strenuous in the long run.

• Pick the right shovel: Use a lightweight pusher-type shovel.

• Push, don’t throw: Always push the snow to the side rather than throw it. That way you avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow, and sudden twisting or turning movements.

• Bend your knees: As with any heavy object, you need to use your knees, and leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting, while keeping your back straight.

• Take a break: If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Shake out your arms and legs. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest pain or back pain. If you have back pain that is severe or that persists for more than a day after shoveling, call me rather than ‘waiting for it to go away’. If you have chest pain that is severe, see a doctor immediately.

• As always, keep your regular chiropractic adjustment schedule to maximize your spine’s ability to move the way it was designed to!

It Changed My Life

2014-10-11 042I was studying Kinesiology at McMaster University when I experienced a shoulder injury. As it worsened and I developed numbness and tingling in my hand, my mother suggested I see a Chiropractor. While sitting with my Chiropractor during the consultation, she joked with me that with my extensive knowledge in anatomy and physiology, I should consider studying at the Chiropractic College in Toronto. It was a moment that defined the rest of my life. I don’t know what prompted my reply, but for some reason I responded with “Sure I’ll apply!”  Something inside me said ‘this makes sense’.

With chiropractic care my shoulder injury healed quickly, but the effects on the rest of my body were profound. I stopped getting sick!

Although I was intensely involved in health and fitness, my life experiences had led me to believe that illness and living with aches and pains was just part of life. The routine use of antibiotics or medications to respond to health challenges was to be expected, and simply the way our health was managed. I believed the body was meant to break down, and the combination of genetics and luck were the determinants to the level of health we experienced.

Fortunately, Chiropractic care changed not only my entire health, but more importantly, it changed my entire perspective on health. My studies led me to understand the human body in a completely different way, and discover that the human body is in fact a brilliant machine that just needs the right environment to function properly. Giving our bodies what it needs physically and emotionally shapes our internal ‘environment’, and when we do so, we can heal.

I now enjoy an exceptional level of health. I have not taken a medication in over 15 years, have had 2 beautiful pregnancies and natural deliveries, and continue to feel and function well. This doesn’t mean that my health has not been challenged at times, or that I am superhuman! I need to take care of myself the same ways I encourage others to, and during times of transition or stress I too can get overburdened and worn down. The difference lies in my recovery, the choices I make to support myself, and the fact that I have a great team of health professionals to support me along the way.

I see my Chiropractor for spinal checkups weekly, every other week, or sometimes multiple times per week, depending on the level of mental and physical demands on my body.

My experience with chiropractic continues to dramatically shape how I support my own body, my children’s, and what I am able to recommend to others. It’s a philosophy that just makes sense to me. More than just a ‘treatment’, Chiropractic represents a distinct philosophy and approach to health: Health comes from within the body, not from things outside the body. Look to the cause of health challenges rather than just patch them up, and support the body to work the way it was designed to.

Coughs, Colds & Congestion

69443tegi1jeqhsMany times when people in the practice are dealing with colds, coughs, sore throats, or congestion they want to stay home, but you’ll often hear me encourage them to come get adjusted and stress the importance of it during illness.

If germs were the only factor that made us sick…we would all be in serious trouble, but a healthy body is dealing with germs everyday and does not become ill. Sure some bacteria or viruses are more threatening than others, but in general when we become ill it’s because our body’s ability to cope with the demand on our immune system has failed.

Congestion, coughing, sneezing, fevers, and a runny nose are all signs the body is effectively creating an immune response to help the body eradicate the bacteria or virus causing the infection. This is a good thing and not to be suppressed! Medications to make you feel better offer temporary relief, but often create other imbalances in the body that can affect your long-term health.

As per any ailment, my recommendations are always to support the body as best as you can and strategize to boost the immune system, and Chiropractic care is a huge contributor to a healthy immune system!

Chiropractic works: A study by a neurologist found that 92% of children with chronic tonsillitis had upper cervical misalignments, and after studying 76 children with chronic tonsillitis it was concluded that “tonsillitis goes hand in hand with movement restriction in the cranio-cervical skull and neck junction”

If you’re sick and suffering make a spinal check-up high on your priority list. In addition to increasing fluids, sleep, and nutritional support, your body will likely recover without any other intervention and give your body better health moving forward.

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

Opposition From Others?

portraitsSadly, sometimes people share with me that as they become healthier, feel better, maybe even get more fit or lose weight, they are met with unwelcome comments and even criticism from others.

I get it.

Even with the growing awareness, research and success with Chiropractic care, there are still people who challenge our effectiveness and value. In my 12 years of practice this attitude hasn’t really changed, but it affects me less because what continues to grow is my own certainty about what we do, and the impact Chiropractors make on people’s lives because of the healing I get to witness every single day.

“Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds.” ~ Albert Einstein

Changing your level of health creates a huge positive impact in your life. It’s inevitable that a few obstacles may present themselves along the way, and these obstacles may come in the form of other people’s attitudes.

Competitors or others who may be jealous will try and bring you down. Family or friends around you will try to discourage you. You’ll hear comments that may make you question your own beliefs.

As your commitment to yourself and your health grows, it might change relationships with friends, partners, and even your family members.

Those who are the most frightened of change, holding on tightly to old habits, may become the loudest critics. Some may become jealous of your new levels of energy, your accomplishments, your appearance, and your physical abilities.

Criticism is often a coping mechanism of individuals afraid to grow, a defensive reaction that scared people use to protect themselves against change.

My advice? Be great anyway.

Honor yourself and your commitment to improvement. Fill yourself up with sense of fulfillment and happiness, choosing to spend your time, money and energy towards bettering yourself, and lead by example. The only thing you can take responsibility for is your own health and your own attitude, so focus your intentions on building a better you and let everyone else watch, and learn!

Gratitude & Your Health

ID-100204763With Canadian Thanksgiving and the fall harvest,  we are reminded to offer thanks for the ‘bounty’ in our lives; to reflect on the many blessings, and plant seeds for future abundance. Symbolic and beautiful….but let’s remember that this holiday is not the only time we should be practicing gratitude! Rather, it’s an important part of a healthy lifestyle!

Research shows the feelings associated with gratitude, appreciation, love and caring enhance health. When you find one thing, however small, to be thankful for and hold that feeling for as little as 15-20 seconds, many subtle and beneficial physiological changes take place inside you:

~ Levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin decrease, supporting many organ systems and boosting your immune system

~ Coronary arteries relax, increasing the blood supply to your heart. Heart rhythms become more harmonious, affecting other organs and lifting your mood

~ Breathing becomes deeper, increasing the oxygen level of your tissues

People who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy when compared to those who do not.

“A Man becomes what he thinks about all day long.”~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

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.

Make gratitude part of your life by adopting more thankful thoughts or making the time to write them down. 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.

Regardless of your current level of health, finances, or relationships, and what you may perceive as limitations to them…thinking, moping or complaining about them is not going to change anything! Find some small things to be happy about, and chances are your list will continue. Changing your thoughts will change your experiences, and this will change your life…

Before you exit this post, right now, take a couple deep breaths and think of 5 things you are grateful for…I’ll bet you can’t stop at 5!

Everything Is Better!

ID-10083065Chiropractic is not just for sick people.

When I meet people and they learn I am a Chiropractor itʼs common for their next comment to be “Iʼm lucky, I donʼt have back pain”. Needless to say, this puts a smirk on my face, and an interesting conversation starts…

Chiropractic is not a treatment for any ailment, but a way to allow the body to function the way it was designed to. From balancing your structure and providing relief for so many joint problems, to the powerful healing of countless health issues inside the body, Chiropractic works because every adjustment gives your body the opportunity to function without interference to the most powerful coordinating system ever known – the brain and spinal cord.

Every adjustment reconnects the brain and body. Itʼs why headaches stop, digestion improves, previously immobile children start to walk, and why skin rashes clear up.

Itʼs for these reasons that more people than ever are choosing Chiropractic care not just to feel better or ʻrelieve back painʼ but to function better in every aspect of their life.

Chiropractic care isnʼt just for the sick, suffering or wounded, itʼs for people who want to be their best….in health, in sports, in moods, in family relations, in energy, in memory and mental ability, in physical dexterity, in coordination, in life!

Fun In The Sun!

ID-10026830My favorite 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 cosmeticsdatabase.com 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 then 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 * Please note I am comfortable handling most minor injuries based on my training but have still made trips to the ER for stitches! If in doubt how to handle an injury or illness, call get in touch with me, contact your medical doctor or head to the emergency room for further advice. There are no pharmaceuticals, harsh chemicals or commercial preparations in my home, period. Any illness, accident or health concern, I can support naturally with some of the items listed here, herbal medicines, foods, fluids or rest! Here’s what I keep on hand for most first aid emergencies:

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

Homeopathic remedies –  taken orally, 5 granules under the tongue. Directions are on on most packages.

Arnica 30c – for bites, bruises, cuts, broken skin, burns, scalds, nosebleeds, stings, sprains, fractures, muscular aches and pains,

Aconite 30c  – 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  – for teething, insomnia, earaches, digestive troubles, anytime they need

Band-Aids, gauze, 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 90% 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. 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, antifungal, antiseptic and antiviral Eucalyptus: antibiotic, analgesic (pain relieving), antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory                                                            Lavender:antiseptic,antibiotic,analgesic,antiviral,antifungal,antidepressant,healing,and sedating

Rib and Chest Pain Relief!

ID-10014148Many times people come into my practice with shortness of breath, pain around their ribcage, sharp pain when they inhale, and restricted movement in their mid-back. Understandably they are often a little stressed and scared  because they worry they could be suffering with  heart trouble.

Yes, the symptoms of rib subluxations can be similar those experienced during a heart attack or other cardio-respiratory concerns, and it’s important to clinically rule those possibilities out before proceeding with Chiropractic care. However, more often than not, what has happened is the joints between the ribs and the thoracic spine have become misaligned, causing pain and irritation to the surrounding tissues.

How Does Chiropractic Work?

Spinal misalignments called vertebral subluxations cause muscle imbalances, joint irritation, inflammation, and early degeneration. Since the spinal joint surround the spinal cord, spinal subluxations also impair healthy neurological function in the body. Spinal subluxations weaken all organ systems, leading to sickness, pain, and a lesser quality of life.  Doctors of Chiropractic correct spinal subluxations to restore proper mechanical and neurological function within the body.

Many people are find relief from rib and chest pain, often almost instantly, when healthy joint movement and function is restored with chiropractic spinal adjustments.

Every part of your body works better with a spine that is moving properly. Instead of relying on medications (with side effects!) help your body heal from the inside-out.

If you are suffering with pain in your rib cage, shortness of breath or restricted movement in your mid back, consider Chiropractic first!

Understanding Fevers

ID-10036546As 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 7 and 11 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, one of the body’s first lines
of defense 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.

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.

Live With a Happy Heart!

ID-10010020Emotional and mental stress create tension in your body and affect all body systems. It’s important to regularly check in with yourself, assess your emotional health, and make changes if needed. Consider the following ideas to develop a happy heart. Take some time to reflect on them, then make the choice to move your life forward so you can live with greater peace. 

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.

Get Adjusted. Structure dictates function. A healthy spine means a body that can function the way it was designed to. Every function improves. Studies have shown people struggling with depression, anxiety, mood swings, and addictions are supported with chiropractic care and symptoms dramatically change. I see it all the time. People routinely remark how they feel calmer, they have more clarity of thought, and their moods are more stable. They feel happier, more in control of their health, better able to develop other positive habits, and more comfortable getting help from other professionals.

“Happiness is not a destination. It is the attitude with which you choose to travel.”

~ Arit Desal, Yogi & Philosopher