New Parent Posture!

Are you dealing with ‘new parent posture’? Your new baby arrives in the world, and for the first few months you spend many hours feeding them, rocking them to sleep, and staring down at them lovingly while they are in your arms. Then, after a few weeks of this consistent posture, you find yourself with some pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders. Sound familiar?

I call this “momma posture” but I know many dads that also can relate to this!

Truth is, physically there isn’t much difference between staring down at your phone or laptop and staring down at the newest addition to your family!

The posture is the same, which results in a tremendous amount of strain on the muscles in your neck and the associated vertebra in both your cervical and thoracic spine.  Here are a few tips to help minimize this strain for you:

Switch arms when holding baby. This is good for you and good for them! Your arms will get a rest, and you’ll develop strength in both arms in this position. Your child will also benefit in that their vision, hearing and sense of body position (think brain development) will also get stimulation from both directions.   Carry your baby right from the beginning so that you easily develop strength to hold them as they progressively gain weight. *Read this blog post on why  babies should be in their car seats only when travelling.

Use a variety of slings and carriers. I’m a huge fan of baby-wearing because it’s good for a child’s physical and emotional development, but also because in my experience it can make life as a parent easier! With your child securely attached to you your hands are free to hold the hand of another child, pick up your groceries, fold laundry, work on your laptop, or do anything else! Using different types of carriers minimizes the repetitive strain on your spine and shoulders and will help prevent injuries. When choosing a carrier there is always 1 specific guideline I give all parents watch this video

Stretch your neck and shoulders! When not looking down at your child, think about reversing the position of your neck. Tilt your head forward and back, turn your head side to side, roll your shoulders in circles forward and back, and hold your hands behind your back and open up your chest for a really great stretch. Doing these moves will help break up the repetitive strain on the muscles in your neck, upper arms and shoulders to compensate for forward postures. .

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.

A Wall Of Gratitude

img_2842We’ll celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and are reminded to offer thanks for the ‘bounty’ in our lives; to reflect on the many blessings, and plant seeds for future prosperity.  Every year I encourage people in the practice to share something they are grateful for on our ‘wall of gratitude’ and it’s such a beautiful thing. It becomes so much more than just the act of writing the gratitude note, because when others read all the notes on the wall, they laugh, share a sentiment, and leave with a smile on their face.

Let’s remember that this holiday is not the only time we should be practicing gratitude.  It’s good for your health and something to be done on a daily basis!

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.  My sons and I do this at dinner every night. They aren’t always so eager to comply, but I won’t let them eat until they each share at least 3 things they are grateful for so that usually gets the conversation started!

Before you exit this post, right now, take a couple deep breaths and think of 5 things you are grateful for. Once you start thinking about it, a funny thing happens, often you won’t stop at just 5….

ERM 018 Karla Findlay: Shifting Priorities, Learning To Let Go & Dropping The Overachiever Mindset!

FamKarla works in municipal government, teaches fitness and yoga, and just added entrepreneur to her resume by launching a plant-based meal delivery service highlighting local, organic ingredients.

She lives with her supportive partner and hilarious 3-year-old son, and on this episode we talked about how motherhood has helped her stop trying to be an overachiever, and shift her priorities to the things that are most important in her life.

Karla shared how her struggle with infertility affected her as a women, but that when she was ultimately able to let go of the emotional weight, the experience helped her develop more patience, and learn to just roll with life a little easier.  Karla also talks about being an early riser and taking time to take care of herself, her supportive partner and how they continue to build their relationship, and some of the family rituals that keep them all connected.  Fun episode – check it out!

Get In Your Garden!

Finally the weather is warming up and many people are getting ready to get their hands in the dirt to plant some seedlings, flowers and have some fun in their garden! Working outdoors in your garden and yard is a great form of physical activity, even better if it’s something you are passionate about. However every year people come into the practice because they have inevitably irritated their body or  strained a muscle somehow! To protect your body and avoid injury, consider some of these tips when stepping out to get your garden started this season:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Bend your knees when lifting anything so that you can use the strength of your legs.
  4. Keep yard waste bags close to your body while lifting them. 
  5. 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.  Avoid staying in prolonged postures involving the lower back and neck.

Your best bet for protecting your back? Consider regular 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….which allows you to keep playing in your garden or in any other hobby you enjoy! 

ERM 007 Lia Sonnenburg: Creating Boundaries, Building Confidence & Taking Care of Basic Needs

HeadShot_IMG_0238Dr. Lia Sonnenburg is a Naturopathic Doctor who has practiced in Collingwood for 6 years.  She’s a mother of two active, healthy and hilarious young boys under the age of 5.  She’s passionate about helping people reach their health goals using the ‘physiology prevails over pathology approach’.  By finding the root cause of the problem, the body can then do what it’s supposed to – naturally and faithfully.  Her specialties include pediatrics, oncology, digestion, women’s health and fertility but she ends up running a fairly busy general practice as well.

On this episode she talks about how motherhood has shaped her confidence as a woman, given her tremendous joy, how she juggles running a business with two young children, keeping her marriage healthy, and taking care of herself.  We also discussed some of the tips she gives her female patients, the importance of taking care of our basic needs, and how to create boundaries in your life for people’s opinions about how you raise your family.

Lia is a warm woman with lots of wisdom, you’ll hear it in her voice. Check out this episode!

ERM 005 Dr. Ali Miller: Being a Role Model for Girls, Peak Performance Strategies & Thriving in Chaos

aliDr. Ali Miller is a fifteen year chiropractic professional with a strong affinity for women’s and children’s health and family wellness. Dr. Ali leads a balanced chiropractic lifestyle incorporating exercise, clean eating and meditation. It is her mission to raise the level of health in her community and she thrives on sharing information and inspiring change. Dr. Ali and her rockstar husband Adam live in Bolton with their three well-adjusted daughters Riley, Bailey and Zoe. They are her everything.

On this episode we talked about how she balances her practice and the lives of her 3 girls, how she has kept her 22 year relationship with her husband strong, and the importance of taking care of herself and how workouts, connecting with friends,  are keys to making it all work.  She also shares some of her experience in dealing with her own fears as a woman, facing challenges within her family, and how she dealt with them and got through them stronger. I particularly loved how she grounds herself consistently in thinking about what kind of example she wants to set for her daughters, the kinds of experiences she wants to give them to know that they are capable as women and deserving of a great life.

What Is Holistic Care?

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Spinal misalignments called vertebral subluxations cause muscle imbalances, joint irritation, inflammation, and early degeneration. Spinal subluxations alter the healthy mechanical and neurological functions in the body. Subluxations weaken all organ systems, leading to sickness, pain,  and a lesser quality of life. As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I correct spinal subluxations to restore proper motion and function within the body. What causes spinal subluxations?  STRESS! – physical, chemical and mental/emotional.

Adjusting the spine removes the effects of the stress in your body, but I’ve always believed it’s important to look at what is creating it. If we only address the spinal subluxations with adjustments, we might not be addressing the real cause of the problems with your health. 

The lifestyle choices you make (exercise, nutrition, sleep, good relationships, positive thinking, hydration etc.) have a huge impact of the results you will obtain with chiropractic.

The goal of your care in this practice is to help you THRIVE in all aspects of your health, and life.

In addition to clinical care, there is an extensive lending library, workshops, an interactive web community, and weekly articles to take with you.  I produce a television show with Rogers TV, Good Living, Good Health that covers a wide range of topics that pertain to healthy living (watch it on channel 53 or ask to borrow a copy). 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.  

In my experience, when lifestyle changes are combined with chiropractic care, the transformations are profound.  

Entering my 14th year of practice, I continued to be inspired by the healing that I witness, and the increased quality of people’s lives as a result.

Consider learning more, and making other changes to your health to support your chiropractic care.

Ask me when you’re ready, and I’ll help you get started.

The Importance of Play – For Grown Ups!

ID-10042767Recreation 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 young sons also keep ‘play’ in my life because much of our time together is spent doing so! They are a great reminder for me to make time for fun, and to keep my life balanced.

Recently a patient 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 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. Often busy parents prioritize everyone else in their home, and make time for themselves ‘only if you they have time’. I challenge you to rethink this. Taking care of yourself is a gift for everyone in your life! When you feel depleted, tired, unmotivated it’s difficult to take care of your children or give your best at work. Small windows of time to yourself, time to breathe, to focus on something that brings you peace, joy, and reconnects you to YOU is not a luxury, but a proven strategy for improving performance in all facets of our life.

If aches, pains, or other health challenges are stopping you from doing the things you love to do, 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! I have a huge network of doctors and can easily find a suitable referral for them if they don’t live close by.

“The people who live long are those who long to live” ~ Anonymous

Playtime is important! We all need time to re-energize and refocus. Make time for leisure and fun as an active step to improved health and wellbeing. 

Strengthen Your Brain

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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!

More and more neurological research is pointing to the brain’s plasticity, this means that 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 a book

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!

If you are having trouble concentrating, with your memory, are feeling foggy or unbalanced – consider having your spine checked! Misalignments in the upper neck and cranium can disrupt nerve pathways and interfere with circulation to the brain. Chiropractic can help!