Ice Or Heat? What’s Best?

The best answer to this common question is “It depends on your injury”.  

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing response and is actually a positive reaction. With any injury, tissues are damaged, and your body adapts by sending more blood to the injury site. With this increased blood supply, inflammatory cells such as leukocytes and macrophages get to work releasing proteins which clean up and heal the injured site. The area is tender and sore, (which is a reminder for you to be gentle using it!) but your body is effectively trying to repair the damaged area. Keep in mind though, inflammation and pain is your body’s way of telling you to stop and take action. The purpose of inflammation needs to be respected because essentially it is a protective response from the body to prevent you from doing further damage to yourself.

When you apply ice to an injury, the blood vessels constrict, temporarily limiting the blood flow to the injured site. The cold temperature inhibits the pain response, so although ice can often provided some pain relief, it can also delay healing.

When you apply heat to an area, the blood flow increases which can help deliver more oxygen and nutrients to a more chronic problem and support healing. However, for this reason, too much heat can also contribute to further inflammation. Applying heat can help with muscle aches, pains and general stiffness but should never be applied to a new injury or an area that is painful or swollen

So what should you do?

Again, it depends on the injury. If you have a new injury such as a strain or sprain, and you feel you need some pain relief, applying an ice pack is a good option to provide temporary relief (certainly what I recommend more than taking a muscle relaxant or ibuprofen) and it will help the healing process.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose a chemical ice pack, bag of frozen vegetables, ziploc bag with ice cubes in it, and protect your skin by placing clothing or towel between you and the pack
  • 10min on/10min off cycles throughout the day (NOT consistently, your body needs breaks to effectively use the therapeutic benefits. When you apply ice to the injured area you will either feel relief or mild discomfort due to the cold. Often the sensations you feel with icing is pain-tingling-numbness. Once the ice is removed at the 10 minute mark, the area should be numb. The body will then react to re-warm the area with gentle blood flow to supply the tissues with oxygen and nutrients. This reaction will not occur if the ice is left on too long.
  • Ideally ice should be applied as soon as possible after injury, and in cycles for the first 72 hours of acute trauma.

Remember, the body knows best! As far as healing goes it’s best to let inflammation run its course.   This will take time, perhaps even longer than you would like, but ultimately you will be rewarded with improved and more complete recovery.

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.

Play!

IMG_5424Life is for living. Making chiropractic adjustments part of your life is a step towards ensuring you will be able to play without being stopped by problems in your body! 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 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!

Recently a patient noticed all the silly faces the children in my practice made for their photos on the wall, and she commented that adults seem to lose some of that ability, that so many of us lose our sense of fun because we care too much what others will think. Or perhaps because 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.

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.

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.

The joints in your body must move easily to constantly nourish and cleanse themselves, and exercise is what is needed! All physical activity supports the body, but recreational activities are the perfect way to combine fitness with fun.

This month I challenge you to get out and PLAY more. 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 great Chiropractors we work with and can easily refer them somewhere suitable.

Life needs Motion!

ID-10030974Roger Sperry, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in 1982 for his work in brain research, stated

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

This is Chiropractic 101!

Without movement you could not sustain life. Blood cells that don’t move cannot transport oxygen, lungs that don’t move cannot breath, hearts that don’t move can’t pump blood, and spines that don’t move can’t create the motion needed for proper joint nutrition, proper body mechanics, or stimulation of the joint-brain pathways required for the regulation of hundreds of internal functions your body performs each and every day.

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

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

Fall Yard Work – Tips to Avoid Injury

ID-100198746Working outdoors in your garden and yard is a great form of physical activity, even better if it’s something you are passionate about. The fresh air and sunshine boost your immune system, and often support feelings of happiness and wellbeing.

This fall while cleaning up your yard, consider these tips to protect your body and avoid injury:

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. Bend your knees when lifting anything so that you can use the strength of your legs. Keep yard waste bags close to your body while lifting them.

3) 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, take breaks when necessary, and ask for help with heavy items.

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

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 – optimizing your ability to feel and function your best!

Kids Have Spines Too!

CIMG0902I love seeing children in the practice. Their energy is contagious and they are so much fun to be around. Many people are still surprised when they see me adjusting children…here’s some of the most commone questions I hear:

 

Why do so many parents choose to bring their children to Chiropractors?

To help them grow strong and healthy! Spinal misaligments (subluxations) begin early in life, and the sooner they are corrected, the better the body is able to recover and heal. Whether in an adult or in a child, subluxations cause joint damage, inflammation, reduced mobility and structural imbalance. More importantly, subluxations impair nerve system function, affect the ability to adapt to stress, and inhibit normal body function.

Parents seek Chiropractors for their children to help them recover from an illness, develop proper motor skills, support their brain development, and offer relief for many ailments.

Is it safe? How are children adjusted?

Clinical experience shows that chiropractic spinal adjustments are very safe and comfortable, even for newborns. Chiropractic examinations and adjustive techniques are modified to fit a child’s size, weight, and unique spinal condition. They are both gentle and specific to the child’s developing structures, and parents often comment about how much their children enjoy their adjustments and look forward to visits. The best part about chiropractic care? Unlike over –the-counter prescription remedies and other drugs, chiropractc simply helps the body heal itself…no side effects, just good effects!

Does is Work?

A study compared the level of health of children raised under chiropractic care and mainstream medicine. The results revealed that:

– Nearly 43% of the medical children suffered from tonsillitis, compared to less than 27% of the chiropractic children

– The chiropractic children showed lower antibiotic use and a lower incidence of disease, especially ear infections. If this group of children did became sick, it was reported that the illness was mild compared to those exhibited by their classmates.

A pilot study was undertaken to determine if a relationship existed between the incidence of childhood diseases and the intensity of chiropractic care. “Intensive” chiropractic care (i.e. more than seven visits per year, for more than one year, according to categories defined in the study) increased resistance to common childhood diseases.

Proper Spinal Care is Essential to Your Child’s Health.    

Now more than ever before, parents are searching for proactive lifestyle habits that will nurture their child’s health. Your child may not be sick, but their spine may be developing with spinal subluxations. Consider chiropractic as a natural, safe, preventive strategy to support healthy growth and development.