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. .

Barefoot is Best!

ID-10033840 2It’s that time of year again…when I’m kicking off my shoes and adjusting barefoot as much as possible! Many health experts agree that bare is the healthiest state for your feet to be in, because most shoes have no relation at all to the natural shape of the human foot.  

What are the benefits of being barefoot?

– 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 gait, free of weight brought on by shoes

– prevention of blisters, ingrown toenails, and plantar warts

– better posture & spinal health!

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.

Children who are encouraged to walk barefoot typically have:

– fewer instances of deformed toes

– greater foot flexibility

– greater ability to spread the toes

– denser muscles on the bottom of the feet

– greater agility than those who had never gone barefoot

– better hip rotation and more flexibility of leg muscles

– greater balance

– better posture, spinal balance and overall nerve system function

Less Stress & Improved Brain Function

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.

In addition, there is also evidence that the natural motion of being barefoot positively affects brain function!

Other than the spine, the foot is the region of the body which contains the most proprioceptive sensory receptors. These are the distinctive nerve circuits that help your brain know where your body is in relation to the space around you.   The natural unrestricted movement of the feet stimulates all these receptors, and is vital for overall neurological health!

So don’t be alarmed if you see me walking around barefoot. I love shoes, but barefoot is best!

Poor Posture = Poor Health

ID-10083067People often note their posture is better when they start to get adjusted….of course it is!

Posture is the window to spinal health, as chiropractors we can easily evaluate it, but so can many of you! Find a friend and do this quick check:

Looking at them from behind, the head should be level (with both ears at the same height) shoulders should be level, and your hips should be level. Looking from the side, we want to see straight line from the ear through the shoulder, hip, knee and down to the ankle. This is how the body was designed for maximum function, to be most efficient, and for every joint to work the way it was designed to.

Any changes to healthy alignment compromises the body in every possible way. Structure dictates function. Vertebrae protect the spinal cord, which means changes in the alignment of  vertebrae affects the healthy function of your spinal cord, which then affects every cell in your body.

Poor posture = Poor health = Poor quality of life

Good posture is not something you are either blessed with at birth, or not…in fact, you’re not even born with it at all! Infants develop the curve in their neck when they start to hold their head up, and the curve in the back develops when they start to sit (yes, this is one of the reasons all infants benefit from a Chiropractor monitoring their health). As life goes on, we experience slips and falls, sports injuries, car accidents, repetitive strains that cause the vertebrae in your spine to shift out of alignment (subluxation). When left uncorrected, spinal subluxations lead to changes in posture as the spine starts to compensate.

Chiropractors adjust the spinal subluxations to restore proper motion into the joints, and proper neurological function to every other cell and organ.  Posture naturally improves as healthy movement is restored to the body. You don’t need to consciously think about it or hold your body differently, your posture gets better on its own! How great is this? As your spine is restored to its natural state, the muscles develop new movement patterns and your brain develops a new awareness about where to hold you. With healthy posture you will have more flexibility and joint movement and less pain. You’ll breathe easier, think more clearly, sleep more soundly, and recover from illness faster. Your overall health will improve in many profound ways.

Sit up straight, pull your shoulders back…and book your chiropractic spinal check-up!

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.

Sit Well! Or Not at All…

Your body was designed to move! However, due to workplaces and lifestyles the average person sits 6-7 hours per day. Prolonged sitting can be tough on your spine and other joints.

Keep these considerations in mind:

  • Maintaining the lumbar curve helps maintain the thoracic and cervical curves. Aim to have your feet firmly resting on the floor with knees bent at 90-100 degrees. Adjust your chair if possible, or place something under your feet. Better yet, consider sitting on a stability ball instead! (Check out the video and hear me explain why this is a better choice for you). Some people have even modified their workspaces to allow them to stand while working on a computer or writing. Take a look at your work station and what improvements can be made. Get creative!
  • The average head weighs 10-15 lbs. Improper sitting posture pushes the head forward, which places severe stress on the muscles, ligaments and vertebrae of the upper neck. 73% of people who sit on the job suffer from headaches due to poor posture. A loss of the normal cervical curve can stretch the spinal cord by 5-7 cm! This leads to many unwanted affects in your whole body. It’s not uncommon for vertebral misalignments in the upper neck to create symptoms such as dizziness, allergies, migraines, chronic fatigue, sinus congestion, emotional stress, and pain or tingling in the arms, hands, and shoulders. Take visual breaks every 10 minutes from your computer screen, and breaks from sitting every hour.

Break Time!

Whether you are at home or office, try these 2 minute stretches:

1) Lying on your back, bring your knees to your chest and hold for 4 seconds.

2) Lying on you back, bring your knee to the opposite shoulder and hold for 4 seconds. Repeat with other knee to opposite shoulder.

3) Leaning on a chair or table edge perform a cat stretch by arching your back towards the ceiling with your head looking down, rounding your back. Hold for count of 10.

4) Interlock your hands behind your lower back, stretch your shoulders backwards and point your nose to the ceiling while pushing your hands towards the floor. Hold for a count of 10.

5) Roll your shoulders backwards, then forwards, doing 10-20 rotations each way.

6) Interlock your fingers and push your hands in front of you and away from your body. Hold for a count of 10.

7) Roll your neck right then left, repeating several times both directions. On your last turn to the right hold the position for a count of 10. Repeat with other side.

8) Perform circular motions with your wrists for 60 seconds.

9) Point and flex your feet, alternating each side. Roll your ankles around in a clockwise direction for a count of 10, then change direction.

Barefoot Bliss!

It all started innocently enough a few summers ago. In the practice one afternoon, my shoes hurt, 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 as per most products, concepts,  new trends or fads….I experimented on myself, and did a bit of research before being ready to share my thoughts.

I am not a runner, but I have heard about barefoot running.  I believe strongly in the importance of children being barefoot, particularly in their toddler years when just learning to walk.

I asked some colleagues and was not surprised to find that many of them also adjust barefoot – the simple answer when I asked why? its more natural and the way we were designed! I was also surprised to learn so many people I adjust prefer being barefoot, finding it more comfortable.

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.

Children who are encouraged to walk barefoot typically have:

– fewer instances of deformed toe

– greater foot flexibility

– greater ability to spread the toes

– denser muscles on the bottom of the feet

– greater agility than those who had never gone barefoot

– better hip rotation and more flexibility of leg muscles

– greater balance

– better posture, spinal balance and overall nerve system function

What are the benefits for you?

– 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.  Given this abundance of sensory information, the natural unrestricted movement of the feet is vital for overall neurological health!

I have happily embraced being barefoot as much as possible. Even though I do love shoes, I find myself wearing them more because I need to, not because I want to…and I kick them off as soon as I can.