Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sleep, Baby, Sleep!
Everyone knows there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep for feeling refreshed and alert in the morning. On the other hand, not getting the six to eight hours of sleep that you need may leave you feeling grumpy and tired all day. But here’s something you may not know: You have far more control over the quality of your sleep than you think.

Choose a good mattress
Your mattress should be flexible enough to adapt to your body’s shape, but firm enough to support your spine. If you share your bed, look for one that provides independent support for each sleeper.

Test your pillow
Your pillow should help keep your head and neck in line with your spine. Try out a variety of pillows in the store to find the one that feels comfortable and works best for you. Different types include memory foam, fibre, feather and buckwheat.

Don’t sleep on your stomach
Canada’s chiropractors recommend sleeping on your back or side. These positions allow your head, neck and spine to relax into their natural alignment. This reduces stress and strain on your muscles and joints that can disrupt your sleep and lead to aches in the morning.

Low Back Pain?
If you have low back pain and sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees to take some of the pressure off your back. Side-sleepers should put a pillow between their knees for support.

Get to bed on time
Try to go to bed at the same time every night – even on weekends – to keep your sleep cycle in a regular rhythm. Avoid naps, but if you must, limit naps to less than 30 minutes, and be sure to have your siesta before 3p.m.

Help your body wind down
Avoid caffeinated beverages, heavy meals, alcohol and vigorous exercise within two hours of bedtime – they can all disrupt sleep.

Bedtime rituals act as relaxation cues
Some people like a hot shower before bed while others like to listen to relaxing music, watch TV or read. These cues let your body know it’s time to prepare for sleep.

Light up your life!
In the morning, open the curtains or blinds soon after you wake up. Bright light helps to regulate your natural biological clock.

Still having a sleepless night?If you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes of tossing and turning, get up and do something boring in dim light until you feel sleepy. Try not to look at the clock – it may only make you feel anxious.

Sleep is an important aspect of your overall health – both your body and mind rest and refresh while sleeping. If you have continued difficulty getting a good night’s rest, consult a health professional such as a chiropractor who can help identify the problem and find solutions.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Stress Relievers


We’ve all experienced stress while trying to balance our personal and professional lives. Not having enough hours in the day to manage conflicting priorities causes us to go into overdrive, leading to stress.

The best way to relieve stress is by managing stress – it’s important to your health. You can reduce stress by learning to control your responses to everyday situations. Here are some tips to help you say goodbye to stress:

The old saying is true – attitude is everything! We invest a lot of time and energy into tackling everyday situations with uncertain outcomes. The best way to approach these situations is by creating manageable expectations, prioritizing and having a positive attitude which will make your decision-making less stressful.

Just breathe!
Does your body tense up in challenging situations? If this happens to you, take a deep breath and concentrate on a nice, long exhale. You’ll instantly feel more alert, focused and rejuvenated. Stressed shallow breathing only uses the upper portion of the lungs, so remember to breathe from the diaphragm and concentrate on exhaling.

Drink water!
Quench your thirst with water. Research has shown that we think better when hydrated.

Fuel up!
Eating healthily is important to maintaining a balanced diet. Avoid skipping meals and eating on-the-go, or while at your desk, so that you’ll digest your food better. Choose high-protein snacks which will take longer to digest and will help sustain your energy level throughout the day.

Keep moving!
Regular exercise helps the body cope with stress…so keep it moving! Go for a walk, jog, run or swim. Stretch before and after.

Stress and worries sometimes prevent us from getting enough shut-eye. Remember, the body needs at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night to restore itself. Our ability to handle stress is improved when we’re well-rested.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Finding the Perfect Backpack

Strapping on a backpack is part of a student's daily ritual but choosing the one right for your son or daughter takes some careful consideration and possibly even some negotiation.
"It's a challenge because you want to find something your kid is going to like but you also want something that's functional and will last the school year," says Canadian Chiropractic Association spokesperson Dr. Annette Bourdon of Montreal, Que. "You want a backpack that's well designed so it's not going to injure them."

Finding the perfect fit
Ensuring the backpack is proportional to your child's height and weight should be your top priority. It should be about the same width as the child's back and shoulders. In terms of height, it should sit between the top of the shoulders and the top of the hips.
Once loaded, the lowest part of the backpack should never hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. Make sure your child wears both shoulder straps and ensure they're properly adjusted so they're snug but not too tight, which causes the backpack to be worn too high, Bourdon says.
Look for pockets
Choose a backpack with several pockets rather than one large compartment. A divider allows your child to place heavier items -- such as binders, textbooks and a laptop -- closer to the body and supporting back muscles. "Pockets help organize content and distribute weight evenly," says Bourdon.
Remember, bigger is not necessarily better
"The bigger the purse, suitcase or backpack, the more stuff we put in it," Bourdon says. "Kids are carrying tablets, iPads, laptops and MP3 players -- items that are as heavy as and sometimes even heavier than a textbook."
Potential health risks
"Wearing a backpack that's too heavy and/or poorly adjusted can lead to poor posture, neck pain, headaches, mid and/or lower back pain, muscle strain, inflammation and even nerve damage," Bourdon says. "Wearing a backpack on one shoulder or too high or too low can lead to curvature of the spine, known as scoliosis, and contribute further to bad posture."
Posture is important, agrees Canadian Physiotherapy Association spokesperson Shelly Malcolm Beazley, a physiotherapist with Cove Sport Therapy in Dartmouth, N.S. "We often think about back problems with backpacks but neck problems are relatively common too," she says.
"The use of technology -- laptops, iPods and other electronics -- causes kids to get into a head forward posture and a backpack can do that same thing, which is tough on the neck and shoulders."
Backpack basics
Ask your children if their backpacks are comfortable. Malcom Beazley recommends working with teachers to ensure children aren't transporting items they don't need every day. "Limit the amount of time they spend carrying their backpack," she says. "If they're at a bus stop, for example, encourage them to set it on the ground while waiting for the bus to arrive."
Before embarking on your quest for the perfect backpack, be prepared to compromise, especially with younger children sure to care only about whether a backpack features their favourite TV or movie character. "Choose a lunch bag with their favourite character instead of a poorly designed backpack," says Bourdon.
Backpack health tips
Choosing it: Select a backpack made of lightweight material with two wide, adjustable shoulder straps, a waist belt, several individual pockets and a padded back. It should be proportionate to the child's body size.
Packing it: The load in a backpack should not exceed 10% of an elementary student's body weight and 15% of a high school student's weight.
Lifting it: A child should place their backpack on a table or chair, bend at the knees and lift with the legs while putting on one shoulder strap at a time.

-- Ontario Chiropractic Association
Finding the perfect backpack | Life | Toronto Sun

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Compatible care
Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization is changing the way clinicians view treatment of chronic and sub-acute soft tissue injuries

By Scott Huelskamp

It is estimated that more than 30,000 chiropractors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, hand therapists, and athletic trainers have integrated instrument-assisted technology into their treatment and rehabilitation protocols due to its effectiveness and efficiency.

The use of manual therapy has long been a staple of those who understand the value of treating the tissue in addition to the adjustment. They follow the kinetic chain to locate the cause of an injury, and do not just treat the source of the pain. But the use of an instrument — versus the use of hands only — was something many had trouble “getting their arms around.”

Ted Forcum, DC, DACBSP, a private practitioner in Beaverton, Ore., remembers the day he was asked to take an instrument-assisted treatment seminar and he begrudgingly completed the initial course. “I didn’t feel a strong need to learn anything with an instrument. I felt confident in my own ability to use my hands,” he says.

An eye-opening experience
At the time, Forcum was working for the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) and decided to apply instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) with a golfer who was having difficulty restoring range of motion. Other clinicians had tried various other methods with him to no avail. Yet, after only one IASTM treatment, the golfer improved his range of motion by 30 percent, Forcum says.

I thought that if it worked in this one case in one session, imagine what else it could do if I worked on perfecting the treatment,” Forcum says.

Forcum, who has been exposed to numerous instrument-assisted systems, uses Graston Technique (GT) clinically. He also is an instructor for GT.

Graston Technique pioneered instrument-assisted technology in an outpatient facility in 1994. Research was initiated early in the 1990s at Ball State University and Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Ind.

Today, there are about 20 instrument-assisted systems available. The most notable are Graston Technique (which has about 13,000 trained clinicians), ASTYM, and SASTM. Neither ASYTM nor SASTM publish their number of users. Of the systems available to professionals, only two, Graston Technique and ASTYM, require professional education prior to acquiring or using the instruments.

The availability of continuing education (CE) credits typically interests healthcare professionals; however, most IASTM systems do not offer CE across the board, with GT as the exception. ASTYM does not train chiropractors, and SASTM, like most other IASTM systems, does not offer CEU for all professions.

Colleges embrace IASTM
GT is used in more than 1,400 outpatient facilities and 34 industrial sites by more than 200 professional and amateur sports organizations. It is also part of the curriculum at 51 colleges and universities, including 16 chiropractic colleges.

Clinicians can use GT as an adjunct to treat pain in the neck, lower back, hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, and wrists. The technique can also address conditions such as cervical and lumbar sprains and strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, lateral and medial epicondylosis, rotator cuff tendinosis, Achilles tendinosis, plantar fasciitis, and patellofemoral disorders. It has even been used with post-surgical breast cancer survivors to break up scar tissue around the chest and shoulders.

For clinicians, it can improve diagnostic treatment, detect major and minor fibrotic changes, and reduce manual stress. For patients, it decreases overall treatment time, fosters faster rehab and recovery, and can resolve chronic conditions thought to be permanent.

Instruments reduce physical stress
Sheila Wilson, DC, ICSSD, is a certified chiropractic sports physician in Indianapolis. She treats professional, amateur, and recreational athletes, and started using IASTM in her sports medicine practice 10 years ago after she began suffering from medial epicondylitis from excessive use of her hands during manual therapy.

“I was treated with the Graston Technique by a mentor of mine and it worked so well that I knew it was something I needed to add to my practice. The benefit then became two-fold because, after I started using IASTM in my practice, I stopped having the physical strain that the hands-on manual therapy alone was causing,” Wilson says.

In many cases, it’s difficult to get deeper into the tissue with just finger palpation to create a more refined treatment.

“It has allowed me to treat a lot faster and in greater depth in the kinetic chain,” Forcum says. “Before, with my hands, I could only work isolated areas. IASTM allows me to cover ground quickly as both an evaluation tool and a treatment tool. You can find problem areas that you can’t find with your hands alone.”

As a key component of his practice, Forcum uses IASTM in combination with electric stimulation treatments, ultrasound, laser therapy, and elastic therapeutic taping. He applies the techniques primarily on fascial planes and sheaths to prompt stimulation to help the healing cycle.

Hundreds of athletes at all levels have already benefited from Forcum’s expertise. He was a staff chiropractor for the PGA and the Champions Tour, and was on the medical staff for the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2007 Pan American Games and 2008 Summer Olympics.

The American Chiropractic Association Council on Sports and Physical Fitness has honored Forcum as Sports Chiropractor of the Year three times. He is the team chiropractor for the Portland Timbers soccer club and the Portland Winterhawks hockey team. In addition, he has worked as an event physician and as the medical director for numerous national sporting events.

Old injuries respond
One of Forcum’s more memorable cases involved a woman who had developed a hematoma after a horse stepped on her. With the passage of time, the old injury had solidified and scarred over, leaving three silver dollar-sized outcrop- pings on her hip. Although previous treatment methods had failed to reduce or eliminate the cosmetic issue, the problem disappeared after two IASTM sessions. “I have been impressed with a lot of responses, but I wasn’t expecting big results with that case,” Forcum says.

Wilson has experienced similar impressive results. Several patients with long-term symptoms who have tried numerous therapies without result have responded to IASTM. For example: One of Wilson’s recent patients presented with anterior leg pain that kept him from running for two months. One treatment of IASTM resolved his problem. Wilson too is a GT instructor.

“I’ve treated several patients successfully with histories of plantar fascial pain from several months up to two years for whom IASTM was their last hope,” Wilson says. “I had a young patient who was scheduled for a second surgery on her Achilles because of scar tissue and with IASTM treatment the scar tissue was released and the surgery was cancelled, allowing her to have a normal summer without being on crutches [along with] the ability to play fall sports.”

Wilson is past president of the ACA Council on Sports Injuries and Physical Fitness and president of the Federation Internationale de Chiropratique du Sport. She is team physician for the Indiana Invaders track and field team, sports committee chair for the Indiana State Chiropractic Association, and is editor of the Sports Talk Newsletter.

In tandem with adjustments
“When a chiropractic adjustment is also needed in treatment, it is much easier following IASTM and the results last longer,” Wilson says.

After using IASTM, clinicians should stretch and strengthen the area as part of an overall treatment protocol, which contributes to tissue healing. It’s common to experience minor discomfort during the procedure and some bruising can occur afterward — both normal responses and part of healing.

The results are part of the reward, Forcum says. For highly competitive athletes, he considers IASTM a form of “performance care,” which gives him the opportunity to investigate areas where athletes may notice restrictions or range of motion limitations during workouts. With these elite performers, a mere 2-percent change in performance can mean the difference between finishing in first place or sixth.

“It’s nice to be part of something that’s a little bigger than you,” Forcum says. “You feel like you’re part of the team and contributing to an athlete’s individual success.”

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

9 Ways to Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels
Dr. Mercola

Story at-a-glance                      
  • Beginning around age 30, a man’s testosterone levels begin to decline, and continue to do so as he ages, leading to symptoms such as decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulties with concentration and memory
  • Dietary and exercise changes, particularly limiting sugar/fructose, eating healthy saturated fats and engaging in high-intensity exercises and strength training, can be very effective at boosting testosterone levels naturally
  • Other strategies to boost testosterone include optimizing your vitamin D levels and reducing stress

9 Body Hacks to Naturally Increase Testosterone

1.  Lose Weight - If you're overweight, shedding the excess pounds may increase your testosterone levels, according to research presented at the Endocrine Society's 2012 meeting. Overweight men are more likely to have low testosterone levels to begin with, so this is an important trick to increase your body's testosterone production when you need it most.

2.  High-Intensity Exercise like Peak Fitness (Especially combined with Intermittent Fasting) - Short intense exercise has a proven positive effect on increasing testosterone levels and preventing its decline. That's unlike aerobics or prolonged moderate exercise, which have shown to have negative or no effect on testosterone levels. Intermittent fasting boosts testosterone by increasing the expression of satiety hormones including insulin, leptin, adiponectin, and more.

3.  Consume Plenty of Zinc - The mineral zinc is important for testosterone production, and supplementing your diet for as little as six weeks has been shown to cause a marked improvement in testosterone among men with low levels. Likewise, research has shown that restricting dietary sources of zinc leads to a significant decrease in testosterone, while zinc supplementation increases it -- and even protects men from exercised-induced reductions in testosterone levels.

4.  Strength Training - Strength training is also known to boost testosterone levels, provided you are doing so intensely enough. When strength training to boost testosterone, you'll want to increase the weight and lower your number of reps. You can "turbo-charge" your weight training by going slower. By slowing down your movement, you're actually turning it into a high-intensity exercise.

5.  Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels - Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido.

6.  Reduce Stress - When you're under a lot of stress, your body releases high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone actually blocks the effects of testosterone, presumably because, from a biological standpoint, testosterone-associated behaviors (mating, competing, aggression) may have lowered your chances of survival in an emergency (hence, the "fight or flight" response is dominant, courtesy of cortisol).

7.  Limit or Eliminate Sugar from Your Diet - Testosterone levels decrease after you eat sugar, which is likely because the sugar leads to a high insulin level, another factor leading to low testosterone. Based on USDA estimates, the average American consumes 12 teaspoons of sugar a day, which equates to about TWO TONS of sugar during a lifetime.

8.  Eat Healthy Fats - By healthy, this means not only mono- and polyunsaturated fats, like that found in avocadoes and nuts, but also saturated, as these are essential for building testosterone. Research shows that a diet with less than 40 percent of energy as fat (and that mainly from animal sources, i.e. saturated) lead to a decrease in testosterone levels.

9.  Boost Your Intake of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) from Foods Like Whey Protein - Research suggests that BCAAs result in higher testosterone levels, particularly when taken in conjunction with resistance training. While BCAAs are available in supplement form, you'll find the highest concentrations of BCAAs like leucine in dairy products — especially quality cheeses and whey protein.

Click here to read the full article:
9 Ways to Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels