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Can You Massage Your Way to a Better Mood?

Often massage is seen as a luxury; an indulgence. It’s regarded as something purely enjoyable, rather than necessary or beneficial to one’s health. Understandably, many of us feel we don’t have the time or resources to prioritize something like massage. It’s therefore reserved for vacations and other special occasions, which contributes to the general association of massage therapy with relaxation and luxury.

Too often people forget that massage therapy is just that: a therapy!

In truth, massage offers a number of benefits, not only physical. In addition to being a wonderful way to improve circulation and combat stress, massage therapy is also an effective treatment for a variety of mood disorders. These include:

Seasonal affective disorder
Post-partum depression
Depression related to hormonal changes
Depression due to a traumatic event
Anxiety and stress

It’s important to note that massage is not a cure for depression, but for many patients it is a viable treatment for associated symptoms. A lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin is a key indicator of depression. Serotonin functions to transmit messages from your nerves to your brain, and to help you experience positive feelings. Massage is known to release serotonin and other “feel-good” endorphins. Simultaneously, massage helps to suppress certain stress hormones. That’s why you often walk come away from a massage feeling like you not only a happier back or neck, but a lighter heart!

In addition to these neurological results, we know that massage helps soothe muscles. It’s a great way to feel a significant reduction in physical tension, which in turn reduces how tense YOU feel! Massage relaxes you, which helps you to feel calmer and more comfortable.

We know that stress can cause a whole host of other damaging behaviours, including a poor diet, inadequate sleep, and repetitive clenching and stiffening of your muscles. It can negatively affect your relationships and performance at work. That’s why therapies that improve your mental and physical health offer a truly holistic chance at betterment.

So why not change the way you view massage? You don’t have to wait for a special occasion – or an opportunity to “treat” yourself – to begin experiencing its rewards. Consider it as a treatment option if you suffer from a mood disorder, or as an investment to improve your physical health. Make an appointment to meet our RMT Shelley Dukharan, who brings over 3 years’ experience to her massage therapy practice at Thrive Health.

You might find that massage becomes an integral part of your routine for optimal wellness!

 

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Chiropractic and the Expectant Mommy

Sore back? Aching knees? Pelvic pain? Chiropractic can help!

We recently came across a fantastic article from Birth Without Fear about why chiropractic is so helpful to women for enjoying an optimal pregnancy and birth. This post makes the important suggestion that women should never feel like they are out of options when suffering from intense pregnancy symptoms. Although certain physical effects of pregnancy are to be expected and tolerated, their severity and frequency can certainly be soothed and managed with the aid of chiropractic.

We appreciated the detail with which Birth Without Fear explained how specific muscle tensions and subluxations can produce negative outcomes and hindrances during pregnancy and birth. Some of the targeted problems for adjustment that were mentioned include:

1. Body imbalances that can produce a misaligned pelvis. Certain subluxations can cause your thoracic spine and lumbar spine to bend in opposite directions. As a result, one side of the pelvis can be raised, which can cause problems when your baby tries to re-position for birth. And, as with many imbalances, an uneven pelvis will cause a pregnant woman to unevenly distribute her weight to different joints and muscles. This can make those pregnancy aches and pains much more aggravated than they would be otherwise.

2. Nerve tension that causes inflammation and stress. When the muscles surrounding your spine get tighter, more stress is put on the nerves along the spinal column. These are important nerves; they exit the spine and lead to many critical organs and glands. If these nerves experience sustained tension and pressure, the stress could potentially lead to degeneration of these other vital body parts.

3. Thoracic, lumbar and sacral nerve pressure that decreases blood flow. When there is excess pressure exerted on your nerves, it can limit blood flow to the kidneys, liver and other vital organs. The article stresses the dangers of compromising the functioning of these organs. One possible result is the leaking of protein into the urine, which is a sign of preeclampsia. Undue pressure can also tighten your uterus, making it difficult to effectively labour and dilate.

Thanks to Birth Without Fear, for this enlightening article that does the important work of detailing why it’s so important to have a chiropractic assessment during pregnancy. Many pregnant women want to do all they can to ensure they have a healthy pregnancy and a delivery that doesn’t stray too far from their birth plan. While some elements of childbirth are certainly unpredictable, one component you can control is the care you give yourself leading up to your due date.

Expectant mothers consider chiropractic and massage as ways to relieve their immediate physical distress such as back pain and poor circulation. They may not know about the many other important benefits of undergoing an adjustment, and the link between chiropractic and an effective, healthy delivery. This connection is very important to us at Thrive Health, as we specialize in young family care. Our resident chiropractor Dr. Jennifer Wise is experienced and uniquely trained through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association to care for women during pregnancy with gentle and specifically tailored chiropractic care.

If you’re expecting, drop in and see what we can do to improve your pre-natal health and comfort. We’d love to meet you!

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Introducing Solid Foods

A recent blog post from ‘An Avocado A Day’ provided a useful starting point for when and how to introduce your baby to solid foods. We liked the author’s mention of how surprisingly emotional the experience of weaning and starting solids was.

A lot of people don’t acknowledge that this can be a sentimental and sometimes emotionally difficult time for moms. Breastfeeding creates a unique bond between mother and child, and while the introduction of solid foods doesn’t mean an end to breastfeeding, it’s an important step in your baby’s development: one that should be treated with care.

Moms who are ready to start introducing solids will benefit from detailed research, a consultation with a doctor or dietician, or joining a group workshop, like the one we hosted in September.

It’s always a good idea to find intelligent articles online however, as a means of doing your preliminary research. This one included some helpful tips that mothers may not be aware of.

Iron is important: When your baby reaches 6 months, you may not realize that her need for iron increases. Start with:

  • Root vegetables: sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and beets
  • Fruit: pear, avocado and ripe banana

Food sensitivities have many symptoms: Pick one food at a time every four days, and keep an eye out for reactions. This doesn’t necessarily just mean the ready associations we might have with food allergies, like hives or trouble breathing. Look for altered behaviours, shifts in sleep patterns, visible symptoms like rashes or dark circles under the eyes, and changes in bowel movements.

Be patient: Don’t be upset if your baby’s first reaction is to play with her food or throw it right on the floor. Like breast-feeding, this is a way to bond with your child and prepare them for the many meals you’ll share together. Have fun!

Like adults, babies have individual digestive systems. That means that what works for one baby might not be ideal for another. If you haven’t yet consulted with a trusted source, book an appointment for a naturopathic consultation. It’s an easy way to put your mind at ease and gain some valuable insights into food introduction that are accurately and insightfully tailored for your baby’s individual digestive system. Remember that if it’s a stressful process for Mom, it’s going to be stressful for Baby.

If solid foods are on the horizon for you and your baby, keep an eye out on the Thrive Health events page. We typically host food introduction workshops every few months.

With the right approach, introducing solids is an exciting developmental phase as your baby grows. It’s neat to discover what your child likes and dislikes, and you’ll find that new forms of bonding and routine come from sharing meals together face-to-face.

Bon appetit!

 

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Yoga is the Best Medicine

It’s no secret that we encourage safe, strengthening and relaxing forms of exercise for expectant moms. We recently spoke to several moms at Baby and Me Fitness’ Aqua Bellies and Yoga Bellies classes. Pre-natal exercise is an important part of a healthy pregnancy journey.

Yoga is an ideal form of exercise for expectant women because classes are tailored for pregnant bellies, and you’re under constant supervision. In an extremely pro-yoga blog post, pre-natal yoga guru Lori Lucas goes so far to declare that “Yoga is superior to all other forms of exercise during pregnancy (hands down).”

She cites an interesting study done by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that found women who practiced yoga during their pregnancy had an increased chance of a healthy delivery.

The women who attended yoga classes during their second trimester reported higher birth weights for their newborns, as well as lower rates of hypertension compared to the women who didn’t practice yoga.

Study stats aside, prenatal yoga is a wonderful way to relieve the stresses and tensions of pregnancy. Practicing yoga can help you get to sleep at night and ease lower back pain and morning nausea. Not to mention the fact that you’ll get the chance to meet other women preparing for the joys (and stresses) of motherhood.

Yoga is a great training ground to prepare you for the adventure of childbirth. It prepares you for labour with exercises that calm your breathing and improve flexibility.

Many women like yoga because it provides a wonderful opportunity to take a break from the pressures of your day and restore mindfulness. Things can get very hectic during (and after!) pregnancy. Spending an hour focused entirely on yourself, your mood, your breathing, balance and rhythm can help to restore a sense of peace and order. Plus it’s nice to get in some “you” time before the baby comes.

You only spend a short time in your life being pregnant. While the joys of motherhood are inexpressible, yoga gives you an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the experience of pregnancy too.

 

 

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Connecting Chiropractic to the Common Cold (and Cars!)

UBC blogger Thea Treahy-Geofreda poses a good question in her article about the little-known benefits of chiropractic for overall health. The truth is most people don’t make any association between chiropractic and common acute conditions like a head cold. Most will only connect chiropractic with things like back pain.

One of the best parts of this article is the extended analogy the author uses to explain the preventative health benefits of chiropractic for total-body health. She encourages readers to think of the human body as a car that needs a functioning control system. This system sends information to all of the vehicle’s separate components –everything from the engine to the high beams.

How’s your engine running?

If one of those connections were to come loose, sure your car would still function, but it wouldn’t be operating at 100 percent effectiveness. The same thing is true for your body, whose control system is the central nervous system. In order enjoy optimal health, your central nervous system must be free of interference and maladjustments. When we’re below optimal health, our systems are more likely to be infiltrated with the cold virus.

Before you end up reaching for those cold meds that knock you out, optimize your health. Check your spine alignment, go for regular adjustments, eat properly, and take measures to reduce stress. The article does a great job of advocating these natural techniques for overall health. Preventative care in the form of therapies like massage, medication and chiropractic adjustments make you feel and function better. In addition to improving posture, sleep and relaxation, these therapies keep your system running at its best, and boost your immune system too.

Taking a defensive approach to health is smart, natural, non-invasive and effective, so give yourself a tune-up at every opportunity!

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Naturopathy and Conception: the Connection

Conceiving and giving birth are natural processes, but we all know that unpredictable challenges can make them feel stressful and difficult rather than intuitive. That’s why added support in the form of naturopathic or chiropractic therapy can help you on the path to starting your family.

Being in tune with your body is one of the most important elements in a successful conception. This goes beyond knowing where you’re at in your menstrual cycle though. Everything from your diet to your stress levels to the function of your central nervous system can have an effect on your reproductive system.

Adjust Yourself Properly
Stress is inevitable. When it becomes overwhelming however, it can delay pregnancy and affect your reproductive cycle. Chiropractic adjustments help to optimize your central nervous system, which is a key player in regulating stress responses in your body.

Patients don’t just benefit physically from natural health treatments; they also benefit emotionally from being able to bring questions and concerns to a trusted and informed environment. Conception and pregnancy are critical times for forging new relationships with mentors, trusted friends, family, and health practitioners. From the moment you start trying to conceive, you should be building your support network.

The Fertility Formula
Although conceiving has much to do with planning, preparation and timing, there is no exact formula to determine when you’ll be successful. For some couples, this is frustrating and a little scary if you’re anxious to get pregnant. Knowing that you’re taking every measure available to you to optimize your chances can help to lessen your worries. So what exactly can a naturopath do for you? She’ll start with an analysis of your hormone levels and immune function, and do an evaluation of your current diet and lifestyle. These factors will be useful for creating a personalized plan for your health during conception.

Many natural approaches to fertility have facilitated successful conception. Botanical medicine, acupuncture and dietary strategies can all help to regulate your hormone cycles. If you’re already involved in a medically assisted fertility treatment, these factors are still extremely important.

Bottom line: Baby-making should be fun! It’s our goal to help you feel confident and healthy as you embark on what is an exciting time in your relationship. And the support doesn’t end when you’re pregnant- That’s when you’ll want to optimize your diet, immune system and chiropractic health more than ever. There’s lots that we can do to facilitate a healthy pregnancy. We’ll continue to tailor your diet to address morning sickness, deficiencies and your new nutritional needs.

We love to follow families through different stages: from conception to pregnancy to new family-hood. It’s our goal to help keep your health optimized as a woman, an expectant mom, and as a young family!

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Surviving Colic

Many mothers know that colic can be a new-parent nightmare. Not only does the condition create a fussier baby, but it also stresses and worries parents who don’t know what to do to relieve their infant. Colic can make anyone feel completely overwhelmed and helpless.

Ditch the guilt           
Jen Singer’s article “5 Ways to Get Through Colic” has some effective pointers to keep you sane during this challenging time in your life as a new parent. First, she reminds us, give yourself credit. Colic isn’t personal. Aligning your child’s health problems with a personal sense of worth is a dangerous mistake that can lead to shame, doubt and self-deprecation. The simple truth? Colic is common and has nothing to do with what kind of caregiver you are. How you deal with it however, most certainly does! So make an effective plan to help your baby and to help yourself.

Turn to family and friends

Singer recommends turning to other parents who have experience with colic. This is a good idea for many parenting issues: find families in the same boat as you. They can offer you support and advice, or at least some commiseration. Otherwise you may feel as though nobody understands what you’re going through.

She also suggests enlisting the help of family if you’re uncertain about the source of your baby’s crying, or wondering if you’re making things worse in your mind. Leave your child with someone you trust and see if the same symptoms and patterns manifest themselves. This is a good diagnostic strategy.

Speaking of making diagnoses: be careful when you’re trying to assess your baby’s triggers. You can drive yourself crazy wondering if something you’re doing is worsening or encouraging the colic. Singer is right to tell you not to bother questioning everything- even researchers and medical professionals disagree on the source of colic. You’re better off putting your faith in methods of relieving discomfort. You can experiment with treatments and see which ones work best for your baby.

 

This too shall pass!

Let it out!
Finally, the article emphasizes how important it is to acknowledge anger and frustration. These are perfectly normal emotions and you’ll do much better to address them than to deny or ignore them. Being a new parent is hard work; you’ve already undergone massive changes and upheaval and you’re totally entitled to want to yell or cry! When you feel overwhelmed, call someone you trust and take a much needed break. This gives you a chance to work through your emotions and have a proper time-out. Emotions are never a sign of weakness; they are a sign of humanity.

You might also consider talking to a therapist to discuss some of the emotional overload you have experienced as a new mother with a fussy baby. That hour will give you a break and a chance to speak with another adult who is familiar with what you’re going through.

And finally…

(you knew it was coming)

…how about alternative health therapies to combat colic? Infant massage has been a highly effective method for coping with babies’ discomfort and helping to facilitate the digestive process. Take a workshop and discover how you may be able to sooth your baby through massage. This is also a great practice for de-stressing, connecting and bonding.

Chiropractic has been shown to provide relief to infants with colic, since adjustments remove stress on the nervous system.  When there is stress on a child’s nervous system, they can be difficult to soothe, as they have trouble with sleeping and digestion which causes discomfort. Seeing your family chiropractor to have your baby checked for nervous system stress is a gentle and very effective first-line strategy to help your child’s body heal from the inside out.

You’ll also want to watch your baby’s symptoms and consult with a physician to determine whether you’re dealing with colic or a different health issue like intolerances and allergies. If your baby has general digestive distress, many forms of health counselling may help. Consider talking to a nutrition specialist to see if gentle supplementation can be used to help your baby during the breastfeeding or formula stage. You may be unknowingly eating an aggravating food that is affecting your infant. Tailoring your diet, switching formulas or making a personalized diet plan for when you start solids. Your practitioner will also help you try changing other feeding practices like pace, intervals, and burping breaks.

To all you moms out there: did you have to battle colic?

 

 

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Welcome to the Thrive Health Blog!

We’re thrilled to have you with us as we launch our new blog, and we hope you’ll check back regularly! The Thrive Health Blog will be an exciting space for discussions and reliable information about trends in alternative medicine, nutrition, and chiropractic. It will also be a starting point for readers to find out what’s new at Thrive Health, and to connect with our team.

Feel free to browse, comment and re-post content with links back to the Thrive Health website.

If you’re interested in guest-blogging for us or have an idea for a topic you’d like to read about, send us an e-mail at info@thrivehealth.ca.

 

We’d love to hear from you!

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