We’ve all heard it since childhood- “straighten up!”, “stop slouching!” When we’re kids, we think our parents and teachers are just picking on us, but as adults we start to see the effects of many years of slouching and the chronic issues that follow. Although most people are concerned with the physical appearance of slouching, the consequences are much more profound than a rounded upper back.
If you sit at a computer all day, chances are that you already know that poor posture can cause pain in your joints and muscles. Poor posture can also be responsible for numbness and tingling or weakness in the extremities and can certainly lead to body aches and headaches. What most people don’t consider is what is going on in the inside. Slouching and slumping can actually cause compression of organs, making it more difficult to breathe, digest our food, eliminate toxins from our bodies and can cause a number of symptoms including fatigue and digestive disorders.
Taking care of your spine today, means better health tomorrow. Take the time and make the effort to care for your spine so that you will be strong, healthy and pain-free later on in life! Follow these six steps to straighten up:
1. Get up:
Take breaks from your desk every 30 minutes. Even if you just stand up and walk around for a minute or do some light stretching, this gives your body a chance to relieve the tired muscles that work so hard while you’re sedentary.
2. Invest in a good chair:
Because we all come in different shapes and sizes, an adjustable chair is a great investment to be sure that it will fit your body perfectly. Get something with good lumbar support to be sure that your low back is protected.
3. Take a look at yourself:
When sitting in your chair, your hips, knees and elbows should be at least at 90 angles and your feet should be flat on the floor.
4. Practice awareness:
Making and breaking habits is a tough thing to do. Place a post-it on your computer screen to remind you to straighten up (you don’t even have to write anything on it, you’ll know why it’s there). You should be trying to keep your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips.
5. Get moving:
Joining a yoga or pilates class can be a great way to support your spine through both strengthening and stretching.
6. Get your spine checked:
After major traumas (car accidents, serious falls and sports injuries) and minor traumas (repetitive stress, prolonged improper sleeping, sitting or standing positions), spinal bones can become misaligned and stuck, which can also affect posture. A chiropractic examination will allow your chiropractor to see if there is something biomechanical that may be interfering with your ability to achieve proper posture.
When you are trying to lose weight you may be thinking of taking a fast a furious approach eating as little as possible while working out as much as possible. However this is not only unwise, but also ineffective in the long run.
Healthy Eating Habits
When you skip a meal or cut calories drastically you will slow down your metabolism. This is because your body is concerned you are not getting enough calories to survive and is trying to conserve energy. You will lose weight using this method for the first few days or even a week, but as your body goes into panic mode it will fight starvation by storing fat. Therefore the only weight you will continue to lose will be water and muscle, which is not only bad for you, but will also make you reach a plateau far more quickly than you should. This makes all of your efforts for naught as your system will decide it is not safe to lose weight. Therefore it is important to eat healthy foods throughout the day. Taking an approach that reduces carbs and adds more veggies and fruits is the best approach as well as eating 5 small meals instead of 3 larger meals. Obviously cutting out sugars is important as well.
When your body’s metabolism slows due to dieting this is where exercise helps. Exercising in hand with dieting provide the energy required to help you burn more calories and do so naturally and safely. Regular exercise is a must to lose weight and it will give you more energy and keep your metabolism working at peak efficiency to continue to burn calories at rest. Do not forget the importance of weight lifting as the more muscle you can build the higher your metabolism remains.
Before and After Work Out Foods
Prior to a work out this is the best place to have a combination of simple and complex carbs. Have a slice of whole grain bread a smear of peanut butter and a banana sliced on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon for the perfect combo. You can also eat something like Greek yogurt with a few nuts or a meal with protein and carbs or oatmeal with blueberries. Following a work out you can eat a yummy omelette with eggs and fresh veggies and a slice of avocado for morning workouts or salmon and some sweet potato for dinner for late afternoon workouts. Lunch time work outs work well with a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread.
The key to weight loss is balance. You must exercise and eat a modified amount of calories without cutting meals to lower your calorie count. Moderation, variety and dedication are the key to a successful weight loss plan.
Many people do not realize that the pain they may be experiencing each day could be alleviated by making some basic changes to the ergonomics of their lives. Ergonomics is the science of efficiencies in the work place. More specifically it is finding the most efficient way to work and included in this study is also the proper way to work to avoid injury. Applying ergonomics to your everyday life will help you avoid repetitive stress injury as well as injuries from lifting and moving improperly.
The average person travels just under an hour to and from work. A few basic adjustments to how you travel will help you avoid back pain, the second most common reason for people missing work:
- Public Transit: When using public transit you can be faced with a lot of walking, waiting and standing. It is important to have the proper shoes. Cue the scene from the movie Working Girl where career women en masse walk the streets of New York dressed in top quality business suits with comfortable runners and white socks on their way to the office. That is the right way to travel. Men can consider inserts for added support to dress shoes. Make sure you are always holding on to handrails up and down stairs leading to and from subways and bus platforms as well as when standing on buses, subways and streetcars. Proper balance helps avoid back strain and accidents.
- Highway Commute: Drivers should try to maintain proper posture while driving which means firmly placing your back against your car seat. The base of your spine should be touching the back of the seat and you can place a rolled towel at the base of your spine for added support. If you have a head rest adjust it so you can rest your head against it for added support and comfort.
If you have a desk job use the following techniques to experience less stress to your body:
- Sit with your feet positioned flat on the floor
- Have your monitor positioned at a 15 degree angle at eye level and one arm’s length away for less strain on your neck
- Keep your lower back supported
- Keep hands and forearms out straight towards your keyboard
Standing at Work
If you work in a warehouse, retail or other jobs that require standing, you should always stand in the “neutral position”. The key is to be relaxed as follows:
- Neck aligned with spine
- Shoulders relaxed not forward or back
- Elbows close to torso at a slight angle
- Forearms held with thumbs up
- S shaped spine
- Wrists aligned with forearms
- Fingers together and curved
- Slight bending at hips and knees
When lifting follow these standard rules:
- Bend at the knees
- Centre the load
- Arms and elbows tucked in
- Lift with your legs
- Keep the item close to your body
- Don’t twist from the waist, instead start with your feet
Sticking to the basic rules of ergonomics will lessen strain on your body and help avoid injury.
Have you ever noticed that more often than not when you are suffering from an illness many doctors will treat the symptoms? For example, if you have chronic sinus infections you are just given antibiotics. When you visit a Naturopath, they will not ONLY treat your symptoms. Instead they will get to the root of what is causing the symptoms, eliminating the cause and WORKING TO STOP the symptoms once and for all.
In-depth Analysis and Discovery
The holistic approach to healing treats the whole person addressing every aspect of your health: Physical, mental and spiritual. You will be given a thorough examination considering all contributing factors that could be affecting your health such as diet, stress and lack of exercise. Each individual requires a very personal analysis to address what treatment will work best for you.
The Many Aspects of your Health
In order to achieve perfect health you may require many disciplines to begin your path to recovery. Your treatment will use a multi-disciplined approach from many areas such as:
- Environmental health
- Nutritional counselling
- Dietary changes
- Food allergies
- Vitamin supplementation
- Oxygen or hydrotherapies
- Organic living
Heal Thy Self
Your body is designed to handle illness and naturopaths believe health conditions are often brought on by imbalance. The naturopath will work with you to help realign your body and return balance in order to allow your body to follow its natural course of self healing. Together, you will come up with an agreed upon strategy that will work for you. Your lifestyle will play a huge role in your healing process and compliance is required for your treatment to be MOST effective. That is why it is important for you to work together with your naturopath to find a course of action that will suit you AND YOUR LIFESTYLE.
Mental Health and Coping
You may not realize what ill effects your mental health can have on your body. Changes to your life such as marital problems, job related stress, family CHANGES or the death of a loved one can all contribute to your sense of well-being. Sometimes holistic healing involves psychotherapy to provide you with the coping skills you require to maintain a well-balance mind. Stressful and traumatic events from you past may also still be affecting your ability to function properly in the present and these issues can be addressed.
As you can see the holistic approach to healing works towards complete treatment that will result in overall health for life long relief of all of your symptoms
Back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain are all incredibly common- particularly for those who spend most of their day sitting. While it may seem that you’re more likely to sustain an injury during rigorous activity, the truth is that sitting for extended periods of time produces chronic pain and limits range of motion for many people. There are plenty of ways not to sit. Here are some of the worst- and the most common.
1. Still. Yes that’s right! One of the worst ways to sit is to sit still for hours on end. This causes muscles to stiffen or atrophy from lack of use, slows circulation and can make your energy dip. It’s also easier to feel bored, lethargic and chilly. So take regular breaks to stand, stretch and move around- this will help you feel alert and give your muscles some much-needed action. Do you ever notice that when you’re driving for a long time you don’t feel the stiffness until you finally step out of the car? The same can be true of your desk chair- so get out of your seat regularly, and test out your legs, neck and back.
2. Hunched over a device. We are particularly negligent when it comes to our devices, because we often lose track of how much time we spend on them. While you may not be aware of how often you’re tilting your head downward to text, type, check email or work on a tablet –it adds up. In fact there’s even a term for it: text neck. When you extend your neck forward on a regular basis or for extended periods of time (or both) it can lead to muscle soreness, strain, pinched nerves and herniated discs. You may experience more than a stiff neck –tense, sore shoulders, headaches and even jaw pain are also common results of “device posture.” Save your emailing and extensive work for your desk, or invest in a proper iPad stand.
3. In the wrong seat. Your chair dictates your sitting position- and has everything to do with your comfort while seated. If your chair isn’t the right height, you’ll notice you have to extend your forearms downward or upward to type. The resulting pain will either shoot up to your shoulder blades or sit in your wrists. If your chair doesn’t have your sightline level with your monitor, prepare for a sore neck from craning even at the slightest angle. And lumbar support? It’s critical. Make sure your lower back is properly cushioned to avoid slouching, slumping or twisting around in your seat. These positions can cause pain in your hips and middle back.
Which of these three are you most guilty of?
For more workplace health tips, check out this article: “Is Your Job Killing You?”
The connection between how you carry yourself and how you feel
We’re always advocating for good posture –whether sitting, standing, and sleeping. Posture is so important for a variety of health reasons that we’ve mentioned here on the blog before. You’ll likely recall that bad posture can result in chronic pain, poor circulation, headaches, and damage to your spine.
But what about your mood? Many studies suggest that everything from our body language, to our carriage, to our posture can have a direct impact on how we feel –not just physically but emotionally. Here are some of the ways in which the positioning and use of your body can affect your mood or mind.
Feel more energized: When we optimize our posture, it helps us to feel more alert and awake. When you slouch, slump or recline, your body may relax but also understand it’s time to rest or shut down. When you consciously sit up straighter and hold your head up, you’re sending a signal within yourself that it’s time to be alert and productive. Certain postures also allow for freer, faster movement which can get more of your muscles working, elevate your heart rate and help you feel a sustained energy. Think of slumping down a hall with your head down, versus striding with a straight back and eyes forward. The second posture allows for much more efficient and energized movement- and much happier muscles and spines!
Feel happier: Studies also show that people may feel less depressed when their body language conveys traits like enthusiasm, joy, and energy. In addition to the psychological connection that may exist between how we present our bodies and how we feel, there are obvious physical reasons why good posture may keep your mood elevated. Optimized movements and positioning can reduce stress to your body like muscle pain, strain in your joints, or headaches. Eliminating those physical symptoms can help to prevent irritability and roadblocks to productivity that result from discomfort. Just think about how difficult it is to concentrate and sit still when you have a sore back. In this way practicing good posture can help keep you feeling comfortable, capable and calm.
Feel more confident: Another study had subjects place bets while sitting in two different postures. Those in a more open, expansive posture took more risks, while those who kept their limbs tight and body closed off were more conservative. As these studies remind us, we instinctively position our bodies to reflect our mood and mindset. Amy Cuddy’s incredible TED talk discusses the connection between our body language and behaviour in detail, suggesting that we can manipulate our body language to reflect (and help achieve) our desired mental state. We highly recommend you check out her compelling talk.
When we consider argument’s like Cuddy’s, we start to see that slumping, slouching, and closing our bodies off is doing twofold damage- not just to our chiropractic health and wellbeing, but also to our confidence, happiness, and success.
Now if that isn’t a reason to stand a little straighter and walk a little taller, I don’t know what is!
The health industry has definitely gone digital –and now it’s getting mobile and personal too.
In the age of user-centric apps, mobile technology and Google-fueled self-diagnosing, people feel empowered to take their health conveniently (if sometimes problematically) into their own hands. While we definitely advocate for caution and discretion when relying on the vast world of digital health information, there are undeniable ways in which digital and mobile technology have revolutionized personal health.
One of the most fascinating (and fun!) developments we’ve seen is the proliferation of creative mobile apps to help with natural tracking, charting, dieting and motivating. Digital health apps provide a convenient and accurate way to do a variety of health-related behaviours like count calories, take medication on time, record your heart rate, and even time your contractions during labour!
Here are some of the coolest health apps catching our attention right now:
iPeriod: for much more than simply counting out those 28 days. This is an incredibly detailed app which lets women digitally monitor a wide spectrum of menstrual health factors. Its features allow for the tracking of flow density, identifying peak fertility dates, and making notes every time an unwanted menstrual symptom is encountered. There’s even an icon to remind you to get your regular breast exam!
Another nice bonus: there’s a community forum that lets you chat with other women and compare notes. We think this app would be beneficial for any woman, but particularly those who are constantly busy, experiencing unwanted menstrual symptoms, or trying to conceive.
mySymptoms: This is a food diary app for tracking and identifying food symptoms and reactions. While it shouldn’t replace a real diagnosis, it’s a great way to start looking for patterns in your eating habits that trigger unwanted side effects. This gives you a place to start when you’re ready to meet with a holistic health practitioner, nutritionist or allergy specialist. In addition to tracking your diet, you can simply and efficiently record anything from sleep quality to bloating to mood swings. What we love about this app is that it gives patients a great place to record information that they’d otherwise forget. Often when patients come for an initial assessment it can be hard to remember what they’ve been eating and on which dates they experienced recent symptoms. With an app like this, the data recording will already be done by your first appointment –getting you and your health practitioner one step closer to a diagnosis.
HealingFoods: Based on the print encyclopaedia, this app is a useful reference guide for diet therapy. You can enter foods to see a full explanation of their natural healing properties, to better tailor a diet that will optimize your health. There are also tips for how to serve, store and prep each food. Amazing that you can carry so much information with you wherever you eat or grocery shop! This app can help you to shop smart, order wisely at restaurants, and fix a nutrient-dense dinner for your family.
Thanks to Sara Showalter for drawing our attention to such an interesting list of mobile health applications! Check them all out here and choose your favourites.
Do you use any holistic health apps? What features would be most beneficial to you?
When we champion chiropractic care, we consistently mention the central nervous system. For many new patients, this might not mean much (or make any sense). Many people associate chiropractic with bones, rather than nerves, joints, muscles and the brain. We encourage you to learn the basics about the central nervous system, and how it functions to keep our bodies running optimally.
Why is the Central Nervous System Important?
We liked the way this article from Natural News describes the central nervous system’s critical role in the human body’s everyday participation in a fight for survival. Your body is working each day to confront a barrage of assaults –free radical damage to your cells, environmental stressors, chemically reactive molecules, and other toxins. The body’s incredible ability to communicate within itself, protect itself, and heal itself keeps us healthy and thriving in spite of these everyday onslaughts of harmful contaminants. The central nervous system is like a governing body that controls all of the channels by which that healing occurs.
As Natural News points out, the movement of energy from your brain to your nerve systems is fueled by information collected from receptors throughout your body. The brain relies on a process called “proprioception” –the effective movement of information from those receptors in your muscles or joints all the way to your brain. As you can imagine, we want to pave the way for a fast and healthy flow of information.
But this brain-body information exchange can be compromised by nerve stress caused by misalignment and trauma. The accumulation of damage resulting from poor posture, minor injuries and an unhealthy lifestyle can all affect your nerves and stress hormones. As a result, there’s a slight breakdown in communication between your receptors and your brain, and your body’s healing time slows down.
A chiropractor’s aim is to restore your central nervous system so that your body is well-tuned to keep healing itself effectually. By re-aligning the spine and reducing nerve pressure, chiropractic care plays a useful role in decreasing your body’s stress. In this way, chiropractic care shouldn’t be conceived of as a treatment. It’s an important therapy that frees your body to take better care of itself. Too often we overlook the body’s innate ability to heal. When our bodies aren’t functioning optimally or healing properly, we see the symptoms rather than the cause. Chiropractic isn’t just treating your symptoms –it’s adjusting your body’s natural systems and structures so they can do their job.
To learn more about your central nervous system and how chiropractic can benefit you, book an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wise!
The sunny days between all of the cloudy, rainy ones are giving us some hope for brighter days. Many families are making plans for the summer, and it’s exciting to finally be anticipating more time spent outdoors. We want our clients and community to enjoy a safe and healthy season, so we thought we’d share some basic and natural tips. High temperatures and sunny days can mean adjusted dietary and health requirements for the whole family.
1. Fluid replacement: During day trips, team sports, active play and afternoons at the beach, be sure to drink plenty of water and encourage your children to do the same. But skip the sports drinks-Children don’t often sweat excessively, especially during moderate play. Any fluids your child may lose are easily replaced with plain fresh water. Sports drinks contain unhealthily high doses of sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and chemical additives –so be careful what you reach for to replenish fluids and quench thirst.
2. Choose healthy frozen treats: Popsicles and other frozen snacks are a family favourite during the summer –and they can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Skip the artificially flavoured freezies and sugary ice cream, and make your own snacks instead. Opt for frozen bananas, smoothies, or homemade popsicles that use natural sugars and flavours.
3. Be sun-smart. Choose a high SPF sunscreen and remember to re-apply every 1-2 hours that your family is in the sun. When possible, take refuge in the shade and minimize direct sun exposure to your skin. Have your children wear brimmed hats and light, cool clothing. You may want to avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, a chemical that is thought to affect hormone levels and cellular health. And it goes without saying- children of all skin types and tones need sunscreen. For fair-skinned children, choose an SPF of 30 or higher.
4. Support your immune system, particularly before big day trips or family vacations. Eat a vitamin-rich diet that features lots of vegetables and probiotics, and be sure to get plenty of vitamin C, even during warm weather. If you know your children are picky eaters during travel, plan ahead when you pack. Take multi-vitamins and easy-to-grab nutritious snacks. Front-load their diet on busy days by sneaking some extra fruit and veggies into a breakfast smoothie.
Wishing you and your family a safe and healthy start to summer!
There are many seemingly insignificant, overlooked lifestyle factors that can affect your alignment and physiological wellness. We’ve already mentioned the potential outcomes of practicing poor pillow posture, but what about poor purse posture?
Many of us are guilty of it: we wear a purse, bag or computer case without giving proper consideration to its weight and positioning on the body. Over time, an overpacked bag can affect your gait, posture and comfort. A heavy purse could also be the root cause of ongoing unidentified neck and shoulder pain.
This helpful article from Prevention.com offers some advice about what your purse could be doing for your posture and muscle health- and how you can correct it. Read on for some simple strategies to avoid shoulder bag strain.
1. Switch sides: Chances are you habitually sling your purse over the same arm (likely your dominant side). This is part of the problem- by only wearing your purse on one shoulder, you’re constantly overworking those muscles. Depending on how heavy your bag is, you’re also forcing one side of your upper body to be the load-bearing side, which can affect your gait and mobility.
2. Avoid the crook of your arm: You’ve probably done this one too –stuck your purse strap right in the inside of your elbow. This can cause injury, including tendonitis. It also forces you to hold your arm at a right angle, resulting in more muscle strain and poor circulation.
For more information check out this article: “Are you hurting your health in the name of fashion?” http://ow.ly/lr8UW
3. Wear your strap diagonally. Rather than pulling your laptop carrier, bag or purse over one arm, pull it over your head so that the strap is stretched diagonally across your chest. This will distribute the weight of the bag more effectively and result in less of a heavy downward pull on one side- sparing your shoulder and lower back and engaging more of your torso muscles instead.
4. Choose an appropriate carrier or bag. This is an important consideration we’d add to the list. Consider what accessory might better suit you and save you from neck, shoulder and back strain. If you have a lot to pack for a walk to the gym, try a backpack and be sure to wear both straps. For your computer, consider a briefcase or bag on wheels. For an evening out, swap your carry-all for a small clutch.
5. Lighten your load! The last and most obvious solution we offer is to simply take stock of your purse before leaving the house- particularly if you plan to be walking with it for any extended period of time. What can you reasonably leave behind? Remove spare change and roll it at home to exchange for bills. Take out chargers, extra keys and any other heavy objects that you can do without for a few hours. And every few days clean out your purse – you’d be surprised at how much weight accumulates from simple garbage, junk and forgotten items that could be left at home.
Fess up: How heavy is your purse?