By Dr. Kristin Heins
Summer weather allows us all to spend more time outdoors. We are encouraged to increase outdoor activity and many of us prefer to take in some time outdoors while being active anyway. With increased walking, running, hiking or swimming you may end up with new injuries or even aggravating old injuries or conditions.
It is always best to see a licensed health care practitioner to attend to your case specifics and format an individualized plan; but, below are some quick tips to help you make the most of the increased activity potential that summer affords while reducing the chance of injury or body strain.
- Know your limits: gradually increase endurance activities and take rest days after increased exertion.
- Stretch: Be sure to follow a stretching routine that addresses targeted areas to help prevent strain injuries.
- Attend to your symptoms: If your body is sending you messages it is hurt – listen. See your doctor, naturopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor to have an assessment to see what needs to be done to best heal and resolve the issue.
- Stay hydrated: Lactic acid builds in muscles after exertion and causes stiffness and soreness. It requires proper hydration to be best eliminated so make sure to drink before and after activity.
- Supplementation: If you have inflammatory conditions it may be useful to get on a supplementation regime to assist in optimizing you management of it. This way you can stay as active as possible in a non detrimental way.
The hands on approach to healing uses touch to assist in the relief of pain as well as to alleviate the symptoms and causes of many conditions and illnesses. This age old approach to healing has been used for centuries and encompasses many different disciplines and techniques. Although some have changed in scope and technique, modern science has discovered that touch does in fact provide a medically viable treatment for many conditions.
A Reiki Practitioner is trained in sensing changes to body heat throughout your body. By positioning their hands in different areas of your body they can detect changes in heat and identify areas in need of attention. Reiki helps to clear blocks in your body’s energy field and is a very relaxing process performed on a massage table. Reiki can actually be performed in a hands off approach as well but the healing powers of touch improve the outcome of Reiki. Reiki can alleviate emotional stress as well as old wounds and trauma by opening up the flow of energy and encouraging your body to follow its natural impulses to heal itself. We all could use a little healing now and then and Reiki “tune-ups” are perfect to keep your body balanced.
Chiropractic treatments focus on your nervous system to identify issues. Your chiropractor looks for subluxations in the spine by examining surrounding tissue, muscle and ligaments. Subluxations will cause improper communication throughout the nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments help to realign the spine and clear your body of subluxations allowing for proper communication between your nervous system and other parts of your body. A series of tests will allow your Chiropractor to discover what treatments will work best to improve range of motion, alleviate back pain and improve mobility. It is often used for sports injuries, rehabilitation from motor vehicle or work related injuries as well as to alleviate pressure and discomfort during pregnancy. Lower and upper back pain are common complaints addressed by your Chiropractor which means you can find relief for your aching back. Treatment plans usually require several appointments to achieve success and improvements can often be seen following your first appointment.
Massage therapy applies pressure and manipulation to soft tissue, muscles, ligaments and joints to alleviate pain and improve physical function. It can be used for rehabilitative purposes following injury as well as to relieve stress or pain resulting from continuous use of certain muscles. There are many different techniques of massage therapy including:
- Deep Tissue Massage
- Myofascial Therapy (connective tissue)
- Trigger Point Therapy
- Rhythmic Mobilizations
- Remedial Exercise
- Stress relief, anxiety and depression
The healing art of touch can be combined to provide a more complete treatment plan. Often your chiropractor will recommend their treatment be combined with massage therapy and vice versa. Reiki can complement any health care regime and add to the success of many health care treatments.
Migraines can be a debilitating health problem, triggered by a variety of factors from sleep habits, to diet, to the weather. Many sufferers claim they seem to become more prone to migraines at certain times of year –during the changing seasons, or in the spring and summer when they may also be plagued with seasonal allergies.
The frustrating thing about migraine sufferers is that many don’t take the time to seriously consider all of their options for prevention and symptom relief. It’s definitely worthwhile to explore natural therapies as a means of better understanding, minimizing, and preventing your migraines, not to mention nixing the dependency on potentially harmful medications often used to manage symptoms. Here are just some of the therapies that migraine sufferers frequently respond to.
Many headaches and migraines start in your spine. When your body is misaligned your nerves get very irritated, and communicate quickly with your brain. For some clients, spinal adjustments are an effective way to reduce the pressure on those unhappy nerves. Chiropractic care also helps restore mobility to patients who experience consistent and debilitating muscle tension. Blood flow to and from the brain may also be restricted when muscles are tight in the base of the skull, which can contribute to headache and migraine symptoms. The cumulative effects of rigidity and restriction can lead to severe headaches – so it’s important to target the problem at its source, rather than just treating the resulting migraine. Consider your posture, alignment, and date of your last adjustment. Could a poorly aligned spine, stressed nerves or strained muscles be an underlying cause of your migraine? A chiropractic consultation can help you find out!
Seeing a massage therapist isn’t a luxury- for many it’s a highly effective treatment option. Headaches frequently result from tension and stress, which are manually targeted during a massage session. Your therapist will also help to improve circulation throughout your body, which can draw blood away from the head, reducing pressure that contributes to headache. It’s also incredible to see the effects of loosening and treating muscle tissue. If you have a muscle injury, chances are you’ve been carrying yourself differently. An adjusted or irregular posture of any kind can cause soreness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. So give massage therapy a try –the combination of targeted manual therapy and the valuable opportunity to reduce stress might be just what you need to manage or minimize migraines.
Naturopathic and Nutritional Counselling
Food sensitivity and allergies might also be causing your migraines. A holistic health practitioner can help you begin an elimination diet or food diary to uncover patterns in your eating that might cause headaches. Many sufferers of migraines know which foods they need to avoid in order to help prevent a killer headache. Don’t worry- this isn’t arbitrary. A nutritionist or ND can help you identify which ingredients are giving you grief- whether it’s a popular additive like MSG, or a less widely identified substance like tyramine. Tyramine, which is found in aged cheese, processed meat, canned soups and several other foods, has been known to trigger migraines in certain individuals. Without some health counselling however, you might never identify something like this as a potential source of your suffering. It’s worth looking into- The sooner you know your problem foods, the sooner you can begin adjusting your diet and lifestyle so you can enjoy more long-term management of your migraines.
When people experience pain and discomfort, they will often first assume a muscle-related problem such as strain, tightness or micro-tears is responsible. As the Chiropractic Blog points out however, soreness and numbness are also often caused by a nerve-related problem. Without a proper diagnosis and treatment from a chiropractor, the root cause of your pain can go overlooked.
What causes nerve irritation and pain?
From SpineUniverse: “Why Pinched Nerves Cause Neck and Back Pain” http://ow.ly/kNgAN
You’re most likely experiencing trapped or pinched nerve fibres. This is one of the most common nerve-related conditions that clients present with. Essentially a nerve in the spine becomes compressed between two bones or discs, resulting in the pinched, tingling or numb sensation you may be familiar with. A chiropractor will locate the trapped nerve and make careful manual adjustments to ease the pressure, realign the discs and free the nerve.
Another common condition is a trapped nerve. This occurs when a nerve has adhered itself to surrounding soft tissue, likely as the result of a certain repetitive movement. The motion causes friction between the nerve and nearby muscles or ligaments, creating sticky scar tissue. Consistent muscle contractions can also deprive the nerve of oxygen.
Although this could be taking place in your own body for a long time, you might not notice symptoms until the condition has worsened significantly. At the onset of symptoms you don’t want to further delay treatment by mistaking the problem for something else- so don’t assume anything. It’s always best to see a specialized practitioner who can properly identify whether your pain can be traced to a muscle problem, a pinched or trapped nerve, or both.
Your chiropractor will use gentle chiropractic adjustments to restore motion to the joints, which will relieve pressure from the nerves and allow muscles to function more effectively and without nerve-related discomfort. It may take several treatments to fully treat the problem, to eliminate pain, and to regain full mobility. Since the site of a compressed nerve is often very sensitive, a chiropractic treatment may be slightly uncomfortable at first. Your practitioner will be gentle however, and you’ll soon find that accurately diagnosing and treating the problem site results in major pain relief.
Regardless of whether you have a muscle or nerve problem, it’s important that you seek the right treatment to see lasting results and avoid long-term adverse effects.
Massage is a widely respected and integrated therapy. Its effects have been tested on patients with arthritis, drug addictions, mood disorders, cancer, and more. We’re still learning everything it can do. While we continue to discover more about the physical benefits of massage and its usefulness for a variety of chronic and acute conditions, one major news item was recently discovered: Massage has a proven anti-inflammatory effect on muscles.
A study conducted on the quadriceps muscles of several active participants revealed that the act of massage releases anti-inflammatory signals that improve the ability of muscle cells to make new mitochondria. This converts food into energy and can help speed tissue repair.
An analysis of the muscle tissue of both groups of participants (those who had been massaged and those who had taken no treatment) revealed no discernible differences, further confirming that massage is a safe and effective way to treat muscle pain.
Massage can do a lot more than help you avoid taking an anti-inflammatory. It’s also a great therapeutic option for those suffering from headaches, insomnia, anxiety and fibromyalgia. In addition to the physical benefits that it offers by improving circulation, helping to facilitate muscle tissue repair and reducing pain, massage is a uniquely therapeutic experience. An hour of massage offers clients a chance to focus on their body’s physical sensations and responses in a way we don’t often have time to do. Massage also triggers the release of mood-elevating endorphins, and encourages meditative practices like closed eyes, deep breathing, and total body relaxation. All of these factors help to make massage more than a therapy- it’s also an escape, and a mental break that many of us are craving.
With mounting hard evidence of the undeniable benefits of massage therapy, we should encourage a shift in perspective that embraces massage as a critical part of our ongoing health and wellness journey.
Even non-smokers can appreciate how difficult it is to treat and effectively end an addiction to nicotine.
Quitting smoking is a challenging process that is often interrupted or abandoned mid-way. When we talk about quitting, it’s common to first think of nicotine-weaning remedies like the patch as the best or only means of kicking the craving one step at a time.
Naturopathic medicine can offer a wealth of effective options for people trying to quit smoking. Even patients who are using other over-the-counter remedies can benefit significantly from supplementing their treatment with naturopathic means.
A combined approach is just plain smart, after all. Since quitting smoking usually marks a person’s commitment to ongoing health, it makes sense to make additional positive lifestyle changes at the same time. This will not only facilitate the quitting and healing process, but will also set a new precedent for taking care of one’s body.
A consultation with your naturopathic doctor can help you clarify an individualized course of action that will work best for you. Often we use a combination of botanical medicine, acupuncture and nutritional counselling. Sometimes patients benefit from psychotherapy as well, to help them understand why they smoke, and to offer the necessary emotional support during the quitting process.
Lobelia has a number of therapeutic uses, including the suppression of nicotine cravings.
Certain herbs like lobelia and avena sativa can help to suppress nicotine cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms. In addition to prescribing these, your naturopath will likely recommend some dietary changes. If you’re quitting smoking, you should support your body in every way possible, which means that nutrient-dense meals are essential. It’s critical that you avoid skipping meals or skimping on your diet; behaviours that can trigger intense cravings for a cigarette. Many people say they smoke to suppress appetite, so quitting means properly addressing your body’s actual nutritional needs. Planned snacking, chewing sugar-free gum and drinking plenty of water are great ways to break the habit of reaching for a cigarette. This keeps your hands and mouth busy during the initial stages of quitting when you might feel jittery and fidgety to the point of distraction.
Acupuncture has also proven effective for many patients quitting smoking, and is used as a way to minimize cravings and restlessness. Thin acupuncture needles target various points in the body and specifically the ears, which are believed to trigger and channel the cravings. You can also enhance your treatment with massage therapy –a great way to relax yourself and refocus your mind.
A final consideration? Establishing a relationship with a naturopathic doctor or team can help to keep you accountable. The combined approach gives you both physical and emotional support, so that you have all your bases covered, so to speak, as you start the process of quitting.
If you’re going to quit, do it right! Take a completely inclusive approach to recovery. Since smoking often has much to do with appetite, emotion, stress and habit, all of these considerations should be factored into your treatment.
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
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!