Movement Is Important

From the moment that human beings evolved, we were moving. Whether to track down our next meal or to avoid being that for another creature, we kept our bodies going. Obesity was not an issue because physical activity was so common-that is, until recent generations when the most we tend to move is from chair to chair.

Our bodies are made for a full range of motions, and sitting all day isn't good for them. Studies have shown that sitting too much can lead to:

Lowered metabolism.

Increased risk of back pain.

Drop in healthy cholesterol.

Elevated increase in risk of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers state that sitting too much is even worse than not exercising enough! 

Why is movement so important? It's what our bodies were designed to do. With every movement, complex systems are put into place; it's not just one muscle that makes your body move. When speaking about children and movement, we refer to it as gross motor skills, and moving those large muscles helps a child to grow appropriately and gain balance and coordination. Even once grown, if we don't use our muscles regularly, they will begin to atrophy and not work for you as well as needed. 

If you have a job that has you sitting a majority of the time, schedule a few minutes each hour to get up and move. Walk around the office, go grab a drink of water, or walk outside. Talk on the phone while "pacing" in your office. Do little stretches from time to time. 

After work, plan time to play! Go for a walk, ride, or swim; spend some time at the gym; throw the ball with your child or dog. Anything you can do to get your body moving as it was built to do will pay off in keeping you healthy! 

Christie Collier
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Are you SAD? On dark and wintry days, some people are happy to curl up with a good book and some hot cocoa—while others, with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), feel low until the sun breaks through the clouds. Winter in the Midwest is as gray as it is long. On average, we receive less than seven days of sunshine per month from November through March. The cloudy sky, strong winds and frigid air is enough to damper anyone's spirits. For those suffering from SAD though, winter brings with it more than the occasional bout of the winter blues.

The season can be a debilitating time for individuals with the disorder. An Overview. SAD is a form of depression that occurs during the same season each year, most commonly during the winter months. First diagnosed centuries ago in Scandinavia, the disorder primarily plagues those living in cold weather climates that experience prolonged periods with little to no sunlight. Physiologically, the body is responding to a lack of exposure to light, resulting in altered levels of serotonin and melatonin. Symptoms. Individuals affected by SAD may experience: Lack of motivation or decreased interest in everyday activities Increase or decrease in appetite Difficulty concentrating Change in sleep patterns Altered energy level Social withdrawal Appearance of some or all of the above symptoms at the same time each year SAD sufferers often isolate themselves to their homes and avoid social interaction. This isolation only deepens the depression. What can you do? Below are tips to reduce or prevent SAD symptoms naturally. See your Chiropractor.Though not a treatment for SAD, the Chiropractic approach has been a blessing to countless individuals who suffer from seasonal depression. "The symptoms that SAD encompasses fall under the category of stress, which is a major trigger for vertebral subluxations. It's no coincidence that SAD typically falls around the holidays when we’re stressed with family, financially, and may be over-extending ourselves. Maintaining a consistent chiropractic adjustment schedule is essential for dealing with the stressors of SAD." Chiropractors take a natural, drug-free approach by correcting vertebral subluxations (nerve interferences) in the spine. Chiropractic care allows the body to operate at its full potential. Get Outdoors and Exercise Getting outdoors and getting fresh air even when the sky is gray can help to alleviate SAD symptoms. Direct Sunlight is the best way for our bodies to absorb Vitamin D. 20-30 minutes in the sun will get us approximately 10-50,000 units of Vitamin D. Supplements typically come in 500-1000 units, so we can see why most research lists nearly 70% of Americans as being Vitamin D deficient. Exercise should be fun, so it becomes something to look forward to each day. Running, walking briskly, ice skating or sledding with children are great ways to enjoy the winter weather. Leave Home This is especially tough for SAD sufferers because the natural inclination is to stay in and avoid social outings. SAD sufferers are encouraged to do the exact opposite of what they feel like doing. If the last thing you want to do is leave home, do just that. Pick up the phone and make a plan to meet up with a friend or family member. Enjoy dinner out on the town, catch a play or head to a museum. Try Light Therapy Light therapy has been found to be quite effective for SAD patients. A light therapy box emits light that mimics natural outdoor light. The box is thought to alter one’s circadian rhythms and suppress the body's natural release of melatonin, causing chemical changes in the brain which reduce SAD symptoms. Individuals sit in front of the light equipment for 20-30 minutes daily. The initial investment generally ranges from $200-400 for a light box. On a budget? Try florescent compact bulbs. These bright lights can actually change the levels of melatonin in your brain, inhibiting depression. They’re also very inexpensive! Change Your Diet Eating a low fat diet that includes an adequate amount of protein can help. You should also eliminate sugar and carbs as much as possible and avoid caffeine. Remember caffeine is in most sodas, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Limiting wheat and dairy consumption during the holidays can be a challenge, however over indulging in these items promote inflammation and tend to make us feel sluggish. Peppermint oil also helps with sadness and depression. Inhale a whiff to get a burst of energy! Add chili peppers to your diet—chili peppers contain capsaicin, which boost energy and can enhance circulation. Try ginger tea to help boost your metabolism and increase weight loss. Take Vitamins Some find that taking vitamins that contain magnesium, B complex, and minerals are helpful. Vitamin D is especially important to SAD sufferers and is one of the most important nutrients for our entire body. It has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis, cancer, depression, heart disease, and SAD. The best form of Vitamin D comes from natural sunlight which can be acquired by getting outside for at least 20 minutes a day (without sunscreen) during the strongest time of day—generally between 10 am – 2 pm. When supplementing, always choose Vitamin D3 cholecaciferol, not vitamin D2 ergocalciferol which the body has to convert to vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be acquired from cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, sardines, liver and eggs. You may want to pass on Vitamin D Fortified Milk –in most cases it’s counterproductive to healing the immune system. Other nutritional supplements that can be used are: Probiotics. There is scientific evidence that links low levels of Vitamin D and low levels of Probiotics to an increased risk of many medical conditions. Vitamin D, Probiotics and Chicken soup have also been effective in the past in combating viral infections like Flu. St. Johns Wort. This herb has traditionally been used to treat mild depression and anxiety. Be sure you are taking a pharmaceutical grade and that it does not conflict with medications you may be taking. SAMe. This is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. Melatonin. This natural hormone helps regulate mood. A change in the season may change the level of melatonin in the body. Some people try taking melatonin supplements, but discuss this with your health care provider first before doing so as it may be contraindicated with certain medications. Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements have been show to relieve mild depression or anxiety symptoms in some studies. Sources of omega-3’s include fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackeral and herring. Flaxsee, flax oil and walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids, and small amounts are found in soybean and canola oils. Gingko Biloba. Gingko biloba makes you more alert and boosts your brain power. AcupuntureAccording to traditional Chinese medicine, winter is a time of quietness and a time to rebuild your energy stores for the coming seasons. One relaxing way to do this is with acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is well known for its positive effect on pain, mood, and hormone disorders. A few rebalancing treatments can get you out of that slump and get you back on track to enjoy the winter season. A commonly used acupuncture point is Governing Vessel 20 (GV 20), located at the highest point of the body—the center of the top of the head. It is one of the main points used to increase energy, clear the head, and treat insomnia. Try it out by gently pressing the point with your finger for 20 seconds, several times per day.

(American Chiropractic Association)

Christie Collier
WORKING OUT AND SLEEP

Day in and day out you train hard in the gym. You make sure you're pushing heavy weights. You take appropriate rest periods, and you ensure that you use only the most effective exercises within the context of your program.


You also have your best game on when it comes to your diet. You get enough lean protein each day and supplement this with natural sources of carbohydrates focused around the workout period, then add enough healthy fats to keep testosterone levels where they need to be.

You think you have everything covered, right? Well, you may want to reconsider. One often overlooked but crucial aspect of any workout program is SLEEP. That's right -- the time of the day when everything comes to a standstill can have a significant impact on your success at the gym. Working out and sleep are interdependent, and it's important to understand how they work together.

Let's look at the impacts of working out and sleep.

HORMONAL RELEASE

The first major way sleep will impact your results in the gym is with the hormonal release that it provides. Your body releases a growth hormone at its highest concentration during a 24-hour period when you're at rest during the night. Since growth hormones are closely correlated to muscle-size increases, you want to maximize this hormone as much as you can.

In one study published in the Growth Hormone & IGF Research journal, researchers pointed to the fact that in women, the  growth hormone is released in smaller bursts throughout the day. In men, however, there tends to be a single burst released, and it is heavily correlated with the onset of sleep, specifically slow-wave sleep. Guys who sleep less and spend less time in slow-wave sleep tend to notice a decline in the overall growth hormone released, and this slows down the rate of muscle building.

In addition to growth hormone, men who are sleep-deprived also tend to show higher evening cortisol levels in the body, and cortisol is a hormone that directly opposes muscle building. Rather than encouraging new tissue to be built up throughout the day, it encourages the breakdown of body tissue. As a result, higher releases of cortisol will take you further from the optimum recovery state that you want to be in before your next workout.

MUSCULAR REPAIR

When you sleep the repair process that goes on while you're at rest is more evidence of the interdependence of working out and sleep. Every time you lift weights in the gym (Crossfitters) and overload your muscles, you're going to create tiny micro-tears in the muscle tissue. It's when these micro-tears are repaired and built back up that you notice strength and size gains, so shorting yourself of the repair process is a severe hindrance.the immune system works overtime to repair the body of all the damage that it experienced during the day (as a whole system, not just the muscle cells specifically). If you don't give your body enough time to carry out this process, you may not see the muscle recovery you need. This leaves you weaker going into your next workout and slows the rate of progress down. 

METABOLIC MAINTENANCE

If you hope to build lean muscle mass without gaining body fat in the process or are looking to lose excess body fat while retaining all the lean tissue you currently have, making sure your metabolism is functioning optimally is essential. This means having a healthy response to carbohydrates consumed, maintaining a strong metabolic rate and showing a good regulatory system of hunger and appetite.

Unfortunately, when sleep levels are low, your metabolism tends to get altered. First, blood sugar levels are not regulated as well as they should be, putting you in a state similar to that of a diabetic.

Test subjects in a study who slept for 8 hours for 3 nights, 4 hours for the next 6 nights, and then were allowed a recovery period of 12 hours of sleep for the following week demonstrated that, at the peak of their sleep debt, they took 40% longer than normal to respond and regulate blood-glucose levels following a carbohydrate-rich meal. This may explain why, after a late night and little sleep, you find yourself constantly hungry despite having eaten a meal.

Finally, lack of sleep tends to suppress the thyroid hormone, which is the primary regulator of how many calories you burn on a daily basis just to exist. If you want to burn off fat as best as possible, it's important that you maximize your metabolism to move the process along.

JUST GO TO BED!

Don't underestimate how much sleep can affect your success with regards to your training. If you want maximum results from your diet and workouts, you should be getting your eight hours of sleep. Far too many of us are letting unimportant events or activities creep into these late-night hours and it's time you started rethinking that.

Resources:

Copinschi, G., Van Cauter, E. "Interrelationships between growth hormone and sleep." Growth Hormone and IGF Research (2000): 10 Suppl B. S57-62.

Copinschi, G. "Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening." Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine. (1997): Vol 20(10). 865-870.

 

 

SNOW SAFETY TIPS TO PREVENT BACK PAIN

November 12, 2014

 

1. WARM UP – SHOVELING USES MANY MUSCLES IN YOUR BODY – ARMS, SHOULDERS, LEGS, AND UPPER AND LOWER BACK. WARMING UP WITH A FEW GENTLE STRETCHING EXERCISES AND A SHORT WALK AROUND THE BLOCK BEFORE YOU EVEN PICKUP THE SHOVEL COULD SAVE YOU PAIN TOMORROW. 


2. Use proper tools – A shovel that is the appropriate height and weight will help reduce the need to hunch over when shoveling. Before buying snow equipment, test it out in the store to see how it feels, and make sure it is the proper size for you and the type of work that will be done.

3. Lifts with your legs, don’t twist or hunch – When shoveling, try to avoid lifting a full shovel of snow using your back muscles. Instead, bend your knees and lift with your legs, keep your back aligned, try to stand as straight as is comfortable with your knees bend and your feet hip-width apart. In addition, you should avoid twisting your upper torso because it can aggravate the muscles in your back. Instead, turn your whole body.

4. Switch sides while shoveling – Like dribbling a basketball, people tend to favor one hand or side of their body when they’re shoveling. To avoid using the same muscles to do the same movement repetitively, try switching sides every few minutes to avoid muscle fatigue.

5. Pace yourself and know your limits– Ease into winter clean up and take regular breaks every 15-20 minutes. Stop, walk around, stretch and enjoy some hot chocolate. These frequent breaks will give you time to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy the winter weather.

6. Exercise year-round – People who exercise year round are less likely to injure themselves while doing outdoor chores, as their muscles are more accustomed to physical activity.

Christie Collier
Poor Running Mechanics

Learning proper running skills to identify errors in running mechanics. For example, when sprinting, anteriorly rotating the pelvis during acceleration increases tension on the hamstrings, and this tension could result in a hamstring pull.

If you want to learn proper running and don’t have a working background in biomechanics, find an accomplished sprint coach who can teach you how to teach running. A great print resource is Running: Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology in Practice by Frans Bosch and Ronald Klomp (Churchill Livingston, 2005). It’s 424 pages of heavy reading, but it also comes with an excellent DVD that shows how to put the information into practice.

I’ll also mention here that sprinters should avoid running on treadmills – even the fancy high-speed treadmills that many professional sports teams use. Running on a treadmill increases the risk of hamstring injuries because such training decreases the hip extensor function of the hamstrings.

Inadequate Warm-up and Cooldown
Improperly designed workouts can cause hamstring injuries. A proper warm-up is needed to prepare the muscles for sprinting. For example, rather than static stretching, a series of dynamic stretches will more properly prepare the muscles and nervous system for the hard work ahead. Likewise, what you do after a workout is important. After a sprint session, muscles often have a high level of tension – the best time to perform static stretching to relax the muscles is immediately after the cooldown, not several hours later. The "Crossfit" system is designed for this.

Overtraining
It takes years to work up to a high volume of training, and even then athletes must make careful choices in their lifestyles, nutrition and supplementation to safely handle such training methods. So if an athlete is working full-time at a stressful job and walking on concrete all day, then they probably will not be able to train like an Olympian or competitive athlete.

Not Working All Functions of the Hamstrings
The hamstrings have two primary functions: to extend the hip and to flex the knee. One effective exercise to develop both functions is the glute-ham raise. It also can help resolve structural imbalances between the medial hamstrings (semitendinosus and semimembranosus), which rotate the foot inward, and the lateral hamstrings (biceps femoris), which rotate the foot outward. For example, if an athlete runs with their feet turned excessively outward, I would have them perform the glute-ham raise with their feet turned slightly inward. If they run with their feet turned excessively inward, I would have them perform the exercise with their feet turned slightly outward. 

Structural Imbalances
Most Chiropractors and physiotherapists will recommend a hamstrings-to-quadriceps ratio of 66 percent, meaning that your hamstrings should be able to produce 66 percent of the force of the quadriceps. 

Is there a simple field test to determine your hamstrings to quad ratio? The following field test is correlated to low levels of hamstrings pulls: simply compare your maximal front squat to your back squat. If your front-squat strength is less than 85 percent of your back squat, then you have a structural imbalance. That is of course, assuming that range is FULL, ass-to-grass type of squats.

Further, it’s important to have structural balance not just between the quadriceps and the hamstrings, but between each leg. The strength of the right hamstring should be equal to the strength of the left – this is why it is important to always include unilateral leg exercises such as split squats and step-ups in the workouts for athletes to correct those deficiencies before performing a squat program.


Lack of Eccentric Loading in Strength Workouts
The most commonly injured hamstring muscle is the biceps femoris, so it’s wise to include eccentric training protocols when working this muscle. For example, to increase eccentric loading during a leg curl, you could lift the weight with both legs, and then lower it with just one. Eccentric loading is useful in helping improve sprint performance.

Inappropriate Loading Parameters
One of the primary reasons athletes have weak hamstrings is they use the wrong rep schemes and perform an insufficient volume of work. The hamstrings, especially the biceps femoris, are primarily fast-twitch fibers and respond better to high-intensity exercise. Inappropriate loading parameters that impose insufficient loads will make these fibers more susceptible to injuries during high levels of athletic performance.


Adhesions and Scar Tissue
Adhesions and scar tissue in the hamstrings and associated muscles not only can affect sprinting performance but also are associated with excess tightness that can contribute to hamstring injury. One of the most effective methods of treating this type of soft-tissue problem is with Active Release Techniques Treatment® (ART), which was developed by Dr. Mike Leahy. ART is especially effective in restoring normal muscle function because the area being treated is moved through its optimal range of motion. Often a single treatment can completely restore muscle function, but of course the number of treatments is determined by a variety of factors, including the seriousness of the injury.  Personally working under Dr. Leahy and taking ART courses, I have seen the effectiveness of this treatment.  Also, implementing into my practice has produced amazing results.

Improper Use of NSAIDS
NSAIDs, an acronym for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are often used to deal with the pain and inflammation associated with hamstring pulls. One problem with using NSAIDs is that they can interfere with the healing of the tissues. Rather than using NSAIDS, there are many effective nutraceuticals that act like drugs without producing many of the side effects associated with drugs. For example, to deal with inflammation, consider effective nutraceuticals such as omega 3 fish oil, vitamin D3 and probiotics.

There are many other possible causes of hamstring sinjuries, but by addressing these issues you’ll greatly reduce your risk of a hamstring injury

Christie Collier