One of the Best Things You Can Buy Yourself

Everyday I get asked a question, “Doc, what can I do to help myself at home?”Exercise Ball

I have to tell you, I LOVE that question.

See, coming to see someone like me is like entering into a partnership. I help you in the office, you help you at home.

As you can probably imagine, it does not always work out that way. You get home with the best of intentions and then work needs something, dinner needs to get made, and before you know it, it’s 11:00 and you wonder where the day went. Before you know it you are back in my office a few days later telling me that you felt good for a day or so but now it is back. My goal is to give you a simple solution that you can do at home in a short period of time.

The number one thing that you can do at home is work on your core.

Now there is a common misconception is that the core is only abs. While the abs are part of it, your core is made up of: abs, legs, buttocks and low back.

If you want to get serious about protecting your spine and preserving all of the awesome work that I do, yes I know how that sounds, then I strongly recommend that you consider buying yourself an exercise ball. Take a look at this one from Amazon. Exercise Ball -Professional Grade Anti Burst Tested with Hand Pump- Supports 2200lbs- Includes Workout Guide Access- 75cm Balance Balls

As for sizes, 65cm is the norm for most people. Smaller people can go with the 55 and larger people can go with the 75. If you need help deciding, let me know and I will help you pick the proper size.

There are not many body parts that you cannot strengthen on an exercise ball. From stability work for your core, to stretching muscles, to strength and flexibility, the exercise ball is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can buy.

While you are getting the ball, I would strongly recommend a Core work out book as well. This book, also sold on Amazon Balance Ball: Core Cross Train comes very highly recommended.

If you are not sure about what this ball looks like, or want to try it out, stop by the office and you can try mine.

The moral of the story is, the more we can do at home, the more we can protect our investments in the most important thing in the world …. you!

Case of the Month August 2015

FootballAs a chiropractor and long time hockey coach, I have always enjoyed helping athletes. Whether it be the athlete that is looking to increase their bodies ability to perform or help an athlete get back to competition quicker, athletes truly understand the relationship between their body and performance.

In our quest to get our athletes bigger, stronger and faster, there has been a significant increase in concussions over the last 10 years. From 2002 to 2012 the number of reported concussions doubled to 3.8 million!

When an athlete gets concussed, there is often a component of the injury that involves the cervical spine or neck.

In my experience, when an athlete suffers a concussion from being hit, there is a subsequent shifting in the athletes structure, particularly in the upper mid back and neck area.

Once that area has shifted secondary conditions including, muscle spasm, neck pain, headaches and a general feeling of “off” may frequently occur.

This was the case with a young athlete that presented in my office earlier this month.

This patient was playing a sport and collided with another player. The patient immediately did not feel well; reporting neck pain, shoulder pain and a headache.

The patient was smartly held out of competition and reported to my office when the neck and shoulder pain did not get better.

After careful examination I determined there were a couple of areas where the spine had shifted and we got to work improving these areas. One note of interest; the patients balance was severely compromised as they were not able to stand with their eyes closed without significantly swaying both side to side and front to back.

After the first week of care, the patient reported that their neck and shoulder pain had decreased by 75%! While I was really happy with that, what was awesome was seeing their balance issues get resolved.

Within two weeks, all symptoms had resided and the balance had returned to normal.

If you have a son or daughter playing sports and they get a concussion, please make sure you have them evaluated by your chiropractor. You may be surprised at how much they can help.

 

Case of the Month April 2015

I have often said, both in the blog and office, that I have the best job on earth.

Recently I had a patient in the office that was hurting. Not only was their low back hurting, he looked like a pretzel as he was all twisted up.

After a thorough history and examination, I determined that he had a significant structural shift that was causing a whole host of secondary conditions. While the low back pain and leg pain were bothering him, it was the problem moving his bowels that was bothering him the most.

After the patient’s first visit, he walked out a little straighter than the when he walked in. While there was not an immediate decrease in pain, not unexpected, the patient was moving a little better.

The cool part is what happened two hours later.

The patient reported he had a bowel movement that, well let’s not get too graphic here, was slightly bigger than usual.

The bodies ability to heal itself never ceases to amaze me.

If we get the structure lined up and allow the body to do what it knows how to do, amazing things can and do happen.

 

The Worst Position To Put Your Spine In

Bending in a fieldHere in the Northeast, halfway through January we thought we were going to have a mild and easy winter.

Mother Nature had other ideas.

In a short period of time, we got a record amount of snow. Truly a crazy amount.

With all of this snow came the inevitable shoveling, an activity that is not the best for your low back to say the least.

Now that the snow has cleared, people are starting to think about gardening and once again shoveling may come into play.

Here is my issue with shoveling…the worst position that you can put your back in is bending forward and twisting or side bending.

Please allow for a brief anatomy lesson.

As a chiropractor, I work with peoples’ structure to maintain proper weight distribution within their spine. We strive for 50/50 weight distribution between the right and left with 50/50 distribution from front to back.

When we bend forward, the weight shifts to the front of the spine. When we bend to a side, the weight shifts to that side. The body is designed to handle those singular movements.

The problem comes in when we combine the two.

When we bend forward and twist or side bend, all of the weight goes onto 25% of the spine. This creates tremendous pressure within the discs of the low back.

Eventually that pressure has to go somewhere and more often than not it results in a shifting of the structure which then leads to a whole host of secondary conditions, with back pain being at the top of the list.

It may also lead to the disc breaking open, also called a herniation, and that has another whole host of secondary conditions, with sciatica being at the top of that list.

As you get older, you must limit the amount of time you spend bending and twisting. The sad reality is as we age our discs dry out and can handle less pressure. The more we bend and twist/side bend, the higher our chances are of shifting our structure or worse, blowing out a disc.

If you have been spending a lot of time in less than ideal positions, email or call us and we can discuss strategies to help you stay upright and pain free.

 

 

Crossfit

As a health care provider, I constantly stress the need for exercise.

The benefits of exercise, if being done correctly, are unquestioned. If being done correctly!

In the last couple of years, a new Gym has burst on the scene called Crossfit. As Crossfit grew, news, both positive and negative, flooded the airwaves. People were loving their results, while other people were saying they were getting hurt.

I decided to visit a local Crossfit gym to learn first hand what it was all about.

I met with Robby Blanchard the owner of Crossfit Reach on Route 27 in Acton Ma. I found Robby to be knowledgeable, passionate and excited about helping people reach their fitness goals. The gym is beautiful and I was impressed at how much care Robby took in regards to teaching people about exercising the proper way.

I asked him if he write a guest post for the blog. His article is below.

____________________________________________________________________

How to use CrossFit to achieve your fitness goals…in a safe and effective way. 
When it comes to fitness programs, there is no more popular and controversial program than CrossFit.  In just a few short years, CrossFit has gone from being just one small gym in California to now being a worldwide phenomenon with over 10,000 gyms.
The success of CrossFit stems from the results people see from doing the workouts.
CrossFit workouts are functional meaning they use movements that mimic things you may see in everyday life.  Sitting down in a chair? That’s a squat.  Looking to pick something heavy off of the floor? That is a deadlift. CrossFit utilizes functional training to prepare the body for everyday life. By combining these functional movements with other movements such as
With all of the success and results that people are seeing from CrossFit, there are still many concerns about injuries and getting seriously hurt from this type of training.
As the owner of CrossFit Reach in Acton, MA, I see hundreds of clients each and every day. We see clients with various backgrounds and abilities; from the world class athlete to the everyday Joe starting from scratch. Regardless of the background, our gym treats every client the same when it comes to performing CrossFit movements safely.
I firmly believe in the concept of M.C.I., or Mechanics, Consistency and Intensity.
Mechanics can be defined as how well you are performing a certain movement in CrossFit.  Mechanics or form, is by far the most important aspect of preventing injury.  If your form is incorrect, you greatly increase the chances of getting hurt.  When you first start to CrossFit, it is best to forget about how much weight you are lifting, leave your ego at the door and work towards perfecting your form.
Consistency builds on the Mechanics.  Now that you have proper form down, now you need to be able to do this consistently.  Consistency also refers to attending classes and working out regularly as well.  Here at CrossFit Reach we recommend a minimum of 3 days per week to start. If you are coming just once or twice a week, this increases the chances of getting injured. Start on a 3 day per week regiment and gradually build from there.
Intensity is the last step on the journey. Your mechanics are good and you are able to be consistent in both your form and your workout routine.  Once the first two are mastered then we can add in the Intensity. This can be in several different shapes such as how much weight you are lifting or how fast your are doing a movement.  It is important to increase intensity to continue to see results, just as long as you are not sacrificing the mechanics and consistency.
When done properly, CrossFit can be one of the most effective workout routines that you can do at any age.  Above all it is important to leave your ego at the door and do not be a hero. Start small, be consistent and progress at your own pace.  Fitness is a journey and not a destination, a marathon and not a sprint. If you follow these principles, you will be very satisfied with the results!
Robby Blanchard, BS, MBA, CPT
Owner/CrossFit Reach

 

Mediterranean Diet and Aging

VegetablesHave you heard of the Mediterranean diet?

If not, please allow me to give a quick synopsis.

The Mediterranean diet consists of eating mostly fruits, vegetable, poultry, whole grains and select fats. If you picture the typical food pyramid, red meats and sweets are at the top, meaning you should limit those. The base of the pyramid is fruits, veggies, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. The base of the pyramid represents what you should eat the most.

Red wine is also allowed in small amounts, 5oz for women and 10oz for men, per day.

A common misconception in the Mediterranean diet is that bread is not allowed. That is not true. Whole grain bread eaten either plain or dipped in olive oil is definitely included.

Now how does this link to aging?

In a study that followed 4,600 women, women who stuck more closely to a Mediterranean diet were found to have longer telomeres. Telomeres are a biomarker of aging found at the end of each chromosome in the body. Think plastic tip on shoelaces.

The longer the telomere, the longer the longevity. Shorter telomeres are associated with chronic age related diseases and early death.

Are the researchers on to something? Only time will tell, however, there is no doubt that a healthier diet will leave you feeling better.

An Acid That You Want to Know About

Palmitoleic Acid could become a household word in the near future. Why you ask? Please let me explain.

In a small study at Ohio State, 16 adults, all of whom had metabolic syndrome, were fed the exact same diets, which changed every 3 weeks for a total of 18 weeks. The diet started with 47 grams of carbs and 84 grams of saturated fat each day and ended with 346 grams of carbs and 32 grams of saturated fat.

The diets included a consistent 130 grams of protein and added up to 2500 calories per day.

346 carbs is significant as this is what a typical American eats per day.

Average weight loss during the study was 22 pounds…not too shabby!

Where does Palmitoleic acid (PA) come in? Interestingly, as the participants were transitioned from a high saturated fat to a high carbo diet, the PA increased.

Increased PA levels in the blood have been linked to obesity and put people at a higher risk for inflammation and if you have been hanging around with me long enough, you know that I think inflammation is one of the biggest things we should be aware of.

High PA levels are also linked to diabetes, heart disease and prostate cancer, amongst other things.

Jeff Volek, a professor at Ohio State, states, “People believe ‘you are what you eat,’ but in reality, you are what you save from what you eat. The point is you don’t necessarily save the saturated fat that you eat. And the primary regulator of what you save in terms of fat is the carbohydrate in your diet. Since more than half of Americans show some signs of carb intolerance, it makes more sense to focus on carb restriction than fat restriction.”

While this study is small, it certainly puts out some food for thought (see what I did there!!!) about the relationship between carbs and weight gain.

 

 

 

The $950,000 Baby

BabyYou know how new parents all think their kids are priceless? It turns out there may be a price tag after all for that little bundle of joy.

Try $950,000 on for size!

A Canadian woman, who was six months pregnant, went to Hawaii for a vacation. They checked with their doctor and after he cleared it, they bought medical insurance that would cover her while she was in the states in addition to the insurance that they already had in Canada.

As luck would have it, Mom’s water breaks, and out comes the baby, 3 months early, while they are in Hawaii!

Here is where it get’s interesting.

Between the hospital and neonatal care, the bill was $950,000.

The couple, having not one but two insurance policies, thought they were all set.

They were not.

The US company agreed to pay $12,000 citing the pregnancy as a pre-existing condition?!? The Canadian insurance company agreed to pay $20,000.

The Canadian couple is on the hook for the remaining $918,000!

Moral of the story…if you are traveling out of the country check in with your insurance company to see what may and may not be covered.

 

Fall Cleanup

Fall in the NortheastIf your yard looks anything like mine, it is covered with leaves.

The last couple of weeks has brought in a slew of patients that have hurt themselves doing yard work and I always ask them the same thing … did you warm-up before you started?

I should take pictures of the looks that people give me!

Yes, you need to warm up before you rake leaves, just as you would any endeavor where you are going to use your body.

Let’s breakdown the mechanics of raking leaves. Lots of twisting, typically bent forward, and typically only raking in one direction.

This is a recipe for disaster.

If you want your structure (spine) to treat you right, you must treat it right.

Bent forward and turning is the absolute worst thing you can do to your spine. Doing it cold, without warming up, and you might as well drive straight to my office as soon as you are done!

There is a better way.

First off, stretch.. it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, think basic calisthenics. Make sure you include your shoulders, back, and legs. Don’t forget about the legs!

As you are getting limber, make a plan. Do you have proper rakes, gloves, tarps, bags etc.

If you are raking, remember to keep your posture upright. No bending and twisting. Also, remember, you have two hands, use them! Rake one direction, the rake the other direction. This ensures that you are rotating in both directions and not just in one.

Are you bagging the leaves? If so, make many little piles to pick up so you have to take a break and walk from pile to pile. Are you dragging the leaves to an area? Make sure you don’t overload the tarp to the point that you can’t pull it with ease.

Can you mow the leaves with a bag attachment?

Once you start working, please remember, take frequent breaks. These leaves do not need to be picked up in the next hour. Take your time, your body will thank you!

 

 

Case of the Month July 2014

Car Accident

Have you ever been in a fender bender? Ever notice how sore you are afterwards?

I have a patient that we will call Pat. Pat was involved in an auto accident recently where she was driving, stopped for traffic and a car hit her from behind going close to 40 MPH.

After the accident Pat reported loss of hearing, headaches, vision problems, neck pain, shoulder pain and arm pain. Needless to say Pat was not feeling good and went to the hospital to get everything checked out. Once cleared from there Pat came to see me in the hopes that I would be able to help her.

I discovered that her neck and midback were completely stuck and swollen, not uncommon after a bad auto accident. Her range of motion was limited to almost zero in every range with extreme pain in every direction.

I got to work by adjusting Pat’s thoracic and cervical spine. After the adjustments, I had Pat do range of motion exercises, posture specific stretching and iced both areas. Within one week, Pat was reporting that she was feeling much better. What I was the most excited about was the 50% improvement in range of motion. 50% in one week! (Yes I know, but for me it is the little things.)

As the weeks went by Pat reported that she was moving and feeling better than she had in a long time, even before the accident. The coolest part of all of this was her focus level.

Prior to the accident Pat told me she had a hard time focusing on tasks for any period of time.

Within 3 weeks Pat felt she was getting more done at work in a shorter period of time. Talk about the brain body connection! When you remove the interference from the body, the brain knows what to do!