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!

Contest of the Month

It is contest time!

First off, our last contest was won by Bill B of Acton.

This month we are playing for a $25 gift card to Eastern Mountain Sports on Route 2A in Acton.

Seeing as how the winter months are coming up, today’s contest will involve our favorite topic, snow!

As always please hit the comment button below to answer the questions and be entered for the $25 gift card.

  1. How much snow does 1″of rain make on average?
  2. There are three types of snow. The first is the snowflake, what are the other two?
  3. What is a cornice?

Best of luck with the contest and make sure to hit the comment button below to enter!

Caffeine in Peanut Butter!

I know this will make me a little off from the norm, however, I am not a huge fan of caffeine.

I know, I know, you need it to wake up, get through the day, etc.

I’m sorry I don’t buy it.

Like anything else, it all started so innocently. A small cup of coffee or tea with a friend and now we are a country full of caffeine addicts.

Don’t believe me?

20 years ago a cup of coffee was 8oz. Today if it is less than 16 oz people think there is something wrong with it.

Now I know that the government says that 3 to 5 coffees a day is just fine, as long as you don’t add sugar and cream to it.

Please do not get me started on energy drinks that are marketed to kids.

Ever tried not drinking caffeine for a few days? It is not pretty. Within hours of not having your expected caffeine, you will start to get a headache. Go a few more hours and the irritability will start to creep up.  Depression and lethargy soon follow.

Does this sound like something that is good for you? If you decided to stop drinking orange juice would you have the same reaction?

Now that I have, hopefully, made a case for consuming less caffeine, there is a new product on the market for our consumption.

Caffeine peanut butter!

Caffeine peanut butter’s suggested serving size of 2 tablespoons has 5 times more caffeine than a can of soda. (You did know that soda has caffeine right?!?)

It has twice the caffeine of Red Bull.

US Senator Charles Schumer is calling for the FDA to investigate the peanut butter. His worry is the health risk that it poses, especially to children.

If you have to have caffeine, please be very careful in what products you choose to get it from. You may be consuming way more than you think.

 

 

 

Texting While Walking

Girl TextingWhile most of us are aware that you are not allowed to text and drive, a couple of new studies are now looking at the effect of texting while walking.

Did you know that London has put bumpers on light posts on city streets due to people walking into them while texting on their phones? How about text lanes on staircases at Utah Valley State. While the latter was done as a bit of a joke, this is actually becoming a serious issue.

While we understand the dangers of tripping, falling down stairs or walking into things, only until recently did we look at the effect texting and walking had on our posture and gait.

According to a study out of the University of Queensland, texting and walking alters not just your posture but also your balance. In their study they found that the subjects heads were assuming a flexed or tucked chin position. Anyone that has been in my office knows that I am an absolute nut about keeping your head from that flexed position.

Another study, this time at Texas A&M, looked at how we actually walk. They took participants and gave them three tasks: 1. Walk Normal 2. Walk while texting 3. Walk while texting and being distracted by a math problem.

Want to guess which of the scenarios produced slower walking, shorter strides, and an inability to walk in a straight line? Let me help you, it wasn’t the first one.

An altered gait can have severe consequences on your legs, hips and most importantly your spine.

As texting becomes more integrated in our lives, lets be smart about how and when we are doing it. Definitely not while driving and let’s give some consideration to limiting it while we are walking around.

Tech Neck

Tech neckWhen I observe my teen age children and their technology use, one thing hits me: The laptop may be close to obsolete. These kids today are using their cellphones for almost everything.

From email, to looking up directions, to perusing the menu of their favorite take-out place, the cell phone is now the primary screen and the laptop or desktop is now the secondary screen.

When I did a recent talk to a local company, I noticed the same thing. People were on their phones, a lot!

While this is awesome, as we are more mobile than ever, what is not awesome is what these devices are doing to our bodies.

Quick anatomy lesson. The most important area of your spine for general health is the neck area, also known as the cervical spine. The cervical spine houses the brain stem, start of the spinal cord, and the nerves that control your arms, head, and nervous system.

Through research we have discovered that the cervical spine, in order for it to function optimally, must have a curve in it. When this curve is present there is less stress on the nerves, spinal cord and ultimately the brain stem.

The issue with society going to a smaller, more mobile screen, is the position we put ourselves in to look at the screen. Watch a person use their phones or tablets and you will see a recurring pattern. Device is held down at their lap and the head is flexed forward so that the chin is practically touching their chest.

This posture takes the natural curve out of the spine and over long periods of time can cause a structural shift in the neck that can prove to be quite painful. Secondary conditions including neck pain, arm pain, carpal tunnel like wrist pain, numbness and muscle spasm are quite common.

What is not measurable is how much this pain slows you down. As any of us who have been in pain can attest to; you are definitely not at your optimal when you are hurting. If you lose even 10% of your energy due to dealing with this pain, what does that cost you in terms of business? If you are a student, what is it costing you in terms of grades?

The question that I get everyday in the office is how can we fix this? Here are some tips:

  • Do not keep device down by your belt line, hold it up higher, even with your shoulders.
  • Tuck your arms in against your body to take the stress off your shoulders and arms, bringing the device closer to you.
  • Take frequent breaks. Watching movies on your phone for long periods of time is a horrible idea.

If you are starting to experience pain in the arms, hands or neck, consider seeing someone that focuses on structural correction. If you do not know anyone near you, feel free to contact me and I will help you find someone.

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.

 

 

Are You Taking a Weight Loss Supplement?

Runner crossing a metal bridge at sunrise during morning traininIn a quest to stay or get slimmer, many people will take a weight loss supplement.

Do you really know what you are taking? What if I told you that one of the substances could me a close cousin to amphetamines?

Take a look at the ingredient list of a weight loss supplement like Jet Fuel t300, a weight loss supplement easily found on Amazon or in places like the Vitamin Shop. If you read the ingredients list you will see lots of really big words. Two of the words you may see are Acacia Rigidula.

More than a year ago, the FDA concluded that products labeled as having Acacia Rigidula, a perennial shrub found in south Texas and Mexico, instead contained a synthetic chemical cousin to amphetamines called BMPEA.

Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and lead author on this study states, “Acacia Rigidula is code in the industry for a potent synthetic stimulant, they are using the name as a cover.”

BMPEA has not been studied in humans, however, in dogs and cats it has been shown to raise blood pressure and heart rates. The World Anti Doping Agency classifies it as a doping agent due to its close relation to amphetamines.

Amphetamine use has been shown to trigger stroke, heart attack or even death according to Dr. Cohen.

While the American government has not taken formal action yet, Britain and Canada have both spoken out about the product, with the Canadian government recalling products like Jet Fuel Superburn.

If you have any questions about supplements you are taking please feel free to contact us and we will work with you to look at all the ingredients.

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

 

Children Training for Sports

RemembeEarly Youth Specialization in Sportsr when you were growing up and you went outside to play, relatively unsupervised (Gasp!)?

In the spring you played baseball, the summer you swam, the fall you’d play two hand touch/tackle football and in the winter you would skate when the ponds froze. There were no adults, refs or scoreboards. There was trash talking, competition, and most of all fun. I still remember fondly the touchdown catch I had on Kimball St. in Quincy to beat the kids from White St.

Let’s just say it is not like that anymore.

The Boston Globe ran an article in which they covered a gym that specializes in training young athletes for the sport(s) of their choice. At first I thought they were talking about teens, however, as I read on I discovered they were talking about kids as young as ten. Ten!

For the longest time, the thought was exercising before puberty would stunt growth by closing the growth plates earlier than they should. New research suggests that exercising at a young age, if done responsibly, is actually good for bone growth.

Now look, we are not talking about having kids bench press 200 pounds or squat 300 pounds.

We are talking about having kids exercise with body weight. If they do graduate to using weights, then the weight is kept low while the reps are high.

Now with all of this comes the one worry: Further specialization in sports at a younger and younger age.

Recently there was an excellent graphic that showed the breakdown of Ohio State’s football recruits. Of the 47 recruits 5 played only football in high school. 42 were multi-sport athletes!

Why am I writing about this?

Overuse injuries.

Every day I am seeing more and more kids with spines and complaints similar to those of someone 20-30 years their superior. It is not unusual for kids to come and see me with back pain, neck pain, headaches, or various joint pains. Many of these kids are playing one sport sometimes up to 6 days per week for 40-50 weeks a year.

Each year 3.5 million kids under the age of 14 are treated for sports injuries with more than half being treated for overuse. The sad part is that the number of overuse injuries is on the rise, while the average age is on the decline. In the past 10 years there has been a 5 fold increase in shoulder and elbow injuries in youth softball and baseball players alone.

As a long time hockey coach, trust me when I tell you this. Early specialization almost never pans out. The amount of burnout that I see is staggering. Latest stats claim that 70% of kids by will quit sports by the time they are 13.

As a long time chiropractor, trust me when I tell you, early specialization will age your child’s body way before it’s time.