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!

7 Things you Need to do to Get Ready for Winter

There is no way around it. The days are getting shorter and the temperature is falling. Winter is on it’s way.

While the shorter days are a bummer, no one says you cannot have fun in the winter.

Skiing, snow shoeing and outdoor paddle tennis are just a few of the fantastic winter activities available to us around here.

With that said, here are 7 things you can do to get yourself ready for some winter fun.

  1. Get your butt in gear. Most winter activities require a base of cardiovascular fitness. If you have let yourself go, get moving. Running, walking, elliptical are all great choices.
  2. Strength train your legs. Most winter sports require tremendous leg strength. See your personal trainer or ask me for advice on good leg exercises.
  3. Stretch. Let’s get some length into those muscles. Especially leg, butt and back muscles.
  4. Hydrate. One of the leading issues in my office is dehydration. Dehydration leads to tight muscles, tight muscles lead to injuries.
  5. Work on your core. The better condition your core is in, the better you can handle all that winter throws at you. Not sure where to start? See your personal trainer or ask me when you come into the office.
  6. Take a look at your equipment. Properly maintained equipment is huge in terms of injury prevention. Please do not wait until you get to the slopes to find out your binding is broken on your ski.
  7. Visit your favorite chiropractor! Honestly, what did you think I was going to say! In all seriousness, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The first few weeks of the winter season always brings a rash of patients that have hurt themselves doing activities they haven’t done in 8+ months. Keep these 7 tips in mind to give yourself the best shot at staying injury free.

See you outside!

 

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.

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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.

 

Stress and Business Travel

I was envious this morning as a patient was telling me about all of the upcoming business trips he had coming up. As someone that works in a business that requires almost no travel, I may have a distorted view of reality of what business travel is all about.

When I asked my patient if he was going to have any fun on his trips, he gave me a look that could be described, at best, as odd. “Kevin, you don’t travel much do you?”, he asked. “It is absolutely miserable, I am twice as stressed out traveling than I am in any meeting.”

That got me thinking. Was it him or is business travel that stressful? Harvard Business Review tells me it is that stressful.

As someone that does not need to travel, I have always questioned if it was really necessary. According to an Oxford Economics survey, the Return on Investment of traveling is between 400% and 2000%

Maybe I should start traveling!

Now as they say, nothing in life is free. The cost of this great ROI is quite often stress on the traveler. The study identified the four most common areas of stress in travelers:

  • Delayed or lost baggage
  • Poor internet connections
  • Medium and long haul economy flights
  • Airport delays or layovers

What all of these issues really create is lost time. As the day to day office work accumulates stress levels rise. An international survey found that some managers, faced with a week or more of emails, would simply delete them all upon returning to the office.

Try a few of these tips to see if you can help yourself out:

  • Always have a go bag packed. You know what you will always need on a trip; phone charger, toiletries, etc… buy extras of everything and leave these in your travel bag
  • For men, a wrinked tie is a bad look…roll it up tight and put it in a toilet paper tube…no wrinkles
  • Beat jet lag with excercise, hydration and sunlight.
  • Download 30-40 emails to your laptop, take the time in flight to answer them … less work waiting for you on return is less stress!

While individuals can find their own ways to destress (hello, chiropractic!), companies can contribute in ways as well.

Ask your company about any of the following and see your stress levels shrink a bit:

  • Allow for work from home day after long trips
  • Paying for a spouse if the trip requires a weekend stay
  • If luggage lost, allow employee to purchase enough of a wardrobe for a day or two
  • Pay for access to business class lounges if you don’t automatically qualify

I think that everyone can agree that stress is very real and when a top executive is not working or is working at less than optimal firms lose money. If we can get everyone on the same page of reducing this stress, everyone will win.

Chiropractic is fantastic at reducing stress in the body. Consider seeing your chiropractor for an adjustment after business travel. Your body will thank you for it!

 

 

 

Looking for More Creativity? Start Walking!

I am a pacer. When I need to really think, I pace. I remember before a big high school hockey game that I was coaching, as the game got closer I started pacing as I was going through the different match ups and decisions I knew I was going to have to make. I was driving the poor athletic trainer crazy as he was watching me.

Turns out I might have been on to something!

It is well known that Steve Jobs was a big believer in walking while coming up with new ideas, even going so far as to have walking meetings. Same goes for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Recently, Stanford University did a study that confirmed you think more creatively when you go for a walk.

They took a group of students and over 4 different experiments they had them complete tasks when sitting and walking.

The results were staggering.

In 3 of the studies people were 81%, 88%, and 100% more creative when walking as opposed to sitting. In the fourth study, the subjects that walked were able to come up with one novel idea 100% of the time as opposed to the sitting group that came up with a novel idea 50% of the time.

Why is this…it appears that there is a causal pathway that extends from the physical act of walking to physiological changes to the proximal cognitive process. Got all that? Me neither!

In a nutshell, walking fires up the brain and allows you to break through some creativity barriers.

The study did mention that people were walking with a natural stride and that walking inside on a treadmill vs outside did not show significant differences.

Bottom line is simple…get off the chair and get moving! Your brain will thank you!

 

Exercise and Your Heart

I read something once that said, “You can’t out exercise a bad diet.” I have to be honest, that one surprised me a bit. Growing up I was always told, as long as you exercise enough, you can pretty much eat what you want, within reason.

Recently, the director of the Boston Marathon, a runner that has run in 130 marathons and several Ironman distance triathalons, was diagnosed with coronary artery disease.

Talk about a shock. How could someone in such good condition get coronary artery disease?

It turns out that while exercise will do wonders for your weight, blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol levels, it may fool you and your doctor into thinking your heart is healthier than it is. Particularly if you are eating a terrible diet.

As more studies come out, there is a growing body of research that running a large amount might (key word) actually damage your heart and arteries.

James O’Keefe, a Kansas City cardiologist and ex triathlete, believes that sustained endurance exercise can damage the heart and recommends no more than 20 miles per week at a modest pace.

To say that not all cardiologists are on board with this thinking is a slight understatement.

What everyone seems to be in agreement with is; as you get older, it is imperative that you continue to get your heart and arteries checked, especially if there is a history of heart disease in your family.

 

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Rotating Your Running Sneakers

JoggerI am always asking my patients that are serious runners if they change their shoes out every six months or so.

It turns out I should be asking them a different question…are you rotating between two pairs of shoes all the time?

In a groundbreaking study, researchers in Luxembourg looked at a variety of different things with shoe usage being the most interesting.The study consisted of 264 adult recreational runners.

Of the 264 runners, 116 were classified as single-shoe wearers; runners in this group did 91% of their mileage in the same shoe, and ran in an average of 1.3 pairs of shoes during the study. The other 148 were classified as multiple-shoe wearers; runners in this group tended to have a main shoe, which they wore for an average of 58% of their mileage, but they rotated among an average of 3.6 pairs of shoes for their training during the study.

After processing the data, the researchers found the shoe rotating group had 39% less injuries. 39%!!! That’s huge!

The researchers wrote that this could well be because different shoes distribute the impact forces of running differently, thereby lessening the strain on any given tissue.

When I asked some of the runners that are shoe rotators why they thought this was, they consistently echoed what the researchers thought… midsole height and midsole firmness create differences in gait components such as stride length and ground reaction time.

As the researchers put it, “the concomitant use of different pairs of running shoes will provide alternation in the running pattern and vary external and active forces  on the lower legs during running activity. Whether the reduced [injury] risk can be ascribed to alternation of different shoe characteristics, such as midsole densities, structures or geometries cannot be determined from these results and warrants future research.”

Supporting this idea of reducing injury risk by varying tissue loads, the researchers also found that runners who reported more cross-training had a lower incidence of injury.

“Multiple shoe use and participation in other sporting activities are strategies leading to a variation of external and internal loads applied to the musculoskeletal system that could have a beneficial effect on [running injuries]. Although speculative, it could be that any training paradigm that limits excess repetitions will decrease the risk of [running injuries], especially overuse injuries,” the researchers wrote.

I will add in one more thought, however, this one is mine alone and not backed up by research yet. Wearing multiple pairs of shoes allows the shoes you are wearing a longer time to dry out. This makes for a lighter shoe.

No matter what the reasons are, if you are serious about running, get yourself multiple pairs of shoes and make sure that you are rotating them consistently!

Shameless plug time…the runners who keep up with their chiropractic care tell me they run faster, further and with greater ease. If you haven’t had your spine checked in a while, drop in and we will help keep you in top running shape.

5 Reasons Your Weight Loss Resolution is Failing

Did you know that January 17th is the most common day that people break their New Years Resolution? Where did I get that date? Well the internet of course, so it must be true!

What we do know if that approximately 62% of people will make New Years Resolutions. The bummer is that only 8% will ever achieve their resolution.

Want to take a guess at the number one resolution? Yes, losing weight.

With that said, let’s look at some reasons that people start out with the best of intentions and end up failing.

Which Diet is for Me?

Atkins Diet, Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free, Juicing…those are what has been talked about in the office, just this week!

My opinion is I don’t think that there isn’t one diet for everyone, you have to pick which one feels right for you, if you feel you need a structured plan.

Try this first, take two or three things you know you are doing wrong and swap them out for healthier choices. Add color to plate, shop the outer supermarket aisles and by all means GET RID OF SODA!!!

Start with those, build some momentum then look at the structured plans and see which one, if any, feel right for you.

Results are too Slow

Everyone wants to step on the scale and see the pounds melting off. Everyone. The hard truth is it doesn’t work that way, and if it does, you may be at risk for putting it all back on later. Plus some!

In this case, slow and steady wins the race. 1 pound a week is 52 pounds in a year! Take the long view on this, the weight is much more likely to stay off.

Instead of using the scale, see how your clothes fit, how your energy level is, even how your skin looks. Those are much better indicators.

Bloating

Remember all those empty calories you were eating? They don’t contain any fiber. The fruits and veggies that you eat now…lots of fiber. Guess what fiber can do to you? Bloat you a little in the beginning. Don’t worry, drink lots of water and this feeling will subside.

Surrounding Yourself With Bad Peeps

You have your bag packed to go to the gym after work. You run into your co-worker that tells you the group is going out for drinks and appetizers after work. What do you do?

Two solutions.

  1. Do all exercise in morning, especially on days when your co-workers or friends are likely to want to go out after work
  2. Become a leader. Convince friends and co-workers to go to gym BEFORE going out. Make the gym your social place to go after work

Slipping and Checking

Are you going to slip up? No question, we all do.

As I tell my hockey players all the time. We expect mistakes, that’s part of life. What we don’t want is compounding of mistakes.

OK so you went out after work Thursday and had an extra potato skin or 6. Double down on Friday. Spend a little longer in the gym. Eat a little cleaner. Get back on track.

Conclusion

At end of the day, weight loss takes consistent effort. None of us are perfect. Set a plan and stick to it. When you fall off the plan, dust yourself off, get up, and get back on it. Need help, don’t even hesitate to ask.

 

6 Things You Must Do During a Snow Storm

Winter wonderlandAs crazy as this sounds, I love the winter. I just don’t like what the winter can do to our bodies.

The naturist in me, loves the snow, it blankets everything in white and is beautiful to look at. The chiropractor in me sees a lot of opportunity for people to hurt themselves.

Here are the six things you need to do to not spend the next 3 days in my office

1. Stretch. Make sure that your back, legs shoulders and arms are warmed up before heading outside.

2. Layers. You are going to work up a sweat, dress in layers to keep yourself warm without overheating.

3. Take your time. Their is no prize for first place. Going zero to 100 in terms of exertion is very dangerous for most people

4. Practice good technique. Remember that bending and twisting is the worst position you can put your spine in. Push snow whenever possible, use a snow blower or better yet, hire a plow guy

5. Hydrate. Yes I know it is cold out, however, shoveling can work up a sweat. Get dehydrated and the chance you hurt you back goes way up.

6. Build an outdoor rink and skate or play hockey! One of the best things about living in the Northeast. Outdoor skating and hockey!

If you do something crazy and ending up hurting yourself, call, text, or email me, I will be happy to help you through what you have done

Enjoy being outside, we don’t do it enough!