Children / Sleeping / Night Terrors

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As a parent, let’s face it…we just want our children to be safe, healthy and happy.   Getting adequate sleep is a key piece of that life puzzle. I am a father of 3 beautiful children (7, 5 and 2 yr.) so I know how a lack of sleep affects life.  When the kids don’t sleep, we don’t sleep, and that tends to create a very cranky parent(s), child and family.  We all know that sleeping is good, but good sleep is very good for you.  

Benefits of Sleep for our Children:

  • Improves Healing, Health, and Proper Growth
  • Decreases mental stress- with today’s school schedules yes, our children are stressed.
  • Decreases physical stress- growing pains/ falling over and over again learning to walk
  • Improves concentration and attention- can improve grades

Many things will affect the ability of our children to sleep well at night. They could be over-tired, sick, no bedtime routine, stressed or from many other things.

One thing I wanted to focus on was children with night terrors.  Night terrors can be triggered by those same things that affect sleep in general.  Night terrors can be the result of not sleeping well or can be the reason your child isn’t sleeping.  Either way sleep is affected and must be improved.

Does my child have night terrors?  Some of the characteristics of night terrors include:

  • wake approximately 90 min. after fall asleep
  • wake very distressed- screaming/crying
  • very difficult to calm them down
  • appear to be awake yet dreaming

Recommendations to improve night terrors:

  • Treating underlying condition. If the night terrors are associated with an underlying medical or mental health condition or another sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea, treatment is aimed at the underlying problem.
  • Improving sleep habits. Addressing issues such as too little sleep may help reduce the incidence of night terrors.
  • Addressing stress. Addressing stress (emotional or physical) or anxiety will create a calming effect to reduce the night terrors.
  • Try Chiropractic–

Chiropractic care is very safe and effective for all spinal ages.  Adjustments performed on children have the same goals as adult adjustments, to reduce stress on the spinal joints and nerves allowing you to feel better and the body to function better.  When you feel better you sleep better, and when you sleep better you feel better.  If you have a spine, get it checked.  Chiropractic care is amazing.

by W. Chaz McCants, D.C.

Obesity On The Rise, And Then Some

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As a Chiropractor at Total Health Chiropractic, I try to be just that… a resource for total health for my patients.  I spend a lot of time helping my patients improve joint mobility, flexibility, posture, and overall healthy function.  I want to focus today on a growing problem in our country… obesity.  Sedentary lifestyles filled with dollar menus have a large percentage of our population on a downward spiral.

Obesity has been a problem in the US for decades and things are only getting worse.  Recent numbers show that nearly 38 percent of Americans are obese and 8 percent are extremely obese.  The numbers also show that the states that have the highest obesity rates are mostly located in the southeast.  The states with the lowest obesity rates are located out west and in the northeast.  The state with the lowest obesity rate, Colorado, still has 1 in 5 adults falling into the obese range.  The data also shows that the rates of type 2 diabetes and hypertension are directly related to obesity.  The states with highest obesity rates have the most type 2 diabetes and hypertension.  The current data further shows that the regions of our country that are experiencing the greatest rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension, correlate directly to the regions where there are increased levels of inactivity and a lack of food security.

All of the numbers and data are not telling us anything that we didn’t already know.  A lifestyle filled with nutrient deficient processed food and inactivity will lead to obesity.  The negative effects of obesity on a person’s system do not end with type 2 diabetes and hypertension.  The chemical, physical, and emotional stress attached to such a lifestyle accumulate over time and become overwhelming.  The road for an obese person to lose excess weight and improve their health can sometimes look like a dark tunnel.  There can be a light at the end of that tunnel, however, to help guide the way.

That guiding light for an increasing number of people comes in the form of a medical weight loss program.  While my philosophy has always been natural first, medication second, surgery as a last resort, you have to weigh the options.  Yes, I would rather a person lose weight naturally.  But if that is not happening, I would rather see a person introduce the medication to their system, temporarily, then continue with obesity.  A properly prescribed weight loss program, done under expert supervision, can give a person the jump start they need to get over some hurdles and improve their life.

Whether you are able to achieve your health and wellness goals naturally or if the assistance of a medical weight loss program is necessary, just know that your Chiropractor has your back.

How Important Is Gut Health?

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When we speak about gut health, we are referencing the bacteria in your gut. From the day that you are born, the bacteria present in your gut plays an important role in your overall health. When we consume substances in our mouths, like food and drinks, and swallow these items, the bacteria that lines our guts is the defense between these substances and our blood streams. Since we introduce lots of microscopic invaders into our systems, it is very important for our gut bacteria to be performing properly. Think about it… How much time do we spend with our fingers on our cell phones, keyboards, money, in our pockets, on door knobs, and gas pumps? Do you wash your hands prior to putting a piece of gum in your mouth? What about the chemicals that we clean our kitchen counter tops with? If an almond were to land on the freshly “cleaned” counter top, you might not have a problem throwing it straight into your mouth. The point is, no matter how sanitary you may be, it is impossible to not introduce harmful invaders to your system. If your gut bacteria is not doing its job properly, then these foreign toxins will easily get into your blood stream and wreak havoc on your systems.

Top ways to improve gut health are:

1. Increase your uptake of healthy fiber. Some of the best sources of good fiber come from whole, organic vegetable.

2. Exercise. Even mild exercise burns off stress hormones and balances out healthy gut flora ratios. More intense exercise is great as well as long as you do not overdo it in the beginning.

3. Sleep. Not getting enough sleep at night does not allow your body to recover properly and can cause big problems with your gut flora.

4. Probiotics. Introducing good bacteria into your system is sometimes essential. Good probiotics can be found in supplement form or in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha.

5. Cleanse. A nutritional cleanse can help clean out toxins and jump start an upswing in your overall nutritional lifestyle.

Remember, your body creates new cells daily and it uses what fuel you give it to generate those new cells. Making changes to improve your gut health will provide your body with what it needs to create a healthy you.

Proper Sleeping Posture

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As a chiropractor, I talk to people about proper posture all day.  It makes sense to lift with your legs, keep your back straight, and not slump in your chair, but one area where I find that people neglect their posture is during sleep time.  It is important to sleep correctly because your body does the majority of its healing and recovering while you are asleep.  If you are not getting good, sound sleep, then your body will not have a chance to recover from the day and the negative effects of stress will build up and cause problems.

So let’s talk about the proper way to sleep… First of all, the average person should be getting around 8 hours of sleep per night.  For some that is not a problem, others would need a 30-hour day to pull that off.  But if you are able to manage 6-8 hours of sleep per night, that means that you are spending 25-33% of your life laying in your bed.  Therefore, the posture that you sleep in will greatly impact how you feel on a daily basis.  So let’s dive in…

There are 2 proper positions to sleep in, either on your back, or on your side.  While sleeping on your back, you will want a single pillow that supports the natural curve in your neck.  Too many pillows piled too high will put your neck in a flexed position and cause neck and shoulder problems over time.  You will also want to place a pillow under your knees so that your knees are slightly bent, that will help take pressure off of your low back.

The second acceptable position is laying on your side.  While on your side, you will again want a single pillow that keeps your neck in a neutral position.  Too much pillow, or too little pillow, will not be good for your neck.  Further, you must keep your arms by your sides.  Placing your arm up above your head so that your pillow is sandwiched between your shoulder and head will cut the blood supply to your arm and lead to neck, and shoulder problems.  Also while laying on your side, place a pillow between your slightly bent knees, this will take pressure off of your hips and lower back.

Lastly, I will point out that sleeping on your stomach is NOT on the list of acceptable sleeping postures.  Stomach sleeping puts a lot of pressure on both your neck and lower back and will only lead to pain.  

Changing sleeping habits can be difficult. Patience and persistence will pay off, though, and making improvements with your sleeping posture will have you sleeping better, healing more efficiently and living a healthier, happier life.

Top Ways To Reduce Stress

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I spend a lot of time talking to my patients about stress reduction.  Stress presents itself in 3 forms:  physical, chemical, and emotional.  Today, I wish to focus on the emotional or mental stress.  Whether it stems from tension at work, an argument at home, or bad news from your mechanic, stress is a part of all of our lives.  During stressful times, cortisol and other stress hormones build up in your body and can lead to problems.  For the sake of your health, it is important to have a plan to deal with stress and reduce these harmful stress hormones.

Here is a list of 10 simple ways to reduce the negative effects of too much stress…

1. Try intentional progressive tense and relax exercises.  Start with your toes and work your way up to your head, tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in your body.

2. Yoga.  Exercising your muscles and deep breathing are both excellent ways to burn off stress hormones and relax your mind.

3. Meditation with deep breathing.  Clearing your mind and focusing on deep breathing has been shown to drop blood pressure and reduce cortisol levels.

4. Listen to music.  Research has shown that listening to relaxing music reduces stress levels.

5. Laugh.  Laughter can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body.

6. Exercise.  Burning off stress hormones along with a release of endorphins leaves your body feeling less stressed and energized.

7. Make love.  Research has shown that having sex releases stress reducing hormones.  Forming positive relationships is also a great way to be less stressed in general.

8. Do an art project.  Focusing your mind on constructing something that you enjoy is an effective way to reduce stress.

9. Cook something.  The act of destruction (chopping), followed by building something can have an extremely positive effect on stress levels.  You also get the reward of eating afterward.

10. Take a walk outside.  The exercise of walking is low impact on your joints and will burn off stress hormones.  To increase the benefits, walk on a natural surface (like grass) barefoot.

Stress will likely always be a part of your life.  Regularly engaging in activities with the purpose of reducing stress will provide you with a more pleasant, pain free life.

How Bad is Sitting?

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Recently there has been more of a conversation about how bad sitting is for people, so I thought I would chime in.  This is an important topic because in our society we do a LOT of sitting.  Think about it… How many of us wake up in the morning and sit to eat breakfast?  Then get in our cars and sit to drive to our jobs, where we sit most of the day.  Next we sit, again in our cars, to go home and sit to eat dinner.  Finally, we relax in front of the television before bed… sitting.  That is a true story for lots of Americans, and it is repetitive, day after day.

So why is sitting so bad?  Well, first there is a matter of physical stress.  The seated position applies roughly three times more stress to the joints of your lower back than standing.  Also, as a person sits for longer periods, posture is certain to get worse.  This piles physical stress onto your joints.  Further, periods of prolonged sitting are consistent with a sedentary lifestyle and have been linked to increased rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, cancer, and a shortened life span.

So here are a few tips to help limit the amount of sitting you do on a daily basis:

1. Buy a stand up work desk.  Some desks have the capability of raising and lowering with the push of a button.

2. When possible, walk and hand deliver in office messages or documents rather than faxing and emailing.

3. Set a timer to remind you to stand up and walk around for a few minutes each hour.

4. Schedule a walking meeting.  You might be surprised how productive a stimulated mind can be when the blood is flowing and you are not staring at a computer screen.

5. While at home watching television, stand up and walk around during commercial breaks.

Don’t forget that the lifestyle you choose is also setting an example for your children.  If we can teach our kids to sit less and be less sedentary, that will carry over into their adult lives and set them up for a healthier future.

Chiropractic for Kids

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A common question I get in the office is, “are my kids too young for chiropractic adjustments?”, and the answer is, “No”.  Chiropractic care is wonderful for people of all ages, including youngsters.  Many spinal misalignments that adults come into my office with actually began much earlier in life.  In many cases, a person’s spine gets introduced to physical stress on day one.  A difficult birth can get the ball rolling.  Then the average child falls down hundreds of times while they are learning to walk.  Next comes sports, from the backyard to the school yard, the pounding of running and jumping and falling on bones and joints that are trying to develop, takes its toll.  Many of my patients that I meet that are in their 4th or 5th decades of life are presenting with back, neck, head, and joint pain that is coming from spinal misalignments that began when they were children.  Had these people received proper care as children, they likely would not have the pain and discomfort that they do today.

Setting up a child for a more pain-free adulthood is just one reason to bring your child in to get checked by a chiropractor.  Children typically respond extremely well to chiropractic care because they do not have decades of stress on their joints.  Many childhood ailments are alleviated in a chiropractic office.  Those ailments include:  ear infections, asthma, allergies and sinus trouble, ADD and ADHD symptoms, and growing pains.

Chiropractic adjustments performed on children have the same goals as adjustments performed on their parents, that is to restore normal spinal motion and relieve pressure from nerves.  I believe that everyone with a spine should get it checked at least once.  No one is too young or too old.  If there is someone that you are leaving at home when you come to get adjusted, bring them with you, especially if they are a child.

Most Important Foods To Buy Organic

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In your quest to remove toxins from your diet and eat clean, it can sometimes be stressful to find all organic ingredients.  It can also be more expensive to eat everything organic.  So, here is a list of the most important foods to buy organic.

1. Baby food:  A baby’s systems are still developing and can be quite fragile.  They can be more susceptible to the negative effects of pesticides, artificial preservatives, and other toxins.

2. Dairy:  I recommend limiting dairy in general, and completely removing it for some.  But if you do enjoy consuming butter, yogurt, cream, or milk, the best source is grass-fed organic cows.

3. Meat:  When it comes to consuming animals, whether beef or chicken, anything consumed by those animals gets passed on to you.  To avoid those damaging toxins, you will want to find meat from hormone free, antibiotic free cows and chickens.

4. Eggs:  Similar to meat, you want to avoid the pesticides that are present in most chicken feed.  Chickens that are allowed to naturally graze in organic pastures produce the healthiest eggs.

5. Leafy greens:  When it comes to leafy vegetables, almost the entire thing is surface area.  So if it has been exposed to pesticides, those chemicals are on the entire food and you can’t peel it off.

6. Berries:  Similar to leafy veggies, there is plenty of surface area and no peel.  Also, the pesticides damage the berry’s antioxidant properties, which is one of the main benefits of the berry in the first place.

7. Apples:  They may “keep the doctor away,” but they are among the dirtiest produce out there.  Each year the Environmental Working Group puts out their “Dirty Dozen” list of the most pesticide rich produce and apples are always at or near the top.

It is also important to consider any food that may not be on this list, but that you eat a lot of.  It you eat potatoes with most meals, or have a banana every day, you may want to add those to your list of must buy organics.

Top 5 Back Saving Tips for Spring

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The weather is warming, flowers are blooming, grass in growing, and the mulch doesn’t spread itself.  Whether you are a seasoned landscaper competing for a top spot on your neighborhood lawn podium, or a weed fighting newbie still trying to find your own green thumb, you are coming out of winter hibernation and getting your hands dirty.  In the process, you are also introducing more physical stress to your joints than they have been used to. This time of year we typically see an increase in the number of low back pain complaints in the office.  So here are my top 5 tips for you to reduce the negative effects of your hard work and save your back…

  1. Warm-up:  Yard work can mimic a rigorous workout routine, treat it like one.  A few minutes of warming up your joints and muscles will help prevent injury.  Take a brisk walk, do a few of your favorite yoga poses, and maybe some lunges and high knees across the yard will do the trick.

  2. Lift smart:  Landscaping bricks, bags of mulch, and lawn mower pull cords handled incorrectly can send you to the turf in a hurry.  So when lifting, keep your back straight, bend at your hips, and lift with your legs.

  3. Careful bending:  Rakes, hoes, and shovels have long handles for a reason.  Stand up straight in good posture when you can.  When you have to bend, remember that bending and twisting simultaneously is bad for your lower back. Adjust your feet so that you do not have to twist while you bend.

  4. Stay hydrated:  It is recommended that you drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.  Example: 150 lb. person should drink 75 oz. of water.  Drink even more than that if it is hot outside.  Keeping your tissues properly hydrated will prevent injury and allow for more efficient recovery.

  5. Pace yourself:  Trying to get too much done in one day and over working yourself is a quick way to get dehydrated, lose proper posture, and get hurt.

So there are my top 5 tips for saving your back in the yard this spring.  Be safe, have fun, and know that your Chiropractor has your back.