Health Tip of the Week

Fall into Health

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing color, nights are getting cooler. Fall is just around the corner. A new season is a new chance for a healthy you. Here are some tips for not only a healthy fall but also a healthier you!

1. Try Something New! What is something you have always wanted to learn? Couponing? Sewing? Scrapbooking? Cooking? The possibilities are endless.

2. No matter how busy your schedule is, GET MOVING!! Give one of these
seasonal suggestions a try.

  • Go for a walk and appreciate the colors of the changing leaves.
  • Visit a local orchard for apple-picking.
  • Tidy your yard and rake your leaves into piles, just to jump into them after.

3. Don’t be a couch potato!! With fall also comes all of those premiers you have been waiting on. Watch TV actively!! During those commercials we all dread, GET UP!! It’s not about what you do, just do something to move and get your blood moving.

4. Get Adjusted! Summer activities can leave your spine misaligned. If it has been a while since your last Chiropractic visit, there is not a better time than the present. We can help with many health problems and help reduce back or neck pain and headaches. We’re also coming into flu season. Did you know that spinal adjustments can increase your immune system by up to 200%?

These tips can help keep you active and healthier as we enter the fall season.

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Health Tip Of The Week

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A healthy spine is an often-overlooked and essential part of a healthy lifestyle. People who suffer from back pain, particularly if it is long-term, are generally less healthy than those who do not. Unfortunately, approximately 80-90% of the population suffers from spinal pain at some point. Because so many people suffer from spine pain, it’s important for you to try to keep your spine as healthy as possible. Following simple posture, lifting, and healthy lifestyle guidelines can help you keep your back in good shape. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends the following spinal health tips:

Standing

  • When standing, keep one foot slightly in front of the other, with your knees slightly bent. This position helps to take the pressure off your low back.
  • Do not stand bent forward at the waist for prolonged periods of time. The muscles in your low back become deconditioned in this position, which may lead to pain.

Lifting

  • At all times, avoid twisting while lifting. Twisting is one of the most dangerous movements for your spine, especially while lifting.
  • If the item is too heavy to lift, pushing it is easier on your back than pulling it. Whenever possible, use your legs, not your back or upper body, to push the item.
  • If you must lift a heavy item, get someone to help you.

Sitting

  • Keep your knees slightly higher than your hips, with your head up and back straight.
  • Avoid rolling your shoulders forward (slouching).
  • Try to maintain the natural curve in your low back.

Reaching and Bending

  • When reaching for something above shoulder level, stand on a stool. Straining to reach such objects may not only hurt your mid-back and neck, but it can also bring on shoulder problems.
  • Do NOT bend over at the waist to pick up items from the floor or a table.
  • Instead, kneel down on one knee, as close as possible to the item you are lifting, with the other foot flat on the floor and pick the item up.
  • Or bend at the knees, keep the item close to your body, and lift with your legs, not your back.

Carrying

  • When carrying objects, particularly if they are heavy, keep them as close to your body as possible.
  • Carrying two small objects—one in each hand—is often easier to handle than one large one.

Quit Smoking

  • Smokers have more spine pain than nonsmokers, and they also heal more slowly when they have an episode of back pain because the chemicals in tobacco smoke restrict the flow of blood to the tissues in and around your spine.

While following these instructions is no guarantee that you’ll be free from back pain for your entire life, it can certainly reduce your risk of developing it. In the long run, these simple steps can help you maintain and improve your spinal health. If you do develop spinal pain, consider visiting Total Health Chiropractic in your area. 

 

Health Tip of the Week

Migraines and Chiropractic

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If you have a headache, you’re not alone.
Nine out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea. What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away? There is a better alternative.

Research shows that spinal manipulation – one of the primary treatments provided by doctors of chiropractic – may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck. A 2014 report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) found that interventions commonly used in chiropractic care improved outcomes for the treatment of acute and chronic neck pain and increased benefit was shown in several instances where a multimodal approach to neck pain had been used1. Also, a 2011 JMPT study found that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, improves migraine and cervicogenic headaches2.

Triggers
Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems. The remaining 95 percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease; the headache itself is the primary concern.

The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as sitting in front of a computer). This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.
Source: www.acatoday.org

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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.