You Got Some Nerve!

The truth is you have a lot of nerve!

  • There are more nerves in your body than stars in the Milky Way.
  • The human brain alone consists of about 100 billion neurons. If all these neurons were lined up it would for a 600 mile long line.
  • The nervous system transmits impulses at 100 meters per second, or 224 miles per hour
  • There are 43 different pairs of nerve which connect the nervous system to every part of your body. 12 pairs exit in your brain and 31 pairs are connected to your spinal cord..

The longest nerve in the body is the sciatic nerve.  It is made up of nerve roots from 5 levels of your low back and sacrum (L4-S3) and ends at the tip of your toes.  The sciatic nerve is about the size of your thumb as it passes through your buttocks.  The sciatic nerve travels in the spaces between the large muscles in your leg (often with the arteries and veins).  Sciatica is the term used when the sciatic nerve gets irritated and causes pain that radiates down the leg.  We treat sciatica successfully every day in our office.

The sciatic nerve can get entrapped anywhere from where the nerves exit the spine to the toes.  When a nerve loses its ability to glide, or move, within it pathway the function of the nerve can be corrupted.  There are areas where the sciatic nerve is more frequently entrapped.  One is the tarsal tunnel.  You’ve heard of carpal tunnel. The tarsal tunnel is in the foot, just below and behind the inside of your ankle bone (or medial malleolus).  Another common entrapment site is the piriformis muscle (one of the deep muscles of your buttocks).

There are functional diagnostic tests to determine if and where the sciatic nerve is entrapped.  Active Release Techniques® (or ART®) has specific protocols to release entrapped nerves.  There are about 35+ ART® certified providers in Massachusetts and only 10+ ART® Nerve Entrapment certified providers, of which 3 practice at Performance Health Center. It amazes me on how many of the patients we meet have been living in pain, sometimes for years with sciatic nerve entrapment.  Having an entrapped sciatic nerve can manifest in many ways, not only leg pain. Since nerve entrapments are a functional condition it requires a functional solution and ART® provides one.

Recently I saw a patient who had bilateral foot pain for 3 years, initially caused by wearing bad running shoes too long.  Over the 3 years before I meet her, she was labeled with having many different pain syndromes from multiple medical providers. She even had nerve release surgery on both her tarsal tunnels.  The day I met her, she gave me her detailed history and I performed an exam with included sciatic nerve entrapment screening.  I uncovered poor motion of the joints of her low back and sciatic nerve entrapment.  The function test of the sciatic nerve was so obvious she understood and felt the tension as I performed the test maneuver.  When I explained to her what I thought was the problem, that her sciatic nerve was entrapped at the tarsal tunnel, and told her I thought I could help her, she teared up. She told me that of all the doctors she had seen over the years, I gave her the most thorough exam, explained her problem in a way she could understand it and gave her hope.

The good news is that after 8 treatments she is doing much better.  The pain level is significantly reduced. She can walk without pain. She is not running yet, but will be within the next 2 months. She had a functional problem caused by faulty biomechanics of her spine and sciatic nerve pathway.  Our functional treatment approach includes manipulation of her low back (where the nerves that make up the sciatic nerve exits the spine), ART ® on the muscles of the LB and leg, plus sciatic nerve entrapment ART® protocols, and Kinesio® Taping to minimize the tension on the sciatic nerve at the tarsal tunnel between treatments.  It is not possible to correct 3+ years of faulty motor patterns in the body overnight, but just like braces on teeth, if we continue to put a demand on the body, it will change.

Getting our patients out of pain is usually the easy part of treatment.  The next and most important phase is the rehabilitation, or re-education to optimize the body’s function.  Of course our patients have responsibilities too.  They need to improve the ergonomics at work and play. They receive stretches and strengthening exercises when appropriate, and are an active participant in their treatment.

If you or anyone you know is sick and tired of being sick and tired, and think they have done everything to get better.  Remind them if they have not had the benefit of ART®, they have not done everything!  As always, after the initial examination, if we do not think we can help, we will make the appropriate referral.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at: drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com

 

Special “K”

No, I am not talking about the Kellogg’s cereal in the big White box with the big red letter K on it.  I am talking about Potassium, which for you Chemistry Geeks is the 19th chemical element with the symbol K (derived from Neo-Latinkalium). It was first isolated from potash, the ashes of plants, from which it was named.

I am writing this Blog this month because I had an interesting eye opening experience with Potassium- more about that later.

Potassium is one of the seven essential macro-minerals, along with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, and sulfur. We require at least 100 milligrams of potassium daily to support key bodily processes.  Many of us do not get enough Potassium in our diets, and some people end up with Hypokalemia- low levels of Potassium in our blood, a potentially dangerous health condition.

Adequate potassium intake will reduce the risk of stroke, lower blood pressure, protect against loss of muscle mass, preserve bone mineral density, and reduce the formation of kidney stones.

Potassium’s primary functions in the body include regulating fluid balance and controlling the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles.

Potassium is an electrolyte that counteracts the effects of sodium, helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure.  Potassium plays a role in every heartbeat.  It also helps your muscles to move, your nerves to work, and your kidneys to filter blood.

Food Sources:

The best way to get enough potassium is to eat fruits and vegetables. It’s also in dairy products, whole grains, meat, and fish.

Great sources include:

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Fresh fruits (bananas, oranges, and strawberries)
  • Orange juice
  • Dried fruits (raisins, apricots, prunes, and dates)
  • Spinach
  • Beans and peas

How Much Do You Need?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends 4,700 milligrams per day for healthy people. The easiest way to get this amount is by adding high-potassium fruits and vegetables to your diet.

OK back to my recent experience.  I happen to eat a lot, I mean A LOT of high Potassium foods!  It seems like all my favorite foods: (Sweet potatoes, Salmon, Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, Bananas, Strawberries, and even my protein powder that I make smoothies with), are all really high in Potassium.  Well, no problem, right? Not so fast!!  I had my annual physical recently and I was alerted that I had Hyperkalemia- too much Potassium in my blood!  This, like Hypokalemia, can also be very dangerous to you and your heart.  A conscious effort to replace some of my high Potassium foods and a switch in my Protein powder and I was quickly back to the normal range. Phew!

So, while it is much more common to have low Potassium in our blood, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. The best way to determine your current blood potassium levels is to get your blood checked on a regular basis, and then you can make the necessary dietary changes to bring your levels back to normal if needed.

If you have questions about this Blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at:

drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Did You Know ALL This About Magnesium???

Magnesium seems to be a hot topic today in the supplement field, so I wanted to dig around a little and present some information to you all about what exactly Magnesium is, what is does, where you can find sources of this mineral, who is at risk to be deficient, and what some of the signs or symptoms are.

Did most of you know that magnesium is a mineral?  Magnesium is also a co-factor in relation to over 300 enzyme systems that control complex biochemical reactions throughout the body.   Muscle and nerve function, regulation of blood pressure, blood glucose control, energy production, protein synthesis, transporting calcium and potassium across cell membranes, bone structural development, and synthesis of DNA/RNA, are some of the most important reactions Magnesium helps to regulate.  I honestly didn’t realize that Magnesium contributed to ALL of these things plus more.

The balance of Magnesium in greatly controlled by the kidneys.  The kidney excretes around 120mg of magnesium into the urine each day. There is about 25g of magnesium in the adult body, and over have of it resides in the bones and the rest in the soft tissue.  There is only a very small amount of magnesium that resides in the actual blood serum.  With that being said, it can be a little more difficult to test, and usually a combination of blood tests, urinalysis, saliva tests, and a thorough consultation are performed to be sure one could be deficient.

There are a wide variety of beverages, animal and plant foods that have magnesium in them.  Tap, mineral and bottled water contain certain levels of magnesium in them.  Nuts, seeds, spinach, legumes, and whole grains contain a good level of magnesium as well.  Fortified foods and cereals may contain added amounts of magnesium, but some types of food processing actually lower the content of magnesium.  Personally, I recommend trying to find magnesium through more natural food sources, not cereal or processed foods if can be helped.  And though you may think you are taking in a fair amount of magnesium through your diet, about 30-40% of dietary magnesium is actually absorbed by the body.

Listed below from The National Institute of Health are some food sources and the levels of magnesium found in them:

Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Magnesium [10]
Food Milligrams
(mg) per
serving
Percent
DV*
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80 20
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 78 20
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 19
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup 63 16
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 61 15
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup 61 15
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup 60 15
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup 50 13
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 49 12
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices 46 12
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup 44 11
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 43 11
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup 42 11
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 42 11
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of the DV for magnesium 40 10
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 36 9
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 35 9
Banana, 1 medium 32 8
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26 7
Milk, 1 cup 24–27 6–7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24 6
Raisins, ½ cup 23 6
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces 22 6
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces 20 5
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup 12 3
Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup 10 3
Apple, 1 medium 9 2
Carrot, raw, 1 medium 7 2

The National Institute of Health also states that the daily recommended amount of magnesium consumed by an adult be between 310-420 mg per female and male, respectively.  Now this may vary between each individual based on their health history and daily life.  It is always recommended that if one is concerned to please consult a qualified health care professional.

Some groups that are more subject than others to have inadequate levels of magnesium are people with gastrointestinal diseases, people with migraines, people with Type II Diabetes, people with alcohol dependencies, older adults, especially those dealing with osteoporosis, and people with hypertension and/or cardiovascular disease.  These groups are more likely to consume insufficient quantities of magnesium, or have a medical condition or take medications that affect the absorption of magnesium in the gut.

Some signs that you are someone may be deficient in magnesium include, but are not subject to: reduced urinary excretion, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite.  If the deficiency continues to get worse, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions, cramps, personality changes, seizures, irregular heart rhythms or coronary spasms can take place.  Severe issues can involve low blood calcium and potassium levels as well.

I hope that this has been informative to all of you reading this.  Should you have any questions or concerns in regards to magnesium, please feel free to contact any of the doctor’s at PHC or your PCP for further questions or concerns.  If you are someone that takes a magnesium supplement, or is looking too, Metagenics carries very high quality magnesium supplements, some of which we carry at our office.  Metagenics brand is very well known in the medical field, and may also be something your PCP may carry in their office as well.

 

 

 

That Time of Year Again!

Alright everyone, it’s that time of year again where everyone starts mapping out the new year…what to do, what not to do, what could I have been done better last year, did I achieve all of my resolutions, if I didn’t, is it possible I could achieve them this year coming?  I feel for too many people this can be very stressful, and can almost set them up for failure in the new year, and be ever more depressing.  This whole downward spiral can occur in the blink of a second, so many people just decide not to set ANY goals for themselves in the upcoming year.  Notice how I said “goals”, as I did last year too!  Maybe it is because I have an athletic background, but I really feel the word “goal” sets better with me than the word “resolution”.  So, call it whatever you want, but for the remainder of my topic today, GOALS it will be!

I feel that last year I was able to attain many of my goals, but there were a few that did trail off and that got away from me…my weekly stretching, weekly yoga, monthly maintenance in regards to acupuncture, and lack of sleep.  The other 7-8 goals were achieved in 2016, which I was proud of myself for, but I really want to focus this year on these few that got away from me.

I am not sure why stretching more regularly got away from me this year.  Being a chiropractor and all, and preaching mobility exercises to my patients’ day in and day out, you would think this wouldn’t be an issue for me, lol.  Maybe it is like the story of the shoe maker’s children…one would think that their children would go to school with the best shoes, but they were usually the one’s wearing the beat up falling apart shoes.  So, maybe after preaching mobility day in and day out, I just grew tired of it and didn’t want to stretch.  That being said, I do my foam rolling pretty regularly, and shoulder and upper back activation exercises, but that darn stretching was not at the top of my list this past year!  So, in 2017, STRETCHING is going to be at the top of my list.  With our busy lifestyles, and many of us driving multiple hours a week, sitting behind our computers doing work day in and day out, hovering over our phones rounding our shoulders texting, sending emails, and scrolling through FB and Instagram, it is more important than ever that we are be better about stretching.

That being said and leading to my next goal, yoga, more yoga!  Talking about stretching and really helping to open up the body, why did I get off track from that in 2016?  The only thing I can think of is when summer hit, I did not want to be inside any more than I had too, and towards the end of the summer when I was trying to get back into yoga, I did have a series of family events come into play that altered a lot of the free time I would have had.  I know, I know, still not a good excuse, but it is an excuse, and I am using it based on the circumstances.  I have recognized it, and now have to move forward to achieve this goal in 2017!  I even spoke with the owner of Spirit Bear Power Yoga, Christy, in downtown Natick, and she has welcomed me to return and get back on track.  It is a wonderful quaint studio, and for me, the location is key, so NO excuses to not get back on track.  I really felt an incredible difference attending yoga once a week in regards to my posture.  Though I am not behind a computer as often as many people are with their jobs, I still spend a fair amount of time doing office work on the computer, plus bending over patients all day long.

Acupuncture…I see a wonderful practitioner, Kim Griffin, and a colleague of hers from time to time, Betty Woo, at Darcy’s Wellness Clinic, in downtown Natick as well.  Now, I haven’t completely fallen off the wagon this past year, and have probably managed to go every couple of months or so, where normally I would go monthly.  I have no excuse for this one, other than just not making the time.  I have made the time monthly for my chiropractic adjustments and massage, but not for acupuncture.  So, enough is enough, this needs to be much of a priority as anything, and I always feel so much better when I leave the clinic.

Lastly, sleep.  Ugh.  I don’t know where to begin, other then I run out of time to get everything done in a day.  I need to be better about getting more sleep, I really do, and most of us probably do.  This goal is going to have to come in baby steps I am afraid.  At least I am being honest in recognizing this, so that is half the battle I think.  I made a goal in the month of December to minimize being on my phone in bed or right before bed.  I must say, I was able to hold myself accountable most of December.  I am going to challenge myself to continue to do this throughout 2017 as well.  My other goal is to and get to bed 15 minutes or a half hour earlier then I normally do most nights.  I figure if I start small and can attain this, I can then start taking bigger strides.  Sleep really is so important, and so underestimated with everything.  From being able to focus better throughout the day, helping the body heal from injuries and sickness, I could go on and on about the importance of sleep, another time…

So, there you all have it, I guess this is a list of four goals I challenge myself to improve upon in 2017, and are all so important in regards to my overall health and wellbeing.  I challenge you all to sit down and really think about what you want your goals to be in the upcoming year.  Remember, start small and stay positive!  You can achieve anything you set your mind to (isn’t that a famous quote or something?).  Cheers to 2017!

 

 

MORE TIPS (and New Research) TO HELP PREVENT THOSE WINTER COLDS

Here we are once again battling frigid temperatures, shorter days, slippery steps and dangerous commutes.  Winter can be stressful in many ways.  Add that stress to the fact that we are all indoors more often in closer quarters, spending much less time outside in the sun breathing fresh air.  The heat inside significantly dries out our mucous membrane which in turn leaves us more susceptible for viruses and bacteria to invade us.

There is a lot of research that indicates that when we are run down, whether it is due to lack of sleep, prolonged stress, strenuous exercise or work, general fatigue , even physical pain, or any combination of the above leave us much more susceptible to catching a cold or getting ill.

What can we do? Get enough sleep, wash your hands on a regular basis, stay hydrated, use a humidifier, do a daily saline nasal rinse and take Vitamin D3.

Here is a big one: Get regular chiropractic care- I- (Please read my blog from last winter about how regular chiropractic adjustments can help boost your immune system). http://www.performancehealthcenter.com/regular-chiropractic-treatments-boost-your-immune-system-part-2/

As you might already know, before I was a Doctor of Chiropractic I was an Exercise Physiologist, coach and personal trainer so I totally believe in regular exercise as a vital part of being healthy overall, so this next one is a no brainer.

Exercise on a regular basis.  Please read my blog from last year about how exercise can boost your immune system.  http://www.performancehealthcenter.com/boost-your-immune-system-with-exercise/

Just be careful not to overdo it as past research has shown exhaustive exercise temporarily lowers your immune system, but there is recent research that indicates some simple things that you can do to help boost that lowered immune response.

Recent research indicates that taking in Carbohydrates during exercise (especially strenuous exercise) can help prevent colds.   I found this research very interesting since I like to work out hard, yet I cannot afford to get sick or I won’t be able to help my patients

This most recent article from The New York Times shows a simple step you can do when exercising that can also help prevent getting sick.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/well/move/carbs-during-workouts-may-fend-off-colds.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&referer=

So continue to wash your hands, get enough sleep, and do all those things listed above including exercise… just remember to bring your favorite carbohydrate snack or drink with you.

If you have any questions on this Blog or your health in general, please feel free to Wcontact me at drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

 

Half Full or Half Empty Matters to Your Health

How you view the world and your place in it affects the quality of your health!  Google optimism and this is how it is defined:  hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.  Do the same for pessimism and this is what you get: a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future

So, are you an optimist or pessimist?  Do you look for the good or the bad in people and situations?  Do you see a silver lining when things aren’t going your way? Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?

If are an optimist you are more likely to have better health, fewer colds, and a lower chance of getting cancer and heart disease.  Study after study has demonstrated that quality of your mental and physical health is better if you are an optimist.

The most recent study was published last month (12/2016) in the American Journal of Epidemiology. It showed a positive relationship between optimism and mortality in more than 70,000 women over a 6 year period.  The optimistic women in this group were 29% less likely to die of any cause!

There are several objective questionnaires that can determine if you are an optimist or pessimist.  You can find them on-line, but I think most people already know what they are.

Both in my personal and professional life I am an optimist and stay as positive as possible.  I am also a realist in that I know conditions I can treat successfully and what I can’t.  Those patients that I can’t help get referred to the correct provider.

I had a learning experience a few years ago when my optimism may have worked again me.  A patient who did not follow my treatment recommendations contacted me.  He stated when I told him he had arthritis in his spine I did not take it seriously and that is why he did not follow through with his treatment plan.  Reflecting back, I think I explained the situation correctly but took it as a learning experience.  Arthritis is degeneration of the spine.  I call it rust. It is not a normal part of aging and is caused by long term dysfunction in the spine.  It needs to be treated correctly and aggressively.  My mistake was that I told him that if we treated his arthritis and he went through my recommended treatment plan, his pain would be relieved, his function would improve and more importantly we could slow down, or even arrest the progression of his spinal arthritis. What I didn’t do, and what he needed to hear from me was that arthritis is a serious diagnosis.

Looking back, I did tell him arthritis was serious, but in a positive way.    Having spinal arthritis is not good news, but it is doesn’t mean you are doomed.  What I should have done, and do now, is tell my patients that arthritis is serious, but 30+ years of clinical experience have given me the confidence to say that if treated correctly arthritis does not have to be debilitating.   I now show before and after x-rays of patients who followed my advice and those who didn’t.  Prior patients who followed through on my recommendations had no progression in their arthritis, and those who did not and returned 5+ years later all showed a progression in their degeneration.   The patients who followed my recommendations and in spite of having arthritis are active and enjoying life!  .  It means you need to treat spinal arthritis correctly and then afterwards maintain that correction like oiling a rusty hinge, or wearing a retainer after your braces come off.

Maybe I was too positive, or maybe this patient was too pessimistic.  I don’t know.  Now I ask questions during my consultations to see if a patient leans more to being an optimist or pessimist and give my explanations accordingly.  I always discuss the seriousness of the diagnosis and offer hope with a detailed recommendation to get them out of pain and on with life.

So what are you, an optimist or pessimist?  If you want to live a long, healthy life, being an optimist improves your odds.   If you are a pessimist how do you become an optimist?

I can tell you all the things you heard before and you dismissed including: avoid other pessimists;  count your blessing; be positive; forgive others; smile more and frown less; exercise regularly; eat healthy and to stop blaming others.  Which are proven strategies to be more optimistic.

My favorite method is to write down 3 things every day that you are grateful for.  Try it!  It’s a New Year!  Start a new habit.  It can take less than a minute to do. Look at the brighter side of life! If you want to live a long healthy life, being more optimistic has been proven to make you healthier!

I wish all of my patients and friends a Healthy New Year!  At Performance Health Center we are committed to getting and keeping you healthy in a positive, supportive and caring atmosphere!

Laughter is the Best Medicine

I am writing this blog the day after Thanksgiving, and one of the things I am always most thankful for is to spend time relaxing and laughing with family and friends.  Just yesterday my daughter Emily had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to pass out, and it got me thinking how important it is to spend time with your family and friends, and how important it is to take the time to relax and just laugh.

Turns out that sharing a good laugh can actually improve your health. The act of laughing actually triggers healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, strengthen your immune system, and diminish pain. Children laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults we tend to be more serious and laugh much more infrequently, but we can laugh more… we just need to seek out more opportunities for humor and laughter.

Watch a funny movie, TV show, or YouTube video.  Invite friends or co-workers to go to a comedy club.  Read the funny pages.  Seek out funny people.  Share a good joke or a funny story.  Regular laughter can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness and even add years to your life.

Spending time laughing with others on a regular basis is a great way to combat stress, anxiety, pain, and conflict. Humor connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you to release anger and be more forgiving.

Here are some of the benefits I was just reading about and wanted to share:

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

Laughter is a natural part of life that is innate and we are born with. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

Here are some ways to start:

Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter and like laughter, it’s contagious. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling. Instead of looking down at your phone, look up and smile at people you pass in the street, the person serving you a morning coffee, or the co-workers you share an elevator with. Notice the effect this has on others.

Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter.

When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s so funny?”

Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily both at themselves and at life’s absurdities and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious. Even if you don’t consider yourself a lighthearted, humorous person, you can still seek out people who like to laugh and make others laugh. Every comedian appreciates an audience.

Laugh loudly, laugh often, and most important laugh at yourself.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general or would just like to hear a funny story, you can reach me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

Ouch! Yes it is your phone!

Text Neck and other synonyms used to explain the neck pain and headaches you are experiencing are real and directly related to how you are using your smart phone.  In fact anytime your crank your neck forward, whether on your phone, using your laptop, or any other time you neck is forward of your shoulders there is extreme stress on your neck.

Your head weighs about 10-12 pounds.  A new study, from spinal surgeon, Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, quantifies the actual pressure on your neck from bending your neck forwards.  When your ears are directly over your shoulder the apparent pressure on your neck is 0 pounds. As you neck flexes forward the stress on your neck increased.  With your neck flexed forward 15 degrees your head feels like 27 pounds on your neck, at 30 degrees it is 40 pounds.   From 40 degrees upward it is almost 1 pound per angle degree.

text-neck

Why should this matter?  Well there are reasons- one short term and the other long term.

Short term is pain and headaches.   The long term is that the more forward you shoulders are to your sacrum, (or butt), the greater the chance of you ending up in a nursing home….really!

Your neck is made up of 7 small vertebrae, or bones, which have responsibility of holding your head up.  The vertebrae are connected with ligaments and moved by muscles.  In addition to supporting your head, the vertebrae protect the spinal cord which connects your brain to all the cells in your body.  The spinal cord needs to pass through the neck before it gets to the rest of the body.  8 pair of nerves exits your neck.  As the nerves exit your neck vertebra, some nerves travel up the back of the head, others control the muscles of your neck, travel down your arms, or control your diaphragm (for breathing) to name a few.

As your head goes forward gravity tries to force your head towards the ground. The muscles of your neck have to work harder to counterbalance the forces of gravity.  A tug-of-war ensues, which gravity eventually wins and your posture degrades.

Your body has an incredible ability to adapt, so this doesn’t happen overnight.  Overtime, your neck muscles get tight, the small joints in your neck get overwhelmed and inflamed, which can lead to irritation of your spinal nerves, and in time the pain sensors of the joints and muscles get activated.   First you might just feel a little tightness or tension in your neck, but if ignored and you do not correct your poor neck mechanics pain can start.  The pain could be manifested as headaches, neck pain or tingling in your arm(s).   You might find yourself a dangerous driver as your range of motion slowly decreases.  All this usually happens very slowly, until one day the pain starts to really scream.  Pain is your body’s way of saying something is wrong.  In these overuse scenarios you get a lot of warning signs before the severe pain.  The longer you ignore the symptoms, or mask them with NSAIDs, or pain killers, the more damage you are probably doing.

Most of my patients who present with neck pain, unless they were in a car accident, or injury, will say, “I don’t know what happened, why I am in pain?”   We do a thorough examination and note the tight muscles, restricted motion, nerve irritation, poor posture, and loss of joint motion in the neck. From the exam, I can usually tell them that their neck pain was most likely caused my micro-trauma from faulty ergonomics.  Often with these patients I find arthritic changes as well, which can occur in patents as early as their 20s.  I am seeing this more and more over the last 10 years as people of all age are spending  way too much time with their heads cranked forward looking at their phones.

Your posture adapts to the stresses on it. Like braces on teeth, over time your body will adapt.  Keep your head flexed forward long enough and gravity wins the tug of war.  You get very tight muscles and your upper body starts to looks like a big C.  Yes it looks bad,  but more importantly, a recent study has shown that the further you head goes forward the more likely you are going to need assistance as you age, and the greater chance you have to end up in a nursing home!  Yes, that was the conclusion of a study published in 2013. The further forward you neck/upper back junction was relative to your 1st sacral segment (just below your belt line), statistically the more dependent  one becomes on assistance doing their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), which include: bathing; feeding; dressing; getting in and out of bed; and toileting.  The author concludes in this study, “Spinal posture changes with age, but accumulated evidence shows that good spinal posture is important in allowed the aged to maintain independent lives”.

So what do you need to start doing today?  Use good body mechanics.  Limit the time you spend on your smart phone, or any device that requires you to flex your neck forward including your laptop.  Keep your head straight and hold your smart phone at eye level with your hands.  When you do find yourself doing activities which require you to flex your neck, take breaks at least every 15 minutes. There is an amazing stretch called the Bruegger’s Position. To watch how to do this click this link: https://performancehealthcenter.wistia.com/medias/e35vhg2ehd

If you are already having neck pain or your posture has started to move forward, you may need help to release the muscle spasms, improve spinal motion and correct your posture.  Chiropractic care is a great option.  At Performance Health Center we specialize in helping people get out of pain and optimize function.  If you already have arthritis in your spine, there is bad news and good news.  The bad news is that the arthritis cannot be reversed.  The good from 32 years of clinical experience is that you are not doomed and if you follow your recommended course of treatment your arthritis may be arrested, or at least be slowed as you age.  We have many before and after x-rays that document this.

The take away from this blog is that you can use technology and there are strategies you can use to prevent injury.  Keep your head up!  Maintain good posture and flexibility!  If you are starting to get symptoms, or notice your posture is not looking good, GET HELP!  At Performance Health Center we are here to help you enjoy pain-free healthy living!  Why wait!  Get started today.  You’ll be glad short term and long term.

For more information, email me at drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com , or call the office at 508-655-9008.

Gearing Up For The Holidays…

As I sit hear typing this and feeling a little under the weather while doing so, I started thinking…tis the season where everyone starts to get “run down”.  There can be so much stress and pressure around the holidays, and it is easy to let things get away from ourselves.  Then add in all the sick bodies and germs we encounter day to day, plus being run down, and it’s no wonder people end up in a pile on the couch ill.

A few days ago I was re-writing my December 2016 goals on my blackboard in my room, and realized that I have gotten away from many of the little daily things that I need to be doing to take care of myself properly.  I have also been SO beyond busy the past couple of months (as I am sure everyone else is), that my own priorities have been set aside.  Maybe it is because it is approaching “that time of year”, maybe it is because of my grandfather not being well, maybe it is because I am married and a Mom now, and can’t seem to juggle a schedule, not sure here.  But, I am guessing as I read this last sentence, that it is a combination of all these things.

I will share a few of my goals with all of you this month, and it doesn’t need to be January 1st to set goals people (we will save some of that for one of the next news letters)!  First, well, there are kind of two here…don’t ignore the importance of sleep and no phone or electronics before bed!  It is so important that our bodies get adequate sleep.  This is the time for our bodies to rest, repair and heal (probably why I am not feeling so hot right now).  As for the electronics before bed, this should be a given people.  I know I don’t sleep well with the stimulation of my eyes staring at a screen before bed.  I should know, I did it just the other night (after writing out my 12/16 goals), as I lay awake trying to fall asleep after.  I should know better, we all should know better! Our bodies just feel better in general when we focus on getting enough good quality sleep.

Another goal was to get back on track taking my vitamins regularly. For me, I really feel this makes a difference.  I had started supplementing again over the past two weeks.  I feel that if I am at least taking Vitamin C, D and E, I can usually get back.  For all of you that know me, I also take other natural anti-inflammatories and joint support supplements, but I really feel the C, D3, and E help support the immune system, especially this time of year.  I have no excuse either being we carry Metagenics Supplements at our office right around the corner from my treatment rooms, lol.  If anyone is feeling run down, I would at least recommend these, or at least the Vitamin C and D3.  Just ask one of the doctor’s at PHC, or email us with any questions regarding these supplements.

 

I have also not been working out regularly.  Workouts have been very sporadic the last couple of months, mainly due to family matters and being too exhausted.  With that being said, the month of December I have vowed to do some type of workout, no matter how long or how short every single day! Whether it be CrossFit, yoga, run, swim, 10 minute ab routine, just something!  Normally I would have one or two rest days a week if working out regularly, but being the volume I used to do, and being a few days a week I am sure some work outs will be light/short, the idea of doing something to “move” everyday this month sounds exciting!  I also encourage all of you to do something to “move” everyday this month; it may help keep our sanity around the holidays, lol.

 

With all this being said, there is one goal that I have been able to keep, and did not even list on this month’s black board, getting adjusted once a month and my monthly massage. While I am thankful I don’t have a job that keeps me directly behind a computer, I do have a very physical job, and I need to at least keep myself well (minus getting sick once in a while), so I can be my best to continue to help all of you.  On that note, happy December to everyone, and try and set a few goals for yourselves to stay on track leading into this busy time of year.  Cheers!

 

Need Sleep?

How did you sleep last night?  If you answered not well, you are not alone!  30% of all Americans have sleeping problems.  The National Institute of Health recommends 7-9 hours a sleep for adults (18-64 years old).  If you are not getting the minimum hours of sleep you put yourself at risk. Sleep is vital for good health and healing.

New research has shown that the brain cleans itself when you sleep. The brain actually shrinks and there is a significant increase of cerebrospinal fluid pumped into and out of the brain.  This action washes away proteins that are toxic to your brain cells. Without a good night sleep these toxins build up. Beta Amyloid, which forms sticky plaques in the brain and is associated with Alzhiemers, is one of the waste products removed from the brain when you sleep.

Web MD lists 10 serious effects of sleep loss: 1- Increased accidents (100,000 fatigue related car accidents a year); 2-Dumbs you down; 3-Increased risk of serious health problems (including- heart disease & stroke); 4- Kills sex drive; 5-Depression; 6- Ages your skin; 7- Forgetfulness; 8- Weight Gain; 9- Increased risk of death;  and 10- Impairs judgement. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/10-results-sleep-loss#1

You know who you are.  Do you lie in bed at night wired?  Are you sending out emails a 2 or 4 AM?   Do you feel like your brain is in a fog most of the day?  Chances are you are sleep deprived.  There are dozens of reputable websites which have tips for a good night’s sleep.  These tips include: exercising regularly; avoiding caffeine products after 3pm; No TV or electronic devices  in the bedroom;  keeping your bedroom dark; going to sleep the same time every night; avoiding back-lit reading devices before bed; avoid big meals in the evening; avoid alcohol before bed; get fresh air during the day; and there are more.

What if you do these things and you still can’t consistently get a good night’s sleep?   There are prescription medications and some over-the –counter products you can try. The problem is that many of them have side effects.  They can also cause you to wake up feeling “out of it” and not well rested.

There is a sleep aide that has been used for 1000s of years and has no down-side. It is not addictive and there are no side-effects.  I have been recommending this herbal supplement for years to my patients who complain of not being able to sleep.  The herb is Valerian root, and I recommend the Metagenics formula MyoCalm PM.  In addition to Valerian root it also contains magnesium and calcium which relax muscles.  There is also Passionflower, hops and lemon balm, which also have calming effects.

Two weeks ago we were having dinner with some friends, only to hear for the 1st time that the father and oldest child were having significant sleep problems.  They had tried everything and were at wits end, especially for the teenager.  I told them about Valerian root and they were more than willing to try it.  The great news is that both are sleeping much better!

So, if you do not sleep well at night and you have exhausted all the most popular tips, why not give Valerian root a try.   We always have MyoCalm PM in the office.   If you are reading this at 3 AM because you can not sleep, you can even order metagenics products on-line.  Go to http://performancehealth.metagenics.com/store  and create an account.  You get 20% off your 1st order and the shipping is always free!