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!

TURMERIC, Not Just a Spice Anymore…

If you have ever taken Advil, Ibuprofen or NSAIDS, this would be worth reading… These medications are really not that good for you and can bring about serious health complications, though these are the most common over the counter drugs used for chronic pain.  Chronic pain can be very debilitating and can have detrimental and adverse effects on one’s quality of life.  That being said, a vast majority of people trying to find a “reasonable and workable” solution for pain, usually end up reaching for a bottle of NSAID’s (non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs).

What most people don’t know are how NSAID’s really work when ingested to help target and decrease pain in the body.  NSAIDS TEMPORARILY block the overflow of production of inflammatory cells/chemicals to the site of pain.  NSAIDS “trick” the body into overriding its inflammatory response to an injury.  When this happens the pain also lessens or subsides.  With inflammation comes pain, if inflammation is removed or “blocked” should I say, the pain is most likely “blocked” from getting to the area as well.  This helps people to feel better, so therefore they continue to take more of it to feel better.  It also gives false interpretation that the person may be “feeling better” due to having less pain, but the NSAIDS have only “masked” the symptoms and the pain usually returns and with the possibility that the person has done more damage to the area injured.  We see this all the time in our office.  And, aside from this, use of NSAIDS can cause stomach pain, stomach ulcers, indigestion, internal bleeding, constipation, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and allergic reactions such as hives, vomiting, throat swelling etc.  So… why not look for more natural ways to help decrease inflammation, pain and swelling?

There are many natural supplements out there now that help to decrease pain and inflammation, but turmeric by far seems to be one of the most helpful.  Turmeric is a plant, and not only one of the most popular spices around, but one of the most powerful foods on the face of the earth.  The root is what’s most commonly used in medicine.  Medicinal use of turmeric is dated back 4,000 years ago.  Today there are many uses for turmeric such as detoxification, promoting radiant skin, mood balancing, supporting cardiac health, etc.  A few of the most important uses of turmeric are reducing pain, being a very strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.  Turmeric helps to lower the levels of two different enzymes in the body that cause inflammation, not “block” the inflammation to the area of injury.  Antioxidants also help to fight free radicals that can even potentially reduce some of the damage these free radicals cause in the body.  This helps in regards to the level of inflammation in the body as well, or when responding to inflammation from an injury.

Many turmeric supplements, like other vitamins and supplements are not absorbed well into the body, so it is important to make sure you are buying turmeric from a reputable company.  Please be sure to speak to your doctor and nutritionist in regards to any questions concerning the quality of the supplement you may be taking.  At Performance Health Center we carry a very popular and reputable brand of vitamins and supplements developed by a company called Metagenics.  Metagenics makes a supplement called, Inflavonoid Intensive Care, which has turmeric in it as well.  We prescribe this supplement primarily to decrease inflammation and pain if a patient is dealing with an injury.  It almost acts like a “natural Ibuprofen” in a way.  A patient can take 2-4 capsules 2-4 times a day, just as someone taking some other type of NSAID would.  This supplement helps when people are dealing with chronic back pain, ankle sprains, and even whiplash from an accident.  This is something you may want to speak to one of us about in the office during your next visit 🙂

To make it even easier, you can now order on-line at http://performancehealth.metagenics.com/store  and create an account.  You get 20% off your 1st order and the shipping is always free!

HOTSHOT- Great for Cramps & Much More!!!

HOTSHOT is now working to help people with Multiple Sclerosis and ALS and nocturnal leg cramping as well as for active people who suffer from exercise or exertional muscle cramps.

This is a follow up to my August Blog on muscle cramping:

http://www.performancehealthcenter.com/prevent-treat-muscle-cramps/

On the advice of Dr. Weiss I sent this blog directly to the people at HOTSHOT, and the next day I got a call from them.  They were very interested in speaking with me about my experience with their product, especially since I am an endurance athlete, and a Doctor of Chiropractic that deals directly with the nervous system- much like their product does as well.  They were also interested that I have a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and that I did my Master’s thesis on Carbohydrate Electrolyte Replacement Drinks and how they  affect athletic performance.

I did an interview with HOTSHOT and they just placed that interview live on their Website.  You can read that interview here:  http://www.teamhotshot.com/blog/hotshot-works-quickly-effectively/

I was then asked to come and speak at the company’s headquarters in Boston at the Prudential Center. The first person I met when I arrived was Dr. Bruce Bean one of the co-creators of HOTSHOT.  It was a privilege to get the opportunity to meet with him and all of his co-workers.  I also got to hear firsthand several other people’s experiences with their product HOTSHOT.  One woman who has Multiple Sclerosis stood up and talked about how HOT SHOT has changed her life.  You can read her inspiring story here: http://www.teamhotshot.com/blog/tracy-evangelos-marathon-journey-no-plans-stopping/

The company continues to have success with athletes all over the world and they were just recently present at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, and here is another link to an article about some of these Iron Man athletes using HOTSHOT.  http://www.teamhotshot.com/blog/tracy-evangelos-marathon-journey-no-plans-stopping/

The company continues to do research on how their product helps people with Multiple Sclerosis; ALS and even for those people who suffer from nocturnal leg cramps.

If you have any questions about this blog or how this product may help you or someone you know who suffers from muscle cramping please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

 

 

 

 

3 Foods to Add to Your Diet This Fall…(with Recipes)

Pumpkin

Pumpkin not only tastes and smells nice, it also packs a powerful nutrition punch. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.  Pumpkins are rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, which the body converts into vitamin A for eyesight protection. Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber and low on calories. Per one cup there are three grams of fiber, and only 49 calories. Another healthy part of the pumpkin is the seed! Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan.  If you look back to my past two articles you’ll be able to read about how important tryptophan is for mental health. It is necessary in the production of serotonin – your happy hormone. A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds may help boost a low mood.  Another hidden benefit of pumpkin is its potassium level. A cup of pumpkin has more potassium than a banana! Try pumpkin if you get cramps. Pumpkin is also a good source of Vitamin C- with all the colds floating around, you can’t get enough!

 Favorite Pumpkin Recipe this Fall

Pumpkin Chili 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), diced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)

Instructions

In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the onion and garlic for a few minutes until they start to develop color. Add in the bell pepper and jalapeño and cook until soft.

Crumble in the ground beef and brown. Once browned add in the tomatoes, broth, and spices. Simmer 5 minutes then add in the pumpkin. Continue to cook for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld together.

Divide between 6 bowls and garnish with cilantro.

wicked spatula http://wickedspatula.com/

Cranberries:

People typically think of blueberries or spinach when they think of a “superfood”, but cranberries actually contain more antioxidants! They are one of the top antioxidant-rich foods.  Cranberries are also known for helping to prevent UTIs. The high level of proanthocyanidins (PACs) in cranberries helps reduce the adhesion of certain bacteria to the urinary tract walls, in turn fighting off infections. Azo tabs for UTIs can be found at CVS, and work wonders if you can’t eat the full cranberry. Cranberry juice is not as effective and the sugar may aggravate a smoldering UTI. Cranberries may also be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease. The polyphenols prevent platelet build-up and reduce blood pressure. Research has also shown that cranberries are beneficial in slowing tumor progression and have shown positive effects against prostate, liver, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers.

 Favorite Cranberry Recipes this Fall

Smoothies– Toss a handful of cranberries (fresh, or frozen whole, with no sugar added) into your favorite smoothie for a boost of antioxidants.  My favorite blend: Unsweetened almond milk, and a blend of fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries. (Pumpkin also tastes great in a smoothie!)

Roasted cranberries– They’re a delicious addition to salads or whole grains like quinoa or brown rice: Simply toss two cups cranberries with two teaspoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of chopped fresh mint, and one tablespoon of raw sugar or natural sugar replacer. Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft and slightly caramelized. NOLA.com/eat-drink.  

Sweet Potatoes:

Many people believe that sweet potatoes are one of the world’s most perfect foods! They are so easy to roast up or microwave, they taste great, and give long term energy. They are lower than white potatoes on the glycemic index scale meaning they don’t increase your blood sugar as quickly. It’s better for avoiding sugar crashes and better for diabetes control, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Sweet potatoes are also high in potassium. One cup of sweet potatoes supplies 950 milligrams! So, along with your pumpkin, add some sweet potato!  A serving of sweet potatoes is also very high in vitamin A. It supplies 1,922 micrograms, that keeps your eyes, skin, teeth and bones healthy. This is more than the 700 to 900 micrograms you need on a daily basis. They also contain a good amount of manganese which may benefit those with PMS. One study found that boosting manganese intake from 1 mg to 5.6 mg of dietary manganese per day helped women with PMS to have fewer mood swings and cramps.

Favorite Sweet Potato Recipe this Fall

Sweet Potato Soup:

Ingredients

8 oz (1/2 lb or about 6 strips) bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large celery stock, diced
2 lbs (3 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk (I used “original”)
2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
2 Tbsp parsley to garnish, optional

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, or French Oven, over medium heat, cook bacon in it’s own fat until crisp (8­-10 min). Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Leave 3 Tbsp oil in the pot; discard excess or leave it in there for a more flavorful soup.
  2. Add chopped onion, and celery and cook 4 min or until soft, stirring occasionally, then add 2 pressed garlic cloves and saute another minute.
  3. Stir in diced sweet potatoes, ½ tsp dried thyme leaves and 2 tsp salt. Now pour in 4 cups chicken broth, partially cover and simmer 20 min or until sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Puree soup until smooth. I accomplished this in two batches in my Blender. Return soup to pot and stir in 1 cup coconut milk, or add it to reach desired consistency then season with more salt and pepper to taste if desired. Serve in warm bowls. Sprinkle the tops with bacon and garnish with chopped parsley, if using.