Use Your Left Hand to Be in Your Right Mind

Recently I had surgery on my right hand, leaving me essentially left-handed for these past few weeks.  I have been taking it on as a challenge and I have been working on my dexterity and strength on my once weaker side.  Besides improving my strength and dexterity on my left side, I have also found that there are other benefits that you get from using your non- dominant hand and I thought I would share those with you.

Regardless of which hand you prefer, your preferred hand is hooked up to the opposite side of your brain. Your right hand is connected to your left brain, the side responsible for language, judgment and intellect. The left side is connected to your right brain, the source of creativity, perception and empathy.

Since our hands are connected to our brains, we can stimulate our brains by stimulating our hands. The process utilizes brain plasticity, our brain’s ability to change at any age for better or worse.

Here are the best reasons to routinely use your other hand:

  1. Increase Your Creativity

Because brain mapping shows that creativity is housed in the right hemisphere of our brains, experts say we can stimulate this right brain through working with our non-dominant hand. This also works for lefties, as studies indicate that one hemisphere is active when we use our dominant hand, but both hemispheres are activated when we use our non-dominant hand.

In this way, we can use the combination of our two hands to create new connections between our ears. “By its design, our right mind is spontaneous, carefree and imaginative. It allows our creative juices to flow free without inhibition,” according to Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., a neuroanatomist with the Indiana University School of Medicine. “If creativity is located in your non-dominant hemisphere, then using your non-dominant hand may stimulate those cells,” she says.

Another national expert, Lucia Capacchione, has done research which shows that, regardless of which hand we favor, writing and drawing with the non-dominant hand gives greater access to the right hemispheric functions like feeling, intuition, creativity, and inner wisdom and spirituality. “When a dialog occurs between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, both emotions and thoughts are more fully expressed and understood,” according to her website. Her book The Power of Your Other Hand gives a nine-step process for accessing our creative centers by using our other hand.

  1. The Brain Benefits

Beyond the jumpstart in creativity, using the other hand helps your brain to better integrate its two hemispheres, experts say. “There is research that musicians who use both hands have about a 9 percent increase in the size of their corpus callosum [the part of the brain that connects the two hemispheres], so certainly using both hands create more transfer,” says Hale, who works primarily with children with cognitive challenges, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia. “One could argue that this increase in exchange between the hemispheres could benefit intelligence or processing,” he says.

  1. Be More Open Minded

It seems that our dominant hand may have a hand in our life choices, too. Studies show that we often favor things that fall on our preferred side and discard those on our clumsy side. A recent Stanford University study by David Casasanto backs up this handy theory. Participants were asked to imagine they were hiring personnel for a new company and purchasing new items. They were asked to make hiring and purchasing decisions based on brief descriptions of candidates and items arranged in columns on the right and left side of a page. Results showed that right-handers were more than twice as likely as left-handers to choose candidates and items described on the right side of the page. Left-handers preferred candidates on the left.

  1. Balance out your body

Most of us have some imbalances in our physiques from left to right. These aren’t usually desirable, often resulting in postural problems and various other ailments that can be avoided with some balancing out. While it’s not necessarily true that something low-impact like brushing your teeth with the same hand every day is causing a muscular imbalance, more complex actions might well be. If you always use your mouse with your right hand, does that cause you to lean a certain way in your chair most of the time? Do you always sleep on the same shoulder? Shift your weight to the same foot?

Just like with higher-energy exercise like weight lifting, it’s worth paying attention to how balanced you are in your everyday movements. They may well be impacting you more than you realize now.

You do not need to injure your hand to get all of these benefits and achieve these same results, you just need to consciously start using your non-dominant hand.  I suggest start with brushing your teeth and then slowly add in other daily activities.  Your brain and body will thank you for becoming more “balanced”.

I am looking forward to getting back to work and helping my patients feel and function better and showing off my new skills with my left hand.  If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general you can contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

10 Reasons to Use a Humidifier

As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I see a lot of sick and injured people every day, and it is my job to help these patients get better.  Yes… Chiropractic can also help with colds and flu- studies show that getting regular chiropractic adjustments helps boost the immune system which in turn can help prevent getting the common cold or even the flu.  I wanted to write this month’s blog on how using a humidifier this winter can also help you prevent getting the cold or flu.

We are just now entering the coldest months of the year, and a time where people are more likely to get sick.  The old theory was that we spend more time in the winter indoors and more time inside in close proximity closer to other people, but more recent research has shown that it is the big drop in humidity that leaves us more susceptible to colds and the flu.  Winter air is dry air. Humidifiers put moisture back into the air, which can create a lot of benefits for you and your family.

A 2013 study, for example, showed that increasing humidity levels to 43% or above significantly reduced the ability of airborne viruses to cause flu infections. In fact, in a low humidity environment, 70-77 % of viruses could transmit the disease through coughs, but when humidity was increased to 43% or more, that number dropped to only 14%.

An earlier 2009 study showed similar results, with humidity limiting the transmission of the influenza virus.

Using a humidifier may help you avoid getting sick this winter, and it can offer other benefits for you, and your family and it may even benefit your house.

10 Benefits of Using a Humidifier

  1. Reduce risk of infections. Viruses and bacteria can’t travel as well in moist air. A humidifier could mean the difference between getting the flu this winter and remaining healthy.
  2. Softer, more vibrant skin. Cold, dry air saps moisture from your skin, which causes all kinds of problems, including dryness, dullness, flaking, and accelerated aging. A humidifier can help prevent all these damaging effects, and help you maintain that glowing, vibrant look for all your holiday parties and get-togethers.
  3. Comfortable sinuses. You know that dry, tight feeling you get in your nose in the winter? Even if you don’t have a cold (it’s worse when you do), winter air can dry out your sinuses, lowering your resistance to bacteria and viruses. Sleep with a humidifier and wake up with a more comfortable nose—and throat!
  4. Faster healing times. Say you do end up with a cold, a sinus infection, or the flu. A humidifier will shorten your suffering. Keeping your nasal passages and your throat moist will help you heal faster, and will reduce symptoms like coughing and sneezing.
  5. Healthier houseplants. Plants help pull toxins out of the air. But they can suffer in dry, winter air. Have you noticed that the soil is dryer than usual? Are the leaves looking droopy and sick? A humidifier can help keep your houseplants healthy—which helps keep you healthy, too!
  6. Protected wood furnishings. Dry air can damage wood furniture, as well as moldings and doors, causing them to split and crack. A humidifier can help preserve the integrity of the wood, maintaining your pieces for years to come.
  7. No growling morning voice. Do you often sound like a bear in the mornings? That’s dry air getting to your vocal cords. Sound more like your normal self when you sleep overnight with a humidifier in your bedroom!
  8. Reduced heating bill. Did you know that moist air feels warmer than dry air? It’s true. If you add some moisture to the air, it will feel warmer, which can help you save on your heating bills this winter.
  9. Fewer electric shocks. No one likes a static electricity shock—especially not the cat! But you may have noticed that in the winter, it’s harder to avoid it. That’s the dry air again. Use a humidifier and leave the lightning outside.
  10. Improved sleep. If you or a partner snores, a humidifier may help. We tend to snore more if our sinuses and throats are dry. A moist environment also tends to feel warmer and more comfortable, which can encourage a good night’s sleep.

Some Precautions

While humidifiers are great for you for a number of reasons, they do need to be cleaned regularly. Otherwise, they can become a source of bacteria and mold, which you don’t want floating around your home.

Here are some tips to help:

  • Use distilled or demineralized water. This can save you a lot of work. Regular tap water has minerals that create buildup in your machine and promote bacterial growth. Distilled and demineralized water contain fewer minerals and will save you from having to clean as often.
  • Clean once a week. If you make this a regular part of your routine, you’ll be able to get it done quickly and will keep your home healthy. Put if off and you’ll face a harder job and risk bacteria and mold buildup.
  • Change filters regularly. If your humidifier has a filter, follow the manufacturer’s directions for changing it.
  • Too much humidity can be just as problematic as not enough. Use a “hygrometer” (you can find one at home improvement and electronic stores) to measure the humidity in your home. Ideal, as shown by the study, is about 40-50 percent.

We are here to help you feel and function better so you can do all the things you like to do.  If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Stages of Injury and Recovery

As a Doctor of Chiropractic it is my job to help patients move and function better, and to help them recover from injuries they may be dealing with. There is more than just the physical healing that occurs with an injury. These injuries do not have to be life threatening, maybe just enough to prevent you for doing the things you love to do or maybe even prevent you from doing your normal activities of daily living. One thing that you might also want to consider when you have suffered an injury, is whether or not you might be able to get compensation for it (particularly if it wasn’t your fault). If this is something that you are interested in looking into further, the you could check out someone like this indiana personal injury lawyer. Don’t forget though, that although getting the compensation that you deserve for your injury is a good idea, the most important thing to think about is recovering yourself. There is also the psychological aspect of getting injured- which is what I wanted to focus on in this Blog. When we lose someone we love or even a family pet, we usually go through the 5 stages of grief, well that also happens (to a lesser degree) when we lose our ability to do the things we love to do. I wanted to highlight those 5 stages here in respect to getting injured to help lead you towards recovery. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional athlete or just someone who likes to work in their garden, when what we love to do is taken away from us, we often go through these 5 stages of injury and recovery.

Denial

When you first experience the shock of an injury, you immediately begin an internal dialogue in which you try to convince yourself that it’s not that bad. You probably try to run, lift or garden just like you normally do, a typical form of denial that often makes matters worse. Another common thought is that the injury will ease off in a couple of days. If you continue to do your activity of choice you may aggravate the injury. In extreme cases, some people pretend there is no injury.

Anger

Often fueled by thoughts like “Why me?” or “Why now?” you direct anger at yourself for a mistake that caused the injury, or at someone else you think is responsible. Perhaps you got hurt cleaning your gutters, or working in your garden, or an athlete gets hurt during a critical part of the season. It’s natural to feel angry. You might even direct it at family and friends, because they might not understand the sense of loss you have when you can’t do your favorite activities.

Bargaining

In a sense, this is an extension of denial. You accept the injury and endure the pain, but you try to ignore it or overcome it by adapting your activities to avoid the injured area. This usually leads to your body getting out of balance by overcompensating for the injury. Bargaining with your body by overcompensating may actually make the injury worse.

Depression

Grieving over your enforced time off from your favorite activities can lead to a form of depression, at least certainly a distinct sadness. You might feel like the entire season is lost, or that rehab will never get you back to 100%, or, worst case, that you will never finish that project in the yard or never completely recover.

Acceptance

For rehabilitation to be effective, this is the stage you need to get to. The preceding stages are completely natural and understandable. Recognize them for what they are. Just saying that you have to “pull yourself together” is a form of denial. Work through that and other stages by talking to friends, therapists and family. They can help get you to the point of acceptance. If you achieve acceptance early, you can start working on your rehab right away, even while you are going through the other stages.

Getting to a Positive Attitude

Taking positive action will get you to acceptance sooner. No matter how difficult it is, a positive attitude is your best strategy on the road to recovery. Understanding the natural stages you are going through is the first step. No one escapes unscathed from at least some of the stages; they cannot be avoided. Getting back on track takes a dedicated attitude and a commitment to excellence.

If you are dealing with any kind of injury that is keeping you from your favorite activities, please come in for an appointment here at Performance Health Center and we will do our best to get you back to doing the things you love to do. Your body and your mind will thank you for it.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general you can reach me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

“Fall Back” with Vitamin D3

It is Time to “Fall Back” this Saturday November 3, 2018… that is we set our clocks back 1 hour for “Daylight Savings Time”, but the actual amount of daylight is actually shrinking daily every day from now through to the shortest day of the year which happens to be Friday December 21st this year.  That means we are all getting less and less sunshine each day starting now and for the next few months.  This decrease in sunshine can affect us both mentally and physically.  This blog will focus on the physical effects of our bodies absorbing less and less sunshine. Chances are you are not getting enough vitamin D. It is estimated that over one billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency.

Recent statistics show that most people aren’t getting enough vitamin D to stay healthy. This is called vitamin D deficiency. You may not get enough vitamin D if:

  • You don’t get enough sunlight. Your body is usually able to get all the vitamin D it needs if you regularly expose enough bare skin to the sun. However, many people don’t get enough sunlight because they spend a lot of time inside and/or because they use sunscreen. It’s also difficult for some people to get enough vitamin D from the sun during the winter.
  • You don’t take supplements. It’s very difficult to get enough vitamin D from the foods you eat alone.
  • Your body needs more vitamin D than usual, for example if you’re obese or pregnant.

WHO IS AT RISK FOR VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY?

  • People with darker skin. The darker your skin the more sun you need to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person. For this reason, if you have dark skin, you’re much more likely to have vitamin D deficiency that someone who is fair skinned.
  • People who spend a lot of time indoors during the day.
  • People who cover their skin all of the time. For example, if you wear sunscreen or if your skin is covered with clothes.
  • People that live in the North of the United States or Canada. This is because there are fewer hours of overhead sunlight the further away you are from the equator.
  • Older people have thinner skin than younger people and this may mean that they can’t produce as much vitamin D.
  • Infants that are breastfed and aren’t given a vitamin D supplement. If you’re feeding your baby on breast milk alone, and you don’t give your baby a vitamin D supplement or take a supplement yourself, your baby is more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People who are very over weight (obese).

Regardless of cause, deficiency of vitamin D has significant medical and psychological consequences. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function.

Vitamin D is also the only vitamin that is a hormone. After it is consumed in the diet or absorbed (synthesized) in the skin, vitamin D is then transported to the liver and kidneys where it is converted to its active hormone form. Vitamin D as a hormone assists with the absorption of calcium, helping to build strong bones, teeth and muscles.

In addition to its well-known role in calcium absorption, vitamin D activates genes that regulate the immune system and release neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, serotonin) that affect brain function and development. Researchers have found vitamin D receptors on a handful of cells located in regions in the brain-the same regions that are linked with depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder featuring depressive symptoms, occurs during the dark times of the year when there is relatively little sunshine, coinciding with the sudden drop in vitamin D levels in the body. Several studies have suggested that the symptoms of SAD may be due to changing levels of vitamin D3, which may affect serotonin levels in the brain.

Mental health is one of many types of ailments connected to vitamin D deficiency. For more information on vitamin D and its links to mental and physical health please visit the organization Vitamin D Council at www.vitamindcouncil.org founded by Executive Director John J. Cannell, M.D. Cannell, a trained psychiatrist, founded the Vitamin D Council in 2003 with a keen interest in clinical nutrition and a strong conviction that vitamin D deficiency, a highly preventable yet prevalent condition, contributes to many physical and psychological conditions affecting scores of people.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY?

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are sometimes vague and can include tiredness and general aches and pains. Some people may not have any symptoms at all.

If you have a severe vitamin D deficiency you may have pain in your bones and weakness, which may mean you have difficulty getting around. You may also have frequent infections. However, not everyone gets these symptoms.

If you think you may have vitamin D deficiency, you should see your physician, or have a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE DEFICIENT?

The way doctor’s measure if you’re deficient in vitamin D is by testing your 25(OH) D level, but most doctors just call this a vitamin D blood test. Getting this blood test is the only accurate way to know if you’re deficient or not, so ask your PCP this test.

HOW CAN YOU GET MORE VITAMIN D?

There are two ways to get more vitamin D: by exposing your bare skin to the sun or by taking vitamin D supplements.

This time of year there is much less sunlight, so it a good time to take supplements.

WHAT DO WE NEED VITAMIN D FOR?

What are the best supplements?

We offer Metagenics Vitamin D3 which is the best form of Vitamin D to take:

This is the version your body prefers, one Ultra concentrated Metagenics Vitamin D3 soft gel that is easy to swallow has 5000 IU in a single dose.  You can get yours here at Performance Health Center.

We have also made it easy for you to enjoy the convenience of ordering nutritional supplements online and save!

Visit and order directly from our Metagenics site:  https://performancehealth.metagenics.com/

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general please feel free to contact me at:  drtomball@performancehealthcenter.comm

 

 

 

It’s Apple Picking Time!

October is my favorite time of year for Apple Picking!

It is October and the warm sun and cool dry fall air are calling you outside.  If you are looking for a fun, healthy activity to do with your family, I would suggest Apple Picking!

Every fall my wife Clair, daughter Emily and I make the trip out to Honey Pot Hill Orchards for our annual Apple Picking extravaganza.  Just being outside and picking these amazingly fresh and delicious apples makes you appreciative of nature.  We like to go to Honey Pot Orchards in Stowe, MA.  They have hayrides, a petting zoo, and 2 large mazes to navigate your way through.  They also have a country store full of all their apple varieties: MacIntosh, Macoun, Cortlands, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious, and more, and don’t forget their famous cider donuts.

There are many different orchards in the MetroWest and here is their information:

Honey Pot Hill Orchards – Open daily from 9:30 am – 6 pm. Has more than a dozen different varieties of apples to pick. While you’re there, visit their friendly farm animals and get lost in their hedge maze. Hayrides are also available on weekends during the fall picking season. 16 Boon Road, Stowe.

Connors Farm – Pick your own apples at Connors Farm in Danvers daily from 9 am – 6 pm through October 31. While you’re there, check out their corn maze and so many other fun things including hayrides and whole lot more. 30 Valley Road (Rte. 35), Danvers.

Applecrest Farm Orchards –in Hampton Falls, NH is worth the trip. Pick your own apples seven days a week from 8 am to 6 pm in their 220 sprawling acres of orchards with more than 40 distinct varieties. Each weekend they also host Fall Festivals with free music, pie eating contests, make your own scarecrow, petting zoo, face painting and more. 133 Exeter Road (Rte. 88), Hampton Falls, NH

Carlson Orchards – Located in Harvard, boasts 140 acres and produces 60,000 bushels of apples annually. Pick your own from 14 different varieties seven days a week from 9 am to 4 pm 115 Oak Hill Road, Harvard.

Shelburne Farm – Just 20 miles from Boston, in Stowe grows more than 80 different varieties of apples. The farm is open weekdays 9 am to 5 pm and weekends 9 am to 6 pm 106 W. Acton Road, Stowe.

Parlee Farms – their apple orchards cover more than 15 acres and are open until Oct. 28 offering more than 20 varieties of apples for the picking. On weekend and fall holidays, your purchase of an apple bag includes a hayride to their apple orchard. While you’re there check out Annie’s Animal Barns, Farmer Mark’s Tractor Training Course and the hay play area. 95 Farwell Road, Tyngsboro.

Belkin Family Lookout Farm –is in full swing right now. While you’re there also enjoy farm animals, live children’s entertainment and face painting, along with pony, camel and hayrides. To see what’s currently available check out the What’s Picking page on their website or call their U-Pick hotline at 508-653-0653. 89 Pleasant St., Natick.

Brooksby Farm – Apple picking runs until Oct. 14 from 9 am to 6 pm in Peabody. Check the farm’s website for other fun, fall activities for the kiddos, and be sure to take a trip to their pumpkin yard to find your perfect pumpkin. 54 Felton St., Peabody.

Smolak Farms – is open and welcoming you for its fall picking season. Open each weekend through October for the Fall Children’s Festivals where children can enjoy wee wagons, cow trains, duck races, hay maze, face painting, bouncy house, super slide and spin art. While you’re there, don’t forget to stop by their pumpkin patch, too. 315 S. Bradford St., North Andover.

OK– now my favorite thing to make with all these amazingly fresh apples:

Apple Crisp

Cut peel and core 12 fresh apples, place in a large serving bowl

Cover with 2 TBSP lemon juice which acts as an anti-oxidant and prevents oxidation (browning of apple)

Next mix in 4 cups rolled oats; 1 cup raisins; one cup chopped almonds and sprinkle on 1 TBSP cinnamon

Mix well – set in large baking dish- bake at 350 degrees until crisp.  Enjoy!

The only problem I ever have is that it is soooo good I always eat so much I feel ill for about an hour then I am good for some more!

If you have any questions about this blog, or about your health in general, you can contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Multitasking Is Hazardous to Your Health

I have recently been reading a lot about multitasking and how it can be bad for your health.  We all know that you cannot really do a good job of multiple things at the same time (think the ultimate no-no: texting while driving!) Many people believe in our too fast paced world that they need to try to multitask whenever possible in hopes that they can actually get more done than is humanly possible.  Turns out not only is it a bad idea, but it can be bad for you and others around you as well.

We all know texting while driving is not only dangerous to you but everyone else on the road with you!  Did you also know that multitasking is actually bad for your brain?

I recently read an excellent article by Dr. Travis Bradberry (the Coauthor of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0 & President at Talent Smart) His article is titled:

Why Successful People Don’t Multitask.  I will share the best parts of that article here:

You may have heard that multitasking is bad for you, but new studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Every time you multitask you aren’t just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that’s critical to your future success at work.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

A Special Skill?

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers—those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.

Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

Multitasking Lowers IQ

Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.

Brain Damage From Multitasking?

It was long believed that cognitive impairment from multitasking was temporary, but new research suggests otherwise. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK compared the amount of time people spend on multiple devices (such as texting while watching TV) to MRI scans of their brains. They found that high multitaskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.

While more research is needed to determine if multitasking is physically damaging the brain (versus existing brain damage that predisposes people to multitask), it’s clear that multitasking has negative effects.

The EQ Connection

Nothing turns people off quite like fiddling with your phone or tablet during a conversation. Multitasking in meetings and other social settings indicates low Self- and Social Awareness, two emotional intelligence (EQ) skills that are critical to success at work. TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that 90% of top performers have high EQs. If multitasking does indeed damage the anterior cingulate cortex (a key brain region for EQ) as current research suggests, doing so will lower your EQ while it alienates your coworkers.

Bringing It All Together

If you’re prone to multitasking, this is not a habit you’ll want to indulge—it clearly slows you down and decreases the quality of your work. Even if it doesn’t cause brain damage, allowing yourself to multitask will fuel any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organization, and attention to detail.

So, if you really want to do something well, focus on the task at hand and try not to let your mind wander.  I know that when I am racing and in the middle of the swim and I start thinking of the upcoming bike course my swim stroke mechanics deteriorate and I slow way down.  Change your mind set; focusing on one thing at a time is actually more efficient, give it a try.

Your brain is also part of your central nervous system which includes the spinal cord and all your spinal nerves- so remember to take care of your whole central nervous system with regular chiropractic adjustments.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

 

Stay Safe During Hot Weather Exercise

If you are a regular reader of these blogs you know that I definitely advocate exercising on a regular basis, but when the summer months turn really hot and humid, you need to be careful to avoid heat related illnesses like heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Whether you’re running, playing tennis, working in your yard or garden, or going for a power walk, please be careful when the temperature rises. Even in your home, you should take measures to ensure the home is nice and cool. You might want to check out Allen Kelly & Company, Inc. if you need an air conditioning facility.

Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you don’t take care when exercising in the heat, you risk serious illness. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature and humidity can increase your core body temperature.

To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher.

Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long, you sweat heavily, and you don’t drink enough fluids.

The result may be a heat-related illness. Heat-related illnesses occur along a spectrum, starting out mild but worsening if left untreated. Heat illnesses include:

  • Heat cramps.Heat cramps, sometimes called exercise-associated muscle cramps, are painful muscle contractions that can occur with exercise. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. You may feel muscle pain or spasms. Your body temperature may be normal.
  • Heat syncope and exercise-associated collapseHeat syncope is a feeling of lightheadedness or fainting caused by high temperatures, often occurring after standing for a long period of time or standing quickly after sitting for a long period of time. Exercise-associated collapse is feeling lightheaded or fainting immediately after exercising, and it can occur especially if you immediately stop running and stand still after a race or a long run.
  • Heat exhaustion.With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104° F, and you may experience nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache, fainting, sweating and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.
  • Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104° F. Your skin may be dry from lack of sweat, or it may be moist.

You may develop confusion, irritability, headache, heart rhythm problems, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, visual problems and fatigue. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death.

During hot-weather exercise, watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. If you ignore these symptoms, your condition can worsen, resulting in a medical emergency.

WARNING SIGNS:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Visual problems

If you develop any of these symptoms, you must lower your body temperature and get hydrated right away. Stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. If possible, have someone stay with you who can help monitor your condition.

Measuring core body temperature with a rectal thermometer is essential to accurately determine the degree of heat injury. An oral, ear or forehead thermometer doesn’t provide an accurate temperature reading for this purpose. In cases of heatstroke, due to confusion and mental status changes, you won’t be able to treat yourself and you’ll require emergency medical care. The most effective way of rapid cooling is immersion of your body in a cold- or ice-water tub.

In cases of heat exhaustion, remove extra clothing or sports equipment. Make sure you are around people who can help you and assist in your care. If possible, fan your body or wet down your body with cool water.

You may place cool, wet towels or ice packs on your neck, forehead and under your arms, spray yourself with water from a hose or shower, or sit in a tub filled with cold water. Drink fluids such as water or a sports drink. If you don’t feel better within about 20 minutes, seek emergency medical care.

IF YOU HAVE SIGNS OF HEAT STROKE- SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT RIGHT AWAY

If your core temperature is less than 104° F, but it doesn’t come down quickly, you’ll also need urgent medical attention. In some cases, you may need fluids through intravenous (IV) tubes if you’re not able to drink fluids, or not able to drink enough fluids.

Get cleared by your doctor before you return to exercise if you’ve had heatstroke. Your doctor will likely recommend that you wait to return to exercise or sports until you’re not experiencing symptoms. If you’ve had a heatstroke, you may require many weeks before you are able to exercise at a high level. Once your doctor clears you for exercise, you may begin to exercise for short periods of time and gradually exercise for longer periods as you adjust to the heat.

When you exercise in hot weather, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Watch the temperature.Pay attention to weather forecasts and heat alerts. Know what the temperature is expected to be for the duration of your planned outdoor activity. In running events, there are “flag” warnings that correspond to the degree of heat and humidity. For example, a yellow flag requires careful monitoring, and races are canceled in black flag conditions.
  • Get acclimated.If you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat. It can take at least one to two weeks to adapt to the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over time, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
  • Know your fitness level.If you’re unfit or new to exercise, be extra cautious when working out in the heat. Your body may have a lower tolerance to the heat. Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. Help your body sweat and cool down by staying well-hydrated with water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluids. If you plan to exercise intensely, consider a sports drink instead of water. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid alcoholic drinks because they can actually promote fluid loss.
  • Dress appropriately.Lightweight, loose fitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid midday sun.Exercise in the morning or evening, when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shady areas, or do a water workout in a pool.
  • Wear sunscreen.A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself and increases the risk of skin cancer.
  • Have a backup plan.If you’re concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors. Work out at the gym, walk laps inside the mall or climb stairs inside an air-conditioned building.
  • Understand your medical risks.Certain medical conditions or medications can increase your risk of a heat-related illness. If you plan to exercise in the heat, talk to your doctor about precautions.
  • Choose and alternative form of exercise. If you are a runner – maybe try cycling as you create your own cooling effect by moving air over your body – or maybe give swimming a go – but beware of swimming laps in a hot (> 84° F) pool – as you can quickly overheat swimming in water that warm.

I do recommend that you continue to exercise on a regular basis even through this hot month of August, just be smart about it by following these recommendations.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

CHEERS TO CHERRIES

Just this morning after a nice bike ride, my friend and I were comparing smoothie recipes and were discussing what we each like to put in our smoothies.  I have been using a combination of coconut/almond milk, pineapple, Vega-one protein powder and a mix of frozen berries which includes blueberries, strawberries and cherries.  I always thought the blueberries were the best source of antioxidants, but after a little research I see that cherries pack even a bigger punch.  I decided to look into what other health benefits cherries can provide us and I wanted to share that information with you.

Cherries are high in antioxidants and high in quercetin. 

Cherries are full of antioxidants. These antioxidants have a number of different benefits, including the ability to prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as fighting off free radicals. The antioxidants found in cherries also work to slow the signs of aging. All cherries contain their own antioxidants but sour cherries have the most, beating out even blueberries with their antioxidant content.

Cherries are rich in quercetin, a natural flavonoid that is associated with strong antioxidant and health properties. Quercetin helps neutralize potential DNA damage caused by free radicals and may help protect against heart disease and certain cancers, including breast, colon, prostate and lung. In addition, it has strong anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects.

A serving of sweet cherries (5 ounces, 1 cup or about 21 cherries) provides 90 calories and 3 grams fiber.  Cherries are a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Cherries are also a great source of anthocyanins, bioactive compounds that provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, cardiovascular and other benefits. Research shows that melatonin, catechins and flavanols in cherries contribute to the fruit’s healthfulness, too.

They stabilize blood sugar levels. Cherries have among the lowest glycemic index and glycemic load values of all fruit. The glycemic index for cherries is 22, and the glycemic load is three. The glycemic index measures the effect that a carbohydrate-containing food has on blood sugar levels. A score of zero to 55 is considered low. The glycemic load measures the blood sugar response in a standard serving of the food.

They help ease joint pain. Several studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of cherries can help reduce inflammation that affects individuals with arthritis and gout. A study from USDA study found that Bing cherries specifically helped lower participants’ blood uric acid levels. High blood uric acid is associated with gout. Another study found that cherry consumption was associated with a 35 percent reduction in incidence of a gout attack over a two-day period. Cherry intake coupled with traditional gout pharmaceuticals reduced incidence of attacks by 75 percent. 

They act as an all-natural sleep aid. Research with tart cherry varieties show that they are rich in melatonin, a compound that helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake patterns. Studies show that supplements with cherry juice concentrate have been associated with improved sleep.

While your body does have the ability to produce its own melatonin, it typically does so only in darkness and not everyone is able to produce all the melatonin that is needed. Factors such as the artificial lighting that is found in many offices and homes limit how much melatonin is produced by your body. Eating cherries might help boost melatonin levels in your body.

You’ll get more out of your workouts. Cherries and cherry juice are often promoted for recovery post-exercise because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. One study showed that strength athletes who consumed tart cherry supplement experienced better recovery from intensive strength training, compared to when they took a fruit juice control beverage. Other studies with endurance athletes also link cherry compounds to enhanced recovery following exhaustive exercise.

They’re all-American. The United States is the second-leading producer of cherries in the world (Turkey is No. 1). Sweet cherries are grown primarily in Washington, Oregon and California, while tart cherries are grown primarily in Michigan, Utah and Washington.

Enjoy fresh cherries now because their season is short – from May through August. Or you can always use frozen cherries in your own smoothie recipe- they will boost your smoothie’s nutritional power!

If you have any questions about this blog or about your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Now that Summer is Here: Get Outside!

Here are a few health benefits of getting outside:

Eye Health– Getting outside can improve your eye health   Do you work on a computer for a living?  Do you watch TV when you’re not working?  If so, you’re at risk of developing the symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS can be caused by staring at a screen close to your face for prolonged periods.  Symptoms include: blurred vision, double vision, red eyes, eye irritation, headaches, and neck or back pain.  Getting outside and focusing on objects that are more than two feet from your face can help to prevent and even reverse these symptoms.

Artificial Light may contribute to Nearsightedness.  New research is showing that our increased exposure to artificial light may be having a negative impact on nearsightedness.  A 2007 study of children of nearsighted parents that spent at least two hours per day outdoors were four times less likely to be nearsighted than those who spent less than one hour per day outside.  Artificial light is the problem, natural light is the solution.

If your eye sight is starting to get worse, get outside.

Improve Sleep–  Our sleep patterns are regulated by an internal body clock called the circadian rhythm.  Our circadian rhythms are naturally tied to the sun’s schedule.  Spending too much time inside – away from natural light and with increased exposure to artificial light, can alter our circadian rhythms and disrupt our sleep

Those who perform shift-work or travel frequently are also subject to having their natural circadian rhythms disrupted. Early morning exposure to sunlight has been shown to help recalibrate these sleep cycles

If you are not sleeping well, get outside!

Grounding or “Earthing”, which results from bare skin contact on a natural surface (dirt, sand, grass).  The theory states that because the earth is negatively charged- and has a greater negative charge than your body- we absorb earth’s electrons.  The rubber soles of our shoes prevent this absorption of electrons from occurring.  According to a study reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, grounding can have an intense anti-inflammatory and energizing effect on the body.

If you want to feel the energy of earth, get outside and walk in the grass barefoot.

Exercise– Most people enjoy exercising outside more than inside- and if you enjoy it more, you are more likely to keep doing it on a regular basis. Even a light walk has immense health benefits, especially contrasted with sitting- which has been referred to as the smoking of our generation.  Sitting too much results in impaired fat burning capacity, decreased bone density, increased blood pressure, and a shortened life span.  Conversely, exercise can help prevent or improve heart disease, strokes, type II diabetes, obesity, back pain, osteoporosis, and a host of psychological disorders.

If you want to live longer, get outside.

Mental Health– there are many beneficial effects getting outside can have on our mental wellbeing.  Spending time in nature has been linked to improved attention spans, and boosts in serotonin- which makes us feel better mentally. Being outside also increases activity in the sections of the brain responsible for empathy, emotional stability, and love.

If you’re feeling down, get outside.

Immune System– Get outside for more natural Vitamin D, which is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system.  Those who don’t get enough Vitamin D are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.  Getting enough sunlight has also been linked with the prevention of diabetes, auto immune disorders, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease.

If you want your body to function properly, get outside.

Remember to keep your regularly scheduled Chiropractic appointments as well. Regular spinal adjustments are also good for your immune system.  One of my previous blogs was about just that: https://www.performancehealthcenter.com/?s=immune+system&submit=Search

If you have any questions about this blog or about your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Does Chiropractic Help with Allergies?

It appears that spring is finally here.  The temperature is rising, the days are getting longer and the flowers and trees are budding. Along with all these great things is an increase in pollen and the start of spring-time allergies for many people.

Many people are hypersensitive to pollen and other environmental substances. This condi­tion causes a number of irritating symptoms that can make life miserable.  An allergy is a hypersensitivity that can surface in many ways: Skin reactions, breathing difficulty and irritations to the sinuses are some of the most frequent allergy symptoms. If you have a food allergy, then problems like bloating, indigestion and diarrhea may result.

An allergic response is when your immune system activates and attempts to remove a substance that is usually considered harmless from the body. Essentially, the allergic reaction is caused not by the substance itself but by your body’s interpretation that the substance is poten­tially harmful. Inflammation, sneezing, cough­ing and vomiting are methods the immune system uses to expel any dangerous substance ingested by you.

When an allergic reaction starts, the body activates special immune cells called mast cells. On the surface of their membranes, these mast cells possess receptors that recognize substances considered either harmful or helpful to the body. When harmful substances are detected, the cells release histamines. This triggers the body to react, often with an increase in swelling, coughing, or sneezing.

An allergic reaction can be considered an interpretation of your environment. In order for your body to interpret, your body must first get information. The nervous system is part of this information-gathering function of the body. If your nervous system is dysfunctional, then the information interpreted will be altered, and this makes you vulnerable to abnormal reactions like allergies.

Many people report that Chiropractic can help with Allergies

Many chiropractic patients report a reduction of allergy symptoms when treated regularly for vertebral subluxations (misalignments and/or dysfunctional movements of the vertebrae).  These misalignments or dysfunctional movements of vertebra can cause a focal irritation in the spine, which then creates an abnormal signal received by the central nervous system.  When this abnormal signal is received by the central nervous system, the body may not interrupt the information correctly.  When this occurs, an allergic reaction can result.

Although scientific research shows chiropractic adjustments do not cause an improvement in all allergy cases, they’re definitely beneficial for some.  The reason for the inconsistency may be because there are a number of different causes for a patient’s hypersensitivity.  Vertebral subluxation is only one of many potential causes.

If you or someone you know suffer from seasonal allergies, consider chiropractic care.  I have many of my patients tell me they have fewer allergy symptoms when they consistently come in for their regular Chiropractic care.

If you have any questions about this blog, or about your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com