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

 

Talk About an Inspiration…OMG!

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I was so excited to write May’s little article I could hardly wait!  I know many times we write about topics that will help improve our patient’s health, or insightful information to help give our patients advice and educate them, but I wanted to change things up a little this month.  Though I was unable to be out on the course for the 2018 Boston Marathon this year, I promise I was there in spirit checking all my patients and friends progress, and keeping track of the race, while doing much over day paperwork.  It’s call multitasking folks J.  I guess if I was going to pick a year to have to miss, this was certainly a good one in regards to the weather, and coldest temperature to start the race in years, if not ever.

While I was away that weekend, I actually had a moment to sit down and read the newspaper.  That never happens, ever!  I usually keep up with the news or current events through my patients, friends, and family.  In the sports section in the New York Times, I came across an amazing and beyond inspirational article, and wanted to share my feelings and thoughts about it this month.  The article gave me the chills reading it.  The title of the article I read on that Sunday before the 2018 Boston Marathon was, ‘It’s Pure Torture.  But It Works.’  I shared the link on my FB page, and I am sure if you go the New York Times website, anyone can find it online.

The article was about a professional triathlete, Tim Don.  For those of you who do not recognize the name, he is the world-record holder in the Ironman, setting that record at almost the age of 40, in Brazil, 2017.  He had obviously qualified for the World Championship in Kona for 2017, and was there on his last training ride 2 days before Kona, when he was hit by a utility vehicle.  Needless to say, the Ironman World Championships in Kona, and his goal to win it was quickly put on hold.  The article itself goes into much more detail about everything.  Tim had what was called a “hang-man’s fracture”.  It is a fracture of the C2 vertebra in the neck, NOT GOOD, not good at all! Reading the article, I am just amazed that he is alive, let alone not paralyzed.  The surgeons gave Tim 3 options, the third option being the best bet if he were going to try and return to any type of professional career after recovery.

Get ready folks, as this is the part that amazes me even more then him not dying or being paralyzed that tragic day, I think…Tim’s fracture somehow was stable, and option 3 was for Tim to be put in a halo device for 6 months.  It is a metal device that is secured to one’s skull by way of 4 titanium screws (that have to be screwed in to the skull)! There are 4 extended pieces that come down to set around his lower neck and shoulders.  The doctor in the article describes it as a “mid-evil torture device, but it works”.  WTF!  He had to basically be still for almost 3 months until he could start moving around and trying to do anything. I cannot begin to imagine how painful all of those days were, let alone after devising a return to training plan that he started to embark on after those few months with is former physical therapist that come from overseas to work with him.

All of this said, and to start trying to sum up a much longer story, though amazing at the least, Tim had set a goal to compete in the 2018 Boston Marathon, and even better, in hopes to have a finishing time of 2 hours and 50 minutes or better!  NO WAY!  I was sitting there thinking and shaking my head reading this article, how is this even possible? I immediately shared this article on social media, and tried to send it to everyone I knew that was running the Boston Marathon this year.  I was hoping people would find this as inspiring as I did, and help to get them through a less than ideal day, 4/16/2018.  And guess what folks, Tim Don finished in just under two hours and fifty minutes.  I followed his story all morning, along with our new American Female Boston Marathon Winner as well.  I know these were beyond less than ideal conditions for 2018, but just 5 years since the marathon bombing, talk about maybe one of the most memorable marathons possibly.

 

I was amazed at how Tim’s body could handle what it did.  I do not go into detail about the amount of pain Tim must have been in, and the article only touches on just a fraction on what I am sure he was really experiencing.  But, Tim’s mind set and determination were unbelievable.  It also helped that he was in tremendous condition, but also goes to show that if the body is healthy and taken care of properly, the ability for a better or even full recovery is more than possible.

 

As I was thinking about the article after reading it, I feel this concept plays into in a lot of what I do on a daily basis for work.  I am always trying to help educate my patients how to take better care of themselves with chiropractic care and Active Release Techniques (ART), PT, and acupuncture.  Whether it be different ways to exercise, stretch, roll, recover or heal, about nutrition, supplements to take etc., I am always trying to impress upon patients how important it to take care of their bodies, as we only get one!  Many or most times this is in regards to a patient coming in seeking help after some type of injury, but in reality it is just important to take care of our bodies just the same regardless of injury, actually more important.  If we all put more emphasis on the “preventive” and “maintaining” part taking care of our bodies, I truly feel we will all be much further ahead in life, and we will all be able to bounce back so much faster in regards to a minor, moderate, or even major injury in regards to Tim Don’s case.

A little side note before concluding this month’s story: Tim Don’s next goal is to race another ironman late spring or early summer to qualify for Kona in the fall of 2018.  GO TIM!!!

 

 

 

 

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

 

It’s That Time of Year Again, Boston Marathon Time!

Calling all Boston Marathoners, it’s that time of year!  Spring is in the air, hopefully the snow is done, and the marathon is quickly approaching.  So exciting!!!

Once again, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t offering a little advice to all my patients, family and friends on how they can better take care of themselves during this exciting time of year, and the rest of the year, as “marathon-ing” is starting to become an all year round sport.

I cannot stress how important it is that runners and athletes in general be more proactive to take care better care of themselves leading up to a marathon, and in their recovery post marathon as well.   Being proactive pre-race and post-race, whether it being seeing your chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, or acupuncturist, can really help prevent injury from occurring leading up to the race, and certainly help speed up your recovery and get back on the road to training after the race.  There are so many words of advice, tips, recommendations etc., that I am going to just focus on a few things that I have found myself to fall short on after running a marathon or completing a triathlon.

One of the most commonly asked question by a runner or triathlete is, “How long should I wait to run again after the marathon?”.   After my first marathon, I had no clue, and I thought I could just jump back into running like it was nothing!  I mean, I had just completed 26.2 miles of running, I felt like I could do anything!  Boy was I wrong, and it certainly wasn’t the first question I asked.  So…for all of those who are inquiring and don’t want to be like me on the first time around, general rule of thumb seems to be 1-2 weeks depending on how one feels.

A lot of articles say 5-7 days of rest post marathon, which I am totally fine with.  More importantly though, the next few weeks after that initial week should be taken lightly with training as the body is trying to recover.  Usually within 3-4 weeks a runner can return to regular training, or harder workouts, providing there are no injuries that the runner or triathlete is dealing with from before the race, or an injury resulting from the race.  As for triatletes, usually one can get back to swimming right away, as it is not compressive to the body, but I wouldn’t be trying to “kill it” in the pool.  As for the bike, again, less compressive to the body, but listen to your legs and your body, and how you feel over all.  To go a little lighter for a few weeks post-race is not a bad thing.  You can still get some good training and exercise in without destroying your body.

Again, as I have mentioned before, ice baths for recovery post race are awesome.  Most runners inquire about the effectiveness of ice baths and when or how long to soak in the tub of ice for.  The general idea in regards to this type of cryotherapy treatment is that the exposure to cold helps the body fight the microtrauma (tiny little tears) in the muscle fibers causing soreness by the repetitive exercise that just took place.  Constricting the blood vessels for a short period of time can help to flush toxins released by the body during the event, and intern, help to decrease or reduce inflammation, swelling, and breakdown of tissue in the body. I recommend getting into the tub and filling it with cold water around you first (up to your waste), then dumping a bag or two of ice into the water after you are submerged. It is best to stay submerged in the ice bath for about 10 minutes if you can tolerate it.

As always, I am a HUGE fan of a post marathon chiropractic adjustment and Active Release Techniques® (ART) to help realign your body, and set your straight for the rest of the season, or whatever race you have coming up next.  Post-race massage within a few days’ post marathon or whatever race you have done is so important, and something I always do without fail.  Without my chiropractors and massage therapists, physical therapist, and acupuncturist, I do not think I could train the way I do, and keep going after all of these years, seriously!

I really hope some of this information helps you all in your journey to the Boston Marathon this year, or whatever race or competition you have on your calendar in 2018.  And, in particular to the month of April, Happy Boston Marathon-ing to everyone racing.  Think positive thoughts to carry you through that day, and I will be there with you all in spirit!  If you have any questions about pre and post marathon or race recovery, please feel free and contact me at drv@performancehealthcenter.com.

 

Improve Your Posture With These Exercises and Stretches

Most people feel like they could improve their posture, yet they are not quite sure where to start.  I will list some key stretches and exercises that will help improve your posture, but first we need to determine what is causing our poor posture.

Most of us spend too much time sitting. Add up all the time we spend sitting in the car, at home, and at work and it may equal more than half your waking hours. The problem stems from the way we typically sit, or slouch, hours at a time in front of a computer, or behind the wheel of a car, or slumped on the couch at home.  Typical poor sitting posture includes: neck protracted, shoulders internally rotated, hamstrings shortened, glutes and core muscles disengaged. Consistently sitting like this will inevitably lead to muscular imbalances that translate into poor posture.

When you do sit, remember to keep your back straight with your head in a neutral position. Allow your shoulder blades to sink into your back pockets. Align your ears over your shoulders, and your shoulders over your hips to avoid that forward slouch.

Better yet, sit on a stability ball, or replace the chair, even some of the time with a stand-up desk arrangement. At the least, incorporate frequent breaks into your workday to break up extended hours of sitting at a desk.

During your breaks from sitting, stand up and do some muscle activation exercises and dynamic stretches to wake up the lines of communication to underused muscles and to increase mobility in tight areas.

MUSCLE ACTIVATION EXERCISES:

Activate your core by pulling your belly button toward your spine; then raise your arms above your head and lean back slightly while balanced on one leg. Hold it for five seconds; then switch to the other leg.

Activate your hips by standing on one leg and moving your opposite leg back and to the side. Hold for five seconds; then switch legs. Or, stand on both legs and alternately squeeze one glute and then the other, as you sway side to side.

Specific stretches to improve posture:

Open up the chest with a doorway stretch.  Stand in a doorway with your hands on each side of the opening- allow your body to “enter the room” with your hands still on each side of the door opening behind you.  Hold for 30 seconds.

To stretch your back, start with a half wall hang. With your feet shoulder-width apart, place your hands against a wall. Slowly step away from the wall as you slide your hands down the wall until your hands, shoulders, and hips are aligned and parallel to the floor. Push your hands into the wall and pull your hips away from the wall as you feel a stretch in your lower back.

From the half wall hang, move into a full hang to target more of your hamstrings. Move your hands down the wall to the floor and hang with waist bent and head relaxed.

SHOULDER RETRACTION EXERCISE:

The shoulder retraction exercise helps vertically align your head and neck with your spinal column and helps your thoracic spine move into extension. The shoulder retraction exercise is designed to relax your tight neck and pectoral muscles.

Stand up straight and keep your feet about shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. Slowly contract your abdominal muscles to keep your hips in a stable position. With your arms dangling freely at your sides, flip your palms over to face directly ahead and then lower your shoulders down and back so that your shoulder blades move toward your spine. Push your breastbone out and up. Position your head so that it’s directly above your spinal column and then tuck your chin to your throat. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Perform this stretch one time per working hour.

REVERSE SHOULDER SHRUGS:

Perform reverse shoulder shrugs by standing or sitting up straight and keeping your head in a neutral position, directly above your spinal column. In one fluid motion, lift both of your shoulders toward your ears. Then roll your shoulders backward and down as your shoulder blades move toward your spine. This exercise helps extend your upper thoracic spine and opens up your chest. While you’re performing this exercise, you should feel a light stretch in your chest and shoulder muscles. Perform 20 reverse shoulder shrugs two to three times a day, five days a week or more if you’re doing a lot of computer work.

CHIN TUCK EXERCISE:

Perform the repetitive chin tuck exercise to stretch your neck muscles and promote better posture. The repetitive chin tuck exercise targets the muscles in your upper cervical spine, which are situated just below the base of your skull.

Perform the repetitive chin tuck exercise by standing tall and keeping your spine straight. This is your starting position. Keeping your gaze level, pull your head and neck straight back (without tilting your neck backward) and bring your chin to your throat. You should feel a light stretch in the back of your neck, just under the base of your skull. Hold your stretch for five to seven seconds and then return to your starting position. Repeat this exercise 10 times five days a week. To enhance your stretch, you can use your index finger to place gentle pressure on your chin.

My favorite “improve your posture exercise” involves a stability ball, also known as a Swiss ball, this passive stretch should be part of your daily routine.  Lie with your back supported by the stability ball. Plant your feet firmly in the ground, hip-distance apart.  Open your arms to the sides of the room and let them hang so you feel a stretch in your chest muscles. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.  This exercise feels great as it unloads your spine from gravity and reverses the forward hunched posture we get from prolonged sitting.

To learn these and more Postural Restoration exercises in person, come to my next workshop, Postural Restoration.  Included in the class is a new Stability Ball pumped up for you.

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

The Concussion Muscle

Concussions are awful. There are close to 4 million sports related concussions in the U.S. every year. Your brain gets shaken up like an egg inside its shell. The skull doesn’t crack but the brain gets rattle around. You might lose consciousness, balance, ability to talk, have a headache and the world appears fuzzy. You go through concussion protocol testing and spend anywhere from a few days to weeks resting.
Slowly you start to feel better and eventually get on with life. 15% of concussion suffers have lingering effects which last beyond 3 months which is labeled “post-concussion syndrome. Persistent symptoms include inability to concentrate, memory issues, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, anxiousness, insomnia, blurry vision, noise and light sensitivity, and headache.

A recent study from the American Journal of Neuroradiology (AJNR) tried to determine if there was correlation between the suboccipital muscles and recovery time from post-concussion syndrome. The suboccipital muscles connect the upper neck vertebrae to the back part of the skull called the occiput. There are seven (7) muscles that make up the suboccipital muscles. An MRI of sixty-four consecutive patients with post-concussion syndrome was performed and symptoms were tested using standard concussion protocols.

Of the seven (7) suboccipital muscles only one (1) muscle’s cross-sectional diameter proved to have a direct association with post-concussion symptoms. That muscle is the Rectus Capitus Posterior Minor. (RCPMinor). There was a direct correlation with the RCPMinor and “greater symptom severity, longer recovery time, poor verbal memory performance and headache”. None of the other suboccipital muscles had a direct correlation.
What is so special about the RCPMinor muscles that it effects the recovery time ofpost-concussion syndrome? The RCPMinor is the only suboccipital muscle that has a ligament bridge that connects to the dura mater of your spinal cord right where your brain and spinal cord join. The dura mater is the outer protective membrane of the spinal cord. The theory is that the RCPMinor tugs on the spinal cord covering contributing to post-concussion symptoms.

I am only aware of one soft tissue technique that can isolate, evaluate and treat the RCPMinor muscle. That technique is called Active Release Techniques® or (ART). ART is patented and consists of over 500 specific protocols which differentiate, isolate, evaluate and treat the individual muscles in the body. The goal of ART is to release adhesions or scar tissue in muscles, ligament and nerve pathways in the body, in essence the soft tissues of the body. ART is cutting edge and is becoming the gold standard in treating soft tissue injuries. ART is done by hand. In order to become certified in ART you need to go through a certification course. Certification needs to be renewed every year. There are only 40 +/- certified ART providers in Massachusetts.

In the suboccipital region it is possible to isolate and evaluate the RCPMinor muscle using ART. If the RCPMinor is found to be short & tight, a specific tension is applied to the muscle which can normalize the tone and function. I have been an ART provider for 20 years. I have helped many patients suffering from whiplash injuries, headaches and post-concussion symptoms. Even before this study was published I have found that clinically the RCPMinor is a key muscle to treat to resolving post-concussion symptoms.

It’s not important to remember the name of the Rectus Capitus Posterior Minor muscle, but it is important to know that ART is one technique that is very effective in finding, evaluating and treating this muscle. If you, a family member or friend has been frustrated due to post-concussion syndrome, chronic headaches or whiplash injury, please get evaluated by an ART certified provider.
To find a certified ART provider anywhere in the world clink this link: http://activerelease.com/find-a-provider.asp

If you would like more information please contact me at: drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com

Your Mind is Powerful; Use it Wisely!

More and more evidence is proving what we’ve been told our whole lives is true; “You are what you think.”   Hopefully, after you read this you’ll be more careful about what you think about because it can fundamentally affect you and your health!

It’s now a few years old, but in 2011 the “milkshake study” was published.  The same exact milkshake was given to the subjects on 2 separate occasions, except the labels were different each time. One label was “indulgent” and stated the milkshake was high calorie and fat.  The other label on the exact same milkshake was “sensible” and was described as low calorie and low fat.  Amazingly enough, the milkshake was metabolized differently in the subjects even though the ingredients were exactly the same.  The Indulgent labeled shake produced a significant decrease in the levels of Grehlin, one of our body’s “hunger hormones”. The drop in the hunger hormone was 3 times greater than in the sensible labeled milkshake.  When drinking what was believed to be a high fat, high calorie shake the body was fooled by the mind and was made to feel fuller, or more satiated.  The difference in how the milkshake was metabolized in the body was physiological.  The bottom line is what the body believed it was consuming affected how it was metabolized in the digestive system.

Additional studies have shown that the placebo effect in medications can be as high as 50%.  When a patient’s medical doctor says that medication is effective for their ailment, the mind believes it and feels better even though they are only consuming a sugar pill.  What is even more amazing is that the placebo effect exists even when the patient is told they are getting a placebo. This is called an open-label placebo.   Sounds crazy, that even when they are told they are taking a sugar pill, many patients feel better.

These are just a few examples of research documenting that your mind is pretty powerful and what you say, think and hear can influence you in ways that you never thought possible.  To read more about how your mind and body are affected by your thoughts, actions and beliefs all you need to do is Goggle positive thinking studies.  I got over 9 million results in less than half a second.  The take away is that the brain is more powerful than we realize. You need to be careful about what you say, especially your “self-speak” and you should focus on positive and empowering thoughts.  It’s not always easy to be positive.  You may have developed bad thought habits over the years and will need to make a conscious effort to be positive.

I try to be positive in both my personal and professional life. Chiropractic care is not a placebo, but I have found during my 34 years in practice what I say and how I say it can influence and improve how my patient’s respond to treatment.  For those patient’s I feel I can help, I focus my explanations in realistic terms, but always try to focus on the positive changes that will happen in their bodies as they receive their chiropractic treatments.  I remind my patient that it takes time to get healthy especially with chronic pain syndromes causes by joint dysfunctions, muscles imbalances and degenerative changes.  I also know that when my patient’s stick with their treatment recommendations they are usually glad they did both short term and long term.

You might have already forgotten many of the New Year’s resolutions you made just two months ago, but being positive it not as difficult as it may seem. If you need more motivation-Positive people live longer and are healthier!  Yes, there is research on that too!

DrBradWeiss@PerformanceHealthCenter.com

“Rest and Relax” vs “Fight or Flight” Part 2

Last month I wrote this Blog “Fight or Flight” vs. Rest and Relax”: https://www.performancehealthcenter.com/rest-relax-vs-fight-flight/

“Rest and Relax” Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) vs “Fight or Flight” Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)…. I am writing this Blog as a follow up.  If you read last month’s blog you may be wondering  which system in your body is overpowering the other.

Short review:  We all have both a Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), both of which are regulated by our Central Nervous System (CNS).  Whichever one is dominant in you may influence your overall health.  People who are more SNS dominant may have trouble relaxing, they may have hypertension, muscle tension, irritability, and difficulty with digestion and/or elimination.  There are a host of health-related problems from being too SNS dominant.

This blog will focus on helping you to reduce unwanted muscle tension.  I see it every day at our office… patients come in with extremely tight muscles throughout their bodies, especially in their upper back and neck areas. These areas are known to be target areas for excess stress brought on by an overpowering sympathetic nervous system (SNS).  The human design is excellent at times – you are at the start line of a race and your SNS is in high gear, allowing you to race at your best, your heart rate is up, your blood pressure increases and your muscles are ready for action- and when you use all this in an active way it all makes sense.  This same design is terrible when it comes to sitting at your desk working on an overdue project, or you are driving and were just cut off for the 3rd time this morning on your way to work!  Now, that same elevated heart rate and blood pressure and increased muscle tension has no place to go and you end up with intense muscle tightness and irritability.  When this happens on a regular basis over a long period of time you can start to get chronic muscle tightness and, in some cases, even chronic muscle spasms.

The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems have a complementary, push-pull relationship.  Together, these systems act a bit like an accelerator and a brake for our bodies and also help to maintain balance, or “homeostasis.”

During the fight or flight response (SNS), your body slows or shuts down many of the rest and repair processes so that more energy is available for the processes necessary for immediate action. In nonemergency situations, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is supposed to go to work, conserving energy and directing it to rest and repair responses, including healing, unless your PNS is being overpowered by your SNS.  This is where chiropractic care can be very helpful.

While stress hormones and the physiological changes they trigger can be helpful (maybe even life-saving) when we’re facing real physical threats, they can do significant damage to our health over the long term if they’re switched on all the time.  Regular Chiropractic adjustments can help balance out an overactive SNS and an under active PNS.  Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to affect the autonomic nervous system by helping to down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system and stimulate parasympathetic activity. Quieting the fight or flight responses in turn promotes healing, bolsters the immune system and helps relieve the immediate sensation of pain.

Is your SNS turned on all the time?  Balance out your nervous system and keep it healthy with regular Chiropractic care.

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

 

“Rest and Relax” vs “Fight or Flight”

“Rest and Relax” (PNS) vs “Fight or Flight” (SNS)…. I am writing this Blog the week before Super Bowl LII, while most sports fans are thinking AFC vs NFC and which is stronger and who will over power the other.  Well, I want you to consider in your own mind which system in your body is overpowering the other?

What do I mean by that?  Well, we all have both a Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and Sympathetic nervous system (SNS), both of which are regulated by our Central Nervous System (CNS).  Which ever one is dominant in you may influence your overall health.  People who are more SNS dominant may have trouble relaxing, they may have hypertension, muscle tension, irritability, and difficulty with digestion and/or elimination.  There are a host of health-related problems from being too SNS dominant, but for the sake of this blog I will highlight how it effects our overall nutritional intake and absorption.

Have you ever switched your focus from what you are eating to how you are digesting? Are you really absorbing all the nutrients from your foods?

The parasympathetic nerves come from the cranial nerves and include the vagus nerve. The PNS nerves perform the following digestive functions:

  • Stimulate the activity of the stomach
  • Inhibit the release of glucose
  • Stimulate the release of the gallbladder to release bile needed to digest fat
  • Stimulate the activity of the intestines
  • Trigger peristalsis, which helps prevent constipation
  • Trigger enzyme production in the pancreas (pancreatic enzymes to break down carbs, protein and fats)
  • Signal if satiated
  • Signal if hungry
  • Need for more stomach acid (HCL), enzymes, bile and peristalsis

The sympathetic nerves do the opposite, including:

  • Inhibit the activity of the stomach
  • Stimulate the release of glucose (increasing blood sugar levels)
  • Inhibit gallbladder function (inhibiting the release of bile for fat digestion)
  • Inhibit the activity of the intestines

Stress impairs our digestive process. Digestion is a parasympathetic nervous system process (PNS) also known as the “rest, digest and repair” nervous system. For maximum health we should be in the PNS 80 percent of the time and the other 20 percent of the day we should be in the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), also known as the “fight or flight” nervous system. Now what percentage of the day do you think you are in PNS versus SNS? What about when you are eating? Resting? Sleeping? We should be in the parasympathetic nervous system when eating but rarely do we sit, relax and focus on eating a meal as they do in most areas of Europe.

If you are a typical type-A personality, over-doer in life, then you may struggle with taking time out of your weekday for a relaxing meal and unplugging. What is the difference? Eating in the parasympathetic nervous system versus the sympathetic nervous system. Digestion is turned off when you are in the sympathetic nervous system. Many of us are living life as a race leading us to be in the sympathetic nervous system 80 percent of the day instead of 20 percent, causing a domino effect of health problems.

So, we know the vagus nerve highly influences the PNS so our vagus nerve needs to be strong in order to help in the digestion process. Remember, we get our amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals from the food we digest and break down, which helps build enzymes, hormones, muscles, bones, blood and our gut biome.

We need to support our vagus nerve and (PNS) to improve our digestion and gut health if we want to be healthier, since good digestion leads to a healthy gut, which results in reduced inflammation and an improved immune system (70% of our immune system is in the gut!).

Stop, pause, slow inhales, long exhales and reset. Take some deep breathes in and out, focus and unplug. Other techniques to boost your PNS: gargling, humming, singing, cold showers, meditation, mindful yoga, and connecting with loved ones.

Our digestion is as important as our diet. To nourish ourselves, we must support our digestion, but also our brain, as the brain communicates to the gut and the gut communicates back to the brain. Anti-inflammation is key to our bodies’ repair, recovery and regeneration, but it doesn’t happen if we are not in the parasympathetic nervous system more often during the day and all night.

Chiropractic adjustments can strengthen your PNS since it deals directly with your nervous system.  Every function of your body is controlled by your central nervous system, and these functions can be disrupted by misalignments in your spine. These are called subluxations. A subluxation creates interference in the function of your spinal nerves, and this can result in impaired functioning of your organs and endocrine system.

So, slow down, take some deep breaths and get regular chiropractic adjustments to keep your vagus nerve and your PNS strong and healthy.

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

 

Got Enough Snow Yet???

Has your back been aching after an already long winter, and it’s only the beginning of February? Did you ever stop to think that you might be doing it wrong?  Shoveling, that is.  And, if you are not using a snow blower, like many of us are not, me included, you basically have a couple choices when it comes to shoveling snow…Shoveling after every few inches of snow fall, or waiting until the storm ends, and then remove the snow in layers, are the pretty obvious choices I would say.  If shoveling snow after you have waited for it all to accumulate, the please remove only as much snow as you are comfortable lifting and moving at a time.

It is also recommended that you clear your driveway in two stages if shoveling.  First, you should push the snow to the edges of the driveway with a versatile snow shovel (there are various types of snow shovels if you didn’t know, and this is one that is good for throwing, lifting and pushing), then shovel what’s left in the way out of the way.  The more you can push the snow instead of actually lift and shovel the snow, the better! One tip, if you have an uneven pavement, an all plastic snow shovel without a steel edge would be better and less likely to catch and possibly “jar” your wrist, elbow, shoulder, or back.

Even if you have been dealing with shoveling snow on and off your whole life, the basic idea is to work smarter, not harder – avoid unnecessary work!  Clear a path on your way to your car, that way you avoid packing down the snow along the way, and packed snow is much tougher to shovel.  We all know that!  Just look at the last storm we had that packed down a lot of heavy and wet snow, ugh L

Don’t bother too much with the snow close and around your car at first.  Turn your car on to defrost and melt the snow on it, while you start shoveling elsewhere.  It is usually just easier to clear the snow close and around your car later after you have cleared off what is left on your car as well.  To be more efficient, it is better to remove that snow once towards the end as a final touch up.  Remember, every additional scoop you make is extra strain on your body!  If you are in good shape and aiming for this to be a work out, awesome, just please move carefully as well (the same rules generally apply), otherwise one should be trying to conserve movement.

Don’t worry too much about shoveling the snow where your driveway meets the road right away.  As we all know, the plows go by and always fill that area with more snow, lucky us!  If I were you, I would wait until the end to shovel that part, or when the plows have finished, or at least gone by once depending on the size of the storm.  When tackling this part of the driveway, be sure to do it in stages, as the snow will be much heavier to shovel.

Try and have a plan of attack before going out to shovel snow.  It may even be best to break up shoveling into smaller sections and rest in between if needed.  Like stated before, try and clear your driveway in stages, rather than all at once.  Try not to create huge piles of snow while shoveling either, it becomes harder to lift and throw the snow, and can put more pressure on your spine and back.  Another tip as well, make sure you know where your walkways or pathways are, and do not shovel more snow into those areas.  You will in turn have to shovel that snow, plus the snow already there.  There is NO need to move that snow twice!  Our backs are not meant for this kind of work.

 

It is still a good possibility that even following all of this advice and the tips, you could end up with a “bad back” a day or two after shoveling.  That is why you always hear, “Lift with your legs!”.  You want to avoid at all cost putting added stress on your low back, let your legs do the work.  For example, bend your knees to lower yourself to pick up the shovel off the ground, and same goes for accessing the snow.  DO NOT bend your back to reach the snow. After scooping up a shovel full of snow, use your legs to raise yourself back up.  When you are going to stand back up as well with the snow on the shovel, do not have your arms stretched out away from your body, your back will be doing much of the work that way, and in an odd and vulnerable position.  Keep the load of snow close to your body, as it will help to keep stress off your low back.  And one other thing, and I promise to be done talking about shoveling snow (how depressing), ALWAYS move your upper body and upper body together when turning to throw the snow.  NEVER twist or rotate with your upper body only, that is a recipe for a herniated disc, or a very back low back strain.  Okay, I am done ranting on, for now anyway…

Performance Health Center always sends out an email reminder to all of our patients and friends before a snow storm to help remind you all how to perform snow removal safely with a shovel.  It’s because we care, and would rather see you in our office for your monthly maintenance or wellness visit, not because you threw your back out shoveling! If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of this information, be sure to email one of the docs at PHC, or talk to us at your next office visit.  Happy shoveling you guys, and only two more months of winter, but who’s counting?  I sure am!  DrV@performancehealthcenter.com