What Can You Learn From the Tour de France?

Ever since taking a class in graduate school titled “Comparative Anatomy and Physiology” where we compared humans to other mammals, I realized that we humans are actually one of the slowest of all mammals. Try racing a dog, horse or rabbit, you name it, over a short distance and you will lose time after time. Make the race a long-distance affair and you will beat them all.  Humans have the capacity to do amazing endurance events.  One of the reasons is our ability to sweat all over our bodies making it very efficient at cooling. So, why even bother to try to go fast when we can go long!?!

I have always been intrigued by endurance events and have participated in them over the past 25+ years.  I am writing this blog on the final day of the Tour de France which is arguably the hardest endurance event in the world. Cyclists race, on average, over 100 miles per day for essentially 20 straight days. I thought I would share some of the fascinating facts of the Tour de France and some health lessons that we can learn from this amazing event.

Cycling is one of the best forms of exercise allowing you to really work your cardiovascular system for long periods of time without a lot of impact. Lance Armstrong was quoted as saying that the bicycle is the best piece of exercise equipment ever made.  There is one down side to this though, and one lesson we can all learn from the Tour. Cycling, as great of an exercise as it is, does not help promote bone density – in fact, the average Tour de France cyclist loses bone density throughout the 3-week race. This is due to the fact that the Tour cyclists are essentially non-weight bearing for 3 weeks! They are taught to stay off their feet during every waking moment before and after their race stages. Exercising at extremely intense levels for 5-6 hours for 20 days straight will cause the body to start to catabolize – including muscle and even calcium stores. So, for those of you who do cycling as your primary exercise make sure to add some weight bearing exercise(s) to your routine. One suggestion is weight training – which is a great way to help maintain your muscle mass and maintain your bone density.

A lot of cutting-edge nutritional strategies have been developed by studying the demands of Tour de France cyclists. The average cyclist consumes 7,500 calories per day during the Tour. That is a feat in itself, or should I say feast! Hydration and electrolyte balance are critical and a lot of the sports drinks we all use today have been developed with the Tour de France in mind.

All 180+ cyclists that race in the Tour get daily body work done including Active Release Techniques and Chiropractic adjustments. Lance Armstrong was quoted as saying the most important person on his staff during the Tour de France, as far as keeping the team healthy, was the team Chiropractor.

And as promised some fascinating facts from the Tour:

It may come as a huge surprise, but once upon a time the Tour de France used to be just a bunch of cigarette-smoking, booze-guzzling men riding their bikes on unpaved roads through the French Alps.

The Tour de France Was Originally A Sales Gimick! (Then vs now). In November of 1902, Geo Lefevre, a journalist from the newspaper L’Auto had an idea to boost circulation of the newspaper. The idea was the Tour de France. Two months later in January of 1903, the very first Tour de France was had but the circumstances and details were very different than what they are today. There were only 6 fairly flat stages over the course of 18 days vs. the 21 rather mountainous stages over 23 days of today. There were 60 entrants in the 1903 race vs. the nearly 200 entrants of 2014. 39 riders, roughly 60% of the 60 entrants of the first Tour de France of 1903 did NOT complete the race while only 18% of riders of the nearly 200 entrants completed the race of 2014.

As a result of the Tour de France, not only did Geo Lefevre succeed at boosting circulation of the newspaper, he created a cycling event that would go on to become one of the biggest racing events in the world of sports altogether. That original paper was printed on yellow paper- hence the leader was to wear a yellow jersey, something that they still do today.

The route of the course, and the total distance of the Tour de France changes every year, however the 21 competing teams of 9 riders from around the world can expect to cycle over 2000 miles (3,500 kilometers), up and down many hills and on routes that alternate between clockwise and counter clockwise circuits of France. In the original 1903 tour, the length was 2,428 kilometers.

The average Tour de France rider burns between 7,000-8,000 calories per day. That’s a whopping 123,900 calories over the course of the 21-day race – 123,900! That’s the calorie equivalent of eating 1,625 apples, or 872 slices of cheese pizza from Pizza Hut, or 252 McDonalds double cheeseburgers, or 619 original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts! Over the course of the roughly 3,500 kilometers Tour de France; a cyclist will sweat about 1.5 liters per hour totaling 130 liters (32 gallons) for the entire race.

In the 1920’s it was not uncommon for cyclists to share cigarettes while riding. Believe it or not, it was believed that smoking would help “open the lungs” before big climbs.   Now that is crazy!

So, another Tour de France has been completed providing millions of spectators a magnificent event to watch and learn from. Can’t wait until next year’s Tour starts!Tour

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general or you just want to talk about the Tour you can reach me at drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

Dynamic Compression for Rapid Recovery of Your Health

As a Chiropractic Physician at Performance Health Center, I am always thinking of ways that we can assist our patients with their recovery and rehab from injuries, and ways to help them maintain a pain free and active lifestyle.  Physicians have long used dynamic compression to prevent blood clots and to speed the healing of their patients after surgery.  Researchers and Exercise Physiologists have now developed units that utilize this same principle of dynamic compression to help us all recover faster from whatever it is that we may be recovering from, whether it be a triathlon, or hours of working in your yard.  We are lucky enough to have partnered with NormaTec to offer a state of the art “Dynamic Compression Recovery System” here at Performance Health Center.

We will be offering a “Free Trial” period for the first two weeks of July.  To schedule your appointment please stop by or call the front desk at (508) 655-9008.  For more information on this state of the art recovery system please see below:

NormaTec is the leader in rapid recovery—our systems give a competitive edge to the world’s elite athletes, coaches, and trainers. Our goal is to establish recovery as an integral part of every athlete’s training, and we feel NormaTec systems are the best way to accomplish that. The NormaTec PULSE Recovery Systems are dynamic compression devices designed for recovery and rehab. All of our systems use NormaTec’s patented PULSE technology to help athletes recover faster between trainings and after performance.

Our systems include a control unit and attachments which go on the legs, arms, or hips. They use compressed air to massage your limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed recovery with our patented NormaTec Pulse Massage Pattern. When you use our systems, you will first experience a pre-inflate cycle, during which the connected attachments are molded to your exact body shape. The session will then begin by compressing your feet, hands, or upper quad (depending on which attachment you are using). Similar to the kneading and stroking done during a massage, each segment of the attachment will first compress in a pulsing manner and then release. This will repeat for each segment of the attachment as the compression pattern works its way up your limb.

Created by a physician bioengineer (MD, PhD) to enhance blood flow and speed recovery, NormaTec Pulse Massage Pattern employs three key techniques to maximize your recovery:

PULSING: Instead of using static compression (squeezing) to transport fluid out of the limbs, Sequential Pulse Technology uses dynamic compression (pulsing). Our patented pulsing action more effectively mimics the muscle pump of the legs and arms, greatly enhancing the movement of fluid and metabolites out of the limbs after an intense workout.

GRADIENTS: Veins and lymphatic vessels have one-way valves that prevent fluid backflow. Similarly, NormaTec Pulse Technology uses hold pressures to keep fluids from being forced in the wrong direction. Because of this enhancement, instead of tapering pressure off, the PULSE and PULSE PRO can deliver maximum pressure in every zone.

DISTAL RELEASE: Because extended static pressure can be detrimental to the body’s normal circulatory flow, Sequential Pulse Technology releases the hold pressures once they are no longer needed to prevent backflow. By releasing the hold pressure in each zone as soon as possible, each portion of the limb gains maximal rest time without a significant pause between compression cycles.

To learn more about this amazing recovery system check out these short videos on this link:

https://www.normatecrecovery.com/news/

So the next time you are in for an appointment stop by the front desk to schedule your appointment and experience this massage like recovery system first hand!

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Please Wear A Helmet!

I just finished a nice Sunday morning bicycle ride, and I am amazed at how many other cyclists that I saw out there riding without a helmet!  I do not get it… it makes ZERO sense!  When I ask people why they are not wearing a helmet I get responses like this… “I know how to ride”; “I am not going to fall so I don’t need one”; “It’s uncomfortable and hot”; “It messes up my hair”; “It isn’t cool”; “I’m only going a short distance”.

I can tell you from personal experience a bicycle helmet can save your life!  In September of 2012 I was riding in the CRW century ride in New Hampshire.  I was with a group of fast cyclists passing some other cyclists that had started earlier.  We were descending a hill around mile 60, and as we approached one nervous looking cyclist we yelled “on your left”, as we were passing this cyclist he suddenly turned left and took out my front wheel, and before I could even react, I was landing on my head at 30 mph!  I sustained a severe concussion and a broken neck and back, a dislocated shoulder and multiple rib fractures to boot.  I was transported by ambulance to the nearest trauma center.  The 3 doctors in the trauma center all said that my helmet saved my life.

It is not just for cycling that you should be wearing a helmet.  Other activities such as roller skating, inline skating, riding a scooter or motorcycle, or engaging in any other potentially risky outdoor activities, i.e. rock climbing.

Trauma to the brain can occur as a result of an impact, which can cause a concussion or open skull fracture, or a jarring motion, such as a quick turn or sudden stop. Even seemingly mild head injuries, where you don’t lose consciousness, can cause permanent behavioral and cognitive problems, such as memory loss, inability to concentrate, sleep disorders and, in some cases, permanent disability or death.

Studies have shown that wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of a serious brain injury and death because during a fall or collision, most of the impact energy is absorbed by the helmet, rather than your head and brain.

But just as important as wearing a helmet is wearing the right helmet. A helmet that doesn’t fit properly or offer sufficient cushioning can give you a false sense of security while not actually providing the level of protection you need.

Nicole Levy, MD a primary care sports medicine specialist at Rush University Medical Center offers the following five tips to help you effectively safeguard your gray matter:

  1. All helmets are not created equal.

There are, in fact, different helmets for different activities, and each type of helmet is designed to protect your head from the impact common to a particular activity or sport. You should always wear a helmet that is appropriate for the activity you’re involved in because other types of helmets may not protect you adequately.

“Some helmets can be worn for multiple activities, but don’t assume,” says Levy. “Check the manufacturer’s instructions for guidelines before buying a helmet.”

  1. If the helmet doesn’t fit, don’t buy it.

To ensure optimal protection, your helmet should meet the following criteria:

  • Feel comfortable but snug.
  • Sit evenly on your head (not be tilted back on the top of the head or pulled too low over your forehead).
  • Not move in any direction, back to front or side to side.
  • Have a secure buckle to keep it from moving or falling off on either a first or second impact. So, if you are riding your bike and collide with something (first impact), the helmet will still be firmly in place if you then fall onto the pavement (second impact).
  • Be easy to adjust and fit properly without a lot of adjustments. And once adjustments have been made, they should stay put. 
  1. Kids have special helmet needs.

It can be especially challenging getting kids to always wear a helmet, Levy says, so it’s up to parents to set hard and fast rules.

“Be consistent and firm,” she says. “Don’t negotiate. Don’t compromise. Don’t give them a choice: Either they wear the helmet or they don’t ride their bike, scooter, etc. That way, they know you take it seriously and they make it a habit.”

Parents should also lead by example and always wear their helmets.  This is a great point, just this morning I saw a man cycling with his 2 young children, and while the kids had on their helmets the adult did not!

As for the helmets themselves, while it’s OK to purchase your child’s clothes in a size larger than he or she wears, the same is not true of helmets; helmets should fit perfectly when you purchase them.

Test your children’s sizing by having them try on a variety of helmets. When fastened and tightened, the helmet should not move from side to side or front to back, and your child’s forehead should be properly covered to keep it protected.

Helmets for children or toddlers should also have a buckle that holds firm in a crash but releases after five seconds of steady pull to avoid potential strangulation. A child’s helmet will usually fit for several years, and most models have removable fitting pads that can be replaced with thinner ones as the child’s head grows.

Those guidelines apply to children who are at least 1 year old. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 1 year of age should not be on bicycles at all.

“It’s simply not safe to take a baby on a bicycle,” Levy affirms. “Babies haven’t developed sufficient bone mass and muscle tone to enable them to sit unsupported with their backs straight. And, just as important, their necks aren’t strong enough to support the weight of even the lightest helmets. So even though baby-sized helmets are available, they are not advisable.”

  1. Helmets aren’t forever.

Some helmets are manufactured to withstand one impact, while others are made to withstand multiple impacts.

Bicycle helmets are designed to protect against a single severe impact, such as a fall onto the pavement. The foam material in the helmet will crush to absorb the impact energy during a fall and can’t protect you again from a subsequent impact. So even if there are no visible signs of damage, you must replace it.

Other helmets are designed to protect against multiple moderate impacts, including football and hockey helmets. However, you may still have to replace these helmets after one severe impact, particularly if the helmet has visible signs of damage, such as a cracked shell or a permanent dent.

  1. A helmet is just part of the safety equation.

Just remember that while helmets are protective, they aren’t perfect: You can sustain a head injury even if you always wear one, Levy cautions.

That’s why it’s important to further reduce your risk by exercising caution during recreational activities. “Watch your speed, and obey posted traffic signs and signals,” she says. “Also, be mindful of cars, pedestrians, animals, uneven pavement and other impediments that may cause a collision or fall.”

Also remember that any fall can also knock your spine out of alignment or give you whiplash or both.  If you do sustain a fall, it is a good idea to get your spinal alignment checked by your Chiropractor ASAP.

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

 

May Flowers and UV Rays

Happy May!  We are just finishing an unusually wet April here in New England, as I write this on April 29th we have had 20 days of at least some rain in the 29 days of April so far.  Well… get ready for a little sun!  They say April showers bring May flowers, and I believe that we will see a lot more of the sun for sure in May.  This is the time of year that we really start spending more time in the sun, and with that we are exposed to more ultra violet radiation. We really should be using some form of protection from the sun all year long, but especially starting now and through the summer as the days are getting longer and warmer and we are spending more time outside.

The President of The Skin Cancer Foundation Dr. Perry Robins warns us… “It’s not just the sunburns that usually occur during the summer or on summer vacations that are associated with skin cancer, it is all of your lifetime sun exposure that adds to your risk of skin cancer.”

Remember that clouds filter out the light from the sun, but not the UV rays from the sun. Ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) light are the cancer causing wavelengths. UVA is present year round, at all times of day, and is unaffected by a cloudy day.

UVA:

Most of us are exposed to large amounts of UVA throughout our lifetime. UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. Although they are less intense than UVB, UVA rays are 30 to 50 times more prevalent. They are present with relatively equal intensity during all daylight hours throughout the year, and can penetrate clouds and glass.

UVA, which penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, has long been known to play a major part in skin aging and wrinkling (photo aging), but until recently scientists believed it did not cause significant damage in areas of the epidermis (outermost skin layer) where most skin cancers occur. Studies over the past two decades, however, show that UVA damages skin cells called keratinocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis, where most skin cancers occur. (Basal and squamous cells are types of keratinocytes.) UVA contributes to and may even initiate the development of skin cancers.

UVA is the dominant tanning ray, and we now know that tanning, whether outdoors or in a salon, cause cumulative damage over time. A tan results from injury to the skin’s DNA; the skin darkens in an imperfect attempt to prevent further DNA damage. These imperfections, or mutations, can lead to skin cancer.

Tanning booths primarily emit UVA. The high-pressure sunlamps used in tanning salons emit doses of UVA as much as 12 times that of the sun. Not surprisingly, people who use tanning salons are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. According to recent research, first exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.

UVB:

UVB, the chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn, tends to damage the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers. It plays a key role in the development of skin cancer and a contributory role in tanning and photo aging. Its intensity varies by season, location, and time of day. The most significant amount of UVB hits the U.S. between 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October. However, UVB rays can burn and damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes and on reflective surfaces such as snow or ice, which bounce back up to 80 percent of the rays so that they hit the skin twice. UVB rays do not significantly penetrate glass.

Preventative Measures:

Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.

Do not burn.  Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.

For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply 1 ounce of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.  Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months. Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.  See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

I definitely recommend that you do get outside and enjoy the great spring weather New England has to offer, just do not forget to use your sunscreen.

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

Spring Time = Tick Time

April is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy this great weather.  This Blog is directed for those of you who like to run, walk or cycle the trails.  I thought this would be a good time to post a Blog on how best to Prevent Lyme disease.  I am amazed at the number of patients that I have encountered who either currently have or that have previously had Lyme disease.  This is something you really do not want to ever get.  If caught early- it can be treated easily, but if not diagnosed right away you may end up with “late stage Lyme Disease” which is very difficult to treat.  I believe your best course of action is in Prevention.  Most of the following information here was written by the CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention).  Before gardening, camping, hiking, or just playing outdoors, make preventing tick bites part of your plans.

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected tick. In the United States, an estimated 300,000 infections occur each year. If you camp, hike, work, or play in wooded or grassy places, you could be bitten by an infected tick.

People living in or visiting New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest are at greatest risk. But you and your family can prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of Lyme disease.

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM TICK BITES

Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks (the ticks that cause Lyme disease) live in moist and humid environments, particularly in and near wooded or grassy areas. You may get a tick on you during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through leaves and bushes. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid walking through tall bushes or other vegetation.

Use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing and gear). Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin and can protect up to several hours. Always follow product instructions! Parents should apply repellents to their children. Do not get repellent on children’s hands or in their eyes or mouth. Products that contain permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear. Treated items can stay protected through several washings.  Shower shortly after coming inside.

Perform Daily Tick Checks

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Search your entire body for ticks when you return from an area that may have ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find.  Take special care to check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around all head and body hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

Check your clothing and pets for ticks because they may carry ticks into the house. Check clothes and pets carefully and remove any ticks that are found. Place clothes into a dryer on high heat to kill ticks.

REMOVE ATTACHED TICKS QUICKLY AND CORRECTLY

Remove an attached tick with fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you notice it. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small; however, other diseases may be transmitted more quickly.

Over the next few weeks, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease such as rash or fever. See a healthcare provider if you have signs or symptoms.

BE ALERT FOR FEVER OR RASH

Even if you don’t remember being bitten by a tick, an unexpected summer fever or odd rash may be the first signs of Lyme disease, particularly if you’ve been in tick habitat. See your healthcare provider if you have symptoms.

PREVENT TICKS ON ANIMALS

Prevent family pets from bringing ticks into the home by limiting their access to tick-infested areas and by using veterinarian-prescribed tick collars or spot-on treatment.

CREATE TICK-SAFE ZONES IN YOUR YARD

It’s pretty simple. Keep patios, play areas, and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation. Regularly remove leaves, clear tall grasses and brush around your home, and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas (and away from you).

  • Use a chemical control agent. Effective tick control chemicals are available for homeowners to use, or a professional pest control expert can apply them.
  • Discourage deer. Deer are the main food source of adult ticks. Keep deer away from your home by removing plants that attract deer and by constructing barriers (like a fence) to discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them. ​

I definitely want you to continue to lead the active healthy lifestyle that you want, and enjoying the outdoors is a great way to do so, just please be aware of the potential hazards of tick-borne illnesses, and please follow these guidelines to help prevent you or anyone you love from Lyme Disease or any other potential tick-borne illness.

If you have any questions about this Blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com or by phone at: (508) 655-9008.

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