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

Stay Safe During Hot Weather Exercise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WARNING SIGNS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

CHEERS TO CHERRIES

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

Cherries are high in antioxidants and high in quercetin. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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