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

 

What is the Difference Between 50 degrees in the fall and 50 degrees in the spring?

Question: What is the difference between 50 degrees in the fall and 50 degrees in the spring?

Answer: In the spring 50 degrees feels warm!

This last weekend was the first “nice” weekend of spring!  When I went out to get the morning paper the birds were singing and overnight flowers had bloomed in my garden, including crocus, bluets and periwinkle.  After breakfast I went for my first mountain bike ride of the season.  There were many other bikers and trail runners out.  I rode by a baseball game- must have been opening day!  As I passed a playground it was full of parents with little kids playing on the swings and slides.  Heading home the landscapers were doing spring clean-ups and spreading mulch.

I love this time of year! For many after a sedentary winter the weather gets warmer and we into activity.  Spring sports are starting for our youth athletes, we itch to get our gardens back in shape, we tune up our bikes and spring into action.

Many of us spring into action too fast and furiously and pay the price in pain. Monday mornings after weekends like this our phone rings off the hook with people who hurt themselves.  We get the traumatic injuries, but more commonly it is caused by overuse.  “Spring cleaning” the garden, playing catch with our kids for hours,  running a little more than their bodies are ready for, or hitting the gym too hard trying to get into bathing suite shape.   Whatever the cause of that flair-up, it is almost always caused by doing too much too fast.  One of the 1st questions I ask in a treatment room is, “did you stretch first”?  The answer is universally no.

I hope you are not one of those Monday morning phone calls looking for emergency pain relief.  If you are know that we are here and ready to help you.  We have a long stretch of nice weather heading our way leading into summer which I want you to enjoy.  No one want to be sidelined from an injury that you could have prevented.

Please remember to pace yourself.  Stretch before and after activity.  If you get injured, before calling the office start with home care.  This leads to the age old debate of whether to ice or heat.   I’m a big fan of ice.  You can’t have pain without inflammation and ice is the best, safest and most localized anti-inflammatory.  The only time I recommend heat is if you wake up the next morning and you feel sore like you haven’t used muscles in a while.  If there is pain at a joint or along your spine then ice is probably the best therapy.  The best way to ice in the first 24 hours after injury is 15 minutes on, wait 15 minutes then repeat.  After 24 hours you should  ice for 20 minutes than wait an hour before repeating.   Whether you ice or heat it should be moist otherwise you can freeze or burn the skin.  I like to dampen a paper towel then squeeze all the water out. This is damp enough for the ice or heat to penetrate, but doesn’t make a wet mess.

Spring is also a great time to do a spring tune-up to your spine.  Your spine is made up of 24 vertebrae and has over 120 joints. It is the chassis for your torso and also houses and protects your spinal cord.  My job as a chiropractor is to make sure these joints are moving correctly and to make sure the muscles that move the spine and support your posture are balanced and functioning properly.  At Performance Health Center we take care of your spine and all the joints of your body.  Before you spring into spring activities, now is a great time for a body tune-up.

To see if your body is ready for the spring, or to get that spinal-tune-up that maybe overdue, please call the office at 508-655-9008.  If you have any questions please email me at drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com

 

Play More Tennis and Live Longer!

That’s right.  Yet another new study has come out showing the health benefits of being active, this time as it relates to longevity.  The December 2018 issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings has a research study titled: Various Leisure-Time Physical Activities Associated with Widely Divergent Life Expectancies: The Copenhagen City Heart Study.  This study following 8577 participants for up to 25 years looking at various forms of physical activities to see which gave the most benefit in adding years to life. 

Playing tennis was the most beneficial extending life expectancy by 9.7 years relative to the sedentary control group.  Seven other leisure activities also increased life expectancy, but not as much! 

Here is the list:

Tennis-        9.7 years

Badminton- 6.2 years

Soccer-         4.7 years

Cycling-       3.7 years

Swimming-  3.4 years

Jogging-       3.2 years

Calisthenics-3.1 years

Health Club Activities- 1.5 years

The study tried to analyze what makes tennis and the other top life extending activities more beneficial than the later activities on the list.   One big difference is that tennis, badminton and soccer tend to be social sports that depend on interactions with others. According to the authors, “Belonging to a group that meets regularly promotes a sense of support, trust, and commonality, which has been shown to contribute to a sense of well-being and improved long term health”.   They also state, “A scientifically rigorous and widely cited meta-analysis on the topic found that social support had a stronger effect on long-term survival than any other factor, including being a nonsmoker, staying lean, or having normal blood pressure”

Another possible reason that tennis, badminton and soccer participants have increase longevity is that these sports require quick interval bursts of full body motions compared to the other sports studied which have more continuous repetitive body motions.  The jury is not out, but according to the study, “a growing body of evidence indicates that short repeated intervals of high intensity exercise appear to be superior to continuous moderate intensity PA (physical activity) for improving health outcomes”. 

It’s a New Year and no better time to make a commitment to being active.  Exercising in a health club may not increase longevity as much as playing tennis or even cycling, but it does have significant benefits which include reducing the risk of many types of cancer, developing Type 2 Diabetes, decreases cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of heart disease and increased the natural protection of cold and flu viruses to name a few.

I’m an avid tennis player so was very happy to see these benefits in longevity.  The moral of this study is that you need to be active to live longer. Of the 8577 participants in this study, 12% reported being sedentary and 66% engaged in at least 1 activity.  The weekly average was almost 7 hours of activity a week.  That’s about 1 hour a day which is the minimum recommended by many different studies.

A study in Lancet in 2016, concludes that it takes 1 hour of exercise a day to reverse the negative mortality effects of sitting 8 hours on the job.  Less than 25% of us meet this minimum requirement. More and more studies are demonstrating the importance of motion.  My favorite mantra to my patients is, “life is motion”.  The Mayo Clinic study is just the latest.  It also give hints on which activities you might want to focus on if you want to live longer. It really doesn’t matter what you do, just do something for at least one hour a day.  It doesn’t have to be continuous.  In fact, the Lancet article suggests you move at least 5 minutes every hour, making the 1 hour of exercise cumulative rather can consecutive!  Just walking is an excellent exercise. The social interaction of walking with a friend probably increases the benefit exponentially!

Before you start any new activity you should have a functional musculoskeletal examination to determine if you are capable.  At Performance Health Center we specialize in getting our patients out of pain and in optimum functional health so they can enjoy pain-free active living!  Wishing all our friends and patients a Healthy, Active and Happy New Year!  For more info email me at: drbradweiss@peformancehealthcenter.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

 

TURMERIC, Not Just a Spice Anymore…It’s So Much More!

I have been seeing Turmeric pop up everywhere these days, whether it be in the natural root form at many grocery stores, or all over at pharmacies and health stores.  There is a big push being made for being one of the best anti-inflammatories out there!

 

If you are someone that has or takes Advil, Ibuprofen or NSAIDS (non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs).   more often than not, this may be worth reading through… These over the counter (OTC) medications are really not that good for you and can bring about serious health complications.  That being said, these are the most common over the counter drugs used for chronic pain and out there these days!  Chronic pain can be very debilitating, as well as acute pain and injury, and can have detrimental and adverse effects on one’s quality of life.  However, a majority of people trying to find a “reasonable and workable” solution for pain, usually end up reaching for a bottle of NSAID’s.

 

Most of the population doesn’t know how NSAID’s really work when ingested to help target and decrease pain in the body.  NSAIDS TEMPORARILY block the overflow of production of inflammatory cells/chemicals to the site of pain.  NSAIDS basically “trick” the body into overriding its inflammatory response to an injury.  When this happens the pain also lessens or subsides too.  With inflammation comes pain, if inflammation is removed or “blocked” more realistically, the pain is most likely “blocked” from getting to the area as well.  This helps people to feel better, so therefore they continue to take more of it to feel better.  It also gives false interpretation that the person may be “feeling better” due to having less pain, but the NSAIDS have only “masked” the symptoms and the pain usually returns, but more importantly with the possibility that the person has done more damage to the area injured thinking it was feeling better because of the NSAIDS.  We see this all the time with patients in our office, and it is our job to help educate them about the pros and cons of taking OTC NSAIDS, and when it really is or isn’t necessary.  Aside from this, use of NSAIDS can cause stomach pain, stomach ulcers, indigestion, internal bleeding, constipation, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and allergic reactions such as hives, vomiting, throat swelling etc.  I mean, why would someone not look for more natural ways to help decrease inflammation, pain and swelling?

There are many natural supplements out there now that help to decrease pain and inflammation (which I will write about in some future articles), but turmeric by far seems to be one of the most powerful.  Turmeric is a plant, and not only one of the most popular spices around, but one of the most powerful super foods.  The root is what is most commonly used in medicine.  Medicinal use of turmeric is dated back over 4,000 years ago, wow!  Today there are many uses for turmeric such as detoxification, promoting radiant skin, mood balancing, supporting cardiac health, decreasing inflammation, etc.  A few of the most important uses of turmeric are reducing pain, being a very strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.  Turmeric helps to lower the levels of two different enzymes in the body that cause inflammation, not “block” the inflammation to the area of injury.  Antioxidants also help to fight free radicals that can even potentially reduce some of the damage these free radicals cause in the body.  This helps in regards to the level of inflammation in the body as well, or when responding to inflammation from an injury.  I figured this was a good month to help remind our patients and many others that read the newsletter about Turmeric and its health benefits.  Being that spring, well maybe even summer is possibly here (though, I will believe it when I see it), everyone is getting outside doing yard work, and starting to exercise more, and we have seen an increase of injuries in the office, and wanted some other ways to help our patients feel better naturally when not in the office.

Many turmeric supplements, like other vitamins and supplements, are not absorbed well into the body, so it is important to make sure you are buying turmeric from a reputable company.  As we always say, please be sure to speak to your naturopathic doctor, chiropractic physician or nutritionist in regards to any questions concerning the quality of the supplement you may be taking.  At Performance Health Center we carry a very popular and reputable brand of vitamins and supplements by MetagenicsMetagenics makes a supplement called, Inflavinoids (which I know I have probably mentioned several times over the years in practice), that has turmeric in it as well, along with some other natural anti-inflammatories.  We prescribe this supplement primarily to decrease inflammation in the patient’s body if a patient is dealing with an injury.  It almost acts like a “natural Ibuprofen”.   A patient can take 2-4 capsules 2-4 times a day, just as someone taking some other type of NSAID would.  This supplement helps when people are dealing with chronic back pain, ankle sprains, and even whiplash from an accident, but even helps in many acute situations and injuries as well.  I personally take 1-2 capsules a day for preventive measures to help keep levels of inflammation lower in my body.  I also keep it on hand as it has helped decrease symptoms when I get a headache as well.  There are some other supplements by Metagenics we offer as well that help to decrease inflammation, and that are more helpful with acute injuries, that I will discuss another time.  Until then, this is something you may want to speak to one of us about in the office during your next visit.

Many other chiropractic facilities and medical offices carry the Metagenics brand as well. Should you have more questions in regards to this topic, please feel free me at DrV@PerformanceHealthCenter.com.

 

 

Talk About an Inspiration…OMG!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Improve Your Posture With These Exercises and Stretches

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

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

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

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

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

MUSCLE ACTIVATION EXERCISES:

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

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

Specific stretches to improve posture:

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

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

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

SHOULDER RETRACTION EXERCISE:

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

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

REVERSE SHOULDER SHRUGS:

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

CHIN TUCK EXERCISE:

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

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

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

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

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