New Study Confirms Chiropractic Reduces Opioid Use

Opioid addiction and death is still out of control.  New guidelines and regulations are reducing the number prescriptions for opioid medications.  The death rate for opioid deaths dropped 4% in 2018 relative to 2017, but it was still close to 2000 in Massachusetts alone.

It’s crazy.  The US makes of 5% of the world’s population and consumes approximately 80% of prescribed pain medication.  Is it because culturally we can’t live with pain?  Or is the medical community only masking symptoms, not getting to the cause of the pain contributing to pain medication abuse and addiction?

Another fact- According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse nearly 80% of heroin users started with prescription opioids.

We can and should talk about causes of pain in the US.  We are meant to move, but we don’t.  Many of us sit all day at work, then go home and watch TV and go on our computers.   According a paper published in April 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)  the average amount of TV/video viewing time averages 2 hours a day and outside-of-work computer time increased by over an hour.  Total sitting time on a daily basis continues to increase.

“Sitting is the new smoking” now goes the mantra.  Sitting has been attributed to increased musculoskeletal pain in addition to increased risk of multiple diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer.   A recent study suggests it takes 1 hour of exercise on a daily basis to counteract the detrimental effects of sitting 8 hours.  Not enough of you reading this exercise one hour a day.  One solution is Active Sitting, and there is only one chair that can do that.  (Read More about Active Sitting)

Yes there are traumatic causes of pain including car accidents and injuries, and probably more commonly repetitive stress. The key to correct treatment is a detailed history and examination.  The majority of neck or back pain in the medical literature is labeled as “non-specific”. That means there is no obvious cause.  It is not caused by an apparent pathology or disc lesion.  From 34 years of clinical experience it is my opinion that these “non-specific” causes of pain are in fact caused by dysfunction in the mechanical movement of the body.  The spinal column is made up of 24 vertebrae, over 125 moveable joints, ligaments that hold them together and muscles that move them.  That doesn’t include the spinal cord which runs through it with a pair of spinal nerves exiting through small holes on either side of the spine (33 pair of spinal nerves in total).  Abnormal movement or restriction in any of these structures can cause pain.

A functional exam can usually uncover the cause of pain caused by dysfunction.  If the pain is more pathological of course imaging and referral is in the best interest of the patient. If the pain is functional than chiropractic care treats the symptoms and offer pain relief, but more importantly works to correct the cause.

Medications whether NSAIDs or opioids which are prescribed for pain relief only mask symptoms.  The goal of chiropractic care is correct the cause and advice patients on how to improve their lifestyle and ergonomics so they don’t keep hurting themselves.

At the American Association of Pain Management’s Annual Meeting in March 2019, a study from Yale University was presented titled, “Is the Use of Chiropractic Care Associated with the Receipt of Opioid Prescriptions?  A Systematic Review”.  This was a Meta-analysis with a 95% confidence interval.  The results found that 49% of chiropractic patients were less likely to receive an opioid prescription than those who went the medical route for pain.  That is a huge difference.

One solution is for primary care doctors to refer to chiropractors before prescribing opioids or any medications for musculoskeletal pain.  That is not just my opinion.  Another JAMA study from May 2018 found that patients who had “usual medical care” plus chiropractic care felt better faster, with less medications and greater satisfaction than those with just “usual medical care” alone.  In this study the patients with “plus chiropractic are” were referred by their PCP to a chiropractor. (read more about this study)

The key to preventing opioid deaths is to stop the prescription of pain medications.  An excellent start is to refer musculoskeletal pain patients for chiropractic care as the first treatment.  The research has been done repeatedly in some of the most respected medical journals in the world.  Why aren’t medical physician groups encouraging treatments that are more effective and safer than medication?  Why aren’t insurance companies encouraging a greater use of chiropractic care?  I don’t have the answer.  They should!  There is a cost savings as well as faster outcomes in pain relief, without the dangerous side-effects of medications and addiction.  With this information please make sure you and your loved ones make better choices when it comes to pain relief.

If you have any questions, please email me at drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com

Quick Spring Gardening Tips

Month 2 at Performance Health Center! I am loving my work here. Treating patients every day and watching their pain levels decrease and their functional ability increase, is an amazing thing to be a part of.
Spring is finally here! This month I want to talk about outdoor chores. I have already had so many back pain complaints from people working hard outside for hours doing chores such as gardening, raking, lawn mowing etc.
Quick tips from your chiropractor for all your outdoor chores:
#1: STRETCH FIRST. Stretching prevents injury. Think “long and strong.” Long muscles are strong muscles. Short/tight muscles are weak, and vulnerable to rips and tears. Stretch for at least 5 minutes, ideally 10 before physical work.
#2: Have a seat! Winston Churchill said “Why stand when you can sit?” Bending over puts ½ your body weight on your low back, that’s 100lbs for the average person. Sit on a low stool for ground level activities. Have your legs and hips open, and knees and feet turned out, away from your body. Then lean forward and work between your knees. In this position, always support your upper body weight with your elbows on your knees.
#3: Knee pads! A pillow, blanket, something thick/foam-like material if you are working on your knees for long periods. Example, tending your garden.
#4: Switch sides! Don’t rake your entire lawn on your dominant side. If you start on your right side, switch to the left in 5 min, then switch back. This will balance out the physical demand you are putting on your body.
#5: PUSH don’t pull. We are strongest when we get behind something and push it forward. We are vulnerable when we pull something heavy. Pulling puts excessive strain on your back, neck and shoulders, your body has to fight to keep something from slipping or tearing. When mowing your lawn for example, or anything that involves moving a heavy object across the ground/floor, please always PUSH!

From all of us at Performance Health Center, have a great Spring! See you next month!

For more info contact me at: drel@performancehealthcenter.com

 

When the Best Treatment is NO Treatment

By Dr. Leslie El-Turkmani

I am so excited to be here at Performance Health Center! I’ve met so many nice people, and have already seen some amazing things.  Last week for example……I saw a patient with severe symptoms, crying in pain during the consultation, and could barely get through the physical exam. I knew something more serious was happening.  I told her to come back tomorrow with the MRI of her spine she had taken 1 year ago. The next day she came back, her MRI revealed a “Chiari Malformation.” A congenital condition where the bottom of the brain pushes down the spinal canal at the base of the skull. I knew she needed a neurological consultation right away.

I called our “go to” neurosurgeon, Dr. Krishna Nirmel and got her a priority appointment in 4 days. She should have seen a neurosurgeon at the time of diagnosis, as this condition should be monitored for life. Unfortunately, I had to refuse to treat her. Manipulation could be a contraindication to care. The good news is I may have saved her life or more serious complications from happening by referring her.

At Performance Health Center, we do a detailed consultation, and a thorough physical, orthopedic and  neurological examination on every patient we see. From the examination and my professional training from New York Chiropractic College, I was confident in my diagnosis. Sometimes the greatest treatment you make is to not treat. And you have to know the difference, and when.

“Arnold-Chiari malformation” (CM-1) is caused by the “cerebellum” dropping down the “foramen magnum.” Named after German pathologists, Hans Chiari and Julius Arnold. The cerebellum, Latin for “little brain” is responsible for balance and motor control. The foramen magnum, Latin for “the great opening” is located at the base of the skull, about the size of a quarter with an oval shape. It allows passage of the brain stem and major arteries from brain to body, and vice versa. This herniation of the cerebellum down the foramen magnum is measured in millimeters. It can continue to drop further down over the years. This can lead to poor circulation due to unwanted pressure, and this pressure on the cerebellum can lead to issues with balance, dizziness, headaches, nausea, blurred vision, neck pain, and even atrophy of the structures.

The exact cause of CM-1 is unknown. It is a “malformation” because the individual is usually born with it. It can be symptomatic with signs like what my patient had, or asymptomatic for the individual’s entire life, depending on severity. It is fairly common, every 1:1000 births. It is more common in females. It is best diagnosed by MRI.

Take home message to my patients…pain is not a lifestyle! Nobody likes going to the doctor, but at least when you go see the chiropractor, you’re getting looked at nose to toes, inside and out to find the root of the problem

For more information, or to make an appointment call 508-655-9008.  If you have any questions please email me at DrEl@PerformanceHealthCenter.com

 

 

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

The Future of Sitting is Here in Natick!

“Sitting is the new smoking” is quoted day in day out in the media. Research continues to be published documenting all the detrimental effects of sitting on the job including increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. 

I’m constantly talking and demonstrating to my patients on how to sit correctly and how to use the features of their ergonomic desk chair correctly.  The problem is that sitting is static and even the most expensive ergonomic desk chairs keep you locked in one position.  No matter how you slice it or dice it sitting is detrimental to our health and until now there has not been much you can do about it.  Standing desks are popular, but standing in one place all day is not good for you either. Life is motion and the more you move, the healthier you will be.

The future sitting has finally arrived. It is a concept called active sitting. I saw an ad a few months ago in a chiropractic trade magazine for a revolutionary new chair. I thought it was an exciting concept but I did not want to take a chance of buying a chair online without first having the opportunity to sit on. After looking at the website, reading and watching a few videos I was hooked.  I noticed the chair was made in Burlington Vermont, where I used to live.  I knew I’d be back for a visit soon. Three weekends ago I went to Burlington. The night before I call the 800 number left a message and got an immediate call back from Tucker Osler, M.D. the inventor, founder and owner of the company. I asked if I could visit the showroom. He said they don’t have an official showroom yet but he’d be happy to show me their workspace and allow me to demo the chairs.

Dr. Osler and I met, hit it off and spent a long time discussing our mutual passion for ergonomics, body mechanics and health.  The company is called QOR360 and they have several models of chairs.  These chairs have a unique patented seat rocker that keeps you moving, engages your core and puts you in good posture with your head over your shoulders and a lumbar lordosis.  I was sold! I truly believe that this has the potential of being the future of sitting.  It’s tough to change human behavior and habits, but if you could put your butt in these chairs, and give it a chance it will sell itself, especially those of you who sit in front of a computer all day.

I came home with two chairs, choosing the Ariel which is model designed to be an office chair.  One I am sitting on right now in my home office and other is in the reception room at Performance Health Center so my patients can experience this unique chair. Monday morning I showed the chair to Linda, my receptionist, so she could explain to our patients about the chair and encourage them to try it.  Linda sat down and declared that the chair “is mine”. I have since gotten a third Ariel so that Linda can actively sit all day and have a chair for patients to try in the reception area. The response has been enthusiastic!

If you are sick and tired of sitting in an office chair that hurts your back, keeps you immobile and compromises your health, I encourage you try out the Ariel chair in our reception area.  Performance Health Center is the only location in greater Boston where you can experience the future of sitting!

What is it like?  If you have ever sat on an exercise ball it is a similar concept. The problem with using exercise balls as desk chairs is that they are large and bulky, it is easy to you fall off them, they puncture and in order to move your pelvis the whole ball moves moving you away from your computer.  With a QOR360 chair just the seat moves. It forces the activation of your core muscles and encourages  good posture with your head over your shoulder.  It is on a stable platform so there is no danger of your falling off and getting hurt.  It allows you to sit in front of your computer but your muscles stay active and engaged.

Sitting on the a  QOR360 chair takes a little getting used to. You can’t just sit down for five seconds and experience it.  It is recommended that you sit for at least minute or two and feel how your body reacts. It forces you sit on one your “sit bones”(or ischial tuberosities to be anatomically correct).  My “sit bones” were a little sore after my first prolonged sitting session. I give Dr. Osler this feedback and he responses saying that is typical, and it does take a little getting used to it because you’re not used to sitting on your sit bones. If the seat cushion was softer you would not be able to find your sit bones. He was true to his word and now I can set for extended periods with no soreness. Still you should always get up and take breaks when sitting even with active sitting, at least every 15-20 minutes, even if just for a 30 seconds of full body motion.

If you can’t get to Natick, MA, to sit on the QOR360 chair, know that it comes with a 30 day money-back guarantee.  The QOR360 chair can only be bought on-line, if you use the code PHC at check-out you will get a 5% discount.   Sorry if this blog sounds like a sales pitch, but after 34 years in practice helping people in pain caused by sitting all day this is the best solution I have found.  It really believe the QOR360 chair is the future of sitting. Like all paradigm shifts, it is going to take little time to gain traction.  If sitting on the Ariel chair in my reception room for a few minutes is not enough to convince you that this is the chair you should be sitting on at work, I’ll let you take one back to the office for up to a day so you can give it a good test drive.  Of course, your co-workers will be curious and hopefully you’ll share and let them try it as well.  Please call in advance at 508-655-9008 to make sure our loaner chair is available.

For more information please email me at drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com.  Of course check out the QOR360 website.  Please visit us at Performance Health Center  in Natick if you want to experience the future of sitting.  Lastly, if you are going to purchase remember to use the code PHC to get your 5% discount.

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

An Interesting Take on “R.A.”, aka- Rheumatoid Arthritis!

I was just visiting at home over this past Thanksgiving break, helping out, and doing Active Release Techniques®  (ART) on the hands of my highly active grandmother of 85 years young, and chatting about her issues with Rheumatoid Arthritis, commonly called, “R.A.”.  For those of you who are not aware, R.A. is an autoimmune condition.  Unfortunately the immune system goes after and attacks its own tissues, and in regards to this condition, the joints.  The immune system recognizes the cells and tissue as an invader, and is constantly attacking certain joints of the body more then others.  In the long run this ends of triggering chronic inflammation in the body, which equals pain surrounding the joints usually.

The most common form of “standard medical treatment”, our nemesis, is prednisone, BOO…  In the short run this drug can definitely reduce pain, but acts more like a bandage.  There are also many bad side affects in regards to using prednisone for the long run as well.  Many of those side affects have been made very well aware of to the general public over the past few years, including weakening the immune system.

What if we were to think outside of the box for a little bit?  Just bare with me here… Don’t you think it would be a good idea to understand where this autoimmune condition is coming from?  Can you even guess?  What are the more advanced and validated medical researchers these days saying where many, if not most conditions are coming from?  The gut, obviously!  With all of the research out there now on R.A., it is showing a huge connection between the two.

Many of you may be familiar with “Leaky Gut Syndrome”, and if you are not, it is a condition in the digestive tract where these tiny holes are created.  Factors such as poor diet and poor environmental conditions cause these little holes where the intestines are supposed to be so tightly bound together.  Bad bacteria then can freely travel and enter into the bloodstream, not good!   There are paragraphs in much greater detail about “Leaky Gut”, but this part isn’t to bore you, or more realistically, overwhelm you.  Bottom line, these factors weaken the immune system, and this is what can also lead to a multitude of food sensitivities that everyone is now talking about, and everyone now seems to have.

In regards to the use of prednisone to treat R.A., this drug also weakens the immune system as stated above.  This drug may help control the level of pain, but doesn’t it really now seem counter intuitive to use?

I was discussing with my grandmother about eating a “whole foods” diet, and trying to stay away from processed food, which she does for the most part.  How do you think she has made it this far and remained in such amazing shape?  I was also talking to her about common food sensitivities that many people seem to have; gluten, dairy, and refined sugar!  Trying to remove these things from your diet is a huge key factor in regards to any inflammatory condition, autoimmune or not.

In regards to taking supplements, there are a few natural products that could be of great help as well.  Taking a high strain good quality probiotic (everyone and their mom should be taking this) to help increase good bacteria levels in the gut, and taking ~5,000mg of L-glutamine daily to help with healing your gut lining.  Taking in more good quality fats, like a fish oil, to help decrease inflammation through out the entire body.  Some other supplements worth mentioning and taking if contending with R.A. would be high potency curcumin, MSM, and glucosamine sulphate.

I know this a lot of information, and unfortunately there is no “quick and easy fix” when dealing with an autoimmune condition such as R.A.  That is why people are so quick to turn to prednisone for pain relief.  Unfortunately, much of the population is not well educated in regards to what an autoimmune disease is, and what terrible side affects drugs such as prednisone can have on the body.  I feel it is my job as a chiropractor to help educate my patients to the best of my ability so we can all lead a healthier and happier life.

In closing and as a side note, if you are dealing with R.A., chiropractic treatment and ART® have proven to help provide a lot of relief when dealing with chronic inflammation and pain surrounding the joints.  The goal is also to remain active.  Joints are meant to move, so KEEP MOVING!  Should you have any questions, always feel free to email me at drv@performancehealthcenter.com .  Happiest and healthiest of holidays to you all, cheers!

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

 

Fall Sports Season Is Here, BELIEVE IT OR NOT!!! Dynamic Stretching, the “Pre-workout”

I wouldn’t be doing my job at Performance Heatlh Center, if I wasn’t trying to educate all my athletes how to prevent injury and showing up to my office “all banged up”.  I know I have touched on this before, but I cannot stress the importance of stretching, and when training, dynamic stretching!

If you look up Wikipedia’s definition of dynamic stretching, this is what comes up, “Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching beneficial in sports utilizing momentum from form, and the momentum from static-active stretching strength, in an effort to propel the muscle into an extended range of motion not exceeding one’s static passive stretching ability”.

Performing dynamic stretches in a “pre-workout” or warmup are a series of active stretches will help move the muscles through their range of motion, help improve range of motion surrounding the joints, help elevate core body temperature, and help to stimulate the nervous system so it is better prepared for activity.

Dynamic stretching primes the muscle to be ready to contract and relax, just as they would need to be ready to function during a sprint, run or jumping motion etc.  Being dynamic stretching is an active movement, it helps to prevent over-stretching, which can also fatigue the muscles.  Fatiguing the muscles prior to a workout can provoke injury or unfavorable symptoms to the area.  That is one of the main reasons coaching have gotten away from prescribing static stretching before a workout.  In fact, many coaches suggest athletes do a dynamic warm up every day to help keep muscles limber and ready to move at all times.

Dynamic stretching also helps to mentally prepare the athlete before the workout or competition.  Static stretching can be more relaxing, and while there is definitely a place for it, static stretching can almost trick one’s body into relaxation mode and make it more difficult to transition to “competitor” or “beast mode”.

Dynamic stretches target major muscle groups when warming up.  For example, when running, dynamic stretches target hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors and calves to help prime these areas for movement.  Usually a couple of minutes of light jogging is recommended first to get the blood flowing before getting into a 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching.  Walking butt kicks (heel to butt), knee hugs (walking knee the chest), walking toe touches, walking lunges with an overhead reach, glute bridges, heel and toe walks, are just a handful of great dynamic stretches to get one warmed up and the muscle groups prepared for the intensity of the workout that follows.   It really is something so easy to work into a warm up, and would most likely replace a more static routine one is doing, so it would not add much time on to one’s routine either.    Some of you reading this may find that you are already doing some type of dynamic stretching prior to a workout without even knowing it, which is great!  Gold stars for you!

Should anyone reading this little article have any questions in regarding dynamic stretching and incorporating this into their pre-workout routine coming into the fall sports season, please feel free to contact me at: drv@performanacehealthcenter.com

Does Chiropractic Help with Allergies?

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

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

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

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

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

Many people report that Chiropractic can help with Allergies

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

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

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

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