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

 

Electrical Therapy Speeds Up Healing!

Hello, and welcome June! There is definitely no excuse for cold weather now, we have officially entered into sandal and T-shirt season, celebrate and enjoy!

This month I want to talk about “Interferential Current” or “IFC.” We offer this service in our office.  It is an evidence-based therapeutic treatment, for natural pain relief and the promotion of healing muscle. It does this using gentle electrical current. We have a whole section of our office dedicated to this service. Its powerful effects are a beneficial addition to your treatment plan during the healing process.

How does it work?

Low frequency stimulations are pulsated into the muscle that has gone into “spasm.” Another way of saying this, the muscle that is “tight.” These electrical waves criss-cross below the surface of the skin and penetrate into the muscle. Throughout the course of 10 minutes, the body is prompted to secrete endorphins. This occurs in response to the muscle relaxing from spasm. Endorphins, are a natural hormone secreted by the brain that activates the body’s opiate receptors, causing an “analgesic”, or pain-relieving  effect.

So, what’s the experience like in OUR office?

Let’s say your whole low back is “tight and achy.” We have you lay face down in a private setting on a supported therapy table. You are fully dressed. 4 “sticky pads” are placed on the skin of your low back under your shirt. Above the belt line, and below the bra line. The electronic current feels like a gentle “pins and needles” sensation. We communicate with you on your comfort level of the intensity of the current. Generally, a little more is better, but only enough to feel therapeutic. If it feels “pinchy” we’ll dial it back down. I’ve never had a patient tell me it “hurts.”

Contraindications to use IFC:

Open wounds. Sun burns. Excessively sweaty/wet skin. Pacemakers. Pregnancy.

Indications to use IFC:

Reduced pain. Reduced swelling. Promotes muscle tone. Helps restore normal muscle movement. Speeds up cellular metabolism in the muscle to accelerate the healing process.

IFC is a great addition to getting adjusted. It can be used on every muscle in the body. It’s just one of many treatments that we can incorporate on your road to recovery with us, here at PHC.

For more information please email me at: drel@performancehealthcenter.com

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

 

May Flowers and UV Rays

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

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

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

UVA:

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

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

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

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

UVB:

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

Preventative Measures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Spring Time = Tick Time

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

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

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

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM TICK BITES

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

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

Perform Daily Tick Checks

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

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

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

REMOVE ATTACHED TICKS QUICKLY AND CORRECTLY

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

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

BE ALERT FOR FEVER OR RASH

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

PREVENT TICKS ON ANIMALS

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

CREATE TICK-SAFE ZONES IN YOUR YARD

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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