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

Postural Awareness, Part 2

Hello All!!! As promised, I am following up in regards to the last article I wrote about posture…

First and foremost, it can be difficult to know if you have good or bad posture sometimes.  I highly suggest consulting with a reputable and well educated Massage Therapist, Physical Therapist, Chiropractor, Structural Therapist, Functional Movement Specialist, or Physiatrist if you are unsure of your posture, or more importantly, concerned about your posture.

There is a lot more that goes into maintaining proper posture then you think.  You need to have sufficient muscle strength and flexibility.  There also needs to be normal or adequate joint motion in the spine and extremity joints, as well as efficient and balanced postural muscles along both sides of the spine and the core region.  To make corrections working towards better posture, you must recognize your own postural habits, both at home, the work place, and any other time for that matter.

Bad postural habits can lead to an excessive amount of strain on the postural muscles.  The bad habits can even cause these muscles to stretch and weaken over time.  These postural muscles then become more prone to injury and back pain.  There are many factors that contribute to bad posture; stress, obesity, weak core stabilizing muscles, pregnancy, and overly tight musculature just to name a handful.  Lack of flexibility, poor working conditions, incorrect working posture, or unhealthy amounts of sitting and standing also contribute to bad posture.

A good question frequently asked, or a good question to ask yourself is, can I correct my posture?  The answer is yes, BUT it isn’t always an easy task.  The longer standing bad posture is, the longer it can take to correct due to the joints adjusting to bad postural habits over time.  There has to be a conscious effect on your own, and understanding what correct posture is, and much practice to gradually replace your old and bad postural habits. Focusing on the way you sit, stand, and lay down will only help you move towards a better and healthier you.

Before wrapping up this little lecture about posture, I will leave you all with a few tips in regards to sitting, standing, and proper lying position.

When sitting, don’t cross your legs.  Your ankles should be below or slightly in front of your knees.  Keep your feet on the floor or a footrest.  Your knees should be at the height or level of your hips, or just slightly below.  The back rest of your chair should set between the low and mid back.  There should be a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.  Keep your shoulders relaxed.  Forearms should be parallel to the ground.  Try to avoid sitting in one position too long.  I tell my patients this all the time!  They must think I am the “nagging mom”, LOL.

When standing, try and bear your weight evenly on the balls of your feet.  Your knees should be ever so slightly bent, and your feel should be about shoulder width apart.  Try and stand straight and tall, with your shoulders pulled back, but letting your arms hang naturally along the sides of your body.  Engage or tuck your stomach muscles in slightly.  Also try to keep your head level.  Focus on your earlobes being in align with your shoulders.  And, when standing for periods of time, try and shift your weight from side to side or toes to heels.

Finally, when lying down, find the mattress and pillow that is right for you! Do NOT sleep on your stomach, I mean it!  Sleeping on your back is the best, on your side is second best.  If you are trying to transition to sleeping in one of these two positions, try sleeping with a pillow underneath your knees or in between your knees.

We as chiropractors are here to assist you, and recommend exercises, stretches, and give you tips to improve your posture and strengthen these core muscles.  We can also help recommend proper postural techniques during activity, as well as help reduce your chance of injury.

Well, there you have it folks!  If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at, drv@performancehealthcenter.com.  Always happy to try and help you and your family lead a healthier and more active lifestyle.

 

 

Strengthen Your Brain With Exercise

Regular Exercise can strengthen your brain.  We all know regular exercise is great for our cardiovascular system, and that it will strengthen our muscles and even increase our bone density, but a lesser known benefit is that regular exercise can make you smarter and protect your brain from shrinkage as it ages.

Research has even revealed that exercise can increase neurogenesis, or the formation of new brain cells, in the brain’s hippocampus.

Research has time and time again shown that people who engage in healthy behaviors such as exercise and proper nutrition are less susceptible to the cognitive declines associated with the aging process.

One study published in 2013 looked at healthy behaviors in nearly 2,300 men over the course of thirty years. Researchers looked at the participants’ behaviors and cognitive abilities starting in middle age tracked their progress throughout old age.

The researchers found that men who practiced certain healthy behaviors were around 60 percent less likely to experience cognitive impairment and dementia as they aged. These healthy behaviors included not smoking, maintaining a healthy BMI, regularly exercising, consuming lots of vegetables and fruits and consuming a low to moderate amount of alcohol.

Here are 5 ways that exercise impacts your brain- (from the December 2016 Team HOTSHOT web site): http://www.teamhotshot.com/blog/5-ways-exercise-impacts-brain/

  • Exercise helps the brain learn and retain – In various human and animal studies, results show that exercise not only helps the brain retain information (i.e., support/improve memory), but also helps the brain acquire new information. While some variances in research findings exists, much of this discrepancy is attributed to the type and duration of exercise prescribed to the study participants.
  • Consistent exercise helps avoid dementia – There is still a great deal we do not know about dementia. However, scientists and doctors are confident in a few preventative measures. Chief among them is healthy living: eat right, don’t smoke, and exercise. Exercise has been shown to slow the effects and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. Even once these terrible diseases strike, exercise has been shown to slow the debilitating functional decline they bring about.
  • Exercise can help ease and prevent depression – Exercise has been shown effective in treating depression and, interestingly, seems to work in a dose-dependent manner much like anti-depressants. The more exercise, the greater the impact. While more research is needed, early studies also point to exercise as a mechanism to avoid the onset or development of depression.
  • Exercise mixed through your day helps concentration – Breaking up tasks such as working on a project or preparing a presentation with some aerobic-style exercise helps improve executive functions like tuning out distractions. Don’t worry, you don’t have to run a marathon over the course of your work day. Just 15-20 minutes of moderate engagement every few hours seems to make a measurable difference.
  • Reduce stress, improve life – While many people self-report a stress reduction after exercise, some scans seem to show an actual, physical shrinking in the amygdala—a part of the brain strongly implicated in processing stress, anxiety, and fear. As nice as stress-free living can be in general, it turns out less stress leads to living longer! That’s right, increased stress is strongly linked to increased occurrence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and memory loss.

If you want to build a better mind, start by working on your physical health first. Go for a walk, start incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet and try to give up any bad habits like tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption. Some of these might be more difficult than others, but your brain will thank you for years to come.

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

Ouch! Yes it is your phone!

Text Neck and other synonyms used to explain the neck pain and headaches you are experiencing are real and directly related to how you are using your smart phone.  In fact anytime your crank your neck forward, whether on your phone, using your laptop, or any other time you neck is forward of your shoulders there is extreme stress on your neck.

Your head weighs about 10-12 pounds.  A new study, from spinal surgeon, Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, quantifies the actual pressure on your neck from bending your neck forwards.  When your ears are directly over your shoulder the apparent pressure on your neck is 0 pounds. As you neck flexes forward the stress on your neck increased.  With your neck flexed forward 15 degrees your head feels like 27 pounds on your neck, at 30 degrees it is 40 pounds.   From 40 degrees upward it is almost 1 pound per angle degree.

text-neck

Why should this matter?  Well there are reasons- one short term and the other long term.

Short term is pain and headaches.   The long term is that the more forward you shoulders are to your sacrum, (or butt), the greater the chance of you ending up in a nursing home….really!

Your neck is made up of 7 small vertebrae, or bones, which have responsibility of holding your head up.  The vertebrae are connected with ligaments and moved by muscles.  In addition to supporting your head, the vertebrae protect the spinal cord which connects your brain to all the cells in your body.  The spinal cord needs to pass through the neck before it gets to the rest of the body.  8 pair of nerves exits your neck.  As the nerves exit your neck vertebra, some nerves travel up the back of the head, others control the muscles of your neck, travel down your arms, or control your diaphragm (for breathing) to name a few.

As your head goes forward gravity tries to force your head towards the ground. The muscles of your neck have to work harder to counterbalance the forces of gravity.  A tug-of-war ensues, which gravity eventually wins and your posture degrades.

Your body has an incredible ability to adapt, so this doesn’t happen overnight.  Overtime, your neck muscles get tight, the small joints in your neck get overwhelmed and inflamed, which can lead to irritation of your spinal nerves, and in time the pain sensors of the joints and muscles get activated.   First you might just feel a little tightness or tension in your neck, but if ignored and you do not correct your poor neck mechanics pain can start.  The pain could be manifested as headaches, neck pain or tingling in your arm(s).   You might find yourself a dangerous driver as your range of motion slowly decreases.  All this usually happens very slowly, until one day the pain starts to really scream.  Pain is your body’s way of saying something is wrong.  In these overuse scenarios you get a lot of warning signs before the severe pain.  The longer you ignore the symptoms, or mask them with NSAIDs, or pain killers, the more damage you are probably doing.

Most of my patients who present with neck pain, unless they were in a car accident, or injury, will say, “I don’t know what happened, why I am in pain?”   We do a thorough examination and note the tight muscles, restricted motion, nerve irritation, poor posture, and loss of joint motion in the neck. From the exam, I can usually tell them that their neck pain was most likely caused my micro-trauma from faulty ergonomics.  Often with these patients I find arthritic changes as well, which can occur in patents as early as their 20s.  I am seeing this more and more over the last 10 years as people of all age are spending  way too much time with their heads cranked forward looking at their phones.

Your posture adapts to the stresses on it. Like braces on teeth, over time your body will adapt.  Keep your head flexed forward long enough and gravity wins the tug of war.  You get very tight muscles and your upper body starts to looks like a big C.  Yes it looks bad,  but more importantly, a recent study has shown that the further you head goes forward the more likely you are going to need assistance as you age, and the greater chance you have to end up in a nursing home!  Yes, that was the conclusion of a study published in 2013. The further forward you neck/upper back junction was relative to your 1st sacral segment (just below your belt line), statistically the more dependent  one becomes on assistance doing their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), which include: bathing; feeding; dressing; getting in and out of bed; and toileting.  The author concludes in this study, “Spinal posture changes with age, but accumulated evidence shows that good spinal posture is important in allowed the aged to maintain independent lives”.

So what do you need to start doing today?  Use good body mechanics.  Limit the time you spend on your smart phone, or any device that requires you to flex your neck forward including your laptop.  Keep your head straight and hold your smart phone at eye level with your hands.  When you do find yourself doing activities which require you to flex your neck, take breaks at least every 15 minutes. There is an amazing stretch called the Bruegger’s Position. To watch how to do this click this link: https://performancehealthcenter.wistia.com/medias/e35vhg2ehd

If you are already having neck pain or your posture has started to move forward, you may need help to release the muscle spasms, improve spinal motion and correct your posture.  Chiropractic care is a great option.  At Performance Health Center we specialize in helping people get out of pain and optimize function.  If you already have arthritis in your spine, there is bad news and good news.  The bad news is that the arthritis cannot be reversed.  The good from 32 years of clinical experience is that you are not doomed and if you follow your recommended course of treatment your arthritis may be arrested, or at least be slowed as you age.  We have many before and after x-rays that document this.

The take away from this blog is that you can use technology and there are strategies you can use to prevent injury.  Keep your head up!  Maintain good posture and flexibility!  If you are starting to get symptoms, or notice your posture is not looking good, GET HELP!  At Performance Health Center we are here to help you enjoy pain-free healthy living!  Why wait!  Get started today.  You’ll be glad short term and long term.

For more information, email me at drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com , or call the office at 508-655-9008.

Continue with Sunscreen into the Fall Months

Happy September!  September in New England usually has amazingly nice weather; cooler nights and warm and sunny days with lower humidity- which makes outdoor activities even more pleasant.  Just remember even though the days are starting to get shorter and the temperature is starting to drop somewhat you still need protection from the sun.  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 (photoaging), 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 fall weather New England has to offer, just do not forget to continue 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

Are Cell Phones Safe? Not for Sperm!

Until now the evidence has been inconclusive on the short and long term safety of using cell phones. A recent study entitled, “Habits of cell phone usage and sperm quality – does it warrant attention?” was published in Reproductive Biomedicine Online. This study found that men who frequently talk more than 1 hour a day on their cell phones, or talk when their cell phones are attached to a charger, have sperm concentrations half of those who don’t. Another risk factor in decreasing sperm concentration to abnormal levels is carrying cell phones less than 20 inches from the groin.

In general, male sperm quality has been declining in Western countries accounting for 40% of infertility problems among couples. This was a fairly small study involving 106 men, but the findings are very interesting and scary.
We live in a time that it is almost impossible not to have a cell phone, not only for phone calls but for all types of information that even 5 years ago who could have imagined. Since the 1st cell phones became available for mass use there have been warnings of danger to our health due to radio frequency electromagnetic radiation that is emitted from phones, so close to our brains. Until now there have been no studies suggesting a link to various health issues, but no definitive studies showing a direct health risk from using cell phones. I am not an alarmist, but I always like to err on the side of caution.

What is the take-away from this study? Better to use hands-free device when using your cell phone. Keep phone calls brief. Don’t use your cell phone when it is charging. Keep your phone out of your pants pocket, especially if you and your spouse are trying to get pregnant. More studies are coming and my guess is they will continue to demonstrate that there is a health risk for using your cell phones for extended periods of time. Enjoy your cell phone….but use it wisely!

10 Tips to Prevent Running Injuries

Last month I wrote about Cross Country skiing as a way to “Embrace Winter”, but as I write this Blog we are in the middle of a “winter thaw”.  Several 50 degree days and not much snow anywhere nearby makes running much more inviting.  So this month I thought I would write about how to prevent running injuries.  Many of my patients are just starting to ramp up their run training for this year’s Boston Marathon.  I will be helping a local running group with their “Couch to 5 Km running program”, so this topic seemed appropriate for this month.

Running a 5 K is a pretty impressive feat, and something you will be proud of once you complete it.  However, there is some risk of injury associated with beginning a running program.  But if you follow the ten tips listed below you can reduce or possibly eliminate most of the common injuries newer runners often experience.

Ten Tips to Prevent Running Injuries

  1. Improve and maintain your flexibility

Daily stretching is essential to improve and maintain flexibility, which in turn will help prevent injuries and even improve your performance.

Stretching should be done after you warm up your muscles, a fast walk or light jog for about 10 minutes should be enough. It is helpful to include sports specific dynamic exercises such as: high knee drills, skipping, bounding, arm circles, and cross body arm swings.

Stretching should be done in a slow and controlled manner, and should include all joints and extremities. Each stretch should be held for 30 seconds.

  1. Warm up and cool down before and after all runs and races

It is important to warm up before training and racing. An easy warm up of 5-10 minutes helps prepare the body for running. A longer warm up (15-20 minutes) is needed for more intense workouts or races.

  1. Stay hydrated and eat a well- balanced diet

Avoid dehydration by hydrating two hours prior to practice or competition with 16-20 ounces of fluids and another 8-10 ounces after warm-up. Also remember to take in 6-8 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes of exercise.

Within two hours after exercise, re-hydrate with 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of weight lost during exercise.  The best fluids to take before, during, and after exercise are a cooled 4-8% carbohydrate- electrolyte drink.  Eating a well- balanced diet will help keep you healthy.

  1. Gradually increase your mileage and intensity in your training

Slowly build up the amount of training you do, and slowly build up the intensity as well.

The progression should not be a steady increase in volume and intensity, but instead should be a staircase progression with periods of reduced volume and intensity at certain times during a training period, season, or year. Increases in training volume, duration and intensity should be a gradual increase of 5-10% per week.

  1. Cross-train and include rest days in your training schedule

Cross-training helps to maintain your aerobic fitness while avoiding excessive impact forces from too much running.  Good examples include: Nordic Skiing; rowing; stair climbing; or “running” on the elliptical machine, your cardiovascular system will improve with any of these choices.

Including rest days in your training schedule allows your body to recover and adapt to your running and overall training plan.

  1. Include strength training in your running program

Strength training improves a runner’s body strength and overall athleticism. This in turn reduces muscular fatigue that can lead to poor performance and injuries. Runners will benefit from a program of 2-3 strength training sessions per week.

Strength training exercises should focus on all muscle groups including the trunk and upper and lower body.

Weight lifting, stair climbing, and uphill running are all effective methods of increasing strength.

  1. Talk with a running expert or coach to analyze your training program

An ineffective training program can lead to overtraining, running injuries and poor performances.

A good running coach can help you develop an appropriate training schedule to meet your running goals and prevent injury.  A person trained in running biomechanics can help detect flaws in your running form and show you how to correct them

  1. Wear the correct type of running shoes based on your foot type and running style

Not all running shoes are made alike. The type of shoe you need varies depending upon your foot type and style of running. A sports store that specializes in athletic footwear can you help you figure out what style might be best for you.

Foot type is based upon the structure of your foot and the degree of pronation. Pronation is the normal inward rolling of your foot in running as your foot strikes the ground and transitions into pushing off. Either excess or under pronation can lead to injuries.

  1. Have a formal gait analysis performed and use orthotics if recommended

Poor foot biomechanics such as heel strike, excessive pronation, a very rigid or very flexible foot arch can lead to inefficiency and injuries.

Most runners can control these problems by carefully selecting the right shoe type or by seeing an expert that can analyze your running gait and make orthotic inserts specific to your foot structure.

  1. Have your spine and joints checked regularly by your Chiropractor to make sure you are in proper alignment.

Proper spinal alignment allows for an efficient and smooth running form, and reduces your chances of running injuries. A smooth running form also requires less energy and delays muscle fatigue.

We are here to help you reach your health and wellness goals.  If you have questions about your current diet, and would like some professional assistance please contact our newest member of the PHC team Shauna McHugh- she is a registered dietician and nutritionist.  If you have questions about your strength program, or which specific stretches you personally should focus on, or to see if you over or under pronate please feel free to contact me for a running gait analysis or a one on one session at your next appointment.

drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

(508) 655-9008

www.performancehealthcenter.com

 

An Interesting Take on Rheumatoid Arthritis, A.K.A “R.A.”…

I was just at home over the Thanksgiving break, doing Active Release Techniques (ART) on the hands of my highly active grandmother of 82 years young, and chatting about her issues with Rheumatoid Arthritis, better known as, “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, 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 counterintuitive 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 through our website at www.performancehealthcenter.com.  Happiest and healthiest of holidays to you all, cheers!

Keeping the “Dead” Moving!

Literally! Yes, I had the pleasure of providing backstage care for The Grateful Dead at the DCU Center on November 10.

After 50 years of performing, 2+ hour shows a night on tour, The Grateful Dead are still performing and going strong. They are touring again as “Dead & Company”. Three of the original members plus 2 world class musicians now make up the band.

I had the pleasure of working with 2 members of “Dead & Company” and feel honored that I could do my part in keeping them moving so they can perform at their peak. Mickey Hart, one of the 2 drummers who is now 72, and Oteil Burbridge, bass, who is in his 50’s understand the value of spinal health and motion. Just like musicians take care of their instruments, more and more understand the importance of taking care of their bodies. Every occupation has its hazards leading to imbalance and eventually dysfunction. Musician’s are no exception. Like all of us, when we were younger we felt invincible. As we age we better understand and appreciate the value of our health, sometimes after it is too late. The Grateful Dead during the mid 1960’s took part in establishing the San Francisco “psychedelic music” scene. They partied hard and paid a price for it. Today, in order to tour, performing nightly for months on end requires a commitment to being healthy.

George Burn, when he turned 90 said, ”if I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself”. Many of us wish we heeded this advice at a much younger age. The good news is that it is never too late to start. So commit now, get ready for 2016 with a resolution and determination to optimize your health! What you eat and how much are important factors. So is having a healthy nervous system. The nervous system controls all the functions of the body. The nervous system starts in the brain, travels down the spine and exits the spinal column through nerve roots which control all the functions of the body. If the spine is not functioning properly, the communication from the brain to the rest of the body will be effected. Chiropractic care not only relieves pain and restores function, it is also vital for proper nerve function.

You take care of your teeth and eyes, and visit your PCP every year. Are you taking care of your spine and nervous system? Chiropractors are experts in keeping the spine and all the joints of your body healthy, functional and balanced. Race cars need more TLC and maintenance than street cars. So what are you? What do you want to be doing, how active do you want to be, and for how long? Don’t look back when you turn 90 and wish you had taken better care of yourself. Start today!

A famous line from the Grateful Dead song Truckin’ goes, “lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Enjoy the trip! Be healthy for it! We’re here to help!

For more information, or to get “star” treatment contact me at drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com , or call 508-259-6566

Boost Your Immunity This Cold and Flu Season!

As we all know, this is a tough time of year for many, especially with the holidays approaching, plus the temperamental weather changes in good ol’ New England.

A couple of years ago I was really battling getting repeatedly sick through out the year, especially over the holiday and winter season.  I was having some difficultly figuring out what was wrong… I mean, I exercised regularly, I ate exceptionally clean and healthy, so…how could I be getting sick so much?

There were a handful of factors that played a roll, and I really had to take a step back and re-evaluate my health.  My vitamin D3 levels were okay, not great, my vitamin C levels were very low, I was more stressed, and I was not getting enough hours of sleep.

In regards to getting enough hours of sleep, most of us don’t, period!  The only thing I can suggest is trying to make a more conscious effort to turn in for the night 30-90 minutes earlier then you normally do in the evening.  Minimizing, or actually completely negating the use of electronics 60-90 minutes before bed is very useful too.  Grabbing something light to read (non work related), whether it be a book or magazine, to help calm down brain activity is helpful as well.  I struggle with this still leading such a busy lifestyle, but have been making a much better effort and noticed differences.

Working to improve sleep habits also helps to decrease levels of stress.  Let’s face it, life is stressful these days.  We all have too much going on and not enough time to do it in.  Trying to prioritize what is really important to stress over or not helps to lower stress levels as well.  Organizing calendars and weekly schedules ahead of time always helps to control my levels of stress.  And, every now and then, just stop and ask yourself, “Is this really worth stressing over?”  It sounds silly, but it does help put some things into perspective.

In regards to the vitamin deficiencies, I did have blood work done at my annual physical to help figure this out.  I started taking the Metagenics brand of Vitamin D3 that we carry in our office immediately.  I felt huge differences in levels of energy just by taking that, I just didn’t feel as “run down”, which can contribute and lead to sickness.  To this day, I take one 5,000 IU capsule a day.  In one of the previous news letter articles, I had written about the benefits of Vitamin D3, so I won’t bore you with all of that information again.

In regards to being deficient in Vitamin C, I also started taking Immu-Core, a formula by Metagenics that has more potent Vitamin C, combined with some Zinc, Vitamin D, and mushroom extract in it as well.  Vitamin C levels play a huge roll in healthy immune system and function, which I take daily, as well as the Immu-Core.

Something else I decided to add in regularly with some discussion and personal research was taking a probiotic.  There are many types out there, some better then others, but I also decided to go with the Ultra-Flora Intensive Care by Metagenics about 2 years ago. I take the proboitic daily, which consists of pure strains of “gut friendly” bacteria that help to support sinus, respiratory, and GI health.

We have been working very hard with our Regional Metagenics Rep to stay up to date and well educated in regards to all of the wonderful products this company has to offer our patients.  So needless to say, I was very happy when he came to our office and told us that the company was going to be putting together an “Immunity Kit” to help patients and their immune systems this time of year.  The kit consists of the Ultra Flora Probiotic Immune Booster, Immu-Core, both of which I already take, plus Essential Defense, which is a traditional Chinese formula to support healthy immune function after sudden changes in weather and season.

I am looking forward to staying on top of my health and my immune system this holiday and winter season, and hope you all do as well.  If it is anything like last winter, I want to be prepared.  And, by purchasing all three in this kit together, you will save 15% this holiday season at our office.  Again, if any of our patients have questions in regards to what one should or should not be taking, please feel free to consult with any of the doctors at PHC, www.performancehealthcenter.com.

Metagenics Immune Boosting Vitamins