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Preventing Running Injuries

Posted by chiropam on Nov 1, 2010 in Chiropractic

Running for exercise is not for everyone – but if you currently run, or are thinking of taking up running for exercise, then the following may be of benefit to you:

running shoes

Useful Tips For Preventing Running Injuries

1. Strengthen the areas which are vulnerable.

2. Buy and utilise the correct footwear.

3. Use the correct running posture.

4. Warm up before your running workout.

5. Gradually step up your running program.

6. Cool down appropriately to minimise stiffness and soreness.

Correct Running Posture

1. Keep your shoulders back and down, with your chest lifted and tummy tight.  The body should be leaned slightly forward without bending and the waist.

2. Look out ahead, not at the ground. Keep your eyes on the horizon.

3. Don’t clench your fists as this sends tension up the arms.

4. Land midfoot, instead of striking heel first like in walking.

5. Absorb shock better and protect the knees by maintaining a short stride with a slight bend in the knee as you land.

6. Focus on keeping the legs relaxed and lifting the feet up to avoid fatigue in the muscles.

Check with a health professional, such as your chiropractor or muscle therapist for advice that is unique to your specific needs.  Each body is different, so to adopt generic advice is not wise, nor will it assist in prevention or overall achieving of goals.

Preventing injuries involves listening to your body and basic common sense, so make sure that is Number One on your list!

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Running Injuries

Posted by chiropam on Oct 5, 2010 in Chiropractic

running injuries

Now that it is Springtime in the southern hemisphere, it is typical for most people to want to shed the extra weight that they may have put on over the winter months.  It has been my experience in dealing with patients on a regular basis, that moderation is key and a plan and specific goals to work toward achieving helps assist in a successful springtime exercise program.  The other key to remember is what you eat.  Exercise without watching what goes in the mouth, will not bring the health benefits as doing both.  Same with only watching what you eat, without exercising.  The two go hand in hand.

One big exercise that is commonly chosen is running.  I have heard people say that they’ll take that up and get out in the fresh air, and the weight will drop, and it will look after itself.

Wrong! Running to lose weight and/or keep fit can invariably lead to running injuries.  I highly recommend educating yourself, doing some ‘homework’ and getting informed on some of the possible injuries associated with running. Then make a wise and informed decision if running is the best option for you.

Many Running Injuries Are Caused By Overuse

When you think about taking up running, or just starting to run, it’s best to learn how to prevent running injuries.

The Most Common Running Injuries

•    Knee
•    ITB (Iliotibial Band)
•    Foot
•    Calf

Chondromalacia, or Runner’s Knee is due to wearing of the cartilage under the patella (kneecap) when the patella is tracked incorrectly while running, causing pain in the knee.

Lateral or side knee pain is usually due to Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome.  This band runs from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee and inserts just below the knee.  The ITB is meant to stabilize the knee while running.  If this gets irritated, it can get inflamed and cause pain in the knee or band itself. This leads to ITB Syndrome.

Another contributor to knee pain as well as foot pain, is Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is the thick fibrous connective tissue on the bottom of the foot.  It’s job is to absorb the shock of the running motion.  Plantar fasciitis is when this tissue gets inflamed due to wear and tear, resulting in pain.  This can be temporary or a long-term problem.

Shin splints are usually caused by stepping up the volume of training too quickly.  Achilles tendonitis can cause leg pain and or ankle pain, and may eventually lead to rupture of the tendon itself.

Running May Lead To Back & Pelvis Injuries

Besides the injuries listed above, some runners may suffer from acute back pain, pelvis or hip pain, groin pain, and chronic back pain.  Running can also irritate the discs in the lower back, which may lead to things such as Sciatica.

Running Injuries Take Long To Heal

Running injuries may take months, or even longer to heal, easily putting fitness and weight loss programs on the back burner.  There are also the injuries that may lead to other problems that cause long term effects that can irritate other areas of the body.  I believe that it is wise to learn about the preventative measures so that we can make better choices and better decisions on the type of exercise we undertake.

Running for exercise is not for everyone – but if you currently run, or are thinking of taking up running for exercise, then the following may be of benefit to you:

Useful Tips For Preventing Running Injuries

1.    Strengthen the areas which are vulnerable.
2.    Buy and utilize the correct footwear.
3.    Use the Correct running posture
4.    Warm up before your running workout.
5.    Gradually step up your running program.
6.    Cool down appropriately to minimize stiffness and soreness.

Check with a health professional such as a chiropractor or sports massage therapist for advice that is unique to your specific needs.  Each body is different, so to adopt generic advice is not wise, nor will it assist in prevention or overall achieving of goals.

Preventing injuries involves listening to your body and basic common sense, so make sure that is Number One on your list!

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Feeling the Cold?

Posted by chiropam on Jul 6, 2010 in Chiropractic, Health, Health Benefits, health tips, Wellness

How many times have you said to yourself or heard someone say:  “My joints hurt when it gets cold or damp”?

83889474

There is a popular belief that weather affects arthritis. But is there any proof of this?

It’s been unusually cold in Perth this Winter, and patients have asked this question numerous times.  Let me shed some light on this…

Arthritis can occur as a result of injury, when cartilage is damaged. This is known as traumatic arthritis. It can also occur as a result of “wear and tear” over time. This is the most common form of arthritis, and is called osteoarthritis, aka degenerative arthritis. There are also other diseases in which the body’s immune system forms antibodies which attack the cartilage in joints. The most well-known of these types of arthritis is called rheumatoid arthritis. This shouldn’t be confused with the term “rheumatism”, which has taken on the meaning of any aches or pains related to aging, or weather.

So what about the effects of weather? Some studies have demonstrated a worsening of arthritis symptoms with low barometric pressure and high humidity. There is a theory that low pressure systems, usually associated with damp or rainy conditions, could cause joints to swell. The swelling causes stiffness of the joints, as well as pain. High humidity may have an effect through other mechanisms.

Key:  Keep the Muscles Warm and Loose

We know that arthritis symptoms can be worse when the muscles around the joint aren’t strong or supple enough. Cold weather stiffens muscles, so this may also worsen arthritis symptoms.  I believe this is the key here.  The muscles really need to be kept warm and loose.

Each person is different in how weather can affect them. Some people say they can predict rain based on their arthritis, and others say that they feel worse during or after a storm. This simply shows that the correlation between weather and arthritis is poorly understood.

There’s no actual evidence that weather actually causes damage to joints, and there’ s no more arthritis in the population in rainy, damp climates than there is in dry, sunny climates!

So keeping all this in mind, here are a few tips to deal with arthritis:

Keep joints warm. Dress warmly in cold weather, scarves and gloves are effective; and stretch once warmed up for cold-weather activity.

If you feel your arthritis symptoms worsen in specific weather, try to avoid heavy activity at those times. Even if nobody can prove that arthritis and weather are related, if you feel that it does affect you, then listen to your body and act accordingly.

Stay warm!

Chiropam

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T’was A Superfood Christmas

Posted by chiropam on Dec 30, 2009 in Chiropractic, Health, Wellness

Christmas 2009

T’was a Superfood Christmas, and all through the house,

The decorations complete, even tea towels with Mickey Mouse.

Some snacks before dinner, cinnamon coated walnuts with care.

Saving the dark chocolate for dessert, with almonds to spare.

There was spinach and roasted pumpkin salad,

Garlic & Lemon dressing made it more superfood valid.

Took the bottle of red wine out of the gift wrap,

Steamed the broccoli, peas and beans – no time for a nap.

Tarts with cranberries and cherries adorned the Christmas platter,

Saving the blueberries for the morning, for pancake batter.

Red Wine

That was my version of the traditional Christmas poem that I’m sure you’ve heard more than a few times before.  Just because it was Christmas, it was not a reason to overindulge.  The superfoods were in abundance in our home.

Roasted Pumpkin & Spinach Salad

Superfoods contribute to a healthy body and mind.  Our Christmas Eve menu consisted of  almonds and walnuts as snacks.  The sparkling shiraz was the start of the red wine health benefits, and red wine to accompany the meal.

Cherries!!

A mixture of different berries:  blueberries, cherries and cranberries gave us many health benefits.  Broccoli, spinach and pumpkin were packed with superfood benefits and of course, a bit of dark chocolate and sweet potato pie for dessert.

Beach Christmas Day

Christmas morning started with an early swim at the beach, to get our exercise to start the day. Then we came back and had pancakes for breakfast.  The pancake batter was wheat-free and dairy-free with blueberry superfood benefits.

Blueberry Pancake

Wishing you a very healthy start to the new year – all the best to you and yours for a fabulous 2010!

Chiropam

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Piriformis Syndrome

Posted by chiropam on Nov 30, 2009 in Chiropractic

piriformis-syndrome

One common cause of pain down the leg or leg pain is Piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle is located in the lower part of the spine (sacrum), connects to the thighbone (femur), and assists in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. This muscle is susceptible to injury from a slip and fall, hip arthritis, or a difference in leg length. Such situations can cause cramping and spasm to develop in the piriformis muscle, thereby pinching the sciatic nerve – causing inflammation and pain.

Muscle spasms and/or contraction of the piriformis muscle itself can lead to pain along the back of the thigh, down to the knee, causing a possible loss of sensation or numbness and tingling in the sole of the foot. The piriformis syndrome can often mimic the well known complaint known as sciatica.  Because of the similar symptoms, it is often misdiagnosed as sciatica. The main difference between sciatica and piriformis syndrome is the cause. What both of these complaints have in common is that both can produce pain, and/or numbness and tingling below the knee and into the foot.

This has been the ‘special of the week’  in my practice.  It can be left or right, depending on the activity that can irritate the area.

Who Does This Affect?

Many athletes are prone to piriformis syndrome.  The athlete’s cause is primarily due to improper stretching and warm-up exercises as well as overuse during activity. In this case it is most likely that the piriformis muscle is irritated and usually in spasm.

People who spend long hours sitting are prone to this syndrome.  It can be from sitting at a desk, in front of a computer, students, riding in a car or truck for long periods of time, and sitting on a wallet.

People who sit for extended periods of time, especially with poor posture are prone to the piriformis being irritated.

What Causes Piriformis Syndrome?

The primary cause is due to tightness and contracture of the piriformis muscle. In this case the piriformis muscle is shortened and does not allow for the smooth movement of the sciatic nerve during leg motion.
The causes of piriformis myospasm are varied such as overuse, excessive fast walking without proper warm up and stretching, prolonged sitting.

Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome

As for treatment of piriformis syndrome, many variables can hinder your successful recovery:  including but not limited to smoking, obesity, job limitations and improper exercise (not warming up and stretching).  It is very rare to have a piriformis syndrome from a one-off direct trauma to the area.

Any treatment plan must include stretching of the gluteal muscles as well as stretching of the piriformis muscles.

Chiropractors can assist you by recommending the proper exercises and stretches to perform. Many Chiropractors may also suggest some form of muscle therapy to the piriformis muscle in the gluteal region in order to assist in relaxing these muscles.

Relevant adjustments to the spine, pelvis, sacrum as well as hip may be required to relieve the pressure from the nerve being trapped from the piriformis muscle.

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Smell The Roses

Posted by chiropam on Aug 27, 2009 in Chiropractic
Smell The Roses

New Foliage

Yesterday was an amazing day outside.  In Perth, we are nearing the end of our winter.  Now winter here doesn’t even come close to the winters I remember in Michigan where I grew up.  Now if you saw the sky yesterday, it was a brilliant blue with no clouds.  It spoke of life.  I felt like it would be such a waste to not take the time to breathe in some of that fresh air.  I remember speaking with a few different patients, just the other day about taking time to ‘smell the roses’.  We have all heard that expression, and of course the phrase is not literal, as the rose bushes here have all been pruned!  But taking it further, taking time to smell flowers, or enjoying a cup of tea or coffee, and just stop and be in the present.  We all can let the busyness of life steal away from a beautiful day.  I took a photo of my rose bush outside with a new bud growing.  This is actually quite significant in my life right now.  I have pruned different aspects of my life professionally, in order to have more beautiful flowers result in different areas.

New bud

New bud

In my ‘life as a female chiropractor’, that is actually my ‘special of the week’.  No specific symptoms, but actually acknowledging today for what it is, what it brings.  I have a dear friend that reminds me and inspires me to smell the roses as his story is the opposite.  He has time, but not the health or ability to move around the way he used to.  The reality of my life is that I am able to walk and use my legs to exercise my physical body.  This is a gift that we can take for granted as not all people have the physical health.  More than a handful of patients brought this theme to their visit, and it was quite exceptional.  Wisdom does come with age, but who wants to wait until we are 80 or 90 to realise these things and start living.  The time is now – not yesterday, not tomorrow.

“Life is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.”

After I picked up my daughter from school, I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk.  She looked at me with a strange look, so I painted a picture of how the walk would be.  I explained that it was an opportunity to breathe in some lovely fresh air, have quality time for conversation, and get daily exercise in.  The alternative was coming home and diving into the computer and getting on with the usual routine that comes after a normal school day.  Well after that walk, she still got her homework done; dinner was still cooked and this blog post was written.

I felt so revitalised after and it was a nice change from the gym which is indoors all the time.  Our Spring officially starts next week and with that brings real flowers.  Let me encourage you as I will continue to remind myself to stop, and smell the roses…

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Wellness

Posted by chiropam on Aug 6, 2009 in Chiropractic

A wellness approach to health incorporates a variety of healthy habits for optimum function on physical, mental, social and spiritual levels.

http://www.wellnessaustralia.org

Why It Is Wise To Have Chiropractic When You’re Not In Pain

Many people think that if they don’t have pain or symptoms that they are healthy.  Chiropractic care focuses primarily on the nervous system.    The nervous system controls virtually every aspect of our body’s functions.  In order to be your very best, it is essential to have a properly functioning nervous system.  Chiropractic care can be a very important choice for a wellness lifestyle, as well as exercise and good nutritional habits.  Those who want to be at their optimum health add regular chiropractic care to their health choices.  The health benefits include more vitality, endurance and the ability to enjoy life to the full.

Chiropractic Helps More Than Just “Bad Backs”

Wellness and maintenance care are often thought to be the same thing.  However, the objective or goal in these types of health care are actually very different as are their results and benefits.  What is most important to understand is that if we want areas in our life to continue to function properly – they require regular maintenance.

Our car, our house, our teeth, our health, our relationships, and yes…our spines!  So in any aspect of our life that we are not applying regular maintenance (adding energy and organisation) over time it will breakdown and lead to a crisis.  If you don’t maintain your kitchen…crisis!   If you don’t maintain your bathroom…crisis!  If you don’t maintain your relationships…crisis!  And of course, if you don’t maintain your spine…crisis!

The vast majority of people today were not aware of the necessity of spine and nervous system maintenance from birth, therefore it is very likely that even with regular maintenance that a person will still experience the occasional relapse.  Why?  Imagine trying to maintain your teeth if you hadn’t brushed them for the first thirty years of your life. Of course you would need to go through an extensive process of correcting the problem first just to get your teeth to a place where they can be maintained.  Even then with regular maintenance it is likely that you would still experience some problems over time.

Let’s introduce wellness!   The main difference between maintenance and wellness is that maintenance simply looks to “maintain” the current state by adding just enough energy or organisation to try to maintain the current state. Whereas wellness looks to find even better states of organisation through a process of “constant and never ending improvement”.

Let’s use our kitchen as an example.  We can look to maintain our kitchen in its current state of organisation and over time we will realise that it requires more and more energy to simply maintain the kitchen in its current state.  Now if we use a wellness approach toward our kitchen, we would not only be maintaining its current state but we would continue to look for ways to improve the level of organisation, which in turn saves on the energy needed for maintaining it.

The exact same rule applies to every aspect of our lives.  If we simply look to maintain our car, our home, our health, our teeth, our relationships, as well as our spines – we will find that over time it will naturally require more and more energy to simply maintain its current state.  With wellness care we can continue to look for and implement new strategies to actively organise our lives.

When we look at this in terms of our spine and nervous system we realise that using a wellness approach toward our care is not only a wise investment, it is a better way of life.  When we look at what today’s research says in relationship to wellness care we realise that maintaining the spine in a wellness model offers our body the opportunity to learn new strategies for dealing with all the natural stresses in life.  In fact, people who have been actively maintaining their spine in a wellness model show increased healing and repair processes at levels which are not seen in otherwise healthy people.

Where do you see your health in 5 years? In 10 years? Do you simply want to maintain you current level of health or would you prefer to see your health continuing to improve every year for the next 10 years?

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Superwoman Tips

Posted by chiropam on Jul 21, 2009 in Chiropractic

Of all the tips for working mums, top of the list has to be taking care of yourself.  Mum’s needs often seem to come last – after the kids, their dad, the job, the pets, and endless errands, that is.  You can’t always stay on the back burner.  Whether it’s exercise or meditation, massage or coffee with a friend, take time out to avoid the superwoman trap.

Here are 4 reasons for women who are headed toward the superwoman trap to look after yourself:

If Superwoman Isn’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy

When mum is stressed or burnt out, everyone in the house suffers.  Even a baby gets fussy when the mother is tense or upset.  Older children may respond by acting out.

If you take an hour or two to yourself, with whatever nourishes you, the rest of the day (or week) will be easier and more fun.  Your family will enjoy having an energetic and refreshed mum, even if they complain about your absence. The bottom line here is:  by paying attention to your own needs, you’ll actually be better at meeting everyone else’s.

Stress and Sleep Deprivation Make You Fat

Stress and sleep deprivation release cortisol into your bloodstream, which triggers fat storage around your waist.
It is unhealthy to carry more weight than your ideal.  It increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis, as well as other conditions.  Having good quality of life will allow us to live long enough to play with our grandchildren, and maybe even see them get married.

The next time you may be tempted to stay up until midnight sorting, folding, and putting away everyone else’s laundry, go to sleep instead.  You can dress the kids out of baskets of clean laundry.  Also, taking your work lunch break to exercise can actually give you a burst of energy and make the afternoon more productive.

Other People Are Capable, Too

So many working mums fall into the superwoman trap, thinking we have to be in charge of everything because we’re the only one who will do it right.  That mentality not only overloads you with work, it doesn’t give enough credit to your other family members.  Even worse, it prevents them from learning skills that can lighten your load and make them feel more capable.

Try leaving the kids with their dad or grandfather for a Saturday morning while you have brunch with your girlfriends. He may not change the nappies as often as you would, or feed them perfectly balanced meals, but I bet they have fun regardless.  Not only will he feel rightly proud of his caregiving ability, your children will develop a different perspective, seeing that they’re all right without mum always needing to be nearby.

At work, see if there’s a junior employee to whom you can delegate some tasks. Again, they won’t be completed the way you would, but you’ll have more free time for yourself.  You’ll also be assisting someone who could use the experience.

Life Is for Living

This is your life, right now.  Would you rather spend it rushing around to finish your ‘to do’ list, or actually enjoying yourself?  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll relax once you reach the bottom of the list – there will always be something more to do.  Instead, ruthlessly prioritise and eliminate tasks that don’t absolutely have to get done.
If you are having trouble taking out time for yourself, start small.  If you always wanted to meditate, wake up five minutes early for some deep breathing and visualisation. If you miss exercise regularly, schedule a once-a-week power walk during lunch.  If it’s on your calendar, you can plan work around it.

Remember, the next time you have some breathing space, don’t fill it with errands.  Instead,  ‘just breathe’.

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Stress

Posted by chiropam on Jun 30, 2009 in Chiropractic

Everyone experiences stress on a daily basis.  What causes one person severe stress, may be a minor source of stress for another.

Zebra stripes - Stress

Causes of Stress

Stress is defined as “a reaction to any internal or external stimuli that upsets normal functioning and disturbs mental or physical health”.  Internal conditions such as illness, pain, or emotional conflict; as well as external circumstances, such as a death in the family or financial problems can cause stress.  Even positive experiences like a new marriage or job promotion can provoke stress.  Long lasting or chronic stress suppress the immune system, which in turn increase the susceptibility to illness, especially to immune-related disorders or cancer.  Emotional stress also leads to hormonal imbalances that interfere with immune system function.

Knowing the causes of your stress is an important step to relieving stress.  Everyday annoyances can lead to stress-related health problems.  While your own daily hassles will vary, the important thing here is the frequency and duration and how you react to them.  To gain a better understanding of your daily stressors and how you react to them, try using a stress diary.  If you reduce stress, you will help to maintain balance and health.  The fact is that something needs to be done to reduce stress levels.

A basic principle in mind and body balance is that chronic stress can contribute to illness, and that relaxation restores the physical and mental functioning that improves one’s health.  More important than the stressors themselves is our ability to cope with them.

Meditation has been shown to have a positive effect on immune functions.  Meditation is extremely effective in that it slows the breathing rate, increases oxygen consumption, creates a relaxed brain wave rhythm, and increases blood flow.  These are effective reactions to reduce stress and tension.  Just close your eyes, take a few deep, easy breaths, and recall a time and place when you felt relaxed and peaceful.  Maintaining this relaxed state is said to help the body to heal itself.  Yoga has been effective to reduce stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, alleviating pain, providing relief from addictions, and improving memory, intelligence, and motor skills.  It can also help your metabolic and respiratory functioning.  The concept behind all relaxation therapies is the relationship between mind and body, that when the mind is restless and agitated, the health of the body will be affected.  Conversely when the body is ill, mental functioning will decline.

Many symptoms of stress can be explained by examining your diet and nutrient levels.  You can reduce stress by avoiding caffeine and food additives; and by eating  fresher, whole foods.   Limiting simple sugars and alcohol should also be incorporated.  Eating the right foods, like superfoods can make a huge difference.

A complete balance of exercise will work in making the body healthier, thus reducing overall stress.  Make a plan to exercise everyday and stick to your program!  It’s important to understand that the way we think or feel can play a very significant role in our overall health.  Reducing stress is necessary to restoring and maintaining good health.  Our immune system can be enhanced or suppressed by what we think and how we respond emotionally to everything around us.

Stress and Chiropractic

Some of the most common symptoms of stress that many chiropractors see involve headaches, fatigue, and pain in the neck and back.  If left untreated, unhealthy stress could cause more serious problems in the body like high blood pressure, ulcers, and disrupted sleeping patterns.  Millions of people are unaware of how stress can be directly tied to these symptoms but can become educated about the correlation through chiropractic care.

Chiropractors who deal with stress management aim to revitalise the body to a healthier state of being.  Chiropractic care can assist people who suffer from various problems due to chronic stress.  If the body isn’t processing stress in an efficient manner, it suffers consequences later.  Chiropractic care is one way to help the body process stress more effectively.

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