Chiropractic patients care for their health naturally: They visit their chiropractor regularly to improve health and wellness, eat wholesome foods to maintain good digestion and overall health, and do their best to minimize the use of medications. Skin, the largest organ on our bodies, should be no different. While skin changes as we age and every individual is different, everyone can take some simple steps to protect and replenish it. Remember these basic steps to healthy skin:
• Don’t smoke! Smoking accelerates the aging process, contributing to premature aging and wrinkles in the skin.
• Select gentle skin care products with natural ingredients.
• Use a facial sunscreen (with minimum sun protection factor of 15) every day to prevent sun damage to the delicate skin on the face.
• Use sunscreen for areas of the body exposed to the sun for more than 15-20 minutes.
• Drink six to eight 8-oz. glasses of clean, filtered water a day.
• Reduce refined carbohydrates and sugars, which can spike insulin levels and lead to pimples.
• Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to increase your intake of vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients for Healthy Skin While a wholesome diet is a foundation for the healthful skin, some nutrients have been found to aide in skin rejuvenation and protection.
• Vitamins A, E, and C, selenium and flavonoids help fight free radicals that age skin.1 In addition to receiving these nutrients through diet and supplements, you can also apply them topically. Black, green and white teas also provide a high content of antioxidants.
• Coenzyme Q10 has also been shown to fight free radicals and positively impact the health of all cells, including the skin, protecting them from inflammation and premature aging.2
• Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and other oily fish, flax seeds, fish and flax seed oil, and walnuts, are especially helpful in improving skin texture and complexion by maintaining healthy cells and reducing inflammation.3 Cold-pressed oils, such as olive, flaxseed, walnut and fish oils, can help moisturize dry skin. If your skin is excessively oily, it is recommended to limit oily foods.
Common Causes of Skin Problems Many skin conditions are passed down genetically. However, heredity alone does not guarantee that the condition will present. Lifestyle factors such as stress or diet will often draw these pre-disposed conditions to the surface. If you suffer from
• dermatitis—inflamed, itchy skin
• psoriasis—reddish skin covered by white or silvery scales, often itchy
• eczema—itchy, scaly, blistering inflammation of skin or
• acne—pimples, cysts or nodules,
consider visiting a dermatologist and a nutritionist or functional medicine practioner to look for underlying problems such as a food allergy or hormonal imbalance.
• Allergies to foods such as gluten and dairy may present as psoriasis and eczema.4-7 The hormones found in dairy products may sometimes trigger acne.8 An allergy test may be indicated to confirm the allergy. Elimination diets can often help in these cases.
• Stress has been a known trigger for skin conditions. Stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation and journaling are great ways to work through stressful situations.
• Some skin conditions are a reaction to a topical allergy or irritation. If you present with minor skin irritations, consider whether you have started using a new laundry detergent, soap, perfume, lotion, cleaner or even fabric in your clothes or furniture. Identifying and removing this new irritant and replacing it with a pure, mild form of the product can often help improve the skin condition.
© Matthew Lester
Chiropractic services for Medicare beneficiaries (those older than 65 years) with spine conditions may protect against 1-year declines in functional and self-rated health, suggest findings from a recent study funded by NCCIH (formerly NCCAM). Analysis of patient records also showed that in this sample about 35 percent of Medicare beneficiaries with spine conditions used chiropractic services. The study was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
Researchers from the University of Iowa and Emory University analyzed data from Medicare beneficiaries (older than 65 years) to examine the comparative effects of chiropractic services and medical care on functional decline, self-assessed health, and patient satisfaction among 12,170 person-year observations. Researchers observed that chiropractic services were associated with a significant protective effect against 1-year decline in activities of daily living, lifting, stooping, walking, self-rated health, and worsening health. The findings also indicated that people who use chiropractic services have higher satisfaction with followup care and information provided about their diagnosis.
The researchers noted that future studies should focus on distinguishing among specific types of spine conditions to better determine the effect of chiropractic compared with medical care only on the health and well-being of this population. These findings are based on observational data, and more research is needed to determine if there is any direct, protective benefit on spinal health from chiropractic services for this age group.
Weigel PA, Hockenberry JM, Wolinsky FD. Chiropractic use in the Medicare population: prevalence, patterns, and associations with 1-year changes in health and satisfaction with care. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2014;37(8):542–551.
Spinal Manipulation and Pain
NCCIH Videolecture: Manipulating the Pain: Chiropractic and Other “Alternative” Treatments for Back Pain
February brings lots of snow for most of the country and with it comes the dreaded task of snow removal. Shoveling your driveway is already a hassle; don’t let it be a pain in the neck and back, too. The American Chiropractic Association suggests the following tips to help you avoid muscle strain and other injuries when shoveling:
• Use a lightweight, ergonomically-designed shovel.
• If possible, push the snow aside instead of lifting. If you need to lift, bend your knees, allowing the muscles of your legs and arms to do the work instead of your back.
• Do not throw snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires twisting or turning motions that can cause injury.
• Take frequent breaks – a fatigued body asks for injury. • Stop immediately and seek medical attention if you feel faint, dizzy or have chest pain.
If after a few days you continue to feel soreness or muscle strain, it may be time to visit your local chiropractic office.
Let it Snow
Prepare athletes for winter sports.
By Nataliya Schetchikova, PhD
Having treated football and cycling teams and athletes in many championships, including the Olympic Games, Ted Forcum, DC, DACBSP, CSCS, has always focused on summer sports. Recently, however, he says he started “growing in the appreciation of winter sports.” On the practical side, some winter activities, such as snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing, generally involve less impact on the back and the knees. But the beautiful winter scenery can also feed the soul—it’s hard to beat the enjoyment of standing on a mountain top, admiring moonlight reflecting off the glowing snow, he says.
To make winter sports enticing for others, Dr. Forcum, president of ACA’s Sports Council, puts together fun events, such as a full-moon midnight snow-shoeing tour, with champagne and hot chocolate. “Everyone can snow-shoe, so it’s a great way to get started [doing winter sports],” he says. And while champagne is the initial attraction for many, “most end up drinking hot chocolate,” he says, laughing.
While not as popular in the United States as summer sports, winter outdoor activities have their fair share of fans—and injuries. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, skiing and snowboarding each sent approximately 144,000 people to the emergency room in 2004, followed by 74,000 injuries from sledding, snow tubing and tobogganing, 50,000 injuries each from ice hockey and ice skating, and 35,000 injuries from snowmobiling.1
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), most injuries happen at the end of the day, when athletes are tired, and the majority of injuries can be prevented through proper preparation, paying attention while doing the sport, and stopping before fatigue or pain sets in.1
While some winter sports, such as snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing, are generally low-impact activities, others can be extremely intense, with high speeds multiplying the potential for injury. Yet, some approach winter sports as activities that don’t require special preparation. For example, says Darren Paul, DC, a skier and hockey player in a sports-oriented practice in Vancouver, weekend warriors usually transition from summer to winter sports by getting back on the couch rather than maintaining their fitness level. As a result, their de-conditioned bodies predispose them to injuries.
“When athletes are unfit, they start developing inappropriate habits, moving in imbalanced ways and compromising certain tissues,” agrees Gordon Lawson, MSc, DC, DACBN, FCCSS©, FACO, a fan of many winter sports who has treated injured hockey players in his clinic in Ontario. He adds that he is often “frustrated” with athletes who neglect to promptly address prior injuries. For example, an elite hockey player sought Dr. Lawson’s care in September for an ankle sprain he sustained in April. By the time the athlete started treatment, he had a chronic problem with the calcaneal-fibular ligament, and, as a result, he couldn’t carry on normal pre-season workouts, says Dr. Lawson.
The rule of thumb says it takes three or four months to prepare for a winter sport—and, depending on the intensity, some sports require at least six months of training, says David Jensen, DC, a skier with 15 years of experience who has worked with Olympic and X Games athletes, including the U.S. ski team. In his Aspen, Colo. practice, which employs four chiropractors, an orthopedic surgeon and a variety of CAM practitioners (www.winhealthinstitute.com), Dr. Jensen helps condition athletes to ski for six to seven hours at a time—or to complete 24-hour endurance skiing marathons, using a combination of plyometric, hand-eye coordination and speed drills. (See sidebar.)
Preseason training should include a good balance of aerobic-style work and core strength training, says Clive Bridgham, DC, DACBSP, an avid Alpine skier and coach who has worked at many winter events—including the X Games, Gravity Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics—with the World Olympians Association, and who has treated skiers, skaters and snowboarders in his clinic. “Once athletes are in season, it is important to continue core strength and aerobic fitness work,” he says, adding that a study performed on the U.S. ski team determined that ongoing training during the season is needed to maintain a competitive edge.
Because most winter sports primarily involve lower extremities, Dr. Bridgham emphasizes the importance of hamstring strength, recommending that DCs work with patients on training each hamstring individually, as well as check the pelvis and lumbar spine for proper alignment. “The knee—especially the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)—seems most vulnerable to injury, and the major protection to the ACL is provided by the hamstrings,” he says.
Climbing, skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing are all “quad- and glute-laden activities,” so creating and maintaining quadriceps and gluteus balance—through squatting and stair-climbing exercises, for example—is essential, says Dr. Forcum. “If you train one muscle in preference, you’ll set up another body part for failure,” he adds.
Lunges also make for good lower-extremity exercises, says Dr. Paul. “The most important thing is to be sport specific in your training. In hockey and cross-country skiing, you are pushing more sideways with your legs, so tailor your lunges to be more sideways, to help stretch inner thigh muscles. Downhill skiers need more of a straightforward lunge,” he says, adding that endurance takes preference in training for winter sports, followed by strength and flexibility work.
In addition to extremity training, Dr. Lawson reminds athletes to work on the abdominals and their back muscles—and to perform a sport-specific warm-up. “Do a general warm-up for five to 10 minutes, then dynamic stretching for the particular sport. If you are playing hockey, circle around the rink for five minutes, doing specific starts, stops and active stretches, to work the exact muscles you need.”
After an athlete is properly trained for a sport, one more step is in order: planning protection from low temperatures and wind exposure. That includes battling the risk of frostbite by not overdressing, to avoid the chill caused by sweating, says Dr. Forcum. “You need light-weight protective gear to keep you warm, and a wind-breaking shell on top,” he recommends.
Wearing layers—and choosing clothes with ventilation—often makes for a good choice, says Dr. Bridgham. Protective gear, such as helmets, gloves and goggles, is also key, he says. “Especially in high altitudes, it is extremely important to wear goggles or sunglasses while outdoors to protect the eyes from the sun, as well as sunscreen for all exposed skin.”
Proper footwear—especially for children, who have a more difficult time adapting to variations in temperature—is another must, says Dr. Forcum. “Make sure you carry hand and toe warmers with you, and make sure that your shoes are big enough to adapt to an extra layer of socks. If you cram [your feet into the shoes], you will reduce the circulation,” he says.
Because the outside temperatures are low, people often forget to drink, and they shouldn’t. “The dry air and low humidity causes loss of hydration with every exhalation,” says Dr. Bridgham, adding that dehydration also affects performance. “In general, by the time the athlete is thirsty, his or her performance has already diminished.”
Treating Winter Athletes
For doctors of chiropractic working with winter athletes, it’s helpful to “enjoy and perform winter sports,” says Dr. Bridgham. “Then you understand the forces involved in the sports and how they may injure the structures.”
Since some winter sports involve great forces due to the speed, “remember to evaluate head injury or concussion, as well as neck involvement in the injury, such as in a skier going 70 miles an hour in a downhill race and crashing,” Dr. Bridgham continues.
Those working with pros should be “current on sports technology and on understanding strength and conditioning,” advises Dr. Jensen. “Many professional athletes understand strength and conditioning better than some chiropractors,” he adds.
Teaming up with a fitness professional is also a good idea, says Dr. Lawson. “After I identify muscle weaknesses in athletes and diagnose the areas of deficiency, I pass my patients over to a kinesiologist who implements my prescription in a focused, supervised fashion, making sure the athletes do the exercise properly.”
And, of course, patient education, especially for beginners, is of prime importance. Remind them to “start early in the off season, begin slowly and capture any pain or discomfort early,” says Dr. Lawson. It’s important to teach patients not to write off their pain and discomfort as a small problem that will go away. “An injury early in the season can terminate play for the rest of the season,” he notes.
With proper preparation and precautions, winter can be an excellent time of the year to encourage outside activities and enjoy Mother Nature, sports experts agree.
“I can’t wait for the winter to get here,” says Dr. Forcum.
• Safety tips for children playing winter sports: http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/out/winter_sports.html
• Tips to prevent winter sports injuries: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00062
• Sport-specific recommendations:
ACA News Extra…
Outside the Box
In addition to traditional endurance, strength, and aerobic work, chiropractors working with athletes recommend the following training for their patients:
Plyometric training for skiers
• Jumping down from a bench to the ground, and then to a higher platform
• A combination of juggling and recognizing baseballs, soccer balls or footballs on an eye chart and reading a number on each ball. “At 70 to 80 miles an hour, speed skiers must both read the gates and keep awareness [of their surroundings]—the body and the brain must multitask at different levels,” Dr. Jensen explains.
• Tai chi
• Chi gong
• Stability balls and pads
• iJoy board
“Skiers and snowboarders work on unstable surfaces, they need to adapt balance rapidly and appropriately,” says Dr. Forcum. He recommends adding balance work, such as squats on a stability ball, to the training or treatment routine.
This article is a reprint of an email article from EHEALTHINSURANCE. COM
They can be found at the following address: https://compare.ehealthinsurance.com/renew/nonffm
What is the best plan for your needs?
FIND YOUR METAL LEVEL
WHAT IS A DEDUCTIBLE?
A deductible is the amount of money that you must pay, usually within a plan year, before the insurance company will start to assist with your medical bills. You’ll want to take into account the deductible when choosing a plan, especially if you know you have an upcoming surgery or other significant medical expense that will make your deductible important.
WHAT IS COINSURANCE?
This is a cost-sharing requirement you’re responsible for paying separate from your deductible. It’s usually defined as a percentage of your medical expenses that you (and not the insurance company) is responsible for paying when you use medical services. This is important to consider when shopping because it can significantly affect how much you pay for a medical visit and or other services.
WHAT IS AN OUT-OF-POCKET MAXIMUM?
All major medical health insurance plans cannot have an out-of-pocket maximum larger than $6,850 in 2016 on individual plans and $13,200 for a family plan. Once your deductible is met, then you’re only responsible for the coinsurance percentage until the out-of-pocket maximum is reached. Once the out-of-pocket maximum is reached for a year, your plan generally pays for all further covered health care expenses that year. Like a deductible, you’ll want to make sure that you can afford the out-of-pocket maximum, especially if you intend to use your benefits often.
In today’s age of health and fitness, more and more kids are involved in sporting activities. Although being part of a football, soccer or Little League team is an important rite of passage for many children, parents and their children could be overlooking the importance of proper nutrition and body-conditioning needed for preventing injuries on and off the playing field.
“The majority, if not all, sports are good, provided that the child prepares appropriately,” says Dr. Timothy Ray, a member of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries and Physical Fitness. “Without proper preparation, playing any sport can turn into a bad experience. There are structural and physical developmental issues that need to be taken into consideration before children undertake certain sports.”
Highly competitive sports such as football, gymnastics and wrestling follow rigorous training schedules that can be potentially dangerous to an adolescent or teenager. The best advice for parents who have young athletes in the family is to help them prepare their bodies and to learn to protect themselves from sports related injuries before they happen.
“Proper warm up, stretching and strength-training exercises are essential for kids involved in sports, but many kids learn improper stretching or weight-lifting techniques, making them more susceptible to injury,” says Dr. Steve Horwitz, an ACA member from Silver Spring, Md., and former member of the U.S. Summer Olympic medical team. “Parents need to work with their kids and make sure they receive the proper sports training.”
“Young athletes should begin with a slow jog as a general warm-up, followed by a sport-specific warm-up. They should then stretch all the major muscle groups,” says Dr. Horwitz. “Kids need to be instructed in appropriate exercises for each sport to prevent injuries.”
Proper nutrition and hydration are also extremely vital. “While an ordinary person may need to drink eight to 10 8-ounce glasses of water each day, athletes need to drink even more than that for proper absorption. Breakfast should be the most important meal of the day. Also, eating a healthy meal two to four hours before a practice or a game and another within one to two hours after a game or practice allows for proper replenishment and refuels the body,” adds Dr. Horwitz.
Young athletes today often think they are invincible. The following tips can help ensure your child does not miss a step when it comes to proper fitness, stretching, training and rest that the body needs to engage in sporting activities.
Encourage your child to:
• Wear the proper equipment. Certain contact sports, such as football and hockey, can be dangerous if the equipment is not properly fitted. Make sure all equipment, including helmets, pads and shoes fit your child or adolescent. Talk to your child’s coach or trainer if the equipment is damaged.
• Eat healthy meals. Make sure your young athlete is eating a well-balanced diet and does not skip meals. Avoid high-fat foods, such as candy bars and fast food. At home, provide fruit rather than cookies, and vegetables rather than potato chips.
• Maintain a healthy weight. Certain sports, such as gymnastics, wrestling and figure skating, may require your young athlete to follow strict dietary rules. Be sure your child does not feel pressured into being too thin and that he/she understands that proper nutrition and caloric intake is needed for optimal performance and endurance.
• Drink water. Hydration is a key element to optimal fitness. Teenage athletes should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Younger athletes should drink five to eight 8-ounce glasses of water.
• Drink milk. Make sure your child has enough calcium included in his/her diet. For children over 2 years of age, ACA recommends 1 percent or skim milk rather than whole milk. Milk is essential for healthy bones and reduces the risk of joint and muscle related injuries.
• Avoid sugar-loaded, caffeinated and carbonated drinks. Sports drinks are a good source of replenishment for those kids engaged in long duration sports, such as track and field.
• Follow a warm-up routine. Be sure your child or his/her coach includes a warm-up and stretching session before every practice, game or meet. A slow jog, jumping rope and/or lifting small weights reduces the risk of torn or ripped muscles. Flexibility is key when pushing to score that extra goal or make that critical play.
• Take vitamins daily. A multi-vitamin and Vitamin C are good choices for the young athlete. Vitamin B and amino acids may help reduce the pain from contact sports. Thiamine can help promote healing. Also consider Vitamin A to strengthen scar tissue.
• Avoid trendy supplements. Kids under the age of 18 should avoid the use of performance-enhancing supplements, such as creatine. Instead, they should ask their coach or trainer to include weekly weight training and body-conditioning sessions in their workout.
• Get plenty of rest. Eight hours of sleep is ideal for the young athlete. Lack of sleep and rest can decrease performance. Sluggishness, irritability and loss of interest could indicate that your child is fatigued.
Chiropractic Care Can Help
Doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to treat the entire neuromusculoskeletal system and can provide advice on sports training, nutrition and injury prevention to young athletes.
Vitamin D has been getting a lot of attention in studies and the media. It is being studied for its possible role in the prevention and treatment of low-back and joint pain, diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis and other conditions. Some studies suggest that vitamin D may protect against cancers of the colon, prostate and breast.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a nutrient generated by the body through exposure to sun rays. It can also be found in some foods. It plays an important role in building strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium. In addition, vitamin D participates in nerve and muscle function, as well as in the function of the immune system and in the reduction of inflammation.
How can I get vitamin D?
• The body makes vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun outdoors. During the warmest months, for example, 5 to 30 minutes of exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. several times a week to the face, arms, legs or back without sunscreen may be enough to produce sufficient vitamin D.
• Excessive exposure to the sun increases the risk of skin cancer. When out in the sun, wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 8 or more.
• People who avoid the sun, who cover their bodies with sunscreen or clothing, or who live in the northern half of the United States during the winter months should include good sources of vitamin D in their diets or take a supplement.
• Vitamin D is found in supplements in two different forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). The D3 form may do a better job of raising levels of vitamin D in the blood and keeping levels raised for a longer time.
• Vitamin D in American diets is found mostly in fortified foods. Almost all of the U.S. milk supply is fortified with 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D per quart. Vitamin D is also added to many breakfast cereals and to some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine and soy beverages. Check the labels for more information.
• Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as fish liver oils, are among the best sources. Beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and some mushrooms provide small amounts.
How much vitamin D is required?
• The current average recommended by the government for most children and adults is 200 IU. Adults 51 to 70 years of age should get 400 IU. Adult older than 71 years of age should get 600 IU.
• Certain groups of people—breast-fed infants, older adults, people with dark skin, obese people and those with Crohn’s disease and celiac disease and similar conditions—may need additional vitamin D.
• As people get older, they may develop osteoporosis—a condition where bones become fragile and may fracture easily as a result of falls. Women are at an especially high risk. Supplements of both vitamins D3 (at 700 to 800 IU/day) and calcium (500 to 1,200 mg/day) have been shown to reduce the risk of bone loss and fractures in people aged 62 to 85 years.
What precautions do I need to take?
• The safe upper limit for vitamin D is 1,000 IU/day for infants and 2,000 IU for children and adults.
• Excessive amounts of vitamin D can lead to toxicity—nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness and weight loss. Excess vitamin D can also damage the kidneys.
• Vitamin D toxicity almost always occurs from overuse of supplements. Excessive sun exposure doesn’t cause vitamin D poisoning because the body limits the amount of this vitamin it produces.
• Like most dietary supplements, vitamin D may interact or interfere with other medicines or supplements, such as prednisone and other corticosteroid medicines; the weight-loss drug orlistat and the cholesterol-lowering drug cholestyramine; and with phenobarbital and phenytoin, medications that prevent and control epileptic seizures.
• Be sure to tell your health care provider about any dietary supplements and medicines you take to avoid potential interactions.
Before you rev up the lawnmower or reach for your rake this fall, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) cautions you to consider the possible consequences: upper or lower back strain, neck strain and pain in the shoulders.
Just as playing football or golf can injure your body, the twisting, turning, bending and reaching of mowing and raking can also cause injury if your body is not prepared. Like an athlete, if you leap into something without warming up or knowing how to do it, the chances of injury increase. To prevent unnecessary strain and pain, consider these simple tips before you get started:
• Wear supportive shoes. Good foot and arch support can prevent some back strain.
• Stand as straight as possible, and keep your head up as you rake or mow.
• When it’s still warm outside, avoid the heat. If you’re a morning person, get the work done before 10 a.m. Otherwise, do your chores after 6 p.m.
• When raking, use a “scissors” stance: right foot forward and left foot back for a few minutes, then reverse, putting your left foot forward and right foot back.
• Bend at the knees, not the waist, as you pick up yard equipment or piles of leaves or grass from the grass catcher. Make the piles small to decrease the possibility of back strain.
• Drink a lot of water and wear a hat, shoes and protective glasses. To avoid blisters, try wearing gloves.
• If you have asthma or allergies, wear a mask.
Tips on Using Your Outdoor Equipment
The equipment available today for lawn and leaf management can turn the average homeowner into a lawn specialist overnight. But the use of weed trimmers, leaf blowers and hedge clippers has also sent many aspiring landscapers to the office of their local doctor of chiropractic. ACA cautions that using this equipment can result in back and neck pain, as well as more serious muscular strains and tears. The repetitive motion that your body undergoes when using such equipment can create a whole host of mechanical problems within the body. It is essential to operate your equipment properly. If you do not, the pounding your body endures may be multiplied.
The following tips can help you safely enjoy a productive day in the yard:
• Regardless of what piece of equipment you use, make sure it has a strap and that you use it. Place the strap over your head on the shoulder opposite the side of your body from the device. This will help normalize your center of gravity. the equipment as often as possible, and to balance the muscles being used, alternate your stance and motion frequently.
• Try ergonomic tools. They’re engineered to protect you when used properly. • When mowing, use your whole body weight to push the mower, rather than just your arms and back.
• If your mower has a pull cord, don’t twist at the waist or yank the cord. Instead, bend at the knees and pull in one smooth motion.
• Take frequent breaks from the activity of the day. Muscle fatigue may be felt when using any of these devices for an extended period of time.
• If your equipment is loud, wear hearing protection.
While it is critical to operate yard equipment safely, it is equally important to prepare your body for the work you are about to do. Be sure to include a warmup/cool-down period that involves stretching to help avoid injury. Breathe in and out slowly throughout each stretching exercise until the muscle is stretched to its furthest point. At that point, hold your breath in; when you relax, breathe out. Stretch gently and smoothly. Do not bounce or jerk your body in any way and stretch as far as you can comfortably. You should not feel pain.
Get the most out of the time you spend in the yard with these stretches:
• Stand up and prop your heel on a back door step or stool with your knee slightly bent. Bend forward until you feel a slight pull at the back of the thigh, called the hamstring. You may need to stabilize yourself by holding on to a garage door handle or sturdy tree branch. Hold the position for 20 seconds, then relax. Do it once more, and then repeat with the other leg.
• Stand up and put your right hand against a wall or other stable surface. Bend your left knee and grab your ankle with your left hand. Pull your heel toward your buttocks to stretch your quadriceps muscles at the front of your thigh. Hold that position for 20 seconds, relax and do it again. Repeat with the other leg.
• Weave your fingers together above your head with your palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds to stretch the side of your upper body, then reverse. Repeat two or three times.
• “Hug your best friend”– Wrap your arms around yourself after letting your breath out and rotate to one side as far as you can go. Hold for 10 seconds; then reverse. Repeat two or three times.
• Be sure to switch the side on which you operate
Chiropractic Care Can Help
If you experience pain or discomfort following yard work, call your doctor of chiropractic who is trained and licensed to treat the musculoskeletal system and can also help you lead a healthier life by focusing on wellness and prevention.
In honor of National Chiropractic Health Month, the American Chiropractic Association is highlighting ways you can feel your best every day, regardless of your age, occupation or fitness level. This year’s theme-“Discover Chiropractic: Find Your Game”-focuses on how everyone can take steps toward optimal health, wellness and functioning.
For starters, try these tips to keep your joints in good shape and avoid repetitive stress injuries:
1. Moving a joint through its full range of motion serves several important purposes. Joints are not supplied directly with blood as are other organs, so “use it or lose it” applies to joint function.
2. Proper diet and nutrition and a tobacco-free lifestyle contribute to joint health by allowing the joints to absorb enough healthy nutrients for long-term stability and resistance to wear and tear.
3. When lifting an object, be sure that the largest muscles in the area perform the task.
4. Muscles will fatigue and joints are more likely to be injured when you hold a particular posture for an extended period of time, especially a poor one, such as staying partially bent forward at the waist.
5. When performing tasks, keep joints that are being used either in their natural posture or approximately halfway to the range of motion. Working with joints at the extremes of their ranges of motion for prolonged periods places abnormal stresses on those joints and can results in repetitive stress injuries.
Find more tips to help you Find Your Game, visit www.ChiroHealthy.com.
Traveling can be rough on the body. Whether you are traveling alone on business or on your way to a sunny resort with your family, long hours in a car or an airplane can leave you stressed, tired, stiff and sore.
“Prolonged sitting can wreak havoc on your body,” says Dr. Scott Bautch, an ACA media spokesperson. “Even if you travel in the most comfortable car or opt to fly first class, certain pressures and forces from awkward positions can result in restricted blood flow. One of the biggest insults to your system from prolonged sitting is the buildup of pressure in the blood vessels in your lower legs. Contracting and relaxing the muscles helps the blood flow properly.”
Dr. Bautch and the ACA suggest the following tips and advice to fight the pains and strains of travel before they occur.
Warm Up, Cool Down
Treat travel as an athletic event. Warm up before settling into a car or plane, and cool down once you reach your destination. Take a brisk walk to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles.
In the Car:
- Adjust the seat so you are as close to the steering wheel as comfortably possible. Your knees should be slightly higher than your hips. Place four fingers behind the back of your thigh closest to your knee. If you cannot easily slide your fingers in and out of that space, you need to re-adjust your seat.
- Consider a back support. Using a support behind your back may reduce the risk of low-back strain, pain or injury. The widest part of the support should be between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline.
- Exercise your legs while driving to reduce the risk of any swelling, fatigue or discomfort. Open your toes as wide as you can, and count to 10. Count to five while you tighten your calf muscles, then your thigh muscles, then your gluteal muscles. Roll your shoulders forward and back, making sure to keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.
- To minimize arm and hand tension while driving, hold the steering wheel at approximately 3 o’clock and 7 o’clock, periodically switching to 10 o’clock and 5 o’clock.
- Do not grip the steering wheel. Instead, tighten and loosen your grip to improve hand circulation and decrease muscle fatigue in the arms, wrists and hands.
- While always being careful to keep your eyes on the road, vary your focal point while driving to reduce the risk of eye fatigue and tension headaches.
- Take rest breaks. Never underestimate the potential consequences of fatigue to yourself, your passengers and other drivers.
In an Airplane:
- Stand up straight and feel the normal “S” curve of your spine. Then use rolled-up pillows or blankets to maintain that curve when you sit in your seat. Tuck a pillow behind your back and just above the beltline and lay another pillow across the gap between your neck and the headrest. If the seat is hollowed from wear, use folded blankets to raise your buttocks a little.
- Check all bags heavier than 5-10 percent of your body weight. Overhead lifting of any significant amount of weight should be avoided to reduce the risk of pain in the lower back or neck. While lifting your bags, stand right in front of the overhead compartment so the spine is not rotated. Do not lift your bags over your head, or turn or twist your head and neck in the process.
- When stowing belongings under the seat, do not force the object with an awkward motion using your legs, feet or arms. This may cause muscle strain or spasms in the upper thighs and lower back muscles. Instead, sit in your seat first, and using your hands and feet, gently guide your bags under the seat directly in front of you.
- While seated, vary your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and move your knees up and down. Prop your legs up on a book or a bag under your seat.
- Do not sit directly under the air controls. The draft can increase tension in your neck and shoulder muscles.
Safe Travel For Children:
- Always use a car seat in a car when traveling with children below the age of 4 and weighing less than 40 pounds.
- Ask the airline for their policy on child car seat safety. Car seats for infants and toddlers provide added resistance to turbulent skies, and are safer than the lap of a parent in the event of an unfortunate accident.
- Make sure the car seat is appropriate for the age and size of the child. A newborn infant requires a different seat than a 3-year-old toddler.
- Car seats for infants should always face the rear. In this position, the forces and impact of a crash will be spread more evenly along the back and shoulders, providing more protection for the neck.
- Car seats should always be placed in the back seat of the car-ideally in the center. This is especially important in cars equipped with air bags. If an air bag becomes deployed, the force could seriously injure or kill a child or infant placed in the front seat.
- Make sure the car seat is properly secured to the seat of the vehicle and is placed at a 45-degree angle to support the head of the infant or child.
Chiropractic Care Can Help…
“If you follow these simple tips, you can enjoy pain-free, safe travel,” says Dr. Bautch. “If you do experience pain and stress on your back, doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat problems of the spine and nervous system.”