Time to Age Gracefully: 6 Tips to Take to Heart

To Your Health
October, 2016 (Vol. 10, Issue 10)

Time to Age Gracefully: 6 Tips to Take to Heart

By Editorial Staff

No matter how young or old you are, there’s one indisputable fact that forms our collective reality: With each passing second, we’re all getting a little bit older. For many people, that fact can be a constant source of concern, particularly after a certain age, leading to plastic surgery and other invasive means to preserve their looks and health.
Why not try these natural, noninvasive methods instead to make the aging process as smooth and well, natural as possible? It’s about adopting lifestyle habits that make you feel good to be alive, no matter what age you are:

1. You are what you eat: And if you eat too much of the wrong stuff, your body will pay for it, from poor skin health to disease. Moderation is the key, including moderate intake of fat, sodium and nutrient-deficient foods. We all deserve a treat now and then, but make it just that: a treat. Pursue a high-fat, high-sugar, processed-food-heavy diet and you’ll end up with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more, reducing your quality of life as you age.

2. Active is awesome: Research links an active life with healthy aging and longevity, for two primary reasons: First, the more activities you involve yourself in (and enjoy), the better you feel. And how you feel is half the battle when it comes to aging. Second, activity in the form of exercise is vital to healthy aging; stay sedentary and your body will break down, create disease and put you exactly where you’ve spent too much time: lying down.

3. Count some sheep (and get some sleep): Adequate sleep, both quantity and quality, reduces disease risk, keeps you invigorated and keeps you looking younger. Get too little, particularly over time, and you’ll end up with dark circles, chronic fatigue and life-draining stress.

4. Make a few friends (or a whole bunch): Evidence suggests people who maintain healthy relationships and are socially active live longer than people who remain isolated with few or no friends.

5. Give your skin a break: From the sun, that is. While a little sun exposure helps produce vitamin D, too much can do tremendous damage, both in the form of skin cancer and general aging of the skin (wrinkling, spotting, dryness, etc.).

6. Stress can be a real killer: We mean it! Chronic stress has been implicated in a wide range of health conditions, and it dramatically impacts your life experience. Who wants to live a long, stressful life? Not us. Hopefully not you, either. Try yoga, meditation, new hobbies, more walks, better organization, improved communication and other tactics to fight off stress at every turn.

These tips may seem like no-brainers, but you’d be amazed how many people aren’t taking any of them to heart. What about you? If you’re overlooking any of this advice, there’s no better time to adopt one or more of the above and dedicate yourself to aging gracefully. We all deserve to age well – after all, who wants the opposite? Graceful aging takes work, but it’s work well-spent. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Common Yoga Injuries

Common Yoga Injuries and How to Avoid Them

If you’re thinking of taking up yoga to avoid sports-related injuries, there’s something you should know. Yoga, although considered by many to be a kinder, gentler way of getting into shape, carries its own set of hazards.

Decades ago, people who practiced yoga on a regular basis were a minority, but yoga has gained in popularity by leaps and bounds in recent years. Today, millions of people are attending weekly yoga classes, and sometimes the results aren’t pretty. Strained muscles, over-stretched ligaments, joint injuries, neck and back pain, even stroke and brain damage can occur when yoga poses are done incorrectly or over an extended period of time.

Reduced tension, increased flexibility, lower blood pressure, increased metabolism and improved heart rate are some of the benefits of yoga. However, the potential for injury is also ever present. Here are some of the most common yoga-related injuries, and how to prevent them.

Neck: Hyperextension of the neck can cause injury to soft tissue and cervical vertebrae. If you experience chronic neck or shoulder issues, avoid full inversion poses. Head or shoulder stands can compress the neck and injure cervical vertebrae. Never force your body into a pose that is uncomfortable, and consider using props that elevate your neck off the floor.

Hamstrings: The hamstrings run from the hip along the back of the thigh to just below the knee. Pushing your body into a deep forward stretch can cause injury to these muscles. Keeping a slight bend in your knees and remembering not to bounce when bending forward will help safeguard these muscles.

Wrists: Placing too much weight on the wrists can be very dangerous. Spread your fingers wide and be sure your index fingers and the heels of your hands are both pushing into the mat. You can also roll your mat or use a towel to raise your wrists.

Back: Lower back pain is the most common yoga-related complaint. Rounding through the spine causes it to flex the opposite way it is supposed to, which can cause disc problems. Bending at the knees can aide in avoiding stress to the lower back and protect the hamstrings at the same time. A folded blanket or block can take pressure off the lower back during seated forward folds.

Knees: When performing standing poses such as Warrior I or II, ensure your body is bearing weight properly by maintaining a straight line from knee to heel. If chronic knee pain is an issue, use a block or rolled up towel or blanket under the knees when in cross legged positions.

When practicing yoga, whether it’s your first class or you’ve been doing it for years, the best way to avoid injury is to warm up before class and never force your body into any position.

Hormonal Contraceptive Use Can Be a Major Downer

To Your Health
October, 2016 (Vol. 10, Issue 10)

Hormonal Contraceptive Use Can Be a Major Downer

By Editorial Staff

Hormonal contraception was introduced way back in 1960 with the release of the combined oral contraceptive pill (containing two hormones: estrogen and progestin). Now, more than 50 years later, an estimated 20 percent of women use some form of hormonal contraception worldwide, and in the U.S., that figure is significantly higher: more than 60 percent. Depression is also prevalent in women, who are more than twice as likely to experience symptoms than men. And that leads us to the troubling association between the two (contraceptive use and depression), as supported by recent research.

Women who use hormonal contraception are a whopping 40 percent more likely to experience symptoms of depression after only six months of use, according to the latest research published in the American Medical Association’s peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry.

depression - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

The study tracked 1 million-plus women ages 15-34 for more than a decade. The risk increase was even more pronounced when evaluating specific contraception use: Progestin-only pills more than doubled the risk, while levonorgestrel IUD use tripled the risk. Risk also increased for users of hormone-based transdermal patches and vaginal rings.

While the researchers are quick to note that their findings don’t necessarily mean hormonal contraceptive use causes depression, the moral to this story is clear: All women should have an informed discussion with their health care provider regarding the relative risks and benefits of any type of contraception before initiating use.

Maximizing Your Chiropractic Experience

To Your Health
December, 2011 (Vol. 05, Issue 12)

Maximizing Your Chiropractic Experience

By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

Back pain – the very words send a chill down your spine. Pun intended. The first thought many people have when they hear those words is, “chiropractor.” Maybe they have personally used chiropractic to recover from episodes of back pain or know of someone who has.

Chiropractic is a proven method of reducing the signs, symptoms and underlying spinal dysfunctions associated with lower back pain. However, there are many other professional services a Doctor of Chiropractic can provide to help you optimize a lifetime of health and wellness. Nutrition, exercise, normalizing posture, and weight loss are just a few ways chiropractors can add that extra touch to helping you feel better. Many chiropractors have specialization in the chosen branch of health they are passionate about and have invested additional years of education in becoming the best in that arena. Examples include specialization in pediatrics, neurology, orthopedics, rehabilitation, sports medicine and nutrition. You are about to discover some helpful tips that will help you maximize your chiropractic experience for lifetime health.

The most important part of maximizing your experience is ensuring you choose the best chiropractor for your needs. When looking for a chiropractor, a good place to start is to ask your primary care physician or spine specialist for the names of chiropractors they work with personally. It also helps to ask friends, co-workers and neighbors for recommendations. It is such a highly personalized relationship you will have with your doctor, and getting a first-hand referral is the best way to ensure success. Not all chiropractors offer the same services or have the same level of expertise. Find the individual style and communication skills of the doctor that best relates to you. Is the chiropractor friendly and courteous? Does the chiropractic doctor truly listen and relate to your situation? Does the chiropractor fully answer all your questions? Do you feel rushed or hurried during the initial evaluation and first several treatments? Do you feel comfortable talking with the chiropractor? Selecting any health care professional for treatment is something that should be done with care. Do not feel compelled to be treated by the first chiropractic doctor you visit. Many people interview several chiropractors before finding one best suited to treat their condition.

chiropractice health - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Most chiropractors offer equipment that can help improve your quality of life and assist with activities of daily living such as bending, lifting, twisting, exercising, sleeping, etc. Ask your chiropractor about purchasing spinal support belts to help when lifting objects or working on your feet for long hours. Orthotic foot supports are very prevalent in moist chiropractic offices and this is a cost effective way to help sore feet, achy muscles, and fatigued lower backs. Braces and wraps can be used for arm and leg problems such as knee and elbow pain. Most doctors offer hot or cold packs for home use and topical analgesic pain relief lotions that are more effective than over the counter options. Make sure you ask your doctor about using some of these devices to maximize your progress. If you don’t see them offered, simple ask them to order some for you or begin selling them to patients. Many insurance companies will cover the expense of these products in conjunction with proper documentation and rehabilitation programs from your chiropractor.

Dietary and nutritional supplements are an integral part of many chiropractic offices. Doctors of Chiropractic realize that extra weight on your body adds to additional stresses on your spine. This additional weight makes you biomechanically more susceptible to injury and greater risk for health problems. Not to mention the emotional pain associated with being overweight and the underlying desire to look our best. Starting a weight loss program under the supervision of a healthcare professional has a greater likelihood of long term success. Ask your doctor about nutritional supplements that may be helpful in reaching your intended goal. If your doctor does not carry supplements, bring in ones you are planning to take and ask their advice. When you walk into a health food store it can be overwhelming where to begin in choosing the best product for you. Simply ask your chiropractor to solidify your decision or the recommendation made by the health food store. Do you suffer from arthritis or other chronic inflammatory conditions? There are many supplements to help the symptoms of pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Schedule a consultation with your chiropractor to discuss exercises and supplements that are safe and beneficial for your individual condition.

Chiropractors are experts at analyzing posture and how it relates to spinal problems. They are trained in the art of detection, function, and restoration. A doctor of chiropractic searches for the problems that exist underneath poor posture and its effect on quality of life movement dysfunction. By analyzing spinal curvatures and alignment, the doctor searches for the problems that contribute to the postural pattern and develops a strategy of correction. Outward muscular postural changes add up to changes in spinal and nervous system function. Your brain must now adapt to these altered posture patterns which leads to chronic movement dysfunctions increasing the likelihood of future injury. Based on individual needs your chiropractor can design a program of correction for you to help improve posture. Targeted exercises and movements will be designed to optimize muscular efficiency so you are less prone to fatigue. Poor posture leads to inefficient movement patterns which increase muscular fatigue, decreases endurance and stresses the energy systems of your body. In essence you are tired and achy all the time, which does not bode well for exercise. Poor energy systems decrease your metabolic rate which increases your chances of storing more body fat. Decreased metabolic rate means your body cannot maximize burning fat for fuel so it stays right where you don’t want it; hips, thighs and belly. It is a vicious cycle that builds over time. The lesson here is that posture and weight control go hand in hand.

Working hand in hand with your doctor of chiropractic is the perfect solution to help with your long term goals. Reach out and ask for their guidance and you will be surprised at how much they can benefit you outside of helping back pain.

Perry Nickelston, DC, is clinical director of the Pain Laser Center in Ramsey, N.J., where he focuses on performance enhancement, corrective exercise and metabolic fitness nutrition To learn more about Dr. Nickelston, visit www.painlasercenter.com/Our_Practice.html.