Is Sitting The New Smoking?

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Is Sitting The New Smoking?

We are a nation of sitters. Whether we are at work, commuting in our cars, sitting in class or working in front of a computer we sit. Not to minimize the exercising we do but an hour of exercise does not balance out the 8 plus hours of sitting we often are required to do in a day.

Recently you may have seen the research on the demerits of sitting for long periods of the day. It is not a stretch in imagination to understand the truth in this but there are other concerns related to sitting aside from cardiovascular consequences.

One of the most important muscle effecting sitting is the psoas muscle also known as the hip flexor. It is significant for both its position within the body and the action it produces. Additionally it is one of those muscles that can be tight but weak at the same time. Structurally it is attached to the front of the last five vertebrae in your low back and traverses through your abdomen attaching to the top of your femur or leg bone. During sitting this muscle shortens and the fibers come closer together and tighten up. When you rise from the seated position this muscle is sometimes slow to release and you may find you walk in a flexed or bent forward position for several steps. For those of you who are constantly being reminded to stand up straight and have a tendency to walk in a slightly bent forward position tightness in this muscle is often the culprit.

Keeping the psoas as lose as possible will significantly reduce low back stress and increase proper posture while strengthening will aid in keeping the core strong reducing back pain and minimizing the risk of injury.

To Stretch: There are several ways to stretch this muscle and I will review two of them for you here.

  1. Start with one leg in the kneeling position at a 90’ degree angle with the other knee on the ground. From this position slide your pelvis forward while leaning your torso backwards. Hold for 20 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
  2. Lay on the side of your bed or a bench with one leg hanging over the side but not letting your foot touches the floor. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Even though you may feel that one side is tighter than the other it is important that both sides are stretched to create a good balance.

To Strengthen: Again there are several ways to strengthen this muscle but I will give you two different ways to try this.

  1. Start in a standing position with either an ankle weight or theraband (available at the office or online) attached to the ankle area. Support yourself by holding onto what ever is available such as a counter or chair. Slowly lift you leg to a 90 degrees angle. Lower it slowly and repeat 10 times. Work your way up to 3 sets of ten resting in between. When you are able to do three sets of ten increase the weight and start back with one set of ten continuing to work up to three sets of ten again.
  2. If you are someone who belongs to a gym there are machines that you can use to strengthen your psoas. Due to the variability in machines you will need to ask a trainer which one in your gym will address this muscle.

In total it may take you five to ten minutes to address this muscle but I can assure you it will be well worth your effort in the long run. You will have less back pain, have better balance and stand straighter.

With Gratitude,
Pat

Does Your Body Need A Vacation?

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Does Your Body Need A Vacation?

Yet another year has come to a close and if you are like many of us there is a high probability that you have over indulged in an abundance of sugar, alcohol, rich foods and all the other goodies that go with the holidays. Now that it’s over if you are anything like me you can almost feel your body requesting a much needed break.

Consider starting off the New Year by giving you body a rest and remove the sugar, breads, pastas, coffee and alcohol from your diet for a short period of time. As a general rule I prefer to cleanse my body twice a year. Generally I do one cleanse at the beginning of the year and another sometime mid summer and I always feel great. The longer you are willing to remove these foods the better but whether it is three days, a week or a month you will give your organs a much needed rest and rid your body of excess toxins. I find a three week cleanse is highly effective and comprehensive but if you are unable to commit to that consider doing a week. There are many ways to approach this “cleanse” and I encourage you to find the best method that fits your life style, caloric needs and any medical issues you may have. Even if you haven’t overly indulged during the holiday just living in a city exposes us to a multitude of toxins that we ingest, inhale or absorb on a daily basis.

Our body gets rid of these toxins through our urine, fecal material, sweat and breath. Enabling these mechanisms to function efficiently will provide many benefits such as increased energy, increased mental acuity and clarity, deeper more restful sleep, clearer skin and overall more effective and efficient organ function.

Here are a few considerations that will make this adventure more effective and help insure your success:

  1. Plan ahead and have healthy snacks readily available. If you are hungry and don’t have anything to eat you will inevitably reach for whatever is available and it often will contain sugar.
  2. Drink water!!! As you detox your body will begin to release toxins from your body and water is essential to carry the toxins out of the body as a waste product. Not drinking an adequate amount of water will put a load on your system as opposed to cleansing it because as you release these toxins they need to be effectively carried out of the body. Generally half your body weight in fluid ounces daily is a good rough estimate for the amount necessary for adequate cleansing. Green tea is also helpful and replaces the coffee ritual.
  3. If you have access to a sauna at your gym, work or fitness facility consider getting in two times a week to further detoxify your system. The sweating further flushes the toxins from your skin and you will have the added benefit of muscle relaxation as well.
  4. Fill your diet with a variety of different vegetables, nut and legumes and get rid of the breads, pasta and meat. Try getting creative with different foods and food combinations. You will enjoy it more, have greater success and are more likely to carry these new habit into your life as you reintroduce foods back into your diet. Consider also adding fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir or fermented vegetables. These provide bacteria, which will support digestion and further aid in the detoxification process.
  5. There are many products/kits on the market that are available to assist you in your cleanse. If you decided to enlist the help of one of these products please make sure they come from a reputable source. Here at the office we have some excellent products if you are interested.
  6. Move your body! It doesn’t matter what you do even if it is simply taking a walk. The activity helps to pump the lymphatic system and move the toxins more effectively through your system aiding in elimination.
  7. I encourage you to consider cleaning up the temple you live in. It’s easy, healthy, and you will definitely feel better. I can’t guarantee it but you also just may loose a little weight. Although a cleanse is good for just about everyone if you have any medical issues always check with your physician before starting a program to make sure it will be beneficial for you. My wish for each of you is a year filled with joy, health, love and success. Happy New Year!

    With Gratitude,
    Pat

Responsible Pain Relief

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Responsible Pain Relief

The epic rise of opioid deaths, devastation to families and loved ones and over prescribing of all pain relievers has left us as a nation in limbo with how to deal with pain. This is especially true for those suffering with chronic pain due to arthritis, degeneration, diabetes etc. The following will detail the effects of medications as well as natural solutions which when taken regularly can be highly effective with minimal if any side effects.

Most people are aware of the dangers that opioids present but not as widely known or discussed is the danger that over the counter ibuprofen, Tylenol, aspirin and Alleve present. In the short term most people are able to take a few days worth of the above pain relievers with little to no negative effects. It is the long-term use/abuse that tends to create problems for the liver, kidneys, heart and digestive organs.

Let’s take a moment and clarify what each of these different medications do and how they work in your body.

Ibuprofen (aka Motrin, Advil): a non-steroidal anti-inflammation (NSAID) sold over the counter and widely utilized for pain, fever and inflammation

Side effects: Upset stomach, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness and stomach bleeding.

Tylenol (aka acetaminophen): serves primarily as a pain reliever as well as fever reduction

Side effects: contains a significant warning for liver damage when consumed by people who drink 3 or more alcoholic drinks in a day, especially if consuming alcohol while taking the product.

Aspirin (aka Bayer): also a NSAID used to treat pain, fever and inflammation by reducing the enzymes that make prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are the chemicals that are released which cause the inflammation and pain. Additionally aspirin inhibits the function of platelets and produces an antithrombotic effect. This is the reason people will take a baby aspirin to reduce the chance of heart attack or stroke.

Side effects: gastritis, ringing in the ears, rash, kidney impairment, vertigo, dizziness, nausea, liver toxicity, gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcer and increased blood uric levels.

Unfortunately, most over the counter medications come with some risk and negative side effects. Fortunately there are natural products available that have minimal risk and can be quite effective. Consider the following:

Turmeric/Curcumin: Turmeric is the spice that gives Indian food its yellow color. Turmeric contains chemical compounds called curcuminoids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects as well as strong antioxidant properties. In order to achieve these benefits a supplement containing the correct dosage is necessary to achieve therapeutics benefits. The amount we use in cooking is insufficient to create a significant effect. Curcumin is not easily absorbed into the blood stream however taking black pepper with it increases the absorption.

Black pepper contains piperine, which is a natural substance that increases the absorption of the curcumin by 2000% percent.

Side effects: none despite numerous clinical trials

Boswellia: Boswellia is better known by its more common name, which is frankincense. Frankincense is an herbal extract derived from the boswellia serrate tree and is very effective in reducing inflammatory responses. Boswellia may interact with any other anti-inflammatory you may be taking so talk to you doctor before beginning. I would advise against taking boswellia if you are pregnant because it has been know to increase blood flow to the uterus and pelvis

Arnica: arnica is an herb grown mainly in Siberia and central Europe and is used to reduce inflammation and help with pain. It is available in a cream, gel and orally. Avoid if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, IBS, ulcers or Chron’s disease.

Willow Bark: Often referred to as nature’s aspirin. Willow bark is bark that comes from several different varieties of the willow tree. It works primarily like aspirin in that it is a pain reliever and has been used for a very long time dating back to the time of Hippocrates. It does have some side effects that could pose a problem if you have sensitivity to aspirin. Post surgically it may slow blood clotting and as always avoid if you are pregnant.

Ice: ice is used as an anti-inflammatory and helps to reduce swelling especially after an injury. It causes the blood and lymphatic vessels to constrict. When your pain is due to an inflammatory response ice is very helpful in reducing your pain.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been increasingly used as an effective natural pain reliever with very low risk of any side effects.

No matter what method you employ to help with your pain I encourage you to talk to your doctor to assess your specific issues and possible risks. Whenever possible chose the path of least risk to achieve sufficient pain management. For your convenience we have a number of these reliable and vetted products in stock. If you are someone who suffers from chronic pain please be safe and mindful in whatever approach you take to manage your pain.

With Gratitude,
Pat