Blog #87 Forward Head Posture – Problems and Solutions

                Blog #87 Forward Head Posture – Problems and Solutions

 Since May is Posture month, this blog will discuss forward head posture.  This is just as it sounds – instead of being optimally positioned and balanced, the head and neck are positioned forward, to a greater or lesser degree.  Texting, sitting at a desk, reading a book, riding a bike and driving a motor vehicle can all lead a person to hold their head and neck forward on their torso.  Ideally, the head, torso, pelvis and lower extremities should all be aligned.  This provides the best balance and stability as well as the least stress on the joints.  The further the head is held forward of the torso, the more stress is placed on the bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles of the neck and upper back.

 Experiment with something weighing about ten pounds, which is about what the average adult human head weighs.  A ten pound bowling ball would be best, but short of that, choose something that you can hold up in your palm, in front of your body with your elbow bent at 90 degrees.  Then slowly bend your arm forward.  Notice that the object feels lightest when held with the elbow at 90 degrees, and when the arm bends forward, increasing the angle at the elbow, the object feels increasingly heavy. You would feel more strain at your shoulder and elbow. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments associated with these joints would also be more stressed, and would be more likely to tire or even sustain an injury than they would if the weight was more balanced and stable. 

 The same is true of your head and neck.  The further your head is forward, the heavier it feels and the harder the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones have to work to support it. Over the years, this can cause inflammatory changes in the neck (arthritis) and will speed up degenerative changes in the cervical spine.  With spinal degeneration can come injuries to spinal discs, including bulging and herniation. 

 Students and desk-workers tend to be particularly prone to developing forward head posture.  Some of the most effective ways to prevent, counteract and reverse this imbalance are practicing Strong Posture exercises daily, becoming aware of posture and maintaining awareness at all times, and making changes in habits, home, and work environment, such as using a standing work station, sitting on a large exercise ball, adjusting computer screen and keyboard to posture, and taking regular breaks from sitting and reading. 

This Blog’s offer:  contact me for more information about Strong Posture evaluation and training.  Classes are inexpensive and can help increase energy, reduce or eliminate pain, improve performance in sports, and help improve quality of life at all ages.  The introductory session, which lasts 15 to 20 minutes is complimentary.

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Blog #86 Chiropractic, Strong Balance and Sports Success

                   Blog #86 Chiropractic, Strong Balance and Sports Success

 Many professional sports teams have their own chiropractors, who they rely on for help with injury repair and also for overall improved performance.  Most of the football teams in the U. S., including the top teams – the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, and San Francisco 49ers all have their own chiropractors, as do many other professional teams and individuals.  This includes basketball, golf, softball, hockey, extreme snowboarding, mixed martial arts, and more. 

 Many teams have chiropractors who can attend to players on the sidelines during games. These chiropractic doctors not only adjust the players, they also recommend exercises and techniques specific to each sport.  These techniques and exercises help players improve balance and performance, minimize injuries, and avoid many injuries completely.   High profile players, such as Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, and Michael Jordan regularly use chiropractic care and say that it has helped them greatly improve their games. 

 Most of us do not participate in highly demanding sports disciplines, but we do walk, run, lift, climb, and sometimes play sports, but under less demanding conditions than do professionals.  Chiropractic care, including both adjustments and therapeutic exercises can help everyone improve our balance, stability, endurance, and recovery time. 

 Chiropractic care can address imbalances and injuries to knees, shoulders, wrists and ankles, can help alleviate or eliminate headaches, and, of course can help stabilize and heal the spine and the core.  Using chiropractic care preventatively is a wise choice, since this can help prevent injuries and improve both physical and mental functioning. Many of my patients, who are well into their sixties, seventies and even eighties, attribute their continued high-level functioning to chiropractic and acupuncture care, along with other important aspects of self-care, such as high quality nutrition, sufficient rest, and stress management and reduction.

 This blog’s offer: contact me and make a complimentary appointment to discuss specific ways that chiropractic care can help improve your balance, strength, stability, sports performance, and the quality of your life.

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Blog #85 Art and Nature: Two Healers

                                    Blog #85 Art and Nature – Two Healers

Several years ago, Blog #14 addressed the role of art and creativity in healing.  Today’s blog will re-visit that topic and add more. As some readers may know, I run a monthly Nature Writing Group (NWG)at the North Park Village Nature Center. We’ve been meeting for about 14 years. Members come and go, and each has made an interesting and valuable contribution to our NWG. One member was Dawn Paskowicz, a retired English As a Second Language (ESL) teacher who raised her four children, cultivated many friendships, embraced cooperative living, and loved the wilderness and the natural world in general.  A generous idealist, she opened her large Chicago house to students and immigrants at a very affordable price and helped them share in a friendly, cooperative environment. 

When she was diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer, surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy put her into remission.  In 2003, when she was cancer—free for well over five years, Dawn bought 70 acres of pristine wilderness in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and camped there for seven summers before moving to the UP.  She shared with our Nature Writing Group the inspiration she found from living on this land.  She wrote poetry and kept a journal about her experiences hoping to one day put them in a book to share with others.  Dawn enjoyed many years living on the land and protecting a small portion of our environment.  She formed a board of directors to oversee and protect the 70 acres of not-for-profit land, to keep it pristine wilderness for a while longer.  She named the land “Children of Mother Earth”. 

 Eventually, the cancer returned, and she endured the last stages of her illness in her home in the UP.  Dawn died last year, and her two living children helped put her things in order. Since I am on the board of directors, dealing with the land has fallen to me, and I am in the midst of keeping its not-for-profit status and other tasks.  One of the tasks is finding people or an organization to take over the board-of-directorship.  Perks for a new board would be access to the land, experiencing its peace, and enjoying its adventure, beauty and healing vibrations.  Responsibilities would be doing paperwork, managing finances, and keeping the 70 acres pristine and wild. 

 So this month’s blog has three purposes: to relate how one woman embraced the natural world and artistic expression to help her enjoy her remaining years, to share a small portion of Dawn Pascowicz’s writing  – one of her poems – and to extend the possibility of visits to the land and also the forming a new board to oversee this land. 

 Here is Dawn’s poem, likely written about the Duchess Iris flowers on her land, of which she was especially fond.

                                                              LOOK AT YOU


                                           Look at you in your white lacy gown

                                                        Swaying in the wind

                                                  As hummingbirds and bees

                                                   Suckle in your blossoms,

                                          Impregnating you a thousand times

                             While the wind blows your intoxicating fragrance,

                                         Overcoming me under your arms

                                  Where I can foresee your laden branches

                                    Releasing your babies by the hundreds,

                                             To nourish all the creatures

                                                   Who know of you

                                         You beautiful, floral Duchess.

                                                     Just look at you. 

 

Dawn Paskowicz, 2012

 

This month’s blog offer.  Contact me about Children of Mother Earth if you are interested in helping it continue and if you would like to visit.

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Blog# 84 Each Part Affects the Whole

                                Blog #84: Each Part Affects the Whole

 I recently experienced a bone fracture, which resulted in pain in several apparently unrelated places in my body.  I say apparently, because once you know how the musculoskeletal system is put together, it becomes clear that the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons all work together to keep the body strong and stable. It is amazing how exactingly constructed the body is. 

 Take the spine, for example: the bones of the spine, that is, the spinal vertebrae, are separated by softer, more flexible material that composes the spinal discs.  When the disc material is new, the central area has a gel-like consistency.  These discs cushion the vertebrae from each other and also help absorb shock from falls or other trauma.  Stabilizing the vertebral column are a series of muscles and ligaments.  Some of the small vertebral muscles are called the transverse spinalis, and multifidi.  These muscles help extend and bind the spine and help the spine move in different directions.  The spinal ligaments are strong, fibrous bands that hold the vertebrae together.  Some are called the ligamentum flavum, the anterior longitudinal ligament, and the posterior longitudinal ligament

 Since each bone serves as an anchor for the connecting ligaments and muscles, when any fracture occurs, neighboring and even more distant bones are also affected and become less stable.  Often, pain and weakness occur, but usually diminish and often completely resolve as the bone heals.  If you have ever had the misfortune of suffering a bone fracture, you probably remember how not just the fractured area, but areas significantly removed from the injury also tended to be painful at first. 

 The rest of the body, from the feet to the skull, also contributes to overall structural stability.  That is why it is important to wear good quality shoes that are evenly worn at the heel or sole.  Orthotics can be important for those who have flat feet or who tend to have excessive foot eversion or inversion, which is frequently due to ankle injury or instability.  The Strong Posture program and the associated exercises also help to stabilize the musculoskeletal system.  You can bet that I am going to be working extensively with the strong posture exercises. Wish me great results.

 This blog’s offer:  in exchange for your good wishes for my recovery, feel free to email, call or visit my office to obtain a complimentary assessment of how strong posture exercises might be appropriate for you.  I will teach you the first exercise in the series free of charge, whether or not you continue. 

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Blog#83 Frostbite Prevention and Treatment

       Blog# 83 Frostbite – What to Do in Addition to Seeking Medical Care

 Recently, an acquaintance emailed me about treatment of what he called frostbite.  He related the following:  after standing outside in very cold weather at night for at least 20 – 30 minutes, his feet began to hurt and feel numb.  He had eaten a large dinner and was not paying attention to his feet because of an interesting conversation with a friend.  He hobbled to his car and then soaked his feet in warm water at home.  Pain still prevented sleep and he prepared what he called a “healing tonic” drink, consisting of the following: 

 Fresh Ginger root

Fresh whole Lemon 

Cayenne pepper powder

Sage powder

Chamomile tea bag 

Peppermint tea bag

Rosehip and hibiscus tea bag

He also scooped out fresh aloe vera gel from leaves, mixed it with the inner part of banana peels, placed that paste between his toes, and even ate some food that he hoped might accelerate the healing process.  This included oranges, kiwi, fresh spinach, and banana. 

 He sent me photographs of his toes, which appeared to be of a normal color, and asked me for further treatment suggestions as well as about how much longer he would have to suffer with the pain and disturbed sleep. 

 Of course, I did not respond to this type of request with a diagnosis or prescription. There is no way I could tell if this was frostbite for sure, and I also could not predict how long the pain would continue in his case.  A patient has to come to my office for an examination.  What I did tell him was to go to a hospital Emergency Room, or at least urgent care and see his primary care physician, since moderate or severe frost bite can result in permanent damage to skin, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and even bones.

 Fortunately, this man recovered fully in about 24 hours.  He later informed me that since he did not have health insurance, he did not want to go to the hospital or urgent care. 

 There is much to discuss and learn regarding frostbite.  First, in cold weather, like what we are currently facing, it is best to stay inside as much as possible.  When that is not an option, it is essential to dress warmly, with layers of relatively loose-fitting clothing, especially on the extremities.  Tight gloves, socks or boots can cut off circulation and make frostbite more likely.  Secondly, when outside, it is best to move rather than to be stationary, since that way, the blood circulates better and injury from cold is less likely. Third, daily, during cold weather, it may be helpful to eat foods, teas, etc that will help prevent or delay frostbite.  Some examples are rosehips tea, sage tea, fresh ginger tea, and cayenne pepper added to food or drink. These all will tend to warm the body, improve circulation and possibly prevent infection if frostbite occurs.  Fourth, take care of your health in order to prevent diabetes, arthritis, and poor circulation, among other problems, all of which can lead more quickly than usual to frostbite.  I realize that some people already have these illnesses.  In that case, it is best to take extra good care of your health.  Fifth, do not smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs within several hours of being outside in the cold, since they will tend to slow blood circulation.  And the list can extend indefinitely…

 This month’s offer:  Feel free to contact me with any questions about preventing frostbite.  But, of course, if you are suffering from an injury from the cold, I would suggest you visit your primary care physician or even the ER, if the symptoms are very severe, such as hard, stiff fingers or toes, or blisters after some thawing has taken place.

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Blog#82 Caring for Ourselves During the Holiday Season and Beyond

Blog #82 Taking Good Care of Ourselves During the Holiday Season and Beyond

Sometimes, overwhelmed with visiting friends and relatives, shopping for presents, and overstimulated by the commercial messages all around us to buy, buy, buy, we forget to take care of ourselves during the holidays.  This leaves us with problems like a few extra pounds (possibly from over-indulging in rich, sugar laden foods), abdominal cramping (possibly from an over-burdened gall bladder or food sensitivities), headaches, anxiety and depression (possibly from interpersonal stress and inner turmoil), and low back pain (possibly from sitting long hours in a car or plane or bus on our trips to vacation and visit family and friends). 

I have a few things to share in this blog.  The equinoxes and the solstices are particularly special and powerful times, heralding major seasonal changes as well as marking the Sun’s relationship to the Earth. The Winter Solstice, which occurs on December 21st coincides with many major holidays, including Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza and New Year’s.  It is a time that puts a little extra stress on the body and mind.  This extra stress makes the toxins and challenges we encounter over the winter holidays a little more powerful and problematic for our physical and  mental health and stability. 

In the Northern hemisphere, people acknowledge the returning sun/lights with decorations or candles or celebratory fires around the Winter Solstice, when there is more darkness than at any other time.  Knowing that the sun’s influence starts to increase after the solstice may help us tolerate cold weather a little better than we would otherwise.  Gathering with loved ones may sometimes also be helpful, if it allows us to feel more supported at this potentially hazardous time of year. 

During the winter holidays, it is important to take care of ourselves while traveling, by stretching and preferably standing up and walking around at least once per hour, if possible.  It is also important to eat as healthfully and to get sufficient sleep.  Taking time for mental clarity and inspiration, through such activities as reading, meditation, walking in nature, or listening to upbeat or uplifting music, can support and strengthen us.  Celebration is great, but overindulging in alcohol or in rich, greasy foods may make us feel ill later on. 

According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) when the body receives an insult or stress, the resultant damage will show up during the following season, in this case, the spring.  Usually, springtime is considered the best time to detoxify.  To jumpstart your health, you might want to begin thinking of a spring cleaning, starting in late winter to early spring.  Even just eating strictly vegan, organic, and sugar and gluten-free for a week or so can be helpful.  Make sure to consume many dark leafy green vegetables and drink lots of water.  A short water or vegetable juice fast may also be helpful, depending on your age, state of health, lifestyle, and degree of commitment to the fast.  Another option is the fasting mimicking diet, developed by Dr. Valter Longo, from the University of Southern California.  This five- day program provides pre-selected and prepared meals designed to affect the body in a way that mimics water fasting.  It is appropriate for those who are unable to or choose not to do a more stringent fast or detoxification.  Check out the Valter Longo Foundation to learn more. 

This blog’s offer:  I will be trying out Dr. Longo’s fasting mimicking five day program in mid-January 2019, and would be glad to share my experiences and suggestions.  Feel free to contact me with questions about this and about detoxification in general.  And have a happy, healthy New Year. 

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Blog #81: Thankfulness as a Healing Perspective

                      Blog #81 Thankfulness as a Healing Perspective

 Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, reminds us to be thankful for the many things that we may sometimes take for granted.  Especially around Thanksgiving, I make an effort to look for all the ways in which I am fortunate: I am reasonably healthy and of sound mind, live in a country that is reasonably prosperous, have a lot of freedom to pursue experiences, make choices, live with integrity and much more. 

 Gratitude can benefit us in many ways. For one thing, a thankful attitude can improve our physical health. According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than less grateful people. They are also more likely to take care of their health by exercising regularly and having regular check ups with their chosen health care provider.  Also, according to a study in the journal, Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, grateful people tend to sleep better. Making a list of ten or more things for which you are thankful right before falling asleep may result in sounder and longer sleep.   

When we feel appreciative, we tend to be more relaxed, and this helps our internal organs function more efficiently.  It also helps improve blood circulation, lymphatic drainage, digestion, absorption, elimination, and much more. A grateful attitude can affect blood pressure.  If you dare, think of something in a complaining, resentful way and take your blood pressure.  Then, wait a few minutes and think of the same thing from a perspective of gratitude. Take your blood pressure again. Often, you will note that your blood pressure elevates with the resentful attitude and goes down with a grateful attitude.  It is important, however, to not just think thankful words – the thanks must also be felt from the heart, on an emotional level. 

 Consider feeling/expressing more gratitude all through the holiday season and into the New Year.  You might make one of your resolutions to view every event and situation from a grateful perspective.  Being more calm and centered because of a more grateful attitude can be helpful in improving difficult situations. Just because we see something positive in a situation doesn’t mean that we should put our heads in the sand and not work to address an unfortunate event or change a situation for the better.

 This blog’s offer:  feel free to contact me with further questions about this material. You also might consider hypnosis or self-hypnosis as tools to support the cultivation of a more grateful perspective on life.

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