Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Importance of a Good Night's Sleep

A good night’s sleep is essential in helping your body rest, recover and feel good the next day.
Many chiropractic patients will tell you how not only how much better they feel after a chiropractic adjustment, but also how much better they sleep: both how much sleep they get and the quality of the sleep.  This makes sense - when you sleep, your body is trying to repair problems that have occurred while we are awake.  When you have a subluxation - chiropractic jargon for a bone out of alignment that is pinching a nerve - there is interference to the body doing it's job.  If it is trying to fix a problem, you will not get good sleep.  Have you ever woken up and felt like you went 15 rounds in your sleep and almost worse than when you went to bed?  By removing the subluxation and so the interference to the body doing it's job, the body goes back to doing it's job as close to 100% as possible and you get better quality and quantity of sleep!

Let’s look at some stats and studies: 37% of Americans fail to get a good night's sleep! Consumer Health Sciences, 2008.

People Taking Drugs. 48 million prescriptions were filled last year, with $3.6 billion spent. IMS Health, 2007.  Lunesta made $949 million last year! drugs.com, 2011.

Children’s Sleeping Problems. There were18.6 million doctor visits by children with sleeping problems and 81% of them were given a prescription. Sleep, 2007.

Is Technology Before Bed a Bad Idea?: 3400 messages are sent per month at bedtime! 77.5% of kids have problems falling asleep and were awakened once per night by a technology device. 50% of kids who text or surf the internet at bedtime have problems falling asleep. They experience mood, behavior and cognitive problems including: ADHD, anxiety, depression and learning difficulties. American College of CHEST Physicians, 2010.

Sleep Is Money. US Loses $63 billion a year to insomnia. 23% of employees have insomnia, costing the average American worker 11.3 days, or $2,280 in lost productivity a year. American Insomnia Study, 2011.

Can Sleep Loss Make Me Gain Weight? Women sleeping 5 hours or less a night were 32% more likely to gain at least 33 lbs, compared to those who slept at least 7 hours. The weight gain was due to a metabolic change. Reuters, 2006.

Top 10 Health Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep
1. A Healthy Heart: Lack of sleep has been associated with high blood pressure & high cholesterol. Your heart will be healthier if you get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Naps for the Heart. Those who napped 30 mins, 3x/wk, were 37% less likely to die from a heart problem. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007
2. May Decrease Risk of Cancer: People working late shifts have a higher risk for breast & colon cancer. The extra light exposure at night suppresses melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that makes us sleepy & appears to suppress the growth of tumors. Keep your bedroom dark to help produce melatonin.
3. Reduces Stress: When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. This causes an increase in blood pressure & production of stress hormones. Higher blood pressure increases your risk for heart attacks & strokes. Stress hormones make it harder to sleep, so try relaxation techniques.
4. Reduces Inflammation: Stress hormones increase inflammation & the risk for heart problems, cancer & diabetes. Inflammation contributes to the aging process.
5. Be More Alert: A good night's sleep makes you feel energized & alert. Being active not only feels good, it ups the odds for another good night's sleep.
6. Improves Memory: While resting, your brain processes your day, connecting events, sensory input, feelings
& memories. Dreams & deep sleep are important for your brain to make memories & links.
7. Lose Weight: People who sleep less than 7 hours a night are more likely to be overweight or obese. Hormones called ghrelin & leptin regulate appetite & are disrupted by lack of sleep.
8. Naps Make You Smarter: Napping several times a week lowers the risk for heart disease, improves memory,
improves cognitive function, improves mood, protects your health & makes you more productive.
9. Reduces Depression Risk: Lack of sleep decreases serotonin production which can lead to depression.
10. Helps the Body Repair: Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays & other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you sleep & the protein forms the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage. Mark Stibich, PhDSolutions

In the next blog, I'll give you some natural solutions to better sleep without using drugs.  And of course, one of them is getting regular chiropractic adjustments;)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Oxygen - O2, the Breath of Life

Everyone is looking for the latest newest thing to optimize their health. I would like to  reintroduce you to the simplest of all things: oxygen.

How important is it?
 Oxygen helps:
  •  Creates energy (defeats fatigue)
  •  Aids in digestion 
  •  Cleans & detoxifies the system
  •  Metabolizes fats & carbohydrates
  •  Transports gases across cell membranes 
  •  Makes hormones & proteins 
  •  Regulates pH 
  •  Maintains a strong immune system

Quotes from experts:
“Cancer has one prime cause. The replacement of normal oxygen respiration of the body's cells by an anaerobic (oxygen-deficient) respiration.” -Dr. Otto Warburg ~ 1883-1970, Winner Nobel Prize 1931

"Starved of oxygen the body will become ill & if this persists it will die." -Dr. John Muntz

"In all serious disease we find a low oxygen state. Hypoxia in the tissues is the fundamental cause for all degenerative disease." -Dr. Stephen Levine, Oxygen Deficiency: A Concomitant to All Degenerative Illness

Try this:
Sit-up straight and breathe. Now hunch over and breathe. The difference is obvious. Proper posture is the best way to maintain proper breathing.

Wow study: 
Did you know that your ability to take a full breath after age 20 decreases 5-20% per decade?

So how does Chiropractic help?

One of the things I hear most often from my patients after an adjustment is: "Ah, I can breathe better!".  With chiropractic adjustments the ribcage can open and close efficiently as tight intercostal muscles are relaxed. Next time you get adjusted pay close attention to how much easier you can breathe afterwards. Also if you get a chance to watch someone get adjusted, watch for the huge change in the motion of their rib cage. Also with chiropractic care you can improve your posture which in turn allows for better breathing.

Monday, May 12, 2014


We always hear about the importance of posture. Your mom or a teacher constantly reminded you when you were young to “sit-up straight”! So let’s take a closer look and see if they were onto something.

First, a study and the importance of posture.
Posture affects and moderates: spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse, respiration, sympathetic
function, homeostasis, autonomic regulation, breathing and hormone production. Sounds pretty important!
American Journal of Pain Management, 1994

Dramatic respiratory changes.
The Breath of  Life.  Did you know that after age 20, your vital capacity, (the maximum volume of air that a person can exhale after maximum inhalation), decreases 5-20% per decade! Mostly due to postural changes! - Brian K Ross, MD, University of Washington

A quote from someone in the know:
“Better than 90% of the energy output of the brain is used in relating to the physical body in its gravitational
field.  The more mechanically distorted a person is (bad posture), the less energy available for thinking,
metabolism and healing.” - Dr. Roger Sperry, Nobel Laureate

Sit-up Straight! Loss of proper joint structure and function (due to poor posture) increases adhesion formation in the soft tissue in and around the spine. - Grieve, Common Vertebral Joint Problems, 1988

Now, go take a look.
Next time you are out, start observing people over 50.  First ask yourself; do they have good or bad posture. Then ask yourself if they look healthy or not. You will discover that almost always people with good posture look younger and healthier than those with bad posture. Very interesting indeed!

How about a couple of demonstrations?
Try this:  First sit-up straight and take a big breath in and out.  Notice how full a breath you can take. Now hunch over and breathe again.  The difference is obvious.  With chiropractic adjustments and proper stretching, you can maintain or even improve your ability to breathe.

Here is another demonstration.
Try this: Stand up straight with good posture, (head directly over shoulders, no tilted head) and put your arm out at 90° to your side. Have someone behind you push down on your arm as you resist their effort. Your shoulder should hold strong. Now slump over (anterior head translation and flexion) with bad posture and have your partner push down again. Your shoulder should be weaker and you should have some difficulty holding it up.  This seems odd, as if your muscle was shut off.  Try this on your family and friends.

Explanation - with good posture, your brain can communicate via your spinal cord to all your muscles and vital organs. Your muscles and vital organs also communicate back to your brain in a kind of loop or circuit.  This is how your autonomic nervous system works.  There is a constant two-way flow of information that helps run all your systems and keeps you alive.  With poor posture, you can see the communication between the nervous system and the body does not work at 100%.  You can maintain proper nervous system function with proper posture,

Big benefit!
Maintaining your autonomic nervous system function is one of many benefits of chiropractic care
that has nothing to do with pain.  All too often, the public thinks that chiropractic care is only useful for low back pain - not so!   We will continue to discuss other benefits of chiropractic care that are not pain related in future blogs.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Physiology Behind The Sore Back

So what is actually happening when my back or neck is sore? First off most people are not involved in traumatic events ie. car accidents, slips and falls or sports injuries, although that can be the cause of low back pain, neck pain or headache. In these cases, it is obvious why we hurt. Most chiropractic patients claim: “Nothing happened!” or “I didn't do anything - I just woke up with it”. The explanation: repetitive micro-trauma, or in other words, activities of daily living. That is, all the things we do in our daily lives add up and eventually become "the straw that broke the camel's back”. 

Try this:  
1. Stand with proper posture and have a friend stand behind you with their hands on your shoulder (trapezius) muscles.  
2. While your friend is feeling how tight your muscles are, imagine doing things that you normally do throughout your day, (work, lifting your child, doing dishes, driving your car, working on your computer etc.). 
3. No matter what your activities, your trapezius muscles immediately tighten up. 

If you do things all day long - and you do - those muscles slowly and progressively get tighter.  Now let's look at the physiology: If you have a spinal vertebra/joint out of alignment, it can pinch the nerves coming off of the spinal cord.  Those nerves become irritated due the pressure of the misalignment.  Those same nerves go to muscles which then tighten up and so, blood flow to the muscles gets cut off or at least decreases.  As a result, those muscles become shorter, less flexible and lose their ability to move. In 4 days, adhesions begin to form in and around joints and surrounding soft tissue, (muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia). These joints are now even more restricted and can’t move properly. With all this restriction and nerve irritation, chemicals are released and build up, These can be either normal metabolic waste products and/or inflammatory chemicals but the chemicals cause pain receptors to fire and that is what causes the pain - a vicious cycle.

The solution: Chiropractic adjustments, of course!  With a quick, sudden, but gentle thrust, the the joint movement is restored, pressure on the nerve is released and the muscles relax (stimulation of the Golgi Tendon Organs inhibit muscle spindles), adhesions either breakup and/or elongate and chemicals can now be absorbed or allowed to dissipate, and the pain is alleviated.  There may be residual pain but many times that disperses within a couple hours.  Massage can help this process but if it is caused by joint misalignment, the problem will not resolve and the vicious cycle will continue.

Wellness care: This is why so many Chiropractic patients seek routine care - they want to interrupt this cycle of repetitive micro trauma instead of waiting until they hurt so bad, they can’t function. We will cover additional benefits in future blogs. 

So if you have recurring aches and pains or just want to prevent it from happening in the first place, talk to your doctor of chiropractic about repetitive micro-trauma and the benefits of regular chiropractic adjustments.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bone Spurs And My Back


What are they?
These are the kinds of x-rays we as chiropractors see every day.  Pretty scary, huh?  If you show these x-rays to a person in the medical field, they will say, "Oh, this person has osteoarthritis".  Breaking down that label - osteo = bone, arth = joint, & itis = inflammation - your bone-joint is inflamed.  But as chiropractors, we always ask, "Why?"  Why did THAT joint degenerate but the one nearby - just as old as the other one - not have bone spurs?
Bone spurs or osteophytes, are bony projections that form off of the
bones of the spine, (vertebra) and joints of the extremities, (shoulders,
elbow, wrists, hip, knee, ankle and foot). They are the body's attempt to "shore up" an area of increased biomechanical stress by laying down more calcium.
How about some science?  Okay - this bony response is a demonstration of 
Wolff's law- a theory developed by the German anatomist and surgeon 
Julius Wolff (1836 – 1902) in the 19th century.  His theory states that bone in a
healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads under which it is placed.
If loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time in response to  that sort of loading. The internal architecture of the trabeculae undergoes adaptive changes, followed by secondary changes to the  external cortical portion of the bone, perhaps becoming thicker as a result. The inverse is true as well: if the loading on a bone decreases (less physical activity), the bone will become weaker due to turnover, (think osteoporosis).  The body says, "This person is doing less work (spinal loading), so we don't need as much calcium in the bone" (see What to do below).
So what causes this?
Subluxation:  This is a chiropractic term for when a bone gets out of alignment, usually from some sort of trauma (see below).  This causes extra biomechanical stress on the joint and the body, doing the only thing it knows to do in response to that increased stress (see Wolff's Law above), lays down more bone to support that joint.  Ta-Da!  Bone spur!
Gravity: The simple fact that the core of the earth constantly pulls on you (9.80665 m/s2 or 32.1737 ft/s2).
The longer you are alive the more weight or load your bones have to support.
However, bone spurs are NOT just a function of age - I've seen degeneration of spinal joints in people as young as 18, usually due to trauma they've experienced. 
Think about how many times you fell learning to walk, ride a bike, play a sport, etc.  As adults, if we fell as many times as a toddler, we'd be bed-ridden!  Common causes of trauma include slips/falls, car accidents  and sports injuries.
Repetitive micro-trauma: This is usually seen in people who do a few motions over & over - office workers doing computer keyboarding, electricians turning a screwdriver, waiters/waitresses carrying heavy trays with their wrists bent back.
The consequences?
Bone spurs typically limit joint motion, which leads to: pinched nerves, joint degeneration, tight muscles, adhesion build-up and trapping of chemical fluids, all of which can lead to acute or chronic joint and muscle pain.
What to do?
Chiropractic adjustments: Surprise!  You knew that was coming;)
Routine care is the best way to maintain proper joint motion and decrease the risk of bone spur formation and/or slow the progression.
Stretching/exercise: Motion, motion, motion!  As humans, the adage "Use or Lose It" really holds true.  Keep your joints healthy with daily activity, ideally low impact such as yoga, or Thai Chi, bicycle riding, eliptical machine, swimming or a rowing machine.  Avoid long episodes of sitting or standing.
Keep the weight off: Fewer pounds = less stress on the bones = fewer bone spurs

Monday, February 10, 2014

                                                        Winter Blues?
Winter is upon us and many see this season as depressing.  We in California are luckier than
those in  the Northern Climes (I know because I moved down here from Alaska!) because we
get more light.  Everyone, especially those in the North, started gaining light after Winter 
Solstice - December 22.  Seasonal affective disorder, known as SAD, is a mood disorder 
(feelings of sadness & depression) that affects healthy people during  the winter months.  
Did you know that 1 in 10 people in the US take an antidepressant?  That is certainly not the 
solution, with all the associated side effects.  Here are some non-drug methods to fight the 
- Light: Decreased light exposure decreases serotonin (hormone/neurotransmitter that helps 
regulate mood and emotions) levels. So try to get outdoors into the sunlight as much as you can.
- Vitamin D: Low vitamin D levels go hand-in-hand with SAD.  Natural vitamin D production 
is lowest in winter due to decreased sun exposure.  So try to take a daily vitamin D supplement.  
It's a good idea to get a blood test to determine what your levels are before beginning a 
supplementation regimen.
- Movement: Lack of exercise can mimic symptoms of SAD: low energy levels and depression.  
Try to stay as active as possible, inside and outdoors as weather permits.
- Mental Attitude: Choose to embrace the winter!  The weather can be exciting with big 
storms, snow in the mountains brings winter fun skiing, snowboarding etc.  Monster waves 
on the coast. Cozy warm nights by the fire, catch up on reading or work a puzzle. This is truly 
a wonderful season so enjoy! 
- Be a positive energy source: Negative energy attracts negative results.  Keep your own mood 
positive and suppress negative behavior in others.
- Get ADJUSTED!  You knew it was coming, didn't you;)  Studies have shown and increase in 
endorphins - the body's natural uppers, after a chiropractic adjustment.
Great quote on happiness & laughter: “Laughter increases secretion of 
catecholamines & endorphins, which increases oxygenation of the blood, relaxes arteries, 
increases heart rate, decreases BP, which has a positive effect on all cardiovascular & 
respiratory ailments, as well as increases  immune system response.” - Patch Adams
Here is a nice passage about choosing happiness:  I'll be happy when...
We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. 
Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they 
are.  After that, we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy 
when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse 
gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, when we are able to go on a nice 
vacation or when we retire. The truth is there's no better time to be happy than right NOW!  
If not NOW when?!!  Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself 
and DECIDE to be happy anyway!  Happiness is the way!  So treasure every moment that you have 
and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend 
your time with... and remember that time waits for no one. So STOP waiting!  Until your car or home
is paid off. Until you get a new car or home. Until your kids leave the house. Until you go back to 
school.  Until you finish school.   Until you lose or gain 10 lbs.  Until you get married or 
divorced.  Until you have kids. Until you retire. Until Summer, Spring, Winter or Fall. Until 
you die.  There is no better time than right NOW to be happy!  Happiness is a journey, not a 
destination.  So work like you don't need money, love like you've never been hurt & dance like 
no one's watching!  If you want to brighten someone's day, pass this on to someone special.
I just did!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Good Deeds
As we go into the commercialized holiday of Valentine's Day, many people's focus turns to romance and love.  We are encouraged to give cards, gifts and flowers to show our love for the people we are closest to.  But when is the last time you did something nice for someone you didn't know, for no reason at all?
Performing random acts of kindness has been shown to have immense benefits for the one performing them and of course, for the person being helped.  In the movie "Pay It Forward, a middle school boy has a class assignment where the teacher challenges the students to come up with something that will change the world. The young boy decides to randomly do good deeds for complete strangers and then they would do the same. In these troubled times this is an incredibly refreshing idea.  
In the book "The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others", the author Allan Luks, shares some significant findings of his research:
1. Helping others contributes to the maintenance of good health and can diminish the effect of minor and serious psychological and physical diseases and disorders.
2. The rush of euphoria, often referred to as a “helper’s high” after performing a kind act, involves physical sensations and the release of the body’s natural painkillers - the endorphins. The initial rush is followed by a longer period of calm and improved emotional well-being.
3. The health benefits and sense of well-being return for hours or days whenever the helping act is remembered.
4. Stress related health problems improve after performing kind acts. Helping others:
 • Reverses feelings of depression.
 • Supplies social contact.
 • Reduces feelings of hostilityand isolation that can cause stress, overeating, ulcers, etc.
 • Decreases the constriction in the lungs that leads to asthma attacks.
5. Helping can enhance feelings of joyfulness, emotional resilience, and vigor and can reduce an unhealthy sense of isolation.
6. The awareness and intensity of physical pain can decrease.
7. Attitudes such as chronic hostility that negatively arouse and damage the body
are reduced.
8. A sense of self-worth, greater happiness, and optimism is increased, and feelings of helplessness and depression are decreased.
9. When we establish an “affiliative connection” with someone (a relationship of friendship, love, or some sort of positive bonding), we feel emotions that can strengthen the immune system.
10. Caring for strangers leads to immense immune and healing benefits.
11. Regular volunteering, being involved in a club or faith group, and entertaining is the happiness equivalent of getting a college degree, or more than doubling your income.
Refreshing indeed! 
Hopefully this brightens your day.