A sedentary lifestyle can take a physical toll on those who spend their days sitting at a desk for hours on end. Recent research has demonstrated a link between the amount of time you spend sitting during the day with poorer health outcomes, and a greater risk of disease. In my practice, it is common for me to see patients who experience muscle strains, neck pain, and headaches, all related to computer use and long hours spent sitting without a break. The human body needs to move! The longer you spend in one position, the more stress and strain your muscles, ligaments, and joints must endure.
Repetitive and long term strain on your back and neck can result in muscle imbalances, contributing to bad posture. A common condition that can be caused by long hours of computer use is known as Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS). UCS results from a pattern of weakened muscles of the mid-back and neck, alongside overused and tightened muscles trying to counteract the steady pull of gravity. People with UCS often have forward slumped shoulders, rounding of their upper back and a forward jutting head. Sounds familiar? Besides perpetuating bad posture, UCS has a number of consequences for the body, both short and long term, that are important to consider. In the short term, you can experience discomfort and pain and may also have headaches associated with muscle strains. The muscle imbalance pattern of the upper back and neck may also put you at risk for arm pain and injury to the shoulders. In the long term, you may be at greater risk for degenerative joint disease of the upper back and neck, and osteoarthritis.
So what can you do to help your body feel better? To counteract the effects of sedentary tasks, take a number of short breaks throughout your day to keep your body moving, and break up the time spent hunched over your desk. The Canadian Chiropractic Association has created a great free app called Straighten Up Canada to help motivate you to take posture breaks throughout the day (it’s free, and available for Apple and android mobile devices). Your plan should also include stretching your overworked muscles (pecs, and upper traps) and strengthening those that have become weak. Exercises for your mid back that involve drawing your shoulder blades down and together can help strengthen the key muscles that help you to sit up straighter and feel better. A little effort throughout the day can go a long way towards improving your posture and reducing the long term stress and strain put on the joints of your neck and back.
Green tea has been dubbed as the ‘healthiest beverage on the planet’ by some health magazines and bloggers, but how real are these claims? Can green tea help support your healthy lifestyle and goals for the new year? Surprisingly, green tea has four important health benefits that have been shown through research and clinical trials.
Every year approximately 1 in 3 Canadians over the age of 65 falls, and these numbers can go up significantly over the winter months. One of the key ways you can avoid slips and falls during the winter months (or any month!), is ensuring you exercise regularly and keep your legs strong. Strength and balance help you to recover more easily should you slip on the ice, and in turn you reduce your risk of injury. Here are 3 helpful exercises that you can do at home to maintain strong legs:
Standing with your back against the wall, place your feet in front of you so that your shoelaces are in front of your knees. Squat down bending your knees to a comfortable position or until they are at a 90 degree angle (do not exceed).if you are new to this exercise or are worried about being unsteady, ensure you have a chair to hang onto nearby or underneath you. Hold this squat position for 30-60 seconds, stand up and rest for 60 seconds and repeat 2 more times. Try to work up your endurance each day by challenging longer holds or more sets.
Hold onto something solid for support and balance, such as a counter, chair, or wall. Push up onto the your tiptoes as high as possible and hold for 10 seconds, lower your heels to the floor very slowly. Repeat 10-15 times. When you are ready to make this more challenging try balancing on one leg while doing the raise, or increasing the amount of time you hold the position.
Clamshell for glutes
Lay on your side with your knees bent and ankles and toes together. Slowly raise the top knee and rotate the hip out while keeping your toes together, and hold for 10 seconds. Keep your pelvis still and in line. Lower your knee back down slowly. Repeat 10 times, and switch to repeat on the other side. To make this more challenging, extend the leg our straight instead of bending it, or increase the reps.
Gluten seems to be the big buzz word that is most certainly making its way to the most hated list of 2014. One thing that I have found however with this so-called “fad” is that people seem to forget that there are those out there who legitimately suffer from eating gluten, often in silence. Gluten-free is not necessarily healthier for you if you are not gluten intolerant, particularly if you buy the expensive and often calorie-laden products which replace gluten with other over-processed ingredients. However for those who have suffered with this uncomfortable allergy, gluten free is a way of life, which has now become a bit easier thanks to the mainstream market.
The key reason for this blog post, is that I myself have suffered from gluten intolerance for many years, but was only officially diagnosed 4 years ago. I wanted to take this blog post to discuss how it really feels to suffer from gluten intolerance, and what you can do about it.
My gluten intolerance has been with me mildly throughout my life (unbeknownst to me), but it came to rear its ugly head in my mid-20s. Often I dismissed my symptoms as simply stress-related or even something that ran in my family. Some of the early symptoms (which I now can attribute), included:
After my initial shock, I decided to take my diet very seriously and I embarked on a gluten free no tolerance diet for almost half a year. In that “detox” time, any time I accidentally ingested gluten my symptoms returned back with a vengeance. Something else I learned in that time after much research, gluten and dairy intolerances are often linked in the same person, and can be missed if you try to do your own elimination diet. Working with a nutrition professional (ND, DC, RD) is key in making sure you catch what ails you. Also, thankfully due to my chiropractic education and nutrition classes I learned the important benefits of supplements for people with digestive problems. From my personal experience the use of Omega 3, and probiotics have helped me recover from years of intestinal neglect. Following my complete abstinence from gluten, I was able to comfortably add some back into my diet without pain. This of course isn’t possible for everyone and should be explored carefully with the advice of your health and wellness team.
Unlike many people these days who bemoan the gluten-free lifestyle, I am so thankful to be able to order delicious baked goods that will not cause me an afternoon of pain without having to endure the nasty textures of the oldschool gluten free ‘goods’. I think we still have a long way to go with regards to gluten intolerance awareness, as discussing the symptoms still seem taboo to most – the dialogue has started at least! Pay attention to your belly and what it is telling you, and do not be afraid to see if going gluten-free helps you out!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about living with gluten intolerance – chiropractors are educated in nutrition and nutritional supplementation- firstname.lastname@example.org
Always discuss diet and lifestyle changes with your healthcare team, especially if you are considering eliminating certain foods as you may become predisposed to certain nutritional deficiencies.
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