chiropractic

Keep Up

Keep up and you will be kept up - Yogi Bhajan

When I was first going through yoga training I never fully understood this quote. It seemed so arbitrary to me - keep up with what? who will keep me up?

It wasn't until I was fully immersed in my career as a chiropractor and nutritionist that I finally had a light bulb moment: maintenance now = prevention later.*

When we're young, we tend to think we're invincible and can do whatever we want to our bodies and they will continue to move and breathe and feel ok. Unfortunately this is not the case.  When we're feeling good we tend to take movement and breath for granted. We forget about maintaining our health and our joints. That is why maintenance is so incredibly important. Take care of yourself now and you prevent serious health issues down the road. (Plus, you get the added benefit of actually feeling good now. )

It can be a difficult concept to grasp, but keeping your nervous system healthy through a proper diet, regular chiropractic adjustments, and daily movement is worth so much more than the initial cost or effort that you perceive it to be now. Yes, things like getting adjusted, getting dental checkups, spending a little more for quality foods, or paying for that studio/gym/personal trainer may seem like big expenses now, but in the end the savings are innumerable. Plus - I'll say it again - YOU GET TO FEEL GOOD. How awesome is that??

*I know there are more spiritual interpretations of this famous quote. 

 

Chriopractic and Yoga - A combination for better results

Both yoga and chiropractic center many of their principles on the idea of balance. In yoga, balance exists between a pose and counterpose, effort and rest, and prana (the breath that enters the body) and apana (the breath that exits the body). In chiropractic, balance exists in the assessment and treatment of  restricted and hyper mobile joints, taut and lax ligaments, and strong and weak muscles. Both yoga and chiropractic aim to balance the body to improve posture, range of motion, and strength in order to obtain optimal health.

 

Most people come to me as a chiropractic patient because they are in pain. If I've had the opportunity to teach them in a yoga class, I already have a fair assessment of what spine and joint dysfunctions they are experiencing. When I get them in the office, I do a few more functional screenings to confirm the issues that are causing them pain or reducing their ability to reach their full potential in yoga and other activities. Our goal through chiropractic is to treat the cause of the symptom - not just the symptom itself.

 

On the other side, I generally encourage people who are regular chiropractic patients to begin a yoga practice. During their chiropractic treatment, proprioception (awareness of the position of one's body) is heightened, making patients more aware of their posture. While I am correcting imbalances with adjustments, adding yoga helps patients recover and heal even faster while helping prevent future injuries. Additionally, patients who add yoga to their routine will develop the skills to keep themselves healthy and balanced so they can go longer between chiropractic visits. They ultimately become in tune with their bodies and become self aware of when something is off and when they need to come in for an adjustment instead of waiting until they experience pain - which is typically a longer recovery process.

If more of my patients practiced yoga, I wouldn’t have to see them nearly as frequently. Alternatively, if more of my yoga students received adjustments, their practice would improve and they would prevent injuries. While I do, in fact love, seeing every one of my patients, my goal is to get them feeling and moving better so they can come see me to maintain health, not just recover from an injury or get out of pain.

You don't have to keep coming back for adjustments once you start (which I've found to be a belief that some people have) although you may want to. Just like in your yoga practice, you can have a great class and feel amazing for a day or two after, but ideally you want to maintain that so you can continue to stay healthy and move uninhibitedly as you progress in life. A healthy individual who practices yoga, exercises, and eats a healthy diet may just need to come in every few months for an adjustment to maintain health and prevent injury.

Bottom Line:

Along with breathing and meditation, the physical practice of yoga promotes balance, strength and flexibility, making chiropractic care and manipulation easier and more effective. Having a yoga practice in conjunction with chiropractic care empowers patients to understand their own misalignments and imbalances, allowing them to have more control over the correction of their spine in their yoga practice and in other daily activities. When combined, yoga and chiropractic care work together to make you stronger, more flexible and happier.

 

Healthy Holidays

 

The end of the year is once again upon us. While it is a season of celebration and joy, it can also be stressful. You may feel pressure to host a stellar holiday party, give the perfect gifts,  and entertain family and friends while still finding time to stay healthy and exercise. How can you find a good balance between giving and receiving this season? Below are some tips to help you stay healthy and happy this winter.

Practice Compassion. Overindulging is ubiquitous this time of year and it is ok as long as you don't make it an everyday occurrence. When you do have a high-calorie or high-sugar setback, find an attitude of compassion for yourself. If you forgive yourself for one setback, you will be less likely to keep eating. So if you lose control on one dish, instead of thinking, I've blown my diet, might as well eat more, just forgive yourself and move on.

Be a food snob. If you don't love it, don't eat it. At parties and gatherings, look for foods you truly like and skip the dishes that are available all year long. Go ahead and indulge in your personal holiday favorites, then find a seat and slowly and mindfully enjoy your food. And prior to the party, eat normally. If you skip meals to "save up"  calories for your party, you will have a tendency to overeat once you get there.

Protein and healthy fat are your friends. If your holiday go-to treats are of the sweet variety, it is important to understand that consuming extra sugar gives you more than just an excess of calories. Simple sugar leads to a cascade of hormones causing your blood sugar to spike and crash, sending a signal to your brain that you are still hungry even though you just consumed a lot of energy. But if you eat lean protein and healthy fat (avocados, nuts, full fat dairy), hormones are released that tell your brain that you are full and satisfied. Aim to minimize your consumption of extra sugar and keep yourself satisfied by eating healthy fats,  protein, and fiber.

Eat your fruits and veggies. Aim for 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The fiber content will keep you feeling full and the vitamins and nutrients will nourish your body helping you stay healthy during the winter.

Schedule Your Exercise. Your schedule will likely be hectic this season. Schedule your workouts just as you would any other appointment. It's ok if you can't make it to class, but make sure that you work up a sweat at least three days per week.

Get Adjusted. Whether you're traveling or staying home, maintaining your spinal alignment will help you feel and function your best so you can stay healthy and reduce your stress level.

Rest easy. It is always important to get adequate sleep, but during this busy time of year (and cold and flu season) it is especially critical. To get the best quality sleep, avoid foods that are high in fat or protein and alcohol 2-3 hours prior to bed. Fats and protein require your body to work harder at digestion which interferes with your sleep. And while alcohol helps you fall asleep quickly, when your body starts to metabolize it your sleep is disrupted. You may wake up frequently (even if you don't remember doing so) and you will miss out on restorative sleep. If you’re still hungry close to bedtime, have some complex carbohydrates like whole-wheat crackers, popcorn, or fruit.

Boost your mood. This time of year is typically cold and dark for us in the metro DC area. For many, this can lead to seasonal mood changes. Due to the lack of sunlight, I recommend supplementing with vitamin D3 (400-1000IU/day). You may also want to supplement with the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They have been shown to improve symptoms of depression and aid in brain function. Even if the weather is not the best, try to get outside for at least a few minutes a day for fresh air and sunlight.

Avoid comparison. You’ve read the status updates and have seen gorgeous instagram photos about glamorous vacations, perfectly-behaved kids, and well decorated house, but remember that those people have bad days too. Most people put their best self forward social media, so don't compare your life with those dreamy-sounding posts. Find at least one thing each day to be grateful for and enjoy the season!

Chiropractic Care and the Immune System

Cold and flu season is upon us once again. In addition to eating right, exercising, and getting a flu shot, what else can you do to prevent ailments this season? Get adjusted!

The reason? Adjustments affect your autonomic nervous system which, among other things, controls your lymphoid organs such as the lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus. These organs in turn, control your immune response. Specific adjustments have been shown to increase the number of white blood cells (neutrophils) which combat diseases.  Other effects of autonomic regulation via spinal adjustments include lowering blood pressure, relieving anxiety, and reducing inflammatory cytokines and pain. Chiropractic adjustments do not treat these conditions directly; they address and remove spinal dysfunctions that are interfering with your nervous system and encourages a cascade of reactions that allow your body to defend itself and heal.

Once you have had an adjustment, it is important to make sure your diet is up to par so that you give your body the nutrients it needs. If you don't have the proper building blocks, or if your are eating foods that are immune compromising (sugar), you will not be able to defend from illness nearly as well.

Eating refined sugar essentially "turns off" your immune system, or at least impairs its function for up to 3 hours after you eat it. So while it is ok every once in awhile, make sure you're not eating refined sugar regularly, and especially don't eat it if you are already sick or feeling down as it will further weaken your immune system.

Aim to get at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Get a variety of fruit and veggies including citrus fruits, berries, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, and others that are good sources of vitamins and nutrients including vitamin C and E, beta carotene, and zinc.

Of course, make sure you get at least 30 minutes of movement a day and adequate sleep to keep you feeling healthy and happy now and all year long.

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What's Stealing Your Energy? Part 2 - Posture

Bad posture is only cute on cats.

Bad posture is only cute on cats.

We've probably all heard the request to "sit up straight" and have "good posture" at some point, but it's easy to forget just how important good posture is. When you come in to the office to get adjusted, we fix your alignment, remove subluxations, and help re-balance your muscles. But outside of the office it is up to you to practice good posture along with the stretches and strengthening exercises we may have prescribed you. Having good posture is part of your care outside of your chiropractic adjustments. Practicing proper posture not only makes you feel and look better, but it will also help you increase the length of time between adjustments and will train your body to maintain proper alignment longer. Additionally, having good posture improves your energy through out the day.

Whether you're standing or seated, slumping forward and rounding your shoulders not only makes you look and feel less confident, but also makes you more tired by slowing your digestion and reducing your tidal volume (breath capacity). It also puts extra strain on the muscles and joints of the lower back, upper back and neck which can lead to quicker joint degeneration and chronic pain.

Good posture: shoulders over hips, shoulder blades down and back, chin parallel to the floor, ears over shoulders.

Good posture: shoulders over hips, shoulder blades down and back, chin parallel to the floor, ears over shoulders.

If you find yourself sitting for the majority of your day, you will also likely feel more tired than you would if you were able to move and stand more. Many recent studies have stated how bad sitting all day is for you. Fortunately, other studies have shown that getting up just once an hour for 5 minutes and walking - even as slow as 2mph - can reverse the negative effects of sitting. Consider setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up, stretch, walk around, or just check in on your posture.

When you catch yourself slouching, stand up or take a stretch break to open your chest: Place your hands behind your head.

Squeeze your shoulder blades together, bringing your elbows back as far as possible.

Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

Relax and slowly return to the starting position.

Repeat 2-3 times.

Once you start practicing proper posture, it will become a habit and slouching will no longer feel normal or comfortable. So start getting the benefits of good posture today: decrease and prevent pain and increase your energy!

 

Image credits: sicknesshealth.com; blog.bufferapp.com; ehs.utoronto.ca, respectively.

the mind of an architect

The drawing above was done by Dr. Sean Woods when his wife was just starting chiropractic school. The story goes that she was using a dry (plastic) spine to study when the then architect student couldn't pass up the opportunity to draw something so structurally sound. As his wife was going through school, Sean fell in love with chiropractic and the relief it brought to people. He switched career paths and joined his wife in school. They went on to open this practice together in 1997 and have been going strong ever since.