Years ago I learned about an ancient Japanese art called, KINTSUGI or “GOLDEN REPAIR”. It is the art of repairing broken treasured pottery by mending the areas with gold lacquer. The story goes something like this. A servant broke the king’s most revered porcelain bowl. Not knowing what else to do, the servant tried to piece it back together with gold glue. Much to the servant’s surprise, the king loved the new piece of art, claiming it was now truly unique, a one of a kind and had become even more priceless.
This tale was told to me in a church service held for a very dear friend of mine who had a life changing injury. The point of the story was that something’s happen in life that will forever change us. However, if we can see the gifts in the changes, the new normal can become more beautiful than it was in the past. I have used this philosophy since that church service many times to remind myself that “different or new” is not necessarily bad. Different or new can redirect us to see things in a way that can put us on a new course and guide us in better ways.
This is what I am asking of all of us as we return to a new way of life with the presence of Covid-19. We may be forever changed although if we are willing to look deep down, some things may be more beautiful. Personally, I have rediscovered how much I love to cook, do yard work, organize my home and my office. I have felt blessed to spend precious time with my mother, my husband as well as reconnect with friends. Time is not something given to us all today. Fortunately, today I have been given time. I truly look forward to reconnecting with all of you and I hope you will know how much I value you and have through these 30 years. Dr. Cathy
Stay tuned for upcoming return to work date and schedule on Facebook, Instagram, and florencechiropractic.com.
I’m sure we are all hearing about how important it is to boost our own immune system. I have shared several nutritional ideas about natural ways to do this on past videos on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve also shared about how important stress reduction and improving sleep are to keep us healthy. I want to share today a webinar from MEDCRAM and Dr. Seheutz, MD about the studies linked to proper sleep (session 46). It is pretty detailed reviewing the science on how your T cells fight viruses. In a nutshell, it scientifically provides data on why good sleep is critical to fighting viral infections. It sites an article from the Journal of Experimental Medicine detailing how patients who were sleep deprived can have a 3 times incidence of the common cold (virus) compared to the average patient.
My suggestion would include reviewing good sleep “hygiene”. This would include ideas such as:
Even though our schedules are in chaos, we go to sleep around the same time every day
We avoid television, computers, phones and electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime (this is for avoiding both the blue light which interrupts our own natural production of melatonin as well as avoiding the emotional stress of what we may be hearing about)
Practice prayer and meditation prior to bedtime and learn to “let go” for the evening
Journal or write down any unresolved tasks or issues that are on your mind
Keep your room cooler versus too warm
Listen to soft, soothing music before bedtime
Use aromatherapy especially lavender products in a diffuser as well as on your body; breathe in these scents and allow your olfactory senses to literally create healthy neurotransmitters to allow you to make chemicals to improve sleep
Have a good pillow to support your neck which could also improve your airway improving oxygenation to your body and especially your brain (I love Therapeutic brand pillows. I say that it cuddles your head and neck while sleeping on your back and keeping your head in the most ergonomic position)
Keep your room as dark as possible even avoiding lights from your LED alarm clock or night lights; use black out shades (darkness stimulates your pineal gland which makes your natural melatonin hormone which promotes good sleep)
Nutritionally, there are several suggestions that I personally use to help improve my sleep.
- Very small doses of Melatonin
- Magnesium glycinate if muscle tension is a problem (Metagenics)
- Magnesium threonate if mind tension or overactive thinking is a problem (Metagenics)
- NeuroScience Alpha GABA PM, Kavinase OS or Calm CP are some of my favorites
If you have any questions about any of these suggestions, you can reach me at email@example.com.
Yours in health,
Dr. Cathy Gratkowski, DC
TAKE A MULTIPLE VITAMIN. Although I definitely recommend eating healthy as an essential part of your health journey, taking a great quality multiple vitamin is like an insurance policy on your daily requirements. The quality of our food is not always as great as we think. If your fruit and veggies were picked before completely ripe (common so the produce does not rot during shipping and transportation), the concentration of vitamins and minerals received through the soil and sun will not be as powerful. Also, we tend to eat the same foods repetitively so we are not always getting a good variety of nutrients. Therefore, we may be missing important nutrients (vitamins, minerals and enzymes). A multiple vitamin gives us the confidence that we are getting the basic necessities. Don’t fool yourself, however. You cannot eat poor quality food or make poor choices and even out the scale. Taking a multiple vitamin does not equal a healthy diet and a sound nutritional life plan. It is simply assurance that you will not be deficient in any of the major nutrients. Optimal nutrition would be a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and even more vegetables, protein (animal or vegetarian) and plenty of fiber, water, good fats with little to no added sugars along with a great multiple vitamin.
GET ADJUSTED: I believe in the theory, use it or lose it! This is so true with the health of the spine. People ask me how they develop arthritis. The answers include a.) genetics, b.) prior injuries or c.) lack of motion. When our mechanics are off, a segment or more in our spine locks up. The vertebra or several get stuck and decrease movement causing a breakdown in the joint cartilage and a drying of the fluid around the area. The joints stay healthy and alive by movement pushing nutrients into the area as well as removing waste products and debris. Without movement, a sort of death of the joint occurs. Use it or lose it is what a chiropractic adjustment will do. When you come in for an office visit, I will check all 32 vertebrae for normal, healthy movement. When a deficiency is detected, I will correct it by assisting the joint in its normal, healthy motion. This can be done with an extremely gentle process or if I feel it is safe, sometimes a more forceful adjustment is recommended. Exercises alone do not insure normal, healthy motion of each and every vertebra. We can be extremely flexible and touch our toes but still have one or even several vertebrae locked and not moving. Our bodies compensate and if one segment is locked, the vertebra above or below it will simply work harder. Coming in for a chiropractic evaluation and having a chiropractor actually palpate all 32 vertebrae is a definite was to ensure that every joint is moving well and potentially prevent the breakdown of the health of the joint. This holds true with all joints, not only with the spine. When patients ask their orthopedists how to delay a knee or hip replacement for example, the common answer is “keep it moving”. Remember that chiropractic adjustments are for ALL joints, not only the spine. We treat knees, hips, elbows, wrists, ankles, etc. Ask about all pains or problems that you are experiencing on your next office visit. You might be surprised on other conditions that can be treated in our office.
FOR healthy posture as well as treating and preventing lower back, hip, and feet pain…USE ORTHOTICS.
Orthotics are arch and heel supports to help correct and maintain a proper arch. When the arches drop, which is common as we age, the knees pull inward and the hip rotate forward. This puts more stress and strain on these joints as well as increasing the pressure on the lower discs in your spine. For a very small investment ($35-50) you can have an awesome orthotic fit for you in our office. I recommend a brand call POWERSTEP PRO. This company is located in Sharonville, Ohio (support local!!!) and has amazing quality orthotics. They come in a professional version sold in our office as well as an over the counter selection sold at many athletic stores. There are many varieties offered from Powersteps. Some are stronger and more supportive than others. Some align the heels. Some have memory foam for tender feet. Stop in and get fitted for the best version for your conditions.
Improving your posture is not only for looks. Posture has been absolutely linked to physical health such as better breathing, cognitive (memory) improvements, preventing falls through improving balance and even decreasing headaches and neck pain. I am currently completing my certification and awaiting my final examination on being a Certified Ergonomist. This is a specialist in designing proper workspaces to decrease injury. Along with this training, there was so much education on proper posture. To begin with, let’s work on the CHIN TUCK. I fondly refer to this as the REVERSE CHICKEN because when chickens eat, they push their beaks forward. Unfortunately, many of us live with our “beaks” or noses jutting forward. This puts too much pressure and compression on the base of your skull and the top of your spine. To do this exercise, literally tuck your chin slightly downward and pull back towards your spine. If done properly, you will get a double chin during the exercise. You will feel a slight stretch in the back of your head. Hold this position for 5 counts and repeat up to 20 times. Do this sequence as many times per day as you can…the more the better. If done often and long enough, this postural correction will become second nature. Try to give yourself reminds throughout the day to keep yourself in this neutral posture. Practice during work hours on the computer and while driving. I have found that we will catch ourselves in the chicken position with our “beaks” forward often and this is a great reminder to correct our head posture.
Another posture corrector is to PULL OUR SHOULDER BLADES BACK AND DOWNWARD. So many of us were taught to pull our shoulders back but this is only half true. Pulling our shoulders back and down is really important. The downward pull works the latissimus dorsi muscle which is a very important postural muscle. Pull the area between your shoulder blades towards the spine or bra hook area and then pull both shoulder blades towards your waist or belt line. Hold this position for 5 counts and repeat up to 20 times.
As a chiropractor, you may think that I preach strong abs 24/7. Well, surprise! I am not a fan of overworking your abdominal muscles. Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say no ab work. Simply do not focus on the front and forget about your back side. I am affectionately known as a “butt girl”. Take no offense. I am referring to the gluteal muscles located on your back side. I believe they are an important key to preventing and treating lower back problems and improving your posture. So by all means, work those ab muscles, BUTT don’t forget about your glutes.
SQUATS: (the safe way)
Standing in front of your couch or a chair, with your arms crossed in front of you, lean your butt back slightly and lower down to just barely touch your glutes to the seat. Then stand right back up. Again, arms crossed, lean your butt back slightly and lower down to just touch your seat and quickly come right back up. Use your buttock muscles to stand up. Contract them slightly. You may be surprised how difficult this will be. Repeat 10-15 times. Do this series several times throughout the day.
Stand with good posture and hold on to the back of a chair or counter top. Take the weight off one leg and pulse it back, keeping your knee straight. Contract your buttock area when you pulse the leg backwards. Repeat this motion 10-15 times on each leg. Make sure you are contracting your buttocks and do not pull it too far backwards. This would arch your lower back and potentially cause harm. Do this series several times throughout the day, especially if you sit a lot.
To make this exercise slightly more challenging, add a resistance band around your ankles. The diameter should be approximately 12 inches around.
One of the most common questions patients ask is whether to apply ice or heat to a musculoskeletal pain or injury. Most importantly is what feels better and works best for you, however here are a few suggestions.
ICE: Typically, ice is used for acute or new conditions. This stops the bleeding, swelling and bruising. When using ice, always wrap it in a wet towel and never place the ice or ice pack directly on your skin. This could result in an ice burn, that looks and feels exactly like a heat burn. Use the ice on your body for 20 minutes and off for 20 minutes. Do this for approximately 2-3 days.
HEAT: Heat should be used several days following a flare up or with chronic, on-going stiffness. Moist heat is always best. Otherwise, as your body sweats with the dry heat, you will be dehydrating the muscle. Use heat for 20 minutes per hour. Never use heat longer than 20 minutes and please never fall asleep with a heating pad.
The most common nutrition complaint I hear from patients is they don’t have enough time to cook or eat healthy. Sorry to burst your bubble, but after reading this article you will have NO EXC– USE! Juicing and blending are the easiest ways to bombard yourself with quick, healthy and easy to digest nutrition. Consider these drinks “supplements in a glass”.
Blending is when you literally blend your ingredients whole. Simply wash your produce and toss in a blender with liquid such as water, unflavored/unsweetened coconut water, almond milk or coconut milk. Blend until smooth and drink! Most of us already own a blender, so starting this healthy habit is easy. In my opinion, a Vitamix is the world’s greatest blender. This brand is so powerful it literally liquefies your ingredients without leaving any chunks behind. Vitamix is expensive, but worth every penny. My brother still uses my parents’ Vitamix from the 1970s! The nutrition key to making smoothies is to choose twice as many vegetables as fruits. Too many patients choose fruit only smoothies. Although fruits are high in fiber and nutrients, they are also very high in fructose. This is a natural sugar that breaks down into glucose, and if not used right away, it gets stored in the liver and eventually in fat cells. Choose lower sugar fruits such as berries, green apples and white pears. Bananas are very high in sugar, so use sparingly. Vegetables are lower in calories and higher in protein and fiber. The absolute best vegetables to blend are dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale and swiss chard. Although they will make your smoothie green, I promise it will not taste “green”. In fact, the greens will take on whatever fruit or flavor you add. I encourage you to also add a healthy fat. Contrary to popular belief, not all fat is bad! Healthy fats aid in the absorption of nutrients and allow our bodies to function better. The good fats I prefer are oils such as coconut, hemp, fish or flax. You can also choose an avocado or raw nuts. For an extra boost of omega three fatty acids and protein, include seeds like chia, flax and hemp. I love to add Standard Process Complete protein powder for a more thorough meal.
Juicing is when you place your fruits or vegetables in a device called a juicer. This extracts the liquid and removes the skin, pulp and fiber. The benefit of juicing is it takes a lot of produce to make a glass of juice, therefore it is loaded with nutrition. Unfortunately, it is also missing the fiber which is essential for keeping cholesterol lowered and improving digestion (aka bowel movements). However, less fiber and bulk makes it easier on your digestive system, so for those looking to give your digestion a rest and really boost your nutrition, juicing is the best choice. Another challenge with juicing is it requires you to purchase a juicer, which can range from $100-$500 and even the most expensive models are difficult to clean.
My choice is to blend in the morning for a high fiber, high protein, good fat filled breakfast on the go. I use a container with a lid and straw and drink my smoothie on the way to work. This starts my day full and ready to move, but not feeling heavy. I like to juice mid-day for a pick me up. Whatever you choose, make this a daily ritual during the week. I love knowing I had so many healthy nutrients. For me, I feel less guilty on the weekend when I cheat and order my favorite breakfast of pancakes and bacon! Blending and juicing floods your body with ready to use nutrition. If you don’t like the taste of one, try something different. The right combination is very enjoyable. Give it a try! You really have no excuse!
Most of us think of “core strength” as the collection of muscles that help stabilize the spine. As true as that is, I like to use the term for something far different. I think of our “core strength” as our inner determination, our personal power, values and mental strength. Just as your physical muscles hold you and protect your frame, your inner core also holds and supports you emotionally. In my own life, a willingness and desire to see things differently has been invaluable. So “core strength” ALL THE WAY!
Stress is commonly referred to as the body’s fight or flight response. This is handled by a part of our body called the Sympathetic Nervous System. I like to think of it as our gas pedal. When you’re busy during the day with to-do lists, high performance demands, deadlines and multi-tasking, your gas pedal is floored to the ground. Although this is acceptable at certain times, it becomes dangerous and unhealthy when your entire day is “pedal to the metal”.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is the relaxation response that your body performs to repair from the hectic pace that you’ve set during the day. This would be the brake that you apply when the car needs to slow down. This system is typically activated at rest and during sleep.
The problem is many of us spend 17 hours with the gas pedal floored and expect to achieve balance with maybe 7 hours of sleep. And the sleep we get is not really restful. Many of us are tossing and turning, thinking and rehashing, planning and anticipating, all throughout the night. We awake still tired and foggy. We reach for the shot of caffeine and sugar filled snacks for a boost. In an attempt to regain sanity, many will succumb to sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and alcohol. Although for some people, these may be necessary, for others these are nothing more than temporary fixes that lead to a whole host of side effects. What happens even to the best luxury car when the gas pedal has been floored and then you slam on the brake? Smoke! This is not a good sign. How do you think our bodies deal with this? Illness.
Science has shown that expressing GRATITUDE during periods of stress and anxiety can activate the relaxation centers of the brain. This is also very helpful before bedtime. Another tool is BREATHING exercises. Breathe from the chest to the belly, stopping momentarily at the heart to give thanks and send love. MEDITATION for only minutes can also reach this place of balance. The key to improving this vicious cycle is to practice MINDFULNESS throughout the day. Respect yourself and be aware that you are needed. Practice a few of these ideas and see if you can learn to coast during the day.