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Fitness Health Wellness

ICE VS. HEAT

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.

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Fitness

EXERCISE FOR GLUTE STRENGTH

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.

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LEG EXTENSORS:
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.

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Fitness Health Wellness

TAKE TIME TO SMELL THE ROSES

The most common excuse I hear from patients is “I don’t have time to exercise”. I am about to make you feel very guilty, because here is a one minute exercise that will leave you refreshed and relaxed.

Take a deep breath in. Feel your belly swell and get larger as you inhale. Don’t worry about a flat stomach. Your belly should rise with your in breath. Put your hand on your stomach and feel it move back towards your spine with the exhale. Follow this rhythm a few slow times. Once you’re comfortable with this rhythm, try the inhale for a slow count of 5 with the exhale also for a slow count of 5. As this gets easier, try to lengthen the breath for counts of 10. If you’re really focusing on this, your mind will not be able to wander to your “to do” list. You won’t be able to vent and hit replay on any troubles you are going through. As the title of a country song says, JUST BREATHE. After a few cycles, start holding your breath for 5-10 second counts between the inhale and exhale. You will not get dizzy if you do this routine slowly.

This exercise can having amazing healthy benefits and literally takes a minute or two. You can physically decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. It can be done anywhere and no one will even know you are exercising. You can even do this in bed, right before sleep. When you get really comfortable with this practice, truly add the sense of smelling roses with the inhale. You will be amazed at the good feeling this simple and quick exercise will leave you with.

roses

 

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Fitness Wellness

ENGAGE YOUR CORE

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!

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Fitness

EXERCISE OF THE MONTH- CHAIR POSE

CHAIR POSEAfter being forced to use “squatty potties” in China, I am reminded how important our leg and core muscles are as we age. What is a “squatty potty”? Use your imagination…but truthfully, it is a hole in the ground in place of a toilet. I was told about this prior to traveling to China, however, I thought it would be rare and only in rural areas. Not so much! They are the norm at large airports, restaurants and pretty much all public places. I now know why they use the term toilet, instead of restroom. A “squatty potty” leaves a lot to be desired in terms of “rest”. Thankfully, I have been in yoga teacher training for several months now and have gotten rather good at the chair pose. The chair pose is where you stand, squat down to mimic being in a chair and raise your arms above your head. It sounds rather easy, doesn’t it? It is, for about three seconds, but try to hold this pose longer. If you are like me, your legs will start to shake and quiver sooner than you ever imagined. It requires a great deal of balance as well. Trust me, you did not want to fall around the “squatty potty”. As a chiropractor, it amazed me how the elderly handled this situation, because many of my older patients really struggle to get out of the chairs in my office. But again, exercise is so important to the elderly in China. What muscles do you use to get out of a chair, out of the car or out of bed….your legs and core! These activities are absolutely necessary to stay independent and without assistance as we age. Practice the chair pose and try this exercise two times per day. Challenge yourself to improve your time in the chair position weekly. Can you work up to one full minute? Simply stand with your arms reaching overhead, close to your ears. Sit back just a few inches with your buttocks pushed slightly behind you and lower down. Hold this position as long as you can. Once you can hold this position for one minute, go lower in your squat. Go as low as you can to make the chair pose more challenging.

 

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Fitness

SITTING EXERCISES FOR TRAVELING

These exercises are perfect for travel, because they are all done while seated. Do ten repetitions every 30 minutes and hold each exercise for a count of five.

  • Calf Stretches: Pull your foot and toes up towards the ceiling and hold.Picture4
  • Seated Pelvic Tilts: Discretely tighten your abdomen and pull your belly button towards your spine. This opens the joint spaces in the lower back and strengthens your core muscles to support your spine.
  • Leg Lifts: Slightly raise your knees up towards your chin, just enough for the back of your legs to come off the seat.
  • Range of Motion of Ankles: Draw the alphabet, letter by letter, with each foot. Print or cursive or both.
  • Chest Stretches: Stretch your chest open by pulling your shoulders back against the seat as well as pulling the shoulder blades down towards your waist.
  • Hamstring Stretches: Keeping your spine straight (do not roll forward) lean forward with one leg straight out and the other knee bent. Feel the stretch in the back of your leg. Pull your foot towards you and now you will feel the back of the calf stretch as well.Picture5

 

Categories
Fitness Nutrition

NO BAKE ENERGY BITES

These delicious little bites are the perfect healthy snack!

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  •  1 cup dry old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs (optional)
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
  2. Once chilled, roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Yields about 2 dozen energy bites.

No Bake Energy Bites are a great grab-and-go snack for the busy summer months ahead.

 

Categories
Fitness Health

WALKING MEDITATION

Picture4Meditation is the topic for next month’s newsletter, however, I wanted to touch on something I learned from a monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. He teaches “walking meditation” in his book “Peace Is Every Step”. Too many times when we walk for exercise, we focus on the problems in our head and fill the time replaying negative conversations or personal controversies. Instead, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us to focus on the nature around you while walking. Listen to the sounds of the birds singing. Hear the wind blowing. Smell the flowers, grass and trees. Feel the earth under your feet and let the energy of the ground transfer through your body to rekindle your own energy. After all, Spring is the time of rebirth. Use your time walking, to observe the beauty of the world that is literally at your feet.

 

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Fitness Uncategorized

EXERCISE OF THE MONTH- PEC STRETCHES

Picture1Good posture begins with your head, chest and shoulders being properly aligned. Your ears should be centered over your shoulders, and your shoulders should be centered over your hips. Due to the excessive use of computers and handheld devices, many people pull their neck forward which increases the incident of neck pain, shoulder tension and headaches. The first step towards better posture begins with opening and stretching your chest muscles. Stand in the center of a door frame and lift your arms, placing one hand on each side of the frame. Lean forward until you feel a gentle pull in your chest. You will likely feel the stretch in your shoulders as well. Hold the stretch for a slow count of five. Release the stretch and move your hands an inch up or down the door frame. Lean forward and hold this stretch for a slow count of five. Continue to move your hands to different positions up and down the frame, holding and stretching. Repeat for a couple minutes.

 

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Fitness

EXERCISE OF THE MONTH- CORE BALANCE

We all know the importance of strengthening your core, however most people associate core strength with intense abdominal exercises. They tend to focus on sit ups and crunches, which for many patients are too strong. I hate to see a well intentioned patient begin an exercise program only to overdo it and end up injured. One of my favorite core exercises is the balance exercise. This exercise is safe for everyone, regardless of age or conditioning.

  • Stand in a door frame or corner and lift one knee to hip level.
  • Keep you waist and hips in a straight, level line and do not drop one hip lower than the other.
  • Hold this position for as long as you can.
  • When you lose form or balance, switch sides.

Do this several times a day, working to increase the amount of time you can hold each leg without losing balance. You will naturally be able to hold one leg for longer than the other leg. Once you can hold each leg for 10 seconds, try doing it with your eyes closed. Use the door frame or corner to avoid falling or injury. You can do this exercise in minutes, anywhere, with no equipment.