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  • 5 Steps to a Stress-Free Summer

    By Editorial Staff

    Summer’s finally here, bringing warm weather, long days and plenty of time to enjoy it. After all, with kids out of school and your vacation time likely reaching its max, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to chill out, de-stress and relax.
    But is that what’s going to happen? Too many people turn summer into just another stressful experience, when it should be just the opposite. After all, your exercise, nutrition and overall health goals are easier than ever to meet during the summer months. Here are five steps you can take to make this summer the stress-free variety:

    1. Move Your Gym Outdoors: OK, so let’s start with your fitness plan, which has been going well enough that you’re comfortable in your summer swimsuit. But wait: Now you’re stressed because the weather’s nice and you don’t want to spend every day in the gym to maintain that beach body you’ve worked so hard to attain. Good news: Summer’s the perfect time to take your workout outdoors and stay in great shape – and have fun doing it! Whether it’s a day at the beach chasing down Frisbees, a bike ride through the park or your favorite athletic activity (tennis, anyone?), sunny days and warmer temperatures give you ample opportunity to exercise outside of your normal gym routine.

    2. Healthy Summer Harvest: Good nutrition is even easier during the summer, with various fruits and vegetables in season and ready to be combined in your favorite antioxidant-bursting summer salads, entrees and desserts. And with the weather in your favor, get out of that stuffy kitchen and have a few picnic celebrations to elevate your mood, spend time with family and friends, and remind yourself that stress may be back for three seasons of the year, but this summer, you’re kicking it to the curb.

    3. Take a Technology Break: We’ll say it once and once only: This summer, do everything you can to pull yourself, your kids and everyone you know away from those screens – small, large and in between – and de-stress by getting away from technology and enjoying the wonder of the outdoors. Don’t you spend enough time glued to your computer, smartphone, television and various other technological “advances”? They’re certainly not advances when it comes to your health. Just think about it: How often does your cellphone irritate or frustrate you, versus relax and soothe you? You know the answer. So leave your devices at home whenever possible this summer and reap the benefits.

    4. The Power of White Noise: Quality sleep is an increasingly fleeting luxury these days as our lives become ever-more frantic and stressful (see step 3 for a possible contributor to the problem). With warm, lazy nights at your disposal this summer, improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep by relying on Mother Nature for some white noise. If it’s safe to do so where you live, leave a bedroom window open and let the crickets put you to sleep – and keep you there. If windows need to be closed, why not try a sunset walk around the neighborhood to de-clutter your mind, process your day and prepare you for restful, refreshing sleep? Your body and mind will thank you for it.

    5. Better Safe Than Sorry: While you’re spending all this quality time outdoors, remember to protect yourself from nature’s harshest element: the sun. Nothing raises the stress bar more during the summer than a painful, dangerous sunburn; especially one you could have prevented simply by applying sunscreen to exposed areas, wearing a hat, and avoiding direct sunlight during the middle of the day (approximately 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.). In this case, you’ll be reducing your personal stress by feeling confident you’re protecting yourself, and reducing the stress on your body that results from sun-induced damage, which can lead to skin cancer.

    http://www.toyourhealth.com/mpacms/tyh/article.php?id=1810

    When Technology Causes Pain

    By Editorial Staff

    It’s all parents can do these days to keep their overstimulated, technology-crazed children from spending all day on their smartphones, laptops, tablets and video game consoles.

    While technology continues to improve our lives in many ways, not the least of which is our ability to access information – a good thing when raising our children, if appropriately managed – a major drawback of the same technology is repetitive-stress injuries. Hour after endless hour typing, texting and scrolling can put the arms and wrists in particular at risk for injury; not to mention how poor posture caused by hunching over a keyboard or peering into a tiny screen can impact the back, neck and shoulders.

    Case in point: A recent study of teens (12-16 years old) found that “compared with those using the computer less than 3.6 hours / week, computer use of ≥ 14 hours / week was associated with moderate/severe increase in computer-associated musculoskeletal pain at all anatomic sites, and moderate / severe inconvenience to everyday life due to low back and head pain.”

    health alert You might think that 14 hours a week or more of computer use is a little extreme, but not if you consider that’s only two hours a day. Teens in particular likely spend that much, if not much more, on a computer every day, whether doing homework or browsing the Internet.

    Solving the problem involves several strategies:
    Limit screen time whenever possible, or at least limit the amount of time your teen spends on the computer at any given stretch.
    Speaking of stretching, teach them to take breaks every 1/2 hour or so to stretch and ensure they haven’t been sitting in one position for too long.
    Talk to your doctor of chiropractic about the best ways to minimize injury risk. Your chiropractor can give you and your teen advice on proper posture and other tips for avoiding pain in the Age of Technology.

    http://www.toyourhealth.com/mpacms/tyh/article.php?id=1787

    Have a Heart: Say No to Soda

    Study suggests high intake increases risk of heart disease.

    By Editorial Staff

    It’s not enough that soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to cavities and weight gain, among other negative health consequences.

    Now comes a study that suggests high daily intake of soft drinks can elevate your risk of developing heart disease. According to the study, published in Circulation, a publication of the American Heart Association, study participants who drank the most sugar-sweetened beverages daily had a 20 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who drank the least.

    Coronary heart disease, also called coronary artery disease, is characterized by a narrowing of the small blood vessels that lead to the heart. The result: diminished blood and oxygen supply to the heart, which can cause chest pain, shortness of breath and even a heart attack.

    By the way, if you think drinking diet soft drinks will get you out of the woods when it comes to health risks, think again: A recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests that consuming diet soft drinks daily (versus none) increases your risk of suffering a vascular event, such as a heart attack, stroke or even vascular-related death, by a whopping 43 percent. So, ditch the sodas and other sugary drinks, and think natural and sugar-free when it comes to hydration: tea or the age-old standby, water. Here are some other tips to pass on:
    ◾Maintain healthy blood pressure. Studies have found that women with high blood pressure have a 3- to 4-fold increased risk of CHD, but that even minor reductions in diastolic blood pressure can have a significant lower the risk of CHD. Among the best ways to reduce hypertension are lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity, reducing weight, and decreasing alcohol and salt intake.
    ◾Quit smoking. To help female smokers fight their addiction to cigarettes, researchers recommend using nicotine replacement products.
    ◾Avoid excess weight gain/obesity. While there is no direct evidence that losing weight alone reduces the risk of CHD, weight loss does decrease blood pressure and may improve blood cholesterol levels, both of which are important factors for heart disease. As with smoking, researchers note that health care providers can affect their patients by providing information on diet and nutrition and encouraging them to adopt healthy eating habits.
    ◾Exercise consistently. Dozens of studies have shown that a lack of exercise can increase the risk of a cardiovascular event, while regular exercise strengthens the heart and increases blood flow. Health care providers should encourage regular exercise as a way to lower the risk of CHD.

    References
    1.de Koning, Malik VS, Kellogg MD, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease, and biomarkers of risk in men. Circulation, 2012;125(14):1735-41.
    2.Gardener H, Rundek T, Markert M, Wright CB, Elkind MS, Sacco RL. Diet soft drink consumption is associated with an increased risk of vascular vents in the Northern Manhattan Study. J Gen Int Med, 2012;27(9):1120-26.

    http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=56497

    Eat Fish, Live Longer

    We all know eating fish has a number of benefits, but what if we told you it can also help you live longer? That is what many researchers have found after doing numerous studies. According to a new study, eating fish could potentially slash an older person’s risk of dying prematurely by more than a quarter, and their risk of dying from heart disease by more than a third, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington.

    In addition, researchers discovered that older adults with the highest blood levels of the fatty acids found in fish lived, on average, happened to find themselves living 2.2 years longer than those with lower levels.

    Researchers have long linked the consumption of unsaturated fats in fish with a reduced risk of dying from heart disease. And the American Heart Association recommends eating fish — especially fatty fish — at least twice a week.

    This new study has a lot of significance because now fish is being considered a key diet component for living a long time, not just avoiding heart disease. The study was published online April 1 in Annals of Internal Medicine.

    In their study, researchers examined 16 years of data pertaining to 2,700 healthy U.S. adults aged 65 or older who participated in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). The researchers also analyzed the total proportion of blood omega-3 fatty acids — including three specific ones — in participants’ blood samples at baseline. After adjusting for dietary, lifestyle and other factors, they found that the fatty acids were linked with a significantly lower risk of mortality.

    fish One type in particular — docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — was most strongly related to a 40 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease death. Of the other blood fatty acids measured — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) — DPA was most strongly associated with lower risk of stroke death, and EPA most strongly linked with lower risk of nonfatal heart attack, according to a press release. None of these fatty acids were dramatically related to other, noncardiovascular causes of death.

    Overall, participants with the highest levels of all three types of fatty acids had a 27 percent lower risk of total mortality due to all causes.

    The types of fish that contain high levels of omega-3 include mackerel, trout, tuna, salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies. Make sure to get a few of these in your diet and reap the benefits of having a few extra years of life.

    http://www.toyourhealth.com/mpacms/tyh/article.php?id=1777

    Going Shoeless: The Pros & Cons of Barefoot Running

    By Linsay Way, DC

    With the subculture of barefoot runners and the products catering to them growing daily, just about every chiropractor has been asked at one point or another about their opinion regarding barefoot running.

    The feet are some of the body’s most beautifully efficient mechanisms, so changing the way they’re used every day shouldn’t be done haphazardly.

    Most of the hype put forward by barefoot-running advocates is anecdotal and based on questionable knowledge of biomechanics at best. They point out that humans ran and walked without shoes for millions of years, arguing that going barefoot is natural for humans and can reverse injuries caused by modern running techniques while preventing future problems. But “going Paleo” for the sake of going Paleo isn’t a very strong argument on which to base any patient recommendation. This argument also fails to take into account the fact that asphalt and concrete didn’t exist, as well as the fact that there were very few 50- or 60-year-olds still running around millions of years ago.

    Nevertheless, there are compelling arguments for going shoeless or at least wearing the minimal amount of shoe possible. A 2010 study led by Harvard professor of human biology Daniel Lieberman, published in the journal Nature, suggests that runners who don’t wear shoes have a significantly different foot strike that minimizes structural impact compared to those who wear shoes. Lieberman, et al., analyzed the running styles of adult U.S. athletes who had always worn shoes; adult U.S. runners who had grown up wearing shoes, but now run barefoot; Kenyan athletes who had never worn shoes; and Kenyan athletes who had grown up running barefoot, but had switched to running with shoes. They found that the barefoot runners tended to point their toes when landing, putting the impact at the middle or front of the foot instead of on the heel and making the runners less prone to repetitive-stress injuries.

    barefoot runner Other research out of Harvard has demonstrated that the foot-strike pattern associated with barefoot runners is significantly more economical for running, meaning runners use less energy to run the same distances as runners wearing traditional shoes and striking with the heel.

    On the other hand, a trial published earlier this year in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise raises questions about whether barefoot running is really advantageous or simply contributes to the development of a different set of running injuries. Thirty-six recreational, experienced runners participated in the study. Each participant had, until the beginning of the trial, run between 15 and 30 miles a week wearing normal running shoes. Both groups received a pre-participation MRI of their feet to ensure no pre-existing injuries were present.

    Half of the participants were used as a control and told to continue their running routine using the same mileage in the same shoes for the duration of the study. The other runners were given barefoot-style shoes and told to incorporate them into their runs according to the recommendations provided at the time by the manufacturer: a single short 1-2-mile run in the shoes the first week and two 1-2-mile runs in the shoes the second and third weeks. After the third week participants were encouraged to add miles as they felt comfortable. (The manufacturer has since changed its recommendations to include strengthening and proprioceptive exercises, and suggests barefoot-style running be introduced more gradually.)

    Following 10 weeks of training, both groups received follow-up MRI studies. Neither group showed injuries or tissue changes to any of the structures in the lower leg, but over half of the participants wearing barefoot-style shoes had developed increased bone-marrow edema in the tarsals and metatarsal bones.

    The radiologists rated the severity of the edema on a scale of 0 to 4, with 0 indicating no edema and 1 indicating the slight edema of a normal response to training. The control group showed average level 1 edema levels in the bones of their feet, while the majority of the barefoot-running group had developed edema levels of at least 2. Three of the barefoot runners had extensive level 3 edema and two displayed full stress fractures of their calcaneus or metatarsals with associated level 4 edema. By the end of the test period, almost all of the barefoot-style runners were running fewer miles due to pain and soreness.

    Not everyone who chooses to make the switch to barefoot or minimal footwear will end up with injuries. However, anyone planning on doing so needs to be extremely cautious during the transition period. I tell patients who are dead set on ditching their shoes for barefoot running to transition slower than they think is necessary to allow their foot and calf muscles to adapt; to start on a cushioned track surface if possible; and to consider using a barefoot-style minimalist shoe at first. Distance running without shoes might have been natural for our human ancestors, but for most of us, it’s something our bodies have never experienced.

    In a press release detailing the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise study, one of the study co-authors stated, “People need to remember they’ve grown up their whole life wearing a certain type of running shoe and they need to give their muscles and bones time to make the change. If you want to wear minimalist shoes, make sure you transition slowly.”

    What’s the clinical takeaway from these studies? When it comes to injury prevention and running efficiency, it’s much more important how you run than what you run in. Heel strikers, regardless of shoe, will sustain more impact injuries than those who land on their mid or forefoot and allow their arches to act as natural shock-absorbers. The most efficient and least-injury-prone runners shorten their stride, land on the forefoot, and keep the running motion smooth, light and flowing.

    Resources
    ◾Ridge ST, Johnson AW, Mitchell UH, Hunter I, Robinson E, Rich BS, Brown SD. Foot bone marrow edema after 10-week transition to minimalist running shoes. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2013 Feb 22 (epub ahead of print).
    ◾Warburton M. “Barefoot Running.” Sportscience, 2001;5(3).
    ◾Benno M, Nigg BM. Barefoot shoes; energy return & future shoe development. Footwear Science, 2009;1(1):1942-4299.
    ◾Lieberman DE, Venkadesan M, Werbel WA, Daoud AI, D’Andrea S, Davis IS, Mang’eni RO, Pitsiladis Y. Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners. Nature, 2010;463:531-5.
    ◾Bramble DM, Lieberman DE. Endurance running and the evolution of homo. Nature, 2010;432:345-352.
    ◾Nigg BM, Emery C, Hiemstra LA. Unstable shoe construction and reduction of pain in osteoarthritis patients. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2006;38(10):1701-8.
    ◾von Tscharner V, Goepfert B, and Nigg, BM. Changes in EMG signals for the muscle tibialis anterior while running barefoot or with shoes. J Biomechanics, 2003;36:1169-1176.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Dr. Linsay Way, a 2010 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, practices at Wellness Way Chiropractic in Milwaukee, Wisc. (www.wellnesswaychiro.com). Recognized for her work training and treating Milwaukee-area gymnasts, she practices using a combination of low-force adjusting techniques with specific exercises, stretches, nutritional counseling, active release, trigger-point therapy and therapeutic taping.

    http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=56486