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The Goldilocks Way

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The Goldilocks Way

Like Goldilocks, we want things to work out just right. When it comes to our health, though, things don’t work out just right by themselves.

Neglect causes many serious health problems. Abuse – in the form of unhealthy behaviors – causes many additional serious disorders.

Every day on TV and radio news programs we hear about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.1 But most of us don’t know how to apply these recommendations to ourselves and to our families. The Goldilocks approach could resolve a lot of the confusion and provide a great deal of value.

How would Goldilocks put a healthy lifestyle into practice? “Just right” would be her mantra. Not too much, not too little, but just right. How would Goldilocks approach a healthy diet? She would choose a food plan that didn’t require a lot of effort. She’d quickly teach herself to read labels and count calories, and once she’d done that she’d learn a core group of easy-to-prepare recipes. She’d train herself to go shopping only once a week and she’d prepare a shopping list before each trip.

Goldilocks wants her family to eat healthily, but she wisely doesn’t want food to be a big preoccupation. She wants this lifestyle change to be a no-brainer.

What about exercise? Goldilocks is pretty tired of listening to her friends smugly talking about how good they feel and how they went from a size whatever to two sizes less. Goldilocks want to feel good, too, but doesn’t want to take on more than she can handle. She wants a “just right” exercise plan.2,3

Goldilocks talks to a friend who is just as busy as she is and learns a few secrets. First, she learns how to do a high-intensity cardio workout in only 15 minutes. “That’s all?” she asks her friend, who reassures her that 15 minutes is the new 30. Next, her friend explains how to do a complete program of strength training in two 30-minute sessions – done a day or two apart, of course. “Only 30 minutes?” Goldilocks is skeptical. “Thirty is the new 60!” her friend affirms. “Check-out my arms. That’s all muscle, girl!”

After only a few weeks on her new fitness program, Goldilocks is so pleased with the results that she shares what she’s doing with her husband and teenage son and daughter. Months later, everyone in her family notices a rekindled togetherness and family spirit.

Goldilocks shares her experiences with her chiropractor and admits she wishes she’d acted on her chiropractor’s nutritional and exercise recommendations sooner. “No worries,” her chiropractor replies. (Goldilocks lives in California.) “I’m giving a health care and wellness talk at our local high school next week. Would you like to be part of the talk and share what you’ve been learning?”

“I’d love to!” exclaims Goldilocks. “Thank you again, Doctor, for always helping everyone in my family!”

1Loimaala A, et al: Effect of long-term endurance and strength training on metabolic control and arterial elasticity in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Cardiol 103(7):972-977, 2009
2Monteiro AG, et al: Acute physiological responses to different circuit training protocols. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 48():438-442, 2008
3Lakka TA, Bouchard C: Physical activity, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. Handb Exp Pharmacol 170:137-163, 2005

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    The Rising Costs of Health Care

    Health insurance costs are out of control. We’re all painfully aware of this inflationary spiral. Monthly premiums are through the roof. Co-payments keep going up and up. Out-of-pocket expenses are so high we often wonder what we’re saving by purchasing health insurance at all.

    Every family has been hit hard by these financial burdens. If you’re self-employed, your health insurance premiums for adequate individual coverage are close to $1000 per month. These bills are too high for many small business owners, so they opt for catastrophic coverage. These policies still cost $4000 to $5000 per year. If you encounter medical problems, you have to pay up to $5000 or more in out-of-pocket expenses.

    What solutions, if any, are available to U.S. citizens? The Federal government may or may not address our crumbling health care system in the next presidential administration. Individuals and families need to take steps on their own to ensure better health. Improved health and well-being always translate into reduced health care costs.1,2

    Health-affirming lifestyle choices make a real difference in both short-term and long-term well-being. Old habits may need to be broken. New habits may need to be nurtured. The outcomes will be better health and increased savings by reducing health care expenditures.

    Nutrition and fitness are often the primary categories needing improvement. Obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease, and diabetes are a few of the main culprits raising our national health insurance costs. Each of these can be positively impacted by achieving a better diet and engaging in regular exercise.

    Stopping smoking. Reducing alcohol consumption. Replacing soda with water. Cutting-down on snacks. Cutting-down on processed carbohydrates – white bread and white rice. Reducing portion size. Taking all these action steps, progressively and over time, will improve your overall state of health.3

    Be in it for the long haul. Change doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a process. We’re talking about a lifetime of good health supported by good habits.

    Chiropractic health care is an important part of the process of restoring well-being and reducing health care costs. Regular chiropractic visits help a person stay active and are a key component in returning to fitness. Chiropractic treatment helps to improve flexibility, balance, and stability, increasing your ability to exercise and making it more fun.

    Use your chiropractor as a resource as you work on improving your health. Your chiropractor will have many valuable recommendations regarding healthful nutrition and healthful exercise, and will be glad to offer guidance and support in your journey to good health.

    1Fronstin P: Health promotion and disease prevention: a look at demand management programs. EBRI Issue Brief 177:1-14, 1996
    2Parks KM, Steelman LA: Organizational wellness programs: a meta-analysis. J Occup Health Psychol 13(1):58-68, 2008
    3Pearce PZ: Exercise is medicine. Curr Sports Med Rep 7(3):171-175, 2008

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    Time’s Arrow

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    Time’s Arrow

    As we get older, most of us begin to experience the acceleration of the passage of time. The sensation of time passing gets faster and faster, until for many of us weeks begin to feel like days and months begin to feel like weeks. This is very disconcerting and we’d like to be able to slow things down. We’d like to make the months and years whiz by a little less quickly. This isn’t possible, of course, from the point of view of time itself, and the only comfort may lie in the fact that everyone else is experiencing similar phenomena. “Time flies” is a common expression. But there are solutions, relative ones, by which we may get a better grasp on our personal relationship to time and time’s effect on our physical bodies.

    The first solution is associated with the concept of present time consciousness. In other words, the more you actually experience the present moment itself, the more you will be participating in what these moments offer and the more you will be getting out of the experiences of which your life is comprised. “Being present” is a skill that gets stronger with practice. There’s always the tendency for our minds to wander off on any other track than the one we want to be on, that is, being present. But with practice our ability to be present in the moment expands. One of the remarkable benefits of this practice is that our experience of time passing slows down. By being present, our hours, days, and weeks become much more meaningful. We experience more of life and the passage of time no longer washes over us like an unending series of 20-foot waves.

    The second solution involves taking better care of ourselves. When we’re healthy and well, each day is more enjoyable. When we’re healthy and well, our physical state is not a daily concern and we’re free to do what we want. We can read, study, exercise, engage in new work activities, or simply relax and watch a movie without the concerns and constraints of physical pain and disease. Our ability to participate in these unique experiences enriches our lives and makes the passage of time a joy rather than a burden. But as with the skill of being present, the skill of being healthy and well requires practice. Such practice takes the form of eating a nutritious diet,1,2 doing regular vigorous exercise,3 and getting sufficient rest. With these practices in place, we are well on our way to increasing our long-term levels of health and wellness.

    Thus, although we cannot control the actual passage of time, we can control our relationship to the phenomenon of time passing. By learning the skill of present time consciousness and practicing healthy behaviors, we become able to add more life to our years and may even be adding more years to our lives.

    1Paddon-Jones D, et al: Protein and healthy aging. Am J Clin Nutr 2015 Apr 29. pii: ajcn084061. [Epub ahead of print]
    2Royston KJ, Tollefsbol TO: The Epigenetic Impact of Cruciferous Vegetables on Cancer Prevention. Curr Pharmacol Rep 1(1):46-51, 2015
    3Gonzales JU: Do older adults with higher daily ambulatory activity have lower central blood pressure? Aging Clin Exp Res 2015 May 22. [Epub ahead of print]

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    Tips for Good Hip Health

    Having a pair of healthy hips is a key to healthy aging. But healthy hips are not only important for people in their 60s, 70s, and beyond. Your hips are one of your most important structural components, regardless of how old you are. Whether you’re 20, 30, or 40, your hip joints provide biomechanical support to your entire body. Thus, keeping your hips healthy is a necessary consideration for everyone who wants to be healthy and well throughout a long life.

    Healthy hips do not happen automatically. Your body’s physiology follows the biomechanical principle of “use it or lost it”. Muscles, bones, and joints that do work on a regular basis are strengthened and enhanced. Those musculoskeletal elements that don’t do much physical work are broken down, so that molecular building blocks such as amino acids and nutrients such as calcium can be put to better use elsewhere. In other words, if you’re haven’t done much exercise in a while, weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees, and ankles will begin to degrade. However, even as these joints lose optimal structural integrity, gravitational forces persist. The long-term result of such weakened joints is strains and sprains, degenerative arthritis, and possibly other inflammatory conditions. These disorders likely involve daily ongoing pain, which may become moderate or severe.

    In the absence of conservative treatment and rehabilitative exercise, such conditions may ultimately require joint replacement. These procedures are becoming increasingly common, with total hip replacements and total knee replacements being performed on younger and younger patients. For example, annual rates for total hip replacement in the United States in patients aged 45 and older have almost doubled between 2000 and 2010.1

    Importantly, many hip joint problems can be prevented by instituting appropriate lifestyle changes. As the cause of many of these degenerative conditions is long-term lack of use, the solution lies in activity and physical work. In Western nations, physical labor is becoming increasingly uncommon. Most of us work in service-type industries and spend most of our days sitting at a desk. As a result, physical work is now typically obtained by engaging in regular, vigorous exercise. By performing five 30-minute sessions of vigorous weight-bearing exercise every week, we will restore and maintain sufficient healthy stress on our muscles, bones, and joints.

    As these musculoskeletal structures undergo physical loads and perform mechanical work, your body responds by making them stronger.2-4 New blood vessels are built to supply these structures with increasing amounts of oxygen and other nutrients. New cells are built to support existing tissues. Worn-out cells are removed more efficiently. The entire musculoskeletal system is revitalized in response to regular, vigorous exercise. The long-term result is healthy hips, knees, and ankles, as well as a healthy spine. These weight-bearing structures work synergistically to help provide you with long-term health.

    1Hospitalization for Total Hip Replacement Among Inpatients Aged 45 and Over: United States, 2000–2010. NCHS Data Brief No. 186, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 2015
    2Qian JG, et al: Effectiveness of Selected Fitness Exercises on Stress of Femoral Neck using Musculoskeletal Dynamics Simulations and Finite Element Model. J Hum Kinet 41:59-70, 2014
    3Bolam KA, et al: The effect of physical exercise on bone density in middle-aged and older men: a systematic review. Osteoporosis Int 24(11):2749-2762, 2013
    4Hill KD, et al: Individualized home-based exercise programs for older people to reduce falls and improve physical performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas 2015 Apr 29. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.04.005. [Epub ahead of print]

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    Tips for Safe and Healthy Travel

    Here come the holidays – Thanksgiving, Channukah, Christmas, and New Year’s. And the travel – Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel days and the day before Christmas is just as busy.

    If you’re flying, you know what to expect – long lines, delays, crowded flights. But knowing what’s to come doesn’t necessarily provide reassurance. Traveling – particularly traveling by plane – makes many people crazy. Sitting in the terminal, waiting for your boarding call, you can see the deep lines of care, worry, and anxiety etched into peoples’ faces.

    However, whereas air travel may not be the funnest thing in the world, there are many action steps individuals and families can take to de-stress the experience. Traveling doesn’t have to mean losing your mind and getting all wound up with tension and mental and physical strain.1,2

    Here’s a Top Eight List of things to do in the days before your flight and then during your flight –
    Before the flight –

    • Start packing early
    • Organize your healthy snacks
    • Organize activities for the kids
    • Light exercises and stretches
    • See your chiropractor
    • During the flight –
    • Walk around
    • Wake up your muscles by doing gentle torso stretches while in your seat
    • Breathe!

    Starting your packing early will make a huge difference in how you feel on the day of the flight. Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have to dash all over your house minutes before you’re supposed to leave for the airport, searching for that critical thing you must bring with you.

    Make a list and make a plan. Promise yourself you’re going to have everything packed, including the kids’ backpacks, by the time you go to sleep on the night before you travel. You’ll be amazed at how relaxed everyone is on the actual travel day, in sharp contrast to the usual mayhem and fighting.

    A good supply of healthy snacks will keep everyone’s energy level up, and minimize in-flight crankiness due to hunger and low blood sugar levels. 3 Most airlines don’t even serve food anymore, and even if they did, you don’t want it. Bring your own low-fat protein energy bars; little plastic cups filled with peanut butter; low-calorie muffins; trail mix with nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate; string cheese; low-fat crackers; and plenty of water.

    Be sure to do light exercise and stretches the week of your flight. You’re going to be lugging heavy baggage, and want to be ready for some awkward schlepping, dragging, and lifting.

    Seeing your chiropractor before a trip will help ensure your body is in peak condition for any unexpected jars and jolts. And even when you’re well-prepared, travel still has its stressful moments. Chiropractic treatment helps ensure that your nervous system will be flexible and adaptable, adjusting to whatever surprises are in store during your trip.

    1Waterhouse J, et al: The stress of travel. J Sports Sci 22(10):946-965, 2004
    2Reilly T, et al: Jet lag and air travel: implications for performance. Clin Sports Med 24(2):367-380, 2005
    3Waterhouse J, et al: Factors associated with food intake in passengers on long-haul flights. Chronobiol Int 23(5):985-1007, 2006

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    Your Body – An Owner’s Manual

    Wouldn’t it be great if your body came with an owner’s manual? You’d probably begin reading it around the age of seven or eight, and right away you would be able to start taking better care of your precious body. You would learn how you can use your body efficiently and effectively. By learning how to use your body correctly, you’d be ensuring a lifetime of good health and peak performance. You wouldn’t have to play catch up when, after years and decades of uninformed abuse, your once-perfect physical machinery began to systematically break down. In fact, by taking the time to learn sound practices, habits, and techniques now, you could avoid what, for many, turns out to be years or even decades of unnecessary physical pain and mental or emotional suffering. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start improving your life and maximizing your health, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you will start experiencing the benefits.

    So, what topics would such an owner’s manual cover? The manual would discuss and describe the usual suspects – good posture1, exercise2, nutrition3, and proper rest – that everyone knows about but almost no one puts into regular, or even irregular, practice. The single greatest benefit of having your own personal instruction guide is that you would be able to learn about these processes without trial and error. The metaphorical horse of good health would not yet have left the barn. Rather than shutting the stable doors after the stalls had emptied – the way most of us pay attention to our health – you would be empowered as to how to actually take care of yourself.

    So what can you do? Without the benefit of such an owner’s manual or the lucky acquisition of teachers and coaches who really know what they’re doing, most of us struggle along. Our posture gets worse and worse, our muscles and joints get tighter and tighter, and sooner or later (usually sooner) we develop pain that quickly becomes chronic. Fortunately our bodies are resilient and reparable. Once we find the right person (such as a chiropractor) who can teach us about good posture and healthful exercise, it’s possible to start feeling better. A chiropractor is intimately familiar with the spine and can help you figure out the secrets to your own body, so that you get all the benefits of having an owner’s manual without having to do all the legwork yourself.

    Using posture as an example, a chiropractor can teach you the secrets that many mentors and coaches impart to dancers, gymnasts, and all other highly trained competitive athletes. You can learn how to balance your weight over the balls of your feet. You can learn how to stand erect and straight, but not rigid. You can learn how to open your chest without straining your chest muscles, allowing your lungs to take in all the air you need to function at your peak. You can learn how to let your shoulder girdles relax, resting them on your rib cage, sitting or standing straight and tall without tightening and fatiguing your neck and upper back muscles. You can learn how to activate and properly use your core abdominal musculature, providing a firm and secure foundation for all your body’s activities. A chiropractor is an expert of the human spine, and has an intimate understanding of how your spine and posture affects how you feel, as well as what you need to do to take care of this precious part of the human anatomy.

    If you want to start unlocking the secrets of your own personal owner’s manual, contact your chiropractor and get started on the path to feeling better and improving your health today!

    1Vidal J, et al: Effects of Postural Education on Daily Habits in Children. Int J Sports Med March 4th, 2011 (Epub ahead of print)

    2Eriksson MK, et al: Quality of life and cost-effectiveness of a 3-year trial of lifestyle intervention in primary health care. Arch Intern Med 170(16):1470, 1479, 2010

    3Huffman DM: Exercise as a calorie restriction mimetic: implications for improving healthy aging and longevity. Interdiscip Top Gerontol 37:157-174, 2010

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    Your Health Account

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    Your Health Account

    Everyone wants to grow their bank account. We know our financial health is usually estimated by the level of our resources. The more money in the bank, figuratively speaking, the more secure we feel. If our resources include stocks, bonds, and property, we are even more secure.

    We can use such fiscal accounting as a metaphor for our physical health and well-being. The more resources we can accumulate in our “health account” the healthier we’ll be. And if we’re able to diversify the “holdings” in our health accounts, as we’d like to be doing with our financial accounts, we’ll enjoy more and better long-term health from many points of view.

    Whether we’re paying attention or not, our physical resources fluctuate as regularly as do our financial resources. And as in financial accounting, health accounting involves income and expenses. If income exceeds expenses, you enjoy higher levels of relative health. The converse is also true – when expenses exceed income, health deteriorates.

    What kinds of things can go into our health accounts? We can easily list the most crucial of these – food,1 exercise 2 and rest.3 But we’re not interested in quantity. We’re much more interested in quality. We’re interested in maximizing value. For example, focusing on quantity with respect to food causes a person to become overweight. Focusing on quality – high-quality protein and high-quality complex carbohydrates, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables – causes a person to become leaner and fitter. We don’t want to fill our health accounts with coins made of lead and copper. We want to fill them with coins made of gold.

    As far as rest is concerned, it’s important to get, on average, the rest we need. Most people require 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. There are exceptions, of course. For the average person, getting 6 or less hours of sleep on a long-term basis will deplete their health account. But getting too much sleep also has a negative impact. Again, quality is more important than quantity.

    There are many additional sources of “income” that enrich our health accounts. Loving relationships with our family, fulfilling relationships with our friends, stimulating and challenging activities and interests, learning new skills, and exploring new environments all grow our health accounts and enhance our long-term health and well-being.

    Chiropractic care is another source of “income” for our health accounts. Regular chiropractic care helps a person maximize the value – on a physiological basis – of the food, exercise, and rest she is getting. Chiropractic care helps people get the most out of their health resources, becoming more efficient and effective in terms of physiology, health, and well-being.

    1Greenwald P, Dunn BK: Do we make optimal use of the potential of cancer prevention? Recent Results Cancer Res 181:3-17, 2009
    2Jackson AS, et al: Role of lifestyle and aging on the longitudinal change in cardiorespiratory fitness. Arch Intern Med 169(19):1781-1787, 2009
    3Smaldone A, et al: Sleepless in America: inadequate sleep and relationships to health and well-being of our nation’s children. Pediatrics 119(Suppl 1):S29-S37, 2007

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    Advice For A Healthy New Year

    There is no better time to rejuvenate your health than the start of a new year. So don’t let your resolution to eat more nutritiously fall by the wayside. Just a few simple changes in your diet and lifestyle can have a positive impact on your health— and can also prevent you from experiencing a variety of health problems in the future— according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).

    “In my own practice, I urge my patients to stop smoking, eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly and augment their balanced diet with appropriate nutritional supplements,” explains Dr. Juanee Surprise.

    Dr. Surprise and the ACA offer the following advice to help put your New Year’s resolution into practice:

    Lifestyle Changes

    • Get active! Try to exercise for 20-30 minutes at least 3-4 days a week.
    • Eat out more sparingly. Since food preparation methods in restaurants often involve high amounts— and the wrong types— of fat and sugar, give preference to home-cooked food.
    • Brown-bagging your lunch is also a good idea because you can control your fat and sugar content while adding nutritious fruits, vegetables and grains.
    • Limit your intake of alcohol, and quit smoking. Drinking alcohol excessively and/or smoking can hinder your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from your food.

    According to Dr. Surprise, “Younger people are starting to suffer from heart disease, not only because of our national diet of hamburgers and fries, but because of an epidemic of inactivity.”

    Dietary Changes

    “We need to eliminate the traditional diet of coffee and doughnuts for breakfast; a hamburger for lunch—or no lunch; candy, cookies and soft drink for a snack; followed by a huge dinner with more protein than a person needs, few or no vegetables, and no water or fruit in the course of the day,” explains Dr. Surprise. Keep the following dietary recommendations in mind as well:

    • Eat more raw foods. Cooking and canning destroys much of the nutrition in foods that can be eaten raw. With the exception of canned tomatoes— which can help prevent prostate cancer— fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables always have more natural vitamins and minerals than canned vegetables do.
    • Select organically grown foods when possible. They have lower amounts of toxic elements than foods that are not grown organically.
    • Eat whole foods. Much of the nutrition available to us in fruits and vegetables can be found in its skin, so don’t peel it off and throw it away, unless it has been waxed or dyed.
    • Stay hydrated! Drink eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water a day. (Coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol are diuretics/dehydrators. Don’t substitute them for water.)
    • Consume 25-30 grams of fiber per day. Whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, nuts and some fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber. High-fiber diets can help prevent digestive disorders, heart disease and colon cancer.

    Vegetarian Diets

    For those who are planning on going veggie in the New Year, research shows that a good vegetarian diet as part of a comprehensive health program can help prevent heart disease, cancer and other diseases. However, only consume moderate amounts of fried foods, hydrogenated fats and commercial meat substitutes. It’s possible for a vegetarian to eat even more sugar and fat than a meat-eater by overloading on junk food.

    If you are considering a vegetarian diet, keep the following tips in mind:

    • Don’t rely on fruits and vegetables at the expense of grains and legumes. The repetition of fruits and vegetables can narrow your food choices, thus narrowing the variety of nutrients you consume.
    • Tiredness, malaise, and anemia can be signs of deficiencies. Those who have been on a vegetarian diet for some time should have their B12 and iron levels checked at least once a year.
    • Consume fortified foods or take supplements to obtain the nutrients you no longer get from animal-based products. The biggest problem with vegetarian diets and others is that you no longer consume important nutrients found in animal protein.

    Before eliminating animal products from the diet, it is important to get information about how to do it right. Children, pregnant and breast-feeding women, and people recovering from illness should consult their doctor (e.g. DC, MD, DO).

    Supplements

    According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, dietary supplements are not perfect substitutes for conventional or even fortified foods. Nor can a person sustain good health by just taking vitamin and mineral supplements. But when taken properly, nutritional supplements can play an important role in achieving maximum health. If you are considering nutritional supplements, keep these important tips in mind:

    • Don’t overlook nutrition. Since supplements are just that— an added source of nutrients— it is important to consume dark green vegetables, oils, nuts and seeds, which are sources of magnesium, fatty acids, and many other vitamins and minerals. Supplements are not an excuse to forget about eating right.
    • Since choosing the right nutritional supplements to suit your individual needs can be a complicated endeavor, consult a nutritional practitioner— such as a doctor of chiropractic— to determine what kinds of supplements are best for you.
    • Don’t try to “self-prescribe.” If you have symptoms such as headaches, chronic fatigue or cardiac problems, you need to seek professional advice— not the advice of a supplement store clerk.
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    Choose the Right Shoes

    Look around any crowded city street, and you’ll see plenty of footwear— from stiletto heels to platform shoes— that is more than a little unkind to our feet. It’s no wonder that foot pain is such a common complaint. But it’s not just our feet that are hurting. Improper footwear places strain on the knees, hips and back. According to Karen Achtermann, DC, your feet serve three purposes: support, locomotion and shock absorption. So, support your body by following these guidelines for proper footwear.

    Leave the High-Heels Behind

    Women, listen up: The higher the heel on your shoe, the greater the amount of stress placed on your forefoot. High-heeled shoes can contribute to the collapse of one or more of the foot’s three arches. These shoes also place undue stress on the ankle, which can lead to ankle instability and sprains. Plus, when you wear high-heels your calf muscles shorten, warns Achtermann. Then, if you alternate between high heels and flat shoes, your calf muscles go through a shorten/lengthen cycle that can lead to pelvic imbalances and low back pain.

    Consider Orthotics

    Many chiropractors recommend orthotics. There are two kinds of orthotics: the simple, commercially-made insoles that are available at outdoor sports or shoe stores, and custom orthotics. Custom orthotics are superior since they are tailored to your individual foot and are designed to correct for your particular imbalances. These are created by making an impression of each foot called a cast, and then correcting for specific misalignments. According to Achtermann, custom orthotics help to prevent dysfunction of the lower body and legs, and decrease spinal stress.

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    Surviving the Holidays

    The day after Thanksgiving is a milestone of sorts in America. It reminds us of just how quickly the year has gone by— and how close we are to the holiday season. This realization— coupled with the fabulous sales at major department stores and malls everywhere— helps make the day after Thanksgiving our biggest shopping day of the year. And until we flip the calendar over to a new year, the chaos just doesn’t let up.

    “Our bodies have the capacity to do a little more than we normally do,” says Dr. Scott Bautch, past president of the American Chiropractic Association’s (ACA) Council on Occupational Health. “But our bodies do not adapt very well to doing a lot more than we normally do. Since the added demands of this season can stress the capacity of our bodies, we need to do everything we can to help ourselves. Eat right, drink plenty of water, stretch, exercise and take a few minutes to slow down and reflect on what the season is all about.”

    So relax and enjoy the holidays! Dr. Bautch and the ACA encourage you to consider the following tips to help keep you and your loved ones healthy, happy and safe this season.

    Treat Holiday Shopping As An Athletic Event

    • Stay hydrated! Drink eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water a day. (Coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol are diuretics/dehydrators. Don’t substitute them for water.) On shopping days, you may need to drink even more water.
    • Be sure to stretch before and after a long day of shopping. When you are stressed-out, your muscles are less flexible than usual.
    • Wear shoes with plenty of cushioning in the soles to absorb the impact of walking on those hard shopping mall floors. According to recent studies, 60% of women report wearing shoes that are uncomfortable.
    • Make sure the clothing you wear is as comfortable as possible. It’s a good idea to wear layers, because you may be going from a cold environment (outdoors) to a warm environment (indoors).
    • Leave your purse at home. Wear a light fanny pack, or if necessary, a light backpack instead. Pack only those items that are absolutely essential (driver’s license, credit card, etc.).
    • If you start to feel some pain, nip it in the bud. Apply an ice bag to the affected area for 20 minutes, then take it off for a couple of hours. Repeat a couple of times each day over the next day or two.

    “During the holiday season, we’re running at absolute maximum capacity, which can lead to stress and even depression,” says Dr. Bautch. “Why do so many people become depressed around the holidays? We need to stretch and stay hydrated to increase our capacity, so we are not overwhelmed by the activities of the season.”

    Plan Frequent Breaks Into Your Shopping Day

    • During a day of heavy shopping, most people should take a break every 45 minutes. Those with less stamina may even need to take a break every 20-30 minutes. If you work in a physically demanding job where you are accustomed to being on your feet most of the day, you may be able to get away with taking less frequent breaks.
    • If possible, obtain a locker. Lockers can help cut down dramatically on how much you have to carry around. You can take a load off by scheduling trips to your locker into your breaks.
    • If your mall or shopping center doesn’t offer lockers, try to plan trips to your car. Don’t carry around more than is absolutely necessary at one time.
    • When taking breaks, try to eat light foods. A salad and some fruit is a much better option than a burger and fries.
    • Skip the coffee break! Coffee and sodas contain caffeine and sugar, which add even more stress to your body. Pass on the designer coffee at the java stand and keep drinking water.

    “We actually need to eat better than normal during the holiday season,” explains Dr. Bautch. “On average, people gain five to six pounds during the holidays. And heart attacks occur more often during the holidays as well. Eating a heavy meal and then running out on an exhausting shopping trip can be very dangerous.”

    Shopping With Children

    • If at all possible, DO NOT bring a child or children along on a holiday shopping trip. Most children simply do not have the stamina for such an event, and you and your child will only become frustrated with one another. Don’t add this type of stress to an already stressful situation.
    • Try to split “child duty” up with a spouse or another parent. They’ll watch your kids while you shop, and vice-versa.

    “Shopping with children is just a bad idea,” says Dr. Bautch. “If your hands are loaded with shopping bags, you may not be able to hold your child’s hand, which could increase the chances he or she might wander away from you. Take whatever steps necessary to not have to bring your child along.”

    Wrapping Your Gifts

    • Since there is no “ideal” position for wrapping gifts, the most important thing to remember is to vary your positions. For example, try standing at a table or countertop for one package, sitting on a bed for another, sitting in a comfortable chair for another, etc.
    • Do not wrap packages while sitting on the floor. Wrapping packages while sitting on a hard floor can wreak havoc on your posture, and should be avoided.
    • Always stretch before and after you wrap gifts.

    “When wrapping presents, it’s a good idea to ‘stretch the opposites,'” says Dr. Bautch. “In other words, if you are leaning forward when wrapping your gifts, stretch backward when you are done.”

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