The Triad of Health

Chiropractic philosophy states that, in order for humans to be balanced, there are three aspects of their inner and outer environment that need to be balanced: chemical, physical and mental.   The triad of health (figure on the left) is often used to teach patients to be proactive about their health and to explain how imbalance in one aspect of a person’s life can and will affect the other.  Unfortunately, most patients only want to fix the symptom(s) of their condition like pain, stiffness, fatigue, etc.  As soon as the symptoms are gone, they tend to revert to the old habits that caused their condition in the first place.  This behavior makes what could have been the end of a condition the beginning of a chronic (recurrent) one.   Without understanding that what you eat and how you feel can lead to dynamic and static postural problems that may create aches and pain, our concept of health would be incomplete.  A colleague of mine explains his integrational approach like this:  “foods are broken down into chemicals; chemicals affect your organs; your organ affect your muscles; your muscles affect your bone position.”

That is why chiropractors have to be comprehensive and have extensive intake forms.  We understand that you are connected from head to toe and from inside out. Overlooking this fact borders in malpractice.  We prescribe food allergy tests and blood tests, monitor you frequently in the initial stages of treatment, suggest you start a physical activity (exercise) regimen, ask you to keep a food journal, worry about your weight and body composition,  refer you to psychologists and inquire about family, friends and work when all you visited them for was low back pain.

Some patients’ behavioral patters become their safety blankets.  Consider the fact that most patients refuse to change their diets.  They prefer not to be tested for food sensitivities (chemical aspect of triad);  keep inaccurate food journals; or do cheat on their elimination or rotational diets.   This happens even after we explain that food sensitivities  affect gut health (physiological/structural aspect), that they affect the bacterial flora of the intestines, may cause irritation and the secretion of antibodies from plasma cells.  Flatulence, constipation and/or diarrhea might ensue.  These symptoms can manifest in low back pain (structural).  This embarrasses, worries and depresses  them (mental aspect of the health triad).  With continued assault, their intestinal wall weakens and become permeable allowing allergens get into their body.  They start feeling fatigued; their concentration diminishes.  Their  job performance hinders.  They become irritable (mental component of the triad).  Before they  know it, their personality becomes changes.  Their relationships (mental/emotional aspects) get affected.  Yet if they had to give up their favorite foods to have a stronger emotional life, they might opt to do nothing about it.

People are a product of your environment.  Even before we have developed a strong immune system, we become exposed to detrimental agents like foods (full of additives, hormones, and flavorings) pushed by agricultural lobbyists in Washington.  Even before we learn to walk we are exposed and copy incorrect postures  from our parents and television heroes.  As we are forming our sense of self-worth and discovering what our real nutritional and emotional needs are,  the media bombards us with behavioral images claiming to fulfill our deepest human needs.  We hardly take time off to find out who we really are, what makes us happy, and why we do things that give us temporary pleasure, but leave us empty in the long run.

The good news is that human beings are very resilient.  We are well equipped to handle most situations life throws at us if we are in a state of homeostasis (balance).  The goal of any good chiropractic plan is maintaining this state of balance.  Chiropractors cannot guarantee that patients will never get ill or injured again in their life.  What we can do is to empower them so that they recognize, avoid and fight against any stimuli that can harm their internal and  external environment.

The triad of health is simple.  Life is simple.  Leading a healthy life is just as simple: include physical activity meets your fitness level to strengthen your muscles and blood circulation; focus on correct nutrition based on a wholesome foods while avoiding your unique sensitivities and the overuse of “popular” supplements and fad diets;  add intellectual stimulation to maintain mental acuity into our old age; enrich your life with meditational activities to fight stress;   and, finally,  maintain healthy and loving relationships with friends and family who support you in living a healthier life.   And all of these suggestions come from putting the Triad of Health in action.

Ladies and gentlemen, yes, chiropractors are crazy.  We are crazy about making you the healthiest you can be.

Posted in Chiropractic, Prevention and Treatment | Tagged

What Your Shoulders Are Telling You

ImageShoulder pain is very common among people with desk jobs or drivers who fight traffic frequently during the week. There are many reasons why your shoulders hurt.  Most of the time, however, your shoulders are telling you: “keep me  BACK and DOWN, the way nature intended!”.

You need to take action when your shoulders tell you they are not happy.  You don’t ever want your shoulders to scream.   When they do, your shoulder movement is affected.  Arthritis, severe trigger points and muscle spasms may be on their way to affecting every aspect of your life —from driving and typing to bathing and sleeping.

Many drivers recline their seats too much.  They  have to protract their shoulders to reach the steering wheel. Shoulder pain only reminds them to sit a bit closer to the steering wheel.  People who spend most of their time working on the computer, often ignore their shoulders plight to fix their ergonomics.  Are the  arms of your desk chairs so high that,  to accommodate your elbows, you have to shrug your shoulders even if just a little?  Is your computer screen far and/ or off-center so that you have tilt or turn your head to be able to see what’s displayed on the screen? Do you always wear your eyeglasses? Do you tilt your head while on the phone?  If you answer “yes” to any of these questions,  your annoying shoulder pain is telling you: “Dude, use an earpiece, wear your glasses, position your body correctly cause if you don’t, I’ll make your life hell.”

Also, less frequently, shoulder pain may reflect an internal organ problem, especially when it is unilateral pain or when it occurs at specific times during the day. So pay attention to any recurrent patterns of pain. If there is a pattern to your pain, pay a visit to your doctor.

Finally, lack of oxygenation through faulty breathing, will tense up your shoulder muscles.  Correcting your breathing pattern is imperative to keep your shoulders happy.  Find out  how to correct your breathing patterns on my blog entry  dated May 2, 2011 at nuchiro.wordpress.com : “Staying Healthy with Good Breathing Technique”.

You may also want stretch your shoulders frequently at work or at home.  Set up an hourly alarm or beep on your watch to remind you to stretch your shoulders.  They will love you for it.

Massaging the area helps relax the muscles from the stresses of the day.  It increases blood flow to shoulder muscles and removes metabolic waste.  Enroll in a massage class for couples or schedule a bimonthly massage.  At worst, get a thumper massager.  Look it up on the internet.  It will make a great Christmas gift for yourself.

Finally, chiropractic work helps keep the muscle attachments to bones mobile, thus securing correct biomechanical movement of the shoulder joint. Your trapezius, rhomboid, levator scapula, and scalene muscles have attachment to your spine.  They are innervated from your spine.  Chiropractic can do wonders against your shoulder pain.  Chiropractors use all of the above techniques and then some.

Happy Shoulders make your life more enjoyable.  Listen to what they say!

Posted in Chiropractic, Prevention and Treatment | Tagged ,

Bisphenol-A: A silent killer?

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a hormone-like chemical that has been associated with endocrine dysfunction and certain cancers.  Since it acts like a hormone, it can disrupt the normal hormonal cascade that happens through our everyday metabolic activities.   Evidence from numerous studies show that BPA is either accumulated in our bodies or our bodies are constantly exposed to this chemical through our food supply.  Many countries have already banned this compound, but the US is lagging behind.

So where can we find BPA?  In plastic and the lining of cans containing food products.  Look at the recycling identifier in plastic food containers and make sure you stay away from plastic identified by the numbers 3 and 7.  Only two canned food companies have admitted that they do not use cans containing BPA (see web pages below to find out).  Trader Joe’s lists the canned food articles in BPA-free cans, but not all their cans are free of this chemical.  Many countries have banned the use of BPA altogether due to health concerns.

What are the consequences of consuming BPA?   BPA has been linked in animal studies, human studies and medical literature reviews to the following conditions:

  • Obesity
  • Neurological Issues: dysfunction in memory, attention deficits, hyperactivity, and sensitivity to drug abuse.
  • Disruption of thyroid hormone secretion
  • Breast and  prostate cancer and neuroblastoma
  • Reproductive system conditions and sexual behavior dysfunction

It might prove someday soon that BPA in food containers is to our modern society what lead was to ceramic containers of early civilizations. If you are interested in finding out more about BPA and how to avoid it in your diet go to the following links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A , http://www.naturalnews.com/025128.html , http://organicgrace.com/node/316 , http://gsource.blogspot.com/2011/03/phthalates-and-bisphenol.html

Posted in dangerous substances, Nutrition for Health | Tagged

A Budget Massage for Your Feet

It’s the end of your day and your feet hurt so much that you wish you could throw them away.  Unfortunately, humans cannot grow new appendages. However,  changing our behavior is within the realm of solutions for your foot pain* problem.

Twenty-six small bones in each foot make up the articulations of your feet which are held together by strong ligaments and supported by muscles intrinsic to your feet.  The tendons of some of the muscles that originate in your lower leg cross the bottom of your feet reinforcing your feet architecture with the help of the plantar fascia.  All of these are potential sites for excruciating pain if you don’t take care of  your feet on a regular basis.

Your feet are extremely important for the overall functioning of your body.  They are the first structures that absorb  shock from the ground when we walk, thus taking away some stress away from the spine.  They provide information to the brain so that it adapts our posture and movements to straighten our heads so that our eyes are level with the ground to avoid tripping or falling.

When we walk on shoes, we diminish the proprioceptive capacity of our feet.  High heels shorten women’s calf muscles and cram their toes. When some people stand, they put their body weight on one leg creating imbalances on their pelvic/hip joints which will directly affect the health of their feet.

As soon as your feet start hurting, your body movement changes.  Your arm swing increases or decreases to lighten the load on the foot that hurts.  Your body may waddle.  You favor the foot that hurts by standing on the opposite foot.  Before you know it, you will develop a compensatory posture and gait that will cause injuries to joints far away from your feet like your shoulders or even your neck.  The compensatory changes will remain even after your injury.

The solution?  Correct your body mechanics. Buy comfortable shoes that are as flat as possible.  Don’t wear heels! Balance your body weight between both legs.  And finally, pamper your feet.

So, to relief pain and increase circulation in your feet after a long day standing, walking or even sitting,  try  a massage.  But wait?  Did I say a foot massage?! Even if your significant other sucks at massaging, even if  you don’t have massage figured into your monthly budget (which you should by the way}, you can still get a good massage.  No more excuses! You can recruit the help of a tennis ball or a golf ball.  Tennis balls are better to start with, but you will quickly feel that you will need to  progress to golf balls.

Sit comfortably, but make sure your feet can reach the floor.  Place the ball under the arch of your foot.  You can move the ball from the ball of your foot to your heel in straight lines going from the inside to the outside of your foot. Pay attention to the arch of your foot especially  its inside edge.   Reflexologists believe the spine is represented in that area.  Stop and apply pressure on the tender areas for a few seconds, roll the ball through the foot for a while,  and then return to the tender areas.  Make a cycle.  Do this for 5 minutes on each foot to start.  Drink water afterwards.

Best of all is that you can massage your feet while watching TV,or working in front of the computer.  For those workaholics out there,  this will not take time away from your daily routine since you can multitask already.   Now , go pamper your feet without ruining your pocket.  You will feel like you are walking in the clouds after your magic ball massage.

*Persistent foot pain may indicate a serious problem.  Visit your Podiatrist or Chiropractor to diagnose the problem. Blood work or diagnostic imaging might be needed to rule out serious conditions.  Rehabilitation exercises and orthotics might be needed for correction.  

Posted in Chiropractic, Prevention and Treatment | Tagged , , , ,

What Your Shoulders Are Telling You

ImageShoulder pain is very common among people with desk jobs or drivers who fight traffic frequently during the week. There are many reasons why your shoulders hurt.  Most of the time, however, your shoulders are telling you: “keep me  BACK and DOWN, the way nature intended!”.

You need to take action when your shoulders tell you they are not happy.  You don’t ever want your shoulders to scream.   When they do, your shoulder movement is affected.  Arthritis, severe trigger points and muscle spasms may be on their way to affecting every aspect of your life —from driving and typing to bathing and sleeping.

Many drivers recline their seats too much.  They  have to protract their shoulders to reach the steering wheel. Shoulder pain only reminds them to sit a bit closer to the steering wheel.  People who spend most of their time working on the computer, often ignore their shoulders plight to fix their ergonomics.  Are the  arms of your desk chairs so high that,  to accommodate your elbows, you have to shrug your shoulders even if just a little?  Is your computer screen far and/ or off-center so that you have tilt or turn your head to be able to see what’s displayed on the screen? Do you always wear your eyeglasses? Do you tilt your head while on the phone?  If you answer “yes” to any of these questions,  your annoying shoulder pain is telling you: “Dude, use an earpiece, wear your glasses, position your body correctly cause if you don’t, I’ll make your life hell.”

Also, less frequently, shoulder pain may reflect an internal organ problem, especially when it is unilateral pain or when it occurs at specific times during the day. So pay attention to any recurrent patterns of pain. If there is a pattern to your pain, pay a visit to your doctor.

Finally, lack of oxygenation through faulty breathing, will tense up your shoulder muscles.  Correcting your breathing pattern is imperative to keep your shoulders happy.  Find out  how to correct your breathing patterns on my blog entry  dated May 2, 2011 at nuchiro.wordpress.com : “Staying Healthy with Good Breathing Technique”.

You may also want stretch your shoulders frequently at work or at home.  Set up an hourly alarm or beep on your watch to remind you to stretch your shoulders.  They will love you for it.

Massaging the area helps relax the muscles from the stresses of the day.  It increases blood flow to shoulder muscles and removes metabolic waste.  Enroll in a massage class for couples or schedule a bimonthly massage.  At worst, get a thumper massager.  Look it up on the internet.  It will make a great Christmas gift for yourself.

Finally, chiropractic work helps keep the muscle attachments to bones mobile, thus securing correct biomechanical movement of the shoulder joint. Your trapezius, rhomboid, levator scapula, and scalene muscles have attachment to your spine.  They are innervated from your spine.  Chiropractic can do wonders against your shoulder pain.  Chiropractors use all of the above techniques and then some.

Happy Shoulders make your life more enjoyable.  Listen to what they say!

Posted in Chiropractic, Prevention and Treatment | Tagged , , ,

Be happy, Be healthy

One of the foundations of happiness is health.  I am not talking about media- defined health: the one that pushes you to have 0% body fat so that you can flaunt an impressive body devoid of personality.  I am talking about true health: the one that gives us enough stamina and keeps us agile enough to keep up with our loved ones after long hours of work; the one that maintains our brains alert enough to undertake any intellectual challenges that life can swing our way; the one that minimizes disease and foster enjoyment of the small things in life.  Ok, looking good is a nice side-effect.  I accept it.  But once your blood test markers  and your body composition ratios are within normal range.  YOU, not the media, decide how you should look.

We cannot be happy without proper nutrition and exercise.   Many people become best friends with TV and Cable characters, sometimes from a very young age.  Many decide to become friends with pastries, fritters, ice cream, fast food restaurants and take out.  The satisfaction these things bring into our lives is ephemeral; they only hide our true needs.  They mask the real issues we need to face and resolve with a little bit of pleasure.  Our ever hectic society takes care of making us forget how it really feels happy and healthy.  In the absence of illness, the status quo becomes our definition of happiness until we realize how much agility-killing fat we’ve been accumulating every year or realize that we  always feel  sleepy or  that our concentration and memory are nowhere to be found.

Everyone has challenges, but we are all human.  Humans are creative.  If you have the will to be healthy nothing can or will stop you.  You get motivated to go to work every morning somehow.  How can we let having the money to pay bills, dress fashionably, travel all over the world motivate us to go to work and don’t allow the liberating sensations of strong stamina, intellectual acuity, and a well-balanced body motivate you to overcome any obstacles that keep you from exercising and eating correctly so that you  achieve a vibrant state of health?

What are you going to do to warm up to 2o12?  Have you worked on any of the suggestions on my last post?  And no, you are not allowed to make the holidays your excuse for not starting to work on your New You today.  Remember true health is the road to happiness.  The clock is ticking… what are you waiting for?

Posted in Attitude, Chiropractic | Tagged , ,

Warm Up to 2012

The New Year gives us a chance to start new projects.  Make your new project discovering a healthier lifestyle by experimenting with dietary changes and improved physical activity in such a way that they become habits for the rest of your life.  Most people consider themselves healthy if they don’t ache and are able to perform their daily activities.  They are wrong.  We may not even notice great amounts of dysfunction in your body, sometimes over 30%.  So let’s  stop disease dead in its tracts.  Let’s get fitter!

Most of us choose to ignore health experts’ advice because we think that, in comparison, our diets, our weight and our activity level are more acceptable than those of most Americans.  Most Americans have a crappy lifestyle with regards to health habits to begin with.  What are you doing comparing yourself with people you know?   Most people choose their friends on the basis that they have the same behaviors.   What are you basically stating when you compare your dietary and physical activity habits to those of the average American to feel better?  This is what you are saying:  “My lifestyle is simply less crappy than theirs.”  You are not even saying that your habits are good.  So stop comparing yourself to others and compare yourself with a better you!

Contrary to popular belief, most fit people are not blessed with perfect genes. What are perfect genes to begin with?  Sometimes their “faulty” genes have been their motivators.  They work  hard to be healthy, but they don’t attach emotions to their hard work.  Many have to drag themselves to the gym and get briefly disappointed by having to turn down some enticing foods, yet they feel fulfilled by overcoming their personal obstacles.    They focus on how they feel instead of what they give up to feel great! They enjoy the fruit of their sacrifices like better concentration, increased stamina, healthier blood profiles and,  let’s face it, a more attractive physique.

Their multitasking skills don’t remain at work when they leave.  They organize their lives so that they have time to prepare their  meals, exercise regularly, and enjoy time with friends and family. Healthy behaviors are not just habits for them.  They are automatic.  They are a priority.  Why?  Because they allow them to live their life to its fullest.

All of this discourse just to tell you that, it takes about a month to make new habits stick.  In 7 more weeks it will be the beginning of a new year.    Start experimenting with changing your current behaviors. So that you can make realistic goals for the new year and stick with them.  Try following suggestions:

  • Eliminate unhealthy foods gradually, but consistently in the coming weeks.  Say goodbye to fritters, doughnuts, pastries, alcohol cocktails and so on…
  • Add a variety of vegetables to your diet.  Make it simple.  Get them pre-cut. Beware of dressings, though.
  • Experiment with new seasonings to make it easier to quit on sugary and salty foods.  Try new recipes.
  • Find what your food sensitivities are and eliminate them from your diet.
  • Visit different gyms close to work or home.  See which one fits you best.
  • Try out different types of group exercise classes.  Try Yoga  if you are not particularly overweight and would like to tone up and balance your musculature; or Boot Camp for those of us who are rhythm challenged and want to burn fat while increasing your body weight; or Zumba, for people who love dancing and might want to focus on cardiovascular fitness. Or try all three and many others!  Participate in  whatever your gym or studio offers.
  • Buy a couple of personal training sessions as your Christmas gift to yourself so that you learn a simple weight routine with correct form.
  • Always consult with a professional before trying something new.  Get medical clearance as well.
  • Finally, read my blog posts.  There’s a lot of great information on basic exercises and nutrition.  More articles will be coming up soon.

Above all, don’t allow the holiday season to keep you from starting right NOW.  Part of living healthy is planning for those guilty pleasures (as long as you are not allergic to them!)  Let the next few weeks be your Warm Up to 2012.  Give yourself a new powerful YOU starting today.   A Healthier You may be the best Christmas present you will ever receive.

Posted in Attitude | Tagged , , ,