Get a Great Workout Without Lifting a Finger

Who says it takes all kinds of effort to stay in shape? Sometimes the best exercises are so simple they don’t even require you to lift a finger. Actually, we’re talking about great lower-body exercises that tone, tighten and keep your hips, glutes, hamstrings and calves looking great using only your body weight (no fingers / hands required) as resistance. Here are a few fundamental ones that should definitely be a part of your workout routine:

Squats: The squat is one of the most basic exercises, but it’s also one of the best for your lower body.Stand with your back straight and your feet approximately shoulder-width apart, toes turned in slightly. With hands on hips, slowly bend at the knees and lower your body toward the floor, contracting your buttocks as you do so. Do anywhere from 10-20 repetitions and repeat for 2-3 sets. Make sure you do not overflex the knees (go too low) and ensure your back stays straight (not rounded) throughout.

Lunges: Standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands at your sides, step forward on one leg, bending at the knee to approximately a 90 degree angle (lower leg should be perpendicular to upper leg). Return to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 sets. You can either do all repetitions on one leg and then switch sides, or alternate one repetition per side / leg.

Jumps: Plyometric exercises involve quick bursts of explosive power. Jumps are one example of a plyometric exercise, and you might expect, they’re easy to do. With feet shoulder-width apart, hands at sides, back straight, lower into a squat position and then power up immediately, using arm swing to help maintain balance and increase the height of your jump. Jumps can be performed from ground to air or from the ground to a stable surface, such as a metal box or wall. Build to 10-20 repetitions, 2-3 sets.

These are just three of the many exercises you can perform to get your lower body in great shape using only your body weight. Your doctor of chiropractic can suggest a complete exercise routine suitable to your fitness goals and health needs.

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Are You Stretching the Wrong Way? Try the Right Way

How would you like to increase coordination, reduce muscle tension, increase range of motion, prevent future injury, improve posture, develop body awareness, and enhance proper movement patterns? The good news is you can, by incorporating active isolated stretching (AIS) techniques and principles into your exercise / wellness routine.

Ninety percent of people who stretch usually do so ineffectively, performing the same old-style stretching exercises that most athletes, coaches, therapists and fitness magazines have recommended for years. These programs often consist of holding the same boring positions to stretch the groin, hamstrings, hip flexors and low back at the same intensity and for the same duration, without regard for the uniqueness of each individual. People are likely to be worse off than they would have been if they hadn’t stretched at all!

Why? When stretched for too long, muscles will inherently tighten up as a self-protective mechanism. They are protecting themselves from potential tearing and injury. Unless you learn how to bypass this protective mechanism, your body will never allow an increase in flexibility to occur.

girl stretching - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkAIS is based on the principle of reciprocal inhibition, which states that when you contract one muscle, an opposing muscle will relax. When this occurs we have an opportunity for a more effective stretch of the relaxed muscle. Hold each stretch for a maximum of 2 seconds to prevent the “stretch reflex” from occurring. This reflex occurs when a muscle is stretched for too long and too hard, and the nervous system actually tightens up that muscle in anticipation of an injury. The muscle becomes tighter as a rebound effect. Instead of gaining flexibility, you actually lose it.

AIS works muscles, joints, ligaments and soft tissue. There is no need for a partner, thus making it easy to actively stretch difficult-to-reach muscles. Just a few sessions of AIS can equal weeks of old-school stretch-and-hold programs. The basic protocol for AIS consists of the following:

  • 10 repetitions per stretch
  • Hold each stretch for 1-2 seconds
  • Assist at end range into movement with approximately 2 pounds of additional pressure
  • Exhale into each movement

AIS takes just 5 minutes at a stretch (no pun intended) and can make you feel incredible. It takes a little practice, but the more you stick with it, the better you will get. You will become empowered to take back control of your life from pain. Your doctor of chiropractic can tell you more about active isolated stretching and recommend a comprehensive stretching and exercise program suitable to your health needs.

By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

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If You’re Not Walking, You’re Dying

The simple art of walking: so relaxing, so stress-relieving … so life sustaining? Yes, walking regularly may prolong your life, and it doesn’t take much, according to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that evaluated walking habits among older adults (average age: 69-71 years).

Data on walking habits gathered from nearly 140,000 participants of the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort found that walking for two hours or less per week (lower than recommended activity levels, but more than none) lowered mortality (death) from any cause compared to no activity during the 13-year study period. Walking 2.5 to five hours per week (1-2 times the recommended levels) reduced all-cause mortality by 20 percent. Risk reductions through walking were also seen for cardiovascular disease and cancer-related mortality.

So get out there and walk a little – your (long) life may depend on it! In the morning before breakfast, on a break at work, after dinner and more, find time to walk and reap the multiple health benefits.

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The Health Benefits of Mindful Eating

On-the-go eating is almost inevitable these days; we’re all guilty of it. If you’ve munched on protein bars in the car or eaten your dinner in front of the TV, you’ve likely participated in distracted eating before. Rushed eating habits are unfortunately a common side effect of our fast-paced society. Snack foods and fast-food drive-throughs are making it easier for us to eat on the go, but we’ve forgotten the importance of sitting down for meals to truly enjoy our food.

Rushed or distracted eating is actually harmful for the body, often causing us to overeat or feel hungrier throughout the day, eventually leading to weight gain. Below are five tips for mindful eating to help slow down your food intake and make room for more conscious eating habits.

Sit, Don’t Stand, for Meals

Designating time for relaxation and meal enjoyment is key to managing portions and avoiding overeating. By setting aside time for three square meals a day and avoiding multitasking while eating, you not only have time to enjoy the food you eat, but you also consume less. Sit down for at least 20 minutes and devote time solely to eating without distractions.

Put Away the Distractions

Speaking of distractions, eating in front of the TV, taking your lunch break while catching up on emails or eating while driving are all mindless food habits that lead to overeating. When we are distracted, we often don’t realize how much food we actually take in. By putting our focus on work or television, you take the attention and intention out of the food in front of you.

Studies suggest distracted eating leads to consuming more food later on in the day, increasing your caloric intake. When focus has shifted away from your dinner plate, your body “forgets” it has eaten, increasing the risk that you’ll snack between meals.

Make Your Car a No-Food Zone

If you’re prone to snacking in your car on the way to work, the gym or other destinations, cut out the temptation by making your car a no-food zone. Limit yourself to water or other beverages, as eating in the car can lead to excessive snacking. When your concentration is on the road, it’s hard to keep track of how much food you consume. Noshing on chips or pretzels straight from the bag after a grocery run, or stopping for a snack at the drive-through, adds excess calories and leaves you feeling hungry sooner.

Slow It Down

When you eat slowly, you digest food more effectively and also maintain a feeling of satisfaction regarding what you eat. It takes the brain about 20 minutes from the start of a meal to send a signal to your body that it is full. Eating in a rushed manner, therefore, causes you to overeat food and get that uncomfortable “stuffed” feeling. By pacing yourself during meals, you end up paying attention to what you eat and feel full without the bloated feeling you get when you eat too much.

Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating means practicing awareness when it comes to what’s on your plate, including paying attention to the colors, smell and taste of the food you eat. If you’re new to mindful eating, start off by consciously practicing it once or twice a week, increasing gradually until all meals are consumed this way.

Take small bites and fully chew your food, savoring the flavors and textures of your meal. If slowing down is still an issue, eat with your non-dominant hand or even use chopsticks. Changing up the utensils you eat with can force you to slow down your food intake.

Set a timer and monitor how long it takes you to finish a meal – if you’re clearing your plate in less than 20 minutes, slow it down. You may discover doing this actually helps your body consume less, but actually feel more full.

By Julie T. Chen, MD

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Time for Chiropractic

It’s a great time to visit your chiropractor, and a recent Gallup survey makes it clear: pain is a major issue for many people, and overwhelmingly, they would rather try nondrug pain-relief therapies such as chiropractic care versus pain-relieving medications. Well, they’re in luck, because chiropractic offers the answer.

According to the 2017 Gallup-Palmer College of Chiropractic Annual Study of Americans, pain is an ongoing issue for many Americans, particularly neck and back pain (two conditions commonly treated by chiropractors): “About one in four adults in the U.S. (27%) have seen a healthcare professional for significant neck or back pain in the last 12 months. More than half of those adults (54%) have had an ongoing problem with neck or back pain for five years or more.”

But medication is not the preferred option, particularly in light of the opioid epidemic: Nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) of Americans “prefer to try other ways to address their physical pain before they take pain medication prescribed by a doctor.” And yet pain medications are still widely used: “Among those who have had ongoing neck or back pain for less than 12 months, seven in 10 have taken a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as Advil®, aspirin or Aleve®, to manage the pain, and 45% have taken acetaminophen, such as Tylenol.®”

time for chiropractic - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkSo, let’s sum up: Americans are in pain, don’t want to take prescription pain medication, but often take over-the-counter pain medication. Sounds like it’s time for chiropractic instead, especially in light of the fact that according to the survey, Americans perceive chiropractic as safer than both prescription and OTC medication and back surgery for neck / back pain.

Don’t risk the potential side effects of pain medication – drugs that only temporarily relieve the symptom (pain) – when your chiropractor can relieve your pain without drugs while addressing the root cause of your problem. It’s time for chiropractic.

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Eat to Sleep: Supplement Guide

Every night, millions of people have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. Traditionally, this is caused by stress, anxiety, caffeine, a lack of physical activity or overstimulation before bed, as well as by nighttime discomfort or pain. But there is another common cause few doctors consider – a poor diet.

If you are eating a poor diet, you may experience blood sugar swings, hunger pangs, cravings or other disturbances that affect your ability to sleep soundly. You may use prescription drugs to get to sleep, only to become dependent on them and frustrated by their side effects (and their cost!).

The Prescription Problem

Prescription sleeping aids not only fail to address the underlying reasons for sleeplessness, but are often addictive and can have side effects ranging from diarrhea to daytime drowsiness.

I’ve broken down the average pricing on some commonly prescribed sleep aids to give you an idea of the monthly and annual costs for the drugs you or someone you know could be paying for (these represent the average costs for seven days):1

  • Lunesta (1 mg tablet): $56, which adds up to $2,912 per year
  • Sonata (10 mg capsule): $38, which adds up to $1,976 per year
  • Ambien (5 mg tablet): $54, which adds up to $2,808 per year

Beyond diarrhea and drowsiness, you may commonly experience headaches, dizziness and nausea. In more extreme cases, you may develop behavioral changes, difficulty swallowing or breathing, heartbeat irregularities, memory problems, or even hallucinations! You may seek further treatment for these symptoms, adding to your prescription list, worsening your health and draining your wallets.

Insomnia - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkAn inability to sleep will affect your ability to work and function in the world, and can dramatically impact your health. Sleeplessness can leave you feeling groggy, irritable, unable to focus, and less able to deal with stress. Even minimal amounts of sleep loss will take a toll on mood, energy, and efficiency. Over time, these effects can cause you to gain weight, get sick more easily and become susceptible to a wide variety of chronic illnesses.

What’s Missing: Education

The problem is our society accepts subpar eating habits as “normal.” With fast-food restaurants on every corner and junk food in every convenience store, you may not even realize that the way you are eating is unhealthy. It’s important to understand that the foods you eat have a direct effect on every aspect of your health, including your ability to sleep. It’s critical to understand that by giving the body 100 percent nutrition, you pave the way for the body to readjust its biological clock and remove the impediments that currently interfere with sleep.

A Nutrition / Supplement Plan to Help Regulate Sleep

When used in conjunction with a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, supplements can help to fill in the gaps and ensure you are getting 100 percent nutrition. If you’re suffering from insomnia, I recommend you talk to your doctor about adding the following nutrients to your daily regimen:

Calcium: Low levels of calcium in the body are known to contribute to frequent awakenings in the night. This mineral has a natural calming effect on the nervous system and works by helping the body convert tryptophan (an essential amino acid) into serotonin. Serotonin can be converted into melatonin, a key hormone that helps to regulate the sleep cycle.2

Magnesium helps the body properly absorb and utilize calcium, helping to calm the nervous system and relax muscles. A magnesium deficiency can cause leg cramps and spasms, which inhibits restful slumber.3

Vitamin B12 aids in the metabolism of calcium and magnesium, working with them to ensure that tryptophan is converted into serotonin (and then, into melatonin). This makes B12 essential for a healthy sleep cycle.4

Vitamin D: Most Americans suffer from low levels of vitamin D, even though this vitamin is essential in supporting the body’s usage of calcium and magnesium. It also helps in modulating the body’s biological 24-hour clock as it relates to the sleep/wake cycle.5

Melatonin is a powerful hormone that helps to regulate the body’s sleep and wake cycles. Supplementing with melatonin can help to reset your biological clock and convince the body to fall asleep at the proper time.6

Herbs can also provide natural relief from insomnia. I typically recommend a combination of valerian root, chamomile and hops flower. Together, these herbs promote restfulness and make it easier to fall asleep.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you’re struggling to get the sleep you need, get help! By providing a combination of nutritional counseling and supplementation, your doctor can help correct the underlying deficiencies that cause you to develop insomnia in the first place.

By Todd Singleton, DC

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Stay Mobile With a Little Exercise

Mobility can take a major hit as we age, which can reduce quality of life substantially and make aging, well, not nearly as graceful as it should be. No one wants to be hobbling, wobbling, walking with a cane, struggling to pick up something from the floor, or even wheelchair-bound when they should be enjoying their Golden Years.

Researchers studied more than 1,500 elderly men and women (ages 70-89) enrolled in The Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) Study. At the start of the study, published in PLoS ONE, (a Library of Science open-access journal), all participants were generally inactive, reporting less than 20 minutes of physical activity per week. For the study, the researchers divided participants into a group that walked and did walking-based strength, flexibility and balance training; and a group that received bimonthly health education workshops only.

After an average of 2.6 years in the study, participants who exercised were 28 percent less likely to suffer any persistent mobility disability and 18 percent less likely to suffer a major mobility disability compared to participants who did not exercise. When they subdivided the exercise group based on weekly activity levels for further analysis, the researchers determined that participants who exercised the most were a whopping 77 percent less likely suffer a major mobility disability compared to participants who exercised the least. However, even a little exercise was better than none. Overall, participating in at least 48 minutes of physical activity each week lowered disability risk, and the risk reduction only got better with more exercise.

It’s a simple moral, but one worth emphasizing: Exercise matters! No matter your age, talk to your doctor about what consistent physical activity can do for you and the best exercises to meet your health and fitness goals.

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Why Are Your Feet So Important?

Have you ever thought about the important role your feet play in your daily life? I’m serious. On face value, your feet touch the ground whenever you’re standing, walking or running, and they are extensions of the legs, which help move you. But your feet are much more than that. After all, they are the foundation of your body, which means keeping your feet healthy can help keep you healthy.

It Starts With Your Feet: The Gait Cycle

When we walk or run, our body goes through a complex set of steps that makes movement seem smooth and easy. It’s actually a complex cycle called the “gait” or walking cycle. (Keep in mind that a cycle starts in one place and eventually ends at that same point.) To understand the gait cycle, start with your right heel on the ground in front of you with the rest or your foot in the air. When your heel first hits the ground, it is called “heel strike.” Next, your foot starts to flatten on the ground as it takes on more weight. We call this “mid-stance.” Then the ball of your foot and the toes finally touch down on the ground, just as the heel begins to lift. As the momentum of your body continues to carry you forward, your toes come off the ground and the whole foot/leg gets ready to swing forward.

So, when you walk, one leg is always swinging forward, while the other is bearing the weight of the body. Obviously, the slower you move (e.g., walking), the more likely both feet will be supporting your body weight. The faster you move (e.g., running), the more likely one foot will be supporting body weight at any given time.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkA smooth walking or gait cycle means that the forces from the ground should be absorbed by your heels and feet each time you take a step. Energy from the ground and healthy movement is transferred through the feet up into ankles, knees, hips and into the spine, all the way up to the head. Your feet also help you adapt to different terrain like grass, dirt, concrete, etc. It is truly a symphony of movement when we walk.

Relevant Foot Anatomy: The Three Arches

Foot anatomy plays an important role in foot function. For example, do you know how many arches each foot has? If you answered one, you answered like 95 percent of people do – incorrectly. Each foot actually has three arches: one on the inside of the foot, one on the outside and one across the ball of the foot. These arches are all important and must all be functioning properly to facilitate healthy movement and weight-bearing.

Common Foot Conditions

When our feet do not have the arch support we now know to be so important, our bodies can start having problems. These problems can start innocently enough, but the consequences can be severe. Here are a few of the common problems that can affect your feet:

    • Excessive Supination: If your arches are too high or over-supported, we call this “excessive supination.” People who excessively supinate have trouble wearing certain shoes that are too tight because they create pressure on the top of the foot and the ball of the foot. Excessive supination occurs in about 3 percent of the world’s population.


  • Excessive Pronation: A more common occurrence is something called “excessive pronation,” which means the arches actually fall toward the floor or flatten out. If you look at most people’s feet, you will see this happening. Let’s think about the concept of an overly-pronated foot for a second. Stand up and make your feet fall or collapse inward by rolling your feet toward one another. Do you feel the stress on your body? Keep your feet collapsed and close your eyes. Feel the strain on the inside of your ankles, the inside of your knees, the outside of your hips and possibly into your lower back? The stress moves up through your spine to the shoulders, the neck and the head. There are many painful conditions related to your arches collapsing and your feet excessively pronating, including bunions, corns, callouses and toes that stick up or off to the side.
  • Other conditions: More serious conditions attributable to foot dysfunction include plantar fascitis (inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the heel), Achilles tendinitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon), Morton’s neuroma (thickening of nerve tissue between the third and fourth toes, causing sharp pain on the ball of the foot), anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, arthritis, and hip and lower back pain. These conditions usually create even more pain than excessive supination/pronation and can seriously affect someone’s health and quality of life. They are often the reasons why people consult doctors for help.

Factors That Affect Your Feet (for Better or Worse)

Genetics: You cannot outrun your genes. Flat feet or excessively pronating feet run in families. Parents pass it on to their children. If one parent has flat or collapsed arches, their children will have it also to some degree. If both parents have overpronated feet, their kids will absolutely have flat feet as well. I check children for this around age 7.

Surfaces: Concrete and stone are the worst surfaces for the feet. Generally, the harder the surface, the more stress on the arches and the faster they will collapse. Dirt, rubber tracks, carpeting and grass are all softer surfaces that offer some cushion to the feet and help to reduce strain and shock.

Shoe types: If you look inside almost every shoe, sandal, flip-flop, boot, etc., you will notice that there may be some inner arch support. Hardly any shoe has outer arch support or support for the arch under the ball of the foot. For this reason, looking for “good” shoes is often a myth.

I suggest that you bring your shoes into your chiropractor’s office so they can look at them for you. It is too difficult to list the “good shoes” for you because the best brand or type for you varies based on your feet and your lifestyle.

Orthotics and arch supports: Unfortunately, since most shoes do not have proper arch support, it comes down to one of my favorite sayings, “It doesn’t matter what shoes you buy, it matters what you put inside them.”I have spent much of my practice explaining to patients what you have read so far in this article. So many of them have had no idea that their pain could be related to their feet. My primary way of helping them besides adjusting their feet is offering them custom-made, flexible orthotics that support all three arches of the feet.

Arch supports help to stabilize and support the feet so that they can have healthy movement patterns. This can reduce pain not only in the feet, but in other areas of the body as well.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkPut Your Best Foot Forward

Good foot and arch health doesn’t just happen; one person might be more inclined to develop foot problems than another, but the fact is, with the amount of time we spend on our feet and their role in our lives, it’s really just a matter of time. My message is simple:  I cannot tell you how bad your feet will get in the future if you don’t bother helping yourself now, but if you’re already in pain and decide not to do anything about it, I guarantee things will only get worse with time. This is not to scare you, but to emphasize how important your feet are and teach you to look at your feet in a different way than you may have before.

I’ll leave you with this: Ladies, do you know or remember what your mother’s or grandmother’s feet look(ed) like? I’ll bet you do. Probably not a pretty picture. Your feet will look like theirs (and feel like theirs) if you don’t do anything to take care of them. Gentlemen, we tend to not care as much, but get a look (if you can) at your father’s or grandfather’s feet, too, because we will suffer their fate as well without intervention.

We spend much of our lives taking our feet for granted – if we are lucky. If we’re not, we suffer one or more of the painful, often debilitating conditions that can affect the feet. That’s why your feet are so important and why you need to take care of them. Talk to your doctor about the importance of foot health and what you can do to ensure the stability of your foundation- your feet.

By Dr. Kevin Wong

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Spending a Painful Day Off

We all have our “story” when we don’t show up at work on any given day; some more valid than others. After all, “My car broke down” or “I had to take my daughter to urgent care” generally come off much better than “I slept in and missed the bus” or “I lost my car keys.” Now here’s a truly valid reason for work absenteeism, and unfortunately, it’s becoming more prevalent throughout the U.S.: chronic pain.

According to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed research journal Spine, workers suffering from chronic pain are more likely be absent from work – and more likely to stay absent – compared to workers not suffering from chronic pain. In fact, among a study population of more than 8,000 workers, chronic pain sufferers were significantly more likely to be absent from work one or more days: 20 percent more likely if suffering from neck pain, and 22 percent more likely if suffering from low back pain or headache pain (migraines), respectively.

pain management - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkThe good news is there are natural solutions to all three of these common conditions, starting with chiropractic care, and research supports it. Talk to your chiropractor if you’re suffering from pain, whether acute or chronic, before it gets so bad that you have to miss work. After all, you deserve to save your personal leave time for a well-deserved vacation, not to endure chronic pain.

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Poor Sleep Leads to Chronic Pain

Not getting enough sleep – or not enough quality sleep that leaves you refreshed and ready to take on the day, rather than fatigued, irritable and ready to crawl right back into bed? A major health issue could be in your future: chronic pain. In fact, your odds of suffering chronic pain due to poor quality and/or quantity of sleep may increase by a factor of two or three compared to people who experience better sleep.

A large multi-national review of 16 studies spanning 10 countries and involving 61,000 participants arrived at this disturbing conclusion, with the lead study author even declaring that the impact of sleep on pain may be more significant than the impact of pain on sleep – often regarded as a major contributor to poor sleep.

poor sleep - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkAnd that wasn’t the only finding: Poor sleep also was associated with impaired responses to bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances, poor physical functioning, increased inflammation, higher cortisol levels, and other markers of pain, fatigue and overall compromised health.

Chronic pain isn’t something to mess with, but you don’t have to, thanks to your doctor of chiropractic. Discuss any pain you’re experiencing and don’t forget to mention any sleep issues. Whether poor sleep is causing your pain, or pain is causing poor sleep, your chiropractor can help determine the cause and correct it. Now that’s called a win-win.

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