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Wellness Blog

The blog for South Orange Chiropractic Center, South Orange NJ

[VIDEO] Chiropractic for Sports Performance

Published Thursday, 16 November 2017

Click here to watch this video on YouTube!


Video Transcript

Dr. Stephen Levine:

So, part of my background as a certified chiropractic sports physician, I spent years working with athletes. I worked up at Seton Hall University back in the '90's. We saw a lot of track and field people. Not just track and field, but most athletes would come in with a complaint saying that, "Doc, I'm getting these hamstring pulls, or a groin pull. But it's always on the same side. Why is that?" You can treat it at the training room, but if we're not getting to the cause of the problem, which might be maybe one hip's higher than the other, and if the hip's higher than the other, maybe it's compressing the nerve from the spine.

So, the nerve, which exits out of the lower back, will affect the function of the muscles. So, when we take an x-ray, we take an x-ray standing up, not lying down, because I want to see posturally what's going on, and if one hip comes up higher, it's compressing the nerves on one side. And these are the nerves that go into the quads, the hamstrings, the calves and that's why regardless of your sport. We're all that weekend athlete or competing, or just training on our own. Why is one side getting tighter? It might be this, or it might be the pelvis is rotated, and we can see that on film. We can measure the nerve function, and as a result we can come up with a solution.

5 Simple Ways to Give Thanks All Year Round

5 Simple Ways to Give Thanks All Year Round
Published Tuesday, 07 November 2017

Don't let gratitude become a once a year occurrence! 

One common Thanksgiving tradition that many families either love or bemoan each year is going around the dinner table to give thanks. Whether you are thankful for family, friends, good food, or something else entirely, this custom presents an opportune moment to reflect on all the important and joyful events that have occurred over the past year. But did you know that practicing gratitude regularly can do wonders for both your physical and emotional health?

Several studies have demonstrated that those who cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” were more likely to report fewer aches and pains, to engage in healthy activities and exercise, and to experience better overall sleep quality. The research of Richard A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leader in the field of psychology, has also definitively shown that gratitude increases one’s happiness and reduces feelings of depression. Furthermore, a study conducted before and after the September 11th attacks revealed the power of grateful thinking in building emotional resilience and warding against depression in the face of a major crisis.

So what can you do to be more grateful and reap the physical and mental benefits? We’ve got some suggestions for you.

  • Gratitude Journal

One of the most frequently recommended ways to practice gratitude is to start a gratitude journal. Whether you write down the top five things you were grateful for during the day or you compose “thank you” letters to people in your life, there is no wrong way to structure your journal. The only thing that matters is that you delve deep. Don’t just go through the motions and write the same five things every day. Think back and find the little moments or random people in your day that made you feel happy or special.

Gratitude Journal

  • Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being aware or present. During mindfulness meditation, you focus on the present moment, acknowledging the environment around you and your own thoughts without judgment or emotion. A 2013 paper authored by the clinical psychologist, Dr. Debra Rosenzweig, calls mindfulness one of the sisters of gratitude. Acknowledge the moments you are thankful for throughout your day as they happen.  

Mindfulness Reminder

  • Nature Walk

If being outdoors is your thing, go for a walk! Notice the changing colors of the tree leaves and the feel of the crisp autumn air on your face. Sit in the park to listen to dogs bark and children play. Treat yourself to some warm hot chocolate or a pumpkin-spiced latte. Note the things you appreciate and let any negative thoughts pass you by.

Parent walks with children in forest

  • Self-Affirmations

While the prospect of standing in front a mirror every morning and saying things like “You’re awesome!” can seem a little awkward at first, many people swear by self-affirmations as an easy way to boost your self-confidence and remind yourself of your great qualities. Another way to accomplish this is to write happy or grateful thoughts on Post-Its and hang them around your room or work space. Better yet, leave notes for your family and friends telling them why you are thankful to have them in your life!

Thank you note

  • Guided Meditation

If you’re new to meditation, there are plenty of YouTube videos that will help guide you through the process. Try out this video, narrated by Deepak Chopra, which focuses on feelings of gratitude and forgiveness.

Guided Meditation on Gratitude with Deepak Chopra YouTube

There are countless other ways to give thanks throughout the year. What are some methods you use practice gratitude? Let us know the comments!

Further Reading:

Gratitude Meditation: A Simple But Powerful Happiness Intervention

The Science Behind Gratitude (And How It Can Change Your Life)

Harvard Mental Health Letter: In Praise of Gratitude

3 Surprising Natural Ways to Prevent the Cold and Flu This Season

3 Surprising Natural Ways to Prevent the Cold and Flu This Season
Published Tuesday, 24 October 2017

October means apple picking, haunted hay rides, and the start of cold and flu season.

How Can I Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season? 

Most adults have 2-3 colds per year, while children are more likely to have 5-10 because they are not yet immune to many cold viruses. The CDC reports that the common cold is the primary reason adults miss work and children miss school. Also, 5%-20% of the U.S. population contracts the flu every year according to WebMD. While peak flu season runs from December to February, it never hurts to start practicing healthy habits early in order to ward off future infections.

When it comes to cold and flu prevention, most people are familiar with the tried-and-true methods:

  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Sanitize your phone and workspace
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Drink plenty of orange juice or take Vitamin C supplements

But if you want to cut down on your Kleenex costs this year, there are few more natural steps you can take to prevent you and your family from contracting a cold or flu this year.

  1. Eat more protein

The antibodies that make up the majority of your immune system and help to fight off viruses and bacteria are made of proteins. A diet high in protein can help create new antibodies and bolster your cold-fighting abilities. Also, protein-rich foods often include other nutrients which are important for building a healthy immune system, including zinc (beans, seafood) and magnesium (nuts).

  1. Invest in a humidifier

There’s a reason more people catch the flu during the winter and not the summer: humidity. The flu virus cannot survive for very long in an environment with 40 - 60% humidity. During colder months, however, indoor heating often produces the perfect dry environment for the flu virus to transmit easily from person to person. With a humidifier, you can keep your rooms at a comfortable moisture level that allows you to breathe more easily and helps avoid some of the other uncomfortable drying effects of the fall and winter seasons. Make sure moisture levels are not too high, though, or else mold could appear.

  1. Get a massage

When you’re stressed, you’re also more susceptible to infection. Massages help reduce the cortisol levels in your body and make you feel more relaxed. Researchers have also found that a 45 minute massage results in the increased production of lymphocytes, white blood cells which help defend the body from disease. So treat yourself, and fight infection in the process!

Regular chiropractic care and adjustments can also help support your immune system and ensure your entire body is functioning properly to ward off against the cold and flu. Schedule your next appointment today online or by calling (973) 761-0022, and stay healthy during the upcoming months!

Sources:

https://www.today.com/health/7-easy-ways-boost-your-immune-system-2D80554874

http://www.amcollege.edu/blog/strengthen-your-immune-system-with-massage-therapy

http://www.coldandflucentral.com/cold-and-flu-central/humidification-maintain-moisture/

Drink This Tea to Promote Healthy Weight Loss!

Drink This Tea to Promote Healthy Weight Loss!
Published Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Move Over Green Tea - There’s a New Super Drink in Town.

“For black tea lovers, there may be a new reason to keep drinking it,” says Dr. Zhaoping Li, the director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Eighty percent of the tea consumed in the United States is black tea even though previous studies have usually hyped the healing and wellness properties of green tea instead.

Luckily for Americans, UCLA researchers have now demonstrated that black tea can promote healthy weight loss and other health benefits due to the way it reacts with bacteria in the gut. While the numerous health and weight loss advantages of green tea have been known for a while, this is the first time that black tea has been shown to change energy metabolism.

It’s All about the Polyphenols

Both green and black teas contain chemicals called polyphenols. Polyphenols have high antioxidant properties and also function as prebiotics, increasing the ratio of good bacteria in gut, which can promote good health and aid in weight management. The green tea polyphenols are small enough that they are absorbed into the blood and tissue throughout the body, which explains the seemingly infinite health benefits of the drink.

The black tea polyphenols are larger though, and remain in the small intestine. However, by remaining in the small intestine the black tea polyphenols promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that also promotes healthy weight loss.

There’s Always Time for Tea

With all the research and case studies in the world, there seems to be no downside to tea. Drinking tea throughout the day promotes hydration and offers a more flavorful, zero-calorie alternative to water when there are no additives. Different types of teas typically contain fifty percent less caffeine than coffee, allowing for increased mental alertness without the shock to your nervous system. Furthermore, most teas are chock full of flavonoids, antioxidants which fight against free radicals that increase your risk for heart disease, cancer, and high cholesterol.

The Health Benefits of Your Favorite Teas

Green tea
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Inhibits cancerous growths
  • Improves cholesterol levels
  • Reduces risk of strokes and neurological disorders
  • Prevents cavities and doesn’t erode tooth enamel
Black tea
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Encourages mental alertness and focus
  • Protects lungs from adverse effects of cigarette smoke
  • Lowers risk of stroke
Oolong tea
  • Reduces levels of bad cholesterol
  • Improves mental alertness
  • Boosts immune system
  • Can treat skin allergies such as eczema
White tea
  • Contains potent anticancer properties
  • Maintains healthy and youthful skin
  • Improves oral health
  • Provides relief for diabetic symptoms
Herbal teas
  • Chamomile promotes restful sleep
  • Echinacea can be helpful in treating the common cold
  • Hibiscus aids in lowering blood pressure
  • Rooibos, or red tea, contains cancer-fighting flavonoids

Sources:

https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/black-tea-may-help-with-weight-loss-too

https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits#2

https://www.today.com/series/one-small-thing/top-10-health-benefits-drinking-tea-t81111

Headache and Migraine Relief through Chiropractic Care

Headache and Migraine Relief through Chiropractic Care
Published Wednesday, 04 October 2017

Oh, My Aching Head!

Sometimes it starts with a slight prick in the side of your head, or maybe a dull throb around your temples. Other times it comes on fast like a thunderclap in your brain that leaves you incapacitated for the next four hours. If you’re lucky enough to recognize the warning signals of a migraine attack, you know to run for cover in the nearest dimly lit, silent room. If you’re not so lucky, you may end up vomiting in one of the bathroom stalls at work.

Headache FYI

  • Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches.
  • The five main types of headaches are tension, cluster, sinus, rebound, and migraine.
  • Migraine attacks can last up to 72 hours.
  • Migraine symptoms include fuzzy eyesight, sensitivity to bright light and loud noises, nasal congestion, garbled speech, and extreme nausea.
  • Women are three times more likely to experience migraines than men due to biological factors such as hormonal fluctuation.

Despite the widespread prevalence of headaches and migraines, not many case studies have been executed around the subject to better understand their triggers and treatments. Most people resort to over-the-counter or prescription painkillers to relieve their headache and migraine symptoms, though these drugs do not always address the root cause and can produce some nasty side effects.

A Real Pain in the Neck

It may be surprising to some, but headaches are the third most popular reason for chiropractor visits in the United States. According to the American Chiropractic Association, the majority of headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. The lower part of the brainstem sits at the level of the first bone in the neck, and the body’s main blood supply travels up through this area into the brain. Many environmental and mental stressors can cause shifts in the spinal structure which can put intense pressure on this area. The pain from headaches and migraines is often a response to a misaligned spine, also known as a vertebral subluxation.

Professional chiropractors are trained to recognize subluxations and perform spinal manipulations or chiropractic adjustments in order to properly realign the spine and relieve the pressure on the sensitive nerves in your upper neck. The Migraine Treatment Centers of America report that while “spinal adjustments aren’t a cure-all for everyone with migraines…almost a quarter of migraineurs who seek chiropractic care notice a reduction in symptoms of up to 90%.”

Alternative Treatments for Headaches and Migraines

While regular chiropractic adjustments can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines, there are many other steps you can take for prevention and relief.

  • Practice good posture: By strengthening the muscles in your neck and upper back, you can guard against reoccurring inflammation and vertebral subluxations.
  • Avoid known triggers: Strong perfumes, caffeine, and alcoholic drinks can also cause migraines. Understand what your body reacts to and do your best to avoid those triggers.
  • Give High-Intensity Interval Training a try: A new study from the University of Basel in Switzerland shows that migraine sufferers who adopted this exercise strategy reported a significant reduction of migraine days and intensity.
  • Take advantage of technology: Several migraine apps are available to help you pinpoint triggers and potentially relieve some of the pain.
  • Schedule an appointment today: A visit with one of our chiropractors may be just what you need. We’ll talk with you to understand what stressors may be triggering your attacks and work with you to develop a treatment plan, whether that may be regular adjustments or behavioral and nutritional changes. Call (973) 761-0022 to schedule an appointment or fill out this appointment form online to get started.

By Letting Teenagers Get More Sleep, the U.S. May Save $9 Billion a Year

By Letting Teenagers Get More Sleep, the U.S. May Save $9 Billion a Year
Published Tuesday, 12 September 2017

It’s That Time of Year Again

School’s back in session, and any parent knows how hard it is to get their teenagers out of bed in the morning. According a 2015 CDC study, public schools nationwide usually start classes at 8:03 AM, and in New Jersey, public middle and high schools average an 8:00 AM start time. Most experts recommend that adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 get 8-10 hours of sleep per night in order to have healthy development and higher performance during the day.

Biological Changes in Teens Affect Sleep Patterns

For students beginning school at these average start times, getting the recommended amount of sleep per night would require them to go to sleep at 9:00 PM. However, sleep researchers have shown that teenagers are on a later sleep-wake clock than children and adults, causing them to naturally fall asleep around 11:00 PM. Therefore, waking up a teenager at 6:00 AM to get ready for school is often the equivalent of waking a typical adult out of a deep sleep at 4:00 AM.

By the end of high school, most American teenagers average about 7 hours of sleep per night during the school week. The CDC states that sleep deprivation can often lead to obesity, reduced physical activity, symptoms of depression, unhealthy risk behaviors, and poor performance in school or work. Wendy Troxel, a renowned sleep researcher, says in her recent TED Talk, “In fact, many of the, shall we say, unpleasant characteristics that we chalk up to being a teenager – moodiness, irritability, laziness, depression – could be a product of chronic sleep deprivation.”

School Policies Slow to Change

With all of this research concerning teenagers’ sleeping habits, the American Academy of Pediatrics officially recommended in 2014 that middle and high schools begin classes no earlier than 8:30 AM.  Currently, only 18% of the nation’s public schools start at this time or later. As many districts stagger bus schedules, having middle and high school students go in earlier and younger children arrive later, many officials believe this change would not be cost effective because districts would have to purchase more buses and hire more drivers.

However, the RAND Corporation just released an exhaustive study which claims that changing the start of classes to 8:30 AM in public middle and high schools would actually save the U.S. over $9 billion a year. The study states that allowing teenagers to get the recommended amount of sleep at night would increase academic performance leading to overall higher lifetime earnings, and it would decrease the rate of car crashes involving drowsy teenagers. These projected savings would far outweigh the costs for adjusting school districts’ bus schedules and upgrading school infrastructure to account for later dismissal times.

A recent bill introduced in the California legislature would require a minimum 8:30 AM start time for the state’s public middle and high schools. If the bill and its implementation are successful, perhaps this evidence would kick start a nationwide change that may ultimately benefit the country financially and would definitely benefit our teenagers’ personal health. 

How to Promote Good Sleep Hygiene in Teenagers

According to Slate author and School Start Later California advocate, Lisa Lewis, “teens are often still seen as the root cause of their sleepiness.” While research about teen’s biological sleeping patterns demonstrate that this is not always the case, distractions from electronic devices and busy schedules surely can contribute to sleep deprivation in teens. If your child’s classes begin before the recommended start times, there are still a few simple steps you can take to promote good sleep hygiene.

  • Schedule a regular bedtime and wake time: While many teenagers may be resistant to having a “bedtime”, the CDC says that adolescents with parent-set bedtimes usually get more sleep than those whose parents do not schedule one. This practice is beneficial for adults and children as well.
  • Dim the house lights during the evening: Teens who are exposed to more light at night are more likely to get less sleep.
  • Implement a media curfew: Turn off any electronic devices including cell phones, televisions, computers, and tablets at least an hour before bedtime. Consider removing any of these distractions from the bedrooms as well.
  • Limit caffeine intake: Many sleep-deprived teenagers turn to energy drinks and coffee in order to stay alert during the school day. High caffeine intake, especially late at night, could affect sleep behaviors and quality.
  • Contact your local school district: If you believe your child’s school should have a later start time, get involved! Bring the issue to school administrators or at your next PTA meeting.

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone’s physical and mental health, regardless of age. Learn how chiropractic adjustments can help you sleep better and make an appointment today!

Running for Your Body and Your Mind

Running for Your Body and Your Mind
Published Tuesday, 29 August 2017

There’s plenty of research and evidence that demonstrates the physical benefits of running. This exercise helps people stay fit, lose weight, and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer. A common myth states that running can hurt the knees, but even science has shown that the opposite is true! Running actually strengthens the bones and joints. A recent study out of B.Y.U. demonstrated that in participants with healthy knees, “a single half-hour of running changes the interior of the knee, reducing inflammation and lessening levels of a marker of arthritis”.

More Than Just a Runner’s High

While the physical benefits of this common exercise are clear, many don’t realize what great effects running can have on your mind. Any long-time runner will testify to experiencing a “runner’s high”, where the body receives a rush of hormones called endocannabinoids which make you feel good after a run. But there’s more that running can do for your mental health than this short-term high.

  • A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that teenagers who ran for 30 minutes once a week for three weeks reported better sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day.
  • More recently, neuroscience researchers have discovered new neurons are produced daily in animals’ brains, and that vigorous aerobic exercise, such as running, helped to double the amount of new neurons produced in the brains of mice.
  • These new brain cells appear primarily in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is responsible for rational thinking and emotions. This reaction may explain why many people feel that running helps them to clear their heads, relieve stress and anxiety, and make important life decisions.
  • While these findings suggest that running could help increase new neuron production the people’s brains, the scientists also note the importance of keeping those brain cells alive through concentrated mental activity, such as meditation.
  • A study conducted by Rutgers University showed that mental and physical training, or MAP Training, which combines 30 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes of running or other aerobic exercise, helped to decrease self-reported depressive symptoms in groups with major depressive disorder.

Letting Your Mind Run Free…or Not!

Many think of running as a good way to daydream or lose yourself in your own thoughts. In Haruki Murakami’s memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, writes, “I just run. I run in void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void.”

However, the time you spend running can also become a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. Mindful running can help you perform better by transforming negative, self-doubting thoughts into ones of positive determination. Also, by being mindful of your body after a run, noticing what aches and pains you have or knowing if you need to hydrate more, you’ll be able to recover faster from the exercise. There are some simple steps you can take to practice mindfulness during your run, including syncing up your stride and your breath, but if you need a little help, there are some mindfulness apps to get you started!

But whether you’re letting your thoughts wander into the void or counting breaths and steps, running is a great workout for your body and your mind. Put on those dusty sneakers today and move toward an overall healthier you!

Sleep Issues Linked to Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Sleep Issues
Published Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Nation of Poor Sleepers

Insufficient sleep affects 50-70 million adults in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call poor sleep a “public health problem”, and many studies demonstrate that sleep problems increase one’s risk for diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease. In addition, many side effects of Alzheimer’s disease are sleep-related, including insomnia and nighttime wandering. However, poor sleep many not only be a side-effect of Alzheimer’s disease, but also a contributing factor to its development. Over the past decade, numerous studies have indicated a correlation between disrupted sleep in middle-aged life and the onset of Alzheimer’s later in life.

Studying Sleep and Alzheimer's Disease

  • In 2009, researchers from Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis found that sticky amyloid plaques built up in the brains of sleep-deprived mice. Alzheimer’s experts regard deposits of amyloid plaques as the first known preclinical stage of the disease, occurring before any signs of memory loss begin to appear.
  • While observing mice, scientists determined in 2013 that animals’ brains enter into a cleansing process during deep sleep, in which many toxins, including amyloid plaques, are cleared out of the brain tissue by the glymphatic system. They theorized that human brains undergo a similar process.
  • More recently, studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference reported that participants who suffered from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and similar sleep-related breathing disorders had greater increases in amyloid deposits over a three-year period.
  • In early July, the journal, Neurology also published a study of 101 participants who all had known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, including family history and the presence of the APOE gene. The participants underwent a lumbar puncture and self-reported their sleep habits throughout the length of the study.
  • After analyzing participants’ spinal fluids, researchers found that those who reported frequent sleep issues were more likely to have brain cell damage and inflammation associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Hope for Early Detection

"Our findings align with the idea that worse sleep may contribute to the accumulation of Alzheimer's-related proteins in the brain," Dr. Barbard Bendlin of Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center said to CNN. "The fact that we can find these effects in people who are cognitively healthy and close to middle age suggest that these relationships appear early, perhaps providing a window of opportunity for intervention." Brendlin suggests that these findings could help reduce the number of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s by 5.7 million over the next 30 years.

Get Some Rest!

A good night’s sleep can do wonders for a person’s mood, performance, and health. While scientists need more research and studies to determine which comes first, insufficient sleep or Alzheimer’s disease, the data illustrates that there is a definite correlation between the two. So do yourself a favor and try to get a solid eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Give your brain time to rest and cleanse itself.

For some tips on getting a good night’s sleep, check out this list from the National Sleep Foundation.

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