Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tips for Back Pain

A Bad Start to a New Day

Here’s a scenario for you: It’s 2 o’clock in the morning, and you have to be up by 6 a.m. for work, but, once again, you just can’t doze off. You already know it’s going to be a long day. You twist and you turn and there’s no point in counting sheep and you know it’s not insomnia. It’s back ache: an ache that’s been persisting for hours now, and has become so intense that it’s even preventing you from catching those Z’s.

Let’s Talk Back Pain
Although it may seem that you are the only person that can relate to any kind of pain, do not feel excluded just yet. About 80% of Americans are afflicted by severe back aches. The causes of back pain vary but before we dive into the whys and how’s, I wanted to touch on what it may mean to you.

With 80% of all Americans going through the same thing, the scenario above is absolutely possible. As mentioned above, it can not only ruin your day but even a lifestyle. Surprisingly, back problems may affect your day to day activities, from work to quality time with family, and can even influence your mental state.

Possible Causes
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse into what you have at risk, let’s discuss back pain causes.
  • First off, stress. Merely stressing out will increase the likelihood of muscle spasms, which is a direct cause of back spasms, and what’s more, stressing about back pain can perpetuate the aching.
  • Another source of chronic back pain comes from sustained injuries. Remember when you fell off that chair a few months back, or when you flew off your bike last summer, or when you were tackled by that linebacker last season? Although you don’t, your body does. Spine injuries such as sprains and fractures can lead to short term or chronic back pain.
  • There are also several acquired conditions that lead to back problems. They include:
    • Scoliosis
    • Spondylolisthesis
    • Various forms of arthritis
    • Spinal stenosis

Back Pain Treatment
The following are a few key methods in reducing, if not eliminating, back aches.
  • Most basic of all back pain remedies is certainly a vital one: REST. Sit or sleep in the most comfortable position you can find. As the pain begins to subside, take short walks in order to exercise your limits, but always be wary about exceeding those limits. Simple tasks such as walking to the fridge for a drink can prove to be arduous, so avoid it at first.
  • Although I don’t like the idea of people using excessive meds, certain pain medication has been proven to relieve back pain.
    • Over the counter pain killers such as Tylenol, aspirin, or Ibuprofen have a positive effect against an aching back.
    • If need be, your doctor may be able to prescribe prescription strength pain medicines or even a combination of medications.
    • Your doctor may even prescribe muscle relaxants.
You should note that these medications have an effect on the brain, not muscles, and can often lead drowsiness and dependency.
  • Another method of relief for back pain comes in the form chiropractors. Spinal manipulations by chiropractors and osteopaths have been proven to be effective for acute low-back pain. Early chiropractic adjustments for acute back pain may actually prevent chronic problems from developing.

One way to treat back pain, that often gets overlook, is utilizing forms of back pain relief even before any actual back pain symptoms appear. I’d like to shed insight in back pain exercises that I have come across.
  • First off, I’m sure many of you have heard lift with your legs not your back. Not only are your legs much stronger, but if you use your back, you increase your chances of spraining the muscles located in that region.
  • Beginner Level exercises
    • Ankle pumps
    • Heel slides
    • Wall squats
  • Intermediate Level exercises
    • Single knee to chest stretch
    • Hamstring Stretch
    • Sitting on exercise ball
  • Advanced Level exercises
    • Hip Flexor stretch
    • Lumbar stabilization exercise with exercise ball
    • Good old aerobic exercises

Well, there you have it, my two cents on treating back pain. Remember, you definitely need to be vigilant in what you’re doing and make sure you’re doing it correctly. Be mindful of your limits and remember not to greatly exceed a safe level of comfort. I hope this has been helpful, good luck!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tips for Spring Nutrition

Food for Spring

It's important to start this Spring off right. After reading over my spring health tips you should be wandering, what foods do I eat to keep healthy this spring? Visit your local farmer's market. If you have a farmers market, check it out for fresh produce. Around this time of year and depending on your region, it will include foods like asparagus, artichokes, carrots, collards, fennel and various other greens and grains. Using a few of these in every recipe will greatly enhance your health this Spring. I've compiled a nice list for you to follow.

Spring Vegetables
Vegetables give your body the proper amount of vitamins, provitamins, dietary minerals and fiber necessary to function properly.
  • Asparagus contains no sodium, cholesterol or fat making it an extremely healthy spring food option. It is also high in folic acid, which aids red blood cells in spreading oxygen throughout your body. All these great side effects keep your body and mind energized.
  • Broccoli is a great source of Vitamin C, believe it or not. That's not only good for your immune system, it's good for absorbing calcium which keeps your bones strong. It also contains nutrients that have been found to prevent tumor growth, which is a huge plus!
  • Spinach is an excellent source of iron. Iron is used by hemoglobin which is in red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body; iron helps keep your body supplied with blood rich in oxygen.

Spring Fruits
Spring fruits are a great addition to jazz up any normal salad or marinade, get creative! Not only do they taste sweet and delicious, but they also carry great benefit for your health.
  • Apricots are a great example of a spring fruit because they naturally contain beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce bad cholesterol levels, prevent heart disease and protect against cancer.
  •  Strawberries are a great source of Vitamin C. Usually eating around 5 good-sized strawberries can give your body its full dose of Vitamin C for the day, and it will usually only contain around 25-40 calories.
  • Mangoes are not only delicious by themselves or in salads, they also contain phenols that act as antioxidants and can sometimes act as anti-cancers.
  • Pineapples are a sweet fruit perfect for lunch or as a quick snack. They are especially good for your body because they contain high levels of manganese. Manganese assists the body in the formation of connective tissue and bones. It can also help with certain blood-clotting processes. It also plays a role in your body's fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

Keepinig Healthy This Spring

Spring Health Tips

Spring health advice
Stay Healthy This Spring
Spring is finally upon us. It is time for the flowers to start growing, grass to get green again and for everyone to get outdoors after the cold winter. The winter can cause us to not eat right and to not exercise as much as we would during summer months. Here are some Spring exercise tips and Spring fitness tips to use when the weather finally get nicer and you can spend time outdoors.

Get Out More
It's important to take advantage of better weather. Go biking. If you have a bike path, you can use it to ride your bike for exercise. Go hiking. If you have a landscape ideal for hiking, utilize it! Go running or walking. You can use the same bike path for running, which is a great Spring exercise. You can also simply go on a walk around your neighborhood. Point is, the sunshine you receive from being outside will in a sense, wake your body up from the long winter.

Watch Holiday Eating
Easter and Passover are both Spring holidays. We have to watch excessive eating. It is important to not gorge as this can result in unwanted weight gain right before the summer months, which nobody wants. Eat fruit instead of sweets or chocolate; some chocolate can be high in unwanted fat. Take more veggies with your meals instead of foods high in unwanted calories.

Watch For Allergies
Here's some tips for preventing spring allergies. Check pollen levels in your area. You can look at's  Pollen Forecast tool or simply watch your local news as they should mention when there is high pollen levels. Invest in some allergy medicine or get an allergy shot for the occasional spring allergy.

Staying healthy this spring isn't difficult, you just have to be diligent. You have to pay attention to what you are eating and make sure you exercise. Good luck!