Increasing Your Longevity – Are You Moving in the Right Direction?

Posted on June 18, 2014. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Aging, Exercise, Fatigue, Healing, Health, Weightloss | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Will you live a long & healthy life?

Will you live a long & healthy life?

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Living a long life sounds like a great thing, right? Fortunately, our society has made leaps and bounds in finding ways to preserve the lifespan (medical procedures, devices, medications, etc…) but what is truly important is the quality of the life you have left.  In this case, quality can lead to quantity (translated: living better=longer # years alive).  There are many ways to deal with the aging process, and following a pro-active approach to optimal health and fitness can be your means to extended longevity.

The “Quality” of food you eat can make a big difference in your health.  Much of our food today has been grown with a considerable amount of pesticides and chemicals.  Opting for organic whenever possible can increase the quality of the food you consume.

The “Quantity” of food you eat can also determine how overweight you may be.  I firmly believe that if the diet is right, our appetites should be as well.  If diet is correct and we are sedentary and not expending much energy, then our appetite should be less.  We should require a lower quantity of sustenance than if we were exercising regularly.

The “Composition” of our food, or the type of food we eat, also affects health.  I personally follow a lowered carb approach.  Choosing the right type of carb is important.  I prefer broccoli and spinach along with a lot of vegetable carbs, but not much corn or potatoes (too starchy).  If a person follows a solid diet with protein like chicken & fish, they can get full and be satiated for a while but if they stuff themselves with bread or potato chips until they’re half sick, 30 minutes later they’ll want to eat again when their blood sugar spikes.

The “Structure” of our bodies, how we’re put together, our skeletal structure, muscles and joints can define how we move and the quality of our bones & cartilage as we age.  It can also determine how comfortable you are when you try to become more fit.  If you hurt too much, you’re not going to want to exercise too much, and if you can’t exercise enough, you won’t be able to take care of yourself the way you should.

All in all, the older individuals who look good, live good.  If you decide you want to increase your longevity, some of the aforementioned suggestions can help.  Consider undergoing a thorough chiropractic examination by a qualified professional to determine how fit you currently are and to make sure to catch any potential structural problems before they develop or to correct issues you may already have. Also, modifying your nutrition and eating habits can result in more youthful skin, increased vitality, and subsequent weight loss.  And lastly, I’ve found that acupuncture is a great therapy to tie everything together increasing energy and overall balance.

 

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Fight off Colds & Flu this Winter by Building your Immune System Now

Posted on November 7, 2013. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Exercise, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

fight off the immune invasion~By Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Chinese medicine believes that in our natural state, people are healthy and made to be self-repairing.  This theory states, “You should already be healthy unless you’ve done something to diminish that health”.  You can actually create health not by boosting your immune system, but by eliminating irritation to it.  But because today’s culture focuses on buzzwords such as “building immunity”, let’s talk about just how we can do that.  For example, white sugar is a backdrop to poor health.  It can suppress immune response.  Studies have shown that 1 teaspoon of sugar can lower immunity in the body within 30 minutes.  This opens a gateway for bugs like the flu or common cold to enter.  Peanuts, dairy or gluten (wheat products) are other foods which can promote inflammation and trigger “allergic responses” in the body.  Elimination of these foods for certain individuals can provide a marked improvement in their ability to fight off colds and infections.

Here are some more tips to help build your immune system to better fight off illness in the colder months:

  • Sleep Well:  Restful sleep enhances the immune system function by leading to better hormone level balance.  During good sleep, the body can rest & repair itself.  Sleep deprivation actually suppresses the immune function and activates stress.
  • Eat more “Rabbit Food”: Increase your intake of fruits & veggies.  Stay away from the unhealthy foods that contain a lot of grease, fat, preservatives, and sugar.  These foods can have a very negative effect on your overall health.
  • Drink Water:  Water helps flush toxins and hydrates your body.  Drink 10-12 glasses daily as an average.  If water gets “too boring”, add in some green tea or fresh juice.  Be wary of the sugar content and try to stay away from all sodas.
  • Stop the Stress:  A little bit of stress can boost the immune system; it’s like exercise for it.  Long term and unrelenting stress (i.e. work & relationship issues) can wreak havoc on it.  When stress hits, counterbalance it by relieving the tension through meditation, listening to relaxing music, or taking a walk.
  • Move your Body:  Exercising on a regular basis will boost circulation and keep you in better shape mentally as well as physically.  Whether its jogging, walking or sports, try to get at least 30 minutes of fitness in daily.
  • Consider Acupuncture:  Many studies have shown that acupuncture can boost the immune system.  Not only can acupuncture be beneficial in helping you overcome your cold or flu quicker, but it can also be used for prevention.  It’s a great way to fill in any missing gaps in your immune system.  Acupuncture can balance your energies to get them working in harmony and optimize your system, providing protection from illness.
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Summer Flip Flops & Back Pain

Posted on July 2, 2013. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Chiropractic, Exercise, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

 Now that summer is upon us, it’s time to pull out the summer wardrobe which includes shoe wear.  Unfortunately, a bad pair of flat flip flops can lead to back pain symptoms and throw your whole balance off.  The foot is one of the most complex parts of the body consisting of 38 bones connected by numerous joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments and is susceptible to many stresses.  Foot problems may include pain, inflammation, or injury and many of those problems can be caused by improper footwear.  These problems can become even more pronounced for those who spend most of their time in supportive footwear during the week and then transition to flats or flip flops for the weekends.  Podiatrists recommend that flip flops and sandals be worn for more home and poolside lounging, not spending the day walking around in.

Overuse of the tendons and muscles in the toes while walking in flat soled shoes can lead to chronic inflammation of the tendons, or tendonitis.  Because the flip flop is so loose, the toes are constantly gripping in an effort to keep the shoe on the foot.  The squishy sole of the flip flop allows the foot to over pronate (roll inward) and the toes extend and flex in an attempt to control that motion.  All this contributes to strain in the ankles, calf, knees, and lower back.

Those flat cheap flip flops may seem like a bargain now, but in the long run can cause all sorts of issues.  Most flip flops alter your gait, making you take shorter steps, which can lead to pain in other areas of the body.

Some of the problems with “cheap”  flip flops include:

  • flat foot bed which are bad for archesflip flop design
  • poor support which can cause ankle injuries
  • ease of sliding of feet which can cause calluses & blisters
  • slippery and no traction when wet

And “cheap” doesn’t necessarily mean price only.  Construction is most important here.  Just because a flip flop carries a designer name, doesn’t mean it’s designed with the support you need.  When searching for flip flops, choose one with an arch support and a solid and sturdy foot bed that keeps your heels from sliding around.  It should be molded to support the “bio-mechanics” of the foot, not just a flat piece of rubber you stand on.

The American Podiatric Medical Association has several approved brands.  They suggest you check out brands by Orthaheel, Chaco, FitFlop, or Dr. Comfort.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help alleviate some of the pain.
1.  Get the correct pair of shoes!
2.  Lightly massage the area to help ease the pain and reduce inflammation
3.  Alternate hot and cold treatments on the affected areas
4. Manually stretch and flex the toes, balls of feet, arches and ankles
5. Consider Acupuncture treatment.

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Losing Weight – the Right and the Wrong Ways

Posted on May 21, 2013. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Exercise, Weightloss | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

eating the right diet=weightloss~by Dr. Gregory Steiner

It’s summer again, and without fail my clinic (and every other doctors’ as well) are filled with people who need help losing those last 10…or 50 lbs. Sometimes they are looking to trim up because of a soon-to-be event such as a wedding, and other times they are wanting to make a complete renovation of their lifestyle to something healthier – and sleeker.

Every year I also categorize patients into two distinct groups – those who have recently gained a little ‘paunch’ or ‘tummy’ and those who have been struggling for years, if not most of their lives. In our demographic, most people are reasonably well-educated and have a background in sports or fitness to levels varying from casual to competitive. However, every local gym is filled with people whose last really fit day was probably the day they graduated college.

Then came work, and kids, and expense accounts, and houses, and  more kids, and promotions, and…and…

Then came the extra 30 lbs that seems harder and harder to get rid of.

There are two main ways to lose weight, the right way and the wrong way. What we DO want to do is lose extra fat; what we DON”T want to do is lose muscle along with the fat. In other words it is definitely possible to lose weight, shrink, and actually end up less fit than before the ‘diet’ started.

A professor from MIT once told me something I had never heard, and that was this: “If you have to exercise to lose weight or keep trim, then your diet is wrong.”

I had always followed the standard formula to eat less and exercise more, which does work – until one gets injured or can’t exercise for some reason. Later on I asked him to explain. What he told me was this – that ideally if our appetites are working naturally our food intake should be in exact proportion to our energy output, and that further, we should naturally and consistently select the foods we need to keep us at our optimal weight.

Well, I don’t know about you but what I see each and every day are disgruntled people who can’t seem to exercise enough to keep off the fat, or who have been injured and have ballooned up in size.

Two years I ago I put this counter-intuitive learning to a test. I had gained some size for a bodybuilding competition – some was fat and some was muscle. So, I dieted and did heaps of cardio, and lost 23 lbs in about 6 weeks….NOT pleasant.

I had 9 weeks before the next contest, and decided to quit the cardio and focus, focus, focus on fine-tuning my diet. At the end of that period at contest time I had trimmed another several pounds and lost several percentage points of body fat to compete at about 5.5 %. Again – no cardio. I decided I liked the leaner weight, and have found that with correct diet keeping about 7-8 % body fat is doable as a lifestyle, with or without cardio…and even after a knee surgery.

Not that I’m recommending bodybuilding – that’s a specialist interest for those people so inclined, but I mention it as  strong test of the theory of diet vs exercise for keeping lean.

Of course what helps is finding out exactly what nutrients a person is deficient in, and that streamlines the process greatly and gives us something to measure. When I undertook this ‘project’ two years ago, we did not have the advantage of some modern testing that shows exactly what micro-nutrients are at a good level, and which are low – only elite athletes usually have that level of nutritional analysis. Knowing saves time and effort  over educated guesswork.

What I do in my clinic then, with patients wanting to lose fat is to recommend a dietary template to provide a general basis for food selection, acupuncture certain points which alleviate cravings and facilitate metabolism, and perform blood nutrient analysis to see where the exact weak spots in need of dietary strengthening or supplements are.

Summer is coming…..

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5 Gifts to Give Yourself

Posted on November 30, 2012. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Aging, Exercise, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

5 Gifts to Give Yourself

Aging may be inevitable, but your later years can be vibrant and healthy if attention is given to supporting your physical, mental and emotional well-being.  These gifts to yourself are just a few of the ways that you can bring balance into your life.  You don’t need to try doing all of them at once.  Focus on one or two of them at a time.

Give Yourself the Gift of Practicing Gratitude
Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress according to Dr. Robert A. Emmons, an author of several books on the subject of the psychology of gratitude.  Dr. Emmons says that the disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions.  Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life, but they have a healthy attitude
towards them. Choose friends who are joyous people.  See these people frequently and you will find your spirits rise.  The older you get, the more important it is to make it a priority to spend time with people who give you joy.  If you have people in your life who are constantly unhappy, limit the amount of time you spend with them.  Try it, and you may find that your outlook changes as well.
Give Yourself the Gift of Exercise
People who exercise more are less likely to be stressed and more likely to be satisfied with life, according to Danish researchers.  Compared with sedentary people, joggers are 70 percent less likely to have high stress levels and life dissatisfaction.  Remember the saying, ” if you don’t use it you’ll lose it”?   Exercise keeps our bodies and minds in good shape . Couch potatoes who start moderate exercise (the equivalent of 15 to 30 minutes a day) experience the greatest happiness lift.  If jogging is not the best exercise for you, go for a long walk or try a traditional exercise like Tai Chi or Qi Gong. Qi Gong and Tai Chi are non-impact exercises that focus on repetitive movements with attention to breathing. Tai Chi and Qi Gong use gentle movements and low physical impact, which are ideal for aging bodies. The benefits of these exercises include a slower heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and drops in adrenaline and cortisol levels . Making these exercises a regular practice can lead to better health and vitality.  The Mayo Clinic reported results from two studies on these ancient practices that concluded they can also alleviate chronic pain.
Give Yourself the Gift of Good Sleep Regularly
Your body repairs itself best at night so allow plenty of time for it to do so.  Good sleep patterns follow nature. Morning is bright and the most Yang time of day, indicating activity.  Night is the dark period, a time to slow down and enter the Yin phase of the day.  Poor sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and obesity.  Research has shown that getting at least eight hours of sleep is needed for good heart health.  Acupuncture has been proven successful in treating a wide array of sleep problems by focusing on the root of any disharmony in the body.  It gives those who take advantage of it a better night’s sleep and an overall improvement in physical and mental health.
Give Yourself the Gift of Reduced Stress
Stress is a normal part of life, but if left unmanaged, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains or an irregular heartbeat. Humans were designed to handle short periods of intensely high stress followed by periods of relaxation.  We were not designed to live with a constant low level stress that keeps us feeling overwhelmed. If you feel you have been under too many pressures for too long, stress reduction acupuncture can help you enjoy a more peaceful life. Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and mental health.   In addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a whole gamut of tools and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check. These tools include Tui Na, Qi Gong exercises, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, meditations and acupressure that you can administer at home.
Give Yourself the Gift of Action
Address Health Concerns Quickly: Don’t Wait!  Many diseases can be cured easily if they are caught early, but people often put off seeking treatment.  Don’t ignore important signals that something is wrong with your body. We all get warnings about our health and well-being, but these warnings are like traffic lights.  They tell us what we ought to do, but they cannot make us do it.

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Longevity in Today’s World

Posted on July 6, 2012. Filed under: Aging | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

How to live longer has long been a consuming thought in the minds of many.  How do people really live to be 100?  This topic has been widely researched and National Geographic journalist Dan Buettner wrote about “The Blue Zones”, narrating a lot of wonderful personal stories from some of the oldest people in the world, where they live, and what they did that they felt helped them live a long life.  Though not every region was the same (some were strikingly different), there are quite a few similarities as listed below:

1. Be active & exercise.

  • The longest living people engage in regular, low-intensity physical activity, often as part of a daily work routine.
  • Low intensity exercise is easiest on the joints.

2. Stop eating before you are full.

  • Eat until you’re about 80% satisfied.
  • Part of the benefit of this  comes from the inevitable weight loss (none of the long living people in The Blue Zones were ever obese).
  • Serve food on smaller plates (people who get larger portions eat more than those who get smaller ones).
  • Eat more slowly.
  • Have your biggest meal of the day early (breakfast or lunch). Dinner in all the Blue Zones was the smallest meal of the day.

3. Avoid meat and processed foods.

  • Most of the oldest living people ate meat, just very rarely–maybe once or twice a month, or only on special occasions.
  • Scientists have analyzed diets and found that those who restrict meat are associated with living longer.
  • Instead of meat, fill up on  fruits and vegetables.
  • Get protein from eating  beans, tofu, and nuts. Nuts are “perhaps the most impressive of all  longevity foods.” People that eat nuts 5 times per week had half the heart disease of those who never eat nuts. In fact, the FDA now allows the claim that “eating 1.5 oz per day of most nuts….. may reduce the risk of heart disease.”  Try the “raw”, not roasted kinds.

4. Drink red wine in moderation.

  • The secret to drinking red wine is moderation and consistency.
  • Red wine contains “artery-scrubbing polyphenols” that may help fight arteriosclerosis.
  • Have only 1-2 glasses per day.

5. Have a strong sense of purpose.

  • A strong sense of purpose in the elderly may act as a buffer against stress and help reduce their chances of suffering from many diseases (Alzhimer’s, arthritis, stroke).
  • An 11-year study found that people between the age of 65 and 92 who expressed a clear goal in life  lived longer and were sharper than those who did not.

6. Take time to relieve stress.

  • The oldest people in the world live a lifestyle where they often take breaks–naps, tea with  friends, heading out of the house, gathering for meals with much socializing, honoring the Sabbath. The result is a greater sense of well-being.
  • Americans employed full time  work an average of 43 hours a week and take the shortest paid vacations in  the industrialized world. When they do take time off, 20% stay in touch with the office.  Few cultural institutions exist to encourage us to slow  down, unwind, and de-stress.
  • Try minimizing electronic entertainment in your home (TV, internet, etc.) Most of it feeds mind chatter and works counter to the notion of slowing down.

7. Participate in a spiritual community.

  • All of the oldest living people in the Blue Zones were religious.
  • A study of over 3600 people  found that those who attend religious services at least once a month  reduced their risk of death by one third.
  • As a group, attendees of  religious services had a longer life expectancy, with an impact about as great as that of moderate physical activity.

8. Make family a priority.

  • Take care of your children well while they’re young so that they’ll be more inclined to take care of  you when you’re older.
  • Elders who lived with their families have much sharper mental and social skills.

9. Surround yourself with people that share these values.

  • Higher social connectedness leads to greater longevity.
  • Spend time with your social  support network on a regular basis.
Learn more about this read by going to www.bluezones.com
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Wrist Problems: Part 2

Posted on November 2, 2011. Filed under: Exercise, Healing, Joints, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

by Dr. Gregory Steiner~

Carpal tunnel syndrome is only one of many potential problems associated with the wrist joints. Because it is so common, let’s have a better look at specific symptoms and possible corrections for this very aggravating syndrome.

We touched on this last issue, but the capsule summary of what carpal tunnel feels like is this: there is pain, numbness or tingling on the palm side of the wrist which can be worse at night. The symptoms can be mild to very annoying and painful, and can be short or long term sometimes of month’s duration. It may be that you feel an unusual ‘clumsiness’ when trying to grab something small, as though you can’t quite make your fingers and hand do what you want them to. You might notice shrinkage in the size of the palm just under the thumb.

Just to refresh the memory, the usual people who develop carpal tunnel syndrome include not only computer operators, but carpenters, assembly line workers and……..weight lifters! And, a cautionary note is needed here. Most of the time carpal tunnel syndrome is mechanical in origin, from repetitive strain on the wrist when using the wrist for extended periods of time when it is bent forwards or backwards. In weight training the common causes are incorrect wrist position in presses and curls, or simple overwork.

Sometimes patients present into my clinic with wrist complaints mimicking carpal tunnel, and we can trace the cause back to doing overhead or bench presses with tired forearms which prevent the wrists from holding firm. Without the muscle support the wrist joints bend backwards too much, creating an abnormal stretch on the palm side of the wrist, and a compression of the back side. In such cases—if you feel an abnormal fatigue before training wearing a wrist support or taping the wrist may be helpful. As always though, getting dependent on any kind of support is not a good idea, as support tissues need exercise to strengthen. We used to see this a lot in neck cases associated with whiplash, when people were advised to wear collars. In the early days of care this is not a bad idea, but what we found is that people became scared to do without them and by this time their undamaged neck muscles had weakened which only made things worse. Remember, supports are like supplements—you use them when you need them, but not as a way off life unless you have a long-standing weakness that is impossible to fully correct.

As is often the case with musculoskeletal problems, there is a muscle associated with carpal tunnel syndrome that can contain contributory trigger points. That muscle is called the palmaris longus; which starts on the inner part of the upper elbow and extends into the palm. It is one of the muscles that helps bend the wrist forwards. In persons with normal anatomy there is no problem, but if the muscle is constructed slightly differently it can compress or otherwise irritate the nerve that is responsible for true carpal tunnel syndrome. If a trigger point is present, you can compress it hard for up to 30 seconds. To find the trigger point, draw an imaginary line from your ring finger up to your elbow, just to the inside of the tendon you feel when your arm is bent. Press in that line, about ¼-1/3 of the way from your elbow to your wrist. If the point is active you may feel a sensation in your wrist. The bad news is that if the muscle is anatomically altered, it may require a surgical decompression to sort it out.

Another muscle—the flexor carpi radialis which lies just to the thumb side of the palmaris longus–could contain a trigger point that you may think is carpal tunnel but is really not. In any event, if the trigger point is present it could cause pain on the palm side of the wrist. A typical activity which aggravates the trigger point is using scissors to cut tough material- gripping and squeezing a hand gripper would cause pain as well. To find the trigger point, press just to the thumb side of the palmaris longus trigger point area.

Note: sometime finding trigger points is like going on a fishing expedition. You don’t know whether they are there, and you only have a general notion of where they are. And, you need to look both shallow and deep to locate either fish or trigger points!

It is possible that a problem in the neck could create the symptoms as well. As a chiropractor I always look to the neck when I evaluate an extremity problem, as what I have often found over the years in stubborn cases that have not responded to direct treatment to the involved area are neck problems. In such cases there is often an irritation of one or more of the nerves that give sensation to the wrist and power to the muscles that move it. Usually evaluation of neck-related carpal tunnel requires professional analysis, but a rough test is this: tilt your head sideways, first to one side and then to the other. Then bend it forwards and backwards. Then to the side and back. Make the movements slowly but strongly, and take the motion to the end point of the range of motion. If any of these movements creates a “nervy” sensation down your arm, into your upper back or into the wrist, you may have a neck problem that is creating difficulties farther away from the neck. A useful picture to keep in mind is that of the spine as the fuse box, with the nerves as electrical wires. The muscles are the appliances that run off the electricity provided by the spine, as directed by the nerves.

Let’s say you find a trigger point or two, and take care of it by direct pressure. What next?

If the discomfort is really bad and the power in the wrist or grip is poor, a short-term use of a wrist splint could be of use, especially at night if sleep is a problem. Corrective exercise takes place in stages. First, do some light isometrics. Bend your wrist backwards and hold it there for 7-10 seconds, but for the first two weeks with only moderate force. Then increase the force of the contraction.

The second stage involves the use of wrist extensions, usually called reverse forearm curls. Dumbbells or an EZ curl would be better than a barbell at this stage, because the barbell may force the wrist to internally rotate (also called pronation) too much for a sore wrist to comfortably take. Sit down on a bench and using light dumbbells such as 5 lbs, rest your forearms on your thighs, palm down with the dumbbell hanging in front of your knee. Bend your wrist backwards. Do higher repetitions- perhaps 20 or more per set; do 3 or more sets. An alternate position is to kneel at the side of the bench with your forearms resting on the bench, dumbbells hanging over the opposite side. Another exercise is too make figure eights with the dumbbell, again for higher reps. If the dumbbell is really light, increase the reps up to 50. There is no need to add real weight at this stage as mobility, neuromuscular co-ordination and rehabilitation are being developed, not size or big strength. Daily or nearly daily performance of the programme is fine.

The third and final stage involves continuing these basic exercises, but adding weight and performing them every other day. However, do not rush! When the pain in the wrist is minor and has been that way for 3 weeks, it is probably safe to increase the workload.

As far as nutritional supplementation, some patients have responded well to vitamin B-6, a reduction in salt and use of bromelain. B-6 at no more than 100mg. daily for several weeks may help; as B-6 is associated with proper never function. Salt reduction may reduce any swelling, and bromelain is an enzyme that helps the body metabolise ‘rubbish’ in various musculoskeletal tissue structures, thereby reducing inflammation.

Of course, there is very little point in fixing carpal tunnel syndrome—or any other condition for that matter—if you don’t take steps to prevent recurrence. It would be a waste of time and set a poor pattern for future training to do otherwise. However, the first practical steps to take are to pay real attention to your grip when pressing, and we’re speaking of bench, overhead or any other kind. People get into trouble when they let the bar ride too far back, i.e. the wrist is bent too far back as well, creating tremendous stress on both sides of the wrist. It takes a good body-sense to get the right feel for the bar; it should be gripped firmly and not too loosely, as the slacker the grip, the less the actions of the flexors on the palm side of the forearm, which translates to less of a muscular counteraction to the back bending. A strong grip to some degree protects the wrists from excessive motion.

It could be also that curls with a straight bar annoy your wrists. Your wrists may be congenitally tight, meaning you have to work too hard to externally rotate them just to get the underhand grip. Outside of abnormal wrist stress it could set you up for elbow troubles as well, as both ends of the forearm work double-hard to rotate outwards. I knew a power lifter with this condition who eventually had to quit doing curls; his ability to deadlift was much more important.

We always adhere to the old adage about prevention being better than cure, and carpal tunnel is no exception. If your wrists start to play up, outside of the usual admonitions to ice the sore areas for 10-15 minutes it would be a good idea to start doing specific warm-ups for your wrists. Martial artists in the rappelling styles know very well the importance of this, as their wrists are often bent and otherwise abused. For lifting, the best thing to do is do some forearm curls, reverse forearm curls and figure eights, but with very light weghts. Remember, we are talking about warming up, not building at this point!

Finally, if gripping the barbell seems a real problem to your wrists, try using dumbbells instead for your presses. The subtle change in angles may be just the rest your wrists need. And, don’t forget to sort out our computer desk and keyboard! What you do doing your non-training time you bring with you to training.

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Standing Tall

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Exercise, Healing, Joints, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

by Dr. Gregory Steiner~

One of the little, silly catch-phrases we use at the clinic is “Take the Ouch! out of the Slouch.” It’s pitched at the level where everyone can remember it, and even for it’s simplistic -soundingness, there’s a lot in it.

So, let’s deal with real basics, and talk about posture from a chiropractic, mechanical and cosmetic view points.

As in so many areas of my professional life, while I learned a lot form my teachers, I’ve learned even more from the good ones and bad ones in weight training. As a general group, I would say that an unfortunate league table exists for rating how well or how badly people who lift weights wisely use their bodies natural capability. Here’s my evaluation – general impressions formed over years of watching, participating and treating men and women in all the categories.

In bottom place, bodybuilders.

In middle place, power lifters.

In absolute first place, Olympic lifters – as I’ve written many times and will do again, these people know how to stand, how to move, and how to lift great weights with great speed with impeccable co-ordination. All deserving kudos to them!

Ok, not all bodybuilders. In fact, the best ones will have learned how to balance out all main postural muscle groups in order to stand well, to present themselves in the best possible way.

Look at it this way. If you stand straight, you look better. If you stand straight, you breathe better. If you breathe better, your energy is better – and possibly your sleep. If your energy is better, you train better. You’ll have already completed the sequence – if you train better, you get bigger and stronger.

Sometimes various writers discuss posture, usually a physiotherapist, an alternative health practitioner, or another health professional. All the technicalities are good, and alternative health models that talk about releasing energy are fine as well – if they serve their purpose to motivate you to actually stand up straight – habitually. Not for an hour, or when you feel like it, but as a natural way of life.

Probably not “sexy” enough a topic to warrant much discussion in many magazines, you’ll find it’s more the authors who maintain something of the old-time physical culture approach to training that may mention or talk around the topic of posture. Bradley Steiner’s writing has a lot of this flavour – he deserves a read as well as a lot of attention, for two simple reasons. One, he walked the walk – Bradley built himself up from frailty to power and vitality by following these principles, and two, he’s has helped and inspired many, many others to do the same for many, many years. I don’t know if we have a common ancestor somewhere back there, but we share that experience, building from relative frailty to vitality and strength through training in both fitness and martial arts. Seek him out.

The physical culturists were way ahead of their time, though the word hasn’t been used much since WWII, as far as I know. So, why were they ahead of their time? For one, their philosophy from which they designed their training methods was wholistic. That word – “wholism” refers to a certain mindset on how things fit together, the emphasis in on systems. It’s one of the main reasons why wholistic practitioners have enjoyed an tremendous increase in popularity and utilisation of their methods, whether it be wholistic medical doctors, chiropractors or Alexander technique coaches.

In direct terms, the wholistic practitioner in the best sense of the word recognises how this bit connects and interacts with that bit, and how those two bits together work together to interact with the third bit. By contract, old-school medicine perceives the “person” as distinct from the body, and each part of the body as more or less distinct from the other parts. While strictly speaking in orthopedics – sorting out joints and other musculoskeletal structures there is a real use in fixing a battered knee, for example, how that knee affects the gait, and how that altered gait causes pain in the low back or neck receives little attention. In my clinic, for we assume from the start that whatever the problem, it’s connected to something else. Of it’s pain of long standing, there will almost always be some type of distortion as the body shifts to alleviate pain as best it can. If a problem is new, we look for underlying , undiscovered weaknesses or “stuck bits” that set the stage for injury, such as bent or twisted spines in muscles imbalances front and back (or agonist antagonist).

What I’m trying to do here is give some illustration of the principles in action. Physical culture expressed a philosophy enacted in total lifestyle. If I have a criticism about most of modern body building, it’s the overly narcissistic mind set that inverts priorities that lead to long life, good health and lots of energy. What I see is body-beautiful first, strength second, and health as an after thought.

Ok, we know that culture being the way it is, no one except really close family and friends really have much concern for your health, but I can equally guarantee you that every author in Hardgainer look at things the other way round, especially if they have a few years of experience and a few miles on the body. We want to stay fit and strong and looking good – forever! And it can be done.

Ok, we also know that many more people will reward you, shun you and form impressions of you, as you do of yourself – based on how you look. Your gym buddies will categorize you on your strength, and both of these are sources of real motivation.

So, what’s all this leading to? Remember what we said about some doctors looking at the body like a collection of body parts, each one with little relation to the others? And, recall how we discussed the wholistic viewpoint? Physical culture was like the wholistic way of seeing things – healthy mind, in healthy body, in a life lived according to those principles. In daily terms this meant acting and doing in ways to promote that bigger picture of health and vitality. You train hard, you train wisely, you rest well, you eat wisely- and guess what, you look fantastic as a result. Except there is an added bonus – you radiate a certain energy that others can sense, it’s part of what makes some people “naturally beautiful.”

There is some hard-edge scientific research that shows “symmetry” be a Very Big Deal in judgements of attractiveness. Muscle size is certainly part of it, but relative balance and shape counts for much more than sheer size – unless being a strength athlete is your driving goal. The point is, some of our desire for the Better Body may be biologically based, and it operates within us all the time though our exact expression of the desire can be modified according to culture and person.

As a case in point, picture any “charismatic” person you choose. How does that person stand? If you are picturing a slouch, let’s say your tastes are “unique!” The clearest examples of straight posture come from the military of course, and while the military posture can be too stiff – not at all like that of the Olympic lifters who have more “bounce and carriage,” it’s a lot more right than wrong. In my clinical experience I’ve worked enough years to track people’s posture. I rarely, rarely have seen long-term military-types develop that hunched over shuffle I see so much in either desk workers who don’t exercise, or manual workers who have strong back and weak stomachs. Rather, you can read the non-verbal communication that slouching – to the ex-military man – was and is seen as a sin with damnation as the penalty!

Believe it or not, taking postures (in conjunction with adopting facial expressions) characteristic of certain emotions generate real, measurable changes in physiology. For example, if a person assumes an angry posture and expression, heart rate and body temperature rises. If a person assumes the characteristics of fear, heart rate rises but temperature drops. So, there seems to be a direct posture – physiology connection, independent of environmental events that trigger.

So, let’s take this the other way around. If you slouch, there is more chance to feel depressed feelings. But, if you stand straight and tall, everything balanced and working well – you have much more of a chance to feel on top of your game.

In relation to training, what we’re trying to do is establish a basic level, foundational mind-body connection that let’s you know when your posture is “right.” If you can feel this, your margin of safety and future productivity in training has just increased dramatically – as well as your training longevity.

Look in a mirror – or better yet have a tailor look at you and measure you up; tailors and dress makers have an eye to rival the best health professionals. In my clinic I take digital photos of people to let them see what I see – which besides the off-balance and tilted shoulders and hips are shocked looks on patient’s faces when they recognise that being the human Tower of Pisa is not “normal.” After they accept that, we’re usually ready to get to work!

If you see a tilt, consult a sports oriented chiropractor, physio or doctor to advise you; Alexander technique practitioners do a good job as well. So, get to work and take the Ouch out of the Slouch!.

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What Else Makes a Child Hyper?

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Allergies, Chiropractic, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Sugar hides in all shapes & forms of food

~by Dr. Gregory Steiner

Just this last weekend I attended a course in clinical nutrition that explored the links between food and mental and emotional function. Nutritional status is linked to moods good or bad, attention focused or scattered, aggression, and of course overall energy.

In our clinics (both Allen and Dallas) we have treated children and adults with attention disorders, as well as for nutritionally-linked affective problems, e.g. depression. One of the first avenues of inquiry we look at is allergy or hypersensitivity, and while a person may be only too well aware of seasonal pollen allergies, he or she – or the parent – usually overlooks underlying food intolerance, and there may be several or even many.

Each of us has by virtue of our constitution has levels of tolerance for many factors; some people tolerate pain better than others, some fatigue, some people do better in heat, and others in cold. In a similar manner, some people have a touchier digestive system and others a very touchy respiratory system. Here is where environment really comes into play.

Perhaps you have a child or spouse with a pollen allergy, and every September you can’t sleep because your family member sniffles and coughs the night away. Poor you! However, what no one can figure out is why the presumed allergy is worse on some days than others, regardless of the pollen count. What we have found is that the poor person keeping you awake may have an underlying food intolerance that only compounds the problem. Let’s use sugar, for example. Did you know that if you take in refined sugar your immune system can be weakened within a short time of ingesting it? So, the next logical question is to ask about the condition of the immune system of a person who consumes sugar every day. Thought it took years for me to realize the answer, many years ago while in college I got quite a few colds, and finally I realized that there was a pattern to the illness: if I had a diet of cookies, Doritos and soda, I’d be sick a week later. Often though only a low-grade sore throat and some sniffles, after I started paying attention I saw a pattern that was all-too obvious.

Let’s put some pieces together.

Many allergy sufferers seem to go between allergy, illness, and allergy and back to illness. In many cases the problem is simple: they do have an allergy that causes them misery, but they also have a diet that weakens their immune system, which means they are often carrying a low-grade infection for weeks and months, on top of the allergy. In other words, their systems are just overwhelmed, and they often suffer for months or even years.

How difficult is the solution? Let me tell it this way. I will always recall the very fit and very tired mom of a two-year old who hadn’t slept for both years of her young life due to an endless supply of green mucus running out her young nose. I will also recall the conversation with the mom, which went something like this:

“Mom, do you feed your daughter much sugar, because this is what it looks like is happening.”

“Oh no, doctor! We try to eat healthy in my house.”

“Well, I said, “what does she eat for breakfast?”

Mom replied: “She has a Pop Tart or two, then some orange juice, and …..”

I stopped her right there, because Mom needed some real education as to what sugar is actually in.

Mom did stop the Pop Tarts, and within 3 visits using some additional care, the young child’s nose cleared up, and to this date Mom and daughter are sleeping…..and the daughter can concentrate much better.

Allergies, illness and sugar often run together, and with kids, if blood sugar is either too high or low, they will become hyper or even aggressive and mean. There are ways to test for excess sugar and food intolerances, but a simple plan that can help both attention, (not to mention dental bills) is to eliminate or greatly reduce sugars intake, though if a food comes in a box, bag or can, it probably has sugars in it. Not an easy task, but it certainly can lead to better health in the family, as well as better performance in school.

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Sleep – the Natural Fountain of Youth

Posted on October 19, 2011. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Fatigue, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

 ~By Dr. Gregory Steiner

If you can sleep, you can heal. Maybe better is to say that if you can sleep naturally, fully and well, then you can heal. Lots of people sleep – if that’s what you want to call it: go to bed late after taking medication, awaken a short time later with your mind whirling overtime; sleep another hour, awaken again – then it’s time to get up, feed the children and get ready to start the day after the one-or-more cups of coffee.

A day that comes after such a night will no doubt be a long one. The first slump may hit about 10, and the worse one in mid-afternoon. I have some people tell me that their energetic goal for the day is to survive until noon, then again until dinner. The rub is that whether executive, developer, or stay-at-home mom, you are expected and required to think, organize, decide and perform without fail each and every day. Not so easy on drug induced sleep, or no sleep at all.

Sleep is a very good invention, and I’m sorry I didn’t patent it. If I were to recommend one and only one thing I believe is paramount for health, energy and long-term well-being, sleep it would be. There’s an interesting observation differentiating kids and adults. Have you noticed that if a child is ill, eats the wrong thing, or generally gets out of sorts that he or she usually goes hyper? It’s as though the default program for kids is to rev up all the more, get wired and never, never go to bed!

At some age the see-saw tips the other direction. Have you noticed that if an adult is ill, eats the wrong thing, or generally gets out of sorts he or she gets oh-so-tired? I’m not it’s as thought the default program is for the body to get heavy and sluggish, and thinking either dulled repetitive with endless worry. And when you make it to bed you can’t sleep anyway. I’m not sure the age where this change occurs, but it seems early, almost certainly in the late 20’s.

The causes? As a physician with another degree in psychology and years of a fitness background, I don’t for a minute believe that this is normal for people. Common – yes, normal no. It’s important to spend a minute on the distinction; tooth decay is common, heart attacks are common, and so are speeding tickets and library fines. There is a common cause here – negligence! Don’t for a minute buy into the notion that so much of the discomfort associated with age is normal. We have 100,000 miles bodies but with improper balance, over-inflation and bad alignment so many of us are looking for patches at a tenth of that number.

Sleep and Healing

Sleep is a profound healer. If you can sleep you can heal. You might have read about growth hormone – it’s a great favorite of the young-forever Hollywood crowd, and no less a hunk than Sylvester Stallone was arrested for bringing a case-full into Australia a year or two ago. (He did have a prescription, by the way). Growth hormone turns on the repair process of your body, and helps keep the skin young, muscles strong and brain in good shape. But it’s produced when you reach a certain state of restful sleep, and not at other times! Therefore, if you want natural growth hormone production you need to sleep.

What if you can’t sleep? Lately with all the economic turmoil and worry in the neighborhood lots and lots of people aren’t sleeping very well at all. Surprisingly enough this can be quite easy to help with acupuncture; two key points by the crease of the wrist work wonders. Herbs can be of use, and don’t forget the other favorite – regular exercise.

Basics are best, because they come closest to working with your body as it was designed to be used.

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