Dr. Shiyama Hassan, WIN Naturopathic Doctor, reviews the evidence based benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin, especially as it relates to arthritis, inflammation and healing time.Read More
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Matthew Bird, Chiropractor
In a previous post, I discussed the two fundamental approaches to treatment, Duct Tape and WD 40, which people require when dealing with nagging musculoskeletal ailments.
At WIN Health Solutions Niagara, these two approaches for treating commonly observed ailments are easily assessed by one of our manual therapists. These particular complaints refer to structural properties of the body, which I will refer to as the hardware systems of health.
The hardware items include your...
- Joint capsules
These items can be easily understood when discussing where the pain is coming from when there is an injury.
What if there wasn’t a single event that caused pain? What if the pain suddenly appeared for no apparent reason?
These pain syndromes tend to be very frustrating for the patient and generally lead to significant worry regarding how to deal with the pain.
Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say we have a runner who has been running on a “good” training program revolving around duration, intensity, and frequency. The training program has been going well for about two months but, suddenly, the runner has knee pain.
First, we check in with a WIN Niagara Falls Chiropractic Doctor for an evaluation. :)
The runner seems to have all the “hardware” in place with no signs of true weakness or inflammation. Overall, isolated mobility of the ankle, the knee and the hip seem to be good, indicating that the hardware appears to be intact.
So why is the runner in pain?
An assessment of the site shows some deficits in squat mechanics and lunge patterns. However, the runner has no pain during testing.
In this example, the runner’s hardware systems have adapted to a glitch in the software system designed to control their very function.
Sure, individual components work but, as a whole, there is a problem.
The software system I am speaking of is the motor pattern control unit of mobility and there is definitely a “bug” in the system.
Because of this “bug”, the hardware is insufficient at coordinating movement patterns from segment to segment resulting in pain perceived to be strictly a hardware issue.
Thus, the hardware is insufficient to take the loads of training either in duration, intensity, or frequency. This is called maladaptation and has probably been going on for years prior to the injury or before the runner even became a runner.
We are all aware that general pain onset when starting a new program is normal as the hardware adapts, but the question then arises:
Have you properly addressed movement issues before starting your program?
Have you optimally developed a motor planning skill set to allow the hardware system to truly gain strength and endurance?
Your hardware training of tissue development requires software updating to truly define and maintain hardware integrity.
Software development (changing your motor skills) does not require heavy weight training or long endurance bouts of exercise. It requires a commitment to truly understanding how your muscles move your joints in a defined movement sequence. Not in isolation, but in multi-segmental movement patterns ie: multiple body parts at the same time.
A WIN Health Niagara Falls Chiropractic Doctor can help you identify these faulty patterns of movement, help move those “stuck” spots and show you how to stabilize those “loose” spots. It all begins with the housing of the nervous system, your spine, and how well you control its postural demands. It will ultimately come down to how committed you are at recognizing and addressing your own limitations to prevent hardware failures. To create a smoothly functioning system for your musculoskeletal health visit, visit us at WIN Health Solutions Niagara.
By WIN Contributor; Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
I was recently asked* by "Rewire Me" to write an article for their readers that focused on personal transformation which drew from my years of work and life experience. I wrote on a topic that was near and dear to me: how the path toward optimal health, including my own, is not linear.
What does this all mean...not linear? It's really quite simple... think of a zig zag... think... two steps forward, one step back... think the winding path to the top of a mountain.
My hope in sharing my story is that more people are inspired to keep working on getting to their truest and best expression of health. When the going gets tough, to remember to not give up.
If you want to hear my own zig zaggy, back and forth, fall down nine times stand up ten, story about the journey of health... keep reading...
The Winding Path for the Naturopath
For those who know me, many would find it hard to believe that at one time in my life I hated vegetables. It would be especially surprising to know that I had an equally strong aversion to exercise of any kind. It is true that into my early adulthood, I seldom ate my greens, I cursed the thought of physical activity and my passion was sugar. This would be hard to imagine now, since my passion in life is to not only educate others about how to be proactively healthy and prevent illness, but to also live this way.
It wasn’t always like this, and I had a moment in my early adulthood when I realized that my self care had to change. Back then, I felt like an old lady trapped in a young person’s body.
Though I struggled with constant fatigue, I couldn’t fall asleep at night. I was plagued with frequent infections, regular headaches, felt rusty in the mornings and my hair was falling out. I felt unwell, but I just accepted this was normal for me. Deep down inside, I knew my body was breaking down, and I needed to make a change.
There is a tremendous amount of health research linking poor nutrition and lifestyle habits to the rampant chronic illness rates in North America. In addition, over recent years we are seeing more studies, such as the one published in the journal Circulation in 2013, that links sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition in teens to an increased risk of developing heart disease in their forties.
Some people may think I just jumped right into a healthy lifestyle and kept on going. I wish that was the way it happened but for me, like most people, I found that the journey of health was not linear. I see many people stuck in a state of mediocre health who start out with great energy to revolutionize their lives. But as they face challenges or are put outside their comfort zone, their enthusiasm can fizzle out.
"When we are not aware of the fact that the gift of health is earned over time, it is easy to become discouraged and discontinue our efforts."
The path towards our best expression of health is a zig-zaggy, up and down, steps forward and steps back kind of path. When we are not aware of the fact that the gift of health is earned over time, it is easy to become discouraged and discontinue our efforts. It is important to remember that there is substantial growth, self-awareness, realizations and time required to transform our health.
"Starting out by making small changes counts just as much as the big jumps into a health kick."
Wading through the healthy options, trying them on, failing sometimes, making mistakes and experiencing the big wins are all rolled into this journey. Some things we may enjoy, and other things we may not.
This is completely normal.
It’s part of the process.
In today’s age of perfectionism and instant gratification, this can be incredibly challenging to accept at times. Sadly, these two factors often hold people back from making progress and reaching their goals. However, letting go of expectations while walking this uneven road frees the way to higher ground.
Starting out by making small changes counts just as much as the big jumps into a health kick. When we take these steps to do good things for our mind, body and soul, the net result is always positive. It may at times be a climb but the view from the top is worth it.
*Acknowledgment: Many thanks to Kaitlin Vogel and the team at Rewire Me for the opportunity to contribute to their great site! You can see the published article for Rewire Me here.
Did you notice the photos of Michael Phelps' during the Men's 4x100 freestyle relay swim which won him a gold. It's always riveting watching an Olympic swimming competition, but what's got just as much media buzz is the purple marks along his upper body.
Phelps' large purple dots are the result of a super old Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy known as "Cupping." Many athletes, celebrities, and yes, even many of us regular folks, have taken to Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies like acupuncture and cupping to address concerns and optimize health.
What Is Cupping?
Cupping involves applying a glass or plastic open ended globes to skin at different sites on the body. Classical methods involve heating the glass globes with a small flame to create a vacuum so it sticks to the skin. However, plastic options can be applied which do not require heat but use tiny levers to create suction.
The purpose of the suction is to lift of the soft tissue beneath the area it's on. Cups can be left in place or moved around a site of concern. This increases blood flow, kneads out tension and breaks up scar tissue.
Discolouration is due to the suction breaking superficial capillaries in the skin, however, this is temporary and usually fades within a week's time.
What Does It Feel Like?
You may associate this type of bruising with pain, but when cupping is done correctly *by a trained professional* it's not uncomfortable and can be relaxing. The sensation that people can expect when having cupping done properly is pressure, warmth and some tightness where the cup is placed but there shouldn't be intense discomfort. Think of it like a deep tissue massage.
What Are The Benefits of Cupping?
Can you believe that cupping is a 3,000 year old practice? People find that cupping helps to reduce muscle soreness, increase range of motion, speed healing and improve mobility. Many providers of this therapy have also used it to help with other things such as poor circulation, immune health and anxiety.
Cupping At WIN
Our Registered Massage Therapist, Amanda Cajucom, utilizes cupping. It is another example of how our providers maintain an eclectic approach in their health care so they can better help the patients they are working with.
If you want to try cupping for your sore muscles or to see what all the fuss is about, contact us to arrange a time to meet and discuss this therapy with Amanda at WIN Health Solutions Niagara.
Or... If you want to use acupuncture in your care, visit one of our physiotherapists, chiropractors or our naturopathic doctor as all the WIN providers have extensive experience using acupuncture to help people address their health concerns.
By WIN Contributor: Scott Paul, Personal Trainer
A hockey player skates down the ice, a sprinter runs the 100m, an older adult stands on their toes reaching for something up high and another person tries to keep control after stepping off the side of the curb. What do all these things have in common? They all require a degree of balance.
Balance is important in our everyday lives and the balance we have deceases as we age. That is one reason why we need to work on it. It is trainable. You can become better at it. Gymnasts who hop and jump on one leg onto a narrow beam do so with practice. You can get better, just as they do. I start to do a balance drill and have heard almost every time “oh, my balance isn’t very good”. I think “well, you’re in luck, that’s why we’re going to work on it." And that’s the thing; even those with the best of balance need to work on it.
I was at a conference years ago and the instructor leading the presentation said something that has stuck with me ever since. “To train balance, you need to put the body OUT OF BALANCE.”
It is like the Principle of Overload, where you must lift heavier and heavier, to get stronger. As you stand there, doing dishes, with two feet on the ground and about shoulder width apart, you’re not really working on balance are you? Just as you’re not working on strength by lifting your cell phone off the table.
There are many exercises we can do to work on balance, which for some might be just standing on a single foot, while others may need an unstable surface.
There’s the reaching drill, I often do with my clients at our wellness clinic niagara falls, where you reach to the front, to the side and to the back with one foot while standing on the other.
Also, try doing the dishes standing on one foot. That makes dishwashing a bit more challenging. Then try balancing with your eyes closed, or balancing while playing catch. There are tons of ways to keep it challenging and interesting.
Everyone needs to work on balance. For some it may be to help them with everyday tasks and for others it may be to help them with a particular sport. Balance is something that diminishes with age, but something we can train and get better at.
By WIN Contributor: Nancy V, Reception Team Member
Just as we cheer on and encourage our patients to reach their highest potential and go for their own personal gold, the WIN team raced for gold to support Project Share. Under the Friday night lights, the WIN team set out to show off our driving skills at the go kart track.
With twelve teams, and four racers per team, the challenge was on to show how well WIN Health Solutions could steer around the competition.
Our Physiotherapy team member, Karen raced first, giving the rest of the WIN team an insight on how the track felt and widening the first corner quite nicely for the other drivers. We were off to a good start!
Then it was Dr. Matt's turn to show us all how go karts are meant to be driven, coming in first in his heat. Dr. Matt's a natural when it comes to excelling in sports, even racing! Dr Matt was on to the semi finals.
As luck would have it, our WIN Physiotherapist, Tania Mannella decided to show off her driving skills and was first in her heat for a lap or two, but was then bumped into the guard rail. She recovered, just like her patients at WIN Health Solutions do, and proudly finished the race.
Finally the Pit Boss, Dr Ernie was up. Just like at work, he was determined to give it his all. Passing cars and ending up second in his heat Dr Ernie was also off to the semi finals.
With only a few competitors left to race against, the WIN team put their heads together.
Smiling and laughing while we pooled our knowledge and shared some tricks and insights to figure out a strategy to pull off the victory.
Dr Ernie, putting the petal to the metal, raced in the semi but got bumped out while Dr Matt bumped and drifted his way into the finals.
As the final race began Dr Matt was determined to come out on top. Unfortunately, we were not destined to be champions this night, but it was a wonderfully fun night of team cheering and racing as the WINcredibles in support of Project Share.
Congratulations to the Project Share Grand Prix champions! Coming in at 3rd place was Big Wheels, 2nd place Past & Present, and 1st place Chippawa Presbyterian Church!
And now the track is set for next year ...
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
Stress can be a major influence on chronic illness, especially heart disease. A great way to neutralize stress is to find ways to increase our feeling of wellbeing and happiness day to day.
The little things we can do each day may seem like David going up against Goliath... but we know how that story ends. It's true that the small things do count. Stress can be cumulative through the day or week. Taking stress out at the knees with small karate chops can have a tremendous effect on how you feel in addition to protecting and preserving your heart health.
1) Drink Water
Staying properly hydrated is health promoting, but it can also make a difference in our disposition. There have been studies that link bad moods and dehydration.
2) Yes! Do That Thing You Want To Do!
Is it a cooking class? A yoga class package? A camping trip? Skiing? A trip to the beach?
Pick something you want to splurge on that is an experience that you would love. Make plans and provisions to see it through. The anticipation of attending that musical you've always wanted to see, that super fun excursion, that ballroom dancing class, is enough to dramatically lift your mood.
3) Smile In Your Mind, Smile In your Heart, Even Smile In Your Liver
Ok... I got that Liver part from Ketut in Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love"... but this is a very authentic statement. When we smile like we mean it, and this might involve putting that smile not only on our face but also where it resonates most with us (e.g. our heart, our mind and yes, some of us could do with some smiling in our Liver, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the organ that is said to store Anger).
This helps our own feeling of wellbeing and it can also completely change another persons's day, even a stranger's, for the better.
4) Hit The Gym
Countless studies have found that regular exercise helps release endorphins, our happy hormones, from the brain.
5) Stop Networking
In the age of social media, email and instant messaging, it is easy to get caught up in constant virtual communication. This is not humanistic. Humans thrive on actual relationships and conversation. Filling up our sense of wellbeing through time spent with friends, talking about life in person, making our kids laugh, even spending time with our pets can help us destress and re-connect.
6) Do Something Selfless
Maybe it's scraping the snow off a co-worker's windshield before you leave for work, volunteering to help the elderly, offering to bring a working mom some food or helping out at the humane society. Giving back in a way that you truly enjoy can help build a strong sense of meaningfulness for you and for others.
7) Do Nothing
In this wild, busy, messy and full modern day life it's hard to disengage from it all. However when we do, and we allow time for calm, we can recharge our batteries. What springs forth from this if we allow ourselves to feel it? A Happy Heart.
By Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
The holidays should be a happy time of year. The sparkle and magic of the season is in the air and represented by the all the twinkle lights and festive decorations. However, there can be elements to the holidays that can be stressful for most people. Whether it's shopping for gifts, waiting in line-ups, party planning or family dynamics, here are my top tips to enjoy a stress free holiday.
#1 Eat Regular Meals
Keeping a stabilized blood sugar balanced by eating regularly will prevent feelings of irritability, agitation, frustration and anger. These are all emotions that can add to our stress. Remembering to take care of your fuel and energy needs will help strengthen your foundation for stress management.
#2 Use Aromatherapy
Essential oils, such as lavender, can help calm the nervous system. Citrus and peppermint can help lift your mood. Dabbing these essential oils over the body's hot spots like behind the ears, at the collarbone and on the wrists can help to lend you an all-day approach to aromatherapy.
#3 Rescue Remedy
During times of need, Rescue Remedy is a wonderful, safe and effective natural remedy that can help neutralize stress. Rescue Remedy can be purchased just about anywhere such as your local health food store, natural health food section at the grocery store and even some pharmacies. A few drops of this liquid based remedy can be taken at times of stress to help calm the body. It can also be added to a water bottle and sipped through the day to help one cope with stress during stressful times. This one is a great little remedy to keep in your purse or car as a quick go-to in the moment.
These are some of my favourite suggestions to people who ask me for simple stress management solutions during the holiday season. WIN Health Solutions is a Niagara Falls wellness clinic that offers a range of health care options. There are many excellent, effective and safe natural remedies and strategies to address stress and anxiety. For a more individualized approach, together we can discuss options that are a good fit for you.
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
Do you take a proactive approach to sustaining good health or do you prefer a "Wait and See" approach?
A a Niagara Falls Naturopathic Doctor I educate my patients with an old adage: "The best way to not get sick is to stay healthy". When seek out ways to be healthy in our everyday life we are taking steps to optimize our health. Leading to:
- Stronger Immunity
- Less inflammation
- Better brain function and memory
- Clearer skin
- Good digestion
- Optimal mood
- Optimal energy
- Prevention of chronic disease
Our current conventional health care system is not set up to teach us about this. If a person waits to get treatment when they get sick and then seeks medical attention they will likely get handed a pill. This is Reactive Health Care. Symptom "X" arises, treat symptom "X". However, as we know, even though a pill treats the symptom, many people do not feel this improves their level of health. They end up experiencing repeated visits to the doctor with more questions and seeking options, often turning up empty. For some, coming off a medication may result in the health concern popping back up. For others, staying on long term pharmaceutical treatment puts them at risk for experiencing side effects and other health concerns.
Taking steps to prevent illness is what proactive health care is all about, and it works. When we give our body what it needs to function optimally we will prevent the main causes of chronic health concerns:
- Cellular damage
- Sluggish organ or glandular function
- Weak immune activity
- Poor brain function
This protective approach preserves good health and helps us move into each stage of life feeling stronger and more vibrant.
If we just take a pill to treat every ill and we do not take care of our health on a day-to-day basis, our health will deteriorate just like a muscle that is neglected. Moreover, if we reserve pharmaceutical interventions for more serious concerns, and work with natural remedies, nutrition, lifestyle support and self care, we will grow stronger health and wellness.
LEARN, GROW and be EMPOWERED in your health by utilizing Proactive Health Care as a first line approach to your health care. Didn't think this was possible? Naturopathic Doctors are professionally trained and can work along side your team of health care providers to put you on track for Proactive Health Care and Preventative Medicine.