Author: <span class="vcard">rachael</span>

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Sleep, why it matters and an interesting tip to help you get to sleep faster..

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We all know that getting a good nights sleep is really important. I say it to my clients on a regular basis that we use down time or sleep to recover and recuperate. So what happens when your body isn’t getting enough sleep? What are the potential longer term consequences?

Well they’re not all guaranteed, but your risk factors for all of the following go up if you suffer from insomnia

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • weight gain – yes weight gain!
  • weight loss – ironically…
  • increased risk of cancer and diabetes
  • lower immune system function
  • constipation and diarrhea
  • blurred vision
  • tension headaches

Some of the things we take for granted can also be affected by poor sleep or lack of sleep including:

  • Inability to Manage Stress – including agitation and overwhelm
  • Irritability or grumpiness
  • Poor concentration and focus
  • Short or long term memory loss
  • Slower reaction times
  • Problems with motor skills or operating machinery
  • Low self esteem
  • More likely to take uncalculated risks
  • Increased risk of addictions
  • Depression

It’s a pretty depressing list isn’t it. Especially if you’re someone who’s looking after yourself in many other ways and the one thing that isn’t sorting itself out is your sleep.

So what can you do to improve your ability to sleep? 

  1. Try to stay awake – a small study from the University of Hertfordshire showed that actually trying to stay awake increased your chance of falling asleep when compared to people who tried to fall asleep
  2. Hide your clock
  3. Cool your room – our temperature drops when we sleep, a cooler room supports this
  4. Have a warm shower, before going into your cooler bedroom
  5. Wear socks – a study showed that warm hands and feet were a predictor of being able to fall asleep
  6. Immerse your face in ice cold water – triggers the Mamalian Dive Reflex lowering heart rate and blood pressure, soothing your system
  7. Scent your bedroom with lavender
  8. Listen to classical music for around 45 mins
  9. Avoid watching television or using electronic devices in the hour before bedtime
  10. Try the 4,7,8 method – championed by Dr. Andrew Weil (see below)

“4,7,8” Method

Championed by best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil—and various wellness bloggers, the “4-7-8” breathing technique is purported to help you fall asleep in under a minute. The method is said to relax you by increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood stream, slowing your heart rate, and releasing more carbon dioxide from the lungs. According to DrWeil.com, here’s how you do it:
  1. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  6. Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

So I’d love to know what works for you ? Do share below if you have anything else that really works too.

For some people there is so much stress in their body and their life they need more help. If you’ve tried everything above and more, think about getting your Nervous System and Spine evaluated because the answer may lie there…

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The Importance of Hydration

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While you’re busy enjoying your summer activities—whether it’s hiking, biking, fishing, camping, relaxing by the pool, or enjoying summer sports—don’t forget to stay hydrated You can chose between tap, bottled or alkaline water.

But first, what are the symptoms of dehydration to look out for?

The most common signs are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Tired or sleepy
  • Decreased urine output
  • Urine is low volume and more yellow than normal
  • Headache
  • Dry skin
  • Dizziness

Severe Dehydration signs include:

  • No urine or very limited urine output
  • Dizziness that affects your ability to walk
  • Blood pressure drops when you stand up
  • Rapid heart rate that doesn’t settle
  • Fever
  • Poor skin elasticity (slowly goes back to normal position when pinched)
  • Lethargy, confusion, coma
  • Seizure
  • Shock

Obviously these symptoms are rare, but if you suspect someone with you is suffering seek immediate medical support.

But to Water….

We like alkaline water, and whilst the research is still in the embryonic stages, this is what they think so far…

Why is alkalinity important for your health?

It helps you combat acid overload by regulating your pH balance.  Not only will it help alleviate unpleasant symptoms, but it will also help boost your energy, support your immunity, support your weight loss program, promote a healthy heart, improve your cognitive function, promote healthy skin, ease back/joint pain, and aid your overall health and well-being.  What’s not to love?

Our favourite choices are either Liquid Chlorophyll by Natures Sunshine. We’ve used the product for several years now and our bodies just love it. Alternatively you can buy alkaline drops from Amazon.

Whether you chose to hydrate with Alkaline water or not, make sure you drink plenty of water to support you through the hot summer months. Maybe this summer isn’t a one off, who knows, but for now, look after your body and drink as much water as it needs.

The Importance of Paying Attention

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One of the first questions I ask my clients is what are they aware of during and immediately after a chiropractic adjustment?

Because for most people lots of things will change in their body during and after an adjustment, and research shows that being aware increases sustainability and benefits.

So what do most people answer in the beginning? 

Most people tell me about their pain – did it go down, did it go up, did it move. And often that’s all they focus on. Some people will say that their breathing got deeper, they feel more relaxed, they felt their pain melt away or their stress melt away. Many people report feeling more relaxed.

I think because most people come for pain or symptoms, that’s what they focus on. So here is a question?

Where in your body do you think you are most resourceful? 

If an area of your spine is locked up and not working very well, or is painful, do you think this area is resourceful and able to self correct? The answer is pretty obviously NO. So if you put all your focus here, do you think it will help you get more resourceful?

Most of spend a lot of time focusing on the part of our body that hurts, that isn’t behaving, that feels like it’s letting us down.

So what about finding some new internal resources? 

What if, instead of focusing on the area that hurts you start to focus on your whole body? You observe how your body moves as you breathe in and out. If you have a sense of energy in the body, observe where it flows and where it is blocked. If somewhere in your body feels really relaxed and good, what do you notice when you focus there?

So many people say – “I only have pain when I stop and pay attention”. So that makes the pain more obvious, but it doesn’t necessarily make them more resourceful. What if you could find areas in your body that are highly resourceful (because we all have them) and focussed on them. How would your whole body feel?

Now not everyone has those skills, but another way of creating some ease in your body is to remember an event or a person that always makes you feel good and focus on that memory for a few minutes. How does that make you feel? Does your breathing deepen? Do you feel your body relax? What changes? Now do the opposite, focus on someone or something that stresses you out? What happens to your breath? Does your body tense up? What changes in your body?

So how do you find more internal resources? 

The best approach I know of is Somato-Respiratoy Integration, so I’m going to share some of the basics of it to start this process of finding internal resources.

Look at the diagram. It shows you where positions 1, 2 and 3 on the body. Find a quiet space and then listen to the recording, which will help you start your journey to better body connection and resourcefulness.

 

 

 

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Modern Medicine has few answers to Low Back Pain – so what do you do?

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It’s thought that almost every adult at some point in their life will suffer with low back pain, but our medical profession is limited to pain killing tablets or injections or surgery. And did you know that UK Doctors are not allowed to recommend alternative therapies, that may be more beneficial to their patien

ts. I’m guessing in part it’s because the medical degree rarely contains any education on the benefits of complimentary therapies, so doctors aren’t actually qualified to comment on them. They have to rely on personal experience. 

This concern was flagged up in a major study in the Lancet, one of the most prestigious journals out there.

The biggest problem with pain killers is they may reduce pain (and they don’t always) but they mask the symptoms rather than dealing with the cause of the problem, often prolonging the injury and in some cases causing more damage to the spine.

The Chiropractic degree in the UK is a 5 year program, where they study the spine in depth. And if you’re concerned that your chiropractor may miss medical conditions, they spend a significant amount of time studying pathology and general diagnosis, so that when your medical doctor is needed, they will refer you.

Ref: Lancet, 2018 Mar 20

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The Important Side Effects of Pain Killers we didn’t know about….

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Having worked as a chiropractor for over 15 years, I’ve seen many people with pain complaints, be it low back pain, chronic neck pain, pain between the shoulder blades, headaches, the list goes on and on. And almost all of them at some point have taken pain killing medication for either a short or often a long time. Because that’s what we do. We injure ourselves and our culture tells us the first line of treatment is medication…. And most of us now know that we have to be careful with certain drugs because of side effects such as stomach bleeding, but we know the risk and we take it.

However, new research is coming out around the common painkillers including paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofren that I for one find quite disturbing. 

A study in Finland looked at people who had been convicted of homicide (that’s murder in English). They 959 convicts and compared them to 9000 individuals who had never been convicted and compared their medications. They were looking for a correlation between SSRIs (anti-depressants) or anti-psychotic mediations. Instead they found a much higher correlation between opioid painkillers such as codeine and non-opiod painkillers such as paracetamol and aspirin (WorldPsychiatry, 2015; 14:245-7)

In another study, people taking common painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin and paracetamol had their responses to painful experiences blunted (not just their physical responses), and became less empathetic to other peoples pain and suffering. It appears that they hinder an individuals ability to put themselves in someone elses shoes and feel that persons emotional and physical pain (PolicyInsights:BehavBrainSci, 2018; 5:82-9)

A further study on Paracetamol shows that is dulls our senses, not just our pain. It blocks both the emotional highs and lows (Psychological Science, 2015; doi: 10.1177/0956797615570366).

In the 15 years I’ve worked, I’ve seen a massive increase in the use of these drugs. More and more people seem to have them as a standard part of their lifestyle, popping them with little thought for the potential implications on their mental health. So next time you’re in pain, ask – do I really need to medicate this or is there another way?

Chiropractic is a drug free approach to health and wellbeing.

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What are the 12 Stages of Healing or Human Consciousness

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In his book The 12 Stages of Healing, Donald Epstein discusses the 12 stages of human consciousness we go through from a healing perspective. But what are they, and how does each stage impact on your life.

How you experience your body and your world can make a huge difference to your life experiences. We all know the differences between a glass half full person and someone who’s glass is half empty…. There is more depth to these stages, but it is always good to read them and see what rings true for you and what doesn’t. Because if are constantly circulating between stages 1, 2 and 3, progress is a challenge. You may find the resources to make change, but it will probably be a struggle……

Have a look and see what you can relate to….

The 12 Stages of Healing Exercises

Stage 1: Suffering and Disconnection
When we suffer, nothing works. We feel helpless and most of us will do anything to avoid this feeling. In this stage we learn that there are times when there is nothing we can do, but if we can learn how to connect to our body in those moments we can draw upon resources we didn’t even know we had.

Stage 2: Polarity
When there are things we cannot accept about ourselves, our situation or our life we tend to look for magical solutions or something to blame. This disconnects us from our bodies and our resources. In this stage we learn how to connect to different parts and how to increase our resourcefulness when we feel that things have been done to us or someone else can “fix” us.

Stage 3: Stuck in a Perspective
Ever feel like it doesn’t matter what you do, nothing is ever going to change? In this stage we explore how our mind can hold us in a pattern and how to connect to that part of us that is stuck and limited.

Stage 4: Reclaiming Your Power
There are times in our lives when we realize that something has to change and that something is us. In this stage we recognize how we have given our power away and how it has limited us and we step back into ownership of who we are and what’s possible.

Stage 5: Merging with the Stories
Have you ever told yourself that you just can’t change, that this is how it is or that is has to be and will always be this way? We often limit ourselves with beliefs, and often they’re not even our beliefs, we just picked them up along the way. In this stage we reconnect to that the stories and illusions we have created and start to rewrite our stories in ways that serve us more productively.

Stage 6: Preparing for Resolution
Do you ever feel so ready for change and want to build up the energy even more? In stage 6 we connect to our resources, build energy and get ready to discharge that which no longer serves us.

Stage 7: Resolution
This stage is associated with discharge of the patterns that no longer serve us. Discharge can be noise, screaming, yelling, laughing or muscular moves. It is associated with a sense of accomplishment, peace and inner strength.

Stage 8: Emptiness in Connection
Following discharge we feel empty. But that emptiness if full of potential, full of possibility. We enter a stage of gratitude, vulnerability and connection to possibility. Trust comes naturally and serendipity is a regular occurrence.

Stage 9: Light beyond the Form
We become aware that we are more than just our physical body, and can become aware of the energy flowing within us and around us. Some experience an energetic connection to others. Accompanied by feelings of awe and joy for the process.

Stage 10: Ascent
There is an awareness here that we are not just an intelligent form but we are intelligence itself. Here we transcend the limits of the self, recognizing that we are united with the force of the universe.

Stage 11: Descent
We are renewed beyond our limits and sense of self and enter into the world again. We know that we are part of all we perceive and responsible for what we know. We live without being attached to our situations. We love and serve life and others. We communicate with ourselves and others “through” our wounds instead of “from” them.

Stage 12: Community
We experience our involvement with humanity and recognize that wholeness comes from bringing our gifts of individuality into community. We receive the gifts of individuality, from within ourselves and from others. We recognize that all of our choices are spiritual ones, and affect the entire globe of beings. This occurs in our internal and external communities. Eventually, we recognize that the limits of what we can bring to community stem from our own lack of wholeness. Therefore we seek to re-experience the rhythm of Stage One.

 

 

Based on Somato-Respiratory Integration as described by Dr Donald Epstein in his book, 12 Stages of Healing.

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When is the pain in your foot something to do with your back?

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So obviously the first thing to do when you are experiencing pain in your foot is to check your foot. It could be a problem with ill fitting shoes, corns, plantar fasciatis, etc. But have you thought of checking your back, specifically your lumbar spine?

You might be surprised to find out that irritation of your sciatic nerve can cause intense foot pain.

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body and extends from your lumbar spine down to your foot. Pressure on the nerve in your lumbar spine can cause leg and/or foot pain. Most commonly there is both leg and foot pain, but in some cases foot pain is the only symptom.

The sciatic nerve is made up of two nerve roots – L5 and S1. When the primary nerve involved is S1 you are likely to experience pain on the sole of the foot. When the primary nerve root involved is L5 you may experience and heaviness or even a loss of function of the foot known as foot drop, where you struggle to lift the front part of your foot or it simply slaps the floor as you walk (some of you will remember hearing the noise when John Thaw walked as inspector Morse, he had a foot drop)

Sciatica is commonly caused by Lumbar Disc Herniation, Canal Stenosis, Spondlylolithesis, though there are other less common causes.

So what do you do about your pain? And how do you address the cause?

Most people will start off by getting over the counter pain relief and if that doesn’t work stronger medications from their Doctor.

To address the cause however, in many cases the function of the lumbar spine also needs to be addressed, and this one area a chiropractor can commonly help…

So if you’ve tried everything else and your foot pain is not going…. consider that is may come from your lumbar spine and get help.

How to Get Better Faster?

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For most people, this is the most important thing about healing. They want to get better as fast as possible, so that they can get on with life. I get it, I’ve been there. Over the years I’ve had a variety of injuries and health challenges, and like almost every one I know, when something goes wrong I want to get better, and I want to get better yesterday.

How well you heal and how fast you heal depends in part on your focus, your intentions and your actions. Let me explain…

First of all, let me give you the example of someone who has low back pain, a common reason for consulting a chiropractor. If this persons main focus is on getting rid of pain, their internal dialogue may run along the lines of:

  • how can I stop this pain?
  • what shall I avoid doing today?
  • what’s wrong with me?
  • why me? It’s not my fault, I didn’t do anything wrong?
  • are their any stronger pills I could take?

Let’s take the same person, but their goal is to run a 10k for charity to raise money for a local hospice, but their back is playing up. Their internal dialogue may be:

  • what do I need to do to support my healing?
  • Could I run a bit, or maybe just walk? Would that help?
  • Is anything else triggering my back pain? What could I change?
  • How could I change my diet to reduce inflammation in my body to support healing?
  • what’s my body telling me? Why did this pain come on now?

Now your questions may be different again, you may be looking for a solution to a different problem. But look at the kind of questions you ask and ask yourself  the following:

“Does my internal dialogue support me healing or do it make me feel worse or less resourceful?”

The first list of questions in my opinion do nothing to increase resourcefulness. If I read them out loud I feel miserable and I don’t even have any pain currently. When I read the second list I feel uplifted. I feel that more is possible, that I can do things that will help me. It doesn’t mean that everything I do will help me, but anything that I do to get my body in a more resourceful state is going to help.

Are your Goals focused on Gaining something or Losing something? 

It’s much easier to create ease and resourcefulness than it is to get “rid of something” from our body. Because the painful part or negative dialogue exist within us. Our body is designed to heal. We all know that, even if we have lost a bit of hope.

So make your healing goals about what you will do when the symptom goes away or how you want to feel rather than how you don’t want to feel. So many goals are about getting rid of or feeling less. If someone wants less pain, I always ask – and what do you want to replace the pain with once it’s gone? How will your life be different? What will you do differently? How will you treat your friends and family differently? How will you be different at work?

So check-in and remind yourself – why do I want this? You may be surprised at the answers you get….

 

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Where does your brain end and start?

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I challenge you to look at this picture of a human brain. This has been floating around facebook for the last few weeks and it got me thinking. As a chiropractor I know that the brain is contiguous with the spinal cord… that is you can’t really separate them. It’s not like the brain stops and spinal cord begins. In fact our spinal cord is an extension or a part of our brain.

Where do we put things that we can’t deal with or don’t have time to deal with? 

You put them “at the back of your mind”…… or is that your spinal column or your back.

So why is this so important? Because we all know that our brain is like the super computer, the harddrive for so much information in our body. Medicine is constantly talking about how drugs can be used to target the brain and we all know what happens if someone has a brain injury – part of their body often stops working, like we see after a stroke or say a tumour in the brain.

Our spinal column contains so much important information, so a tumour in the spine often causes weird symptoms in one of our limbs. Pressure on the spinal cord (or brain) can affect sensation below that area of the cord or can affect how our muscles work.

Also, our spinal column contains the densest areas of receptor sites for the chemicals of emotion in the body (Candace Pert, Molecules of Emotion). Denser even than in the brain itself or the gut (where you experience your “gut reaction”. So it sort of makes sense that the spinal cord is actually an extension of the brain, not merely an appendage.

So next time your back hurts or you feel out of alignment, take a moment and think about how your spine may be distorting or adapting to what’s going on inside your spine (or inside your brain). And observe the emotions and feelings you may normally associate with being experience in your brain, may actually be experienced first in your spinal cord……

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How do YOU mess your back up?

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I was browsing Facebook and I found this image….. and I thought… how many of my clients do something similar or have done in the past. I can’t quote the paper exactly but I have a memory of being told that back in the day when we always paid the taxi in cash, if the driver kept his wallet in his back pocket he was something like 50% more likely to suffer with back problems. It makes totally sense doesn’t it?

So my question for you is – what do you do that puts your spine out of balance?

When I asked a few friends and clients, here is some of what we came up with…

  • My computer is at an angle to my chair so I always have to look to the left
  • I spend way to much time on my smart phone
  • I always carry my 2 year old on my left hip
  • I do sit on my wallet – omg!
  • My sofa is super saggy and when I’m on it, I’m never comfortable
  • My bed is too hard, my shoulder just can’t relax when I lie on my side
  • I play hours of cricket 3x a week (this also can apply to golf)

So what do you do? I’d love to hear your answers……

 

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/Walters-Chiropractic-170664712958542/