If you are suffering from neck pain, upper back stiffness this is a great mobility and movement approach to regain and then maintain optimal movement and decrease pain. The advantage of this movement is it can introduce movement into the neck without it stressing the tissue a d minimizing a threat response
1-3 sets for 10-20 repetitions as needed but daily
Checkout or New Video
Technology is growing at a faster rate and programs and applications that used to cost thousands of dollars in the healthcare field are now easily accessible, accurate, and inexpensive (sometimes even free). Now you have free access to formerly fancy expensive exercise and nutrition software & programs that were only accessible by Nutritionist and Exercise Scientist. Simple programs now replace high priced GPS watches would calculate your pace, and fancy timers and stop watches would assist your workouts. Below are my favorite applications (mostly iphone/ipod users….I’m an apple guy, but some can be found online and for android apps too).
So be smart with your smart phone, be more healthy!
My FitnessPal Calorie Counter
-Awesome application that allows you to count and track calories. Studies showed that people that kept a food journal lost more weight and kept it off. This tool is great, and its free. My favorite features is the bar-code scanner, saving meals, and tracking exercises. You can also connect with friends to help hold each other accountable.
Turn your phone into a gps watch. Track your pace, distance, and workouts on this great app. Very cool interactive website that goes with it. Also plays music to help with pace.
This application track calories, but offers a more education tool to help you make smart healthy decisions shopping and ordering.
Map My Run GPS
-This is a great application to not only track your runs or hikes, but to discover others. If you are traveling and wanted to find a 4 miler run near your location, search for routes that other users have submitted and published and learn their routes, terrain, distance, etc. Fun to track, log, and share.
-High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great way to get in shape, get more bang for your buck with cardiovascular training. Make a 12 minute cardio session feel and act like a 60 minute. The Tabata method has clinical studies showing the benefit of this specific interval training of cycles of 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Turn boring eliptical or recumbent bicycle sessions into intense heart pounding intervals. Can be used with burpees, pushups, running in place, stairs, jogging, and all of the cardio equipment. I prefer spin bikes.
Holidays Season is a great time for family, tradition, giving and receiving. Sometimes it can be tough on our systems, both physically and mentally. Below is a great guide to staying away from the cold and flu season, and how to avoid physical and mental anguish while braving the holiday crowds.
Stay Healthy And Avoiding Colds & Flu’s
1) Boost your Good Bugs
Probiotics have shown to help with the immune system as well with helping with digestion. Most of us have had bouts of infections and sickness which in turn means bouts of antibiotics if we have entered traditional medicine. Antibiotics are like napalm, they destroy all flora, even our naturals flora. Many of our meats have been doused with antibiotics and our produced irradiated. Studies have shown our ancestors had very high levels of probiotics and gut flora as compared to our levels today, especially the strain Lactobacillus plantarum299v. I recommend beginning to boost your population. When exposed to germs and bugs, they will have to compete with this natural flora as well as your immune system. It’s a great 1-2 punch!
Good Belly Juice and Yogurts at Whole Foods or Sprouts.
A great guide and list of Probiotics at Whole Foods
Want to buy them online, here is a high quality and good company: Innate Choice (www.Innatechoice.com)
Chiropractic Manipulation has been shown to prime the immune system and put your body in an optimal state to defend yourself. Want to read the study, it’s not an easy one but here you go (Interleukin 2-regulated in vitro antibody production following a single spinal manipulative treatment in normal subjects)
Vitamin D. It’s not just for your bones anymore. Some recent studies show it boosts our immune system and regulate autoimmunity. Many of us are Vitamin D deficient, thankfully most primary providers are now testing for these levels. We naturally produce this hormone/vitamin while absorbing sunlight, but many of us are trapped indoors strapped behind our computers or bundled up in clothes we don’t get the necessary levels of sunshine. So get out and get sunshine, or supplement with 1000-2000 IUs of Vitamin D through these winter months (careful…you can take too much D so don’t over Do it). Here is a study on Vitamin D and Influenza
Zinc is another supplement that helps boost the immune system at the preliminary stages of getting a cold. Zinc Lozenges or Airborne are good sources of this
Most natural or folk therapies have not been tested in rigorous controlled trials in diverse populations, and for those that have, studies have often had mixed results. It is prudent to ensure good hygiene,adequate rest, and adequate fluid intake, while avoiding deficiencies of essential nutrients. Taken prophylactically, echinacea can reduce the risk for Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTI) in adults by 58%; some data also support the use of garlic, American ginseng, pelargonium, and probiotics in adults to prevent or treat URTI. In children, some data suggest that vitamin C and echinacea can help reduce the risk for prolonged URTIs.
Sounds way to simple “Wash your Hands and don’t pick your nose!” The most common form of transmission is from our hands to mouth or nose. Cold weather does equal more crowds indoors touching more things, so transmission of “germs” is more likely. It’s the equivalent to playing in the middle of the freeway versus a city street, you are more likely to get exposed/hit with something in a well traveled area. So wash your hands frequently with soap and water, not just anti-bacterial wipes/sprays/gels. The physical act of scrubbing helps (article here). And don’t point at your brain, pick a winner, or dig for nose goblins…just blow your nose (especially when your driving for those of us commuters).
Sugary diets, with refined flours and inflammatory foods is like throwing a gas on the fire. If you feel the sniffles, or the itchy throat…avoid sugary foods, snacks, juices, and starchy snacks. Go gonzo on the green veggies, organic low sodium chicken broth, healthy fats (nuts/avocados) and moderate fresh fruit.
Shopping and Braving the Crowds
Girls on the Run
Father Joes Village
Environmental Working Group
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society-Team in Training
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Chrohns & Colitis Foundation of America-Team Challenge
National Parkinson Foundation
Pay it forward
As some of you may now know, I am a new uncle. Watching my nephew Alexandro learn and experience life is fascinating and there is a lot we can learn from the little guy. Sleeping, he does a lot of, and my sister and brother in law don’t get as much of. Sleep patterns are crucial for health. For thousands of years, our sleep patterns were dictated by the time of the day the sun would set, and darkness and exhaustion from a day of physical labor would sit in. Times have changed and our sleeping patterns are suffering this sudden shift. “We’re shifting to a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week society, and as a result we’re increasingly not sleeping like we used to”
Lets Discuss Solutions
Calm yourself with meditation and other relaxation techniques.
When done effectively, as little as 10 minutes of daily meditation can help your clear a cluttered. There are many different types of meditation, including tai chi, and yoga for those active, and guided muscle relaxation and guided meditation.
Click here to learn Guided Muscle Relaxation
Click here for a link to my favorite Free Podcast for Guided Meditation.
Gentle massage is also beneficial for both insomnia and chronic pain. In a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, participants who had two 30-minute massages a week for five weeks experienced better sleep and less lower back pain. Don’t have time or money for massage, try self myofascial release using a foam roller. Click here for instruction and for a free “
Foam Roll Handout“
Regular exercise can improve both pain and sleep issues. However, activity within three hours of bedtime can keep you up, so the earlier in the day you work out, the better. For pain, the best exercise is moderate and low-impact. Try walking, yoga, or swimming, cycling, etc.
Additional tips for improving sleep include:
-Forgo long daytime naps or limit yourself to a brief 10- to 20-minute nap in the afternoon.
-Take a warm bath or shower before bed to wind down.
-Lull yourself to sleep with relaxation CDs that play a babbling brook, gentle waves, or other soothing sounds.
-Remove all light-producing appliances from your bedroom, including the TV; if you must have them, choose ones that emit red rather than blue light.
-Abstain from alcohol in the evening; it may help you fall asleep, but the effects of a cocktail quickly backfire, disrupting sleep cycles a few hours into the night.
-Run a fan or other non-specific white noise machine in your bedroom to dampen street or other sounds.
-Avoid caffeine, which disrupts sleep patterns; if you must have a caffeine boost, enjoy it before noon.
-Do not exercise or eat within three hours of going to bed.
-Avoid utilizing any light producing electronics 2 hours before bed (TV, computer, cell phone)
-Journal, write down your day and your thoughts
-Get healthy fats in your diets, omega 3’s
-Try and watch the sun go down
There are a number of treatments available, including chiropractic, physical therapy, and talk therapy. Consider tracking your sleep habits in a sleep journal. This simple tool can give your doctor valuable information about your quality of sleep and how many hours you log each night.
Practicing progressive muscle relaxation
Before practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation, consult with your doctor if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles.
Most progressive muscle relaxation practitioners start at the feet and work their way up to the face. For a sequence of muscle groups to follow, see the box below.
* Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
* (You can lay on top of a foam roller along your spine and make sure to support your head
* Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out in slow, deep breaths from the diaphragm (belly button)
* When you’re relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
* Lay on your back with arms out to your side and palms up, with a slight bend to your knees (or pillow below them)
* Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Take a deep breath and Hold for a count of 10.
* Exhale and relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
* Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
* When you’re ready, shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
* Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.
* It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation Sequence
The most popular sequence runs as follows:
1. Right foot
2. Left foot
3. Right calf
4. Left calf
5. Right thigh
6. Left thigh
7. Hips and buttocks
11. Right arm and hand
12. Left arm and hand
13. Neck and shoulders
The Original article can be found on the Environmental Working Group Website–Click Here
Sunscreens Exposed: 9 surprising truths
Sunscreens prevent sunburns, but beyond that simple fact surprisingly little is known about the safety and efficacy of these ubiquitous creams and sprays. FDA’s failure to finalize its 1978 sunscreen safety standards both epitomizes and perpetuates this state of confusion. EWG’s review of the latest research unearthed troubling facts that might tempt you to give up on sunscreens altogether. That’s not the right answer – despite the unknowns about their efficacy, public health agencies still recommend using sunscreens, just not as your first line of defense against the sun. At EWG we use sunscreens, but we look for shade, wear protective clothing and avoid the noontime sun before we smear on the cream. Here are the surprising facts:
1. There’s no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer.
The Food and Drug Administration’s 2007 draft sunscreen safety regulations say: “FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” (FDA 2007). The International Agency for Research on Cancer agrees. IARC recommends clothing, hats and shade as primary barriers to UV radiation and writes that “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun” (IARC 2001a). Read more.
2. There’s some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people.
Some researchers have detected an increased risk of melanoma among sunscreen users. No one knows the cause, but scientists speculate that sunscreen users stay out in the sun longer and absorb more radiation overall, or that free radicals released as sunscreen chemicals break down in sunlight may play a role. One other hunch: Inferior sunscreens with poor UVA protection that have dominated the market for 30 years may have led to this surprising outcome. All major public health agencies still advise using sunscreens, but they also stress the importance of shade, clothing and timing. Read more.
3. There are more high SPF products than ever before, but no proof that they’re better.
In 2007 the FDA published draft regulations that would prohibit companies from labeling sunscreens with an SPF (sun protection factor) higher than “SPF 50+.” The agency wrote that higher values were “inherently misleading,” given that “there is no assurance that the specific values themselves are in fact truthful…” (FDA 2007). Scientists are also worried that high-SPF products may tempt people to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburns (a late, key warning of overexposure) while upping the risks of other kinds of skin damage.
Flaunting FDA’s proposed regulation, companies substantially increased their high-SPF offerings in 2011. Nearly one in five products now lists SPF values higher than “50+”, compared to only one in eight in 2009, according to EWG’s analysis of more than 600 beach and sport sunscreens. Among the worst offenders are Walgreens and CVS stores and Neutrogena. Walgreens’ boasts of SPF higher than “50+” on nearly half of its sunscreens; CVS and Neutrogena make the same misleading claim on about a third of theirs. Read more.
4. Too little sun might be harmful, reducing the body’s vitamin D levels.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that sunshine serves a critical function in the body that sunscreen appears to inhibit — production of vitamin D. The main source of vitamin D in the body is sunshine, and the compound is enormously important to health – it strengthens bones and the immune system, reduces the risk of various cancers (including breast, colon, kidney, and ovarian cancers) and regulates at least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body (Mead 2008). Over the last two decades, vitamin D levels in the U.S. population have been decreasing steadily, creating a “growing epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency” (Ginde 2009a). Seven of every 10 U.S. children now have low levels. Those most likely to be deficient include children who are obese or who spend more than four hours daily in front of the TV, computer or video games (Kumar 2009).
Experts disagree on the solution. The American Medical Association has recommended 10 minutes of direct sun (without sunscreen) several times a week (AMA 2008), while the American Academy of Dermatology holds that “there is no scientifically validated, safe threshold level of UV exposure from the sun that allows for maximal vitamin D synthesis without increasing skin cancer risk” (AAD 2009). Vitamin D supplements are the alternative, but there is debate over the proper amount. The Institute of Medicine has launched new research to reassess the current guidelines. In the meantime, your doctor can test your vitamin D levels and give advice on sunshine versus supplements. Read more.
5. The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer.
Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions (NTP 2009). This evidence is troubling because the sunscreen industry adds vitamin A to 30 percent of all sunscreens.
The industry puts vitamin A in its formulations because it is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging. That may be true for lotions and night creams used indoors, but FDA recently conducted a study of vitamin A’s photocarcinogenic properties, the possibility that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight. Scientists have known for some time that vitamin A can spur excess skin growth (hyperplasia), and that in sunlight it can form free radicals that damage DNA (NTP 2000).
In FDA’s one-year study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent sooner in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream (at a concentration of 0.5%) than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream. Both groups were exposed to the equivalent of just nine minutes of maximum intensity sunlight each day.
It’s an ironic twist for an industry already battling studies on whether their products protect against skin cancer. The FDA data are preliminary, but if they hold up in the final assessment, the sunscreen industry has a big problem. In the meantime, EWG recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens with vitamin A (look for “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol” on the label). Read more.
6. Free radicals and other skin-damaging byproducts of sunscreen.
Both UV radiation and many common sunscreen ingredients generate free radicals that damage DNA and skin cells, accelerate skin aging and cause skin cancer. An effective sunscreen prevents more damage than it causes, but sunscreens are far better at preventing sunburn than at limiting free radical damage. While typical SPF ratings for sunburn protection range from 15 to 50, equivalent “free radical protection factors” fall at only about 2. When consumers apply too little sunscreen or reapply it infrequently, behaviors that are more common than not, sunscreens can cause more free radical damage than UV rays on bare skin. Read more.
7. Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors.
The ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light. It would smell and feel pleasant so that people use it in the right amount and frequency.
Unsurprisingly, there is currently no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. The major choice in the U.S. is between “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems, and “mineral” sunscreens (zinc and titanium), which often contain micronized- or nano-scale particles of those minerals.
After reviewing the evidence, EWG determined that mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile of today’s choices. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. They offer UVA protection, which is sorely lacking in most of today’s sunscreen products. Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) is another good option, but it’s sold in very few formulations. Tinosorb S and M could be great solutions but are not yet available in the U.S. For consumers who don’t like mineral products, we recommend sunscreens with avobenzone (3 percent for the best UVA protection) and without the notorious hormone disruptors oxybenzone or 4-MBC. Scientists have called for parents to avoid using oxybenzone on children due to penetration and toxicity concerns. Read more.
8. Europe’s better sunscreens.
Sunscreen makers and users in Europe have more options than in the United States. In Europe, sunscreen makers can select from among 27 chemicals for their formulations, compared to 17 in the U.S. Companies selling in Europe can add any of seven UVA filters to their products, but have a choice of only three when they market in the U.S. European sunscreens could earn FDA’s proposed four-star top rating for UVA protection, while the best U.S. products would earn only three stars. Sunscreen chemicals approved in Europe but not by the FDA provide up to five times more UVA protection; U.S. companies have been waiting five years for FDA approval to use the same compounds. Last but not least, Europeans will find many sunscreens with strong (mandatory) UVA protection if proposed regulations in Europe are finalized. Under FDA’s current proposal, Americans will not. Read more.
9. The 34th summer in a row without final U.S. sunscreen safety regulations.
In the United States, consumer protection has stalled because of the FDA’s 33-year effort to set enforceable guidelines for consumer protection. EWG has found a number of serious problems with existing sunscreens, including overstated claims about their perfomance and inadequate UVA protection. Many of these will be remedied if and when the FDA’s proposed sunscreen rule takes effect. But even after the rule is enacted, gaps will remain. FDA does not consider serious toxicity concerns such as hormone disruption when approving new sun filters. The new rules would also still allow sunscreen makers to use ingredients like vitamin A that can damage the skin in sunlight, and would fail to require makers to measure sunscreen stability despite ample evidence that many products break down quickly in sunlight. Read more.