Holiday Survival: Avoiding Colds & Flus & Surviving Crowds

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 (

2)Lot’s of Enemies, So Amp up Your immune system

Our immune system fights battles on many fronts. Give your body the “fire-power” it needs to ward off foreign invaders. Below are some vitamins, herbs, and foods that will help!

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.

3) Your mother knows best, Wash your hands and don’t pick your nose!

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).

4) Put the germs on a diet!

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

5)Don’t Commit Shoe-a-cide!
If you know you are going to brave the malls or spend the day “out and about”,remember to treat your feet well. Proper footwear will help your knees, hips, back and so on. Ladies, leave the high heels in the closet if you know you are spending 2+ hours on your feet. And sorry San Diegans, flip flops sandals all day long are almost as bad. If you know you will be standing in lines or walking a bit, please don’t be vain, be practical and wear proper shoes. Here is a great article on the effect of high heels…
Don’t commit Shoecide please!!!

Heels and Heavy Bags are a bad combo

6) Minimize and balance
As a health practitioner I always cringe watching the size of the bags/purses/satchels etc. some people carry around. Try to be a minimalist and not lug around 82 lbs. of “just in case”. Heavy bags can lead to neck strain, shoulder pain, back pain. If you buy items, try to balance the goodies in each arm instead of lugging them around, or go to the car and put them in the trunk and then walk back (sneak in a bit of cardio)

7) Stay Hyrdated

Dry air, sweating more in the warmer clothes, increased coffee consumption this time of the year (I’m a bit guilty of that) can get us dehydrated. Make sure when you go out to the malls, bring a bottle of water or coconut water if you need a bit of flavor. Avoid the sodas, energy drinks, and sugary drinks.

8 ) Replace Consumerism with Humanism

Have one of those people that are always hard to find a gift for? They have everything and don’t want anything. Donate to a charity in their name. Do they really need a third fleece sweatshirt? With our economy the past few years, there are some great non-profits locally and nationally that could really use some holiday giving. Great Gift Idea! Here are a few of my favorites, if you need some ideas

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

Guided Muscle Relaxation

Practicing progressive muscle relaxation

Guided 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
8. Stomach
9. Chest
10. Back
11. Right arm and hand
12. Left arm and hand
13. Neck and shoulders
14. Face

Sitting…the hidden dangers of a common action

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, there is one thing nearly all modern Americans have in common: we sit all the time. Though our great shift towards computer-based work has done great things for productivity, it has, unfortunately, done terrible things for our health. From increased risk of heart disease and obesity in the long term, to sharply hampered cholesterol maintenance in the short term, the negative health effects of sitting are starting to weigh heavily against the benefits. Even the medical field – the greatest advocates of reducing sitting time – is plagued by this new health issue. Though doctors and nurses get plenty of walking time, it usually falls to engineers, attorneys, executives, programmers, and office workers.  And, as we can see, something has to change.

Sitting Infographic


Upper Cross Syndrome & Tennis Injuries-Avoiding injury off the courts

Avoiding Tennis Injuries Off the courts-Upper Cross Syndrome

By Dr. Todd Plutchok, DC ART Provider

Let’s treat the cause and not just the symptom.  Many times when tennis players are experiencing pain they flip their tennis game upside down trying to alter their swing, change their racket, decrease the volume of play, and strap on the latest and greatest gizmo/support to their arm, shoulder, or wrist.

What most of today’s athletes, especially the recreational and weekend warriors fail to acknowledge is how their everyday body mechanics play a role into their tennis game.  “We are what we repeat”, and that holds true with our posture and the role it plays on performance.

Those of you who are not professional tennis players, often have an obligation to make a living off the courts.  The majority of the clients I see spend their time in an office and desk setting, or performing a repetitive task such as typing, computing, driving, reading, studying etc.  The activities listed above can lead to a postural pattern known as “upper cross syndrome”, which can negatively effect your tennis game.

Upper Cross Syndrome is a pattern of tight and weak muscles, which will leaded to a hunched position with the shoulders rolled forward and head over the chest instead of the shoulders.  The constant tight trapezius muscles, tight chest and weak back muscles are a pattern.

Rolled shoulders and forward head posture will limit how far you can lift your arms, which in turn will limit your range of motion and power of your serve.  Tight pectoralis (chest) muscles and week rhomboids (back muscles) can limit your ability to reach back for a ball down the line.  When the shoulder roll forward it alters the angle of the elbow and wrist which will change the angle at which the impact and energy travels through the arm.  These altered angles many times distribute repetitive impact into a joint, muscle, or tendon instead of through it, resulting in inflammation.  Repetitive bouts of inflammation result in an “..itis”.  Tendonitis, bursitis, myofasciitis…you name it.

What appears on the surface to be just an elbow injury could be a symptom of a much larger problem. Even if you are not aware of imbalances or restrictions they are affecting you.  There is bad news, and their is good news.  The bad news is most of you will still have to continue to work, and sit at desk after reading this article.  The demands of societies and our obligations ofter require us to endure these postures to make a living.  The good news is there are ways for you to combat and minimize these challenges.  Their are professional services such as chiropractic and Active Release Technique that can help restore posture, and free up tight restricted muscles.  To regain and maintain that restoration, exercise is important.  Below are some strengthening and stretching exercises.

Stretch the tight muscles, Strengthen the weak muscles, and Release the inflammation and adhesions.  Below is a list of the items to stretch, ask your doctor, coach, or personal trainer for instruction, or you can always setup an appointment.

Stretch the following tight muscles

  • Upper trapezius
  • Sub occipital
  • Deep neck extensors
  • Pectoralis major/minor muscles
  • Levator scapuli muscles
  • Subscapularis muscle

The muscles that tend to be weak or lengthened include and need to be strengthened:

  • Rhomboids
  • Middle and lower trapezius
  • Deep neck flexors
  • Serratus anterio

Miscellaneous Work Activities to minimize effect

  • Sit on a balance disc or physio/swiss  ball at work,
  • Drink a lot of water to make yourself take frequent breaks.  Bathroom breaks=stretching & strengthening opportunity
  • Interchange a stool with your office chair every 2 hours
  • Make sure your monitor is at eye level
  • Push the back of your head back on the head rest of your care and hold for 10 seconds as you commute.