Written By Rachel Crane For CNN:
For as long as I can remember, my mother has badgered me about my posture.
Written By Rachel Crane For CNN:
For as long as I can remember, my mother has badgered me about my posture.
I’ve given many of you a shoulder strengthening protocol with elastic bands that works really well. BUT, here is an great add-on activity that does not take long. It’s your shoulder warm-up before you do any shoulder strengthening.
Doing banded shoulder exercises doesn’t need to be confusing or complicated. The reality is, in most shoulder exercises, you are working a ton of the muscles around your shoulder, just in different percentages of their maximal ability to contract.
But what should you be doing exactly? Should you be doing a shoulder warm-up?
Using the series of banded exercises in this video, which I call the Banded Shoulder Sevens, will prepare the shoulder and upper back muscles likely as well as any other banded shoulder exercises, except it’s simple and easy to remember.
You can of course add to the banded shoulder sevens with other things like lat work, cat/cow, thoracic foam rolling, etc if needed and depending on what your workout is for the day.
But to do some ‘activation work’ and start preparing the muscles of the shoulders and upper back, it doesn’t need to be confusing
Looking to provide a elastic band shoulder warm-up,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC
When you work with the nervous system, life gets better. Everything you care about – strength, flexibility, you name it – is governed by the nervous system. So if we want to live and move better, we ought to tap into it.
Although we know exercise is good for your brain, it is less clear what type of exercise is most beneficial. Aerobic exercise was presumed to be the gold standard for a long time, but mounting evidence points to similar benefit from both anaerobic exercise, such as resistance training, and mindfulness-based training, such as yoga or Tai Chi.1,2 It seems like a wide variety of activity is a safe bet.
Based on the available literature, there are four main characteristics that optimize our neural function in exercise:
Let’s take a peek at each one.
As a society, we’re largely distracted from our bodies and our movements. Even when we do go to the gym, TV monitors and music compete for the attention of our nervous system, much to the detriment of our movement. Evidence suggests that when we are distracted by external stimuli, we actually diminish our performance.3 If you need to blast pump-up jams every time you hit the gym, you may be leaving gains on the table by decreasing your motor control.
Simply put: distracted movement is sloppy movement. When we’re learning new movements or actively seeking improvement, it helps to pay attention.
It’s a whole new experience to train with active focus. Next time you train, pay attention to what cues your body is actually giving you. Take the headphones out. Unplug. Tune in. These sensory cues are key to tapping into the brain-body conversation. When we focus on the task at hand, we see huge increases in performance.
Proprioception is the body’s ability to identify where it is in space and sense the effort required in a particular movement. It’s closely linked to our sense of balance. Mounting evidence demonstrates that when we challenge our proprioceptive system, we see major improvements in executive function, working memory, and psychological health.4 These activities, ranging from tree climbing to dance, force our brains to kick into high gear.
Proprioceptively demanding activities challenge us in novel situations. Rather than the rote movements of traditional cardio and strength training exercise, these new movements provide a greater challenge to use your mind and lay down new neural connections.
How do we tap into this? Try something new! Get out of your training comfort zone. You might incorporate outdoor or ground-based movement (a la MovNat), take up a dance class, or get in some sparring. We need to incorporate variety in our training, not for the nonsense concept of “muscle confusion,” but for brain engagement.
Many of the benefits of exercise stem from neuroplastic changes, which are changes in how your neurons interact with each other. Task complexity appears to promote these changes.5More so than repetition, variation facilitates the learning process and lights up our brain-body connection.
When you’re exploring a new movement, incorporate subtle purposeful variations. Explore how changes in grip width influence your deadlift. See if where you look changes the difficulty of a Turkish get up. These subtle variations bring in a whole new set of sensory-motor cues for the brain to process, and facilitate learning new skills. And of course, incorporating conscious variety can also help break up the monotony of your training routine.
I’ve talked about the power of slow movement before. When we slow things down, we’re able to take in much more bodily feedback. This lets us get a visceral feel for the quality of our movement. This can play a crucial role as we learn new movements, which as we have seen is critical to the neuroplastic process. Video Example
Exercise literally changes the structure and function of your brain. To make the most of your inherent neuroplasticity, work slowly with focused attention, through challenging movements in novel situations. Explore a wide range of movement options to fire up your nervous system. Add these proven methods to incorporate more brain candy into your training.
You’ll Also Enjoy:
1. Gothe N et al., “The acute effects of yoga on executive function,” Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 10(2013): 488-498.
2. Yaguez L et al., “The effects on cognitive function of a movement-based intervention in patients with Alzheimer’s-type dementia: a pilot study,” International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 26(2011): 173-181.
3. Johansen-Berg H & Matthews PM. “Attention to movement modulates activity in sensory-motor areas, including primary motor cortex,” Experimental Brain Research 142(2002):13-24.
4. Alloway RG & Alloway TP. “The working memory benefits of proprioceptively demanding training: a pilot study,” Perceptual and Motor Skills, 120 (2015):766-775.
5. Carey JR, et al. “Neuroplasticity promoted by task complexity,” Exercise and Sport Science Reviews, 33(2005):24-31.
Written by Chandler Stevens for Natural Movement
Love the ideas on building a neurological connection to our work outs,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC
Written by Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications
It’s a question that has challenged generations of patients and their doctors. The answer has changed over the years. When I was in medical school in the early 1980s, bedrest for a week or more was often recommended for severe back pain. This sometimes included hospital admission. Then, research demonstrated that prolonged bedrest was actually a bad idea. It was no better (and often worse) than taking it easy for a day or two followed by slowly increasing activity, including stretching and strengthening the back.
Medications, including pain relievers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and muscle relaxants were a standard part of the initial treatment of back pain. But, recommendations released in February 2017 urge doctors to change their approach to back pain once again.
You did. A recent study found that NSAIDs did not work well for back pain. But, new recommendations take that conclusion even further: it may be best to avoid medications altogether — at least at the start.
The American College of Physicians has just come out with new guidelines for the treatment of low back pain based on a review of more than 150 studies. The big news? Medications tend to have only temporary and modest benefits, so it makes sense to try something other than a pill. The specifics depend on the type and duration of back pain.
For new low back pain (lasting less than 12 weeks), try:
If these don’t work, NSAIDs or a muscle relaxant are reasonable options. But given their potential to cause side effects and their modest benefit, they aren’t the first choice.
For chronic low back pain (lasting 12 weeks or more), try:
Other approaches, such as tai chi, yoga, or progressive relaxation techniques may also be helpful.
If these don’t work, treatment with NSAIDs, tramadol, or duloxetine is worth consideration. However, opioids should be considered only if other measures have failed and only after a thorough review of potential benefits and risks with your doctor.
It’s important to emphasize these suggestions are for low back pain that might begin after an unusually strenuous workout or shoveling snow. It’s not for serious causes of back pain such as a major injury, cancer, infection, or fractures (see “red flag” symptoms below).
If pain persists despite these non-medication and medication-based treatments, your doctor may want to consider additional tests (such as MRI) or treatments. Remember, each person’s situation is a little different, and even medications that don’t work well on average, may work well for you.
It’s been known for years that the vast majority of low back pain goes away on its own, regardless of treatment. So, the challenge has been to find something that safely eases symptoms while waiting for improvement.
You don’t. But, you should be reassured that the numbers are with you. Ninety-nine percent or more of people with low back pain do not have a serious cause. But to help make sure your back isn’t in that small sliver of dangerous causes, doctors use the “red flag” questions:
These questions and a physical examination are intended to identify factors that would increase the chances that your back pain is due to infection, tumor, or other serious cause.
These new guidelines endorse an approach to treating a common ailment that only a few years ago would have seemed outrageous. The remedies recommended are not brand new; but discouraging medication use as an initial step is a big departure from prior recommendations. An email alert I received just after these guidelines were published included the headline: “Take two yoga classes and call me next month?” It may not be such a bad idea!
Medical practice rarely changes right away, and these guidelines may have relatively little impact in the short run. But I would not be surprised if non-pharmacological treatment of back pain becomes the norm over time. Many of my patients already seek out these treatments regardless of whether I recommend them. After all, the “usual” medications for low back pain are not all that effective and often cause trouble. It’s time we recognize that there are other, better ways to help.
It has been years now that research has suggested we use chiropractic first. Drop the medicine bottles and schedule an appointment. See you soon,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC
Let’s enjoy a little bit of chocolate, shall we? Dark chocolate that is sweetened with zero-calorie stevia (rather than refined sugar) is an innocent way to get your chocolate fix without throwing your fitness results away. If you’re a chocolate lover then give this low sugar chocolate a try, and swap it out for sugar-loaded chocolate whenever possible.
While fresh figs are surely sweet enough on their own, dipping them in dark chocolate makes an elegant, pretty dessert. And it’s a wonderful way to enjoy a bite of chocolate!
Courtesy of local personal trainer Brien Shamp from RealHealthyRecipes.com
Here’s what you need
116 calories, 5g fat, 19g carbohydrate, 9g sugar, 1mg sodium, 4g fiber, and 2g protein.
I hope that you get a chance to give this recipe a try this week. Remember that I’m only a call or email away to assist you in all things health & fitness. And if you are not yet one of my prized clients then call or email me now to set up your first strategy session – I’d love to help you achieve your best self ever!
For more recipes like this check out our recipe area here: Recipes
The aim of this study was to investigate the magnitude of association of the severity of temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) in women with episodic and chronic migraine.
Thirty-one women with episodic migraine (mean age: 33 years), 21 with chronic migraine (mean age: 35 years) and 32 healthy controls (mean age: 31 years) were included. The Fonseca Anamnestic Index was applied to assess severity of TMDs. TMD severity was considered as follows: no TMD (0-19 points), mild TMD (20-49 points), moderate TMD (50-69 points), and severe TMD (70-100 points). To compare the proportion of TMD severity among groups, a χ2 test was performed. Prevalence ratio (PR) was calculated to determine the association of TMD severity and both migraine groups using the control group as the reference.
Women with chronic and episodic migraine were more likely to exhibit TMD signs and symptoms of any severity than healthy controls (χ2 = 30.26; P < .001). TMD prevalence was 54% for healthy controls, 78% for episodic migraine, and 100% for chronic migraine. Women with chronic migraine exhibited greater risk of more severe manifestations of TMD than healthy controls (PR: 3.31; P = .008). This association was not identified for episodic migraine (PR: 2.18; P = .101).
The presence of TMD signs and symptoms was associated with migraine independently of the frequency; however, the magnitude of the association of more severe TMD was significantly greater in chronic, but not episodic, migraine.
Bringing awareness to this correlation,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC
Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll Finds Prescription Painkillers Most Common Treatment for Patients Seeking Care for Back Pain
More than half of Americans suffer from back pain, and for those who seek treatment, doctors turn most often to prescription drugs
“Experiencing back pain is very common among Americans, and there are a number of factors that can contribute to it, some of which are treatable without prescription pain killers, ” said Anil Jain, MD, Vice-President and Chief Health Informatics Officer, Value-Based Care, IBM Watson Health. “These data show that when the patients do seek care, they are often prescribed pain-killers. Compounding this challenge, back pain sufferers who are prescribed opioids for pain may be particularly at risk for dependency and addiction. Curbing inappropriate opioid prescriptions for chronic pain is a focus of efforts by providers to combat the current opioid epidemic.” To date, the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll has explored numerous health topics, including generic drugs, vaccines, data privacy, narcotic painkillers, and sports-related concussions. NPR archives reports on the surveys online at the Shots health blog here. Truven Health maintains a library of poll results here. The Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll is powered by the Truven Health PULSE® survey, an independently funded, nationally representative, multimodal poll that collects information about health-related behaviors and attitudes and healthcare use from 80, 000 U.S. households annually. The results depicted from the 2017 survey represent responses from 3, 002 survey participants interviewed from March 1 – 16, 2017. The margin of error is +/- 1.8 percentage points.About NPR
NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization and an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 900 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public—one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.
Truven Health Analytics®, part of the IBM Watson Health™ business, provides market-leading performance improvement solutions built on data integrity, advanced analytics and domain expertise. For more than 40 years, our insights and solutions have been providing hospitals and clinicians, employers and health plans, state and federal government agencies, life sciences companies and policymakers, the facts they need to make confident decisions that directly affect the health and well-being of people and organizations in the US and around the world. The company was acquired by IBM in 2016 to help form a new business, Watson Health. Watson Health aspires to improve lives and give hope by delivering innovation to address the world’s most pressing health challenges through data and cognitive insights.
Truven Health Analytics owns some of the most trusted brands in healthcare, such as MarketScan®, 100 Top Hospitals®, Advantage Suite®, Micromedex®, Simpler® and ActionOI®. Truven Health has its principal offices in Ann Arbor, MI, Chicago, IL and Denver, CO.
Bringing awareness to the community opioid epidemic,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC
I’m on the 5:2 diet,” actor Benedict Cumberbatch told the (London) Times. “You have to, for Sherlock.” That’s his hit BBC and PBS series. Cumberbatch, and most other celebrities who have used the 5:2 diet, do so to lose (or not gain) weight.
Why? “For many people, it’s easier to not eat much on two days of the week and eat normally– but not overeat — on five days, versus counting calories at every meal,” says Mark Mattson, chief of the laboratory of neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging.
As it turns out, the 5:2 diet—also called the 2-day diet or intermittent fasting—may do more than trim your waistline.
“In animal models, intermittent fasting increases the resistance of cells to various types of stress and disease,” says Mattson. But the human evidence in favor of on-and-off fasting is just emerging.
On-and-off fasting may help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes not just by shrinking waistlines but by keeping the body’s insulin in good working order. That’s what happened in two studies, each on roughly 100 overweight or obese women.
“Half cut 25 percent of their calories every day, and half ate only 650 calories a day for two days per week” and didn’t cut calories on the other five days, says co-author Mattson.
After three to six months, “each group had lost about the same amount of weight,” he notes. “But the women on the 5:2 diet had better insulin function.”
And insulin matters.
Poor insulin function is “at the root of many weight-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and possibly dementia,” wrote Michelle Harvie and Tony Howell in The 2 Day Diet.
The researchers, both at the Manchester Breast Centre in England, led the two studies in women.
“When you inject cancer cells under the skin of mice, alternate-day fasting slows the growth of the tumor cells,” says Mattson.
It’s not clear why. One possibility: “Almost all cancer cells use glucose as their energy source, so the fasting state is not ideal for cancer cells because the glucose levels are low,” explains Mattson. But studies in people are just starting.
“British researchers are putting women who have breast cancer on intermittent fasting diets throughout the entire five-month course of their chemotherapy treatments,” says Mattson. “The prediction is that intermittent fasting will enhance the effectiveness of the chemotherapeutic drugs by making cancer cells more vulnerable. And fasting may protect normal cells from the adverse effects of chemotherapy.”
In a study on mice engineered to get an Alzheimer’s-like disease, the animals performed better on memory tests—how to find a hidden platform in water, for example—when put on diets that cut calories daily or every other day than when eating an unlimited diet.
And healthy mice that were fed few calories for four days twice a month did better on memory tests than mice that never fasted.
“Animals on intermittent fasting are more alert than animals that have constant access to food,” notes Mattson. “And they have increased activity in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is important for learning and memory.”
That makes sense, given that animals in the wild are hungry most of the time. “It’s normal for cougars to go a week without eating anything, so they’re burning fat,” explains Mattson. “And their brains have to work well, so they can figure out how to track down their prey.”
“We’re about halfway through a study on people aged 55 to 70 who are at risk for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease because of their age and because they are obese and insulin resistant,” says Mattson. Half are on the 5:2 diet, while half are getting the usual advice for healthy eating.
“Before they start and two months later, we do a battery of tests to look at learning and memory,” says Mattson.
If the 5:2 dieters do better, it will take another study to know if that’s due to fasting or just having lost weight.
“The first thing is to make sure you’re not overweight or obese,” says Tufts’ Susan Roberts, “because there’s a legion of studies that show that carrying excess body fat is unhealthy for all kinds of reasons.”
And if you find it easier to slash calories two days a week than to make smaller cuts every day, why not try it?
“To my knowledge, there is no evidence that intermittent fasting has adverse effects on healthy people unless they’re a young child or a frail older person,” says Mattson. (Granted, on-and-off fasting hasn’t been tested in studies lasting longer than six months.)
What if you’re not overweight or obese?
“The research so far indicates that some caloric restriction is very likely to be healthy even if you’re already normal weight,” says Roberts. That is, unless you end up too thin.
Sources: Int. J. Obes. 35: 714, 2011; Br. J. Nutr. 110: 1534, 2013; Sci. Transl. Med. 2012. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3003293; Neurobiol. Dis. 26: 212, 2007; Cell Metab. 22: 86, 2015.
Written by David Schardt for Science In The Public Interest
Bringing attention to this diet,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the correlation between mild leg length discrepancy (LLD) and degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis.
We evaluated standard postural lumbopelvic radiographs from 255 adults (121 women and 134 men) who had presented with spinal pain for chiropractic care. Symmetry of femoral head diameters was used to exclude magnification errors. Pearson’s partial correlation was used to control for age and derive effect sizes for LLD on DJD in the hip and lower lumbar motion segments. Krippendorff’s α was used for intraobserver and interobserver reliability.
A strong correlation was found between LLD and hip DJD in men (r = 0.532) and women (r = 0.246). We also found a strong correlation between LLD and DJD at the L5-S1 motion segment in men (r = 0.395) and women (r= 0.246). At the L4-5 spinal level this correlation was much attenuated in men (r = 0.229) and women (r = 0.166).
These findings suggest an association between LLD and hip and lumbar DJD. Cause–effect relationships between mild LLD and DJD deserve to be properly evaluated in future longitudinal cohort studies.
Interested in leg length shortness and it’s consequences,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC
How To Slow Down Vascular Aging
Wouldn’t it be great to have the flexible, healthy arteries of a young person again? Arteries that are resistant to heart attacks, strokes, and dementia?
“Maintaining a youthful vascular function beyond age 70 is extremely challenging,” say researchers from the Framingham Heart Study. But it’s doable they insist, adding that it requires a long term commitment to achieving six goals for good health.
As we age, the aorta, carotids, and other large arteries that keep oxygen-rich blood flowing through our body lose some of their capacity to widen or narrow. They become less compliant. With aging, arterial compliance declines and arterial stiffness increases. Arteries are most supple at about age 30 and then start stiffening.
The Framingham Heart Study has been tracking the health of several generations of residents of this Massachusetts city. It’s now a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health and Boston University.
Using new data from Framingham, scientists this spring showed exactly how much the six health goals can affect your chances of gaining and keeping healthy arteries.
The researchers defined the sign of healthy arteries as a blood pressure of less than 140/90 without drugs and a rate of blood flow through the arteries typical of a healthy person in their 20s.
Among the 3,196 residents of Framingham they studied, the researchers found healthy arteries in 30 percent of those in their 50s, in 7 percent of those in their 60s, but in only 1 percent — 6 of 617 — of those in their 70s. Hence, the challenge for older individuals.
The healthy goals that the researchers patterned after American Heart Association guidelines and measured in the Framingham residents were:
Compared with achieving only one or two of these goals, the Framingham residents who met three or four of the goals increased by three-fold their chances of having healthy arteries. Hitting five goals, their odds jumped to seven times. And those who achieved all six were 10 times more likely to have youthful arteries than those who could manage one or two of the goals.
Avoiding vascular aging and stiff arteries can have a big payoff. The Framingham researchers tracked the city’s men and women for 10 years and found that those with healthy arteries had less than half the likelihood of suffering heart attacks or strokes during that time.
Stiffer arteries also increase the risk of cognitive decline. People who entered the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging cognitively intact but with stiffer arteries were more likely to show declines in verbal learning skills and memory over the next decade than those who started out with less-stiff arteries.
The American Heart Association says that each of its healthy goals “have one unique thing in common: any person can make these changes, the steps are not expensive to take and even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference.”
Written by David Schardt for Nutrition Action of the Center For Science In The Public Interest
Bringing attention to our vasculature,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC