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  1. 3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Immune System

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    We have a problem in our society. We are so focused on killing the germs. Keeping them OUT! This outside-in approach will only take us so far as our immune system is concerned. You see, our immune system NEEDS things to fight off in order to stay STRONG! We have on average 5 POUNDS of bacteria in our gut which actually help keep the bad ‘bugs’ from taking over. Some say the gut is like the ‘brain’ of our immune system. So in a society so focused on killing and stopping ‘germs,’ what really is the best way to improve our immune function? Watch below to find out!

    There are many, MANY other ways to help out this incredible system, but this will at least give you a GREAT start! And remember, CHIROPRACTIC CARE has been shown over and over to help improve our immune function. Not just to boost it (which would not be good for folks with autoimmune issues), but to help it regulate itself, whether up or down. This is one of the reasons getting adjusted can actually help with ALLERGIES.

    I hope this helps you to live a healthier, happier, and STRONGER life, and if you have any questions or comments, please let us know.

    Be well!

  2. Headache Relief: The Natural Way

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    We all get headaches. Some of us ARE a headache to others! But headaches are not due to a lack of Ibuprofen or Tylenol. They happen for a reason. Here are 5 simple tips you can do right now to get some relief!

    While there ARE some other causes of headaches, this covers most, even severe migraines! Hormonal headaches can be a little more tricky, so we will be covering those in another video.

    I hope this helps, and as always let us know if you have any questions or comments.

    Be well!

  3. Video Series Intro: What is Wellness?

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    So for a few years now this word ‘Wellness’ has been thrown around quite a bit, without many of us actually knowing what it truly is. Most of us think of it as having something to do with being healthy, but we also hear it used to promote things like flu shots, and over the counter meds. In the over 13 years I have been in practice, I’ve learned it can be simplified into 3 main points:

    • How we Move
    • What we put into our bodies
    • How we think

    We are embarking on a new project here at Wellness Pittsburgh: a video series that will focus on how to be truly healthy and well. Have a watch!

  4. 3 Quick Tips to Avoid Getting Sick

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    And so…  it is here. “Cold and Flu Season.” It happens every year. Right about the time that the weather changes, our kids overindulge binge eating candy the last night of October and usually far into November. Then the holidays are here. A time where most of us are much more lax on ‘healthy eating.’ Could it be that cold and flu season is nothing more than our bodies increase susceptibility to viruses and bacteria after weeks, no MONTHS of us not taking care of ourselves?

     

    Now don’t get me wrong. I am not implying that if you follow all the rules you will never get sick. After all, being ‘sick’ is just a normal expression of the body that aids in killing off these harmful little bugs. If our body never got ‘sick’ we’d never ever get well (wow that’s kinda deep)!

     

    So here are a couple of quick tips to keep you as healthy as possible this winter. Even if you wind up getting ‘sick’ by following these tips you will recover much faster!

     

    1) Exercise: Exercise strengthens the body, including the immune system. It reduces stress, which increases immunity. It improves circulation. Regulates blood sugar. Increases core temperature. Raises the metabolism. Look I could write you endless paragraphs on how great exercise is. Just know that if you don’t keep moving this winter, you will be sick more often.

     

    2) Diet: Do yourself and your family a favor right now: Stop eating so much sugar! Refined carbs are responsible for SOOOOO MANY of our society’s health problems. And sugar is one of THE most refined carbs there is! If you start to feel ill, immediately stop eating breads and sugars. You should stop eating ALL grains, but we’ll address that later.

     

    We also need a variety of supplements in the winter to help the immune system (all of which we carry):

    Vitamin D: Since this is primarily made by our bodies from sunlight, we need a WHOLE lot more in the winter. I recommend Thorne brand liquid Vitamin D.

    Vitamin C: If you take a maintenance dose of 1000 mg/day, then 10,000 mg/day when actively fighting something off, you will most likely escape this winter unscathed.

    Echinacea: While there is still some debate on the effectiveness of echinacea, studies have shown that it can increase white blood cells, shorten the duration of colds, and potentially prevent them. Our research has found that the type of echinacea and the preparation make ALL the difference. The company we use makes its preparations with the roots of echinacea purpurea and angustifolia. This is where the bulk of the active alkamides reside. In my and my family’s own PERSONAL experience, when taking this particular brand echinacea, we don’t get sick! Seriously, most echinacea on the market is garbage. You really need to research your company and know their source.

     

    There are plenty of other supplements that increase immunity (zinc, elderberry syrup, astragalus, colloidal silver…) but these are the big three in my opinion!

     

    3) Chiropractic: There have been studies dating back to the 1940’s showing an increase in immune activity following an adjustment.  If you really want to hear about what an adjustment can do ask parents who bring their kids in for treatment. Ear infections, colic, fever, digestive issues, sinus pressure, headaches, congestion, cough… the list of conditions goes on! An adjustment can provide relief from many conditions!

     

    Listen, you’re going to get sick again in your lifetime. It’s inevitable. But it’s not a bad thing! When we fight off these invaders we develop a lifelong immunity to them. If you follow the steps above you will keep your immune system in top condition to fight them off quicker, more effectively, and you’ll just overall be healthier!

     

    Be Well

  5. 9 Stretches You Can’t Live Without

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    Stretching and Home Care Tips:

     

    Let’s face it: our modern lifestyle is HORRIBLE at naturally meeting our bodies physical needs.  We sit too much. We look down too much. We have our arms and shoulders in front of us too much. Our modern, technological lifestyle is wreaking HAVOC on us physically.

    Most back, neck, and shoulder pain can be directly associated with these bad postures or with not enough physical activity. Below I will show you a few very easy stretches and exercises to help alleviate the day to day stress our modern lives put on our back and neck.

     

    Neck

     

    Most activities we engage in these days tends to pull our neck and shoulders forward, in front of our chest and torso. This is referred to an anterior head and shoulder carriage.

     

     

    Notice the position of this young man’s head as he’s working on the computer.

     

     

     

    A simple, yet effective way to combat this is to place something cylindrical, like a rolled up towel, under the neck and lay back on it. The pressure from the towel will help push the neck back into its proper curve.

     

    Another highly effective stretch is what’s referred to as an isometric stretch. This simply means a part of the body is stretched, then the muscles are contracted. There is no motion (which is the meaning of isometric) but while the muscles tense up in a static position, the tension is released. And quite effectively!

     

    In the example to the left, bend the neck towards the shoulder slightly. With the hand on that side, grab the opposite side of the head and apply pressure. Push against the hand using the neck muscles with an equal force, so that the neck doesn’t move.

    Hold for 15-20 seconds then repeat on the other side.

     

     

     

    In the same method, place a hand on the back of your head and pull forwards slightly. Then push with the neck muscle to try and straighten the head back out.

     

    Hold for 15-20 seconds.

     

     

    Lastly, to stretch the front of the shoulders, stand in a doorway with your forearm vertically on the door frame. Make sure your elbow and shoulder are both at 90 degrees respectively. Step slowly through the doorway and feel the stretch in the front of the shoulder and chest.

     

    Hold for 15-20 seconds then repeat on other side.

     

    *Hint* For extra stretch, once stepped through doorway, slowly tilt head backwards and away from arm. Feel the stretch going through the side of the neck and under the collarbone.

     

    Lower Back

     

    Most adults at some point in their life will experience low back pain. It is the most common side effect of too much sitting. Tight hamstrings and weak gluteal muscles are all too often the culprits. I’ve found that most people get tremendous relief when stretching these main muscle groups in the lower spine: Hamstrings, Gluts/Piriformis, Lower Back, Flexors/Psoas.

     

    Hamstrings

     

    There are a variety of methods to stretch the hamstrings, with the most common being bending forward to touch your toes while keeping the knees straight. However you can also place a foot up on a surface such as a bench and lean forward. You can do yoga poses such as downward facing dog. Or any number of other methods to loosen those muscles up.

     

    Be sure to hold for about 15-20 seconds and repeat 3 times per side.

     

    Gluts/Piriformis

    While lying on your back, cross one leg over the other. Pull the opposite knee towards your chest until you feel the desired stretch. Hold 15-20 seconds, repeat 3 times on each leg.

    *Note* If this position hurts your knees you can try this stretch while seated. 

     

     

    Low Back

    Two of my favorite low back stretches are both yoga poses: Cat/Cow and Child’s Pose

     

    Cat/Cow

     

    Starting from hands and knees, arch your lower back and look straight ahead. Take a big breath in while doing this. Upon exhaling, round your back and push your tailbone up towards the sky while tucking your chin to your chest.

     

    Repeat 10 times.

     

     

    Child’s Pose

    From the hands and knees position, sit back onto your heels. Allow your finger tips to extend as far in front of you as they can. Breathe deep and slow while feeling the stretch throughout the entire spine.

     

    Hold for 10 seconds, repeat three times

     

    Flexors/Psoas

    The hip flexors, such as the Psoas muscles, are located deep within the abdomen and the pelvis and can be hard to get to, while others, such as the quadriceps, are more on the surface and a little easier to access. A great method for stretching these muscles is the lunge. Kneel with one foot out in front of you, knee bent at a 90 degree angle. Slowly bend the front knee so you move forwards. Try rocking your hips into the stretch, or side to side in order to isolate the muscles that are particularly tight.

     

    Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat 3 times per side.

     

    There are a TON of other stretches and exercises that can be of help based on your particular condition, but these will give you a huge head start in getting the relief you desire. Remember, do these every day, three time a day for maximum effectiveness. Progress doesn’t happen overnight!

    You can always schedule a time to come in for an in person demonstration at no charge. Call or email anytime!

  6. Chiropractic and Massage Therapy

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    Many people are seeking out alternatives to mainstream medical treatment nowadays. It is estimated that about 30 million people each year see a chiropractor, and over 50 million have been to a massage therapist. With both professions being around in some form for centuries, it is safe to say that they are each not only effective, but also generate a large amount of client satisfaction!

    Gallup Poll Study

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3950594/

    Both chiropractic and massage deal with the muskulo-skeletal system, the system of our bones and muscles, as well as the tendons, ligaments, and fascia that connect them all together. This system is the physical part of how and why we can move. As such, it is succeptable to various injuries from overuse, or faulty use.

    So which one is more important? Many of my clients ask if they have a ‘muscle issue’, or a ‘structural issue.’ Well, truth is, you can’t have one without the other! A muscle is like a bunch of thick, half stretched rubber bands attaching one portion of a bone to part of another bone. When those little fibers all contract or shrink, they draw those two parts of the bones together. When they relax, the bones move back apart.

    When a muscle is tight, or goes into spasm, or ‘knots up,’ it is literally pulling two bones, potentially out of alignment. Conversely when a muscle is weak, or atrophied, bones can move too far away from their proper location. Look at this example of anterior head and shoulder posture. How often do you see this when you are out in public?

    These forward head/shoulder postures stretch out the muscles in the back and posterior shoulders, and they shrink the muscles in the front of the shoulders and the chest. (See link below for some helpful exercises)

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/194814-how-to-fix-forward-head-posture/

    So you see, our structure determines the tension on our muscles, and at the same time the tension applied by our muscles determines the structure. This is the beauty of using chiropractic and massage therapy in combination. They each support and improve the effectiveness of the other!

    Massage helps to loosen tight muscles, break up scar tissue that can impede movement, improve circulation, which speeds up healing, as well as many other things. Chiropractic realigns joints that are out of alignment, and gets pressure off of the spinal nerves. This helps to increase range of motion in the joints, improves communication from brain-to-body and body-to-brain, improves balance and coordination, and a whole lot more. Using chiropractic and massage together is so much more effective than choosing just one.

    As always, make sure you choose a chiropractor and a massage therapist who have good reviews, and who will really listen to you about what you want to get out of your care. Different practitioners also sometimes specialize in different conditions, or treatment methods. So be sure to ask about that when you call or email. For a list of who we recommend in the area, call us at 412-243-9355 or send me an email at drchris@wellnesspittsburgh.com

    Be well!

  7. Chiropractic and Pregnancy

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    Nothing has the capacity to change our lives like raising a child and leaving a legacy. Nothing is more a rite of passage for many women as becoming pregnant and birthing a child. Pregnancy is an AMAZING process! There are so many factors that have to come together just right in order for an egg to even be fertilized. After that, it is estimated that about 50 percent, yes HALF, of all pregnancies are spontaneously aborted by the body before the mother even knows she is pregnant.
    So it’s only natural for an expectant mother to do all she can to ensure the best pregnancy possible. One of the things that is being recommended more often these days is chiropractic. Each week in our office we receive multiple referrals from the local birthing center or the midwife group at a nearby hospital. Once you understand the benefits getting adjusted has on a soon-to-be mom, it’s a wonder it’s not advised more often.

    Let’s take a look at all the ways chiropractic care can helps with pregnancy:

    Pelvic/Back Pain: As the uterus expands during pregnancy, there is increased pressure on the pelvis, as well as the ligaments that anchor the uterus. As the uterus expands, a woman’s center of graviity moves forward. It is estimated that for each inch forward, there is an additional ten pounds of pressure on the low back. Getting adjusted regularly throughout pregnancy allows the spine and the body to adapt to the increased stress, and reduces pain. Even WebMD is catching on to how beneficial chiropractic can be for pregnancy related pain

    Better Nervous System Function: Pregnancy and childbirth are pretty much entirely autonomic processes, meaning you don’t have to think about them for them to happen. The autonomic nervous system controls them entirely, except for the pushing part. If there is pressure on the nerves to the placenta, or uterus, or cervix (which has to dilate to 10 cm for the baby to come out) then they will not operate normally. Removing the interference, or subluxation, helps the entire process to work better.

    Easier Labor: The pelvis has to expand and open up for the baby to come out. A hormone called relaxin actually helps the ligaments, which hold one bone to another, to soften and stretch out. If the pelvis is out of alignment and stuck it will not be able to expand as it’s supposed to. Certain structures can actually block a portion of the pelvic outlet, making delivery much more difficult, and painful!

    Proper Fetal Positioning: One of the main reasons that birth centers and hospitals refer us patients is for a BREECH POSITIONED baby, that is, head up and feet down. This is a potentially life threatening condition to delivery a baby in, and almost every case winds up a c-section. Another position that can create problems is POSTERIOR POSITIONING, or the baby head down but facing the front instead of facing the rear as they should be. Posterior position births, also called ‘back labor’, produce intense pain for the mother. The more uncomfortable the mother is, the greater the chances of medical interventions, which can cause more complications, including fetal distress. Aligning the pelvis throughout pregnancy keeps pressure off of these ligaments, and the parts of the uterus that attach to the pelvis. This helps create more room inside for the baby to move around and get into proper position.

    Quicker Recovery Time: Birth causes a lot of pressure and stretching to the pelvis and to the ligaments holding everything together. If the pelvis is misaligned before labor, there is a high chance that as it expands during labor ligaments can be damaged. Additionally, when the pelvis heals, if the different portions don’t come back together the right way it can cause considerable pain. Research has shown that regular chiropractic care during pregnancy reduces the occurrence of SPD (SYMPHYSIS PUBIS DISORDER) an extremely painful condition post-partum when the 2 pubic bones do not realign correctly.

     

    Even though the RESEARCH shows chiropractic care is not only safe, but also effective, be sure to find a chiropractor who is certified to treat pregnant patients. Since the ligaments are already more stretchy and loose during pregnancy there is a greater chance of injury if the doctor is not properly trained.

    For more information about chiropractic and pregnancy please visit the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association website http://www,icpa4kids.org

  8. 5 Tips to Get Rid of a Headache

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    Headche

    Nothing can ruin your day like a headache. We all have had them, some more than others. Some mild, dull annoyances, others migraine quality, forcing us to hide in a dark room, maybe vomiting, often losing an entire day. Something I hear often in my practice is, “Well, I’ve just learned to live with it.” Or, “I’ve tried EVERYTHING!” The truth is headaches are not normal, and there are some very simple and effective solutions.

     

    1) Drink more water! For more on the importance of water, check out this article from 2014 about WATER

    Dehydration is a very common cause of headaches. The blood Dural sinusvessels, particularly venous drainage around the brain are very sensitive structures. Called the Dural Sinuses, they can cause a headache when blood volume decreases from dehydration. So many things can dehydrate us: poor food choices, not drinking enough or drinking too much non-hydrating beverages (even excess sports drinks can actually cause dehydration-like symptoms by increasing electrolyte levels too much), excessive sweating, certain medications… just remember, next time you get a headache drink two tall glasses of water ASAP.

    2) Pressure Points: Rub any tender points along base of skull. While massage can be very effective at relaxing tight muscles that contribute to head and neck tension, there are more specific, and often more effective points to rub. Feel from the bump behind your ears all the way to the center point at the base of your skull. If you find any sensitive spots, apply medium to firm pressure for about 30 seconds. Repeat the process but a little higher up on the base of the skull each time. You’ll be amazed at how far up onto the skull you will find tender spots.

    3) Essential Oils: Peppermint, Lavender, Eucalyptus and Rosemary are four of the best oils for headaches. Peppermint: rub a few drops of peppermint oil into the temples and/or back of neck for a tension headache. Also good for focus and concentration Lavender: can be applied just like Peppermint oil for tension headaches. In addition it can be added to a warm bath, or a few drops can be put into a spray bottle of water and misted on the face and neck. EucalypEssential oilstus: has similar effects to the last two. It is also a great expectorant and can be rubbed on the chest to relieve pressure. Rosemary: is also good for tension headaches, but is especially effective if the headache is related to low blood sugar. With all of these oils you should use a carrier oil. This is a regular food grade oil, like Coconut or grape seed oil. Place some in your hand or a small dish and then add the Essential Oil to it. This will prevent skin irritation, as some of the oils can be quite strong, and also helps your oils last longer. Remember, a little bit goes a long way.

    4) Get Adjusted!: When spinal bones in the neck move out of alignment, from either stress or injury, headache is a very common result. Increased pressure on the sensitive nerve fibers that exit between every vertebrae can cause a wide array of symptoms, as well as changes in physiology that remain assymptomatic. Follow these links for references to research studies related to headache and getting adjusted. chiropractor

    http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/headache.shtml#Articles

    http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/Headaches-/-Migraine/

    You’ll find over 30 different studies on everything from the common headache, to migraines, to post-concussive, even pediatric headaches and how chiropractic care can alleviate them.

    5) Chemical Origin: Many headaches are related to a build-up of toxins in the body or certain chemical toxins, often times a food additive. Many people have headaches following ingestion of MSG, Nitrates/Nitrites, Gluten (wheat), food preservatives/dyes, even plain old sugar. Keeping a food journal can help you identify the types of foods/additives that you react to. Cleansing can help if it is due to a build-up of toxins.

    While medication has its place, over-medicating can often create worse effects than the original issue. Over 125,000 people a year die from NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Naproxen, etc). Opiod pain medication is creating an epidemic of addiction, with many of its victims resorting to a much cheaper form, heroin, to get their fix. The resulting addiction often forces them into crime to support their habit. There are much better choices out there to get to the root cause of the headache and not just mask the symptom. It is NOT normal to have regular headaches. Do something about it! 🙂

    For more information about any of the topics listed above, please contact our office.

  9. 4 Things You MUST Do Post Injury

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    Has this ever happened to you? You wake up on a seemingly normal morning. Maybe you slept poorly. Maybe you overexerted yourself the previous day. Maybe you are just really stressed about something… You go to stand up, and then it hits you. The PAIN! The cramping, tightening, debilitating pain. For some of us it’s the lower back, causing us to double over. For others it’s our neck or upper back, preventing us from turning our head, or worse yet, having our head stuck to one side or the other.

    low-back-pain-girl

    What should you do? Heat, ice, stretch, drugs, essential oils, wine… so many choices, but which is best?
    I was reminded of this all too common scenario today when a patient came in unable to move her neck. She was in pain so intense there were tears in her eyes! If you’ve ever had a similar experience you know how awful it can be.

    First thing, DO NOT USE HEAT! Most of us think heat will give us some immediate relief, but you’ll wind up worse in the long run. Any injury produces inflammation. Extra blood, fluids, cells, etc rush to the area to clean up damage and start rebuilding. But when you apply heat you’re causing an already irritated, inflamed area to inflame even more. The pain may feel slightly better at first due to the increased circulation, but it will come back with a vengeance!

    Cold will take the edge off by decreasing excess inflammation. It will produce a numbing effect on the area. Cold does not feel quite as comfortable at first, but trust me, in the long run it is the best choice. If you do not have a cold pack, a bag of frozen veggies will work just as well.

    There are also topical cooling gels that get great results and can last for hours. BioFreeze is one of leading brands on the market, however most use the same active ingredient and will have a similar effect. They are also quite portable and can be carried with you, or even placed in a first aid kit.

    arnica-gel

    Another topical that my first aid kit will never be without is Arnica Gel. Arnica Montana is a homeopathic which speeds up healing and tissue repair, and helps with pain relief, inflammation, and bruising. With most injuries the first steps are apply Arnica and apply cold. (Note: Arnica gel should not be used on open wounds. If open wound you first need to clean or debride the wound, stop the bleeding with a styptic. For more tips on open wound care comment at the bottom with your email)

    Once the initial inflammation has improved it will be much easier to assess just how bad the situation is. While you will want to rest (time is really the most important component to healing) some light movement and stretching can be quite helpful. For low back pain, stretching your hamstrings and going for a walk can help. For neck pain, lying with a neck roll, side-to-side stretching, or resistance stretching can help. Movement is good, but don’t overdo it. the purpose of the movement is to get the blood and lymph fluids moving and preventing the area from stiffening up. Use your judgement. If it’s making it worse STOP!

    Pressure applied in the right way can also be very beneficial. If there is a muscle that is cramping or very tight, place steady pressure in the center of the tightness and gently move the muscle. If it is more of a joint sprain/strain injury, compress the area with an ACE bandage or medical tape.

    If the injury is to a joint such as the ankle or knee, elevation can also help. Sit with the affected leg propped up. The elevation will help the excess inflammation drain out.

    The acronym RICE can help you to remember what do.
    Rest- Time is the most important factor
    Ice- COOL the inflamed area
    Compression- Pressure prevents excess inflammation, and can loosen tight muscles
    Elevation- Prevents inflammation from pooling in certain parts of the body

    If the injury is muscular, some light movement and trigger point work can help. If it is joint damage focus more on resting and immobilizing the joint for a few days.

    So be safe. Be smart. And if you do get hurt, don’t do anything to make it worse!

  10. Can You “Mess-up” an Adjustment?

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    I get this question a lot. And it is a valid one. Who would want to mess up that great adjustment that they just paid for? People often leave trying not to turn their head, keeping perfectly still, afraid to do any activity afterwards. Understandable: but wrong!

    You see, you can’t mess up an adjustment. It is not a tangible thing to be messed up. Let’s look at this another way:

    To start, we have various stressors, physical, chemical mental/emotional, that can cause our spine to shift out of proper alignment. This results in pressure to the nerves that pass ever so close to the spine, which changes the message passing through the nerves. That is what we call subluxation.

    When we remove these subluxations, our nervous system works better. Our body responds much more appropriately and effectively to the stress it experiences. We are in a more adaptable state. Because of this, this is actually the time that you should be doing more activity, not laying around staying still.

    Along the same lines, I hear people say that they’ll come get adjusted after they have some kind of physical stress. A patient of mine recently said they were waiting to come get adjusted until after they finished a remodeling project. However, the best time to remove those subluxations is before embarking on such a strenuous project. With the subluxations removed, the body responds much better, and much more appropriately to the stress it experiences.

    So remember, go out and move around after an adjustment. Go work out, take a walk, have fun!