Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Importance of Movement

By Darryl Gomes  Certified Athletic Therapist, Osteopathic Thesis Writer, Registered Kinesiologist


What is Movement?

Movement is the ability to take something from one area to another. Our ability to move and perform daily tasks efficiently requires our musculoskeletal system to coordinate a series of complex movements seamlessly and effortlessly. Whether we are walking in the mall, riding a bike, or shoveling snow, our body has to have the capacity to move in order to get things done.

What Happens if We Lack Movement?

Your body is a unique machine: if something isn't moving properly, it will find a way to make it work through compensations.

What is Meant by Compensation?

Every joint in your body should have the ability to move through a full range without limitations. If there is a restriction in a joint, then the body will recruit other areas of the body to produce the movement required. 

A typical example of compensation is experienced in the spine. You should have the ability to flex, extend, side bend and rotate at each spinal segment. If one segment cannot flex forward (the hypomobile segment which has no movement), you create a hypermobile segment (too much movement) above and below the problematic segment to flex forward more. As a unit, the spine would still be able to flex. However, biomechanically, the spine would not be moving efficiently as you have areas in the spine that are in compensation.

Is This Something I Should be Concerned About?

The simple answer is yes, as you don't want to be creating areas of hypomobility and hypermobility since it will lead to inefficient movement patterns in the body over time. 

Here's the Truth About Compensations

We all live with compensations. Your body would not be able to function without the ability to compensate! Think about it: if you have ever sprained your ankle, then you know it hurts for a while before you start using it again. 

However, if the pain lingers or you notice you develop new pains as a result, then that is a sign of your body not being able to compensate to fix the original problem. This is where chronic problems and long term pain develop.

Does Movement Only Apply to the Musculoskeletal System?

No. The internal organs and vessels also have to move. Surgeries and inflammation are examples of problems that can restrict movement internally and which can affect the function of the various organ systems.

So How Can I Encourage Better Movement?

  • Exercise is one the best ways to encourage movement. Yoga is a great way to stretch muscles and emphasize better range through your joints.
  • Proper nutrition is required for your body to help build and maintain healthy tissues.
  • Osteopathic treatment to help identify, correct and integrate positive changes is necessary to re-establish movement.
If you have any questions about this blog, or osteopathy in general, feel free to email me or call the clinic for a free 15 minute consultation.

darryl@naturopathicfoundations.ca

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Is Google your Doctor?

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

How often have you looked up your condition or googled your symptoms? You most likely have. In the process, you may have found that your symptoms could indicate a health risk and you have concerns spinning through your head.

In all of history, we have never had so much access to information, and today, we can access almost anything through the internet. Most people are using the internet as a tool to find out health information to understand their conditions or search for treatment options.

Information at your fingertips can be a powerful tool but only when applied properly. When it comes to health, there is a plethora of information available; some of it valuable and some of it unhelpful. So we need to distinguish what can be applied to us, and what is not relevant. This is what conscious healthcare is about, understanding what is relevant for your unique constitution rather that judging things as good or bad. For example, coffee may be "bad" for you because of its stimulating properties that make the nervous system hyperactive, yet there are many studies out there that show that caffeine can have beneficial effects on cognitive decline such as dementia. So is coffee good or bad? It  depends on your body, lifestyle, age, state of health and many more determinants of your health.
So how do you know what you should do? How can you distinguish the valuable from the useless?

The quality of information on the internet varies significantly since anyone can post anything and it can be challenging to distinguish medical information from personal opinions or sensationalized info or marketing that is trying to sell you a miracle pill or guaranteed cure. It may look or sound good, but is it good for you? Each individual is unique so you should always check with your ND to check if that product is suitable for you.

Benefits

Let's look at some of the ways you can use the internet for health advice and navigate through websites. You can:
  • Learn the basic facts such as what is soluble vs. insoluble fibre, which foods are highest in pesticides and best to eat organic or what developments are happening each week in pregnancy.
  • Research about a health condition and prepare questions before your appointment.
  • Understand symptoms that need immediate care and prompt you to seek treatment.
  • Gain access to a community of people with similar conditions in forums, reducing the feeling of isolation.

Cautions

Reserve web searches for the basics, not for serious concerns, multiple health issues or if you are several medications or supplements. Here are some guidelines on what to avoid:
  • Online treatments may not be relevant and are symptom focused. Naturopathic medicine identifies the cause of the illness and treats according to the root cause. Online articles are often focused on a specific symptom or condition, whereas individualized medicine looks at how all the parts of the puzzle fit together. 
  • Credibility of articles can vary and sometimes it is not easy to distinguish between medical pages from blogs with personal opinions. The pages that show up at the top of a web search are not necessarily the most reliable. 
  • Avoid websites that are recommending a certain product or program.  It is likely biased towards selling a product and may not be relevant for you.
  • If you are on multiple medications or supplements
  • Researching symptoms creates anxiety. The more you search, the more you might find out that it could be cancer or a virus or a severe condition. Before you work yourself up, it's good to have a doctor do an assessment.
The internet is a great tool for information, but it can never replace an assessment by a real doctor and their experience. Naturopathic doctors spend over 7 years of formalized training to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions and when to refer you for serious conditions. Your ND is not only providing you with medical knowledge but is providing you with clinical experience to make informed choices about your health care. They can also help guide you to trustworthy sites with current, evidence-based information. Together as a team, you can work together to make the best decisions for your well-being.

Dr. Leena Athparia is a Naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus on joint health, pain and chronic disease. If you are healthy and looking into preventing disease or learning more about your constitution, Dr. Athparia can help you. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Breathe Better with Self Care Techniques

By Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

How often do you tune into your own breathing? Have you noticed that your breathing changes depending on what you are doing and how you are feeling - happy, angry, excited? Are you breathing more through your right or left nostril? Shallow or deep?

Breathing involves more than just providing oxygen to the lungs; it provides qi or prana (life force) to your entire system and is a bridge between the body, mind and consciousness. From the moment you are born, until your last breath, breathing is an automatic activity that goes on continuously whether you are aware of it or not. The more you can bring it into your awareness, the more you can pick up on cues that your body is telling you. For example, if your nose is always stuffy after meals, it could indicate that you have sensitivities to certain foods or that digestion is sluggish. If your breathing is often shallow and rapid, this could be a reflection of tension in your body and mind.

The quality of your breathing determines your quality of life. Here are some self-care techniques that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you breathe better. These can be adjusted based on your state of health, climate and current concerns.


Self Care Tips for Breathing


Neti Pot

Neti, which means "nasal cleansing", is an Ayurvedic technique that dates back to ancient India and was used by yogis to improve breathing. This is a daily cleansing routine that involves gently irrigating the nose and sinuses with warm saline water to help flush out excess mucous, dust particles and waste from the sinuses. It can reduce congestion, prevent colds, reduce dryness and open up your breathing. Neti practice can be done in the morning, daily or weekly and can be customized with antimicrobial herbs, homeopathics and even probiotics to help restore balance in the sinuses. If the neti pot intimidates you, or if have never tried neti pot, your ND can show you how to do it safely and effectively.

Nebulizer

For individuals who suffer from lung concerns such as chronic cough, sinusitis, COPD, mucous in the chest and asthma, the nebulizer is a tool to help deliver medicine directly to the lungs through inhalation. Glutathione is used in the nebulizer and is considered the best antioxidant to quench free radicals, increase immune function and decrease mucous in the respiratory tract. Glutathione is absorbed best through nebulized form or IV. Homeopathic remedies can be added to the nebulizer to relieve specific symptoms. This is a treatment that is done in clinic initially under supervision by your naturopathic doctor, and can then be done at home. It is painless, easy to administer and can be done even for children to open up the respiratory tract.

Steam Inhalation

One of the most popular DIY treatments for colds and coughs is steam inhalations. To do a steam inhalation, boil water, place into a bowl and sit with a towel over your head and inhale the steam through the nostrils for 5+ minutes. Warm steam helps relax breathing muscles, opens the bronchioles, lubricates the mucous membranes and loosens phlegm. Adding additional essential oils, such as eucalyptus, camphor or pine, can enhance the therapeutic effect. A short cut version can be done in the shower by applying a few drops of diluted essential oil into the tub and inhaling the steam in the shower in the morning. Essential oils can be customized based on your concerns. Oils with antimicrobial properties, such as tea tree, are good for fighting infections, and oils, such as camphor and eucalyptus, help open up breathing. In the clinic there are a variety of specific blends that can be used for infections, sinus issues and other respiratory issues. An add-on to the steam inhalation is the Ayurvedic nasya treatment which involves applying warm oil to the nasal passage and is often preceded or followed by steam inhalation to enhance the effect. Read more about nasya here.

Pranayam 

Exercises to help breathing are not a new concept. In the eastern traditions of yoga, Ayurveda and martial arts, specific techniques were refined over thousands of years to harmonize prana or qi and direct life energy to specific areas. This mastery over the breath is called pranayam. Alternate nostril breathing is one of these techniques which has become popularized and has been studied to reduce anxiety, promote mental clarity and much more. Increased energy, clarity, balanced breathing are some of the benefits. Pranayam can be practised by anyone, including children. If you can incorporate a minimum of 5 minutes in your daily routine to dedicate to bringing awareness to your breathing, the quality of your health will reflect the investment in your health. You can learn pranayam through many yoga or meditations instructors, or learn on your own with videos such as this one: Nadi Shuddhi

By paying more attention to your breathing and incorporating these tips, you can experience better breathing. If you have questions on your breathing, your ND can do an assessment and customize treatments and self-care techniques that you can do at home. Self care is the basis of a healthy lifestyle and the investment in wellness.


Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in joint health, pain and chronic disease. If you are healthy and looking into preventing disease or learning more about your constitution, Dr. Athparia can help you. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.



The Body as a Functional Unit

By Darryl Gomes, Certified Athletic Therapist, Osteopathic Thesis Writer

This is the 4th and final blog relating to the osteopathic tenets I have been writing about for the past few months. Just to remind you of the osteopathic tenets:
  • Structure Governs Function
  • The Rule of the Artery is Absolute
  • Autoregulation
  • The Body as a Functional Unit


What Does Body as a Functional Unit Mean?

Much like a car, the body is composed of many different systems that allow it to work efficiently. The musculoskeletal, circulatory, digestive, neurological, respiratory, lymphatic, endocrine, urinary, reproductive and integumentary (skin) systems all work together in harmony.


Why is it Important for Me to Understand this Tenet?

If any of these systems don't work properly, the body can experience problems such as bloating, swelling, and inflammation as examples. Understand that all problems start acutely and eventually develop into chronic problems when they are not attended to in a timely manner. 

The human body compensates for a problem from the moment it first occurs. The body will try to deal with the problem for as long as it can by doing things such as: 
  • making other areas more mobile/overworked to make up for restricted joints
  • having the heart pump harder to push fluid that stagnates in areas like the lower leg
  • shifting weight onto one limb more than the other to avoid painful movements
The body handles problems like this on a daily basis for a long period of time without you even noticing it. However, once the body loses the ability to compensate for the original problem, individuals usually start to feel pain and notice problems that they never noticed before. 


How Does this Apply to Me?

It's simple: ask yourself what are your compensations. Did you sprain an ankle a year ago, and now notice that you get headaches? Do you type a lot at work and notice how much your neck and upper back hurt? Maybe you have been under a lot of stress for a very long time, and you notice that you get burning (anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours) after eating a meal?

Sometimes the compensations are easy to recognize, but some others aren't. Your body doesn't have to make sense of the compensations: it does what it needs to do in order to work as a functional unit.


How Can Osteopathy Help Me?

Osteopathy involves finding the compensations and removing them so that the body can return to working optimally, as it did before the original problem occurred. 

If you have any questions regarding this tenet, or osteopathy in general, feel free to email me or call for a free consultation.

darryl@naturopathicfoundations.ca

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

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