Monthly Archives: May 2015
Looking Good and Feeling Healthy for a Lifetime: Your Muscles’ Role
Are you thinking about looking and feeling better? And would you like to do it soon?
It’s understandable, improving your physique and health helps you feel better and continue to do the activities you love to do.
Your muscles are key players in helping you condition your body so you are fit, heal better and feel better. Enrolling muscle strength and conditioning into your life is a sure bet for feeling better, combatting pain and looking better.
Muscles give your body tone, energy, endurance, strong posture, joint strength and help you lose excess body fat by increasing your metabolism.
There is an old cliché, “Use it or lose it”. This is a very simplistic way to explain what’s called ‘muscle atrophy’. Muscle atrophy is the opposite of muscle strength. Muscle atrophy can happen with neglect. It is the partial or complete loss or “wasting” of muscle tissue. This phenomenon is important, because it can create a weakness along important joints of your body that leave you aching, prone to injury, and in some cases in chronic pain. Any of those things will deplete your energy and sense of well-being.
If your muscles are not able to heed the call of duty when you need them you can be sure you’ve lost some muscle strength or had some muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy is especially a concern as you age. Often when you age you lose muscle, your body fat increases, your ability to participate in activities or daily routines decrease, and your health decreases.
Muscle atrophy can occur in 2 different ways: neurogenic atrophy and disuse atrophy.
- Neurogenic muscle atrophy can be caused by a number of injuries and diseases. When a nerve attached to a muscle is damaged, its signal is disrupted and it cannot reach the brain, the peripheral nerves, or the spinal cord. This leads to an inability to use the muscle correctly. Nerve damage from an injury, such as compression, can also result in muscle atrophy. HealthGrades.com also describes several potential causes of muscle atrophy, including neuromuscular diseases ranging from multiple sclerosis to diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage associated with diabetes).
- Disuse muscle atrophy is caused by a sedentary lifestyle—that is, one that involves little to no physical exercise. The less the muscles are used, the more likely it is that they will atrophy. According to HealthGrades.com, “Other common causes of disuse atrophy include conditions that decrease mobility, such as rheumatoid arthritis (a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation) or osteoarthritis (the thinning and weakening of the bones), and injuries such as broken bones…and often, the aging process often leads to slow but progressive muscle atrophy.”
Factors affecting muscle strength (non-disease related)
- GENETIC ASYMMETRY creating weakness
We do not usually develop symmetrical. Some muscles are more developed on one side of the body than on the other side. A fraction of an inch, and sometimes half an inch doesn’t usually matter. Bigger variations can matter and you may or may not know yet that you have them. We can spot some of these for you. Grab a complimentary “Uncover Your Imbalances” Session with me.We are born with short muscles or long muscles
The length of a muscle is one of the primary factors determining how much it can develop. The longer a muscle is (that is, the farther it runs from its insertion points), the easier it is to build the muscle.On the contrary, the shorter a muscle is, the more difficult it is to develop. Unfortunately, because muscle length is determined genetically, you cannot lengthen a muscle. This does not lead to atrophy but may lead to a less strength when compared to somebody else.
The Fibrous Density and Development of Muscles
The more fibers a muscle has, the bigger it is, even without strength training. During exercise, a dense muscle will react better than the same muscle with fewer fibers. Fortunately, there are methods to increase the number of muscle fibers.
- SKELETAL ASYMMETRY creating weakness
Our skeletons are not perfectly symmetrical either. For example, one shoulder may be held higher than the other. This lack of symmetry changes the lever in all upper-body exercises, particularly exercises for the shoulders, chest, and back. Naturally, this will affect strength and muscle development; however, skeletal asymmetry may also be at the root of many injuries. This is where your chiropractor can help you improve.
Sometimes muscle weakness or atrophy can be an indication of severe malnutrition or alcohol-related muscle disease. Damage to nerves due to an injury of the spinal cord, long-term corticosteroid therapy, muscular dystrophy, osteoarthritis, polio, rheumatoid arthritis, or even burns can also result in muscle atrophy.
Prevention of muscle atrophy or weakness involves three separate, but complementary approaches to keeping your muscles healthy: 1) eating a nutritious diet, 2) exercising safely and regularly, and 3) maintaining spinal alignment and muscle symmetry. I work as your expert in spinal alignment, greatly ensuring you feel strong, put-together and pain-free.
In terms of nutrition, eating a healthy, balanced diet that has sufficient amounts of protein is the first step. Depending on your specific requirements, a nutritionist or other healthcare professional may also recommend supplements that support muscle growth and development, such as creatine, whey and/or glutamine.
Researchers at Colorado State University have also found that a low-sugar diet may also be quite effective. “When insulin levels are chronically high, your body’s cells attempt to limit its effects by decreasing their numbers of insulin receptors, a condition known as insulin resistance. In advanced cases, insulin resistance results in a swing to the opposite extreme, whereby cells become starved for amino acids and glucose and, as a result, muscle protein break downs. To keep your insulin levels on an even keel, avoid processed carbohydrates and opt for whole grains. Also, choose fresh fruits over dried or canned.”
For exercise, most people will benefit from low-impact physical activities like walking and swimming. Others may safely increase the size and strength of their muscles through simple body-weight exercises that also build coordination and balance.
If you’re currently suffering from any type of medical condition or haven’t been physically active for an extended period of time, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before starting a new fitness regimen. He or she will be able to evaluate your health and recommend an appropriate fitness program for you.
As for maintaining spinal alignment and muscle symmetry, many people benefit from using chiropractic treatments so they feel more motion in their joints and less restriction in movement. This positively affects your energy, pain levels, posture and strength. In many cases you feel this health improvement directly after a chiropractic treatment.
Improve Your Health by Tapping into the Love Shared Between You and Your Partner
Healthy relationships take work, especially during challenging times. And sometimes it becomes easy to place your focus on the negative stuff, rather than on the happy moments. This can put you both in a rut.
The good news is sometimes all it takes is a simple perspective shift …you have power together.
When it comes to your health, the simple fact remains that a lasting marriage—or a healthy long-term relationship of any kind—brings positive benefits to both partners.
You know the phrase used in a marriage vow, “For better or for worse”? Well, there are actually a large number of studies highlighting what makes a marriage work, “for better”—particularly in relation to your overall health and well-being.
Your relationship can provide an opportunity for partnership in an area other than sharing finances and raising children. You both can work together to improve each other’s healthy state of body and mind. Imagine what you could do if you learned to harness this! As sociologist Linda Waite puts it, “Marriage is sort of like a life preserver or a seat belt. We can put it in exactly the same category as eating a good diet, getting exercise, and not smoking.”
To be fully supported in your self-care, I offer that these tips, along with a visit with your loved one to the chiropractor, can be a good place to begin opening your eyes to new healthy possibilities. Here’s how you and your partner begin your journey together to improve each other’s health and state of well-being:
- Exercise together. When couples meet, chances are each of them has his or her own regular exercise regimen – hopefully! If he or she does, accept that it may be different from your exercise routine – respecting that everyone has different goals. As an example, she may prefer aerobics or running, while he prefers sporting activities like golf and tennis. Here is an opportunity to “cross-pollinate”; for couples to participate in each other’s exercise regimens from time to time. Naturally, working out together tends to keep both parties exercising regularly, because you’re doing it as a team, not on your own. Additionally and most importantly, you can be spending more quality time together and getting to know each so you feel happier, and more connected. This plays an essential role in one’s health.
- Learn from each other’s food preferences. What matters here is that you both work together in creating meals. If one person enjoys being in the kitchen more than the other, still trying to work together makes healthy changes last. Take time to learn what you and your partner love to eat so the healthy meals you both create may expand food choices for both of you. Think you hate broccoli? Well, that was before you tasted your spouse’s recipe for it, right? Eat too many salty or sugary snacks while watching TV? That was before your partner shared his or her recipe for veggie snacks with the cucumber-coriander dip. As a general tip, health experts say you should look carefully at your partner’s food choices and follow the lead of the person with the healthier diet.
- Lose unhealthy weight together. Just as your relationship provides an opportunity to inspire each other when it comes to exercise, it can also be a godsend when one or both of you needs to drop a few unhealthy pounds. Agree on your mutual weight loss goals, and then go shopping together, stocking your kitchen with foods that support those goals. Whether you’re trying to cut down on sugar, fat, salt, or working to add more greens and fiber, working together on choosing a healthier diet can be a lot easier than doing it on alone.
- Don’t forget the “V” word. Vacations! Both men and an increasing amount of women find themselves in a work rut, failing to find time for vacations. Then they wonder why they get sick or even find themselves depressed. Planning a vacation together gives both parties the opportunity to decide on the destination and activities that will be relaxing for both partners. Vacations are magical! If more couples took yearly vacations, there would be a significantly lower risk of death and critical illness than those who did not.
- Learn things together. We all know how easy it is to get motivated to try something new on your own. What’s more difficult is to get somebody else, like your spouse, motivated to do the same. Here’s how to put this into perspective. Lots of things are “easy” to do one way, but it doesn’t mean that they are the only way. For example, keeping the same old stagnant routine, vegging out on Facebook, or sitting in front of the TV is easy versus committing to nightly couple walks.Studies have shown that each gender has his or her own strengths. For example,in the area of achieving better health practices, such as self-care and diet (making healthy food choices), a woman is often better able at getting her man involved in the process. This is reported to influence success (Burke, LE, et al. (2011).Self-Monitoring in Weight Loss: A Systematic Review of the Literature.J Am Diet Assoc. Jan; 111(1): 92–102). And scientists conclude that men adhere better to instructions, especially when engaging in new health changes for the first time, suggesting that they are better in getting started and sticking to the program than women. Use this information for you and your partner’s advantage, by using the strengths of each other in learning and remaining motivated about your health goals.If you recruit your partner and learn together, you’re more likely to actually stick to a new health routine.As an example, inviting your spouse to come with you to your chiropractic appointment is a great way to get him learning all about what you’re doing and why it’s beneficial to overall health. Getting you partner involved in your self-care and considering his own, is a great door-opener to gaining partner support in many health habit changes you both desire to make.
- Go to bed together. No, I don’t necessarily mean, “Go to bed and have sex together”, although that’s good for your mutual health, too. Instead, studies have shown that couples with similar sleep schedules are healthier and have fewer incidences of common diseases. Chronic sleep deprivation is becoming a national public health issue, so if you can work out a compatible sleep schedule with your partner, chances are it’ll make both of you healthier and happier.
- Laugh a lot. Let’s face it… how many of us laugh out loud when we’re alone? Do it too much and people might even begin to think you’re weird. But if you’re like most people, one of the reasons you chose your partner is because he or she makes you laugh. There have been numerous studies showing that the more genuine laughs you have per day, the healthier you probably are. So keep amusing each other, and keep laughing at each other’s jokes. It might just provide the mechanism for laughing together for the next 50 plus years and what’s not to like about that?
Togetherness is love and health for all around you. Self-care can be supported and ignited by the full involvement of your significant other. We always enjoy speaking to the ones you love about your progress and what we are doing. Please feel free to bring them in and give us permission to share. And if you are new to chiropractic care, ask me about what a subluxation is and how it can possibly be the cause or result of your pain and poor energy levels.