October 2015 - Northwest Pain Relief Centers

Monthly Archives: October 2015

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Beating Insomnia Naturally

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It’s common wisdom that a good night’s sleep is important, but what if you have insomnia? Those who have trouble falling asleep, or fall asleep easily enough, but can’t seem to stay asleep, are missing out on a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Some medications designed to help you sleep carries some unsettling side effects, like hallucinations and walking, eating, or driving in your sleep, but don’t despair! There are some natural ways to promote better sleep, without risks to your health and well-being.  

  • Make your bedroom a haven for sleep. Your bedroom should not be a place to work, eat, watch television, or do other daytime activities. Rather, it should be an oasis of sleep, with soft lights and comfortable bedding- and no television. To create an even more relaxing atmosphere, turn your clock away from your view, and bump the thermostat down a few notches.
  • Get into a routine. It’s sometimes hard to stick to a schedule, but going to bed at the same time every night can make it easier to fall asleep. Another thing that makes sleep come more easily is to create a soothing bedtime routine for yourself, much like you would for a small child. You might have a light snack two hours before bedtime, then take a relaxing bath or shower, and read or listen to calming music to help get you ready to sleep. Avoid watching television, checking your smartphone or going online right before you go to bed, because the light from electronic devices can disturb your
  • Be smart about napping. If you start to drag in the late afternoon, it can be very tempting to take a nap. Limit your snooze time to about a 20 minute catnap, and it won’t interfere with your ability to fall asleep at bedtime.
  • Find ways to de-stress. It’s no secret that worries and stress can keep you tossing and turning at night. Work some downtime into your bedtime routine, and consider writing in a journal so that you can decrease your brain activity by literally closing the book on your day.
  • Watch what you ingest. Don’t eat heavily at night, and certainly not within 2-3 hours of bedtime. You don’t want to have anything substantial to digest when you’re trying to go to sleep. If you get hungry at night, have a light snack about 2 hours before sleep- mostly carbohydrates with a little bit of protein. You might choose half a bagel with peanut butter, a sliced apple with cheese, yogurt with granola, a piece of whole wheat bread with a slice of deli turkey, or something similar. Avoid caffeine and nicotine, because these can raise blood pressure and energy levels, and don’t drink alcohol too close to bedtime, either. While it may initially make you sleepy, it will also disrupt your sleep patterns.
  • Try a natural sleep aid. Herbal teas, like chamomile, help some people relax and sleep. Warm milk is another gentle and natural sleep aid. There are many supplements that people find useful as well, such as melatonin, but consult your healthcare provider before you give any supplements a try.
  • Consider a monitor. Especially if you go to bed at night and yet don’t feel rested in the morning, a monitor can be a tool to help you solve the mystery. Sleep tracking activity monitors can help pinpoint the problems in your sleep patterns, and let you know if you’re not getting enough deep sleep. They also act as tiny, electronic coaches, motivating you to take the right steps to improve your sleep.

If you’ve feel like you’ve tried everything, and you still can’t get enough sleep, it might be time to seek the help of a professional. At our clinic, we are committed to helping our patients achieve a healthy life balance, and that includes helping them figure out how to get the necessary sleep. To learn how we can help you, visit our website or call us today for your free consultation.

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Five Yoga Poses to do from your Chair

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Yoga continues to gain popularity, and with good reason. A practice that improves posture and flexibility, yoga has also been shown to lower blood pressure and relieve stress. But maybe you’ve decided yoga isn’t for you. It’s true, some people have physical limitations that prevent them from doing yoga, like chronic joint pain or acute injury or illness, but if your primary objective is a vague feeling that you don’t bend that way, you might want to rethink your position. Give these simple stretches a try, from the comfort of your own chair, and you might find you have more of an affinity for yoga than you thought you did.  

  • Start with some neck rolls. Seated neck rolls release tension from the neck, and can feel especially good if you spend a lot of time at your desk. (If you have a neck injury, or some issue with your neck or cervical spine, though, you might want to skip this one.) Sitting up straight in your chair, look at the ceiling, keeping your neck elongated. Bring your ear down to your left shoulder, hold, roll your chin to your chest, hold, and then roll your head to the right, bringing your ear to your right shoulder, and hold again. Repeat this twice, all the while inhaling and exhaling slowly, and in a controlled manner, through your nose. Be gentle with yourself, refrain from forcing your head lower than is comfortable, and stop if you experience discomfort.
  • The Seated Mountain Pose helps you to check your posture, release tension from your upper body, focus on your breath, and engage your core. Sit up straight in your chair, and roll your shoulder blades back and down, with your arms relaxed at your side. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, engage your abs by pulling your belly button in toward your spine. Inhale through the nose and raise your arms over your head, keeping them shoulder width apart while you relax your shoulders. Look up to the ceiling, between your hands, and stay in this position for five breaths.
  • Seated Eagle Arms is a pose that works on your wrist, and the hard to stretch place between your shoulder blades. As with the Seated Mountain Pose, begin by sitting up straight, with shoulders down and back, arms relaxed, feet flat on the floor, and belly button pulled to your spine. Extend your arms in front of your body, bent at 90 degree angles, with your palms facing each other. Next, place your right arm under your left, pressing the backs of your hands together.  Inhale while sitting tall, then exhale and tuck your chin to your chest, holding your pose for five breaths before switching arms and repeating for another five breaths.
  • The Seated Forward Fold lowers your head beneath your heart, which can have a calming effect, but should be avoided if you have high blood pressure, or eye problems like glaucoma or detached retinas. Sitting up straight in your chair, with your shoulder blades rolled back and down, feet on the floor, and belly button pulled in, spread your legs slightly wide apart than your hips. Exhale, and lower your hands slowly to the floor, bending from the hip. (If you can’t make it all the way to the floor, put your hands on your thighs or shins.) Next, slowly round your upper back while lowering your chest between your legs and relaxing your head and neck down, with your shoulders relaxed and rounded. Hold this pose for five breaths before slowly rolling up.
  • Seated Cat/Cow uses complementary poses to stretch the spine. In your usual starting position, sitting up straight with shoulders back and down, arms relaxed, belly button pulled in, and feet on the floor, inhale, and arch your back, leading with the chest and looking at the ceiling, with chin lifted. Exhale, rounding your spine, allowing your head to drop forward, then tuck your chin and let your shoulders roll. Repeat this pattern of cat (arched) to cow (rounded) five times.

Yoga is a practice that benefits both mind and body, calming the mind while improving health. At our clinic, we embrace therapies like yoga and acupuncture, incorporating them into treatment plans that also include more traditional western medical treatments. It’s what we call an integrated approach to wellness, in which we work to address each patient as a whole person. To learn more about how we can help you live your best life, visit our website or call today for a free consultation.

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Power up your Walk with Intervals

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Are you getting the most benefits you can from your walk? If you’ve gotten into a good walking routine, you may start becoming restless, and feeling like you’d like to push yourself a little further. The solution? Intervals! When you incorporate intervals and strength-training moves into your walk, you’ll not only make it more interesting, you’ll also challenge your muscles and give your metabolism a boost. Here, we offer some suggestions for making your walk a more effective workout.  

  • Begin with a warm up. Stretch before you get started, and then start your walk at a regular walking pace, in order to get your legs completely warmed up.
  • Intersperse your walk with fast and slow intervals. Start by walking as quickly as you can for two minutes, following it with one minute of a slow pace, repeating this sequence five times in a row. Later in your walk, alternate between one minute of fast and one minute of slow for fifteen minutes.
  • Break up your walk with some strength training. Try planking, lying face-down with your hands under your shoulders: push yourself into plank position on hands and toes, hold for 20 seconds, relax for 3-5 seconds, and repeat 10-15 times. Another strength exercise is the toe touch, in which you stand with your hands by your sides, then squat down, reach down with your hands, and touch your toes before swinging your arms up to the sky, jumping up to a hop, and then repeating this 10-15 times. Finally, try the hip bridge, lying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground and arms extended by your sides and hands face down on the ground; lift your ups up and down 25-30 times, squeezing at the top of each movement. By inserting these exercises into your walk, you’ll be building your strength and stamina.
  • Finish strong with alternating walking lunges. For one minute, alternate between your right and left feet, lunging as deep as you can, before walking at a fast pace for four minutes, using your arms to increase your speed. Repeat this pattern four more times.
  • If you’re not up to a long walk, cut yourself some slack. You can get the benefits of interval walking by alternating three minutes of fast walking and three minutes at a more leisurely pace, for ten minutes at a time, three times a day.

Walking is an excellent exercise, and exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. At our clinic, we work to help our patients create their healthiest lives, traveling the path of optimal wellness. To learn how we can help you reach your wellness goals and live your best life, visit our website or call today for a free consultation.

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Is your Diet Ruining Your Health?

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With obesity at epidemic proportions, it’s not surprising that dieting is a huge national pastime. Whether they’re cutting out carbs, drastically reducing calories, eliminating gluten, or cutting out animal-based foods, Americans love to modify their eating habits to solve problems of weight or poor health. But could our diets actually be doing more harm than good? 

The problem with going on a diet is that it’s a mindset of temporary change. This can work, at least at first, but especially when the change is drastic, it’s difficult to maintain. So while you might initially see a drop in weight, when you revert to your regular habits, you’re likely to gain the weight back.

Even worse, diets can be harmful to your health. Repeatedly reducing your caloric intake in a dramatic way can weaken your heart, putting you at higher risk for heart attacks. Opting for a low-fat diet can actually encourage unhealthy eating, as people choose highly processed low-fat foods full of sugar over higher fat whole foods with important nutrients. Low-fat diets can actually lower your good cholesterol and raise your bad cholesterol, and they have not been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

What of diets meant to promote good health? The best way to improve your health is to make a permanent shift in your mindset, focusing on consuming real foods that fuel your body with necessary nutrients, rather than highly processed foods that contain excessive amounts of sugar, fat, and chemicals. Often, diets that eliminate a certain type of food are essentially a fad, and should be avoided. If you believe that you have health issues that warrant a change in diet, talk to a nutritionist for advice, or see an allergist to determine what’s best for you.

So how do you create real change in your body, without harming it through fad diets? The best way to build a healthy body and mind is by creating real change in your life. You can start out with small changes, like striving to eat more fruits and vegetables, or going for a walk three times a week. Set small but reasonable goals for yourself, which you can sustain over a long period of time. Seek balance in your life, working to nourish your body, mind, and spirit by connecting with things that bring you joy, rather than short-term pleasure.

At our clinic, we work with patients to help them find the kind of life balance that puts them on the path to optimal wellness. This includes helping them establish good eating practices, to build lifelong healthy dietary choices. To learn how we can help you reach your wellness goals, visit us online or call today for a free consultation.