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Dr. Aliya

Health + Wellness

The Do’s and Don’ts of Foam Rolling

You’ve just finished your workout and as you make your way over to the stretching area you notice a woman moving her entire body over cylindrical piece of foam. She’s writhing over it, using several expletives and you wonder what the heck is she doing?! And more importantly, why?!?

Welcome to foam rolling my friend.

Foam rolling became trendy years ago when athletes used to roll out tight muscles and fascia (more on fascia here). It’s a form of myofasical release (like a massage), you do to yourself – call it self-massage.   Basically by using the foam roller and your own bodyweight you are releasing tight muscles via trigger points and increasing circulation and blood to that particular area of your body.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts that will have you foam rolling like a pro in no time!

DO pick a foam roller that’s right for you! Foam rollers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some with knobs for added torture….I mean, relief.   To be honest, I always suggest a longer foam roller so it’s easier to use to roll out your glutes, ITB and back. Of course, if you are traveling, you may want to get a shorter one as well for ease of packing!

DON’T roll directly on a joint or bone.  Ouchy!

DO roll slowly and with even pressure, spending a few seconds on each area of the body.  Enjoy each and every sensation!

DON’T overdo it!  It is not an exercise in pain tolerance. Placing too much sustained pressure on one body part can result in damage.

DO expect a little bit of discomfort.  It should be a “good” hurt, but never unbearable. If an area is too sore or tender, try rolling on surrounding muscles first to help loosen things up.

DON’T try to foam roll your neck. It’s awkward for a reason. The neck is a very sensitive part of the body and a difficult area to position your foam roller. If you are suffering from neck pain, seek the help of a health professional (like your chiropractor, wink wink).

DO it often. Being consistent with rolling is key. It’s not enough to just roll when you are in acute pain. Try rolling every other day! You will notice a difference!

What is your favourite body part to foam roll?  Let me know!

Happy Rolling everyone!

xo

Dr Aliya

 

 

 

Babies + Kids

Babywearing 101: The benefits of carrying your baby!

Recently I attended the Canadian Babywearing School (CBS) Educators course in Milton, Ontario. As a pediatric chiropractor, I am often asked about how to correctly wear a baby in a carrier or wrap, as well as addressing any concerns from parents about positioning and comfort.

Personally, I wore both Rosie and William when they were teeny tiny! William still loves to be worn and often drifts into a pleasant slumber when we are out and about as he nestles into his wrap.

Here are a few FAQ’s I often receive about carrying your baby!

Q. What exactly does it mean to baby wear?

The term “baby wearing” has been used to describe the ancient and recently revived custom of carrying infants in cloth carriers on a parent’s body. Although it has been gaining popularity in western society, many cultures around the world have been using this method of baby transport for centuries.

PS It should actually be called baby carrying instead of the commonly used term baby wearing (we try not to think of babies as accessories lol!)

Q. What are some of the benefits of babywearing or baby carrying?

There are numerous benefits both parent and infant:

  • It’s been shown that infants who are carried are generally calmer because all of their primal/survival needs are met. Their caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, touched and provide feeding if needed.
  • “Skin to skin” contact is maintained and a strong bond between baby and parent is established.
  • Constant motion and rhythm has a balancing and soothing effect on infants resulting in less crying and fussing overall.
  • Carrying baby offers parents practicality and freedom to multi-task while attending to their little one – a more “hands-free” approach. Many moms master the art of babywearng and breastfeeding at the same time!
  • From a chiropractic perspective, it is also a safer, back saving alternative to lugging around a heavy, bulky car seat.

Q. How do I safely wear my baby?

There are correct and incorrect ways to wear your baby and certain safety precautions must be considered.

Each carrier, wrap or sling should have an instruction booklet – read these carefully before using with baby.

Here are a few more guidelines and safety basics:

  • Check your sling, carrier or wrap for wear and tear before every use. Look for ripped seams, torn straps and damaged hardware.
  • Keep baby’s face in view and baby’s head close enough for you to kiss. Remember – “Visable and Kissable”
  • Always keep slings and carriers snug
  • Keep baby’s chin off of their chest to maintain a clear airway
  • Make sure baby’s legs aren’t bunched up against their stomach
  • Support baby’s back and keep their tummy and chest against yours
  • Do not wear baby while cooking or working with sharp or hot objects
  • Do not ride a bicycle while wearing baby

Remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times.

Q. What should I consider when buying a sling, carrier or wrap?

For parents who choose to baby wear, there are many factors to consider when deciding what type of carrier to use. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Choose a model that has detailed, easy-to-understand instructions. Keep them for future use.
  • It’s always great to try a product before buying. There are some great shops that specialize in baby wearing and offer one on one help – see below for recommendations.
  • Check with the retailer or manufacturer to make sure the carrier or sling meets all safety requirements and standards.

Here are a few more resources:

  1. Carry Me Close Babywearers is a Toronto-based non-profit organization committed to offering advice on babywearing. They have a meetings once a month in Toronto. Find them here.
  2. Health Canada has a babywearing resource page offering safe guidelines.
  3. Little Zen One is a great little shop in Toronto’s East End that offers 1-on-1 consultations to help you find the right carrier.

Remember like any skill, baby wearing can take a bit of practice but the benefits for baby and caregiver are amazing!

Questions about baby wearing or infant development? Feel free to contact me!

xo

Dr Aliya

 

Health + Wellness

What to Expect during a Chiropractic Treatment

New to chiropractic?  Ever wonder what to expect during chiropractic treatment and initial consultation?

You’re in luck!

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Tina (@mombossof3) – she’s a busy mama of 3, daily vlogger and youtube sensation!  She’s also a typical mama with typical mom posture – or “Mom – sture” (copyright pending lol).

She came into the Toronto  Yoga Mamas studio and wellness centre for her first EVER chiropractic treatment and she graciously agreed to having us film it!  Thank you, Tina!

So in case you ever thought – “gee, I wonder what happens during a chiropractic consult and treatment?” I’ve got you covered!

Check out our video below.  (it’s also got a few out-takes as well…for your viewing pleasure) 

PS Don’t forget to “like” and “subscribe” for more videos!   (pretty please!)

Hope you enjoyed this video!

Visit Tina’s channel at @mombossof3 for her hilarious daily VLOGs.

xo

Dr Aliya

Babies + Kids

Top 10 Reasons Why Parents Take Their Children to See a Chiropractor

1. To encourage good neural plasticity

2. To support “first- class “ nerve communication throughout the body – promoting health and well-being

3. To help strengthen their child’s immunity

4. To help resolve breastfeeding issues and colic

5. To reduce the detrimental impact our modern world has on our children

6. Encourages child to thrive by supporting digestive strength

7. To help improve child’s ability to learn and concentrate

8. To promote body balance – resolving poor posture, and encouraging proper biomechanics

9. To help kids stay fun and light-hearted

10. To help kids stay in tip-top shape to run, jump, play and do all the things kids do!

(as adapted by Dr. Jennifer Barham of Well Adjusted Babies)

I love seeing my little patients in practice and they respond so well often having epic naps and sleeps post-treatment.  If you have any questions about chiropractic care for your baby or child, send me an email at hello@draliya.ca.

xo

Dr Aliya

Health + Wellness

3 Easy Stretches for Moms

Feeling a bit stiff and tight as a new mom?

One of the most common complaints new mamas have is pain and stiffness in the shoulder, neck and upper back areas and it’s not surprising.  Moms spend most of their day carrying, rocking, bending, lifting, feeding, nursing and rocking again.  These movements lead to some really tight muscles, stiff joints and inevitably some postural changes….think “hunchback”!   New mom posture is so common that I’ve coined the term “Momsture” (get it, get it…).  (It’s being copyrighted as we speak!)

Don’t worry mama, your posture or momsture is not a lost cause!

I have three easy peasy stretches to help loosen up those muscles leaving you feeling awesome…and only a tad sleep deprived! (I’m sorry but these stretches won’t have your baby sleeping through the night…if only, eh?)  Watch my video below to see what these look like and try them today!

You’ll be feeling better soon!

 

Here’s a recap of the stretches in this video:

  1. Chest opener against the wall
  2. Towel stretch
  3. Neck stretch with arms behind back

xo

Dr Aliya

Pregnancy

The Art of Breastfeeding?

Here’s the thing about breastfeeding ….it is NOT EASY.

I know it’s supposed to be something a woman is designed to do – natural, instinctive, enjoyable.  Mama and baby in this warm cocoon-like bubble – you gazing down at this little beautiful being who is happily gulping down this magical milk freely flowing.

Umm, I hate to burst this idyllic bubble…that is definitely not how things usually go down. If you are a first time soon-to-be-mama, I’m sorry but I’m going to be real and honest – you’ll thank me later. If you are a second time mama – can I get a knowing head-nod and an “Amen, sister!”?

There is a steep learning curve to breastfeeding. It’s generally not an easy start and it take a bit of time to get the hang of it. I want you to know, you are not alone.

It’s okay to not enjoy it at first. It’s okay to cry and feel overwhelmed. And it’s totally okay to feel hopeless and want to give up. I know and I understand.

Here’s my story.

My first baby, Rose was born and immediately latched to my breast.   She was the baby you see in those breastfeeding videos. She climbed up my belly where she was placed seconds after being born and found her way to my breast where she latched on and continued to feed for the next 25 minutes.   We had a good start and I am thankful for that. However after the first 4 weeks of breastfeeding, I decided it was time to start pumping. I was heading back to work in a few short weeks and was determined to build up my supply of frozen breastmilk.

Enter pumping.

Breast pumping sucked and I found it cumbersome to use my electric pump and get enough milk.  Gradually my supply started to increase, but I couldn’t keep the pumping consistent. Long story short, before long I ended up with a few episodes of blocked ducts, and eventually mastitis. It was extremely painful and I felt like I couldn’t continue to breastfeed my baby. However with help from lactation consultants, my family doctor and a dose of antibiotics we got back on track and never looked back.

Breastfeeding has a steep learning curve. You are not alone.

Second baby. I’ve done this whole breastfeeding thing before, so this will be a piece of cake, right? Nope. Will and I had a tough time from Day 1. We had to work on his latch, he needed bodywork for his tight neck muscles (including chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, massage), I had to take herbs to increase my supply, we had to work hard on positioning, the list of issues went on. I felt defeated and completely overwhelmed. Why was this so hard? Shouldn’t I know this already? Again, we got help in the form of lactation consults (Taya Griffin), various other health practitioners, a naturopathic doctor and loads of patience. Eventually, we got the hang of breastfeeding together but we also supplemented William with some formula and I don’t regret it for a second. He needed it and I needed the peace of mind.

Two different babies. Two different feeding experiences. But in the end, we got through it. And you will too!

Do I have any advice? Not really because each mama’s experiences will be different and each baby is different.

However, I do have a few things that may help you on your feeding journey:

  1. Remember, you are not alone. Talk to people about what you are feeling – your partner, your best friends, your mom or dad, the lady in line at the grocery store. Honestly, it really does help to talk about the challenges.  La Leche League has weekly breastfeeding meetings that offer support.
  2. Get help. It’s okay to need help with this, whatever your feeding goals may be.  Lactation consultants are basically breastfeeding gurus.  But also talk to your midwives, doctors, chiropractors, other health care practitioners.
  3. “This too shall pass” It’s a phrase that I used to hear so much as a new mama and think to myself “What the heck are they talking about?!? This sucks right now!” But honestly, it does get better. I promise, mama.

Recently, Joy McCarthy, Taya Griffin and myself collaborated and co-authored an article on Natural Solutions for Breastfeeding Challenges.   I am so proud of this piece and I really hope that it helps other mamas out there!

xo

Dr Aliya

Health + Wellness

A Walk for My Dad

April 30th 2016. The date doesn’t ring a bell for most that knew him. It’s not his birthday or my parent’s wedding anniversary. It’s also not the birthday of any of his siblings, kids, nieces, nephews or grandkids. Nope, it’s a seemingly ordinary day last year in April.

But for my sisters, my mom and myself April 30th 2016 holds much importance.

It was the date of last years Walk for Muscular Dystrophy (MD) in Toronto. And, the last time my dad participated in this walk with his family before he passed away in June 2016.

In early 2007, my dad was diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis (IB), an autoimmune disease that weakens and wastes the muscles progressively over time. And even though, his body was slowly deteriorating, his willpower and zest for life never wavered. He continued to be active in the community and one of his favourite events of the year was the Walk for Muscular Dystrophy. It was an opportunity to raise awareness and support those affected by neuromuscular disorders. It was also a way to connect with friends he had made who also lived with similar disorders and spend time walking/rolling with his family.

Muscular Dystrophy Canada provided much support to my dad (and to our family) throughout the years, generously funding devices and aides that helped him with daily activities, providing a conduit for him to reach out and share his experiences with others and also supporting our family throughout his disease.

April 29 2017. The date of this years Walk for Muscular Dystrophy. We walk in honour of my dad, keeping his legacy alive. We walk in support of everyone everywhere affected by neuromuscular disorders. We walk to help raise awareness, to fuel research and encourage advocacy.

We walk to make a difference.

I would love for you to walk with us!

Visit our team page here for more information. Hope to see you there!

xo

Dr Aliya

dad and walk2

 

Health + Wellness

Mother’s Wrist: A common “new mama” pain!

You’re a new mom to a gorgeous little babe!  Yay!

But you’ve started to notice your body is slowly deteriorating….oh no….  You thought the hard part was over (eg. giving birth)?  And despite all of your “war wounds” – tearing, abdominal separation, weakened pelvic floor muscles, cracked/sore nipples….you’ve now noticed an intense pain in your wrists, hands and thumbs!  Things get super sore when you pick up your beautiful beaming babe…ouchy!  Feels like your body is broken!  Sound familiar?

If so, don’t panic yet!

The wrist/hand/thumb pain you are describing sounds like a condition called De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis or as its commonly called, “mother’s wrist” or “mommy thumb”. De Quervain’s results from irritation and inflammation of the tendons that run from the base of the thumb to the wrist and forearm. As the tendons become more inflamed they rub against the “tunnel” that encloses them causing pain along the thumb side of the wrist.

Although anyone can develop De Quervain’s, it is most common in new moms (and a few new dads too). The repetition of lifting a baby numerous times during the day adds undue stress to a fatigued wrist.

In 2009, a study from the University of Colorado found that women were four times more likely to develop De Quervain’s than men.  In addition, some women experience symptoms during pregnancy as a result of fluid retention and hormonal changes causing the tissues around the tendons to swell and become inflamed.

Research has suggested that between 25-50% of new moms develop de Quervain’s during their baby’s first few months. Early recognition and treatment is key. If you are experiencing wrist or thumb pain, see your chiropractor as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment options.

Unfortunately, mommy thumb seldom resolves on its own, however there are a few things you can do to get a grip on the pain.

01 / Use a different lifting technique – “the scoop”. One of the most important things you can do to prevent further injury is to modify your lifting technique. Instead of picking up your baby under his arms using primarily the thumb and index finger (in an “L” shape), try “the scoop” technique. Keep the palm of your hand up and try scooping him up by lifting under his bottom with one hand (keeping your thumb and index finger glued together) and supporting the back of his head with the other hand.

02/ Check breastfeeding position. Many women report that breastfeeding can irritate an already painful wrist, particularly during breast compressions (to help milk flow). Supporting or cradling baby’s head puts a strain on the wrist. Use a pillow to support the weight of the baby’s head so it isn’t resting in your hand.

03/ Rest & Ice. Ok so maybe resting your wrist is out of the question if you have a new baby. However, when your partner or a friend/relative is at home with you, hand over the baby and rest your wrist. This will allow some healing to occur. Icing frequently to decrease inflammation is also helpful.

04/ Try using a splint. A splint or brace that prevents the thumb and wrist from moving will help decrease swelling and discomfort. Wearing the brace consistently is important and many moms see an improvement in just a couple of weeks.

05/ Rehabilitative Exercises/Stretches.  Stretching your wrist muscles and gently massaging the area may help.  In addition, your chiropractor can help provide some key strengthening exercises that can help increase the strength in your muscles.  See my video below for some quick easy stretches and exercises that can help!

06/ Avoid texting.  Put your smartphone down and slowly back away.  Texting is a sure fire way to re-aggravate an already sore wrist and thumb.

07/ Consult with a health practitioner. A chiropractor can definitely help guide your treatment and recovery. Acupuncture has been shown to help!  Often this condition takes some time to get better, so be patient with yourself and your body.

A few easy stretches and exercises that will help!

Hang in there mama!  As your baby becomes a bit more mobile, your wrist pain will likely decrease.  This may bring a whole host of other issues – but that’s for another day!

xo

Dr Aliya

Babies + Kids

Tummy Time: Why it’s important!

 

If you’re a parent, you’ve inevitably heard of “tummy time”.   However, you may not really know why its so important for your baby in terms of his or her development. Read on, my friend.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) continues to advise parents that the safest position for babies to sleep is on their backs.   This has been shown to greatly reduce the occurrence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, as babies spend more time on their backs, pediatricians and health practitioners have noted an increase in misshapen heads (cranial asymmetry) and a flattening effect on back of the head called positional plagiocephaly.

Enter tummy time.

Tummy time helps to get babies off their backs for periods of time (under supervision, of course!) giving the occipital area or back of the head a break from all that back sleeping. It also helps baby develop neck, back and shoulder muscles they need to meet gross motor milestones such as rolling over, crawling and sitting up.

Tummy time can start as early as when baby comes home from the hospital but many parents wait until the umbilical cord stump has fallen off for baby’s comfort. The current recommendation is at least 20 minutes per day with gradual increases as your baby gets older. I almost always recommend 30 minutes per day to my patients. Remember, this doesn’t have to be all at once and can be broken up into shorter segments starting from just a few minutes a session.

Here are a few tips I give to parents to encourage happy tummy play:

  • Engage baby in tummy time when she’s content and alert. Avoid insisting on it when she’s fussy. Forcing tummy time will cause a negative association for your baby.
  • Try different tummy time positions – holding baby on your chest while lying flat, placing baby on a firm safe surface, holding baby on your forearms (football hold), propping him up on a small pillow or blanket or lying baby on your lap. To make things more interesting, try tummy time on a exercise ball. (see my video on tummy time on an exercise ball here or check below).
  • Interact with your baby during tummy time. Get down on the floor and talk to, play with, sing to and be silly with your baby! This will help distract baby and keep them from becoming frustrated.
  • Consistency is key! Every bit of a tummy time makes a difference. Try to make it a fun part of your baby’s day. If you have done plenty of tummy time with baby but are concerned they are still not meeting milestones, bring your concerns to the attention of your pediatrician or health care provider.
  • If your child consistently fusses during tummy time, it may be time to bring him or her in to see a chiropractor. Often spinal misalignments resulting during birth may contribute to your wee one being fussy or crying during tummy time.

Recently, I’ve tried doing tummy time with William in his Dockatot (one of my fave baby essentials). I just position him on his belly in the Dockatot with his arms and belly over the bumper and place an interesting toy or mirror in front of him and he’s happy! Easy breezy tummy time!

Here’s a video of William  doing tummy time on the exercise / therapy ball!

Always remember: Back to Sleep and Tummy to Play!

 

Pregnancy

Things I wish I had known before my first baby!

Yup – that’s me! 2 years and 8 months ago. Almost 40 weeks pregnant with my first baby and not quite sure what to expect after the baby was born.

I did what most pregnant women do. I listened intently to the advice and stories of all the other moms around me – my mom, my mother-in-law, my grandmas, aunts, friends and even random women in the grocery store. Everyone had a story or some tidbit of advice they wanted to share.

I also tried to read every book and article related to pregnancy in a last ditch effort to prepare myself for what was to come.

Looking back now, it was super overwhelming and just a bit over the top. Ha! That sounds like me.

Inevitably, by the time my 2nd pregnancy rolled around, the “overachiever” in me was too exhausted by my crazy toddler to even pick up a book. And honestly, I felt I didn’t have to. I had mentally compiled a list of all the things I wish I had known the first time I was pregnant and ready to give birth to a tiny human.

I call it my list of “Wish I Had Known’s”.

Here are a few things “I wish I had known” before having our first baby:

  1. Expect the Unexpected…for life

“My pregnancy, labour and delivery went exactly the way I had planned” said no mom EVER. Be prepared to just “go with the flow”. Sounds cliché I know, but it has become my mantra. Letting go of plans was the absolute hardest thing I had to do from labour and delivery to my baby’s sleep and feed schedules to handling my toddler’s meltdowns.

  1. The first 12 weeks are going to be HARD

This is one of the single most important things every mom should know. The first 12 weeks or fourth trimester (as it’s often called) is super duper tough. It calls for survival mode. Recruit help as often as you need and just keep your head down to get through it. It gets better, promise.

  1. You will not sleep (soundly)…again

Even if your baby is a “sleeper”, you still will not sleep soundly every again. You will worry constantly. Is your baby still breathing? Is your baby too hot? Is your baby too cold? Do they have enough blankets? Did they wet the bed? Are they home from that party? Etc.

  1. Your Post Pregnancy Body WILL be different than your Pre-Pregnancy Body

And that’s more than okay. It’s amazing! It will forever be your reminder of the truly remarkable, life-changing thing that you did.   You will have a few more stretch marks, there may be some weakness or a scar, but look at what you’ve created! Be easy and kind to yourself and to your body. It’s recovering and healing and it will feel different and may not be what you had expected (see number 1 above). But it’s still yours to love.

  1. Motherhood may make you feel more vulnerable than ever before, but you are NOT alone

Many, many women feel isolated after childbirth. You question your identity, your ability as a mother, your body. Your sense of confidence is shaken by the challenges that come with a new baby and it may leave you feeling raw, emotional, and vulnerable. You are not alone. At some point, almost every single mother goes through this and please know that the transition to becoming a parent isn’t an easy one for anyone, no matter what instagram portrays! Talking to someone will help. I promise.

  1. Girl, trust yourself!

We all have natural maternal instincts. Trust your gut! It may take a bit of fine tuning and honing but they’re there and they will help you figure out what’s right for your baby.

 

Honestly, I wish I had known half of these things before my first baby was born. But that’s how life unfolds. You learn those key life lessons from experience not from Chapter 4 of a pregnancy book. You’ll get there mama!!

 

xo

Dr Aliya