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Health + Wellness

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Health + Wellness

Why every Mama should see a Chiropractor!

Whether you are a new mom or a seasoned mom of four….the story is always the same.  Cooking, cleaning, working, nursing, picking up kids, dropping off kids, carrying backpacks, and the list goes on and on.  Your body takes a toll and most likely you are feeling the stress and tension in your upper back, neck and shoulders.  You may also feel your lower back…weak, stiff, tight.

Can anyone relate?

I get it.  I’ve seen it.  I’m guilty.

As busy moms, we often put ourselves last in line and “self-care” goes out the window in place of the needs of our partners, children, our own parents, etc.

I recently met up with Trisha, of No Tummy Mommy, who is also a super busy working mama  to talk about mama health after babies and the benefits moms find when they see a chiropractor.

Besides feeling more aligned and more centered physically, most mamas feel ready to take on the world after a treatment especially when their stiffness and tension is alleviated.  Let’s face it – you are a better mom when you aren’t in pain.  I also give moms some quick, easy, on-the-go stretches that they can do anywhere!

Check out the video here:

xo

Dr Aliya

Health + Wellness

DR ALIYA….2.0 ??

OK, maybe 2.0 is a  stretch – let’s call it Dr Aliya 1.0 to start.  This is the relaunch or more like restart of this blog – my blog –draliya.ca.

I’ve been MIA for the last 4 months and I apologize.  I’d like to think there are a few people out there that follow this blog – maybe if it is just a handful of close friends – missed my weekly blog posts.

The truth is, I’ve been avoiding writing.  Not just writing articles/posts or pieces of content, but  “real” writing.  Writing my thoughts and opinions.  To be quite honest,  it hurt too much to come up with any type of original thought and put it out there in cyberspace to be read.

Here’s the reason.

In late May of this year, my dad was admitted to the hospital with what seemed like your regular run of the mill pneumonia.  We thought he’d be discharged in a few days.  But a few of days turned into a week and a week turned into a couple of weeks and there was no sign of him coming home.  He had an underlying condition called Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM), which is a type of muscular dystrophy that causes progressive weakness of muscles in the legs and arms.  The IBM made his condition worse and the pneumonia took hold of his lungs making it difficult for him to breathe on his own.

After a couple of weeks in the hospital, the prognosis of recovery was grim.  He wasn’t coming home.  He was palliative and there was nothing the doctors or specialists could do.  My family was shocked.  Shock is and was an understatement.  We were beyond belief, in denial, that my dad, although he had his share medical issues, was near the end of his life and all we could do was just wait and watch.

What came next was the hardest, most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.  I watched my dad die.  It was a peaceful dying and one by one my family took turns having our final moments with him.  He shared some age-old wisdom with me, told me how proud he was of me and my life successes, warned me (yet again) to find a balance between my work and my family life, touched my pregnant belly and said a prayer for the baby within and finally told me to allow myself to be happy and that he loved me and will always be with me.   It was a perfect goodbye and yet I wanted and needed to say more.

On Saturday June 25th, my father passed away peacefully, surrounded by all of us.

The last few months have tested many of my relationships as I process through all of the emotions and stages of grieving.  I’ve been reclusive of social engagements and gatherings.  I’ve managed to get through most social meetings and events with a somewhat happy demeanor but most days I feel a deep sense of loss and hurt.  I’ve struggled with letting myself get swept up in emotion and have tried to be brave and strong for my family and for my work.

 

Walking down the aisle at my wedding in 2010.

Walking down the aisle at my wedding in 2010.

This brings me to my writing, particularly my blog.  I’ve avoided it at all costs.  Sure I’ve been casually posting on instagram and facebook but when it comes to writing posts – I’ve put up a wall.  I have felt closed off.

Until now.

What I’ve realized is that my posts and articles came from a place of expertise and imparted my knowledge based on experience, what I’ve seen in my clinical practice mostly.  I had forgotten the real me.  I had avoided anything too personal, too intimate in an effort to remain professional.  Well, screw that.

I’ve been through too much this summer to remain professional.  I’m raw and emotional….and well, pregnant.  And I’ve decided that I need to put it all out there – because that is part of my healing.   So here’s my authentic voice coming out.  Sure I treat pregnant mamas and love being a prenatal chiropractor….but here’s the truth – this pregnancy sucks (more on this later).  And yes, I am pediatric chiropractor who loves my little patients, but this summer, my 2 year old tested my patience and pushed ALL of my buttons and I’ve had days where I’ve felt like a pretty crummy mommy.  And finally, my last truth –   I love yoga and being active and staying fit and healthy….but the very thought of doing a workout or taking yoga class has me reaching for a large caffeinated beverage.

So there it is – all on the table.

Welcome back friends.  I hope you enjoy the relaunch, restart, re-something of my new, maybe not so improved, but honest to goodness blog.

I promise to keep it real.  Always.

xo

Aliya

Health + Wellness

Tips for getting a Good Nights Sleep

A good night’s sleep?

Feels like a distant memory for this mama — between the frequent midnight wake ups and the very often early wakings of our two year old – I really do miss sleeping through the night undisturbed and the feeling of awakening naturally in the morning.

When it comes to sleep – quality counts just as much as quantity. Although I’m not consistently sleeping 8 hours per night, I try to make sure my pre-sleep/bedtime routine is solid to optimize the quality of zzz’s I’m getting – keeping me productive and full of energy all day long.

How you feel during your waking hours depends on how well you sleep.

Here are a few tips that will help you sleep better so you can feel rested and refreshed.

Sleep better tip #1: Get in sync with your body’s natural rhythms

Supporting your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle (or circadian rhythm) is important for achieving good sleep. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Sticking to a consistent sleep-wake schedule will set your body’s internal clock and optimize your sleep quality.

Sleep better tip #2: Create a bedtime routine

A peaceful bedtime routine sends a powerful signal to your brain that its time to wind down and let go of the day’s stresses. Avoid bright screens within 2 hours of bedtime. This includes the screen on your phone, tablet, computer or TV.

Many people use television to wind down at the end of the day, however many shows are more stimulating rather than relaxing. Try listening to music or audio books instead.

Sleep better tip #3: Get regular exercise

Studies show that regular exercisers sleep better and feel less sleepy during the day. Exercise improves the symptoms of insomnia and increases the time spent in deep, restorative stages of sleep.

Sleep better tip #4: Improve your sleep environment

Small changes to your sleep environment can make a big difference to your quality of sleep.

Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (around 18˚C). A bedroom that is too hot or too cold can interfere with quality sleep.

In addition, if you can’t avoid or eliminate noise from city traffic, loud neighbours or barking dogs try masking it with a fan or white noise. Earplugs may also help.

 

Sleep is something we all need and most of us fail to get on a regular basis. When we don’t sleep enough or sleep well, our productivity and behaviour are affected. In addition, lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and depression.1

Follow these easy tips and a better night’s sleep can be in your future soon!

 

1 Statistics Canada, 2005 General Social Survey

(Reference http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-to-sleep-better.htm)

 

Health + Wellness

Do your feet need some support?

The AMAZING weather this past weekend had everyone out in their summer apparel –  shorts, tees and the quintessential summer footwear – flip flops!

Despite their cute styles, colours and easy-breezy appeal, flip flop wear for extended periods of time can cause a range of physical ailments from plantar fasciitis and muscle soreness to lower back and knee pain.

The popularity of these no-fuss flats had me thinking of the importance of proper footwear and specifically, orthotic inserts.

Now, I know they sound like something your grandparents wear in their loafers  but custom orthotic inserts are becoming a popular first line therapy for many injuries and conditions.

If you think of your feet as the foundation for your whole body, similar to the foundation of a house, our feet support the weight of everything above them.  If the foundation is cracked or unstable in any way this could affect the structure all the way up!

The primary goal of an orthotic is to help reduce unnecessary stresses and strains in your feet, lower limbs and lower back by re-aligning your lower extremity.

Custom orthotics work on your feet much like glasses work on your eyes – they reduce stress and strain on your body by bringing your feet back into proper alignment. By improving this alignment, the body is able to function more efficiently with less stress on the muscles and ligaments that hold the rest of you together.

A foot orthotic may be effective in helping to actually treat a number of lower limb dysfunctions. In fact, research shows that orthotics can treat and actually prevent mechanically induced foot problems leading to common injuries like knee pain, shin splints, and pain along the bottom of the foot.

Sound familiar?

Many people experience this pain but don’t really know what to do about it!

Custom foot orthotics can also help with pain and complications related to health conditions such as diabetes or arthritis.

Plus, orthotics can help with these very common complaints:

  • Plantar fasciitis (pain in the sole of the foot)
  • Knee Pain
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Bunions and Neuromas
  • Achilles tendonopathy
  • Shin splints
  • Iliotibial pain syndrome
  • Low back pain
  • Hip Pain
  • Sacroilliac (SI) Joint pain

Although orthotics are a great option for many people and help improve biomechanics of various injuries and complaints, they may not be ideal for everyone!

Talk to your chiropractor or other health care provider to discuss if they are a right fit for you!

Women experience foot problems 4 times more often than men

Health + Wellness

Post Baby Running – Do’s and Don’ts

As an avid runner for a better portion of my adult life, I was itching to get back to hitting the pavement post-baby. It was March and running season was just starting.  The weather was perfect for running outside and I couldn’t wait to go for a run with Rosie in tow!

Now if only I could find the perfect running stroller.

Thankfully, there are some amazing jogging strollers on the market today making it simple to take the little one along for the ride!

Finding a jogging stroller that’s right for you and your baby is the first step. Consider what type of terrain you will be running on—flat, smooth surfaces or hillier, more varied terrain? In either case, a three-wheeled stroller works best.

The front wheel should be fixed or lockable and the larger wheels generally make running smoother while giving you more control.

The safest strollers come with a wrist strap that is connected to the handlebar and should be used at all times especially downhill.

Other things to keep in mind include making sure the stroller has enough room for water bottles, blankets and baby gear and is it easy to store in your house or car. Things like quick-release wheels and one-step folding make going for a run less cumbersome.

For safety, it is recommended that babies have full head and neck control (approx 6 months old) before going along on runs with you.

Once you’ve found that perfect jogging stroller, here are a few tips to keep you running in top form:

  • Remember to push the stroller with alternate hands. Pushing with one hand, while pumping with the other arm will keep you as close to proper running form as possible.
  • Don’t forget to switch arms every so often to keep the movement balanced and the core engaged.
  • Avoid leaning into the stroller during a run, especially at the end when the body is fatigued. Try to maintain a neutral upright position with elbows slightly bent.
  • Keep your stride as natural as possible. Often running with a stroller in front of you may shorten or even alter your stride. Before purchasing a stroller, try taking it out for a spin first to make sure your gait isn’t compromised.
  • Don’t forget your post-run stretch to keep running injury free. Include stretches for the pectoralis (chest) muscle and the hip flexors, which tend tighten easily when jogging with a stroller.
  • Most importantly, enjoy this time bonding with baby and getting your running fix at the same time!

Happy Running, Mama!

 

Read my Q&A expert column and get amazing pregnancy, post-pregnancy and baby advice & resources atBabyPost.com.

(Original post at babypost.com)

(Photo credit babypost.com)

Babies + Kids, Health + Wellness

Life Lessons Learned from my Little

 

No one ever said motherhood would be easy.   Actually, I’m pretty sure we’ve all had our butts kicked by our kids at some point or another. For me, it’s a constant reminder that she really is “The Boss”.   And the boss is a little crazy.

But I will say one thing….my little boss is constantly teaching me things.

Today I took a second to stop and think about all the little nuggets she’s shown me or taught me over the last 2 years.   Some pretty awesome life lessons.

Here are a few:

1. Take pleasure in the little things.

Blow bubbles. Splash puddles. Let snowflakes land on your tongue. Try on mommy’s jewelry.   Eat raisins one at a time. Lick the jam off the toast before you take a bite.

She loves taking her time, investigating and savouring the little details.  Life moves so fast – it’s easy to get caught up in it and forget the little things that make you feel joy!

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

photo rose 1

 

2. Dance to the rhythm of your own drum.

Sing off tune. Dance they way you want. Wear mismatched socks. As adults we’re constantly fearful and mindful of what others will think or say. Her life is limitless. She’s not scared or fearful of failure or judgment.

As we get older, we fear the unknown, stay safely in our comfort zone and perpetually match our socks. I’d like to think the sense of unknown exhilarates our senses and keeps our spirit awake.

3.  Baths aren’t just to get clean.

Baths are to practice swimming or to pretend you are an octopus. The crib isn’t just where we sleep – it’s a giant castle for all of your stuffies or a boat that’s sailing through the sea.

A child’s imagination is wild. I can’t believe all of the things she dreams up and how creative her mind becomes. She sees an elaborate fairytale story everywhere!

“Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get your everywhere” ~Albert Einstein

photo rose 2

4. Every day is a new day

She pushes a reset button every night.   Every morning is a fresh start and all of the worries from the day before have flown away. Her adaptability constantly surprises me – she kinda just goes with the flow (clearly she doesn’t get that from me!).

There’s no baggage from day to day.   How I wish I could as easily let go of the past with its often tenuous situations and just chuck my baggage out the window!

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – L.M. Montgomery.

5. A hug and kiss fix EVERYTHING.

I’m serious. It’s like a magic potion. It works for skinned knees, major meltdowns and a lost stuffed bunny.   It still amazes me how powerful a loving hug is when she’s in the throes of her emotions – whether it’s anger, sadness or frustration.

It’s such a tremendous feeling to know that I have the best antidote to all of the crappy things life hands her… she still needs her mama to make things better!

“The Best Medicine in the World is a Mother’s hug”

Health + Wellness

EASY FAMILY DINNER: Veggie Stir Fry

Mondays are usually my dinner prep days for the rest of the week.  Lately I’ve found that just adding veggies to a skillet and tossing in some simple ingredients made the best stirfry ever!  Sometimes I’ll add chicken or tofu!

Here’s the recipe:

1 red pepper (sliced)

1 yellow pepper (sliced)

1-2 stalks celery (diced)

3 carrots (sliced)

1 head of broccoli (cut into florets)

1 bag of snowpeas

1 onion (diced)

1 cup edamame (boiled)

3 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp ginger

Optional: diced chicken breast (2) or cubed tofu

 

Step 1: Add some olive oil and ginger to a frying pan on medium to high heat

Step 2: Add onions first until translucent

Step 3: Add rest of veggies

Step 4 (optional): Add chicken or tofu

Step 5: Saute veggies and add tamari and lemon juice

Step 6: Let everything saute together on medium to low heat

Voila!  Done!  This takes me about 20 minutes and it’s done!

Health + Wellness

Q&A: Is tailbone pain after childbirth normal?

Q.  After delivering my baby a few weeks ago, I’ve been experiencing pain in and around my tailbone. Sitting for any length of time is extremely uncomfortable and transferring from a seated to standing position is difficult. Is it normal to feel pain in this area after childbirth? Is there anything I can do to help ease this pain?

A.  Pain in the tailbone region is referred to as coccydynia and childbirth is thought to be one of the most common causes of this condition.

The coccyx is the anatomical term used for tailbone, which is the bone at the very bottom of the spine, in the buttock region. Some of the pelvic floor muscles as well as the big butt muscle, called the gluteus maximus, have attachments to the coccyx. As well, there are numerous ligaments that connect the coccyx to the sacrum, which create strength and stability at the base of the spine.

Coccydynia occurs when there is damage to the coccyx itself and/or the surrounding structures. Childbirth can cause the muscles and ligaments around the coccyx to overstretch and become unstable, no longer supporting and stabilizing the lower spine, sacrum and coccyx. In addition, the tailbone itself can be damaged due to shear physical trauma of the baby traveling through the birth canal.

Coccyx or tail bone pain is very common post delivery.

Increased inflammation and tenderness of the soft tissues in the area leave many women feeling increased pain and discomfort when sitting, even for short periods of time. Some women find moving from sitting to standing difficult and performing everyday activities, such as driving, bending over and lifting can also be quite challenging. Other symptoms of coccydynia may include: back pain, shooting pain down the legs, increased pain when passing stools, and pain during sex.

In most cases, coccydynia does resolve after a few months depending on the extent of injury. Manual therapy such as chiropractic, acupuncture and exercises can help relieve pain and sensitivity, restore mobility, reduce inflammation and improve strength. Specific exercises can help to strengthen the core muscles and stabilize joints in the tailbone area.

Strengthening the core and stabilizing the pelvis helps to relieve pain

Here are few self-care tips you can try at home that may help ease pain and discomfort:

  • Sitting—there are specifically designed “donut” pillows or cushions that can reduce pain when sitting.  It may also help to sit on a hard surface rather than a soft cushion chair or sofa.
  •  Sleeping—many people with coccydynia find sleeping on their sides more comfortable with a pillow placed between the knees.
  • Avoid high impact activity—avoiding activities such as running and jumping can help improve healing.

Read my Q&A expert column and get amazing pregnancy, post-pregnancy and baby advice & resources at BabyPost.com.

(Original post at babypost.com)

Health + Wellness

Q&A: What should be on your pre-conception to do list?

Q. My partner and I are thinking about having a baby. What are the best natural steps to prepare my body for pregnancy? Should I start taking vitamins now? Can I continue to exercise?

A. Congratulations! Deciding to have a baby is an exciting time and being prepared is key.  Creating healthy habits during this “preconception period” helps minimize complications during pregnancy and delivery and gives baby the best possible start.

Now is the time to visit with your health care practitioner and schedule your preconception care. Talking about things like diet, lifestyle, medications and family history are important to prevent any future problems or difficulties for mom and baby.

Nutritionally preparing your body before trying to conceive is an ideal way to ensure you’re pregnancy-ready.  Dr. Sapna Flower, a naturopathic doctor at Restore Integrative Health, suggests taking a prenatal vitamin with at least 1 mg of folic acid (and if you’re 35 years or older, supplementing with 5 mg of folic acid) approximately 3 months before conception.

Up to 70% of fetal neural tube deformities can be prevented if sufficient levels of folic acid are taken during the earliest weeks of conception. Speaking with a naturopathic doctor about which supplements are well formulated and ways to naturally improve your chances of conceiving can help.

Lifestyle modifications, such as ceasing to smoke and avoiding alcohol are at the top of the list during the preconception period and beyond. Smoking has been shown to decrease fertility and increase the chances of having a low birthweight or premature baby. Excessive amounts of alcohol have been shown to interfere with the fetus’ ability to receive a healthy amount of oxygen needed for brain and organ development.

Exercising regularly will also ensure a healthy and happy pregnancy. An exercise plan will help to lower your risk of pregnancy related conditions such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle will benefit your body before, during and after pregnancy.

Here are a few other “to-do’s” on your pre-conception list:

Do avoid toxic substances or infectious substances at home and at work.

Things like pesticides, solvents, mercury, lead or radiation.

Do learn your family history. 

Identifying genetic diseases in your family history before pregnancy gives your health provider a chance to talk with you about any possible risks and may refer you for genetic counseling or testing.

Do make sure your body is balanced and healthy. 

A body free of aches and pains will function optimally.  Seeking the care of a chiropractor or massage therapist will keep your body in check.

Do address any questions or concerns you have with your health care provider. 

This is an exciting time for you and it is important to be prepared and informed!

Find my Q&A Expert column and other amazing pregnancy and baby advice at BabyPost.com

(Original post at babypost.com)

 

Health + Wellness

What is a Microbiome anyway?

There’s a flaming hot topic floating around the world of health these days….The MICROBIOME.

Chances are you’ve heard of it in passing – maybe at your naturopathic clinic or while scrolling through your twitter feed. Perhaps, you’ve never heard the word before and if that’s the case, don’t worry you’re not alone. The truth is, scientists themselves are only beginning to understand what a Microbiome really is and how it works in our bodies.

In order to explain this to you, let’s start at the very beginning.

What is a Microbiome?

If you think back to Biology 101, you probably learned that the human body is made up of many different kinds of cells – skin cells, muscle cells, nerve cells and blood cells. All of these are human cells – your cells – functioning according to the set of specific instructions encoded in your genes. However, your body also contains trillions of cells that are not human, but microbial. Microbes include things like bacteria, fungi, protists and viruses. These microbes have their own unique set of genes. Together, these microbes constitute the human microbiome.   Basically, it’s the ecosystem of microbes that live on you and within you.

This microbiome plays a major role in your health from helping your immune system to aiding in digestion. The collection of microbes that constitute the microbiome is not random. The human microbiome is made up of a particular set of microbes that complement each other and the human host – that’s you!  Each microbiome is unique and they play a huge part in the dynamic balance between health and disease.

How big is the Microbiome?

Your microbiome is massive and its everywhere – it’s not only on you but it comprises you. It includes approximately 100 trillion bacterial cells. Here’s the number: 100, 000, 000, 000, 000! (jeez, that’s a lot of 0’s)

The human body is made up of about 37 trillion human cells. That means at any given time, you are carrying around 3 times more bacterial cells than human ones. But the microbiome includes more than just bacteria. It also comprises plenty of viruses, fungi, archea, and single celled eukaryotes.

The microbiome is also big in terms of space and weight. The weight of the human microbiome is about 2.5 pounds. In volume, it would occupy about 3 pints!

virus-647210_1280

Where did I get my microbiome from?

Simply put, we get most of our microbiome from other humans. Newborn babies encounter microbes for the first time during birth. Babies inherit the first bits of their microbiomes from their mothers as they pass through the vaginal canal during childbirth, which is one of the reasons vaginal birth is so important when it comes to building our natural immunities. As the baby is being born, it is coated with microbes from the mother’s birth canal. Babies that are born by caesarean section first encounter microbes from the mother’s skin and from other individuals who touch the baby (reason why skin-to-skin is important!).

The next source of microbes for baby is breast milk. In addition to providing nutrients, vitamins and antibodies needed for baby’s growth and nutrition, breast milk also supplies many different kinds of bacteria to populate baby’s gut.

Why does my microbiome matter anyway?

The balance of your microbiome promotes your overall health. Think of a seesaw – when completely balanced the body functions optimally and symbiotically. When out of balance, there is chaos and disease processes take over.

Researchers reveal that a healthy gut can promote a well-functioning immune system, digestive wellness, a good mood, healthy glucose levels, balanced yeast growth, and positive sleep patterns.

Your microbiome also helps you combat aggressions from other microorganisms. Think of it as your own little army!

How do I take good care of my microbiome?

Now that you know about the trillions of little microbial friends you are carrying around and the important role they play in your health, you probably want to keep them happy!

Although there is still more research being done on what characterizes a healthy microbiome and how our behaviour affects it, we do know that diet can affect your microbiome. First, the foods you consume are also feeding your microbes. Prebiotic foods, such as those high in fiber, fruits and vegetables will help to feed the good bacteria in your gut and help them thrive.

Secondly, actually consuming microbes can change your GI microbiota. Fermented foods like yogurt, miso, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut contain microbes that are similar to those found in your GI tract.

There are also supplements that are made up of microbes, called Probiotics, designed to supplement good bacteria. Consult with a naturopathic doctor to really understand which exact microbes you need and which type of probiotic is right for you.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics can also have a profound and often long-lasting negative effect on the microbiome, especially a developing one. For more information, make sure you consult with a health care practitioner.

Your microbiome is unique, dynamic and imperative to a healthy life. Remember, you can play a hands-on role in shaping your microbiome in so many ways from dietary changes to simple lifestyle modifications. Take care of your microbiome and it will most definitely take care of you!