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Health

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

 

 

 

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

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

5 Tips to Reduce Pregnancy Related Back Pain

Hi Guys!

So I had the opportunity to be interviewed by CTV news this past week about one of my passions – prenatal care!  As it happens, this month is also Pregnancy month for the Ontario Chiropractic Association.

I love helping mamas-to-be to feel their very best during their pregnancy :)

Check out the video below for 5 easy tips to reduce pregnancy related back pain.

http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1036715

 

 

 

 

Health + Wellness

Homemade Holiday Granola

Here come the holidays!  And while I LOVE LOVE LOVE the holiday season with all of the joy and merriment that comes with it…holy crap, your wallet and bank account take a serious beating.

This year, given my maternity leave, I am *trying* to be more budget conscious (insert husband chuckle here).  Instead of buying gifts for colleagues, friends and family this year – I thought I’d try my hand at some DIY gifts!  I should mention, I am SO NOT a DIY-er…I mean who has the time?!?  Well, apparently, this year –  I do!  Aside from a newborn  and a toddler, I find myself with a bit more time on my hands to cook, bake and do “craft-y” things.

Among all of my adventures in DIY gifts was making my own holiday granola.  I’m happy to report – SUCCESS!  I combined a few recipes I found online to perfect my own version of holiday granola which included a combination of pecans and almonds, but I also added a bit of flax and coconut for some added nutritional benefit.  YUM!

PS this recipe is vegan and gluten free (provided you use GF oats)

Here is the recipe.  ENJOY!

Ingredients:

2.5 cups of GF rolled oats

¾ cup slivered almonds

½ cup chopped pecans

½ tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

½ cup pure maple syrup

1 tbsp ground flax

¼ c shredded unsweetened coconut

¼ cup melted coconut oil

¼ tsp almond extract

1 tbsp vanilla extract

½ cup Thompson raisins

½ cup dried cranberries

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Toss oats, flax, pecans, almonds, cinnamon, coconut in large bowl and set aside
  3. Combine maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla and almond extract in medium bowl. Whisk together.
  4. Pour liquid mixture over dry mixture. Make sure oats are completely coated and moistened.
  5. Spread evenly onto baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  6. Allow granola to cool completely once evenly browned.
  7. Add cranberries and raisins to mixture once cooled.

 

Usually makes about 3-4 cups.

It is so easy to make this granola ahead of time and store in airtight container for freshness for up to 3 weeks.  I boxed my granola up into cute little holiday tins and little baggies for colleagues and friends.  Delicious gift giving complete!

 

xo

Dr Aliya

 

 

Babies + Kids

Easy Snack Ideas for a HANGRY Toddler

Ever had a “hangry” toddler in your midst? Eyes bulging, face crimson, mouth drooling, high pitched squeaks emanating….it’s not pretty.

My 2.5 year old is an utter monster when she’s hungry and as a parent there is a fine line between getting the monster fed with whatever is within reach stat and making sure she has a healthy, nutritious snack to gobble down.

I know I’m not alone when I say that it’s often a struggle to come up with some creative snack ideas to keep your child fed nutritiously.

I wouldn’t say I have a picky, fussy eater – but she definitely has her moments when the same snack offered at daycare pick up just isn’t going to cut it and sends her over the edge into tantrum land.

I also know that just like her mama, she is a “grazer”.   She likes to snack frequently during the day and doesn’t do a ton of eating in one sitting.

That’s when we rely on healthy, “well-timed” snacks, which can help balance out an uneven diet, tiding toddlers over between meals and keeping them from getting so hungry that they become unyielding terrors. Most toddlers do well with three meals and two or three snacks a day.

The good news is that toddlers aren’t aware of “junk food” at the age of 2-3 and the influence you have on your child’s eating patterns is amazing at this stage. They’ll basically eat what’s served to them (for the most part) and as parents we can try to take this opportunity to set the stage for some healthy food choices.

Here are few super easy healthy snack ideas and tips:

  • Stock up on fresh fruits and veggies that are easy to eat and are colourful (raspberries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, red, green, yellow peppers, etc)
  • Think small, easy to handle bite sized portions. Cutting up cubes of cheese or chopping up an apple in slices rather than chunks is a novelty to your toddler. Trust me, offering snack choices creatively helps!
  • Dips – my toddler loves any type of “dunking” – things like hummus and veggies or yogurt and strawberries keep your little person interested and occupied for a few moments.
  • Offer a couple of snack choices — let them decide if they want nuts and raisins or carrots and hummus.  A few snack options are a great way for your toddler to feel in charge of their food choices.
  • Involve them in the prep process. Its easy to have them peel a clementine or mandarin or pull the skin from a banana. They feel pretty grown up when you include them in the process and they take an interest in the food they are eating.

These ideas are just a start! You don’t have to be a supermom to put together creative snack ideas…trust me! If I can do it….you can too!

Plus, below are a few foodie blogs that I absolutely LOVE that offer a TON of information and creative food ideas from babes to toddlers. Check them out!

www.babyfoode.com – Michele is a mama of 2 and her blog is an amazing resource with tons of recipes and ideas broken down into baby food, toddler food AND family recipes! She also has a bunch cookbooks and ebooks that are filled with yummy recipes!

www.joyoushealth.ca – Joy McCarthy is my go-to for healthy, amazing food inspo and since having her sweet baby Vienna she has cooked up some amazing tasty and healthy recipes for babes and toddlers. Rosie absolutely loves her Good Morning Breakfast Cookies and her Strawberry Chia Pudding – both are staples at our house!

www.sproutright.com – Founder Lianne Phillipson-Webb’s book and website is a great resource for parents offering simplified nutritional information for your little people and for your family. She covers topics such as introducing your baby to solids as well as how to cope with food sensitivities and allergies your toddler may develop.

xo

Dr Aliya

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy

My Top 4 Maternity Must-Have’s

 

Many mamas don’t realize this at first, but being pregnant is an amazing time to, well, SHOP!

There are so many things a little baby needs especially if you are expecting your first – onsies and sleepers, cribs and gliders and so, so much more!

But wait….what about YOU?

With a growing belly, comes the need for maternity clothes! Yay!   And that’s not all….there are a few key items that every mama needs at her fingertips during her pregnancy to help make the next 9 months smooth sailing….somewhat.

Here are just a few of my favourite maternity must-haves:

 1) Joyous Health’s Belly Bump Butta (BBB)

Let’s talk pregnancy stretch marks.

A growing belly and tightening skin often damages the collagen fibers that give skin its supple elasticity resulting in those dreaded stretch marks. But even if you don’t get any stretch marks (lucky you!) – you may feel some amount of tightness, itchiness and occasional burning around your belly. Using a good quality belly butter certainly does help!

My must have belly butter is Joyous Health’s Belly Bump Butta. I spend a few quick moments after every shower or bath rubbing it into my belly.

I love this particular belly butter more than any others on the market because it doesn’t have a super overwhelming scent. My 2nd pregnancy gave me some super weird scent aversions but Joy’s belly butter has a really light grapefruit citrus scent, which isn’t overpowering at all and in fact is a bit refreshing. It also goes on super smooth and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.

Plus, Joy donates 10% of each Belly Bump Butter sold to organizations helping mamas-to-be in developing countries have safer births. Bonus!

2) The Honest Leaf’s Nourish Tea

During this pregnancy, I’ve become a pretty big loose leaf tea fanatic.

Maybe it’s because I’ve limited my caffeine intake and I’m looking for something hot to drink or because my body is just craving the nourishment of a yummy, organic tea.

In any case, I was recently introduced to The Honest Leaf – a line of loose leaf wellness teas created by nutritionist, Shelby Kroach. Her tea combinations are wonderful and my fave during pregnancy is the Nourish Tea.

It’s a smooth blend of organic rosehips, elderberries, calendula and green roobios among other nourishing ingredients and you can literally taste the healthy goodness in each sip. Also, I found it helped stave off the nausea associated with morning sickness! YAY!

3) My Awesome Pair of Paige Maternity Jeans

Ok, so you’re retaining more water and your belly is starting to get a bit bigger and let’s be honest, the energy you spend getting yourself into your favourite pair of jeans is equivalent to doing a one hour spin class. Girl, it’s time to pack away your fave skinny jeans and spring for a pair of – dare I say – maternity jeans.

But don’t worry, maternity jeans have come a long, long way and there are so many flattering styles available now. Frumpy, boxy, shapeless stretchy “pants” are a thing of the past!

My favourite pair of maternity jeans are my Paige Denim Verdugo Distressed Ultra Skinny Maternity Jeans.

I actually bought these from a close mama friend who wore them during her pregnancy and sold me on how great they look on anyone. I didn’t believe her until I tried them on. She wasn’t joking. These jeans are super soft, super comfortable, super stretchy and will make your legs and butt look amazing! I could sleep in these jeans!

Mamas, invest a few bucks in some good quality jeans for your pregnancy – you won’t be sorry I promise!

4) Boppy Total Pregnancy Pillow*

As both a chiropractor and a 2nd time mama-to-be – I can’t stress the importance of getting a good quality pillow for sleep during pregnancy. The earlier you start using one, the better. I treat a lot of mamas in my practice whose aches and pains can be prevented by using a good quality pillow in the right set up from the first trimester. Ideally, you want to position the pillow between your knees, lower legs and ankles. You also want a bit of support (think a wedge) under your growing belly.

My Boppy pillow is my husband stand-in most nights! This particular pregnancy pillow comes in three parts – head and neck support, belly support and hip/leg/ankle support.- that all velcro together. It’s handy because if you don’t want to use one part – it is easy to detach and remove.

(*I’m not sure if you can get the Boppy in Canada anymore.  I’ve heard the Snoogle is a good alternative)

Listen mama, the next 9 months is going to be filled some serious, unbelievable changes – some are amazing and exciting and others are well, not so amazing. Luckily, there are tons of great resources, products, services and advice that will help make your pregnancy as smooth as possible.

xo

Dr Aliya

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