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Spine health

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

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

Surviving Morning Sickness!

You’re pregnant! YAY!

You are glowing, feeling amazing and couldn’t be happier. Everything around you is sunshine and smiley faces.

Enter morning sickness. (aka all day and all night sickness)

Suddenly, you feel a little less glowy and smiley. And you’re spending most of your day wrapped around the toilet. Ugh.

Up to 85% of pregnant women experience some degree of nausea and vomiting related to their pregnancy.

Symptoms of morning sickness usually begin around weeks 4-6 after conception and continue until the second trimester. However, it is not uncommon to feel some degree of nausea throughout your entire pregnancy.

Why does it happen?

Your pregnant body is undergoing a ton of physiological changes. Remember, you are creating a tiny human and your hormones are going crazy – elevating exponentially. Nausea and vomiting is one of the by-products of that change. In addition, some theorize that morning sickness is the body’s way of self-regulating itself and potentially nature’s way of protecting the body from substances that could be harmful for baby.

Here are a few tried and true ways I’ve used to conquer the queasies:

  • First, nausea is often worse on an empty stomach especially after taking some pretty potent prenatal vitamins. Eat small, frequent meals through the day and make sure you take your vitamins with some food in the morning.   In addition, consistent, light snacking will prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping drastically and preventing nausea.

 

  • Eating the right foods is important to help stave off nausea but also to help keep your tiny human nourished. Incorporate protein and fats into each meal. I found that I was more sick if I didn’t have enough healthy fats in my daily diet (eg. add some avocado to your meal, or add coconut oil or coconut milk to your morning smoothies).

 

  • Get some shut-eye! It may seem totally unrelated, but getting some extra sleep can make a huge difference to how you are feeling. Fatigue makes nausea worse! Going to bed a bit earlier or squeezing in a nap here and there will definitely help.

 

  • Ginger works wonders for nausea. Drinking enough fluids, especially when vomiting is super important since dehydration is one of the most serious consequences of morning sickness. However, many women, myself included, find that water doesn’t sit well with nausea. Ginger tea has been my saving grace! Try adding some grated fresh ginger to a cup of boiling water.

 

  • Vitamin B6 is a terrific tummy soother! Find it naturally in foods like bananas, currants, salmon, sweet potatoes, turkey, sunflower seeds and walnuts.   (Check with your health care practitioner to see if you are getting enough of this vitamin)

 

  • Acupuncture and acupressure is amazing at easing morning sickness especially for women who experience nausea symptoms through their second and third trimesters.

Hang in there mama… soon you will have a cute tiny human in your arms and your morning sickness days will be totally forgotten!

(If your symptoms persist and are worsening – it’s always a good idea to see your health practitioner)

PS.  One of my favourite new apps for pregnancy nutrition is Nourished Babe.  The app contains a wealth of knowledge and expert guidance from dieticians, pediatrician Dr Dina and moi!  Check it out here or download it from the App Store!

xo  Dr Aliya

 

 

 

 

 

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

Babies + Kids

How to strengthen your baby’s back muscles!

Unfortunately these days our babies spend way too much time in carriers, car seats, highchairs and strollers! It’s important to let babies and toddlers explore the world around them. Teaching them to engage in a wide range of physical activities is important for their strength, balance and co-ordination.

As your baby grows into a toddler, “tummy time” may no longer be applicable. However there are a few ways to stimulate his postural muscles to help development and improve brain function!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Regularly tickle their back
  • Write letters and numbers on their back in the bath
  • Play on all fours (pretend to be wild animals)
  • Encourage hand-stands and cart-wheels
  • Dance!
  • Use hula-hoops
  • Rub the back of their necks along their hairline
  • Play on jungle gyms, slides, or balance beams
  • Try jumping games like hopscotch or jumping jacks
  • Play on the floor with everyone lying on their tummy

 

 

(Reference: Ticklish by Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani)

Health + Wellness

Spine Strengthening Series: Locust Pose – Salabhasana

Full expression of this posture may mimic a locust at rest, however there really isn’t anything “restful” about this pose.  For yogis, this pose encourages mental focus and determination as well as upper and lower back strength and core stability.  It also helps to stretch and induce blood flow to the elbow joint, which is often repetitively strained (e.g tennis elbow, golfers elbow, carpal tunnel, tendonitis).

The pose has many of the same benefits as Cobra Pose, but is even better for relieving disc related back pain and sciatica.

Essentially a back bend, Locust Pose can serve as a blueprint for finding good alignment in other back bends such as Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) and Ustrasana (Camel Pose). Locust Pose strengthens the back and abdominal muscles and cultivates the mindfulness needed for a balanced back bend.

However, if you focus your attention on how high you go, you may feel strain in your lower back. Instead, you want to distribute your weight throughout your upper and middle back. Although the back muscles contract, you also want to lengthen the spine so that you feel as though you are simultaneously reaching backward through the legs.

Locust Pose – Do’s and Don’ts

The Do’s

  • Place your elbows against your abdomen, making sure they are straight (bending the elbows will only cause more strain and thus more pain)
  • Spread your fingers (only posture in the series where fingers are spread apart) so that they are pointed toward your knees
  • Keep your leg muscles contracted; “the tighter you are the lighter you are”
  • Make sure your hips square and always touching with your arms while lifting legs up
  • Try to shift your body weight to the top of your body (chest and shoulders)

The Don’ts

  • When lifting both legs, avoid separating the legs; keep them glued together
  • Forget to breathe – breathe normally in and out through your nose!

 

This pose can do no wrong! Another fabulous (back-friendly) asana that offers a great way to strengthen and stabilize the spine as well as increase flexibility of the elbow and wrist!

FEEL GOOD, BE GREAT!

Blog-4_Locust-Pose-Pic-300x221

 

Health + Wellness

The Science behind Cobra Pose: Why it helps back pain

A Case of Radiating Lower Back Pain

Back in March 2012, I first experienced lower back pain with tingling and aching in the back of my left leg and I had no clue what caused it. This sensation literally came out of no where. After many doctor’s visits and tests, it was determined that the lower back strain I experienced in November 2011 caused some nerve inflammation in my leg. My chiropractor, Dr. Aliya, suggested I couple my chiropractic treatments with weekly yoga classes.  Although hesitant at first, I started to notice that specific Yoga poses, in particular back bending and cobra pose always gave me some relief.

You may have experienced something similar to this patient if you have ever suffered from back pain, sciatica or nerve-related pain. Back bending (or extension) exercises have been found to provide relief to patients by helping ‘centralize’ or move pain away from one’s arms and legs towards the back, where it is usually better tolerated. The reasoning behind this mechanism of relief comes from a technique called the McKenzie Method or McKenzie Technique.

What is The McKenzie Method?

In the 1950s, physical therapist Robin McKenzie developed a system of assessment and treatment protocols based on observing how patient’s sitting, standing or moving positions or activities affected their pain.

McKenzie found that extension exercises helped centralize patient pain, moving it away from the extremities and towards the back. He theorized that centralizing the pain allows the source of the pain to be treated rather than the symptoms.

The McKenzie Method is a therapeutic approach that moves a patient through a series of activities and test movements to gauge the pain response.  The therapist then uses this information to develop an exercise protocol designed to ‘centralize’ the patient’s pain.

Think of it as bringing the pain back to the pain source.

Pain Centralization with Yoga

One of the centralization exercises for back pain utilized by the McKenzie method is the ‘Prone Press Up’.  Yogis call this ‘Cobra Pose’.  This pose provides relief from disc-related pain by alleviating compression of the disc on the nerve root (see last week’s post).

Named after the king cobra, said to have the strongest spine in the world, Cobra Pose is meant to resemble a snake before it strikes.  As mentioned, this pose is fantastic for your spinal health – but make sure you perform it correctly!

DOs and DON’Ts

The DOsPreview Changes

  • Squeeze your glutes tight and push your hips down into mat
  •  Use your eyes to start the movement – “where your eyes go, your body will follow”
  • Keep your heels together and lock your knees in order to lift them up from the floor

The DON’Ts

  • Avoid using all (100%) of your hand/arm strength; most of the strength comes from lower back muscles (remember it’s not a Push Up); Bikram recommends you use up to 15% of your hand/arm strength
  • Shrug your shoulders up to your ears; remember to drop your shoulders down
cobra pose

Cobra Pose performed by Bikram Choudhry (www.bikramyoga.com)

 

I continue to be amazed of the benefits of this Yoga and how it helps my patients get better and stay healthy.

Until next week…FEEL GOOD, BE GREAT!

Health + Wellness

Bikram’s Spine Strengthening Series and Back Pain

If you are a Bikram Yoga practitioner, you know what I mean when I say “Spine Strengthening Series”. However, for the non-Bikram Yogis, here’s a recap. The Spine Strengthening Series is part of Bikram’s Beginning (Hatha) Yoga Series and includes the following postures (or asanas):

1. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

2. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

3. Full Locust Pose (Poorna-Salabhasana)

4. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

You either love them or hate them….but here’s why you need to DO them!

New research has shown that spinal extension often decreases symptoms of lower back and leg pain often caused by a herniated or bulging disc (which creates pressure on nerve roots causing pain radiating down the buttocks and legs).

These four postures all include elements of spinal extension – or back bending – by lifting the lower extremities (legs), the upper extremities (arms, shoulders), or both.

How does spinal extension help lower back pain? It may seem counter-intuitive, since we associate spinal extension negatively with “scrunching” or compressing the lower back.

But consider that when vertebral discs bulge out, they often bulge backward (posteriorly). Spinal extension wedges open the front of the disc and allows the disc fluid to resettle into its normal forward position. This helps push the disc back into its original position and can diminish the intensity or extent of lower back or leg symptoms.

These postures all help stabilize and strengthen your core abdominal and lower back muscles through the contraction of your paraspinal muscles that support either side of your spine.  This helps prevent future injuries.

Love them or hate them, the postures of the Spine Strengthening Series are one of the best things you can do to maintain a lovely, healthy back!

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll review each of these postures highlighting do’s and don’ts and their benefits….until then – FEEL GOOD, BE GREAT!