Simple Steps to Improve Balance and Prevent Falls

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

Here are a few sobering statistics: One in three adults over the age of 65 has a serious fall each year. About 20 percent of women who fracture a hip become permanently disabled and another 20 percent die within a year.

While the elderly population is more prone to falls that can lead to serious complications, balance is important for all ages. Balance training can benefit everyone – whether you are older and want to improve basic day-to-day function or an athlete wanting to enhance performance and prevent injuries. With balance, it’s always best to be proactive. If we work on enhancing our balance and stability now, we can help prevent serious falls and injuries later.

The key to maintaining our balance is staying active. By staying active and continuing to challenge our balance, we can improve our overall stability. While improving balance will certainly help protect you from falls, it also can help improve overall mobility and fitness, while also allowing you to maintain independence and complete daily activities with ease.

Below are six strategies you can begin incorporating into your daily routine to help strengthen the muscles that keep you steady on your feet.*

1. Incorporate simple exercises. The following exercises help strengthen the core and lower-body muscles, which are critical for stability.

* Exercise 1: This move helps improve one-legged balance. With feet together, pick up one foot with the knee facing forward or to the side. (Be sure to keep a stable chair or wall within arm’s reach for safety.) Hold the position with eyes open, then closed. Switch feet and repeat for four reps on each foot. You can also try to do this while you are washing the dishes. Once you can hold the pose for 30 seconds on each side, stand on a less stable surface, such as a couch cushion. To increase the challenge even more, do it with your eyes closed.

* Exercise 2: The same sobriety field test cops give drunk drivers also improves balance. Take 20 steps forward, heel to toe. Then walk backward, with toe to heel, in a straight line.

2. Strengthen those knees. Knee strengthening exercises, like leg presses and lateral movements with the arms, can help build strength. As knee strength builds, it helps improve proprioception awareness with the mind and body, and also allows you to continue a movement or action in place far longer with proper form.

3. Consider Tai Chi or Yoga. Studies show Tai Chi participants were less likely to fall than those who took part in basic stretching programs or made lifestyle changes. Yoga works, too: According to Temple University research, women 65 and older who took twice-weekly yoga classes for 9 weeks increased ankle flexibility and showed more confidence in walking. That last part is important, says lead researcher Jinsup Song, PhD, “because when people are fearful of losing balance, they tend to do less to challenge themselves.”

4. Work your core. This table top exercise increases core strength, which is directly linked to your balance. Using a mat to protect your knees, get on all fours on the floor in table top position. Make sure the back is flat and the neck is aligned with the spine. While looking at the floor, raise and extend your right arm and your left leg at the same time. Keep a tight core. Hold for 3–5 seconds and repeat on the other side. Perform 10 reps on each side.

5. Focus on the legs. Sturdy legs can help prevent a stumble from turning into a fall. To build quads, start with a simple squat: With feet hip-width apart, bend knees and hips and slowly lower yourself as if sitting in a chair behind you. Keep arms straight out, abs tight, back straight, and knees above shoelaces. Stop when thighs are parallel to the floor or as close as you can get, then contract the gluteal muscles in your buttocks as you stand back up. Aim for three sets of 10, with a  one minute break after each set.

6. Sleep more than seven hours a night. A study at the California Pacific Medical Center showed how sleep deprivation reaction time is directly related to falls. Researchers tracked nearly 3,000 older women and found that those who typically slept between five and seven hours each night were 40 percent more likely to fall than those who slept longer.

By incorporating these techniques, you should notice improvements in your balance, coordination, posture, core strength and agility. Most importantly, you’ll help prevent future falls and be able to maintain your independence for years to come.

*It is always important to seek expert training and support when possible. Work with a physical therapist or licensed trainer to ensure you are selecting the right exercises to help you reach your goals safely and effectively. If you have severe balance problems or an orthopedic condition, get your doctor’s clearance before doing balance exercises.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Tips For Golfers

By: Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways To Healing

Photo credit: Visit Lake Oconee

Golf is a challenging and often frustrating sport. Many golfers feel the mental component of the game is their greatest challenge, and undervalue the biomechanics and conditioning required to play the game well and play the game longer. This is a mistake that can lead to poor play and injury.

An extreme amount of compressive force – up to 10 times a person’s body weight – is exerted on the spine during the golf swing. Every joint involved in the swing is taken through its maximum range of motion. Many golfers contort their bodies into oddly twisted postures, generating a great deal of torque. Couple this motion with a bent-over stance, repeat 120 times over three or four hours, add the fatigue that comes with several miles of walking or hot summer weather, and you’ve got a recipe for lower back trouble.

“Most golfers go until they get hurt, then look for help,” says Dr. David Stude, member of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Sports Council and founding fellow of the National Golf Fitness Society. “Back pain is a warning sign there is an underlying problem responsible for a symptom that will likely get worse. Doctors of chiropractic look for the cause of the symptom and help reduce the likelihood of future injury.”

There’s a reason Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have all relied on chiropractic care throughout their careers. Tiger Woods has said, “…lifting weights and seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis has made me a better golfer. I’ve been going to chiropractors for as long as I can remember. It is as important to my training as practicing my swing is.”

Aside from regular chiropractic adjustments, Dr. Stude and the ACA suggest these simple measures to help you avoid back pain or injury, and improve your overall game:

  • Purchase equipment that fits. Don’t adapt your swing to the wrong clubs. Someone six feet tall playing with irons designed for someone five inches shorter is begging for back trouble.
  • For women: If you have “inherited” your significant other’s golf clubs, beware. Not only are the clubs likely too long, the shaft is often not flexible enough for a woman’s grip. Women play better with clubs composed of lighter, more flexible material, such as graphite.
  • For men: While men are traditionally stronger than women, they usually aren’t as flexible. Men should spend extra time stretching before and after play to increase trunk flexibility. Improved flexibility helps men maintain a more even and consistent swing plane, which leads to more consistent performance.
  • For senior golfers: If you show signs of arthritis in the hands, consider a larger, more specialized grip for added safety and performance.
  • Take lessons. Learning proper swing technique is critical. At the end of the swing, you want to be standing up straight; the back should not be twisted.
  • Wear orthotics. These shoe inserts support the arch, absorb shock, and increase coordination. Studies show custom-made, flexible orthotics can improve the entire body’s balance, stability and coordination. This translates into a smoother swing and reduced fatigue.
  • Photo Credit: Foot Levelers

    Warm up before each round. Stretching before and after 18 holes is the best way to reduce post-game stiffness and soreness. Take a brisk walk to get blood flowing to the muscles; then do a set of stretches. To set up a quality stretching and/or exercise routine, see a chiropractor or golf pro who can evaluate your areas of tension and flexibility.

  • Pull, don’t carry, your golf bag. Carrying a heavy bag for 18 holes can cause the spine to be compressed, leading to disc problems and nerve irritation. If you prefer to ride in a cart, alternate riding and walking every other hole. Bouncing in a cart can be hard on the spine.
  • Keep your entire body involved. Every third hole, take a few practice swings backwards and with the opposite hand to balance out the stress put on the back and rest of the body. Imagine going to the gym and working only one side of your body everyday for years, neglecting the opposite side. Golf tends to create this same type of imbalance in your spinal column, setting the stage for injury.
  • Drink lots of water, especially in the heat. Dehydration causes early fatigue. When fatigued, we compensate by adjusting our swing, which increases the risk of injury. Smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages while golfing also causes dehydration.

If you golf consistently, you will no doubt feel the stress of the game. But by following a few simple prevention tips, it is possible to play pain-free. Chiropractic care is an effective solution for golfers who seek to rid themselves of pain and have a successful and enjoyable golf game!

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Do You Have a Tech Headache?

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Technology offers many conveniences in terms of staying connected and entertained via small devices that fit in our pockets. But, unfortunately, as smartphones and gadgets get smarter, our posture gets weaker.

When we stand in proper alignment, the cervical spine (neck) and surrounding structures are able to support the weight of the head, which on average weighs about 10 pounds. When we look down at a phone, computer or electronic device (something we do on average between 2 to 4 hours a day), the neck is flexed forward and the weight of the head increases dramatically. In fact, a researcher by the last name of Hansraj evaluated the amount of pressure placed on the neck and shoulders when the head is at varying degrees. He concluded when the head is tilted just 15 degrees forward, it nearly triples the head weight to about 27 pounds felt on the neck and shoulders. At 45 degrees of tilt, head weight increases to about 50 pounds on the neck and shoulders.

“Text neck” and “tech headaches” refers to conditions caused by chronically holding your head flexed and forward, as we do when looking at our handheld devices. This new societal posture norm generates a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress to the posture system and, over time, is the culprit of many symptoms people experience on a daily basis.

Chronically maintaining a forward head posture can lead to muscle strain, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and TMJ (jaw) pain. Forward head posture can also cause disc injury, pinched nerves, early arthritic changes of the neck, numbness and tingling in the arms, hands and fingers. As the head moves forward and your upper back and shoulders become rounded and hunched, lung capacity decreases, resulting in shallow improper breathing that restricts the amount of oxygen reaching your tissues.

Here are several simple steps you can take today to avoid developing degenerative neck changes, muscle strains and pain from “text neck” and “tech headaches”:

Limit the time

Limit the amount of time you use your device. If you must sit for an extended period of time, take breaks to change your posture, move around and stretch. Develop a habit of taking a two to three-minute break for every 15 to 20 minutes you use your device or sit at a desk. Utilize your smart device to set automatic reminders and that will notify you when to take a break, stretch and reposition.

Raise the device

Elevate your device as close to eye-level as possible. (You can find holders for devices that make this possible.) Also, be aware of the placement of your computer screen. You should be able to look forward without looking down to view the screen. Simply lifting the computer screen to eye level will help maintain proper posture throughout the day.

Stretch

Chin tucks are a great exercise to stretch the neck. Move your chin backward towards your chest without moving it up or down and hold for five seconds as you feel a comfortable stretch at the base of your skull. You can also tilt the head to one side, bringing the ear close to the shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head further into the stretch (best done while exhaling your breath), holding the stretch up to 20 seconds. You can also do the same thing while rotating your head from side to side to reach different muscles, repeating 3-5 times on each side.

A doorway can be helpful for stretching chest muscles. Place your palms flat against either side of the doorframe, with your shoulders and elbows at a 90-degree angle to your forearms. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your pectoral muscles and hold for 30 seconds at a time.

Rest the head

If you sit at a desk for long periods of time, switch to a chair with a headrest and focus on keeping the back of your head in contact with the headrest, trying to keep your chin parallel to the ground and avoid looking down. You can also practice this while driving — focus on pressing the back of your head on the headrest in the car and bringing the shoulders back.

Be aware of pain

Use pain as a warning sign to check yourself. Experiencing pain in your neck, burning between the shoulder blades, numbness or tingling in the arms or frequent headaches is your body’s way of telling you to act quickly and make a change. Pay attention to these warning signs and take action before a more serious permanent issue arises.

If your symptoms do not improve after incorporating new posture methods, stretching and reducing the time spent on handheld devices, then it may be time to seek help from a qualified professional. Chiropractic adjustments can help relieve joint pain, reduce tight muscles and promote posture habit re-education. The sooner you seek treatment, the more likely it is that you will have success in treating the problem and keep it from progressing to permanent damage.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Principles Of Intuitive Eating (Part 1)


By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

According to U.S. News and World Report, about 90 to 95 percent of all diets fail. Although almost any weight-loss plan can yield short-term benefits, over time the pounds inevitably creep back on, and it’s not unusual to end up weighing more than you did before you started dieting.

A healthy approach to eating, called “Intuitive Eating,” believes the blame should be placed on the flawed process of dieting rather than blaming the “dieters”. This week, I’m sharing five ways you can begin to eat intuitively, from Sun Basket’s staff dietitian, Lindsey Kane. Next week, I’ll share five more. By beginning to implement these strategies, you’ll develop healthy habits and be able to get off the diet-go-round for good. 

1. Reject the diet mentality.
Stop chasing diets and allowing the latest fad dictate what, how much, and when to eat. This rigid lifestyle of restriction and deprivation can lead to a toxic relationship with food. Instead, make a commitment to trust your gut when it comes to food choices. 

2. Honor your hunger.
While most diets require you to resist a growling stomach, intuitive eating is about rebuilding faith in your body’s cues. You’ll learn to be more aware of your hunger and how to respond appropriately to it before you become ravenous.  Before each meal, rate your level of hunger, jot down a few internal cues that you observed, and the time of day. Do this for a week and you’ll become more in tune with your appetite, as well as which foods deliver long-lasting energy, and those that deliver short-lived satiety. 

3. Make peace with food.
Abandon the idea of “good” and “bad” foods. Viewing foods that way fuels an ‘all or nothing’ mentality that can lead to cravings for ‘forbidden’ foods, followed by binging and a rush of self-loathing and shame. Intuitive eating promotes the idea that food should always be a life-enhancing experience.

4. Challenge the food police.
Reframe your attitude toward food. Take note of any “food police” thoughts you may have, such as “I was bad today” or “I shouldn’t eat that.” Resist the notion that your food choices define you and the value you bring to this world. Look out for people who may be consciously or unconsciously manifesting a food-police mentality, share your intuitive eating philosophy with them and ask them to support you by keeping their negative comments to themselves. 

5. Respect your fullness.
The flip side of honoring your hunger is to respect when you’re full. Because diets limit what, when, and how much you eat, it’s easy to become disconnected from the internal signs that signal satiety. When you practice intuitive eating, you start a meal with a lower level of hunger and in a frame of mind that allows you to be more sensitive to satiety cues. Plus, you know you can refuel whenever you’re hungry again, and you won’t feel pressured to clean your plate. Use a satiety scale during meals to train your mind to get in touch with cues of satiety. Jot down observations of how you feel and what you ate. This will help determine when to put your fork down and walk away from a meal feeling comfortably nourished and energized.

By implementing these strategies, you can create healthy habits around food that will positively impact your health for years to come. Stay tuned next week for five more tips on how to incorporate intuitive eating into your daily life.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Do You Need To Detox?

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

When people hear the word “detox,” they often think of drug addicts or alcoholics undergoing therapy to rid themselves of toxins they have put into their bodies. However, these days, it’s becoming more common for people to mention a “detox” (or “cleanse”) in terms of a specific diet program to help rid their bodies of chemicals and toxins, while also encouraging weight loss. This time of year, after all the guilty indulgences of the holidays, people are particularly motivated to “clean up their act.” Many of these detox programs are tempting since they offer a “quick fix” and fast weight loss. 

There are many trendy detoxification plans and programs that promise miraculous results, but are they really healthy and is a detox all about losing weight? The truth is, most detoxes marketed in the media are not healthy — especially the ones that focus on eating or drinking one thing during the course of the cleanse. One example is the “Master Cleanse,” where you drink only lemon water with maple syrup and cayenne pepper for several days. Naturally, you will lose weight, and lemon water is good for cleansing the body.  However just doing this alone is not good for your health.

The purpose of a good detox program should be to improve and optimize your body’s own detoxification systems and cleanse the body from the inside out — not just on losing weight. Done correctly, a detox helps decrease the number of toxins we put into our bodies, while also supporting our body’s detoxification and elimination systems with the nutrients it needs to function properly.

We live in a toxic world and are inundated with a myriad of chemicals on a daily basis. Many times, when we think of environmental toxins, we visualize smog over a city, cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes from a car, or pollution from a factory smokestack. What we fail to realize, is that most of our toxic exposure is found indoors rather than outdoors. Like sponges, our bodies absorb toxins from the air we breathe, from the foods we eat, from personal care products we use on our skin and from the toxic things we touch. Municipal water supplies have been found to contain more than 2,100 chemicals. Non-organically grown foods contain pesticides, herbicides and chemicals that our bodies will store in fat cells when they cannot be detoxified. Processed foods are filled with synthetic chemicals such as flavorings, dyes, preservatives, bleaching agents and artificial sweeteners.

Toxins build up over time and can impact the function of our bodies, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, sinus congestion, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, gas, cravings, stubborn weight loss, acne, skin problems and PMS. Environmental toxins can even affect a growing baby in the womb. According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, blood samples taken from umbilical cords were tested and found to contain over 287 contaminants including mercury, pesticides, DDT and even fire retardants, which can alter learning ability, memory, behavior and hearing.

Doing a good detox once or twice a year can help cleanse and improve the body’s detoxification systems. Some simple steps you can take are:

1 Choose to drink pure, refreshing spring water, or quality filtered water, rather than tap water. Water is the body’s most important nutrient, and our body’s natural detoxification process is dependent on good water.

2 Choose to eat REAL FOODS, meaning foods found in nature that can be picked, gathered and hunted. Processed food is filled with a multitude of chemicals. “The less doctored your food, the less doctoring you will need.”

3 Choose to breathe quality air by avoiding exposure to exhaust fumes and secondhand smoke. Wait inside the airport terminal rather than outside on the curb, and limit walking or exercising along busy streets. Studies have shown a relationship between increased pollution and increased plaque in carotid arteries.

4 Choose more natural, environmentally friendly cleaning products. Something as simple as vinegar and water can be used for windows, mopping floors and various other cleaning chores. You can also find quality choices in grocery stores or health food stores.

5 Choose to exercise. Exercise increases the oxygen in your tissues, improves elimination, builds the strength of bones, muscles and joints, and helps us to sweat, which is important in helping eliminate toxins from the body. We have two to three million sweat glands in our skin. The skin is our largest organ of elimination and sometimes referred to as our “third kidney.”

6 Choose a healthy supplement. Taking a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement can help your body function more optimally. Also, taking a good quality supplement to support your organs of detoxification is important and beneficial while doing a quality detoxification program.

7 Choose to relax. Getting your body and mind into a relaxed state on a daily basis helps to calm you and improve your body’s detoxification systems.

Choose to “clean up your act” this year with healthy detoxification. If you are interested in receiving a toxicity questionnaire and a list of healthy food replacements that will help you in cleansing your body, please email me at pathwaysth@gmail.com or call 706-454-2040.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro, GA.