Only when you know the question, will you know what the answer means

42.

The answer to life, the universe, and everything.

I’ve used this joke a lot, but I’m about to be a Dad, so get used to me re-using jokes.  I think that’s part of becoming a Dad.  That, and I can rarely think of a better way to exemplify what I’m trying to say when I come across broad, over-arching answers.

This topic tends to come up with me one of two ways:

  • I’m making fun of something that is being touted as the new answer to everything (or is being advertised that way to do one thing… get you to buy and consume whatever it is).
    • My call for this year is tea.  No one particular tea, but ones with cool names in general, not the “normal” teas we’re used to seeing (like orange pekoe, earl grey or english breakfast), but the exotic sounding ones, like matcha, yerba maté, and other crazy stuff that might not even be tea but is being sold that way because we don’t know how else to conceptualize it otherwise.
  • I’m trying to explain the “Wellness and Lifestyle” model of healthcare.  Which, if we’re watching the slow decline of society into chronic illness, and chronic illness management, we desperately need.

Todays post is the latter of those two options.  Reading through research lately has been fun/tedious, but every once in a while you come across something seriously awesome.  I’m embarrassed I haven’t come across this sooner, to be honest.  but here it is:

Is it possible to have TOO much Nrf2? Stay Tuned... (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cushman/Released)

Is it possible to have TOO much Nrf2? Stay Tuned… (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cushman/Released)

Nrf2, a master regulator of detoxification and also antioxidant, antiinflammatory and other cytoprotective mechanisms, is raised by health promoting factors

This article is simply awesome.  Here is laypersons summary of their abstract:

  • Nrf2 is short for nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 (yeah… Nerf 2 is a little easier to say/reference)
  • It’s a “transcription factor”, meaning it leads cells to “read” certain parts of our DNA and causes certain physiological cascades afterwards.
    • And this one activates the transcription of over 500 genes!
  • Things that it does:
    • detoxifies the body of molecules that can be toxic when accumulated to unhealthy levels as well as toxic metals
    • Anti-oxidant activities (reduces “bad” oxidation of molecules that can lead to mutations, aging, or unnecessary waste)
    • Produces anti-inflammatory changes (think, Advil, or fish oil)
    • Stimulates the creation of new mitochondria, and improves the function of already existing mitochondria (think, more energy, easier)
    • Stimulates autophagy – a cleaner for your cells, that gets rid of “trash” that can be problematic if not kept under control
  • Things that increase our amount of Nrf2:
    • Phenolic antioxidants, like plants, herbs and (wait for it…) tea
    • gamma and delta-tocopherols, tocotrienols.  Vitamin E – healthy fats, olive oil, avocado, etc.
    • Long chain Omega 3 fats EPA and DHA – from fish, krill, squid, grass-fed meats, etc.
    • Carotenoids like lycopene (in tomatoes and grapes)
    • isothiacynates from cruciferous vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, etc.)
    • Sulphur compounds from allium vegetables (garlic, onions, shallots, etc.)
    • Terpenoids (herbs like cinnamon and ginger)
    • Low level oxidative stress (low intensity exercise, like walking)
    • More intense exercise
    • Fasting/Caloric restriction
  • Chronic Inflammatory Diseases that are prevented/treated by increasing Nrf2?
    • cardiovascular diseases
    • kidney diseases
    • lung diseases
    • Diseases of toxic liver damage
    • Cancer [prevention]
    • Diabetes/Metabolic Syndrome/Obesity
    • Sepsis
    • Autoimmune diseases
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Epilepsy
    • lesser evidence also points to the improvement of 16 other diseases

Sounds pretty impressive eh?  I like part of the conclusion, “Nrf2 is argued to be both lifespan and health span extending.” [emphasis mine]  FINALLY a focus on not just increasing the length of our lives, but also the quality of those years.

Get out for a hike for some low intensity restorative exercise!

Get out for a hike for some low intensity restorative exercise!

The authors also speak to the potential of having TOO much Nrf2 (which is smart to hopefully nip the “if some is good, let’s crank the knob up to 11!” bud), as it can cause a type of acne in certain cases, and more life-threatening risks in very extreme situations (in mice with a gene removed from their body that would regulate Nrf2, so it just continues to accumulate).  So it DOES NOT follow a, “if some is good, more is better” model either.  Very interesting… Almost like all those things that improve it should be employed, but not to excess.

News Flash – Being reasonable is healthy.

So if we want to improve our bodies detoxification pathways (which are a real thing, that your liver and kidneys help with), tidy up our cells, improve our mitochondrial health and generally improve our lives doing the things that help improve this particular transcription factor is not a bad idea.  What are those things?

  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruit (of various colours and textures) and quality meats and fats
  • Use some herbs and spices to make your food a bit more interesting
  • Consider supplementing with a modest amount of Omega 3 fats from high quality sources
  • Move your body at a low, steady pace, most of the time.  Then at a hard pace every once in a while.
  • Avoid overeating, and maybe consider fasting or taking on the mindset from Okinawa of “Hara Hachi Bu” – meaning to eat only until you’re 80% full

Stay Healthy Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

What You Need to Know to Get and Stay Healthy

Hey Folks!

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted!  Apologies for that.  So I’ve been thinking about what sets Chiropractic apart from other professions, and why we’re crucial when we DO share so much of our scope and skills with many other professionals (physics, massage therapists, osteos, athletic therapists, etc.) and it ultimately comes down to our philosophy.

But I’ve spoken about that numerous times before.  So while I may hint at it throughout the rest of my life (and this post), I’ll attempt to tackle a different topic today.

Today I’d like to speak about how the truth isn’t sexy.  The true, and ultimate answers with regards to health (and fitness, really) isn’t particularly sexy.  I’ve mentioned that there are no shortcuts before, but that truth continues to shine through time after time throughout the years.

Chiro’s are different because we’re the only profession that is based on the idea that there’s nothing wrong with you.  Intrinsically, you likely have the genetic blueprint to live a long, healthy, happy life.  Some folks (a small percentage… though it seems to be growing) have gene-based alterations in their set point, but, luckily for us, the overarching treatment plan is largely the same.  Assuming you’re physiology is good, and providing the necessary ingredients to provide health to your body isn’t nearly as sexy as rushing you into an Operating Room to cut you open and pull out your ruptured appendix, preventing the immediate risk to your life.

Medical doctors do AMAZING things.  They literally SAVE peoples lives and prevent deaths that would be imminent without them.  We should be grateful for it (and in those situations, people typically are).  The problem, is that nowadays lifestyle illnesses are responsible for most deaths.  So while Emergency interventions with Medicine can save your life (in the right situation, unfortunately not everyone lives) in the event of a heart attack or stroke, the cause of those issues didn’t happen suddenly.

I’m totally borrowing this analogy from James Chestnut, but you can think of the Medical Community as the “fire department”.  In this analogy your body is your house.  When your house is on FIRE, you call the fire department.  Given good timing and adequate staffing, the fire department saves your house from burning to the ground, but there is likely damage that will need to be repaired to make it “new” again.  When that time comes, does it make sense to call the fire department to come fix your house up?  Would the fire department become frustrated with your calls to them to help fix your house?  Absolutely.

This is where we are right now.  The medical community is overwhelmed and frustrated with the number of people who are “pre-diabetic”, “at risk” for heart attack and stroke or cancer, but don’t actually HAVE those problems.  Makes sense, right?  You have the tool that helps when that situation arises, but it isn’t quite there yet, and you can tell that by the way the person is headed, that they’ll likely get there over time.  If only there was a way to help turn those people around.

Well there is.  The PROBLEM, is that it isn’t very sexy – so it doesn’t appear like it could be the answer.

And thennnnn…

You want to get fit.  You want to pack on some muscle, but you enjoy being able to go for a run, play volleyball on the beach and you don’t want to put on any fat while you get stronger.  Welcome to the goal of everyone.  Some people get past this issue and reorient their goals.  That’s what leads to elite performances in sport.  Strongmen, Throwers and Powerlifters don’t CARE how fast they can run 800m, unless it makes them better at their sport/tasks at hand, which it doesn’t.  Sprinters don’t care if their shoulders lack range of motion and that gymnastics would help make their shoulders stronger and healthier… because it doesn’t help them sprint faster.  One goal – be the best in the world at ONE thing.  For most of us, this isn’t the goal.  And to be honest, it isn’t particularly healthy – but when the stakes are olympic gold, or high salary contracts, I can understand when it’d be worth it.

To prepare for true fitness, you’ll get a million different opinions.  it is likely impossible to be the best at absolutely everything.  Who knows, maybe that will be proven wrong one day, but until then it seems like it’d be true.  So to improve your level of fitness, you need to lift heavy things, move your body in progressively more complex ways, sprint every so often and otherwise move about with a good amount of frequency.  You need to eat well, too, but we’ll cover that next.  There’s no “This ONE move you AREN’T doing and your trainer WON’T tell you about!”  It doesn’t exist.  There’s hard work at intelligent tasks and that’s it.  Work the short time domain and the long one.  Work the heavy stuff, the fast stuff AND the slow stuff.  Use gymnastics, kettlebells, medicine balls, barbells, rings,  and as many other implements as you can.  Give EVERYTHING you have sometimes.  Other times focus on quality and perfection in movement (though that should be the goal for ALL movement).  Work on moving hard and fast when you’re moving, and resting when you need to.  THAT, creates fitness.  No BS, no secrets.

And thennnn…

You want to know what to eat.  We were told fat was bad, and then that maybe it isn’t.  But what about vegetable oils, omega 3 oils, saturated fat and so on?  We are CONSTANTLY barraged with recommendations for supplements to take.  Whether it’s a commercial, a multi-level marketing friend/acquaintance, or Dr. Oz, we never know what to take seriously and what not to.  There is SO much information and contradictory claims out there with regard to nutrition that it has been the topic of hundreds of books.  And it will continue to be.

BUT, this is where that Chirpractic view of HEALTH comes in.  This is where we develop our BS filter.

Most Chiropractors are of the opinion that we don’t need more people trying to put out fires on their own with a garden hose and store-bought fire extinguisher (still speaking in metaphor here… those are actually good things to have around in the event of a real fire).  We don’t want to be responsible for putting out uncomplicated low back pain fires.  We want to increase your health.

Improve movement, mobility and stability in the spine and extremities, and you get healthier people.  Fine tune peoples nutrition to help them provide their body with what it NEEDS, and you get healthier people.  Teach people about the value of friendship, family values, being grateful, and positive thinking and you get healthier people.  THAT is what chiropractors like myself specialize in.  Your back/neck/shoulder/hip/knee/whatever pain will “magically” go away when you cover all these bases most of the time.

Devote yourself to getting HEALTHY, not just avoiding disease.  Be the healthiest, happiest person you know.

Stay Healthy friends,

Dr. Adam Ball

3 Issues with Going the “One Way”

“Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.

After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.

Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.”

– Bruce Lee

 

Hey Folks!

 

Today we will address something that has been plaguing CrossFit, Chiro, and life in general since I learned of its’ existence.  That thing is that there is NO ONE WAY.  I know what you’re thinking – That’s not a new idea, Adam.  I know it isn’t, but it never takes long for us to convince ourselves that maybe… just maybe there IS ONE WAY.

Oh I need to get my squat up, I have to do the Smolov method.  Oh, the warm up suggests jumping from 75% to 90% of our working weight, I’ll just slap these 45’s on then.  I’m not feeling great; it must be my serotonin levels.  I’d love to lose some weight, but you can only do it if you do the super mega cleanse, and I’m not ready for that.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

 

Issue #1:   We want there to be only one way. 

You have this infection, you need this anti-biotic, and you need to take it for this long.  You want to lose 10 pounds so you need to eat this magic-berry this many times per day before you have your water and air to eat.  We want it to be true.  The number of times I’ve heard, “well just tell me what stretch I need to do”, or, “how many treatments does it take to cure this???” is quite honestly, too many.

 

Issue #2:  People don’t like for there to not be ONE WAY.

People want there to be ONE fix.  ONE stretch they aren’t doing.  ONE piece of food they need to add or omit from their diet that will cure their IBS, add 200 pounds to their back squat and get them an A in their Nuclear Biophysics course at University.  They want that “AHA! THAT is what I’ve been doing wrong!” moment.  They WANT easy.  But easy doesn’t exist – simple does.

Eating veggies, meats, tubers, fruits, and adding in some nuts and seeds is simple.  Coming to the gym and doing the work is simple.  Working on your mobility with a Lacrosse ball, foam roller and some stretches is simple.  Getting adjusted regularly to ensure a healthy nervous system is simple.  Unfortunately simple does not always or usually mean easy.  Endeavour for simplicity, it isn’t always easy, but there is a certain beauty in it.

 

Issue #3:  Many a person has gotten rich off selling you the idea that there is only one way. 

Want to know a surefire way to know when you’re hearing/reading good advice?  When the speaker/writer isn’t going to fight you on adhering to what they suggest.

“I can’t eat ‘paleo’ because I have to have yogourt/milk/oatmeal/etc.”, is a common response I hear to my recommendation for most folks to start with a stripped down paleo approach to eating.  Do you know what an appropriate response to this comment is?  “Ok, then have it – and if or when you’re ready to try going without that item as well, you can”.  Many of the truly successful people are not shoving their rules down peoples’ throats.  Mark Rippetoe doesn’t care if you want to compare Starting Strength to Wendlers 5-3-1.  Robb Wolf doesn’t care if you want to go all primal and add some dairy and wine in with your paleo diet.  Most Chiropractors don’t care if you want to come in once a month instead of once every 2 weeks.  What we do know is that if you stray too far from a plan, it doesn’t work as well, and we know what we know because we do it every day.

 

Notes to provoke your thoughts:

Want to know when you’re being sold something that may be suspect (products, services or advice)?  When the person wants to convince you of its’ truth.

I don’t want to pick on anyone as broad brush strokes are just that, broad, but two examples that come to mind are:

Vegans.  You can’t be “kind of” vegan.  From my experiences they will do everything in their power to convince you of the evils of meat and the saintly power of juicing or kale or whatever.  You can see this in the paleo world too with the “is it paleo” debates, which in my opinion are largely a waste of time.

“Evidence-based” healthcare practitioners.   They are typically extremely confident that their way is the only way.  That is until they learn more.  Until they learn about bias from researchers, from where funding comes from, from bias in statistical analysis (and it’s interpretation), and from poorly written conclusions, abtracts and introductions.  Until they learn about outliers, and paradoxical findings (and responders) and articles that conclude, “while this particular study does not support generally accepted findings, we still suggest that people follow XYZ” and wonder why doesn’t the study support it?

Please keep in mind, these are generalizations, and by far not all vegans or “evidence-based” practitioners are like this, but they come to mind first.  How will you know if the person you’re speaking to is unworthy of your trust?  They don’t listen to your side of the conversation.  Not even a little.  They speak louder to get their point across.  It’s painful to speak and debate with these people and we all get sucked into it from time to time.  Don’t’ waste your time or energy here.

 

Bruce Lee is still viewed with starry eyes.  He was a genius.  He knew that there was no one way, and that the more you learned, the more you realized you knew very little.  After understanding how little you know, you can fully acknowledge the breadth of the subject and how best to approach it.  The important thing to take into account is that we’re all trying to get on the highway to greater health and fitness, but few of us will be driving on the exact same onramp or will be driving the same speed.  Where you get on and how fast you go isn’t what matters, heading in the right direction is.  So when you begin to doubt yourself from time to time (and you will), remember, there is no one way, there is only the way you are going – just make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

As always – stay healthy, Friends!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

Strategies to avoid being SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

It’s a cold day in Northern Ontario today (-1 degree Celsius this morning!) and as the warmth and summer weather retreats until the spring, the prolonged daylight goes with it.  Shorter, colder days mean much less time spent outside, as well as less time exposed to direct sunlight.  What does this mean for us?

It means we aren’t connecting with nature as often as we would in the summer (raking leaves just doesn’t have the same allure as laying on the dock by the lake, does it?), which can have a profound effect on our mood.  There’s just something that incites a peaceful feeling about spending time outside.

Not being outside also means we aren’t exposed to the suns rays as much (as well as the changed angle of the sun entering the earth), which means our bodies don’t synthesize as much Vitamin D in the fall and winter as they would in the spring and summer.  Vitamin D is STILL a “hot” vitamin/hormone being studied for numerous connections to both mood and health in general.

The colder weather and lack of sunshine can mean some simple but meaningful changes in our lives.  More time spent indoors.  More time spent looking at screens (TVs, Cell phones, computers, etc.).  Less motivation to get out and move (outside or at the gym).  Less time spent connecting with friends and family.  Like everything in life, these things add up.  The problem is, they add up in a bad way.

Seasonal Affective Disorder exists on a gradient (like most psychological/affect diagnoses), and can affect different people in different ways.  Most people simply report they don’t feel as great in the winter as they do in the summer.  Others succumb to outright depression.  The lack of motivation, fatigue and general malaise that plagues SAD sufferers can be improved upon and sometimes alleviated all together.  The desire to change must be there, which is often the hardest part, but it can be upended by starting small.

I’ll outline a number of ways to approach improving your mood and your life – I suggest you pick and choose which ones work best for you, then, when possible, add in another – until you’ve gone through the whole list.  I don’t suggest trying to do them all at once, unless you already do most of them.

1. Move away from digital screens and fluorescent lighting at night

  • The blue light present in these bulbs and screens send a signal to our bodies through our eyes and skin that it’s “daytime”.  When it isn’t daytime and we’re exposed to blue light our bodies don’t unwind properly and our quality of sleep is affected.  No, it doesn’t matter if you can fall asleep immediately – the quality of your sleep is still affected.
  • Read a (paper) book or spend sometime journaling about 30-60 minutes before bed to the light of some candles, or an incandescent bulb.  Or find some other activity to do in the dark before bed, we’re just looking to reduce your exposure to light here.
  • Turn your clock/phone around/away and get some good quality blinds/drapes
  • These will help to reduce the amount of light you’re being exposed to while sleeping, which will improve the quality of your sleep

2. Get to bed at a decent hour and get enough sleep

  • Getting more sleep in the colder months makes sense, as the sun isn’t up as long.  Ever been camping?  Didn’t you feel pooched earlier than you’d expect while sitting around the campfire?  It’s because you’ve only been exposed to natural light since sunset.  Aim for 8 to 10 hours each night.  I know it’s a lot for a busy person but play around with as much as you can get and gauge how you look, feel and perform

3. Wake up grateful

  • Wake up and try to start your day with gratitude.  Be thankful you’re waking up in a bed, in a room, in a house.  That it’s warm.  That you have at least some food available to you for breakfast.  Many aren’t nearly as lucky/wealthy and are simply thankful to wake up in the morning.

4. Eat breakfast

  • It doesn’t need to be a lot, but have something for breakfast.  Start with something fresh, like some fruit, or veggies in an omelet.  If you’ve got veggies already cut up from last nights dinner, throw them in the pan with some eggs and voila, omelet!
  • Have some grapefruit with your coffee to help the caffeine burn a little extra fat.

5. Take your wellness essentials

  • Vitamin D, Fish oil and probiotics are necessary for everyone, everyday.  I wish this weren’t true, but it is.  We’ve affected both the environment, and our food chain to such a degree that it’s made these supplements necessary in everyday life.  You don’t need a lot, a few droplets of Vitamin D, a teaspoon of fish oil (or a few capsules), and a single small capsule of probiotics will set you up for success.
  • The vitamin D is like a shot of sunshine, the fish oil helps to balance out your mood, mental clarity and level of inflammation, and the probiotics will keep your gut populated with friendlies, reducing the chances of an infectious bacteria to set up shop.

6. Get some exercise

  • Get outside for a walk, do some squats and push-ups, some sit-ups and lunges.  Play sports you enjoy.  Come out to CrossFit and join a group of your peers trying their best to accomplish the same things.  Lie out or pack your gym/exercise clothes the night before.  Have everything you need ready – don’t give yourself the opportunity to make an excuse at the time of decision.
  • Movement through your joints and an elevated heart rate will help with your ability to cope with stress.

7. Have fun with friends

  • Get out to socialize, have a beverage, go skiing, whatever.  Just do something you enjoy, preferably with some people you like.  Vent about what’s bothering you, boast about your successes and laugh.  If there’s anyone you can be completely candid with, it’s friends and family.

8. Spend quiet time

  • Read, watch a movie, listen to music or an audiobook, go for a walk.  As a society we rarely take the time to do these things as it’s often viewed as “wasting time”.  If it helps you unwind and slow down your day a bit, then wasting time is something you need to make time to do, at least once a day.  It can be as little as 5 minutes, but is better off being in the 30-60 minute range.  Journaling and introspection I would put higher on the list than watching “The Avengers” for the 6th time.

9. Get Adjusted

  • Chiropractors and other manual therapists (Physio, massage, etc.) help to create, and maintain your full range of motion at the joints in your body.  The communication from your joints and surrounding tissues to your brain stimulates the movement-pleasure pathway, making you feel good.  More importantly, regular adjustments set you up with access to a full range of motion, so you can use it regularly on your own.  Using your full range of motion on a regular basis will help to maintain that range, and therefore keep you feeling great (and necessitate less frequent visits to your manual therapists – don’t worry we don’t mind so long as you’re being healthy!)

Use all, or some of the above suggestions and you should notice a difference with your mood, mental focus, physical health and even boost your immune system.  Our bodies are like an organic vehicle or house, and we want to maintain that vehicle with the best parts and ingredients as possible.  Take good care of your body; you only get one!

Stay healthy, Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

Increasing ability versus decreasing disability

Hey Folks!

I am a healthcare practitioner that specializes in movement, nutrition and wellness.  My job is making people better.  That’s a very subjective goal, but it’s a crucial goal for sure.  Many people live their lives simply hoping they don’t encounter illness or disability.  Many hope it won’t “get” them.  I’m here to tell you, you can do more than hope.

In my practice I help people perform better.  I also help people experience less pain.  Some simply prefer to experience less pain and are happy with that much progress (it’s an easy progress indicator to gauge).  I’ve often been heard saying the perfect time to see a Chiropractor is 1 day before you start to notice any symptoms (whether they be as obvious as pain, or as subtle as less quality sleep or digestion).  This is a difficult goal – and in my opinion isn’t one we need to be concerned with.  So why do I use that example then?  Well…

Do we only eat well until we notice a change, and then stop and wait for the change to go away before eating well again?  Do we only go to the dentist when the pain is so bad we can’t handle it, then wait until that happens again to return?  How about learning piano or guitar – do we learn how to strum a couple chords and then stop, wait until we forget how, then re-learn, hoping to one day flawlessly perform “stairway to heaven”?  Or do we KNOW that it takes more diligence, more work, and more awareness than that?

Then why do we treat our spines (and therefore our nervous system) that way?  We go to the Chiropractor, and then don’t return until we’re in so much pain we can’t tie our own shoelaces.  It’s time to take some initiative and improve our situation.  It’s time to start taking the “moving well” out of eating, moving and thinking well a little more seriously.  Being in the gym is one way to do that.  Seeing a Chiropractor is the other.  They do not replace each other and both are crucial.

I’ve read literature showing Chiropractic improves high jumping, judo athletes grip strength, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, our ability to withstand mental stress, and obviously, our range of motion (and therefore how our body moves).  It’s inspiring and frustrating (chiropractic controlled trials are hard to perform and therefore are hard to come across).  Once you’ve read the literature and learned the physiological mechanisms for said changes, it makes sense.

This is how most perceive Chiropractic works:

Chiro Dx

This is what actually happens:

Subluxation and Adjustment diagram 

–       Courtesy of James Chestnut DC CCWP

So, the effect goes from the joint, all the way up to the brain.  It communicates and moves on to numerous other structures in the nervous system and eventually the body.  So along with the improvement in how the joint is moving we experience lowered stress levels, improvements in heart health measurements (cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, vasodilation to the organs, etc.), a greater ability to learn (improved concentration), and tons of other benefits – all because your joints are moving the way they should be.

I’ve seen countless people come in grouchy, and leave far happier.  I’ve seen that happen on the Chiropractic table and I’ve seen it happen after training in the gym.  It comes from activating movement-pleasure pathways from the joints, to the brain.  When you receive that message through exercise, it is far more “clear” if your spine has access to its’ full range of motion.  Chiropractors (and some other manual therapists) are experts at providing you that range of motion.  The frequency with which you can benefit from an adjustment could be as little as once a week (after an initial phase of care), or as infrequent as once every 6 weeks.  Gauge your performance, your sleep, your digestion, your range of motion and even your mental clarity and mood – they’re all indications of your health status, and how your body is treating you.  It takes some trial and error, but you’ll find a frequency that works well for you.  For most living a fairly healthy lifestyle, this ends up being once every 2 weeks to once every 4 weeks.

For everything in life (and health) we live in a dynamic balance.  When we get cold we shiver, when we’re warm we sweat, when exercise or stress demands it, we raise our blood pressure.  Everything has a reason and everything has an effect.  Our ability to accommodate and then recover from stressors best demonstrates our level of health.  Chiropractic adjustments help us to address, and recover from the demands of our environment.

So as much as I love seeing people go from grimace to smile, I enjoy even more hearing that people are sleeping well, loving life and performing well at their hobbies.  Take care of yourself.  Eat well.  Spend time with your loved ones.  Exercise with purpose.  And see your Chiropractor.  Don’t live life from back twinge to back twinge – let me help you go from good to great – It would be my pleasure.

In health,

Dr. Adam Ball
BHSc MScACN DC NMC

If you’d like to book an appointment yourself, Click Here.  If you’d like to speak with me, send me an email through the contact form, or call the office at (705) 222-7213.

Research of the Day – Nov 14, 2012 – Exercise… It’s good for you… Surprise!

Hey Folks!
I’ve skimmed about a dozen articles today and can’t really find a topic or good quality article I feel like reading, so I chose an easy and semi-boring one, in my opinion. Either way, here it is:

Todays Article:

Resistance Training and Older Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Strength of the Evidence

What did they do:

  • Searched far and wide for articles regarding resistance training and type 2 diabetes outcomes, musculoskeletal outcomes and body composition outcomes between the years of 2000 and 2011.
  • Combined the results from all those studies into a meta-analysis to glean more accurate results than any one study on its’ own

What did they find:

  • 3 studies met the criteria! Not very many and not enough to create statistical significance that wasn’t already found in the original studies, but if you’re the author, you’ve already worked hard to find the info, so you combine it and analyze it anyway… Then it gives people like me an “ok” article to link to and say resistance exercise is good.
  • Resistance training was associated with better muscle strength, functionality and size
  • Resistance training had a favourable but non-significant (meaning it could have been chance) effect on HbA1C (a measure of how high and low your blood sugar gets over a period of time)
  • Moderate and small effects were also favourable for blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, respectively
  • Body composition was unchanged

What it means:

  • Exercise is good for you – could potentially reduce the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes (and metabolic syndrome – associated with cardiovascular disease)
  • People got stronger before their body composition changed AKA You are going to get stronger FIRST, and THEN you’ll lose weight and look “cut”, “toned” or whatever other silly adjective you’d like to use for functionally designed
  • Blood pressure, cholesterol, and many other markers that are regularly measured to gauge health will improve when you exercise, but it takes time.

Not overly life changing findings, I know. But a nice reminder to keep up with the great efforts on the gym – If it’s important, do it every day.

Stay healthy, Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

Research of the Day – Nov 13, 2012 – Weightlifting and injuries, so You’re saying there’s a chance…

Hey Folks!
Research of the day! I’m out a limb here – examining a paper reporting injury rates among Olympic Weightlifters. No one ever learned anything by turning a blind eye to the things they love just because they love them!

Todays Paper:

Injury Rates and Profiles of Elite Competitive Weightlifters

What they did:

  • They took data from USA weightlifting training camps (where the athletes train to prepare for world championships, olympics and other important competitions in weightlifting) regarding training hours, injury location, injury severity and injury nature
  • The weightlifting teams medical staff (MDs, physios, chiros, etc.) provided their information about any injuries that ocurred to the athletes while they were at the training camp with regard to type of injury (strain, sprain, contusion, fracture, etc.) location (knee, hip, elbow, etc.) nature (acute, chronic, recurring) and severity (time recommended to miss from training)
  • They took this data from 1990-1995

What they found:

  • Over the 6 years there were 560 injuries, of which 326 were located in the low back, knee or shoulder
  • 459 of those 560 injuries were considered a strain, sprain or tendonitis
  • 507 of the 560 injuries resulted in a recommendation of missing less than 1 day of training

What does it mean:

  • It means being competitive at Olympic Weightlifting carries about the same risk of injury as playing just about any other sport.
  • The authors suggest the injuries sustained are less severe as there isn’t any off centered or lateral movement during the weightlifting movements – lateral movements or off centered movements that are often attributed to causing stability injuries to soccer, football, and other sports players.
  • Rates of injuries and complaints in later life were similar to non-weightlifters, but not as bad as retired wrestlers.

What do I think:

  • We have the benefit of diversifying our training, and so not being exposed to the same movements every day (imagine training the snatch, clean and/or jerk, 6 times a day… THAT is repetition) – something that increases the chances of injury
  • We have the disadvantage of not being elite level athletes with thousands of hours of training and familiarity with the movements – something that would reduce the chances of injury
  • The point being… There’s ALWAYS risk to living life (and training). Daring to be great, pushing your comfort zone boundaries and endeavoring to be in better physical condition requires stresses being placed on the tissues of the body, which always carries a risk.
  • The question you can ask yourself is whether or not the risk is worth having better bone density, greater muscle mass and better insulin sensitivity, all things that are related to greater quality of life as well as greater longevity. You all know where I stand on this issue.
  • What we CAN do, is make sure we’re aiming for perfect form, that we’re making an effort to maintain a neutral spine at all times, that we’re keeping our shoulders in healthy positions when pulling or overhead, and that we’re pressurizing the trunk properly when bracing for a lift. THESE THINGS ARE IMPORTANT.
  • It’s also good to know that I’m not alone when my knees are a little achy after a heavy oly lifting session.

Stay healthy, Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

Research of the Day – Nov 10, 2012 – Chiropractic, Performance-enhancing ______

Hey Folks!

So, due to popular demand, I’m back to calling it the Research of the Day. It’s a little late as I was in a seminar from 9-6 today, so I apologize, but I’m not really very sorry at all. Also… I couldnt’ think of a snappier title for todays’ research.

Todays article:

Effect of cervical spine manipulative therapy on judo athletes’ grip strength.

What they did:

  • 18 national level Judo athletes in Brazil who had never had chiropractic care before volunteered to get either actual adjustments or sham adjustments for a minimum of 3 visits, with a minimum of a day and a half between visits.
  • They received either a real adjustment (diversified, better known as manual chiropractic adjustments… the ones where we use our hands and you sometimes hear the “popping” or “cracking”) of sham adjustment (set up on a drop table that the chiropractor directed their thrust into – this table moves and makes a semi-loud noise, which could “trick” an athlete into believing they received an actual adjustment)
  • Then, they assumed a typical judo stance – elbows at their side with 90º of elboy flexion and slight forearm internal rotation and they tested their maximal grip strength using a fancy apparatus you squeeze as hard as you can.
  • They did it 3 times per hand and averaged it over all of the visits.

What happened:

  • Those athletes who received real adjustments had significantly stronger grip strength readings than those who received the sham adjustments
  • The real adjustments group also improved their grip strength progressively (with each visit it improved over the last)

What does it mean:

  • It means a lot of things. I means these athletes didn’t have neck pain and so had their necks adjusted – They were part of a study. I’m sure they weren’t upset that their grip strength improved though!
  • It reveals there is a lot more going on during an adjustment than reciprocal inhibition of muscle spasm and therefore a decrease in the perception of pain.
  • Their spines were moving better. The proprioception signals coming from their spines were no longer limited, which means inappropriate nociception was decreased to the brain. Meaning more accurate information available for the hand and its’ ability to squeeze something as hard as possible.

My comments:

  • It isn’t always easy to find articles dealing with Chiropractic and its’ effects on performance enhancement. Finding areas of the spine that could be moving better, then making them move better with the ultimate goal of improving FUNCTION and not PAIN or other SYMPTOMS is a much better paradigm to treat from. Besides… who JUST wants to be out of pain… I’d much rather improve performance.

Stay healthy my friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

Daily ROD (Research of the Day) – It’s not about how many calories you burn…

In an endeavour to keep myself up to date and always learning I’m going to try to take something out of James Chestnuts Book and read one journal article every day – Although we’ll see how frequently I get to it as I’ve made this promise to myself multiple times.

I will post brief thoughts and a summary/synopsis based on those articles. They’ll all be interesting to me (hopefully) and useful for you (in one way or another).

Todays Article:

Hunter-Gatherer Energetics and Human Obesity

Summary:

They measured the energy expenditure (amount of calories burned throughout the entire day) of Hunter-Gatherers (the ones that still exist today) as well as matched controls in the western world.

What they found:

  • Hadza (hunter-gatherers/Foragers) and their western counterparts had the same total energy expenditure per day

So what?

  • As many hear, the obesity epidemic is due to “eating too much” and “moving too little” – not so according to this study as we burn the same TOTAL NUMBER of calories per day as those who have better chronic health markers
  • So how do we take this info? It means that what we’re putting in our mouths is very important. Hunter-Gatherers aren’t gathering wheat or beans. They gather tubers, roots, berries, and freshly killed animals (who happen to be the highest quality meat you could possibly find)
  • Energy expenditure was the same BUT, and it’s a huge BUT, the Hadza aren’t expending their calories the same way. They walk large distances, and occasionally sprint and lift heavy things (dang, I sound like Mark Sisson) – but overall, they also spend a lot of time relaxing.

Take what you will from this info (it IS only one study) but my takeaways are:

  1. If you don’t consider what’s going in your mouth, you’re losing precious ground that you shouldn’t be when it comes to health and performance
  2. Be intelligent with how you expend your energy – Sprint, lift heavy things, move slowly on a regular basis (Notice the lack of chronic 45 minute AMRAPs or 30-60 minute runs?)

Stay healthy, Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball