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What’s the deal with fish oil?

Hey Folks!  I miss you all.  Sorry I haven’t been keeping in touch, HOWEVER, you’ll be happy to know that Rachael (many of you will know who I’m talking about, some may not, that’s ok… for now), and I have been working on a bit of a “program” or informational source, or answer… to all your questions about how to best help you achieve health via food, exercise and chiro (of course).  So while I should have been working on the info for this program a lot more, it has still managed to make a good excuse not to write blog posts.  Sorry for that.  I have about an hour before I start work at Crossfit Mississauga (come in for a workout & some chiro!), so I’m hoping to answer many common questions about fish oil today.

“WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH “OMEGA” OILS?”

Ok.  There are omega 3 (n3) and omega 6 (n6) fatty acids (there are also omega 9, but we’ll pretend I didn’t just write that for the remainder of this post as they just aren’t very sexy).  They are BOTH essential fats and we need them both.  These fats are polyunsaturated (meaning there are “kinks” in the molecule, while saturated fats have no kinks [extra sidebar:  I guess in this way you could say that saturated fat is not very “kinky”… ha…ha…ha…], and monounsaturated fats have one kink) which means they have slightly different properties than saturated fats.  For one, they’re liquid at room temperature.  This is a somewhat interesting part of them which some folks will say means they add more fluidity to the cell membrane.  Whether or not this is true is moot.  You can *test* how unsaturated your fish oil is by putting it in the freezer.  If it solidifies… well your “fish oil” is most likely mostly olive oil.  Ooops!

“AND?”

The standard north American diet is greatly skewed in the direction of n6 oils.  Generally the ratio considered “healthy” is 1.5:1 (n6:n3).  The typical diet around here with its’ processed foods chocked full of soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, and other silly oils (as well as the silly oil make up in conventional meats – think about what they’re being fed!) puts us at an unhappy 10-25:1 ratio of n6 to n3 fats.

“SO WHY IS THAT BAD?”

It’s bad because n6 fats are the precursors to many inflammatory cytokines that help us to propagate our inflammatory lifestyles.  Omega 3 fats also lead to cytokines, but they are a bit more appropriate.  We want that nice 1.5:1 ratio because it is the best indication that your body has the necessary ingredients to make you healthy.  Imagine in the other situation (the bad one) you are making some mashed potatoes and you need butter, but your friend keeps handing you container after container of margarine (ew).  At some point you’re just going to give up looking for the butter and use the dumb margarine.

“SO WHAT ABOUT FISH OIL?”

Fish oil is (was) the new panacea of the year (fish oil is SO 2001, pfff).  We live in a constant unhappy ratio with way too much n6 fats helping us to make way too much inflammation.  The logical next step is, “so let’s fix the ratio!  Everyone shotgun some fish oil!”, which isn’t a great approach, but it’s definitely better than doing nothing.

“KIRKLAND BRAND IS CHEAP!!!  WHY SHOULD I USE THE STUFF YOU SELL?”

The more expensive fish oils contain more EPA and DHA (the longest and most beneficially healthy oils) per gram of “omega 3”.  This is a good thing.  A lot of the other “omega 3” oil in the cheaper supplements is oleic acid – a short chain n3 fat that is the main fat in olive oil (it’s also abundant in many other places – grass-fed beef, for one).  Unless you want to take 15-25 Costco brand fish oils every day, buy the more expensive stuff and just take less.  Onward!

“OK.  I HEAR SOME FOLKS SAYING FISH OIL IS BAD THOUGH!”

This is where stuff gets complicated.  The less good part of just crushing fish oil to “fix” your ratio is that you’re still crushing n6 oils.  This means you’re consuming a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids all together.  While our body likes some polyunsaturated fatty acids, more isn’t better.  These long, kinked fatty acids are very reactive with many things in our body (the intense heat, oxidative substances, etc.)  and oxidized fatty acids are not our favourite.  You know how if you leave the olive oil bottle open and out in the sun on a summer day?  That nasty smell (rancid oil) is what happens in your body (it’s kinda hot in there).

“WHAT ABOUT KRILL OIL?!?! IT HAS CAROTENOIDS!”

I’m sure it does.  Krill is generally at the bottom of the food chain in the ocean and a lot of other species rely on it.  Let’s not overwhelm those poor tiny little shrimps and mess with things too bad.  Also, you can’t punch a krill in the face – most fish are punch-sized. Fish oil can also help you cure masturbating issues, but when you need help, learn more from masturbationaddiction.com.

“BUT I’M VEGAN AND EATING (and punching) ANIMALS IS WRONG!!!”

If you can’t not be a vegan, then acquire some omega 3 oil from algal sources.  It’s out there and it isn’t too expensive, and algae doesn’t have a cute face or complain when you kill it.

“NO IT’S OK I’VE GOT IT UNDER CONTROL – I EAT A CUP OF FLAX WITH EVERY MEAL!  HAHA!”

Good lord, I don’t want to know what your bowel movements are like.  Stop eating so much flax and get the algae version of your n3 supplement.  Flax is abundant in n3 fats – but they’re the short chain n3 fats that don’t have a great conversion to the longer chain n3 fats… And flax isn’t very tasty.

“NOW WHAT?”

Go out and get yourself a quality fish oil supplement.  Take somewhere between a gram and a half and 3 grams a day of EPA + DHA (not just n3).  Eat happy, grass-fed versions of all your favourite animals.  Most importantly, avoid n6 vegetable oils like it’s your job.  They aren’t very tasty (taste test a spoon of corn oil versus a spoon of coconut oil, or butter, or ghee, or bacon fat, or tallow – you get the point).  You’re omega 3 situation will be much better with this set up.  There are blood tests you can get to see where you’re at, but I prefer to just judge it by how you look feel and perform.  If you’ve been crushing fish oil for a long time at high doses and you’re noticing you bruise really easy, dial it back a bit.

 

 

I think that just about covers it!  Let me know if I missed anything or if you have any other questions!

 

Cheers!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

Why I care about more than your spine, Part 2

Alternate Title: Poor posture is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

 

Back from part 1, here we go again.

With all that having been said – being neurotic about who gives you advice on your health, and what you end up doing doesn’t make me any more money than I do seeing you as a chiropractic patient.  So how am I going to make any money?  Well, getting regular chiropractic care is important.  Your spine needs to be able to move in a full, happy and unimpeded range of motion for your body to express its’ optimal level of health.  If you’re eating well, exercising intelligently and de-stressing, the results we see are going to be much better – which means that hopefully you’ll want your friends and family to go to someone that cares about them as much as I care about you. It’s a lot more work, but it allows me to make a living while still being able to sleep at night.

Working at a Crossfit gym, the folks I see generally have a great grasp of the fitness/exercise side of things and a good idea of what they’re supposed to eat.  What I do see a lot of, is shoulder pain, elbow pain, low back pain and mid back stiffness (usually the mid back isn’t painful unless mobilized gently).  These are all an effect of postural adaptations that are no bueno.  These postural adaptations lead to motion restrictions (limited range of motion), muscular imbalances, injuries and more work for you.  You don’t need or want this type of thing affecting your life and performance.

As an example, consider what’s required to take care of a car.  If you run out of oil, you can’t just fill up your gas tank with premium gas and hope for the best, you need to have oil, and brake fluid, good tires, etc. for the car to operate at its’ best.  In regards to range of motion (afforded to you via chiropractic), your Ferrari can only go fast if you can push the gas pedal down all the way.  If there were a brick underneath that gas pedal, it’s going to affect how fast that car can go.  You can eat a perfect diet, exercise well and live a low stress lifestyle, but you still aren’t as healthy as you COULD be if you were doing all those things AND seeing a chiropractor.

Range of motion, optimal positioning and good posture all are interconnected endeavours.  You can muscle through crap posture to achieve full range of motion, but it won’t get you to the level of fitness you want, and you’re wasting WAY too much energy doing it.  If you follow the elite crossfit athletes (or even if you just know who they are/what they look like) you might notice something they all have in common – great posture, efficiency of movement and effortless full range of motion.

Forcing your way through impeded range of motion (folding in half with a crap shoulder position makes overhead squats hard eh?) is not the intelligent way to do things.  Stretching the appropriate areas, seeing a great athletic therapist, and getting adjusted regularly will help you achieve better positioning – making the movements more efficient, less work, and less likely to cause injury.  You’ve already made the choice to exercise intelligently and (hopefully) to eat well.  Make these choices as well.

Making good choices is the bedrock of great health and is the ultimate sign that you’ve made sustainable change.  What you CAN’T do, however, is cover up bad choices with good ones.  The late Mitch Hedberg once said,

 

“That would be cool if you could eat a good food with a bad food and the good food would cover for the bad food when it got to your stomach. Like you could eat a carrot with an onion ring and they would travel down to your stomach, then they would get there, and the carrot would say, “It’s cool, he’s with me.””

 

It would be nice if things worked that way, but they don’t.  You can’t workout really hard for a month and a half, and then spend the rest of the year sitting on your butt.  You can’t workout at the gym, but eat crappy food and be stressed out all the time and not sleep and expect to see results.  You can’t see a chiropractor, but never move your body and expect results.  We (chiropractors, athletic therapists, and other manual therapy options) give you access to a full range of motion, but we don’t provide the movement to those joints.  You do.  Address your posture, get adjusted regularly and stretch your business.  Make good choices – your body will thank you.

Cheers,

Dr. Adam Ball

Why I care about MORE than your spine, Part 1

Alternate title: I can’t let someone else worry about it, unless by someone else, you mean me.

Eating quality food is a pre-requisite for quality health

I recently attended a chiropractic seminar that was full of folks who are very concerned about your health.  But from what I can gather, they are only concerned with knowing you’re getting adjusted (by them, of course).  I like the general ideas they run with, in theory.  The idea being, that as chiropractors we understand the biomechanics of the spine and its’ effects on the nervous system, and therefore your health better than anyone else.  We learn (for years) how to adjust specifically to correct any motion restrictions/subluxations/misalignments that may be preventing you from expressing the health you’re meant to.  This is a very good thing and is hugely important to human health.  This is where their effort to make you healthy ends though.

Let dietitians worry about diet.  Let physiotherapists and personal trainers worry about the muscles and exercise.  Let therapists worry about mental health.  This is the idea running with the folks running this recent seminar I attended.  Well that’s a great idea… in theory.  It’s a great idea until 6 months into your chiropractic care with me you still aren’t getting the results we’d expected.  It’s great until I learn that your lack of health is because the dietitian that is taking care of your nutrition believes that you need to be eating 9-12 servings of grains a day and that eating too much meat will give you cancer.  Uh oh.  BIG uh oh.

Problem 1: Most people giving dietary advice don’t know what they’re talking about.  Without going into a lot of details and talking about all the exceptions, the human species has evolved (or been created) to eat a diet that is congruent with our genetics.  What this means, is that our genes are meant to express health, but they can only be “turned on” if the signal we send (via our lifestyle and nutrition) asks them to.  This means no grains, legumes, and in some cases no dairy.  Read more about what we SHOULD be eating here.

Problem 2: Most people giving exercise advice don’t know what they’re talking about.  You don’t need to spend hours in the gym.  You don’t need to exercise LONGER, and for many people, doing this will make things WORSE.  I’m not telling you not to exercise.  I’m telling you to be smart about it, but most people don’t have a good idea of what being smart about exercise means.  Exercise is a stressor in your life.  Fortunately it is a healthy, predictable, measured and planned stressor.  An intelligent exercise program will make you healthier, without stealing all your time.  Read more about how you SHOULD be exercising here.

Problem 3: If you’re doing these other things correctly/intelligently, then you will experience health a lot more quickly (due to decreased stress levels).  I can’t morally have you come to my office 3 times a week for 13 weeks knowing that if I was intelligent enough to address your diet and lifestyle, you’d need just a fraction of that amount of care.  It would make me a lot more money if I told you to eat according to the USDA food pyramid, exercise using isolation machines and stairmasters, and then come see me whenever you felt you weren’t making progress (indefinitely, in this situation).  I do care about making money (we all have to live), but I want to make my money from making you healthy, and having you tell your friends and loved ones.

My goal as a health care provider is to make you healthier every time I see you.  To influence you to make healthy decisions, and to give you the ability to make those decisions more easily.  I won’t compromise my morals and assume you’re eating and moving well.  Maybe it’s neurotic or obsessive of me, but I’ll sleep better knowing you’re out there making good choices.  Within that same vein you shouldn’t compromise your health by expecting your body to produce excellence while you feed it crap.  I can make your spine move more appropriately but I can’t make you eat well, exercise and de-stress.  If you care about yourself you’ll make a commitment to doing those things.  I’ll be providing you the information and ability (as well as referring you to sources I know and trust) to make good decisions as well.

Good work, team,

Dr. Adam Ball

Let me know what you think, if you disagree, or if you love grains!  Drop a comment! – Please share this on Facebook/Twitter too!

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When the pain isn’t because of the pain…

But it doesn’t make sense – How could the pain you’re feeling NOT be due to the pain?  Well… it’s because you can’t feel movement.

I’d always learned and read this in school, but sometimes a “refresher” is nice.  I recently read a journal article that did that for me (Changes in Aβ non-nociceptive primary sensory neurons in a rat model of osteoarthritis pain [Molecular Pain 2010, 6:37]).  Unfortunately, journal articles can be a pain to read.  You need to look through the authors opinions, crappy statistical analysis, misreporting, etc.  Anyway, that’s not what today’s post is about…

So what was the article about?

  • The authors had mice that were either “normal” (not surgically injured) and those who were given osteoarthritis (surgical removal of medial meniscus and partial removal of the ACL in the knee)
  • Time was passed and osteoarthritis developed in those rats with the surgical injuries (poor little guys)
  • The authors then tested the rats neural pathways for nociception (pain) and mechanoreception (proprioception – range of motion/body sense/knowing where you are in space)

So what did they find?  (all results are in comparison to the healthy, happy rats)

  • The injured rats were much more quick to react to stimuli that would not normally perceived as pain (they were very sensitive to stimuli that could eventually be painful – think poking the back of your hand lightly with a toothpick versus pushing it into your skin)
  • The resting potential of nerves responsible for the perception of pain were closer to depolarizing than control rats (this means less stimuli is required for these rats to experience pain)
  • Conversely, the mechanoreceptors were further from depolarizing in the injured rats (this means they weren’t just not moving as much, their movement wasn’t being recognized by the brain as much

Why does this matter to you?

Like I’ve said before, movement and pain are competitive inhibitors, meaning they cancel each other out.  This is often responsible for the good feeling you have after exercising (outside of the hormonal response) and chiropractic.  Chiropractic being the donor of full, accessible, pain-inhibiting range of motion signals to your brain.

But those mice have arthritis and I don’t!

Maybe.  Not to be a debbie downer, but most people have knee/elbow/shoulder/wrist/low back pain that isn’t really pain per se, but is inconvenient or annoying.  That’s the very early stages of osteoarthritis, unless the reason you’re having that recurring problem (posture, movement patterns, etc.) is remedied.  Besides, wouldn’t you want your brain and joints to benefit from a full range of motion?

So, as per usual my recommendations are:  See a chiropractor, exercise intelligently with regularity, eat real foods that were designed for you, and de-stress in a regular basis.

All the best folks!

Dr. Ball

p.s. If you’re in the Oakville or Mississauga areas, come in and see me!  I’m located at Element Crossfit and I’m there Monday through Friday.  Cheers!  Click here to book an appointment with me or give me a call at (647) 268-4703.

Why Chiropractic? – Part 2, or I’m Freaking out Man!

Hey Folks!  We’re back with Part Deux of the “How Chiropractic will change your life” Saga.  The last post ended with quite the cliffhanger – What are the far reaching effects of stress and how is Chiro involved with it?

Relaxing on the water

A good defence for the stress response - relaxing at the cottage

You may remember in a previous post I mentioned that movement and pain are competitive inhibitors, meaning one cancels the other out.  The slightly more complicated version of this idea is that painful things (repetitive motions/poor posture) are always sent to the brain, but only some are ultimately perceived as pain (like face-planting off a BMX).  What DOES happen before the realization of pain is the stress response, which you may know as the fight/flight response.  So while sitting in a chair writing a blog post will fire up some nociception (pain) from my spine, the “pain” isn’t a conscious event.  Without chiropractic adjustments, subluxations continue to reduce the movement signal being sent to the brain and increase the painful/stress signal being sent.  This wouldn’t be a problem, except that all these stressors and the chronic stress response they set up in your body is a cumulative thing.  So eventually you end up feeling pain from trivial stimuli that normally wouldn’t be perceived as painful (some researchers/scientists believe this may be involved in the development of fibromyalgia).

The stress response affects the nervous input to your brain and the effect is the brain then doesn’t know how to optimally respond to its’ environment.  This results in changes in your bodies many balancing acts (blood pressure/cardiac output, hormone production, everything, etc.), emotions (ever feel more relaxed or more energized after an adjustment?), visceral function (better breathing, digestion, etc.) as well as the more obvious changes in movement, muscle tone and posture (notice good posture is less work after an adjustment?). Emotion is also a factor, if you love what you have right now. That will be a good factor for your status. For example, your a guy that loves your own beard and you want to shave or trim it. Well, I have a tip for you. Use razors such as edwin jagger safety razor, one of the best beard razors in the market.

You may have heard the stress response being explained with this analogy:

You’re out in the wild, and you’ve been there 100 times before and you’re going down to the stream to get some water, you check out your surroundings and everything is great.  You dip your hands into the water but hear something and quickly turn around and there is a tiger about 15 feet away from you in full sprint/attack mode.  You don’t take the time to consider whether or not it’s actually planning on running past you because it’s just REALLY thirsty.  Your body reacts and you either try to fight it (and get mauled to death) or you run for your life (and probably, you get mauled to death – tigers are fast).  But what happens inside of you during all of this?  The stress response.

If you’re like me in 2nd year Biology, that’s just about all you remember about it.  So now let’s talk about what actually happens during the stress response.  Every process that will increase the available energy to your muscles (catabolic processes) happens (blood flow to your organs slows [vasoconstriction], blood flow to your muscles increases [vasodilation], heart rate increases) and everything your body does that you don’t necessarily NEED at this very moment (anabolic processes) is decreased (Sex glands, sex drive, digestion, growth/repair, immunity).  This is intelligent as we probably aren’t worried about our sex performance when being mauled to death is imminent.  The other thing that happens is that our awareness is increased (so we can see where to run away to, any possible weapons nearby, etc.) at the expense of concentration (sounds like ADHD, doesn’t it? – maybe these kids are stressed out!).  We don’t need to learn the stress response while fleeing, so we don’t.

So, as you can imagine, people who are chronically stressed (be it from subluxation, poor diet or mental stress) may be the same people suffering from:  High blood pressure, decreased fertility, decreased libido, IBS, indigestion, colds/flu/chronic bronchitis, poor recovery from sickness OR workouts, poor concentration.  Your body creates the stress response so that you can change your environment.  As modern humans our problem is that many of us expose ourselves to this environment EVERYDAY.

Now then, you now have a pretty good idea (probably better than many healthcare professionals) about why the stress response is bad.  You’ve got a good idea about its’ far reaching effects (no sex drive?  No thank you!) and later this week, you’ll get a good idea about how to reduce it/resolve these problems (although you’ve probably got a good idea what I’m going to hint at!)

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

Why Chiropractic? or Where did these demons in my spine come from?

Why Chiropractic?

Hey Folks, time for another awesome blog post about the best thing since sliced back bacon… Chiropractic!

A common question I receive from the non-chiropractor-seeing population (and sometimes from the chiropractor-visiting population as well) is “Why do I need to see a chiropractor?”

Have a seat, (with good posture, of course) this may take a while…

This guy can exorcise the demons in your spine.

Chiropractic operates under a different paradigm than medicine.  This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the only health care model that most of us are exposed to from birth onwards is the medical model.  Many folks never see a chiropractor in their lifetime (a single tear rolls down my cheek for those people).  Even then, some who DO see a chiro never learn about our paradigm as sometimes it’s just easier to try and fit chiropractic into the medical model.  To really understand WHY you should visit a chiropractor, we need to delve deeper into the chiropractic wellness paradigm.

Here’s the gist of our model:  Aside from some (very few) exceptions, we all share the same genetics that are designed to express health.  Unless you believe that absolutely everything you do is preordained, you have to believe that the choices you make in life have an impact on it.  I’m here to tell you that provided the right environment (created by your choices), your body (and its’ genetics) have no choice but to make you healthy, happy and wealthy (ok, maybe not wealthy).  So when we think about our health in this light, it’s our choices that determine how healthy we are.  There are no tricks, no hacks and no shortcuts (Sorry, Tim Ferriss).

“Life is hard!”

I’m not a fan of that saying at all.  Life isn’t hard, life is awesome.  Life can however, lead to misalignment/motion restrictions/problems with your spine and its’ joints.  Some chiropractors like to call these problems, “subluxations”.  I personally don’t care what you want to call them, I just want your spine moving better.  Like avoiding exercise and eating junk, having these adaptations (subluxations) in your spine is a bad thing.  Subluxations can be caused by traumas in the large sense, like being born, being hit by a car/linebacker or falling off a ladder.  They can also be caused from small incremental things, like poor posture, sitting too much and repetitive motions.  Toxins like gluten, heavy metals, allergenic substances (depending on your allergies) can cause them as well as things as simple as stress (just think about your posture in a stressful situation… not good).  As you can imagine, this means living life can frequently lead to these problems in your spine.

“But then I would have them ALL the time!”

False.  We’re humans.  Anyone who’s ever dropped a baby knows that we’re designed to be resilient.  A baby can recover from a small drop but if the baby falls from a decent height or you start dribbling the baby like a basketball there might be some problems.  A simple and effective way to think about these causes of subluxation, is as stressors.  Stress is a stressor (D’uh?), but so is gluten, too much sitting and taking a line drive to the solar plexus (I’ve always wanted to use that in a sentence).  Pain is also a stressor.  The effects of these stressors are FAR reaching and reducing/eliminating them is responsible for the far reaching effects of chiropractic.  I will get into this in more detail next post, as your attention span is most likely fried by now.

Cheers!

Dr. Adam Ball

P.s. I’m on Twitter and Facebook these days.  Now you can comment here, send me a message or heckle me on my wall.  Either way, I love hearing from you guys!

What is Health?

The following post was written by Dr. Adam Blair.  He is practicing chiropractic in Pickering, Ontario and his contact information is available at the end of this post.  I highly recommend Dr. Blair and have had many of my occasional problems solved by his work.  Onto the post!


If you were to ask one hundred people what their definition of health was, you would likely get one hundred different answers- which is likely the reason you will never see the question asked on Family Feud.  Luckily, I’m here to provide you with a concrete foundation upon which you can begin to contemplate and construct your own definition of health. First I will dispel the myth that health is simply the absence of disease. If it were so simple, only two extreme possibilities could exist: you’re either healthy, or you’re sick. In reality, a person’s health exists along a much more complicated continuum. Let’s explore…

Everything you experience between the day you are born and the day you die, you experience through your nervous system. This being true, it is safe to say that you essentially live through your nervous system. Think about it. Sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing – your five senses and each one is integrated and interpreted through your nervous system.

When you get sick, you do not need to consciously tell your immune system to wake up and get to work. In fact, your body is miles ahead of you. By the time you begin to experience even the slightest symptoms, your immune system has been activated and is working to eliminate any pathogens that have been introduced into your system.  No conscious thought. No drugs. No surgery.
When you exercise, and the demand for blood to the muscles and oxygen to the blood increases you don’t sit down, get in touch with your cardiopulmonary system and politely ask it to provide you with some additional blood and oxygen.  Again, your body is ahead of the game. It has already increased blood flow by increasing heart rate and decreasing resistance within the vessels and increased oxygen intake by increasing respiratory rate.

When you cut yourself and you cover that cut up with a Band-Aid, it’s the Band-Aid that is responsible for healing the cut….. right? False. Once again your body instinctively knows what needs to be done, and a set of complex biochemical events takes place in a closely orchestrated cascade to repair the damage.

So, we have discovered two distinct facts: one – that the nervous system controls everything and two -that your body is self-regulating and self-healing.  We are also going to go so far as to suggest that if we can ensure that fact number one is working as efficiently as possible, fact number two will also occur at optimal efficiency.  In other words, if the nervous system is free of stress (physical, chemical, and/or emotional) it is in an ideal state to ensure that everything in the body functions as it should. And this is the basis for our definition of health.

Our body’s are in a constant effort to achieve a state of balance.  We want to find a level of homeostasis (really homeodynamics  -but that is a discussion for another time) between the components of our autonomic nervous system. The idea in itself seems easy enough to accomplish.  However, our typical lifestyles (which are filled with stress) tend to tip the scales and cause an overactivation of our sympathetic nervous system.  This constant stressful state (your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight/flight response) makes it much more difficult for the body to respond efficiently to the outside stressors that it is subjected to on a daily basis. These stressors can be of the physical (sports, physical labour, etc), emotional (grief, relationships, work) and/or chemical (dietary, environmental, medications, smoking, etc) variety, and prolonged exposure without intervention can lead to the deterioration of a person’s health. If you or someone you know are trying to quit smoking then consider switching to vape pens. They will help ease you into quitting and is a much more healthier alternative.

Stress is a cumulative event, and the body is capable of handling stressors when the nervous system is functioning as it is meant to. However, as the nervous system endures this constant bombardment from various stressors, the body begins to shift from a state of balance to a state of fatigue and guarding. This shift is a defensive reaction, and can manifest as alterations in muscle tone. It is logical to deduce that altered muscle function can (and will) lead to joint dysfunction. Joint dysfunction will lead to degeneration which will only add to the stress already placed upon the nervous system to function efficiently. The longer this dysfunction is allowed to continue without intervention, the more difficult it becomes to return the muscles, joints and nervous system to a state of balance.
The nervous system is intelligent to a fault. When the body becomes accustomed to performing certain movements and postures it begins to accept these as ‘natural’. Yet there is nothing natural about sitting in a chair in front of a computer or hauling skids off of a truck for 8 hours a day. We are simply not designed with these actions and postural tendencies in mind. The body adapts to these learned tendencies with alterations in structure (tighter, weaker muscles), while structure is undeniably related to (dys)function.  Most people assume that if anything unpleasant was happening within their body that they would realize it via discomfort or pain. False again.

It is common for early joint dysfunction to exist without any significant pain or discomfort.  In fact, only approximately 10% of nociception (the neural processes of encoding and processing noxious or unpleasant stimuli) is experienced as pain.  Just because you don’t have pain doesn’t mean you aren’t experiencing any structural or functional deficiencies. Waiting for pain to present actually leads to a longer path towards recovery, rehabilitation, rehabituation and restoration of health.

It would make sense at this point to delve a little further into chiropractic’s role in all of this.  As chiropractors we have a massive variety of tools and techniques that we can use to provide the service that makes us unique – the adjustment. Some techniques work for some doctors and not others. Patients are the same in that one person may prefer one technique while another prefers an alternative. What most techniques have in common (including those that I utilize) is that they are gentle, safe, and comfortable for the patient. A common misconception is that every adjustment is accompanied by a ‘crack’ (which in actuality is no different that the hiss you hear when you open a bottle of pop for the first time – the sound is nothing more than gas being released from within the joint). In reality, there are numerous techniques that are even less invasive and utilize highly specific, low force methods rather than a hands-on approach. Really, there is something for everybody! Another commonality is that these techniques are used to correct mechanical joint dysfunction, reduce nerve interference and neural tension by restoring proper motion to joints and re-educating the nervous system to function efficiently. And we know from earlier that an efficient, stress-accomodating (balanced) nervous system is a healthy nervous system. And a healthy nervous system optimizes a person’s potential for health.  As the nerves, muscles and joints begin to adapt and memorize the corrective changes being introduced via the adjustment, they begin to revert back to their truly natural state. Chiropractic’s role is to unwind existing patterns of mechanical dysfunction and nerve interference so that we can help you rebuild a healthier way of life. In this respect, chiropractic should not be viewed as a therapy, but rather as a lifestyle.

Now, since I only intended for this post to be a paragraph or three long, I’m going to step away from the laptop for now. However, if anyone has any questions regarding anything I have touched on please feel free to contact me. You can email me @ drblair@fletcherchiropractic.ca . I am currently accepting new patients, and if you would like to come in for a complimentary consult you can make an appointment by calling 905-831-9696.

Dr. Blair

Why do I train?

I was recently asked during a workout (I work out in my driveway on a semi-busy street) by a passerby, “why are you doing that?”

As you can imagine, this particular passerby was a young, curious child with walking somewhere with one of their parents.  I didn’t have a lot of time to answer, as they were continuing their walk by, and while dripping sweat on the ground, chest heaving, I dropped my weight and said, “because it’s fun!”

Maybe the kid thought I was lying, and I’m fairly certain that the parent did, as they smiled and walked away.  After I finished my workout I got to thinking, why DO I train?  This blog post will look to answer this question.

I want to remain extremely functional as I grow old. I think if I can work hard to max out with a 500 pound deadlift now (or hopefully within the next couple years), than lifting my grocery bags off the ground when I’m 90 years young will be a breeze.  While I can appreciate the reduced work capacity associated with aging, it just gives me more reason to work hard now.  Studies have shown exercises can increase functionality in the elderly, the young, and those with disease (1, 2, 3).

I want to avoid disease and give my MD no reason to doubt my health. As we all know, obesity rates are through the roof, heart disease is killing about half of all North Americans, and diabetes rates are increasing at an alarming rate (I’ve seen they’re changing the name from “adult onset” to “age onset”, I assume this is because too many young people are suffering from this condition).  My genetics aren’t exactly stellar in the cholesterol department, the heart disease department, and to a small degree the diabetes department.  If I can optimize my blood markers and provide my body with a calm, balanced environment, I’m going to do what it takes to create that environment.  Many sources have found that insulin sensitivity is increased with exercise.  Body weight, body mass index, body fat, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and hsCRP (an inflammation marker) all respond favourably to regular exercise (1, 2, 4, 5).

I want to stay sane. Exercise is known to help reduce the occurrence of depression and lead to better well-being (6).  I know that when I exercise I feel better for that day and in the long run.  I don’t usually feel fantastic DURING the workout (sometimes I do), but shortly afterward I feel great.  I think it is due, psychologically, to a sense of accomplishment, as well as the endorphin release and further cascade of hormones released by the body in response to the stimulus of the exercise.  In my, n=1 case, I know it makes me more productive, happier, and more relaxed, consistently.

I want to look good naked. Don’t we all?  I don’t think I need to argue the fact that exercise is an important factor in body composition.  Diet is also hugely implicated, but we’ll talk about that in another post.  Exercise provides the stimulus your body requires to release hormones that will increase your insulin sensitivity, and cause you to synthesize protein to fix the damage you did to your muscles while exercising.  This protein synthesis is a metabolically expensive process, and you do it while at rest.  This means you’re burning mostly fat for the fuel used to assemble the amino acids provided by the protein in your diet (you’re eating high quality protein, right?) to restore your muscle tissue.  There is a lot more involved but that’s part of what is going on.

I like the challenge. Originally with exercise, I never stayed with my program which was usually because I didn’t HAVE a program.  I just figured going to the gym and doing some stuff was enough.  Occasionally I would follow the mens health monthly workout poster thingy.  I employ Crossfit for my training, which constantly challenges me to get better at everything as well as trying new movements or weights on a frequent basis.  It keeps me interested, and I ALWAYS feel like I have a lot of room to improve.  As long as you don’t let it get you down, it’s a great motivator to keep at it to get better.

Anyway, that’s what I can think at the moment as to why I train.  Why do YOU train?

References:

  1. Martins, R., Verissimo, M., Coehlho e Silva, M., Cumming, S. & Teixeira, A. (2010)  Effects of aerobic and strength-based training on metabolic health indicators in older adults.  Lipids in Health and Disease. 9:76.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from: http://www.lipidworld.com/content/9/1/76
  2. Ansari, W., Ashker, S. & Moseley, L. (2010)  Associations between Physical Activity and Health Parameters in Adolescent Pupils in Egypt.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  7: 1649-1669.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2872361/?tool=pubmed
  3. Subin, Vaishali Rao, V. Prem & Sahoo (2010)  Effect of upper limb, lower limb and combined training on health-related quality of life in COPD.  Lung India. 27(1): 4-7.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2878713/?tool=pubmed
  4. Bradley, R., Jeon, J., Liu, F. & Maratos-Flier, E. (2007)  Voluntary exercise improves sensitivity and adipose tissue inflammation in diet-induced obese mice. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism. (295) E586-E594
  5. Kirwan, J., Soloman, T., Wojta, D., Staten, M. & Holloszy, J. (2009)  Effects of 7 days of exercise training on insulin sensitivity and responsiveness in type 2 diabetes mellitus.  American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism.  (297) E151-E156
  6. Babyak et al (2000)  Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months.  Psychosomatic Medicine. (62) 633-638