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In this video Dr Heidi Haavik explains how chiropractic can help improve your posture.
Was it fun for you, a hindrance or a bit of both?
This weeks blog post asks what is your capacity for managing stress? or how much additional stress can you take on before you reach the limit of your capacity?
For many the snow proved to be a time where the limits of their capacity where tested.
The routines or habits that define our life give us our capacity for managing stress. But all that training is for when things go south, or awry, so that when we are really up against it, do we still have the bandwidth to manage the additional stress without our life/work/emotions/body straining at the seams and starting to break down.
If you find that the addition of extra unexpected stress leads to poor decision making, a shorter fuse, ill-health such as a cold or headaches, then you are running close to your bandwidth of the stress capacity you can deal with. Pain is another way your body expresses this lack of capacity, however pain tends to come much further down the pathway and never really needs to be experienced once you understand how to apply chiropractic habits into your lifestyle.
If you have these symptoms turning up in your life without any additional stresses being thrown in, then you are depleting your resources and you really need to take stock and take measures to increase your capacity to manage stress.
So whether your day to day stresses are proving too much or if you find you dont have the capacity to deal with additional unexpected stresses, then chiropractic, along with certain types of exercise, certain types of food, and meditation should be at the forefront of your mind to take action now, to increase your capacity.
Yours in health
5 medals! We are on our way!! Watch out Norway we are coming to get you.
Of a similar size to Norway (5 million people in each country), but with slightly less snow, there is no reason why Scotland cannot acheive to the same standard.
It needs a shift in consciousness, but it is possible.
There are a number of things our Norwegian friends have correct, that we can certainly aspire to (despite not being as cash rich as they are as a nation).
1. Norwegians are outside all year round no matter the weather.
2. The Norwegians I know from Chiropractic College (about 40% of our year was Scandinavian) trained at least 5 days a week, many of them were in the gym everyday.
3. Their government recognises the importance of health and subsidise chiropractic care.
4. Chiropractic clinics in Norway are often multi-disciplinary with chiropractors, physiotherapists and surgeons working together in the same building.
I notice how many of you that come through this clinic are very active with daily training regimes, healthy diets and meditation habits. Within this it is essential that we continue to work on our spinal flexibility and strength, everyday. That at least 3 times a week we do an exercise that raises our heart rate to at least 80% (please check that your heart is up to it). And if we want to continue to sleep well, eat the right foods at the right time of day.
With these ongoing and simple adaptions, we raise the energy and health of the country and the more people there are with a great baseline of health, the more there are that can acheive the pinnacle of Olympic achievement.
Support the Olympic movement by raising your own health standards, turning your shoulds into musts and by continuing to get your spine checked for the attainment of optimal neural performance.
Yours in health
You have heard of the saying as useful as a chocolate tea pot, well what if you could find a use for them?
As some of you know I have one vice left. Having spent the past fifteen years since first going to see a chiropractor building healthy habits, the one I have not been able to crack is sugar (I am not counting caffiene as a vice, nor gin, nor crack cocaine, these are all healthy alternatives to being bored…)
Sugar however is a real problem, particularly as diabetes runs in my family (well maybe not runs, more sits on the couch watching Eastenders) and in order to avoid this similar fate. I mean who wants to spend the last few (10?)(20?) years of their life living with the symptoms of diabetes??? I must cut down my sugar.
So far cold turkey has failed, limiting it to weekends has failed, as has sitting on my hand until it goes numb and looking the other way whilst I eat it pretending it is someone else who is eating (ok, so I have only just come up with that idea now and haven’t tried it (yet)).
However I may have figured it out. Every time I go to buy a bar of chocolate (which is a POUND by the way, well 80p for a bar of chocolate!!), I’ll put the money into a chocolate money pot instead, or maybe a clay one will be better, either way, Save the money(!) like smokers are asked to.
Then we can accumulate (cough cough er £3 a week?)(Ok maybe more like £7 a week) toward the gorge on chocolate once a year fund, er I mean holiday fund(!!), well thats, hang on just let me work it out, £156 or £365 a year!! Crikey.
I feel like I am on to a winner. We could also put a pound in the pot every time we moan about policitians (oh hang on I am not that rich), perhaps every time I cycle to work instead of getting the bus I should put that money into a bike fund as well!
Bus is £1.60 each way 4 times a week. £12.80 a week = £640 a year!
Between chocolate and bus fares that is a minimum of £796 a year!
(I should also introduce a fine for using exclamation marks!!)
Maybe you have a similar method in place already? Or want to use the cash saving to incentivise you to make a change in your life? If you want to up the stakes, you can include your friends/family/chiropractor in a healthy bet, placing the money in trust and only getting it back if you complete (or abstain) from a particular task…
Have fun and please let me know if you use it.
Yours in health – Dr Gary
“You cannot take away someone’s story without giving them a new one. It is not enough to challenge an old narrative, however outdated and discredited it may be. Change happens only when you replace one story with another. When we develop the right story, and learn how to tell it, it will infect the minds of people across the political spectrum.”
This is a really important statement on the individual level. Adam Curtis says that our time is one of individualism, that the collective is not trusted and it is only ones own voice and authenticity that is believed. Trying to find and express our individual authentic voice seems to be the standard of our time.
What if the story you tell about your life isn’t serving you? What if in your story you believe that health is something that happens to you, or success is a result of outside forces? Do you cast yourself as hero or victim? What you have in your life is a reflection of the story you tell about yourself, within which are embedded your beliefs and values.
The main focus we have here is that your health story be one of self determination and robust health, i.e. You get to choose how healthy you are by the choices you make and the actions you take. Now obviously if it was as easy as that everyone would be healthy, it requires that you bed the healthy story into your subconscious and act on it everyday. Yes everyday.
Even if you have genetic factors set against you, you must take action everyday. The more you have certain diseases within your family the healthier you have to be. Even if you already have the genetic illness, such as the inflammatory condition, or the heart condition, being healthy is even more important.
Then the question becomes what must I do everyday in order to be healthy?
Well there are no (ok few) secrets anymore, so you must take care of your body through exercise (the three s’s), nutrition, rest, having the right mental attitude (which includes having a purpose) and access to clean running water.
Within my story is the importance of a spine and nerve system that functions optimally, which is why I still attended my fortnightly chiropractic appointments even after 15 years of care.
So what is your story? How do you intertwine your life story with one that includes robust health, high energy, positive relationships, great recovery and plentiful sleep?
The deeper point is that the pathways through your nerve system that are the stories you tell yourself, the actions you take and the results you get are all part of the same system. Re-wiring your nerve system and brain for a healthy, strong, energetic life and strong balanced relationships depends upon a nerve system that supports that.
Re-wiring your nerve system for more efficient rest/recovery, improved posture (which affects energy levels, lung function, mental attitude, self-esteem) and improved brain balance through cranial work is exactly what we do here.
You manifest your own destiny. Your health is in your hands, no matter the scale and size of the challenges you face.
So take a moment to write your own story the way you want it told. Pick a day in the life of (yourself) and write it out in long hand exactly how you want you the day to be;
“I wake at 5am feeling rested and energised. Quietly rolling out of bed and spending the next 90 minutes completing exercise and meditation. Making some notes in my personal success journal or reading a chapter of a book I then join my family for a hearty and healthy vegetarian breakfast, before heading to my chiropractor for my spinal check…” and so it goes on.
This morning I attended an Edinburgh Chamber Networking event with Charles Hammond the CEO of Forth Ports.
The talk was informative, interesting and inspiring. Of the various topics covered, from Brexit to Business to Collaboration, the most impressive aspect of the talk for me was Mr Hammond’s clear and consistent communication of his vision for the future. I feel like I have overdone the alliteration…
However, despite the relative uncertainty in the financial markets, and political arena, he maintained his clear vision for the next 20 to 30 years of trade for this nation with Europe and the World and the role of the Ports within it.
I realise that this is one of the issues when it comes to your health. When facing a health challenge, or when under significant levels of stress (whether it is emotional, financial, physical or even chemical stress), your brain and nerve system can start to think in ever shorter times frames, shifting from thriving to surviving, the focus then becomes the next moment instead of maintaining a vision for a healthy future.
One of my roles is to help you re-build that vision for a healthier you, and then hands on through chiropractic care create with you a nerve system and brain that is able to sustain the habits necessary to create that future. There can be ups and downs along the way, choices you make, and things that happen to you (yes I am still talking about your health, not the political arena), but maintaining the vision, and sustaining the habits necessary WILL create a healthier you. I know. I have seen it time and again.
So why don’t you take a moment just now. Write down your vision for your own future, no more that 500 words, include statements like wealthy and healthy, but be specific. And write in the present tense.
For example – I wake early feeling refreshed after a great nights sleep, do some light exercise after my shower and before breakfast, to wake my body up. I find my energy levels these days are better than at any time in my life, I feel vibrant, engaged and focused. My healthy breakfast is balanced and includes(…) At the end of the day I complete 5 minutes of gentle stretching just before my evening meditation, all is well, and next weeks holiday to Bali is eagerly anticipated…
Yours in health
Dr Gary Blackwood
You are you and you are perfect.
You may or may not have an idea about who you ‘should be’. This is where the problems can begin. If you can imagine holding an image of who you want to be; how healthy you will be, how much you will earn, what you should look like and you compare it to who you are right now; how healthy you are, how much you earn and what you look like.
Modern western society, in particular the corporations, advertise incessantly to create in your minds eye an image of who you should be, driving a wedge between the real you and the person you ‘should be’.
This isn’t necessarily a ‘bad thing’, for it can engender desire and achievement and people striving to go out into the world and change it. This is particularly true if, once you have an idea in your mind of who you want to become, you create a plan of how to get there, and then work that plan step by step, using your sense of humour and support of family and friends to deal with set backs along the way.
Problems can arise when the person you feel you should be, becomes so far out of reach that stress and distress is the outcome. More and more people are experiencing the stress, and the subsequent back pain and neck pain of pushing themselves to their absolute limit in order to achieve and maintain the ‘marketed self’.
It makes sense for companies and corporations to sell you this image of your ideal self, and it makes sense for them to drive a wedge between who you are and who you should be, for it is the creation of this gap that allows them to sell to you. Profit comes from filling this gap in your wants and needs with their products. Want to be more cool, buy an iphone, want to attract the perfect partner, buy this shampoo… As I have said this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it helps to make it explicit, which is why I am writing this article.
Without stating it explicitly, people can end up in debt, with spiralling levels of stress, pain, sickness, dissociation, violence and crime, all with the aim of filling this ‘gap’.
Chiropractic is here to help you build strength and resilience in your spine, brain and nerve system in order to deal with the stress of modern life more effectively, allowing you to work from day to day from a higher energy level and so achieve more before the body starts to break down under the weight of stress.
I advocate exercise and correct nutritional habits to support you in the pursuit of extra energy to achieve.
I also recommend meditation as a way of uncovering patterns of tension in your body/mind, and I also utilise NSA (a gentle form of chiropractic) to help you uncover your own patterns of tension, often buried deep in your nerve system. The additional outcome of continued work with both meditation and NSA is that you narrow the gap between your authentic self and the image of who you ‘should be’. Eventually coming to realise that who you are is all you need to be. You are perfect already.
With this realisation, comes awareness of what unique gifts you bring to the world, and the energy to continually offer them in the face of support and opposition.
Chiropractic also improves spinal motion aiding you in your creation of a perfect brain map of where your body is in space, leading to improved coordination of movement and therefore better, more efficient movement. Its not all deep spiritual insight, there is something for the surface dwellers.
It is also true that even once you become deeply aware of your authentic self and live from this norm, you are aided in your pursuit of your dreams by reconditioning your body/mind to become more efficient and act more effectively, this process is ongoing, despite the viewpoint that you are perfect already. It is a wonderful paradox.
In summary then, chiropractic lifestyle is here to help you be more comfortable in your own skin, whilst simultaneously improving the function of your body and mind (and therefore your brain) so that you can pursue your dreams (even if that involves 8 hour stints at a desk), without succumbing to the effects of stress (neck pain, back pain, headaches, high blood pressure, recurrent colds and flu, possibly even lifestyle cancers…).
Yours in health – Dr Gary
As smart phones get smarter, society’s health gets weaker. The effect of technology overuse is affecting communities at an astonishing rate. From poor posture to developmental delays, technology overuse is leading to a new generation of ill health outcomes.
Modern day adolescents are constantly over stimulated, and always connected to their devices, commonly without any connection to culture. Adults are more overstressed and sedentary than ever before.
In fact, 83% of professional workers check their emails after work, 66% take their technology with them on holiday, and more than 50% report sending emails while having a meal with family or friends. With the stress of keeping up with work, 73% of employees worry that they will be at a disadvantage at work if they disconnect or do not instantly respond to emails and messages (Goldsmith, 2016).
As workers become more fatigued and stressed out, they present with higher rates of postural decline, affecting their productivity and leading to common musculoskeletal complaints such as headaches, neck pain, tightness of the neck and shoulders, and low back pain. Postural decline at work results in increased absenteeism, burnout, a decrease in productivity, and lower job satisfaction.
Over connected students and adolescents aren’t much better. Researchers found that four of every five students had significant mental and physical distress, panic, confusion, and extreme isolation when forced to unplug from technology for an entire day (Hough, 2011). All of this stress by being disconnected for just one day!
Your Brain on Technology
Many people are presenting with sensory disassociation or sensory mismatch due to overstimulation of certain parts of their brain, but under-stimulation in other areas. For example, while watching videos on YouTube or scrolling through Facebook updates, the visual system is completely bombarded with messages and visual stimuli.
Vision is processed in the back of brain, in the occipital lobe. This area of the brain is completely over stimulated while the front part of the brain, the frontal lobe for reading, writing, and memory is completely under stimulated.
This sensory mismatch is resulting in changes of brain output that can lead to developmental delays in the classroom, poor social behaviors, ADHD, and depression. All of which can be overcome by detaching from your device.
The Health Effects of Technology Overuse:
Posture is Declining at the Speed of Technology: While seated and using technology you should have proper posture with your back straight, shoulders back, and chin pulled back so your ear is aligned over your shoulder. Unbalanced posture causes many physiologic deficits of your body. You can prevent this by stretching your anti-gravity posture muscles and remembering to take frequent posture breaks throughout the day.
Multitaskers Have an Inability to Focus: Despite common belief that “multitaskers” get more done, it actually takes three times longer to accomplish a task while multitasking. When multitasking the brain cannot focus appropriately and the quality and speed of work production decreases. Not to mention, multitasking with multiple pieces of technology at once (talking on the phone while browsing the internet) over stimulates the system.
Modern Day Adolescents Lack Empathy: Sensory disassociation and lack of utilization of whole parts of the brain lead to disconnected children that lack empathy. These children lack motivation to make changes commonly resulting in social seclusion. Ironically, their desire to stay connected technologically affects their social skills.
Increased Risks of Obesity from a Sedentary Lifestyle: 28% of children in Scotland are at risk of being overweight or obese(gov.scot-2015). This steep rise in obesity rates for children is directly correlated to lack of movement. It is recommended that children play outside for a minimum of two hours per day for proper development. While playing they are moving their bodies and engaging their brains. While seated on the couch playing with technology they are increasing their risk for the development of obesity.
Blue Light from Devices is Affecting Sleep-Wake Cycles: Light at night is part of the reason that so many people don’t get enough sleep, and yet many people continue to check their phones in bed before falling asleep each night. Lack of sleep plays a toll on the body. In fact short sleep periods are linked to an increased risk for depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Avoid looking at bright screens that emit blue light before going to bed for better sleep health. Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion.
For best health outcomes unplug your device and move your body. Focus on mindfulness to calm your mind and stay present in the moment without technology bombardment. Mindfulness will help to de-stress and allow you to enjoy your surrounding environment without the utilization of technology.
Focus on your posture. Open your chest and stretch your anti-gravity muscles to hold your body upright in a productive and confident posture. While texting or sitting at a computer our bodies fatigue and cannot resist gravity with proper posture. Overcome this by focusing on postural correction and proper posture habits as a daily practice in your life.
It’s your brain or your phone, your postural design or your computer, your health or your Facebook profile…which are more important to you? Make the choice to have better health by disconnecting from your devices and enjoying your life.
Book your lunchtime talk in your office today, learn the solutions to postural degeneration, call today 0131 225 1177.
Yours in health – Dr Gary
This highly valuable tool is often overlooked when addressing health needs.
For the Drivers who don’t have time to read the text below. Stretch, your IQ will increase.
For the Expressives whose mind will be onto other things before the end. Stretch, your flexibility will improve personal relationships (not sure if that is true but it sounds good).
For everyone else, enjoy.
Let’s first take a look at the overall picture. There are 5 healthy habits. Yes you know them by now, they are nutrition (including hydration), rest (including meditation), cleanliness, a positive mental attitude (including emotional awareness and emotional maturity) and Exercise!!
The latter, exercise, is further broken down into 3 types, strength, stamina and suppleness. Today we are just looking at suppleness.
What are the benefits?
The basic three are that you feel good, you decrease the chance of injury and you enhance your flexibility. But as well as this you also reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, reduce anxiety, stress and fatigue, improve posture(!), enhance muscle coordination, increase range of motion of the joints (we’ll come back to this), enhance kinaesthetic intelligence (and this), and reduce muscle soreness.
So there is a lot to be said for taking a few minutes each day to stretch out.
Now to the practicalities of stretching. Only use stretching to warm down, not to warm up! (Do warm up before exercise, only do not use stretching to achieve it). This will lessen the chances of injury as well.
So what is stretching, why is it painful? Do you think the pain is because the muscle itself is tight? That the muscle fibres are all bunched up and need to be pulled out? Well actually what is muscle without a nerve supply? To answer that question take a look in your local butchers. The only reason a muscle holds tension is because the nerve system tells it to hold tension. Without nerve supply muscles are slabs of meat…
We call the amount of tension a muscle holds its tone. High muscle tone therefore is a tight muscle with limited movement, not because the muscle fibres are tight, but because the nerves tell the muscles to be tight.
So when we stretch the pain we feel is the nerve system saying, “Er, are you sure about this? If you continue to lengthen this muscle I cannot guarantee the integrity of the joint over which the muscle passes”. This or “ARRGGGHHH stop stretching joint may snap”. Either way, the pain is your nerve system staying within self-imposed limits to protect a joint the best way it knows how, by limiting movement.
When we stretch therefore we are not pulling out muscle fibres, but in fact retraining the nerve system to a new safe distance of movement. What our conscious mind is saying is “now, now I know you think you need to hold tight, but in actual fact you can let go and everything will be ok”, well that or “Loosen up man, it’s all cool, I’ve got this.”
By connecting with the nerves that supply muscles, by consciously breathing into the muscle that is being stretched, you are also strengthening the nerves that provide feedback from the muscles. This builds awareness – you gradually become more and more subtly aware of how much tension a muscle holds so that you can make more and more subtle adaptions in response to stress, stored stress and muscle tension. A stronger nerve system and better feedback from the body’s muscles increases kinaesthetic intelligence, one of the seven core intelligences and the one in which David Beckham is considered a genius…
Therefore, stretch every day, to reduce pain and increase intelligence, oh and improve posture!!
Remember to hold the stretches for 20 seconds and alternate sides between stretches, practicing for three times on each side. i.e. 2 minutes of stretching for each muscle. As a minimum stretch hip flexors and upper trapezius muscles every day.
Upper Trapezius (side of neck to along the top of the shoulder blade)
o Patient position – Patient begins seated on an exercise ball with arms hanging by their sides.
o Motion – Reach over and place the right palm on the left side of the head. Slowly bring the head to the right while pulling the.left shoulder to the floor until stretch is felt. Only use the hand for guidance, do not pull with the hand.
o Duration – Hold stretch for 3x 20 seconds and repeat on the other side
Iliopsoas – (Front of hip)
o Patient position – With one knee on the floor the opposite foot is out in front of the body with the ankle slightly in front of the knee. The body remains upright, imagine a straight line from the shoulder through the hip and down to the knee on the floor.
o Motion – Tail bone is tucked under the body with very slight forward movement until the stretch is felt at the top of the leg of the knee on the floor.
o Duration – Hold stretch for 3x 20 seconds, alternating between sides.