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Morning stiffness is one of the common symptoms among people suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatism. It can also result from lack of sleep, lack of exercise, obesity, poor diet, and living in a cold, damp environment.
Sleep is when our bodies recuperate from the previous day’s activities. We need to rest and rejuvenate. We have a cycle during sleep that involves producing different hormones that affect the quality of sleep and when we feel sleepy. One of those hormones is cortisol. It is a steroid hormone that helps to reduce inflammation. Not having a regular sleep schedule gets these hormones out of balance and can affect the way we feels, the quality of sleep we get, and even lead to obesity. Other negative influences on our sleep include watching television or using electronic devices before bed, sleeping with the television on, and just plain worrying about things. Try to manage stress and be done with it long before bed time.
Obesity involves carrying around excess weight all day, which strains your joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. It can also interfere with sleep by causing snoring, apnea, and other issues. If you could stand to lose a few pounds, put together a plan and set goals to accomplish the weight loss.
A cold, damp environment can stiffen muscles. That is why many senior citizens move to hot, dry places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Palm Springs. When you are cold, the muscles generate heat by contracting. This happens even while sleeping. If the muscles remain tense for very long, they become stiff and get used to being like that. The cold also causes vasoconstriction. This is blood vessels shrinking and reducing blood flow to the various parts of the body, especially the arms and legs. Dress appropriately for the cold, whether at the office, outdoors, at home, or sleeping. Seal up any sources of drafts in your home or office. A hot shower or bath can help warm up the body and loosen the muscles.
Exercise conditions the muscles to behave a certain way. Stretching exercises, naturally, will help to reduce stiffness. They lengthen the muscles and help them to relax more. Using the muscles throughout their full range of motion keeps them from stiffening up during exercise. For example, fully extend the elbows when doing biceps curls, instead of only going down part way. Remember that strenuous exercise has the tendency to stiffen the muscles, so pay attention to your body while working out. Exercise also reduces emotional stress and this benefits us physically. Regular exercise also helps us to get better sleep.
Diet is a big factor in quality of sleep and, therefore, can have a tremendous effect on everything that sleep affects. Eating too many sugars and carbohydrates disrupts the sleep cycle and affects cortisol levels. Dessert before bed elevates blood sugar levels, which then crash during sleep and interrupt sleep. Eating too late before bed can have a similar effect. Dinner should be hours before bed and include lots of good proteins and fats, and fewer carbs. Indigestion and heart burn will also affect your ability to sleep and rejuvenate through the night. Sleeping posture is a factor as well. For example, sleeping on your stomach puts more strain on the spine and the resulting discomfort may disrupt your sleep, making you more tired and stiff in the morning.
Can You Prevent Colds or the Flu?
Did you know that American’s “catch colds” a BILLION times every year? And that doesn’t even take into considerations when American’s “catch” the flu. Is there any way to prevent getting a cold or flu?
The answer is yes, we can prevent a lot of cases of both colds and flu. There are two main methods of prevention:
Support your immune system with overall health
Avoid coming into contact with a cold or flu virus
Support your Immune System with Healthy Living
The immune system has evolved to fight off infections by viruses such as the cold and flu viruses. A healthy immune system can be your best plan of prevention—and even if you DO get sick, you are likely to be less sick and for a shorter period of time with a strong and effective immune system. According to Harvard Medical School, there are several ways you can support your immune system, including eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and “down time”, not smoking or consuming alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight and practicing good hygiene.
While it is difficult to say one approach is the “best”, there is certainly a good argument to be made that a nutritious diet is extremely important to supporting the immune system and overall health.
Stick with a whole-food approach and avoiding all processed foods. Plan meals around a variety of vegetables and fruit. Add small amounts of whole grains, lean meats such as grass-fed beef or buffalo, free-range poultry, fish, beans, legumes, nuts and, seeds and always remember to drink plenty of pure water. Herbal teas are great too—some herbal teas, such as echinacea tea may also support the immune system and may help prevent a cold and the flu.
Regular exercise has been shown to support the immune system in several ways:
Exercising appears to “flush out” microorganisms from the respiratory system, possibly by increasing the rate of breathing and blood flow.
Regular exercise increases the response of both the cellular immune system, by increasing the effectiveness of white blood cells, as well as the humoral immune system, by increasing the level of specific antibodies and producing these antibodies more quickly.
During exercise, body temperature increases, making it more difficult for viruses and bacteria to survive. In this way, exercise performs the same function as a fever.
Stress and the resulting stress hormones can suppress the immune system. Exercise reduces the levels of stress hormones by directly reducing stress.
Sleep, Rest and Relaxation
Another very important—but often difficult to achieve—approach to supporting the immune system is getting enough sleep, rest and relaxation . . . or “down time”.
Lack of sleep suppresses the immune system. Getting enough sleep does just the opposite—it can boost the immune system. It makes perfect sense after all—how often in your life have you felt tired or even exhausted and just to make matters worse, you catch a cold or the flu? This is likely because lack of sleep suppresses your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to infections like the cold or flu.
Rest and relaxation have a similar effect on the immune system—without enough rest and relaxation, the immune system is suppressed, partly because the immune system is responsive to aspects of mood. People who are depressed, have a negative outlook on life, who feel overwhelmed or “on edge” tend to get sick more often—and tend to be sicker for a longer time.
Avoid Getting Sick
We “catch” a cold or flu by coming into contact with their virus-filled droplets. These droplets are commonly breathed, coughed or sneezed into the air by people who are already sick. It would be great if anyone with a cold or flu could wear a protective mask, but even if all sick people did, most people do not even know they are contagious until after they have been unknowingly, passing along the virus. What can you do?
One approach is that you wear a mask during cold and flu season! You may have noticed this is becoming more and more common in public places; but this isn’t the only option.
Remember these virus-droplets like to enter your system through your eyes, nose and mouth. Washing your hands and arms up to your elbows with warm soapy water for at least 20-30 seconds is one of the easiest and best things you can do. Elementary schools often teach the children to sing the A-B-C song while lathering up and before they rinse, to ensure enough time to kill germs. When washing, remember to clean under your fingernails and jewelry and between your fingers. Use a fresh clean towel every time and use the towel to turn off the water. Even though your hands may be clean, it’s always a good idea to avoid putting your hands and fingers near your eyes, nose and mouth.
Other ways to avoid getting sick are to be aware of your hands and the surfaces they touch. Besides the obvious of bathroom and kitchen sinks, counters and surfaces, think of door knobs, desks, steering wheels, phones, grocery carts, gas pumps, money, shaking or holding hands, giving “5”, giving a hug or kiss etc. To help prevent the spreading of “germs” at home, don’t share dishes, glasses, sheets, pillows, blankets or towels. Use disposable items when possible.
Beating the Season
By eating well, drinking plenty of water, exercising, sleeping and resting well and by following simple prevention methods, you can avoid many cold and flu viruses. You may not be 100% virus-proof, but even if you do get a cold or the flu, you are much more likely to be less sick and recover more quickly. Good health comes from small daily decisions over time. Now is the time to focus on building your immune system. Remember, YOU have the power to transform your health … ONE healthy choice at a time!
Kids and grandparents are always welcome at Austin Kinesiology and Chiropractic. Entire families have been benefiting from chiropractic care for over a hundred years. Many of our patients view Dr. Bryson as their family doctor. The ages of our patients range from newborns to patients in their 90s. The type of adjustments used is specific to the type of patient. For some patients, the amount of pressure applied in the adjustment is the same as you would use to see how ripe a tomato is. For others, more force is used to overcome the effects chronic subluxations or the effects that stiff muscles have on the joints. It is always fun to see our younger patients come in happy to see Dr. Bryson. Maybe for some children it's because he is the the nice doctor that doesn't give the shots, but the ones that are old enough to talk sometimes comment that they just feel better after coming in for an adjustment. Parents often report dramatic improvement in their child's comfort level or behavior following adjustments.
Our young athletes benefit greatly from regular chiropractic care, especially during their various sports seasons. Old athletes like Dr. Bryson see huge benefits from getting adjusted regularly. Because most things in the universe move tend to break down over time, we need to do all we can as we age to avoid the effects of aging. Exercise and stretching, proper diet, and safe, effective chiropractic are part of remaining healthy as we age.
Our more seasoned patients also receive tremendous benefits from regular chiropractic care. Many report greater mobility, strength, and ability to do more of the things they enjoy when they are getting their adjustments. Some tell us about how much better they sleep. They love how they feel when they are able to chase after their grandchildren or golf with their friends. One of Dr. Bryson's first patients came to see him because she was not able to wash dishes. This was a big problem because that was one of her favorite past times. After a few adjustments and some exercises she could continue at home, she was back to washing dishes without any difficulty. She declined Dr. Bryson's offer to let her come to his house and do his dishes.
Regardless of your age, there are always benefits to getting checked by your chiropractor.
Back-to-School Backpack Safety
It is that time of year again. The kids are heading back to school with backpacks full of books, supplies, and lunch. The following video from the American Chiropractic Association has some good tips to keep the backpack from causing injury to the kids' growing bodies:
Heat and Humidity
The Texas heat is in full effect. We have already had a few days where the temperature topped 100 degrees. We have also had some good rain storms, which have raised the humidity. During the summers, you may notice that there are some days that are so humid that you never quite dry off after your shower. It is important to understand the danger of such humid days.
Human bodies cool off by increasing blood circulation, by sweating, and by panting. The heart begins to pump more blood, blood vessels dilate to accommodate the increased flow, and the bundles of tiny capillaries threading through the upper layers of skin are put into operation. This is why your skin may look flushed when you are hot. The body's blood is circulated closer to the skin's surface, and excess heat radiates into the cooler atmosphere. At the same time, water is pushed through the skin as perspiration. The skin handles about 90 percent of the body's heat dissipating function.
Sweat has to evaporate in order to remove heat from the body. High relative humidity prevents or slows evaporation. When we get hot in a humid climate, we sweat, but the sweat does not evaporate fast enough to cool us. The body assumes that we need to sweat more, so we do. This can lead to rapid dehydration. We also lose important electrolytes with our sweat. These need to be replaced as much as the water does. When exercising in the heat, make sure you are properly hydrating and replacing lost electrolytes. There are specialized electrolyte drinks available in stores, or you can make your own with water, lemons or limes, and different salts (magnesium, potassium, sodium).
If you feel exhausted when you are out in the heat, find shade and a breeze to cool off for a bit. Cool water can help regulate your body temperature. Drink it, bath in it, or pour it on your head and neck (where we lose much of our heat).
DID YOU KNOW...
Pain Pills and Heart Attack
Short-term use of NSAIDs, including ibuprofen and naproxen (Aleve), is associated with increased risk of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).
My patients have all heard me talk about how important it is to find the cause of your pain and inflammation so that we can help your body heal properly. One of my goals is to avoid the need for NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) medication. While they can be effective at reducing the symptoms of inflammation, they do not usually fix the problem that was causing the inflammation. Without addressing the root cause of your symptoms, the symptoms often return once the medication wears off.
In a study published in The British Medical Journal in April 2017, the conclusion of the study states that
“All NSAIDs, including naproxen, were found to be associated with an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction.”
Another interesting detail is that it is not even long-term use that is associated with the risk.
“Risk was greatest during the first month of NSAID use and with higher doses.”
While it is not clear whether the NSAIDs are actually causing the heart attacks, it is definitely in our best interest to resolve the complaints we have as naturally as possible so that we don't feel the need for pain meds. If we need relief from the inflammation while we are still in the healing process, There are many natural foods and nutrients that are highly effective at reducing inflammation. If you have questions about these options, be sure to ask at your next appointment.
More information: Risk of acute myocardial infarction with NSAIDs in real world use: bayesian meta-analysis of individual patient data, BMJ (2017).
How You Take Care of Your Body Now Affects How Well You Feel and Function In 20 Years
Things to do now to improve your quality of life in the decades to come:
Stay Hydrated—Most tissues in the body are water based and rely on proper hydration to function well. Your muscles, brain, digestive system, etc. need sufficient water to do their jobs properly. There is no set amount of water to drink per day because it will depend on your activities, humidity, and so forth. The best way to know if you are properly hydrated is by checking how light your urine is. It should be a very light yellow. If it looks like apple juice, you are way behind on hydration.
Eat a Balanced Diet—There are many fad diets out there and most of them have short term benefits. Some of them work well, but some of them can actually be unhealthy in the long run. Balancing a diet involves making sure you get calories from protein, fats, and carbohydrates. A good balance is 40% of your calories from protein, 30% from fats, and 30% from carbs. Some people mistakenly cut out fats from their diets, thinking that this will be healthy and help them lose weight. While there are some unhealthy fats that we should avoid, most naturally occurring fats are healthy or even necessary for good health. Olive oil, omega-3 fats, and most animal fats are actually good for the body. Eating fats won’t make you fat—it’s actually sugar (especially fructose) that makes your body produce triglycerides (fat). Avoid simple carbs like sugars, but don’t forget to include complex carbs like legumes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and fiber.
Avoid Inflammatory Food—Some foods are prone to causing inflammation, while others decrease inflammation. Avoid consuming things like sugar, trans fats, vegetable oils, fried foods, tobacco, alcohol, and any highly processed food.
Strength Training—We tend to lose muscle mass as we age. Muscle burns energy even while we rest, so losing muscle can lead to gaining fat. Strength training will, of course, burn energy and help to keep the unwanted pounds off. Also, the High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that helps to build and maintain muscle increases production of testosterone that both men and women need to be healthy.
Exercise Your Brain—Our brains can atrophy like the rest of our bodies. Read good books. Do puzzles. Meditate. Avoiding stress reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol can eat away the part of your brain that is responsible for memory. People with consistently elevated stress levels experience memory loss.
There are many things we can do to ensure that we can do the things we want to do when we are older. At least do the easy things.
Cold and Flu: How to Tell the Difference
Both the “common” cold and the flu are caused by viruses that affect the respiratory system—but they are caused by different viruses and can have different types of complications. However, the symptoms are very similar.
A cold usually starts with a sore, dry or scratchy throat that appears from 1-3 days after exposure to a cold virus. Of course, we often don’t know that we have been exposed, but during the cold and flu season, if you are around people, you have a pretty good chance of having been exposed!
Other cold symptoms include:
A runny or stuffy nose. The secretions are usually thin, watery and clear. Thickened mucus (nasal secretions) often has a greenish or yellowish tinge. The tinge is not due to the virus or bacteria—it is mainly due to the large numbers of immune cells that are fighting off the cold. Sometimes, the thickened mucus can be a sign of a bacterial infection. One of the simplest ways to keep the mucus thin and watery is to drink lots and lots of water and other fluids. This will make it easier to blow your nose too.
Slight body aches or a mild headache. Slight body aches are less severe and less “deep” than the bone-deep aches that sometimes accompany the flu
Low-grade fever. A low-grade fever is defined as any oral temperature between 98.6-100.4° F (37-38° C) during a 24-hour period. It can be useful to remember that a fever is actually a part of the body’s normal defense system—in other words, a fever is often the result of the immune system doing what it does best—killing off viruses! Often, cooling yourself or your child in a lukewarm bath can be enough to make you feel more comfortable without slowing down the immune response.
General feeling of fatigue or not feeling well.
Colds tend to develop more slowly than the flu—one difference between the common cold and the flu is that with the flu, you are often fine one day and sick the next. With a cold, it is more common to “feel a cold coming on” – a feeling that can last 2-3 days. Also, with the flu, you tend to feel much worse. The first symptoms of the flu are similar to that of a cold—a runny nose, sneezing and a sore throat. After 1-2 days, other symptoms develop. These include:
Fever over 100.4 F (38 C)
Aching or sore muscles. These muscles are usually in the back, the arms and/or the legs
Chills and sweats. This is related to how high the fever is—higher fevers tend to include more chills and sweats
A dry (without the production of mucus) and persistent cough
Fatigue and weakness
Nasal congestion. This is more common in colds
One of the most important differences between a cold and the flu is that having the flu is more often associated with complications, especially in the very young, the elderly or people with chronic disease. Generally, it is believed that these groups of people tend to have inefficient or compromised immune systems.
The most common complications of the flu include:
Pneumonia, or a lung infection
Myocarditis and pericarditis: these are inflammation of the tissues of and surrounding the heart
Myositis and rhabdomyolisis: these are inflammatory conditions of the muscles
Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain
Worsening of asthma symptoms
Worsening of a chronic disease
Keeping Yourself—and Your Immune System—Healthy
Your immune system needs nutrients to do its job. You can provide these nutrients by eating well and drinking lots of extra water. Stick with whole grain foods, non-processed foods, lots of vegetables and fruit, lean meats and fish. Avoid fast or fatty foods, dairy and sugar. Dairy foods tend to increase mucus production and this can cause some people problems. That’s not all the immune system needs to do its job, though—it needs you to get enough rest and have a positive outlook!
The last part may not seem obvious to many, but many studies have shown that lack of sleep, depression, sadness and loneliness can depress your immune system—and make you more vulnerable to colds and the flu, as well as other diseases. So—along with eating well, drinking lots of water, exercising and getting enough rest—stay positive! Remember, YOU have the power to transform your health … ONE healthy choice at a time!
This was shared by a patient. The source is unknown.