Hello again! Remember minimalist shoes from our kinetic chain blog? If not, go back and read it. It seems there’s a healthy trend on the rise… “Less is Best.” And by the way, Lems is a great brand of minimalist shoes to check out. Today we are expanding on the theory that less is best by talking about living a simpler life and the benefits associated with it. Minimalism is all about living with less. This includes fewer financial burdens such as debt and unnecessary expenses. For many minimalists, the philosophy is about getting rid of excess stuff and living life based on experiences rather than worldly possessions. Minimalists often put a huge emphasis on mindfulness, too. Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, often as a therapeutic technique.”  You may be thinking, “what does all this new age hippie crap have to do with Chiropractic?” It’s no secret that in our Chiropractic office the number one focus is your total optimal health… physical, mental, and emotional. This is a look at the effect simplicity has on your mental and emotional health which we all know can greatly affect your physical health.

The Epicureans may have gotten it right with their philosophy on life. We subscribe to it, just with a few modifications… “EAT (lots of veggies), DRINK (lots of water), & BE MERRY (while being active) for tomorrow we may die.” All joking aside, keeping life simple and living in the present moment are two very handy keys to living a life of freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve disappointingly built our lives around. A real kind of freedom. I dare you to imagine how much time you would have to savor life if you weren’t constantly tripping over all your kid’s things while trying to organize and clean your things at the same time you’re worrying about paying all the bills for everyone’s things! Kinda makes you wonder why you have so many things in the first place, huh?

You’ve heard the expression, “keeping up with the Joneses.” I feel this concept has spiraled so out of control that keeping up with them simply isn’t good enough anymore. It has infiltrated society to a point where our days are now dedicated to trying to “one up” each other instead. Whatever Mr. Jones has, mine has to be bigger and better. Remember the days when children could happily occupy themselves for hours just playing outside? These days, it’s normal for small children to be given fancy electronic devices as a means for keeping them occupied. While I realize that times change, adaptation is necessary and electronics are now a permanent part of life, I’m just saying that maybe we should be more conscious of the example we are setting for up and coming generations. Maybe by getting back to the basics, we can curtail their need to “keep up with the Joneses.”

In the beginning, it was determined that all we need to survive is food, water, and shelter. Someone re-wrote the rule book somewhere along the way because now we need:

  • a big house with a she-shed and a pool
  • a car (or 2) for every driver in the house
  • a boat
  • 27 credit cards
  • a high-stress job with a 6 figure income
  • designer clothes and accessories (the more it costs, the better)
  • a cosmic sized smart tv in every room of the house
  • the latest I-Phone on the day it’s released
  • enough food in the pantry to last a lifetime

And this is just the cliff notes. A wise person once said, “extravagance is often a picture of an unsatisfied life.” Hmmm… What are we trying to mask with all of our stuff? Or are we trying to curb boredom since we are not accustomed to just BEING?

When was the last time you tasted your food? I mean REALLY tasted your food? Smelled the smells, paced your bites, savored the unique flavors and was truly thankful to be eating something that nourished your body? Most of us run through drive-throughs, buy over-priced so called “food,” then shovel it in while we’re racing down the interstate angry at the driver in the next lane who is a just a little bit more aggressive than we are. The truth is that the very Earth we live on can provide us with the absolute healthiest of foods. But we’re too busy with our stuff that we don’t take the time to plant, water, nurture, and harvest. And when was the last time you turned off your tv and took a nature walk, without your phone? Had a picnic with your child and discussed the meaning of life? I’ll wait. I’m not judging though, because I’m guilty, too.

By now you’re saying, “I get it! We have too much stuff, we’re always in a hurry and don’t appreciate life the way we should, blah, blah, blah…” But do you get it? We’re killing ourselves in a race we weren’t designed to run. I’m not telling you to get rid of everything, go live off the grid, grow some dreadlocks, and eat only what you harvest in your own personal garden. But there’s a lot to be said for getting rid of costly unnecessary items that clutter your house, not replacing them with other costly unnecessary items, getting back to nature, hitting up the produce section once in a while, and choosing a book over Netflix. It’s not rocket science that having fewer things to worry about/fewer distractions will cause you less stress, free up time to do things that are meaningful to you and allow you to figure out what really matters to you in the first place. You might even decide that you want to start a garden!

In review, here’s a list of side effects that come from living simply:

  • More financial freedom– Having less stuff saves you money because you’re not wasting it on frivolous items and allows you to live in a smaller dwelling which will undoubtedly put your finances on more stable footing.
  • More peace of mind– Living a simple lifestyle allows you to see the reality of your situation more easily. Your mind is less stressed because it has less to worry about. It is easier to make wise decisions you feel good about when you know your principles in life.
  • Better health– By focusing on what’s most important, your stress levels will be lower, and your health will benefit. Stress can affect your mood, blood pressure, and mental health, just to name a few. People who live simply tend to focus on their health more and watch carefully what they put inside their bodies. They care about the future enough that they do not want to abuse it in the present.
  • More meaningful relationships– It’s easier to focus on the other person when your life is simple. The interaction tends to be more sincere since you’re free of the need to impress him/her. You can also be more conscientious of the people you invite into your life.
  • More selfawareness– When you’re not distracting yourself with your iPhone and other electrical gadgets and stressed about becoming a CEO before the age of 40, you have the time and mental space to learn more about yourself. You have time to reflect and be grateful for what you already have.
  • More free time– How will you spend all the extra time you’ll enjoy as a benefit of living a simple life? This is one of the greatest benefits of simple living. It can be hard to learn to relax when you’re used to running around trying to get everything done. But free time is a gift that only a lucky few of us truly get to appreciate.
  • Freedom– As mentioned earlier, freedom from fear, freedom from worry, freedom from overwhelm, freedom from guilt, freedom from depression as well as freedom from unnecessary financial burden, freedom to come and go as you wish due to less obligation, and freedom to experience life.

 

 

Now that you’ve been warned, what are you waiting for? Start Project #declutter and go find some roses to smell! In all seriousness, I invite you to a 28 day/4 week Decluttering Challenge. Choose one room each week and do some purging every day. For example, week one can be your bathroom. Get rid of samples and products you never use (makeup, hair products, nail polish, etc.), expired beauty products, duplicate items, broken styling products (blow dryers, hair straighteners, etc.), dirty things that have worn out their welcome (old makeup brushes, foundation sponges, etc.), and old toothbrushes, towels and wash cloths. You get the idea. Then week two can be designated for your kitchen, and so on. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

 

“Simple pleasures are the last healthy refuge in a complex world.”

~Oscar Wilde

 

 

References:

 

-Oxford dictionary

-mybreezyroom.com (minimalism)

-simplelionheartlife.com (minimalist lifestyle)

-moneyunder30.com (minimalist living)

-theminimalists.com (minimalism)

-medium.com (real life resilience/the beauty of simplicity)

-thriveglobal.com (human beings, not human doings)

     Hello again. Today we are discussing our psoas muscle and how it relates to low back pain. Let’s start by explaining what the psoas muscle is. The psoas muscle is located in the lower lumbar region of the spine, extends through the pelvis to the femur and is part of the iliopsoas muscle group. This muscle works by flexing the hip joint and lifting the upper leg towards the body. A common example of the movement created from this muscle is walking. So, you can probably understand how keeping it in optimal shape would be especially important.

Symptoms of a tight psoas can be:

Who experiences tightness of their psoas? Office workers and athletes tend to be the most affected. This is because the tightness is caused by overuse, regular limited movement, trauma (whether physical or emotional), and sitting for long periods of time. Due to its location deep within the core of the body, the psoas muscle instinctively tightens up when we feel stress or fear. For some people, learning to let go of the tension in their psoas can be an intense emotional process. But understand that anyone can experience tightness of the psoas muscle and the pain associated with it.

Lower back pain generally involves the psoas muscle in some form or fashion. The main task of the psoas muscle is to stabilize the lower back when you lift the knee upward. Additionally, the psoas is vital for balance and you commonly exercise it whenever you walk or bend forward. Whenever the psoas muscle contracts, it pulls the spine into a condition known as hyperlordosis (when the inward curve of the spine in your lower back is exaggerated). Basically, the muscle pulls and shortens the spine into an over-arched position. Understandably, this puts a lot of stress on your spinal muscles. Muscles are not the only affected tissues, however. Psoas contraction strains vertebral joints as well. This is ultimately what causes the painful symptoms associated with the condition because the vertebral compression affects spinal nerve roots. This results in nerve pain and it is this kind of nerve pain that allows the discomfort to spread.

So, how do we rehabilitate psoas dysfunction? Massage therapy can be really good for alleviating the pain associated with tightness of the psoas. But actual rehabilitation will require additional steps. Many health professionals agree that a great psoas release technique, at least in the beginning, is constructive rest. Constructive rest is a way of lying down in a semi-supine position (on the back with the knees bent, and feet flat on the floor) that promotes good spinal alignment and release of excess tension. Medically, there’s a lot going on in constructive rest, but you’re not doing it. You just allow it to happen. Ultimately, though, certain physical exercises do the most good. These exercises are often demonstrated by a doctor in an outpatient office and at home. These exercises will include active and passive spine, hip joints, and psoas muscles manipulation and stretching. Exercises at home can include stretching and lower-impact dynamic exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the supporting musculature and allow the body to repair the injury. According to The Cleveland Clinic, it is particularly important that most of these exercises be done only with guidance of your doctor (a chiropractor is a great choice) so that you do not further injure your psoas or any other muscles.

References:

-Clevelandclinic.org (tight psoas management and treatment)

-Somaticmovementcenter.com (psoas muscle release/tight psoas muscle)

-Verywellfit.com (helping your tight psoas)

-Advancedptinpa.com (iliopsoas and back pain)

-Theadvancedspinecenter.com (role of psoas muscle in lower back pain)

It’s June! You know what that means… beach vacations, backyard BBQs and pool parties!!! Most of us look forward to this time of year and all the warm sunny weather that it brings. But if this describes you, chances are at any given minute you are armed with a sunscreen that boasts a hefty SPF. How can I blame you when the mainstream media and all the big box stores have told you for years that you need to slather this stuff on any time you go into the warm summer sun? Don’t be alarmed, but these sources are notorious for not telling the whole truth about sunscreen. So, let’s chat.

“After decades of public health education, almost anyone who is heading outdoors has heard the message that sunscreen is an important part of protecting skin from sunburns, aging, and skin cancer. In fact, sun care is a nearly $2 billion-a-year industry in the U.S.” This is according to an article that WebMD put out in January of this year. New FDA testing shows that six of the most common ingredients found in leading sunscreens (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, and ecamsule) are absorbed directly into our bloodstreams and may linger for a period of days up to weeks. Some of these ingredients are known to disrupt hormones and may lead to fertility issues, unsafe birth outcomes for infants and possibly even cancer.

It’s important to remember that sunscreen has been around for a very long time. Many health experts agree that it essentially got grandfathered into the FDA’s surveillance system without any real safety testing. That is why we’re doing more testing now. Of the six common ingredients mentioned earlier, four of them (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule) were recently found to be absorbed into our bodies in substantial amounts. The same study that gave us this information also showed that blood concentrations of oxybenzone in people who used chemical sunscreen were more than 180 times the FDA’s level of concern after just a single application. Separate FDA research has shown that this rate of chemical absorption can have potentially toxic ramifications such as altered breast development, infant birth weight, and sperm function. A healthier alternative to these chemical sunscreens is something called “mineral sunscreen.” Mineral-based sunscreens use physical blockers such as zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide which form an actual barrier on your skin and reflect the UV rays. They offer no harmful chemicals that can be absorbed into our bloodstream.

While I am not telling you to stop using chemical sunscreen, I’m letting you know that the benefits do not appear to outweigh the associated risks at this time. Another possibility I’d like you to consider is that perhaps sun exposure is not the enemy here. I passionately believe that our personal quality of health directly impacts how sun exposure affects us individually. For example, the higher the level of toxins we have in our bodies, the more prone to sun damage that we will be. Let me go out on a limb here and put it in these terms: I believe that it’s not the sun that gives us cancer, it’s the sun’s interaction with our unique body chemistry that may compromise us in the long run. This is just another one of the multitude of reasons to pay closer attention to your health.

Let us also remember that moderate sun exposure has benefits, too. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which trigger the release of serotonin (the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness). This means that sunlight is a natural anti-depressant. Healthline.com notes that getting five to fifteen minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands and face two to three times a week is enough to enjoy the vitamin D-boosting benefits of the sun. Vitamin D from sun exposure plays a key role in our bone health and can help ward off conditions like osteoporosis and osteomalacia. And although excessive sunlight can contribute to some skin cancers, a moderate amount of sunlight actually has preventive benefits when it comes to other forms of cancer. According to researchers at the Clinical Journal of American Society of Nephrology, those who live in areas with fewer daylight hours are more likely to have some specific cancers than those who live where there’s more sun during the day. These cancers include:

In summary, the sun is not our enemy. Sunscreens that are heavily concentrated with chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule have potentially toxic risks since these chemicals are absorbed by our bodies in significant amounts and tend to linger. By contrast, mineral sunscreens simply sit on top of our skin and reflect UV rays away from our bodies and are, therefore, a safer alternative. The healthier you are, the less likely that the sun’s interaction with your personal body chemistry will be harmful. And lastly, moderate responsible sun exposure can have some great benefits. These include boosted levels of serotonin and Vitamin D and possibly some preventive characteristics when it comes to certain forms of cancer.

So do your detoxification cleanses, grab your shades and mineral sunscreen and go enjoy your summer!!!

 

 

References:

-WebMD.com (skin problems and treatments)

-MedicalXpress.com (sunscreen chemicals and bloodstream)

-Healthline.com (sunlight benefits)

cjasn.asnjournals.org

-Shape.com (mineral sunscreens, natural alternatives)

Last time we discussed the water fountain, how it resembles the kinetic chain, and the effects it has on our bodies. Today we’ll look at how to ensure that our feet & ankles are functioning properly.

So how do we ensure that our feet/ankles are functioning properly? One of the best things we can do is to allow our feet to move in a more natural way and practice a broader range of motion than most shoes allow. Actual foot strength is a significant factor as well. A study done by researchers at Brigham Young and Harvard Medical School compared the effectiveness of two different foot strengthening protocols: One that involved specific foot strengthening exercises (heel raises and curling a towel with your toes), and one that involved walking in minimalist athletic shoes—those with zero heel-to-toe drop and a flexible, 3 millimetre out-sole.  “After eight weeks, the researchers found that runners/walkers in the foot-strengthening exercise group and the minimalist shoe walking group experienced similar increases in foot muscle size and strength over the control group.” One of the main take-aways from this study was that something as simple as walking around barefoot or in shoes that more closely resemble bare feet will allow our feet to move more naturally, improve foot/ankle strength, and ultimately result in less injury.

Bare feet and minimalist shoes are also more conducive to “grounding” and all its associated benefits. Grounding is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth. According to Healthline.com, this practice relies on both earthing science and grounding physics to explain how electrical charges from the Earth can have positive effects on the body. Some of the most impressive benefits of grounding include reduced inflammation, lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, less muscle damage, reduction in chronic pain, improved quality of sleep and elevated mood.

I think it’s also fair to mention that arch supports for foot health are grossly overrated. For decades, people have bought into the idea that increased arch support in their shoes improve their overall foot health and reduce the risk of conditions such as plantar fasciitis. We’ve been told that people with flat feet should get motion control shoes, people with high arches should look for more balance or cushion, and people with normal arches but moderate pronation should go for stability shoes. While arch supports are not entirely evil and can have some positive effects in certain situations, studies have repeatedly shown that the cons to arch supports drastically outnumber the pros. Some of the most note-worthy things to consider are as follows:

  • Some running shoes or inserts can disturb the spring-like function in the feet. As a result, you will end up wasting more energy
  • You are least likely to overpronate when you are running/walking barefoot or in minimalist shoes
  • You will hit the ground with more force when wearing a padded shoe. Padded shoes result in a 12% higher impact on knees
  • No improvements were seen in the posture, strength, stability, or discomfort people experienced after using shoe inserts in a trial
  • Prescribing elevated cushioned heels or pronation control shoes according to your arch type is not evidence based
  • Short foot exercises and using minimalist shoes were more effective for flat footed students than using arch support insoles

 

In summary, we need to pay more attention to how our feet and ankles move, monitor how much foot strength we actually have and put more emphasis on the benefits of walking barefoot or in minimalist shoes. These three simple things will have a huge impact on our overall health, both physical and mental. Let us allow our feet and ankles to move more naturally and stop buying into the idea of arch supports as they tend to create more problems than they solve.

 

 

References:

-Merriam/Webster dictionary

-RunnersWorld.com (Minimalist Shoes for Running/Walking)

-RunRepeat.com (Arch Support Study)

-Healthline.com (Benefits of Grounding)