Keep Young Athletes Healthy and Fit

Posted on June 2, 2012. Filed under: Acupuncture, Chiro, Fitness, Massage, Specials | Tags: , , , , |

Keep Young Athletes Healthy and Fit

In today’s age of health and fitness, more and more kids are involved in sporting activities. Although being part of a football, soccer or Little League team is an important rite of passage for many children, parents and their children could be overlooking the importance of proper nutrition and body-conditioning needed for preventing injuries on and off the playing field.

“The majority, if not all, sports are good, provided that the child prepares appropriately,” says Dr. Timothy Ray, a member of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries and Physical Fitness. “Without proper preparation, playing any sport can turn into a bad experience. There are structural and physical developmental issues that need to be taken into consideration before children undertake certain sports.”

Highly competitive sports such as football, gymnastics and wrestling follow rigorous training schedules that can be potentially dangerous to an adolescent or teenager. The best advice for parents who have young athletes in the family is to help them prepare their bodies and to learn to protect themselves from sports related injuries before they happen.

“Proper warm up, stretching and strength-training exercises are essential for kids involved in sports, but many kids learn improper stretching or weight-lifting techniques, making them more susceptible to injury,” says Dr. Steve Horwitz, an ACA member from Silver Spring, Md., and former member of the U.S. Summer Olympic medical team. “Parents need to work with their kids and make sure they receive the proper sports training.”

“Young athletes should begin with a slow jog as a general warm-up, followed by a sport-specific warm-up. They should then stretch all the major muscle groups,” says Dr. Horwitz. “Kids need to be instructed in appropriate exercises for each sport to prevent injuries.”

Proper nutrition and hydration are also extremely vital. “While an ordinary person may need to drink eight to 10 8-ounce glasses of water each day, athletes need to drink even more than that for proper absorption. Breakfast should be the most important meal of the day. Also, eating a healthy meal two to four hours before a practice or a game and another within one to two hours after a game or practice allows for proper replenishment and refuels the body,” adds Dr. Horwitz.

Young athletes today often think they are invincible. The following tips can help ensure your child does not miss a step when it comes to proper fitness, stretching, training and rest that the body needs to engage in sporting activities.

Encourage your child to:

  • Wear the proper equipment. Certain contact sports, such as football and hockey, can be dangerous if the equipment is not properly fitted. Make sure all equipment, including helmets, pads and shoes fit your child or adolescent. Talk to your child’s coach or trainer if the equipment is damaged.
  • Eat healthy meals. Make sure your young athlete is eating a well-balanced diet and does not skip meals. Avoid high-fat foods, such as candy bars and fast food. At home, provide fruit rather than cookies, and vegetables rather than potato chips.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Certain sports, such as gymnastics, wrestling and figure skating, may require your young athlete to follow strict dietary rules. Be sure your child does not feel pressured into being too thin and that he/she understands that proper nutrition and caloric intake is needed for optimal performance and endurance.
  • Drink water. Hydration is a key element to optimal fitness. Teenage athletes should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Younger athletes should drink five to eight 8-ounce glasses of water.
  • Drink milk. Make sure your child has enough calcium included in his/her diet. For children over 2 years of age, ACA recommends 1 percent or skim milk rather than whole milk. Milk is essential for healthy bones and reduces the risk of joint and muscle related injuries.
  • Avoid sugar-loaded, caffeinated and carbonated drinks. Sports drinks are a good source of replenishment for those kids engaged in long duration sports, such as track and field.
  • Follow a warm-up routine. Be sure your child or his/her coach includes a warm-up and stretching session before every practice, game or meet. A slow jog, jumping rope and/or lifting small weights reduces the risk of torn or ripped muscles. Flexibility is key when pushing to score that extra goal or make that critical play.
  • Take vitamins daily. A multi-vitamin and Vitamin C are good choices for the young athlete. Vitamin B and amino acids may help reduce the pain from contact sports. Thiamine can help promote healing. Also consider Vitamin A to strengthen scar tissue.
  • Avoid trendy supplements. Kids under the age of 18 should avoid the use of performance-enhancing supplements, such as creatine. Instead, they should ask their coach or trainer to include weekly weight training and body-conditioning sessions in their workout.
  • Get plenty of rest. Eight hours of sleep is ideal for the young athlete. Lack of sleep and rest can decrease performance. Sluggishness, irritability and loss of interest could indicate that your child is fatigued.

Chiropractic Care Can Help

Doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to treat the entire neuromusculoskeletal system and can provide advice on sports training, nutrition and injury prevention to young athletes.

Little Dippers Snacks

Scooping up dips turns mere eating into interactive food fun. And who says kids shouldn’t play with their food, especially if it means they’ll end up eating more fruits and veggies?

Persian Cucumber Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 (32 ounce) container plain yogurt
  • 3 English cucumbers, peeled and cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons dried dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Directions: In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, and shallot. Season with dill, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to blend flavors.

Apple Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions: Stir together the cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is smooth.

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What Is Causing the Asthma Epidemic?

Posted on May 8, 2012. Filed under: Acupuncture, Chiro | Tags: , , , , , , |

In the United States, asthma cases have increased by more than 60 percent since the early 1980s, and asthma-related deaths have doubled to 5,000 a year. What is causing the asthma epidemic and what can we do to stem the tide? A recent series of articles in the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association (JACA) delves into this question and offers advice from doctors of chiropractic and allergists who have helped control asthma symptoms in many patients.

People in their 30s and older can remember that when they were young, it was very unusual for even one child in school to have asthma. School children now often know several kids with asthma in a single class. The rapid increase in the number of young people with asthma was brought home to Dr. Scott Bautch, past president of the American Chiropractic Association’s (ACA) Council on Occupational Health, when he went to a football game with his 13-year-old son: “Someone on the field had a breathing problem. It was hard to see whose son it was, and 15 parents ran to the field with inhalers.”

So far, researchers don’t know why cases of asthma are increasing at such an alarming rate. They hypothesize that a combination of genetics and some non-hereditary factors — such as increased environmental exposure to potential allergens — play a role. “Thirty years ago, Windex was the only cleaning solvent used by a few people. Now, we have a special cleaning solvent for every object,” says Dr. Bautch. “In addition, furniture and carpets are produced with formaldehyde as a preservative, and people breathe it,” he says.

Decreased air quality is coupled with the allergy-friendly modern house design, says Dr. William E. Walsh, MD, FACC, an allergist practicing in Minnesota: “Fifty years ago we lived in old, drafty houses, and the breeze dried and freshened the air, and cleared out mold and other allergens. Nowadays, our super-insulated houses don’t breathe adequately. Making basements into a living space increases mold exposure because mold grows in any basement.”

Food has become another source of exposure to allergens. “Food manufacturers put more preservatives in foods now to store them longer,” says Dr. Bautch. Researchers hypothesize that an increase in vaccinations, cesarean births, and antibiotic intake may be playing a role, too.

Asthma is a chronic disease; it can’t be cured—only controlled. For best treatment results, both the primary care physician and an asthma specialist, such as an allergist or pulmonologist, should be involved. According to experts interviewed for the article, the treatment program, in addition to medication intake, should include reducing exposure to the substances that induce acute episodes and identifying specific allergens that affect the patient.

Allergens aren’t the only culprit. Stress factors—such as moving to a new home, or changing jobs—may induce or aggravate asthma attacks. Even emotional expressions such as fear, anger, frustration, hard crying, or laughing can cause an attack as well. To reduce the patient’s stress level and improve the patient’s quality of life, alternative treatments should be incorporated into the treatment program. Various relaxation techniques, such as biofeedback, meditation, yoga, and stress management, as well as massage, chiropractic manipulation, breathing exercises, and acupuncture can be helpful.

A multi-site clinical trial on chiropractic management of asthma is underway in Australia. “The preliminary data are very encouraging. Chiropractic patients are showing decreases in physical asthma symptoms and cortisol levels,” says Dr. Anthony Rosner, director of education and research for the Foundation of Chiropractic Education and Research.

“Doctors of chiropractic can give a full-scale evaluation to asthma patients; assess their physical and neurological status, their lifestyle, diet, and stressors; and help the patients increase motor coordination, and improve the work of respiratory and gut muscles to increase the quality of life,” says Dr. Gail Henry, a chiropractic neurologist, who practices in Houston, Texas. “Doctors of chiropractic can be a great addition to the healthcare team treating the asthma patient.”

Asthma experts offer the following tips for asthma patients:

  • Use air filters to help clean air in your home.
  • Cover mattresses and pillows with dust covers and use hypoallergenic bed clothing to reduce exposure to dust mites.
  • If your condition is getting worse, get checked for viral respiratory infections and different medical conditions, such as flu, rhinitis, sinusitis, and gastroesophageal reflux. When those are treated and eliminated, asthma symptoms improve. Endocrine factors, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and thyroid disease, may exacerbate asthma, as well.
  • Some medications—aspirin; beta-blockers, including eye drops; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.—can also precipitate or aggravate asthma symptoms.
  • If your asthma is exercise-induced, an individually prescribed exercise program carefully chosen under the guidance of your primary health care provider or doctor of chiropractic should be incorporated into the treatment plan.
  • Avoid sulfites or monosodium glutamate (MSG) in foods. Since both additives are used in a wide variety of foods, carefully read processed food labels and choose MSG-free foods when eating out.
  • Choose a more vegetarian-type diet. Animal proteins found in meat include arachidonic acid—a precursor for inflammation.
  • Include foods with omega-3 fatty acids in the diet—such as fish or fish oil.
  • Supplement with vitamin C, which helps reduce allergic reactions and wheezing symptoms.
  • To reduce stress in your children, spend quality time with them and limit their exposure to TV programs that include violence.

Pull Your Weeds, Not Your Back, When Gardening

As springtime approaches, weather warms up and leaves turn green, many people will spend more time outside planting bulbs, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds. Gardening can provide a great workout, but with all the bending, twisting, reaching and pulling, your body may not be ready for exercise of the garden variety.

Gardening can be enjoyable, but it is important to stretch your muscles before reaching for your gardening tools. The back, upper legs, shoulders, and wrists are all major muscle groups affected when using your green thumb.

A warm-up and cool-down period is as important in gardening as it is for any other physical activity,” said Dr. Scott Bautch of the American Chiropractic Association’s (ACA) Council on Occupational Health. “Performing simple stretches during these periods will help alleviate injuries, pain and stiffness.”

To make gardening as fun and enjoyable as possible, it is important to prepare your body for this type of physical activity. The following stretches will help to alleviate muscle pain after a day spent in your garden.

Garden Fitness Stretches

  • Before stretching for any activity, breathe in and out, slowly and rythmically; do not bounce or jerk your body, and stretch as far and as comfortably as you can. Do not follow the no pain, no gain rule. Stretching should not be painful. While sitting, prop your heel on a stool or step, keeping the knees straight. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh, or the hamstring muscle. Hold this position for 15 seconds. Do this once more and repeat with the other leg.
  • Stand up, balance yourself, and grab the front of your ankle from behind. Pull your heel towards your buttocks and hold the position for 15 seconds. Do this again and repeat with the other leg.
  • While standing, weave your fingers together above your head with the palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds, then to the other. Repeat this stretch three times.
  • Do the “Hug your best friend.” Wrap your arms around yourself and rotate to one side, stretching as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for 10 seconds and reverse. Repeat two or three times.

Finally, be aware of your body technique, body form and correct posture while gardening. Kneel, don’t bend, and alternate your stance and movements as often as possible to keep the muscles and body balanced.

When the Bulbs Are Planted…
If you already feel muscle aches and pains and did not complete the warm-up and cool-down stretches, there are ways to alleviate the discomfort. Apply a cold pack on the area of pain for the first 48 hours or apply a heat pack after 48 hours, and consider chiropractic care.

Quinoa with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse under cold, running water until the water no longer foams. Bring the quinoa, salt, and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Once done, stir in the garbanzo beans, tomatoes, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley to serve.

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