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Do You Know the Top Foods for Healthy Joints?

Do You Know the Top Foods for Healthy Joints?

Keeping our joints healthy is one of the most important things we can do to remain independent and active as we age. Life can become quite challenging for individuals who are immobilized by joint pain, since it can result in reduced physical and social activity as well as a higher risk of psychological and emotional problems.

When it comes to joint health, exercise is very important, but what you EAT also plays a significant part. Here are some of our favorite joint-friendly foods:

Water — Perhaps the single-most important “food” is water. This liquid is essential for maintaining every system within the body. Water helps in the elimination of toxins, including those poisons that can create joint pain. Water also helps in the delivery of nutrients to the various parts of the body and—like the oil in your car—is essential for joint lubrication. Drink plenty of water every day!

Fish — Cold water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, white tuna, halibut and trout can deliver healthy doses of omega-3 from the fish oil in each serving. Omega-3 fatty acid is known to reduce inflammation that can cause or increase joint pain. Fish oil can also slow down cartilage degeneration. Cartilage is the rubbery substance between bones that allows for smooth movement. When this wears out, movement becomes extremely painful.

Dairy products — In addition to contributing to bone health, dairy products (and particularly low-fat ones) such as cottage cheese, yogurt and milk can also help eliminate painful gout symptoms.

Flax Seeds — Flax is another source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for great joint health. Flax seeds and flax seed oil are high in antioxidants, which help to prevent or delay some effects of aging. Flax also contains lots of fiber, which can help you feel fuller for a longer time, reducing the likelihood of snacking. Frequent snacking can lead to obesity—a condition frequently associated with joint pain.

Spices —Curry, ginger and cinnamon also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help your joints. Turmeric has been shown to be particularly effective in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. With these spices in the mix, a joint-friendly diet certainly doesn’t have to taste bad or be bland.

Papaya —The Annals of Rheumatic Diseases published a 2004 study showing a strong correlation between low vitamin C intake and rheumatoid arthritis. Those with the lowest vitamin C consumption were 3 times more likely to develop the disease. Though orange juice has a good dose of vitamin C, papaya has nearly twice as much. Not only that, papaya also includes a good dose of beta carotene for even more anti-oxidant joint support.

Tart cherry juice — The anthocyanins contained in this juice are powerful anti-inflammatories that have been shown to reduce arthritis-related inflammation even better than aspirin. In addition, cherry juice is effective in reducing the painful symptoms of gout.

To Stay Healthy this Fall and Winter? Wash Your Hands! The Simplest Way

To Stay Healthy this Fall and Winter? Wash Your Hands! The Simplest Way

As summer turns to fall, lots of people (children and adults alike) will be spending more time inside and in closer proximity to one-another. Washing your hands is something simple we can all do to keep our schools, workplaces and homes just a little bit healthier. In fact, it’s actually been identified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

But researchers at Michigan State University recently found that only about 1 person in 20 actually washes his or her hands properly in even the most obvious hand washing scenario—after using a public restroom. According to a summary by writer Lindsay Abrams of the Atlantic:

“Of 3,749 people observed leaving the bathrooms, 66.9 percent used soap, while 10.3 percent didn’t wash their hands at all. The other 23 percent of people stopped at wetting their hands, in what the researchers, for some reason, call “attempted washing” (as if maybe those people just weren’t sure how to follow through). Although the researchers generously counted the combined time spent washing, rubbing, and rinsing, only 5.3 percent of people spent 15 seconds or longer doing so, thus fulfilling the requirements of proper handwashing. They average time spent was 6 seconds.

Why Hand Washing?

Bacterial and viral infections can be spread when the hands come into contact with infectious respiratory secretions and carry them elsewhere. This happens most often as a result of someone coughing, sneezing, shaking hands, or touching an object that has been in the proximity of a sick person and then touching the face—particularly the nose, mouth or eyes. This is one of the primary ways of transmitting the virus that causes the common cold.

Washing your hands after using the toilet or changing a diaper is of utmost importance, as the ingestion of even the smallest amount of fecal matter can cause serious illness from deadly pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella, giardiasis and hepatitis A, among others. You should also be particularly careful about washing your hands after touching garbage, handling animals or animal waste, visiting or caring for an ill person, or if your hands show visible dirt.

Those who handle food should routinely wash their hands, not only after using the toilet, but also after touching raw meat, fish or poultry, since the microbes present on uncooked food can cause gastrointestinal infections ranging from mild to severe or even life-threatening.

Perhaps those with the greatest need to wash their hands on a regular basis are healthcare workers. Because they’re constantly exposed to sick patients and patients with weakened immune systems, and since they frequently come into contact with contaminated surfaces, these professionals have a special responsibility. Before the importance of hand washing was widely understood within the healthcare community, millions of people became sick or died from infections passed along on the hands of their caregivers. During the 19th century, up to 25% of women died in childbirth from childbed fever (puerperal sepsis), a disease subsequently found to be caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. After hand washing was introduced as a standard practice in the delivery room, the rate of death dropped to less than 1%.

It All Begins With Hand Awareness

Here are the “4 Principles of Hand Awareness”:

  1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and BEFORE eating
  2. DO NOT cough into your hands
  3. DO NOT sneeze into your hands
  4. Above all, DO NOT put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth

How to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

To wash your hands properly, you need only two things: soap and clean, running water. If these two things are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has a minimum 60% alcohol content.

Before washing your hands, remove all rings and other jewelry. Using running water, wet your hands thoroughly, then apply enough soap to work up a nice lather. Keeping your hands out of the water, rub them together, being sure to scrub both the front and backs of your hands, including your wrists, and also washing between the fingers and under the nails. Do this for 20 seconds, then rinse completely under the running water. Be sure to turn off the taps with a paper towel rather than your bare hand. According to the CDC, the whole process should take about as much time as singing “Happy Birthday” twice.

But What About Drying?

The Mayo Clinic recently published its own comprehensive review and analysis of every known hand washing-related study produced since 1970. Interestingly, their researchers found that drying hands was a key part of preventing the spread of bacteria. They also concluded that paper towels are better than blowers for this purpose. Here’s some of their reasoning:

  • Most people prefer paper towels to blowers, so they’re more likely to use them.
  • Blowers take too long, encouraging people to wipe their newly-cleaned hands on dirty pants or to skip the step altogether.
  • It takes less energy to manufacture a paper towel than it does to dry hands with a blower.
  • Blowers dry out the skin on your hands.
  • Blowers scatter bacteria three to six feet from the device.

As chiropractic physicians, we have a special interest in helping our patients (and non-patients, for that matter) avoid illness and injury. This means helping them develop healthy lifestyle habits—like regular hand washing—that prevent disease. We also work closely with them in areas like diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. If you’d like to learn more about what we can do to help you stay healthy and live your life to its fullest, please call or visit our office today!

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The Most Dangerous Jobs: A Chiropractic Perspective

The Most Dangerous Jobs: A Chiropractic Perspective

It’s no secret that some jobs are just more physically demanding and more dangerous than others. Some of the most challenging ones are obvious—combat roles in the military, fire and rescue, heavy construction and deep sea fishing are just a few that come to mind. However, when it comes to non-fatal musculoskeletal injuries, the statistics tell a very different story about occupational health and safety and about who’s most likely to get hurt on the job.

Because chiropractic physicians are experts in treating conditions that involve the musculoskeletal and nervous systems (including many common workplace injuries), we have a unique perspective on why they happen, how they can  be prevented and the best ways to treat them.

Musculoskeletal Disorders by the Numbers

Let’s start with a long-term trend that’s good news for the nation’s workers but that doesn’t get much media attention. The number of reportable occupational injuries and illnesses has declined steadily across the past decade from 50 cases per 1,000 full-time workers in 2003 to 33 cases in 2013. So progress is clearly being made, even if it doesn’t grab the headlines.

That said, musculoskeletal injuries continue to be among the most common on-the-job injuries, and they can require significant recuperation time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) “are injuries or illnesses affecting the connective tissues of the body such as muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, or spinal disks.”

A very high percentage—about one-third—of 2013 workplace injury and illness cases that required days off from work involved the musculoskeletal system.  Plus, workers who sustained musculoskeletal injuries required more time to recover before returning to work—a median of 11 days to recuperate compared with 8 days for all types of workplace injury and illness cases. In 2011:

  • The back was the primary site of MSD injuries in 42% of all cases across all occupations, requiring a median time off of 7 days to recuperate.
  • Although it accounts for only 13% of all MSDs, the shoulder was the area with the most severe injuries, requiring a median of 21 days off of work to recuperate.
  • Injuries and illnesses due to repetitive motion involving “micro-tasks” (such as typing) accounted for only 3% of all occupational injury and illness cases. However, those workers with this kind of injury required nearly 3 times as many days away from work to recover as those with all other types of injuries and illnesses—a median of 23 days.

 

As we mentioned earlier, though, MSDs are not distributed evenly across all industries and occupations.

  • In 2013, the highest MSD incident rates were found in transportation and warehousing (80.3 cases per 10,000 full-time workers), healthcare and social assistance (50.2 cases per 10,000 full-time workers), arts, entertainment and recreation (46.5 cases per 10,000 full-time workers) and construction (41.9 cases per 10,000 full-time workers).
  • In 2011, six occupations accounted for 26% of all MSD cases: nursing assistants, laborers, janitors and cleaners, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, registered nurses and stock clerks.
  • In 2011, those with the greatest number of median days spent off from work in order to recuperate from an MSD were heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (21 days).

So it’s clear from the numbers that the dangerous jobs featured on reality TV shows (think about Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers) aren’t necessarily the ones that result in the most MSD-related visits to the chiropractor or general practitioner.

The Role of Chiropractic Care in Prevention and Treatment

Over the past several years, companies of all sizes have become increasingly interested in occupational health and wellness programs. Chiropractic physicians have a special interest in working with employees and business managers alike to help prevent job-related injuries and to encourage a healthy, productive work environment. If you’d like to learn more, we encourage you to call or visit our office today.

Chiropractic care can be one of the most effective ways to treat musculoskeletal pain and accelerate recovery.  Dr. Oblander has the training and experience necessary to successfully diagnose and treat a wide range of workplace injuries, and he’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have! So if you or someone you care about has recently been hurt on the job, please give us a call at 406-652-3553 or stop by either of our Billings chiropractic offices. We have an office located at 3307 Grand Avenue and an office at 410 Wicks Lane in the Heights  and we’re here to help!

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Kids and Weight Training: How Young is Too Young?

Kids and Weight Training: How Young is Too Young?

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Weight training has a number of benefits for adults, including increased bone density, muscle strength, and physical work capacity, but can it have the same benefits for kids? Most health and fitness experts say “Absolutely, yes!” However, there are a few important caveats. Strength training for kids can be very beneficial, but certain limitations should be kept in mind.

Weight Training vs. Power Lifting or Bodybuilding

Kids can increase their strength, stamina, coordination and overall health through supervised strength training. By “strength training”, we mean exercises that use controlled movements with proper technique and light resistance to build strength. This should not be confused with powerlifting or bodybuilding, which focus on lifting progressively heavier weights or using weights to “sculp” musculature. When kids lift heavy weights, it places too much strain on their still-developing muscles and joints, and puts them at high risk of injury. Children should stay away from heavy free weights until they hit puberty. Instead, they should focus on strength training with body weight exercises and resistance tubing.

How Young is Too Young for Weight Training?

There is no magical age at which a child is ready for weight training. Instead, it depends on each child’s ability to follow directions and practice enough to achieve proper form. This can happen as early as seven or eight in some kids, but not in all. If your child seems content just running and playing, games like tag and tug of war can be a fun way to build strength and endurance. However, if your child shows an interest in using strength training to grow stronger, and you believe they are mature enough to practice good technique, it can be safe and even beneficial to start an age-appropriate weight training program.

Safe Weight Training for Kids

If your child has a history of medical problems, it is wise to check in with their doctor before starting a program. When you get the okay, take some time to talk with a coach or personal trainer who has some experience in strength training for children to learn which techniques to use and which to avoid. When you and your child are ready to start training, start with body weight exercises and resistance bands. Focus on the importance of proper form rather than working with heavier weights. Be prepared to stick with your child throughout his or her training: supervision helps prevent injuries.

Strength training can help children become better at sports, maintain a healthy weight, and feel good about themselves. When done in the proper manner, it can be a safe and fun activity. If you and your child are interested in starting a weight training program, consider talking with a chiropractor beforehand. Your chiropractor can help you better understand how this sort of training will impact your child’s musculoskeletal growth and development, as well as advise you on the best ways to keep your child safe and injury-free while training. With the right perspective and support, weight training can be a beneficial and fun activity for just about any child!

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