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Yearly Archives: 2012

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease-Contagious and Common!

A viral disease and common with infants and young children, 'Hand Foot and Mouth Disease'  can also affect adults, especially those that are immunocompromised.  It is spread through contact with mucus, saliva or feces. Nursery schools and daycare facilities are common locations for breakouts. These breakouts tend to take place during the Spring and Fall.  The condition typically lasts for 3-7 days, and the condition usually goes away by itself, with only pain or fever relievers needed to help the symptoms.

From a podiatric standpoint, the most important component of the disease is the rash that can develop on the feet, particularly the bottoms.  Blisters will present with the rash, and they look like small fluid filled bubbles along the bottom of the feet.  There may be redness and itching along with the blisters.  Additionally, there can be pain and localized swelling of the skin on the bottom of the feet.   Other conditions such as athlete's foot or dermatitis must be ruled out, as these can present in a similar fashion.  What makes Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease different from these conditions is that there are other things that typically present with the foot rash.  These include the following:  rash with blisters of the hands, mouth, and lips; fever; fatigue; irritability; and headaches. 

This is a contagious disease which can still be passed from person to person even after the symptoms are gone.  Hand washing and keeping sick children (or adults) home from school (or work) are good ways to prevent this disease.

Dr. Bender is a foot and ankle specialist at Advanced Physical Medicine, and she treats all conditions of the foot and ankle.  Dr. Bender  has podiatry clinics at the Oak Park and Chicago (63rd Street) locations.  Dr. Bender is an instructor of podiatry at William Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University.  Call 708-763-0580 (Oak Park) or 773-776-3166 (Chicago) for your appointment today.

Seven Tips for Successful Stretching

In recent years, a lot of attention has been paid to whether stretching before exercising actually helps prevent injury. While the majority of health experts seem to think that stretching neither helps prevent injury nor increases a person’s risk of injury, stretching incorrectly does lead to injury. To make sure your stretching routine doesn’t leaves your body in a vulnerable position, exercise enthusiasts should keep these seven tips in mind.

Stretching and Flexibility are not Synonymous


Even though these two terms are often thought to be interchangeable, they actually refer to two separate concepts. Flexibility refers to a joint’s range of motion, while stretching is a form of exercise that leads to increased flexibility. How flexible a person depends on their muscles and connective tissues, such as ligaments and tendons, and stretching trains those parts of the body to have an increased range of motion.

Everyone’s Optimal Flexibility is Different


Since flexibility determines the range of motion in the joints, the flexibility of a person should depend on what activities they engage in on a regular basis. For example, someone who plays baseball needs more flexibility in their shoulders than someone who runs a lot, just as someone who dances needs more flexibility in their legs than a cyclists. Even engaging in certain household chores, such as cutting the law, vacuuming the floor, or putting away groceries, requires a certain range of flexibility.

If you find certain muscles you frequently use in your daily activities too tight, than you need to start stretching more often to loosen these areas in order to prevent injury or pain. However, you don’t want to be too flexible either, as muscles that are too loose can cause joint instability and dislocation. Overly flexible individuals should start a resistance training regimen to strengthen their joints and muscles.

Only Static Stretch at the Correct Time


A static stretch involves the slow stretching and holding of a muscle until you reach its end position. This is the type of stretching most people are familiar with, and is usually done before working out. But this is actually a huge mistake. Stretching routines such as bending down to touch your toes before running or stretching your arms behind your back to stretch out the chest prior to lifting weights can actually hurt performance and increase your risk of injury.

Stretching your muscles prior to working out can cause the muscles to become overly elastic, which then forces the muscle to work harder in order to generate enough power to complete the movement. This can cause your muscles to become overtaxed, leading to muscles strain and injury.

Static stretching isn’t bad, however, and can be one of the safest forms of stretching. It just shouldn’t be done prior to working out. Most health experts recommend incorporating static stretching as part of a cool-down routine, as once your muscles are warm there is less risk of injury.

Use Dynamic Movement to Warm-Up


The best types of warm-ups to use prior to exercising involve dynamic movements that are similar to the type of exercise you are about to engage in. For example, if you’re about to go for a five-mile run, try warming up by slowly walking and gradually picking up speed for roughly five minutes. Other examples of dynamic movements include: jumping jacks, skipping rope, walking lunges, and arm circles. These types of activities will slowly begin to raise your heart rate and increase your body temperature prior to beginning your workout.

Don’t Overstretch


When you do decide to stretch, make sure you don’t overextend your muscles. Only hold a stretch to a point where it’s still comfortable. Stretching past the point of comfort does not help improve your flexibility and could cause you to seriously damage your muscles. Most stretches should only be held for roughly 15 seconds.

You’re Not a Ball, so Don’t Bounce


A common mistake among many beginning stretchers, bouncing while stretching (known as a ballistic stretch) creates a vigorous amount of momentum, which can make it difficult to control how hard and far you push a particular stretching motion. Since pushing your muscles past the point they should go is a recipe for injury, most people should avoid using ballistic stretching unless otherwise advised by a personal trainer or health professional.

A Little Research Goes a Long Way


If you have any questions about your stretching techniques, consult a professional to ensure your routine’s safety. As a good rule of thumb, individuals who engage in stretching should follow the guidelines established by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Timothy Lemke blogs about successful health practices for Dr. Donald Lanahan, a dentist Grants Pass OR residence have known since 1982. 

Everything you need to know about Sleep: The Benefits, The Risks and More

Sleeping is something we have all done since the day we were born. It's what rejuvenates us and prepares our bodies for the day to come. For many people around the globe, sleep isn't something that comes easy. Today we are going to discuss the benefits of sleep and ways you can get the sleep your body requires.

The Benefits of Getting Proper Sleep

There are quite a few benefits that sleep offers our bodies. From improved memory to better productivity, we cover some of the surprising benefits of sleep.

A Better Memory

Getting a good amount of sleep every night has many upsides. Getting a full night rest can greatly improve your memory. This means more effectively getting that essay you've been working on done and staying on task during the day. While we sleep, our minds are extremely busy. We are subconsciously going through the tasks of the day, and our brains are reorganizing all of the information that has been put in. Those who sleep well during times that they are trying to learn a new task do so much quicker than those who do not get enough shut eye.

Quality and Length of Life

Those who get good sleep on a consistent basis are known to live longer lives. During rest is when our bodies are able to heal and slow down. Not sleeping enough puts additional strain on our bodily organs. Those who sleep well, wake up feeling more rested and live much happier lives overall. These people are able to tackle tough situations much better and do not experience frustration as often as those who do not get enough sleep. A body is much more functional when it is allowed to rest and regroup.

People who get the sleep their bodies require are also much less stressed overall compared to those who do not get enough shut eye. This means more consistent blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health. If you've ever experienced intense stress for even a short period of time, you have probably felt how overwhelming it is on your body. You can become overly tired, have trouble thinking, have a racing heart, along with many other symptoms that are harmful over the long-term.

Boost Your Imagination and Productivity

Ever noticed that when you get a great night's sleep, you wake up and are much more creative and able to get daily tasks done? This is why so many people choose to take a nap when they are having a rough day and looking for a restart. Sleeping is a lot like restarting your computer when it's been freezing. Sometimes we need a break so that we can come back with an empty plate and start from the beginning. Sleep improves performance in every aspect of the word: whether you are taking on a new project at work, trying to write a paper, creating a painting or playing a sport.

When you sleep a good amount, it is much easier for you to get necessary tasks completed. Those who do not sleep enough often struggle to keep their attention on the task at hand and become distracted very easily.

Sleep Helps You Lose Weight

Recent studies have shown that individuals who are losing weight do so more effectively when they are well-rested. People who do not get enough sleep are generally hungry more often than those who are getting enough rest and this can make it difficult to shed pounds. The reason for this is because the area in your brain that controls sleep also controls your metabolism.

How Much Sleep Is Needed

It is difficult to say how much sleep a person requires because everyone is different but in general about 7 to 9 hours a night is adequate. The best way to find out how much sleep you require is to set a sleeping schedule for yourself. Start by choosing a bedtime and make this bedtime a concrete time that you hit the hay no matter what. Set your alarm for 8 hours from that time and see how you feel after a week of waking up at that time each day. Move the time you wake up an hour forward or backward based on what you feel as a way to pinpoint the perfect amount of sleep your body needs.

If you find yourself feeling tired during the day, take a look at other aspects of your life as well such as how much exercise you are getting and what types of foods you are eating. Eating right, exercising and sleeping properly can completely change your life; giving you much more energy as a whole.

Tips To Fall Asleep Faster and Stay Asleep Longer

Your Sleep-Haven

The atmosphere in which you sleep is very important. Having a room that is too hot or too cold can make it very difficult to fall asleep or may cause you to wake up during the night. Most people find that a temperature of about 70 degrees is perfect. Make sure your room is dark and quiet so you will not be woken up. Your room should be your personal safe haven and not associated with stress. This means, no taking business calls in your room or if you work from home, find another place to store your computer.

Foods That Help You Sleep

Do you find yourself becoming hungry right before bed? While you've probably heard that eating a large meal before sleep is no good – it can interrupt your sleep and cause weight gain if done on a regular basis – there are actually foods that can help you get to sleep. Reach for fruits and veggies and if you need a little more substance to keep your stomach happy until morning, you may want to consider cottage cheese or a slice of toast.

Sleep Mistakes Many People Make

Sleeping Too Much

Many people recognize that not sleeping enough has negative effects on the body, but so does sleeping too much. When your body is at rest for long periods of time, your blood isn't flowing as effectively and everything is slowed down. Our bodies thrive when they are pushed, exercised and exposed to situations that keep them working. Too much time being inactive can lead to problems such as depression, anxiety, heart attack, blood clots, diabetes, obesity and much more.

Waiting Too Long for Sleep to Come

If you find yourself having a hard time falling to sleep, it is best to get up and move around. Oftentimes, the reason you are unable to fall asleep is because you did not give your body time to calm down. People who have nightly rituals fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, so this may be something you want to incorporate into your evenings. This can include reading a book, watching a happy movie (avoiding violence and scary shows before bed is important), or playing a board game can suffice. Try out a few different things until you find something that works for you.

Having Caffeine or Sugar Before Bed

One of the worst things you can do before bedtime is eat or drink something that contains large amounts of sugar or caffeine. While you may want to go to sleep, your body is going to be amped up and active. Try not to have these types of things within a few hours of winding down, or you may not be able to fall asleep.

Exercising Before Bed

Taking part in any task that is going to raise your body temperature right before bed is going to make sleeping that much tougher. Not only is exercising something that you should consider doing earlier in the day but the same goes for taking a warm bath or shower. In order to get to sleep and stay asleep, our bodies must cool and having a higher body temperature means it will take longer for rest to come your way. We advise bathing earlier in the day and trading that night exercise for some light stretching or yoga to help calm your body.

Having Technology in Bed with You

While sending out one last Tweet or answering that text message may seem harmless enough, it can actually negatively affect your sleep. Even something as simple as hearing your phone vibrate or 'beep' can interrupt your sleep easily because we are so trained to answer such things right away. Take care of those technology-related tasks before you lie down and you will find it much easier to get to sleep and truly start winding down.

Loss of Sleep Cannot Be Made Up For

While it is okay to limit your sleep when you are trying to rush to finish a project, it isn't something that should be done on a regular basis. Remember, sleep cannot be made up for. You cannot sleep horribly during the week and then try to cram in additional hours of sleep on the weekends. Sleep lost is sleep lost, plain and simple and over the long-term, can lead to many health-related problems such as heart disease or depression.

The above guest post is written by health blogger, James Ben. He recommends Mesothelioma and asbestos resources to get the best mesothelioma lawyers in the country.

15 Healthy Snacks under 200 Calories

Unhealthy snack foods can be some of the most expensive foods you can buy. However, it is not uncommon for people to dish out five dollars for just a small bag of chips and a bottle of soda. Not only do these snacks waste a lot of your hard-earned money, but they are also not healthy for you. There are many terrific healthy snacks though, all of which have less than 200 calories and are under two dollars per serving.

Fresh Vegetables and Fat-Free Dressing
Fresh, raw vegetables dipped in a light, fat-free dressing makes for a tasty and healthy snack. Use about one cup of carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes and/or broccoli, topped with about two tablespoons of dressing for a colorful and healthy treat. This snack will only cost you about $1.50 and it only contains about 60 calories.

Hardboiled Eggs
One hardboiled egg will cost you about 28 cents and provide you with only about 78 calories. An entire hardboiled egg contains about seven grams of protein and 212 miligrams of cholesterol. Thus, for those people who are concerned about their cholesterol, they can eat just the egg white.

Dark Chocolate Chips
Who says you have to give up chocolate? About 16 chips will only cost you around 11 cents and will contain only about 80 calories. However, the best thing about dark chocolate is that is contains phenols and antioxidants that can help to lower people's blood pressure.

Fresh Apples and Peanut Butter
One medium apple and about one tablespoon of creamy peanut butter contains about 105 calories and will cost you about 95 cents. Simply cut the apple into slices and spread a little peanut butter on each slice for a refreshing midday snack. The great thing about this snack is that apples contain fiber, so you will feel satisfied longer.

Fresh Berries and Fat-Free Plain Yogurt
About 1/4 cup of fat-free, plain yogurt, mixed with one cup of fresh berries and sprinkled with ground flaxseed will cost you only about $1.80 and contains only 115 calories. The great thing about this delicious treat is that yogurt contains antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease and cancer.

Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
About 1/2 cup of cottage cheese contains only 110 calories and will set you back only by about 90 cents. This snack is a terrific source of protein and calcium. However, if you have high-blood pressure, you will want to limit this snack because of its high sodium content.

Cheese Sticks and Turkey
For a tasty lunchtime snack, try a mozzarella cheese stick, rolled up in a slice of turkey. This snack will provide you with about 18 grams of protein and about 15 percent of your daily, recommended calcium intake. One cheese stick and one slice of turkey contains about 90 calories and will cost you only around 85 cents.

If you love nuts, you will be glad to know that they are a great snack for people who are concerned with their health and calorie intake. A one ounce serving of almonds contains about 160 calories and will cost you around 55 cents. The best thing about almonds is that they can help lower your cholesterol.

Whole Grain Crackers and Hummus
If you like crackers, avoid those made from white flour. Instead, try whole grain crackers. About 10 small crackers will provide you with a tasty snack that only contains about 120 calories and costs around 40 cents. Add about two tablespoons of hummus for taste, and you will still only be consuming around 137 calories and spending about 47 cents.

Rice Cakes
Rice cakes are great in-between meal snacks that only contain about 35 calories each and will cost you only about 15 cents. You can also choose to top the cake with one tablespoon of peanut butter, and you will still only be consuming about 130 calories and spending around 18 cents.

Plain Yogurt and Granola
Mix about two tablespoons of granola with six ounces of low-fat plain yogurt, and you will have a delicious and satisfying snack. This treat only contains about 155 calories and will only cost you around $1.75. Add about one teaspoon of honey, and you will still be consuming less than 200 calories.

Plain Popcorn and Parmesan Cheese
For those people who love popcorn, they will be glad to know that they do not need to give it up if they are watching their calories. About two cups of plain, air-popped popcorn, sprinkled with two tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese only contains about 172 calories and will only cost you about 35 cents.

Rye Crackers and Cheese
This is another fantastic snack for people who love crackers. Three rye crackers and three small slices of cheddar cheese contain around 185 calories and will cost you only about 45 cents, offering you a tasty, yet healthy, treat.

Whole Wheat Crackers and Peanut Butter
For a satisfying and protein-rich snack, spread about one tablespoon of peanut butter onto five whole wheat crackers. If you do not like peanut butter, you can use nut butter instead. All in all, this snack packs about 175 calories and will cost you only around 40 cents.

Fresh Vegetables and Hummus
Fresh vegetables are some of the best foods to eat if you want to eat healthy and watch your calories. Simply dip five or six carrots sticks, celery sticks or cucumber slices in a couple of tablespoons of hummus, and you will only be consuming about 65 to 75 calories and spending about 50 cents.

As anybody can see, it does not cost a lot to eat healthy. There are many great tasting foods that are not only cheap and healthy for you, but they will help you watch your weight too. Trying to cut calories and eat healthy does not have to be boring. Try the above suggestions, and you will find it can be fun.

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Keep It Light: Eating Healthy on a Budget

It's time to discard once and for all the myth that you can't eat healthy and stick to a strict budget at the same time. With a few simple dietary changes and a positive attitude, you will find your kitchen filled with wholesome foods that didn't cost an arm and a leg to procure. If you keep your eyes open, you'll even be able to find healthy delivery food that costs less than you might think and doesn't come loaded with the salt and sugars of typical canned offerings. Read on for the skinny on keeping healthy and on budget.

1. Hit the Trough

Avoid sodas and sugary juices as much as possible. Choose water instead, adding flavorings if you absolutely can't stomach the plain taste of the tap. Depending on how frequently you buy single-serve drinks out of vending machines or at the grocery store, you could save quite a bit of money each month by resisting temptation.

2. Stay In Season

Whoever said that you can't predict the weather is wrong in one key regard: fruit seasons never vary. Fresh produce should be a cornerstone of any healthy diet, but it can be expensive when it's not in season. Watch local produce prices every time you set foot in the grocery store and pounce on deals like there's no tomorrow. As a rule, citrus fruits are cheaper during the winter, berries ripen in the late spring and summer, and squashes last through the fall.

3. Cook Ahead

Preparing your own meals isn't just less expensive than eating out every night. It's also fun! If you are really feeling adventurous one night, cook an extra-large meal and divide it into smaller portions that can be easily refrigerated. You will save money by buying your raw ingredients in bulk and solve the problem of what to eat for lunch the rest of the week.

4. Build a Portfolio

Even if you have no ambition to pursue a career as a chef, making a portfolio of your favorite dishes will save you time, stress, and money down the road. Every time you cook something tasty and cheap, even if you lifted it straight from a cookbook, write down how to make it and save the recipe in a safe place. Eventually, you will have a robust-enough repertoire to be able to cook whatever you need on demand, virtually eliminating that all-too-common uncertainty about what to do for dinner.

5. Order In

Even the most energetic of frugal cooks have their down days. If you can't be bothered to make yourself and your family a wholesome meal from scratch one night, search your local cadre of delivery restaurants that offer healthy, reasonably-priced food. Most pizza places now offer gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly options, loading their pies with vitamin-rich goodness. Likewise, plenty of sub shops now deliver veggie-laden sandwiches. Just do your body a favor and skip the cold cuts.

Eating healthy on a budget doesn't have to be a chore. For starters, get your produce purchases in line with the growing season, cook larger meals that can be refrigerated or frozen for later consumption, and make a list of inexpensive delivery restaurants that serve wholesome eats. More importantly, never stop coming up with new ways to stretch your budget and expand your tastebuds' horizons.

Blogger Renee Varney contributes at Delivery.com, a site she loves using to order Pizza Delivery.

5 Essential Vitamins & Minerals for 5 Common Ailments

Making sure that your diet is rich in vitamins and minerals is one of the keys to having good health. Not only are they essential in preventing deficiency-related diseases such as rickets and scurvy, but they also have been shown to help with a number of common ailments that trouble millions of people today, such as headaches, fatigue and skin problems.

While a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins remains the best way to absorb these "building blocks" of the body, it's not always easy to obtain the right amounts each day. Supplements containing the following vitamins and minerals, then, can help ensure that your body receives the nutrition it needs to protect against these common ailments:

  1. Vitamin C - colds
    Vitamin C tends to fly off the shelves during cold and flu season, but does it really work? Medical experts have shown that individuals who experience extreme physical stress such as marathon runners are 50% more likely to resist catching the common cold if they take vitamin C supplements, but everyday users experience less protection. Still, vitamin C is known to promote healing, which may explain why cold suffers who take vitamin C are less likely to experience more serious infections such as pneumonia. 
  2. Zinc - skin problems
    Zinc can be found in a number of products designed to treat various skin problems because it promotes healing and reduces the amount of oil that your skin produces. It is most commonly used to treat acne, though its healing properties are also effective in reducing the length of cold sore infections. While zinc can be applied topically as a cream, doctors also prescribe supplements of about 30-60 mg. a day for acne patients. Everyday users can find zinc in one-a-day supplements and in many different skin care products.
  3. Magnesium - hangovers
    No one enjoys the debilitating effects of a hangover, but since there are hundreds of remedies that claim to work, finding one that actually does poses a problem. Some vitamins and minerals, however, have been shown to help prevent and reduce hangover symptoms when taken before and after a night of drinking. Magnesium, for instance, helps sooth muscle cramps and headaches. Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption reduces the amount of magnesium in your body, which explains why replacing it with supplements can improve the way you feel.
  4. Vitamin D - weight loss
    Vitamin D deficiencies persist in spite of the fact that the body produces it naturally when exposed to direct sunlight. Sunscreen and a life spent mostly indoors, however, have made obtaining vitamin D an issue even for those who live in sunny climates. Unfortunately, a link has been found between low vitamin D levels and body fat. A study of teenagers between the ages of 14-19, for instance, showed that those with the lowest amounts of vitamin D had the highest percentage of body fat. More importantly, they also had higher levels of visceral fat, which is more likely to cause illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. Although taking vitamin D is no substitute for exercise and healthy eating, it may assist in weight loss.
  5. Calcium - indigestion
    Most people know that calcium plays an essential role in maintaining strong bones, but few realize that it also helps relieve common digestive ailments. Acid indigestion, for instance, has prompted Americans to spend over $14 billion a year on acid reducing medications. One of the most aggravating of these conditions is acid reflux, which occurs when the valve separating the stomach from the esophagus becomes weakened. Calcium helps by strengthening this valve and can also reduce diarrhea caused by gastrointestinal inflammation. Calcium supplements come in many forms, however, your pharmacy technician can help you choose the right one for your needs.

Although vitamins and minerals can help with these ailments, it's best to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing chronic or severe symptoms since these may indicate a serious medical problem. Also, some vitamins and minerals react to certain medications and can be toxic in high doses, which is why consulting a doctor remains important even when it comes to over-the-counter supplements.

James Severin is a freelance writer interested in health, fitness and environmental issues.

Treadmill Running vs. Outdoor Running – Which is Better?

Do you want to lose weight and have a fit body? Do you want to improve your health and metabolism? Do you want to expand your lungs and have better endurance? If you answer yes to all these questions, then it’s time to get involved with one of the best forms of exercise - running. This activity has been highly recommended for people who want to lose weight, improve their health and get into better shapes. Running is also proven to help blood circulation, so if you feel like you have problems with your cardiac system, then this is the perfect activity.

What Do You Need to Run?

There are so many people who are big fans of running. Running attracts people from all walks of life, and they are usually from different athletic backgrounds. If you want to run, you need to know the kind of equipment you need to have. First, you don’t need gym bags. However, you can bring a belt to carry your water bottle. Secondly, you can get eye gears if you are doing outdoor running to prevent your eyes from harmful objects. Also, you need to have an appropriate set of running outfit, which includes tight shorts or spandex shorts, jogging pants, running shoes and running shirts. Before you start running, these items are the essential items for serious runners. 

Two Different Types of Running

There are many forms of running such as treadmill running, outdoor running, beach running, desert running, etc. However, the two most popular forms of running have to be treadmill running and outdoor running. Treadmill running is mostly an indoor activity that requires you to use a treadmill. A treadmill is a type of exercise equipment that runners can run on, and it is very popular among beginners. Although you are just running on the same spot the entire time, the good thing about treadmill running is that you can do it at home in front of a television. On the other hand, outdoor running implies that you have to actually get out of your home and run to a destination of your choice. One of the advantages of outdoor running is that you expose yourself to the outdoors. Running in these tougher conditions requires quality running shoes that last for a long time. Many runners start with indoor running and then proceed to outdoor running after they build up their muscles and stamina.

The Dilemma

As you can see, every runner has his or her own reasons for running. However, for most runners, the toughest decision is always to choose between treadmill and outdoor running. Treadmill and outdoor running are two activities that achieve the same goals, so the decision depends mostly on the runner's own experience and discretion. While some runners prefer to be inside and away from the heat, others get more out of the activity from running outside. Therefore, it’s really up to you what you like to do with your running shoes.

This guest post was brought to you by Runner's Mark, we are the leading retailer for performance running shoes.  Check out our latest selections of women's running shoes, http://www.runnersmark.com/Womens_Running_Shoes_s/1974.htm

Standard and Alternative treatments for back pain

Our spines have to put up with a lot; sometimes just putting up with our habits is enough to have them sending sharp signals to remind us that we’re supposed to bend at the knees before lifting heavy objects, or that lolling in our office chair is not Plan A.  Most people suffer from a form of back pain at one or more points in their lifetime.  Normally back pain is not a major problem, though even a short lived, minor attack can be debilitating and depressing.  Back pain is normally caused by moving, twisting, lifting or sitting incorrectly.  Some conditions can result from an accident, while others can be part of more serious conditions, including arthritis.  Treating pain is usually straightforward and a range of options for self-treatment are available. 


Painkillers are the most effective form of relief from back pain in the short term.  Paracetamol or Aspirin are well known to quickly reduce pain and can be used by most people.  However painkillers are not suitable for all people and certainly longer term use of painkillers is not normally recommended.  Side effects are not uncommon even with standard issue painkillers, while those with additional medical conditions may not be able to take painkillers.  Back pain can last for several weeks and alternative treatments should also be considered.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies don’t have to involve candles, incense and a midnight dance around a pile of old rocks.  Naturally, if you like that sort of thing, they may help; sometimes state of mind can play a big part in recovery from a whole range of illnesses, and back pain is one of them.  If you’re taking the less trodden path round that pile of rocks then just take care when jumping and twisting!  Many ‘alternative’ therapies are well known and include simple techniques involving physiotherapy, heat treatments and relaxation techniques. 

Hot Flushes or Multiplying Chills

Heat pads, or cold compression pads, can help many people to reduce pain and the effects can be relatively long lasting.  Both work by reducing the sensation of pain and heat treatment may also work by relaxing tensed muscles and tendons.  Packs can be bought from a pharmacy or home-made treatments using complex technical equipment like a hot water bottle or pack of frozen peas are occasionally carefully crafted at home.  Both can work pretty well as long as you’re careful to avoid burns (from both sources).  Wrapping a towel round your weapon of choice should reduce this risk, and in the case of children both preparation and application of the cure should be supervised. 

Electrical Options

Electrical treatments have been used to relieve pain since the Romans discovered that some fish give off electric shocks.  The science has moved on since those days (thankfully) and TENS machines are now widely used, in both clinical and self-help settings.  TENS machines are not safe for everyone, so check with your doctor first.  Additionally TENS machines don’t work for everyone although they are considered to be effective for many cases.  Emitting small electrical impulses the machines disrupt the pain signals to the brain and provide medication free relief.  They can be particularly useful for longer periods of back pain and for those who cannot (or would rather not) use medication. 

Long Term Care

Most cases of back pain are short lived and can be easily resolved with a combination of the treatments discussed above.  For longer term problems (anything over six to eight weeks) have a chat with your doctor.  In most cases of long term pain the underlying cause is damage to the spine, which in itself may not be serious but may require longer term pain management.   Good posture, good lifting practices, losing a little weight and staying active will all help to reduce the risks and impact and risks of back pain. 

Being human, unfortunately, means the occasional bout of back pain.  A range of treatments are available from TENS machines to painkillers.  Check with your doctor for advice on TENS or other suitable solutions to managing pain. 

Living with back pain – or not

Back pain; you can’t live with it and you can’t, erm, live with it.  A lot of us do though.  In fact, the majority of people will experience some form of back pain at some point in their lives; often on many different occasions.  For the unlucky few (well, unlucky quite a lot) pain can be long term and chronic.  Arthritis is a common cause of long term back and joint pain and sciatica is also a well-known form of nerve pain.  The latter is particularly common during and after pregnancy but can be the result of an injury to the back from a large number of causes. 

Symptoms and causes

Often described as a tension or stiffness back pain is commonly the result of annoyingly simple causes; sitting incorrectly, lifting badly, stretching, bending and twisting.  All of these particular risks are things we encounter most days on several occasions, which explains why back pain is such a common issue for so many people.  Ultimately it’s one of those occupational hazards of being human.  Generally, the lower back is the focus for a whole range of aches and pains and most back pain is felt at the lower end of the spine.  Though robust, and designed to perfection over the millennia, our spines have a lot to put up with.  In most cases they spend every waking minute keeping us in an upright position and, although well adapted to this, they can be vulnerable to the occasional injury.  Even a minor back pain can be unpleasant and many back problems can take up to twelve weeks to completely recover. 

Common Treatments

Although debilitating, most cases of back pain will clear up without major medical intervention.  Treating back pain is normally straightforward and everyday painkillers will have a swift result in reducing and relieving the pain.  The best advice is to stay active and try to continue as normal.  Bed rest, although often prescribed in the past, is about the worst thing you can do to treat normal back pain.  This will reduce the strength in the tendons and ligaments that support your back, making the recovery time longer and potentially making the problem worse. 

  • Some people respond well to hot or cold compression treatments which can reduce the tension in the muscles around the back and also alleviate the pain.  Compression packs can be bought from a chemist although most doctors will point out that for cold compression a bag of frozen peas will do the trick! 
  • Physiotherapy can make a considerable difference for those suffering with back pain.  This aims to strengthen the muscles and tendons that support the back and also helps to improve posture and reduce stress on the spine.  This should help to alleviate the symptoms and should, hopefully, help to stop further problems in the future.  Simple lifestyle changes such as losing a little weight or remembering to sit and lift properly will also help to limit repeat occurrences.
  • TENS machines have been shown to reduce pain for a wide range of conditions, including back and neck pain.  For those who have pain resulting from sports injuries, or simple posture related problems, they can provide a healthy, non-medication route to pain relief.  Clinical trials have not proved conclusively that TENS machines work for every individual, and it seems to be the case that they will work for some sufferers but not others.  If TENS machines work for you they are an excellent solution to short term back problems, while for those with longer term conditions they are something of a life saver. 

Staying Healthy

Generally back pain will clear up without the need to visit your doctor (do see a doctor before considering TENS machines, as these should not be used by certain people) and you’ll soon be back to your normal active self.  One bout of back pain should be enough to convince you that prevention in future is better than treatment; remember to sit correctly, take exercise regularly and learn (or remember) how to lift correctly.  Our spines have a lot to put up with and as you only get one, it makes a lot of sense to look after it. 

Back pain affects most people at some point in their lives, if not several times.  For some, chronic back pain requires medication and treatment, for others the pain is short lived.  TENS machines are one method that can rid you of pain without the need for medication or physiotherapy. 

Gorgeous Bodies for Busy Moms who can’t get to the Gym

It's hard looking after the kids all day. You must get no time to yourself. I know how you must be feeling. You want to find some way to exercise but you don't know how. How can you fit anything in with everything you have on? You can't if you need to go to the gym to get fit. There's just no time.

Luckily you don't have to. To get fit and healthy you don't need to step foot in a gym. It's a big misconception it's the only place to get fit. You have everything you need right now. Yourself. Even your kids. Here are some easy to do exercises you can put into action right away to get the body you crave.

Play time with the kids

Everything revolves around energy. You eat food which gives you a surplus of energy, and you burn it by moving. That's right. If you move more you will lose weight. You already have the kids to look after so why not get them involved. It's also going to get them fitter, too.

Go outside and play some games. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you keep moving. You can be as creative as you want. Go for treasure hunts along the river. Play hide and seek in the woods at the back of the house. If you get tired you can just walk. That's moving too, and everything helps.

Firm up your stomach

There isn't much point in losing weight if you aren't going to be firm, right? Every woman wants a flat stomach. It will make you feel great. If you think you know anything about how to achieve this I want you to stop. Think. Were you thinking of sit ups? They are actually the worst possible way to get a flat stomach.

Sit ups will build your abs up and can you guess what happens if you build muscle? Your belly will just end up sticking out more. Ask Britney Spears. What you need are planks. You've probably seen them before. You just lie on the floor with your forearms on the ground. Now lift yourself up and try to stay still as long as possible.

Would you like a cute butt?

Go have a look in your wardrobe and stare at your favorite jeans. Put them on if you want. Now go and stand in front of the mirror. How does your butt look? Is it cute? No, probably not. You could certainly improve it. Harsh, but true. What you need is an exercise that's easy to perform anywhere, whenever you have a spare 2 minutes. That's where squats come in. I don't want you having visions of lifting 400lbs weights like all those massive guys on TV.

I'm talking about bodyweight squats. A sure fire exercise to firm up your butt while keeping your legs elegant and slim. Stand on the floor with your feet shoulder width apart. The trick is to sit backwards, while keeping your back straight, and lowering yourself as low as you can go. Keep it up and you'll be able to bounce coins of your butt.

Jack is a freelance writer and a fitness expert. He writes about health, diet and fitness and has many articles about scoliosis exercises to his credit.

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