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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.

Newbie Bodybuilder Nutrition Tips

Everyone can always use more knowledge about nutrition if they are involved in leading a fit lifestyle. Far too many people assume that exercise is the key to health. While it is important; it goes hand in hand with the nutritional aspect of living.

If you eat horribly then no amount of gym work can offset that. By the same token, a great diet can easily advance you past someone who eats haphazardly but follows the same workout program and works just as hard as you.

With that being said, here are some great nutrition tips to add to your toolbox. Use them all and enjoy the gains you make!

Awesome Nutrition Tips

Gaining Muscle - If your goal is to add muscle then you should aim for adding 1-1 1/2 pounds a week at the most. It takes 3500 calories above your normal caloric burn to make 1 pound of muscle. Ideally you break that down to 500 calories a day. So after you figure how much you burn each day add 500 calories to your plate (with at least 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of your bodyweight goal). If after 2 weeks you do not see a change in the scale increase your calories by 100 a day until you see gains.

Using Glutamine - Glutamine is an amino acid that is considered nonessential and yet is the most abundant. But using it as a supplement can have some great effects. Taking 2 grams first thing in the morning can increase the amount of growth hormone in the body. Having excess in the body will prevent muscle protein being broken down for the body to get more. It also improves the immune system, helps with cell recovery, and helps with glycogen replenishment. Ideally you want to take about 10 grams in the morning after waking up and another 10 grams right after a workout.

Go Big for Breakfast - Even when you eat small meals, breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day. You want to start with a big calorie burst for energy and to kick-start your system after the sleep cycles. You want to load up on complex carbohydrates to be burned during the day. Good protein like eggs also helpful get your muscle building blocks in place. Conversely at the end of the day you need to eat smaller meals with little or no carbohydrates. Ideally you want to limit things to protein and vegetables after the sun goes down.

Small Meals - To go with the above tip, you need to be eating 5 to 6 small meals per day plus a snack. This will help to stimulate your metabolism all day long as well as keep sugar (glucose) levels even along with energy levels. After your body adjusts it will slowly become more of a fat burning machine as it digests foods and proteins all day long.

Multivitamins - Always take your vitamin! It cannot be stressed how important it is to get all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs each day. To that end a good multivitamin is paramount. You should ignore the price and go for quality and preferably a capsule or gelcap that can be easily digested. Cheap vitamins are filled with cheap nutrients.

Eating Out - Ah the biggest thorn to a healthy lifestyle is being social with people when out and about. "Hey let's go to the pub," is an awful thing to hear sometimes. But you can work around this. Have a light beer and a salad to join in on the occasion but stick to your guns and goals as to what you allow in your body and why. You know exactly how many calories of fat that plate of fries has. Do the math and consider how many hours of cardio it will take to burn it off compared to the 5 minutes you spend eating it. 

At Nutribomb Nutritional Supplements, we strive to provide the best bodybuilding and fitness training information on the internet. Please visit our website for more.

Healthy Snacks for your Teeth and Gums

Healthy snack choices are a must. Healthier snacks are not only better for your body but they are better for your teeth as well. Your food and your snacks will affect your teeth as well as your gums. It is important to find healthy snacks not only for you but for your child as well. Start young and allow your child to have healthy teeth and gums. It is important, and it is also important to start young. Prevention is better than trying to repair. Even if your teeth and gums can be saved later on, you are better off to prevent problems early on. They will be better and healthier, not to mention less expensive. It is better to keep them healthy and prevent damage.

You can go to your dentist, hopefully not for dental repair for bad teeth and gums as a result of unhealthy snacks, but to ask for help and suggestions to prevent such problems. Your dentist can give you advice and a list of healthy snacks and foods that will not be harmful to your mouth. Also, frequent visits to the dentist can help prevent major damage and problems. They will keep things in check and continually give advice as to how to keep your mouth healthy.

Many worry about a healthy diet for their children to keep their bodies healthy and in good shape, but it is also important for the health of their mouths. A healthy diet is one that is balanced and supplies one with nutrients. One should be getting the proper amount of all of the major food groups. There is a reason that there is a recommended balanced diet from certain food groups that individuals should be partaking of. It will improve their overall health and prevent problems.

One should be regularly going to their dentist for a checkup, not for damage repair. They can check the status of one’s mouth and also give them advice on their eating habits. They can advise one to be eating good sugars and not too much of sugars and starches, even healthy sugars and starches. They need to be getting some foods with sugars and starches to have nutrients, but they need to make sure they are taking in a healthy amount and getting only the best foods. They also need to avoid too many sugary and starchy foods. One’s dentist can give them the proper advice to how much is too much and how much is good.

Dentists allow healthy snacks for the office and healthy advice for those that come to the office. Go to your dentist and allow them to give you proper advice. It can change your life and the quality of your gums and teeth, not to mention the quality and health of your child’s mouth. Figure out what is best for them.

Whitney Lin is a freelance blogger for Name Your Price Dental, also known as nypdental.

The Dangers of Walking Barefoot

As the temperature increases, we are all tempted to kick off our shoes and socks and let our feet enjoy some fresh air! It is even more tempting to start walking barefoot around the house or even outside during the warm weather. However, walking barefoot can pose many dangers to the feet! The most obvious risk of walking barefoot is stepping on an object and it getting embedded in the foot. Rocks, pebbles, twigs, thorns, glass, and nails are outside objects that can get into the feet, but inside dangers can include toothpicks, animal hair, cat litter, and pieces of wood.

If a rusty object, such as a nail, punctures the foot, it is essential to report to the ER for a tetnus booster and possibly more extensive treatment. Tetnus is caused by an anaerobic organism, Clostridium tetani. The rough surface of nails, along with the rust, is an ideal habitat for this bacterium. In addition to tetnus prophylaxis, antibiotics (for the possibility of infection by this or other organisms), and local wound care for the entry point of the foreign object may be needed.

Certain diseases can slow the healing of a wound on the foot. Some of these diseases include the following: diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy, and many others. Special tests and bloodwork may be needed, along with consultation to a variety of specialists, if healing is delayed.

During these warm months, and year round, it is important to wear some type of shoe both inside and outside to protect your feet! Dr. Mary Ann Bender has been working in the Chicagoland area for the last 11 years and joined the Advanced Physical Medicine team three years ago. She treats all conditions of the foot and ankle. Call for your appointment, 708-763-0580. Dr. Bender accepts all PPO insurance plans (including United Health Care), Worker's Compensation, Self Pay, and Medicare.

Sweat before Sunrise

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by cuellar

Early Morning Workouts

Many people end up avoiding their workouts if they do not have a set time to do them. It is much easier to skip a workout in the afternoon or evening if something more important comes up like a social event or even something as simple as staying on the couch and watching TV. In order to make sure the work out gets done it makes sense to schedule it when nothing else important is happening. A very early morning workout can be done when nothing else is happening so it is easy to stick to it without feeling like the time is being sacrificed for something else. When a time is scheduled every day or a few days a week to get the workout done it is also easier to stick to it. As soon as that alarm goes off it is important to get out of bed and do the work out. It will be easier to fall into a routine the more the workout is done. Soon the body will wake up on it's own without an alarm, and early morning exercise will be easier.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by lululemon athletica

Advantages of the AM Workout

Another great aspect of an early morning workout is that if it is done outdoors, the workout can be done before the sunshine begins beating down. It can be hard to complete an outdoor workout in the hot weather because it can be so hot that the body feels overheated and stressed. The cooler air of the early morning makes it easier to engage in more intense outdoor exercise without overheating.

Working out in the morning has also shown to increase energy levels throughout the day. When the body feels tired one of the best things to increase your energy is to do a quick and energizing workout. A person who has trouble waking up in the morning may really benefit from an early morning workout because it can jump start their energy levels and make them more alert through the morning and the rest of the day.

Another great thing about an early morning workout outdoors or in the gym is that there is much less traffic and activity at that hour of the day. If you workout out at the gym there will be few people waiting around for machines or equipment since the gym will be much less crowded. If you are running on the road, you will not have to share the road with afternoon traffic.

This article was written by, your one stop shop for climbing ropes and cords.

4 Critical Health Benefits of Water

4 Critical Health Benefits of Water

Water Glass Light ShadowHow often do you drink water?

Probably not enough. Drinking water can actually have some amazing benefits to your body and overall health - and not nearly enough people are aware of this!

We all (should) know that our bodies are about 60% water, but did you know that about 90% of our brain is water? Neither did I. And in order to keep our bodies functioning properly, we really need to keep our bodies (and minds) properly watered.

And just for context, most people forget, or don't realize, that if you're feeling thirsty, you're already at least a little dehydrated - so don't go by that signal from your body to wait to start drinking that good ol' water.

Manage Weight

Did you know that drinking enough water will actually help you maintain (or even lose) weight? There are a few ways that water helps your weight loss.

Weight Loss. It was actually found in a recent study that those who drank 2 glasses of water before a meal lost 5 more pounds (on average) over a 12 week span than those who did not. This is in part because drinking water kickstarts your metabolism before the meal.

If you drink ice cold water, also, that can increase your weight loss. Why? Because your body burns more energy to warm the water up to your internal temperature. (Which is also why you shouldn't drink cold drinks in the summer if you're looking to stay cool).

Lemon water. If you aren't a big fan of the usually-bland tasting water, add a little bit of lemon. Some also swear by a mixture of lemon water and honey to reduce weight, as well.

Energy Boost

Yes, water will actually boost your energy - you don't need caffeine or energy drinks to do that.

Remember how I said that your brain is about 90% water? Well, doesn't it make sense that if you don't drink enough water your thoughts get a little sluggish? On top of that, dehydration in and of itself makes you feel fatigued. Enough water is necessary for focus and an attentive brain because of the pivotal role that water plays in getting blood to transport oxygen throughout your body.

Stress Relief

It serves to follow that when your aren't focusing or getting the work done that you need to be getting done, you're probably going to be a little stressed - and the fact that most likely you're tired does not add up to one happy camper.

Stress can also be brought on by headaches - and oftentimes you'll find that the root cause of your headache is dehydration.

Keeping stress down at work means that you should keep a glass of water at your desk (and constantly drink) and carry one with you when you're going out somewhere.

Glowing Skin

This is more a beauty benefit than a health benefit - actually, scratch that. Water helps nourish the skin and keep it healthy, which means that your first line of defense against germs and bacteria is healthy and well maintained.

Superficially, though, water plumps up your skin cells - which can make you look younger. Water can also improve blood flow and circulation to your skin cells.

So while having healthy skin makes a great first impression, healthy skin also keeps you more...well, healthy.

But you need to drink enough water for this resource to actually benefit! How much water should you drink daily? You can go by that old rule of 8 by 8 - that is, 8 glasses of 8 oz of water daily.

Mary Richardson thinks that everyone should have access to clean water and the necessary filtration systems in order to reap the full benefits of water. What healthy habits do you keep daily?

Why are we addicted to certain foods?

Sure, we hear the word "addicted" being thrown around all the time. Addiction may be loosely used to describe any intense craving or desire . . . or anything that we might humorously deem a "guilty pleasure." However, did you know that recent scientific findings seem to support the belief that sometimes we really are addicted to those things we love - namely food? How can this happen, and why are we addicted to certain foods? Read on for the scoop about this all-too common phenomenon:

Dopamine. Dopamine is the "happy chemical" that our brains release when our pleasure center is stimulated in the brain. Illicit drugs are known to stimulate dopamine, as is sex and gambling . . . and apparently certain foods. That's right - scientific studies show that our brains actually release dopamine just at the sight of foods we love. We don't even have to eat them. This difference - between stimulating the motivation circuits (just looking) and stimulating the reward circuits (actually eating) is equivalent to what a drug addict experiences when "craving" a drug that he or she is addicted to. That means that, biologically speaking, we actually fiend for food using exactly the same mechanism that a drug addict uses to fiend for drugs.

Obese versus non-obesity. In a very interesting study conducted by the United States Department of Energy, scientists found that drug addicts have less dopamine receptors than non-addicts. That means that their bodies are less able to absorb dopamine to get that good feeling we all crave, while non-addicts naturally just absorb more satisfying amounts of dopamine. Curiously, scientists conducting the same study found similar results when testing for dopamine receptors in obese people: those tested had less dopamine receptors than the non-obese people tested. This may account for unhealthy consumption behaviors associated with obesity, and is surely compelling evidence in the case of food as an addiction.

Ending food addiction: will-power versus genetics. Sure, we now know that some of us are simply genetically predisposed to food addiction - or really, addiction in general. Does that means that those of us with fewer dopamine receptors should just give up and admit defeat? Absolutely not. Studies also show that addiction can be overcome, and that the brain can be reprogrammed into new, different patterns that are not so self-destructive.

You don't have to count on will-power alone. There are some proven ways to win the battle against food addiction, and they include: avoiding the addictive foods altogether, maintaining a balanced blood sugar level, taking natural supplements to cut cravings, and getting the right amount of sleep.

Yes, unfortunately it seems that food addiction is real. That doesn't mean you have to let it win. Win the food addiction battle by arming yourself with knowledge. This article is a great start.

About the Author: Delsie Ninness used to be addicted to all sorts of processed foods. She now has a clean diet and practices intermittent fasting and enjoys healthy foods more than ever.

Fracture of the Fifth Metatarsal Bone

The New York Giants  suffered a setback today, as their player, Hakeem Nicks, sustained a fracture of his fifth metatarsal bone of the foot.  This player will have surgery and not practice for the next twelve weeks due to this injury.  Fifth metatarsal bone fractures are complicated and quite serious because the blood supply to this bone, especially the base, is not very strong.  This causes delayed healing of the bone, which can lead to prolonged pain, swelling, and disability.

The fifth metatarsal bone is located along the outside of the foot and is attached to the fifth toe.  Twisting the foot or ankle, falling, or abnormal pressure on this portion of the foot can cause the bone to break.   Often, the injured party will have immediate pain to the area which will make walking and standing difficult.  The fracture can be identified with X-rays in the majority of cases, but stress fractures (or hairline cracks) of this bone may be better visualized by MRI or CT scans.  The fracture can be treated conservatively with immobilization (casting) or surgery, and the direction for care usually depends on the activity level of the patient and whether the fracture is displaced (out of position).  Whether conservative or surgical care is chosen, initial healing take 6-8 weeks.  Following this, a course of physical therapy is often needed to increase strength, motion, and to get the patient back to their normal level of activity.  Additionally, a device called a bone stimulator may be needed to increase the rate of healing.

If you have a fifth metatarsal problem or question, please contact our offices for your appointment with Dr. Bender.  Oak Park 708-763-0580 and Chicago 773-776-3166.  Dr. Mary Ann Bender is a foot and ankle specialist who has been in practice for the last 11 years.  She is also an instructor at William Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine.

5 Bad Eating Habits that are Making you Gain Weight

When you’re trying to lose weight, it can make you do all sorts of crazy things. But a lot of the eating habits you acquire are actually making you gain pounds instead of shedding them. Here are five bad eating habits that are making you gain weight.

Eating Before Bed

No one wants to go to bed hungry, but going to bed with a recently-filled stomach is a bad idea. Eating a meal or a snack right at bedtime will stimulate your digestive system, possibly making it harder for you to fall asleep. Your digestive system slows while you’re sleeping, so the food you eat before bed is more likely to “stick” with you. Try not to eat at least three hours before bed, and especially avoid foods that are high in sugar and fat.

Skipping Breakfast

If you’re rushed in the morning and skip out on breakfast, you’re setting yourself up for failure in your diet. Even if you don’t think you’re that hungry, you must have at least something small in the mornings upon waking. Breakfast gets your metabolism going so it will be strong throughout the day. It boosts your energy. If you don’t eat breakfast, you’re likely to be much hungrier at lunchtime, which can lead to overeating or snacking on unhealthy foods.

Eating in Front of the TV

If you’re the type of person who likes to snack on something while watching TV, you need to banish food from the couch. Because you’re focusing on the TV show, you’re not focusing on how much you’re really eating. And because a TV show is usually a lot longer than it would take to eat a meal, you’re more tempted to get seconds in order to continue eating while the show is on. If you absolutely must eat while watching TV, bring only a portioned, appropriate amount of food with you, and resist the urge to get a refill on the commercial break.

Skipping Meals

It seems to make sense that if you eat less, you won’t gain as much weight. Lots of people take that logic to mean it’s a good idea to skip meals. Skipping meals is actually a bad thing to do, and it can make you gain weight. When you don’t eat regularly, your body will think it’s starving, and it will slow down its metabolism to keep you alive for longer. To avoid your body’s survival tactics, do not skip a meal or snack; eat something every four hours.  

Eating Too Quickly

When you’re short on time, you still need to eat, so you might end up rushing through your meal and eating as quickly as you can. But eating too quickly will lead to overeating, and you may not chew your food enough for proper digestion. It’s very important to slow down, take your time, and deliberately chew every bite. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to feel full, so eating slowly will give you time to feel full and know exactly when to stop.

Jennifer Hawkins is a restaurant owner and chef who specializes in recipes with nuts. She also blogs quite frequently and loves to give advice to other cooks or people with no culinary backgrounds.

Photo Credit: SteFou!

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