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the same old New Year's resolutions. Every year at around this time, millions of people around the world resolve to improve their lives beginning Jan. 1 – and for most, their resolutions die sometime within the first few months, if they get off the ground at all.
What can you do to make 2017 different? What can you do to make sure your New Year's resolutions stick? Here are five ways to keep your 2017 resolutions while avoiding some of the common pitfalls that have struck down your resolutions in years past.
1. Think It Through: One of the biggest mistakes resolvers make is jumping into a resolution without thinking it through. Sure, you can resolve to start working out, lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier or be more patient with your kids – but words are just words unless they're supported by sensible actions. And sensible actions require a sensible plan. Resolving to exercise? Think about how many days per week, whether to go to the gym or work out home, potential hurdles / challenges that may come up, and other factors. Resolving to be more patient? Map out a half-dozen specific ways to do it (think before you speak / act; give yourself a "time out" so you can refocus, etc.). Whatever your resolution, you have to figure out how to make it work or it probably won't work, pure and simple.
2. Recruit Help: While everyone has their own New Year's resolutions, that doesn't mean you have to go it alone. Your friends, family, co-workers and other acquaintances are your biggest allies, and chances are they've either resolved to do one of the same things you have, or they did it last year. Work out with a friend; brainstorm healthy meals your kids can help prepare; and engage online support groups whenever possible. Tap into their experience, their encouragement and their support to stay focused and strong throughout the year, and your resolution won't be the one-week, one-month or even one-year variety; it will last a lifetime.
3. Remember Last Year: Those who refuse to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it, and we're guessing that like most people, last year's New Year's resolutions didn't go so well. In fact, this year's list might be identical to your 2016 list, your 2011 list, and so on. What will make 2017 different? A good start is to learn from your mistakes so you can chart a more effective course. If you've had trouble getting to the gym consistently, despite your best intentions, perhaps this time, you need to refine your schedule, research an at-home program for the days you can't get away, or work out before work instead of after, when you're usually tired. Succeed in 2017 by remembering why your 2016 resolutions didn't pan out.
4. Take Small Steps: In many ways, New Year's resolutions have taken on a black-and-white quality; either you're not resolving to do anything or you're resolving to do big things, instantly. Unfortunately, life isn't that simple, and the overwhelming majority of resolutions involve behaviors / patterns that are difficult to change overnight. The problem with this all-or-nothing mentality, of course, is twofold: It sets us up for failure at the first sign of a challenge ("I resolved to work out three days a week, every w eek, and already I've missed a few days!") and it ignores the small steps that are just as, if not more important in accomplishing the big step. Want to quit smoking after 30 years? You may want to resolve to scale back progressively, rather than quit cold turkey. Want to start exercising (for essentially the first time)? Try 1-2 days a week of brisk walking for a few months, or a few step classes at the gym, and build from there.
5. Dream Big: Despite the fact that generally, resolutions have a greater chance of success if they're accomplished in small, manageable steps, that doesn't mean you need to think small. New Year's resolutions represent the perfect opportunity to reach for a better world, a better life, a better you; so dream big and go for the proverbial gold. After all, if you set your sights too small, you might be more likely to quit (or not even start) because you don't consider it meaningful enough. Craft a sound strategy to achieve something big that will make you proud. Get help when you need it, take it slow, and most of all, don't get frustrated when that little thing called life temporarily gets in the way. Now that's the smart way to make – and keep – your New Year's resolutions.
How to Avoid Injury and Pain
What are the high-risk times and events for your lower back? Why can you get into more trouble doing something as simple as picking up a loaf of bread from the trunk of the car, rather than doing something more challenging? What simple steps can you take to avoid injury and pain? Let's get the answers to these questions and more.
Two Critical Moments
When it comes to your lower back and injury risk, there are two critical times when you need to be especially careful. One is first thing in the morning. Your back is actually swollen at that time. You are substantially taller, and the discs have extra fluid in them. A careless forward bend or twist first thing in the morning can do substantial damage to your discs or other back structures. It doesn't seem fair that such a simple thing, bending and twisting, something you have done thousands of times before, can suddenly cause big problems.
The other critical time is after you have been sitting. Long car drives or airplane trips are especially challenging. In this case, the culprit is something called "creep." This means that your ligaments and tendons lengthen into the position that you have been in. Think of sitting as a bent-forward position, as your legs are forward. The ligaments and tendons do not provide protection properly when they have been lengthened by creep. When you first get up from sitting, you are at risk. The longer you have been sitting, the higher the risk. If you sit more upright, with good lumbar support, you will have somewhat less risk.
Scenario #1: You didn't sleep well last night, perhaps from sleeping in an unfamiliar bed after travel, after sitting too long. You get up, feel stiff, but ignore it. You sit down in a soft chair to enjoy your morning hot drink. You get up and get a sudden sharp stab in the back.
Scenario #2: You get up from sleeping, and sit at your laptop, and get entranced by a video or article. You end up sitting far longer than you planned. You get up, and can't completely straighten up.
Scenario #3: You get up from sleeping, drink your morning coffee, which wakes up your gut, and you go to bathroom to empty your bowel. You are a bit constipated, and have to strain. When you get up from the toilet, your back spasms.
Overnight sleeping, even a good sleep on your favorite bed, leaves your back somewhat swollen. Swollen may be an exaggeration, but the reality is that there is extra fluid in all of your joints.
If you have a good back, none of this matters. If you have a vulnerable back, it all matters. Ideally, when you get up, you should do some kind of activity that warms up and "wrings out" the excessive fluids. A short walk, some simple movements, can make a real difference. Sitting down at the computer, sitting on the toilet, etc., can get you in trouble.
So, who has a good back versus a bad back? Unfortunately, most of us have bad backs, at least in the sense that they can be subject to injury and pain at any time. In fact, studies suggest that as many as eight in 10 people experience low back pain during their lifetime. That's a lot of back pain already happening or waiting to happen. And as you can tell from the above discussion, some of the scenarios whereby people experience back pain are all too common.
How to Avoid Injury and Pain
Don't bend over immediately after sitting. Sitting, even in good posture, puts you at risk. The longer you sit and the worse the seat, the more at risk you are. Airlines are very risky; it's hard to get up and move around because of the tight quarters, and the minute the plane stops, you bend over and get stuff from under the seat, or reach up, and twist and lift to get your bag from the overhead compartment. After a long sit, give yourself at least a few seconds of backward bending and/or moving around to reset your spine. Then you can carefully, using your hips rather than your back, bend over to pick up something.
When you sit, don't slump. Slumping reinforces the risks, makes it more likely for something bad to happen to your discs or joints or muscles. So, sit up straight, and keep your back in neutral. Neutral means that you keep a bit of a lordosis in your lower back, keep the lumbar spine from slumping forward, stay more upright. This simple action can make a huge difference. Like any habit, this will require you to "Just Do It" for a few weeks.
Talk to your doctor about these and other high-risk moments for your lower back and what you can do to relieve low back pain or avoid the pain altogether. And make sure to review "Self-Care for Back Pain" in the May 2010 issue, which provides information on exercises your doctor may prescribe if you are experiencing back pain.
Marc Heller, DC, maintains a chiropractic practice in Ashland, Ore. He is a nationally recognized expert in treating tailbone, sacroiliac and lower back pain.
As an active person, your favorite sport or exercise is an important part of your life. It gives you energy, it challenges you and it makes you come alive. You can't imagine a day without it until the day you get injured. Sports injuries are a natural consequence of the choice of being active. Keeping informed on how to manage an injury is just as important as taking precautions to avoid them.
The Standard Protocol for Managing Injuries
The first line of treatment and the standard protocol for managing acute injuries is a method known as RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Rest means reducing physical activity in the injured area, for example, by using a crutch or some other method of taking weight off the injured part of the body. Ice is applied to the area to reduce inflammation to the muscles. Compression refers to compressing the area using any means like an elastic wrap to help reduce swelling, and Elevation refers to raising the area, also to help reduce swelling.
Painkillers Help With Pain, But They Aren't for Everyone
During the course of rehabilitation, doctors sometimes prescribe medication that can relieve pain. Common medications include opioids like morphine and methadone, which, despite their benefits, can lead to addiction and a number of side effects; and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. NSAIDs reduce swelling and help patients return to activity more rapidly than with the RICE method alone. The way NSAIDs work in the body, however, can be problematic:
- They are contraindicated for patients with a history of gastrointestinal bleeding and must be used cautiously in those with chronic kidney disease.
- Some patients can't tolerate the adverse effects, which may include stomach upset, vomiting and abdominal pain
- Others may have medication interactions that prohibit use of oral NSAIDs.
Two Scientifically Backed Alternatives to NSAIDs/ Painkillers
1. Precut Kinesiology Tape is an option that uses and supports the body's own natural neurology to deliver drug-free pain relief. These tapes work by lifting the skin to create a small space between the muscle and dermis layers of the skin. That extra space takes the pressure off injured muscles, allows muscle movement, and provides space for drainage and blood flow to muscles and joints, thus reducing swelling; while also soothing overworked muscles and strengthening weak or fatigued muscles.
A recent study conducted at the University of Toronto and published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that using precut kinesiology tape was as effective as using NSAIDs for relieving pain and improving function when used alongside physiotherapy for patients with shoulder injuries. In fact, the precut kinesiology tapes were better tolerated than NSAIDs because there weren't any chemical side effects.
Furthermore, using these precut tapes is convenient because one application of a precut tape lasts several days, which means, unlike medication, there won't be any hassle of retaking or reapplying the treatment every few hours. Additionally, because precut kinesiology tapes are designed keeping in mind human anatomy, you can apply them easily yourself after instruction by a health care professional.
Health care practitioners are increasingly using precut kinesiology tapes as a means to standardize patient care and provide drug-free pain relief option to patients. Professional athletes are turning to kinesiology tape, as it provides a DIY knesiology solution for performance enhancement and pain relief.
2. Chiropractic Care: Millions of people visit chiropractors every year for all kinds of sports injuries, including injuries to their back, neck, arms and legs. In the sports setting, chiropractors work by manipulating joints that are restricted due to muscle injuries. They help to improve joint alignment so the body can heal itself without surgery or medication.
Chiropractic care not only restores function; it also helps prevent future injuries, in addition to providing relief from pain. Research shows chiropractic treatment is safe, effective and helpful in treating sports-injury-related pains and is a great alternative to NSAIDs.
Professional athletes use chiropractic treatments as a regular part of their training. In fact, studies have shown that regularly incorporating chiropractic care enhances athletic performance and lowers the amount of subsequent injuries athletes experience.
Tip: Chiropractic care is complemented by the use of precut kinesiology tape. The two treatments are increasingly used together to provide further relief, hasten recovery and enhance performance.
The possibility of getting injured while being active is not a reason to avoid exercising or playing sports. Injuries are part of the deal and professional athletes and active people know this for a fact. You should stay active and have fun, while striving for prevention and keeping informed on all the options available to you for treatment and management of sports-related injuries.
Mehwash Zafar is a content writer. For questions or comments regarding this article, you can contact her via the SpiderTech Inc..
When you're suffering low back pain, shoulder pain or any number of similar musculoskeletal conditions, who gets the call: your medical doctor or your doctor of chiropractic? Your choice of health care provider in those situations could make a big difference, and research is continuing to prove it. According to the latest study, chiropractic care is at least as effective as medical care for certain musculoskeletal conditions, while reducing health care costs and leaving patients more satisfied with the results.
The authors of the study, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT), went so far as to state that for certain musculoskeletal conditions, visiting an MD first instead of a DC may actually be a mistake:
"The findings of this study support first-contact care provided by DCs as an alternative to first-contact care provided by MDs for a select number of musculoskeletal conditions. Restrictive models of care in which patients are required to contact a medical provider before consulting a chiropractic provider may be counterproductive for patients experiencing the musculoskeletal conditions investigated and possibly others."
The study sample included 403 patients who saw medical doctors and 316 patients who saw doctors of chiropractic as the initial health care providers for their spinal, hip or shoulder pain complaint. Four months following care, all patients completed a questionnaire that evaluated pain on that day and four months earlier (11-point scale); satisfaction with care received and the results of that care (5-point scale from "very satisfied" to "very unsatisfied"); and other variables. The researchers evaluated related costs of care by reviewing an insurance claims database.
"Patients initially consulting MDs had significantly less reduction in their numerical pain rating score and were significantly less likely to be satisfied with the care received and the outcome of care." What's more average per-patient costs over the four-month period were significantly lower in patients who initially consulted DCs ($368 difference compared to MD care).
JMPT Editor-in-Chief Claire Johnson, DC, MEd, emphasized the importance of the latest findings: "Comparative studies – in other words, research that compares the outcomes between two different providers or modalities – are rare for chiropractic care," she said. "Thus, this study ... is especially important if payers and policy-makers are to better understand the ‘triple aim' as it relates to chiropractic. Specifically, this study helps us better understand what type of care provides better patient satisfaction, is more cost effective, and improves population health."
The answer, suggests an increasing body of research, is chiropractic care.
Water is a precious natural resource important to our health, community and the quality of life in the Central Valley.