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Stretch to relieve sore shoulders and neck

  • Written by Cheyanna Carlson, LMP, Harmony Massage

Everyone knows the relief and relaxation they feel after a good massage. The impact it has on your muscles and their functionality can be felt immediately.

These effects often last the entire day, or more. What many people don’t realize, is that they can help prolong this feeling of pain-free movement by continuing to stretch the muscles worked at home.

More often than not, the muscular pain felt in one area of the body, is a direct result of issues in another part of the body.  Today I’m going to address one of the most common problem areas that people come to massage therapists for help with.  It’s an area plagued by almost everyone who has ever worked at a desk: the neck and shoulders.  An increasing amount of people find themselves in a stressful office environment that often involves spending hours a day at the computer.

What does this do to the mechanics of the body?  Without realizing it, most people tend to hunch their shoulders forward, head down, and stay in that position reading paperwork and typing.

Now, what you’ll notice after a while is the discomfort in your neck and shoulders, but the real culprit is your pectoral muscles.  Your pecs are what pull your shoulders forward, and spending a lot of time contracted in that position, tends to make them extremely tight. You won’t notice it ... until your massage therapist gets ahold of them.  It’s the overstretch of all the muscles in your shoulders that claims your attention.

So how to help yourself at home and make your massages more effective?  Stretch!  The best part is that no tools or special athletic skills are required for this.

The most simple, yet effective way is to start is by finding a regular sized doorway in your house.  Bedroom, bathroom, doesn’t matter.  Stand in the doorway, place hands and forearms down flat against the outside.  This creates a nice brace for you to now lean forward.  You will immediately feel the front of your shoulders, as well as your pectoral muscles, begin to stretch.  Hold this pose for about 30 seconds.

Continuing this a few times throughout the day can help allow those muscles to relax, which will in turn allow your shoulder muscles to begin to contract back to where they should be.  Combined with massage, stretching can be your biggest tool for muscular pain relief.

Ophthalmologists Provide Free Eye Exams in the U.S. and Puerto Rico to Help Prevent Blindness Caused by Diabetes

  • Written by ARA

EyeCare America Volunteers Work to Raise Awareness and Provide Care through Month-long Campaign

An estimated 26 million Americans have diabetes, with the number expected to significantly grow in the future. If current trends continue, 15 percent of American adults − or more than 37 million Americans − will be living with diabetes by the end of 2015. One serious consequence of this disease that affects many people is vision loss or blindness due to a condition called diabetic retinopathy.

According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults between the ages of 20–74. In 2005-2008, 4.2 million people with diabetes 40 or older were diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, and of these, nearly 700,000 had advanced diabetic retinopathy that could lead to severe vision loss.

Each year during the month of November, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recognizes Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month in order to bring awareness to the public about the vision problems that can occur for patients who have not been diagnosed or are not actively controlling their diabetes. In fact, a simple eye exam can help prevent unnecessary vision loss caused by diabetes.

Through EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, thousands of volunteer ophthalmologists throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico are providing eye exams at no out-of-pocket cost to people age 65 and older.

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In others, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.

The only way to diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy is through an eye exam with an ophthalmologist, an eye medical doctor.

In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy usually has no warning signs. Over time, however, the vision blurs and everyday tasks become more difficult, and once lost, vision does not usually return.

Left untreated the disease can lead to blindness. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that after 15 years of diabetes, approximately 2 percent of people become blind, and about 10 percent develop severe visual impairment.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone who has been diagnosed with diabetes make an appointment with an ophthalmologist. The earlier diabetic eye disease is diagnosed, the better the chances of avoiding vision loss.

“Diabetes is a devastating disease that can not only rob individuals of an active life, but can also steal their eyesight if left either undetected or untreated,” said Richard P. Mills, MD, ophthalmologist and chairman of EyeCare America. “By connecting people with EyeCare America’s free eye exams, volunteer ophthalmologists are helping to put an end to the unnecessary vision loss that so often accompanies this disease.”

Free examinations through EyeCare America are available for people who:

• Are U.S. citizens or legal residents,

• Are age 65 and older,

• Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years, and

• Do not belong to an HMO or receive eye care benefits through the Veterans Administration.

For more information on the program including how to receive an eye exam, please visit: www.eyecareamerica.org.

Green tips for tackling fall lawn cleanup

  • Written by ARA

14083_B15_rgbEvery fall, the wind picks up, the leaves fall to the ground and the grass gets a little browner. It’s the time of year when the weather is unpredictable and storms can make even the neatest yards a mess.

Remington, a leading manufacturer of battery and electric power tools, has some tips to help make your fall cleanup greener and easier:

Clearing leaves from your yard can be a daunting task, but it’s an important one to keep your yard alive and green come spring. Using an electric leaf blower or blower vacuum versus using a rake or a heavy gas blower can help reduce the effort. While electric leaf blowers are limited in mobility, they require less hassle.

If you find more than just leaves in your yard after a storm, you may consider doing most of the cleanup yourself using a chainsaw, such as the RM1415A Limb N Trim, a 14-inch chainsaw that’s ideal for cleanup of fallen branches and logs less than 13 inches in diameter. Keep in mind there are many safety concerns to take into account when using a chainsaw to clean up the mess. Here are a few tips on how to use a chainsaw to help keep you safe this season:

* First, read the operator’s manual and follow suggested guidelines to remove fallen trees.

* Ensure the saw’s chain is properly tensioned before each use and all fasteners, controls and safety features are functioning properly.

* Make sure the bar and chain are always lubricated to prevent the saw from wearing out or cutting poorly. Check the bar and chain oil reservoir frequently to make sure it’s full or it will ruin your chain.

* Start the saw while standing on the ground and always hold the handle securely.

* Clear debris and small tree limbs from the chainsaw’s path, and beware of nails and other metal before cutting.

* Avoid saw “kickback” to prevent a serious chainsaw injury. Never let the tip of the bar come in contact with anything. Always reference the operator’s manual for proper chain saw operation.

Because My Wife Told Me To

  • Written by Dr. Alex Kraft
You’d be amazed at how many men come to our clinic and don’t know why they are there. Without playing too much into stereotypes, the reality is that women still visit the doctor more frequently than men and typically have multiple items to discuss or at least ask questions about. On the contrary, when men are asked about the purpose of the visit, the usual response is something like: “Because my wife told me to” or “I don’t know, ask my wife.”

Why is that?

This typically is not due to a lack of perceived problems on the part of men. Besides high blood pressure or high cholesterol which is hard to be aware of subjectively, aches and pains, or digestive disturbances are typically hard to ignore. And although all men are different, we are classically problem solvers. We love to troubleshoot, find solutions, and fix things. That’s another classical stereotype about men right? That women often want to talk about something while men simply want to fix it. So why doesn’t that seem to apply to their health?

There are many possible reasons for this. Men generally do know what their health concerns are. No, it’s unlikely that a lack of awareness is what fosters the male pattern of doctor avoidance. It is more likely a combination of conditioning (and possibly genetic hard wiring) that promotes men to be stoic, to tough things out, or to use mind over matter in a battle of will over physics. In playing sports, it sometimes pays to use the mind over matter trick to stay in the game. But in regards to long term health maintenance, this tactic rarely pays off. Just like cars or other machines, our bodies give us subtle signals before our body/the engine simply won’t start or the grinding noises appear. And while we can replace parts in machines, with our bodies it is much easier to prevent problems in the first place than try to “fix” them later. Treating high blood pressure in your 20s or high cholesterol in your 30s is much easier than treating heart disease in your fifties.

All of us have to die of something at some time —that’s inevitable. Yet, most of what does us in here in the U.S. is preventable or is possible to delay. As of 2007 (the last year for which this data is available), just about 50 percent of American men’s deaths are due to heart disease or cancer. Both of these conditions are possibly preventable. Hypertension and high cholesterol both contribute directly to heart disease and potential heart attacks, and both of these conditions are included in even the most basic health exam. In terms of cancer, the top leading causes of cancer related deaths are from lung cancer (i.e. smoking), prostate, colon, and skin cancer. Besides the lung cancer which, and this is not rocket science, can be prevented almost always by simply not smoking, the other three cancers are also part of regular yearly screenings after age 50. So right there, half of the most typical causes of death are possibly preventable. While the third leading cause of death for women can be prevented (stroke), number three for men is accidental injuries and that opens up a topic too big to discuss here. But the percentage of deaths from number three (accidental injuries) drops to 6.6 percent.

Looking at causes of death is sobering and obviously, it’s hard to enjoy your retirement if you’re not around to be retired. But equally important to staving off death is preventing illnesses, which decrease your quality of life. The knee and back pain which accompany obesity are not too much fun. Dealing with insulin or several other medications to control diabetes, hypertension or all of the above is also less than enjoyable. And the key is that most chronic illnesses do not develop overnight — they develop over decades. These are the reasons to eat as much salad as steak or to exercise at least as often as we watch sports. So, in the interest of long life and medication-free living, we should all thank the wives who “encourage” those visits to the doctor. And exercise can be fun, healthy food can be tasty, and the ability to golf or go hiking into your 70s and beyond makes it worth the discipline required. Now here’s another little secret; you don’t need to wait for someone else to make that appointment for you. It’s OK to make your health a priority for you and your family. We hope to see you soon.

Dr. Kraft is a Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed acupuncturist. He may be reached at Health Moves 17311 135th Ave NE Ste. C-800 Woodinville, WA 98072, Phone: 425.402.9999 or www.Health Moves .org.

Hydrate!

  • Written by Kevin Piasecki, PT, OCS, Quality Care Physical Therapy
Even though the “hot” summer days are over in the Pacific Northwest, athletes still need to remember to drink enough fluids when exercising.  Whether running in the Seattle Marathon, playing football or basketball, going on strenuous hikes, or cross country skiing, athletes need to maintain appropriate hydration in order to optimize performance.

As the body sweats in order to cool itself off, valuable water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium) are lost.   The amounts lost depend on several factors, including fitness level, air temperature and humidity, clothing and strenuousness of the activity.  Water and electrolytes need to be replenished in order to maintain optimal levels of performance.

Often, athletes choose between water and sports drinks. Water is often perfectly adequate for moderate exercise lasting less than an hour.  For activities that promote a lot of sweating and/or last more than an hour, sports drinks may be necessary to help replenish lost electrolytes. The role of sports drinks is two-fold: 1) replenish lost water and electrolytes; and 2) provide carbohydrates to working muscles.

Choosing the “best” sports drink can be confusing and overwhelming.  There are dozens of drinks and flavors from which to choose.  Options include color, flavor, cost, caffeine, protein, carbohydrate, sodium, potassium.  Ideally, 8 oz. of sports drink should contain the following: 14-18 grams carbohydrate; 110-120mg sodium; 25-30mg potassium*. Following the above guidelines can help the serious athlete maintain performance during competitive or strenuous exercise.  If you have any questions regarding sports nutrition and/or exercise, contact your local nutritionist or physical therapist.  We at Quality Care Physical Therapy can be reached at (425) 486-6079.

* Vredenburg, J. Feed for Speed: Sports Nutrition for Peak Performance, Cross Country Education Seminar, Seattle WA (2011).