Forms of Stress: How Does Your Body Handle Them?

By Dr. Emily Rowan Alsheskie, chiropractor, MY Life Health Center

What if I told you that stress wasn’t real? Sounds untrue, but when thinking about mental or emotional stress, it is really how you perceive it. A farmer needs rain at certain times and sunshine at certain times. Sometimes when the farmer needs sunshine, it rains and when the farmer needs rain, the sun shines. Is rain a stressful event? Absolutely not! It’s all about how you perceive it. This idea of perception is the first essential of health that is taught in our practice, and it is one of three forms of stressors that occur to our bodies–emotional/mental stress.

Some mental stressors are out of our control, but there are ways to reduce our exposure to negativity by doing things like practicing forgiveness, using positive self-talk, and limiting our interactions with negative individuals.

The second major stressor may not be as obvious as the others, but it has a HUGE impact on the body’s ability to function properly. This is chemical stress. The most common form of chemical stress comes from our daily nutrition. This includes inflammatory products and foods like sugar, artificial sweeteners, food additives, preservatives and pesticides, as well as hydrogenated fats. The easiest way to avoid these harmful substances is to consume whole, fresh, organic foods and cut out processed and packaged foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and not the aisles!

The last and typically most noticed form of stress is physical stress. Motor vehicle accidents, slips, falls, and sporting injuries are common forms of macrotrauma. Microtraumas that accumulate over time and contribute to physical stress include things like sitting at a desk for extended periods of time and bending the head forward to use gadgets like cell phones. These repetitive actions, that we were not designed to experience on a daily basis, cause structural changes to the spine and supporting musculature. These changes in our foundation impact our most important system, the nervous system. The nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves that control all cells, tissues, and organs. When stress is constantly endured by the body–in all three forms: chemical, mental/emotional, and physical–the nervous system takes the hit and cannot control the body’s processes as it was intended to. This is why stress not only harms us in the short term but can lead to chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular complications, and other debilitating diseases.

Chiropractic care may be most known for symptom relief related to the spine, but chiropractors are really nervous system doctors. The nervous system is addressed via the spine since the vertebral column is what surrounds and protects this very important system. When the structure of the spine is in its most stable form, stress and tension are relieved from the spinal cord and the nerves that control the system’s processes. This is why patients who practice proper spinal hygiene with chiropractic adjustments and spinal therapies experience less sick days, improved quality of sleep, reduced number of over the counter/prescription medications, and less symptoms overall.

Stress is a normal part of life. I can’t take away your stressors like picking up your kids, making dinner, or walking your dog. But the big question here is, how well can your body handle stress? As doctors of chiropractic, we first and foremost check for any nervous system stressors and disruptors that can be causing an imbalance and inability to heal. From there we make corrections (the adjustment) by using our hands, drop table, and adjusting tool to put the body in a healing and less stressed state.

Physical, mental/emotional, and chemical stressors are a part of our day to day lives, but stress itself is not the problem. It’s how much stress we experience and how our bodies handle it. Taking care of yourself with adequate nutrition, exercise, mindset practices, and proper spinal alignment give you the best opportunity to prevent common lifestyle-induced illnesses and chronic pain. Whether you have aches and pains or not, get a nervous system evaluation to take a proactive and preventative approach to your health. Then incorporate the other tips included here to aid your body in healing!

Dr. Emily Rowan Alsheskie holds a doctorate in chiropractic with a special emphasis on prenatal and neonatal care. She is a recent graduate from Life University, a chiropractic college in Marietta, Georgia. Dr. Emily joined in practice with her mentor, Dr. Kevin Schultz, at MY Life Health Center in Lake Hallie this past fall. She is a mother to her two-year-old son, Rory, and is excited to raise him in the Chippewa Valley!

Choose HEALTH This New Year

By Dr. Emily Smith, Smith & Prissel Chiropractic

With every new year, we as adults find ourselves knee-deep in resolutions to make this year different than the last. As with everything else, our kids are watching! Without knowing we often “gift” our kids with their lifestyle habits, both good and bad. Breaking a bad habit is much harder than making a good habit. This year resolve to instill healthy changes that will benefit the entire family (and if everyone is involved, success is more likely to last past January!)

● Treats are just that, a treat! Eating a sweet treat every day creates a habit of needing sugar to feel satisfied. Avoid buying highly processed cookies/cakes at the store/gas station and instead choose to make healthier versions of sweets at home. (Add the word “healthy” into your Pinterest search bar to eliminate temptations.) If you have always been a family that ends a meal with dessert, try to follow the meal with fruit instead!

● Water should be the drink of choice! It’s not sweet or carbonated, but water is what our body needs and craves in order to function optimally. You should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces every day (for example if you weigh 100, pounds you should drink 50 ounces of water every day). Think of it like this, if you aren’t drinking enough water you are essentially creating “jerky” out of your muscles. If you’ve ever tried to bend/twist/stretch jerky, you know that you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that yourself. Dehydrated muscles will also be more prone to injury and result in more pain. Nobody wants that! If cold/flu symptoms have caused dehydration, turn to coconut water for rehydration (it’s nature’s Gatorade!)

● We’ve all heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but did you know that a simple apple contains 10,000 ingredients?! None of these are in huge amounts but rather in small amounts that work synergistically together to provide us with the prevention we give it credit for. But don’t stop there! All fruits and vegetables have their own massive amount of nutrients just waiting to do amazing things within your body! Strive to “eat the rainbow” with a wide variety of colors of fruits and vegetables every day. For those of you who struggle to accomplish that (due to cost/time/effort/desire), Juice Plus+ can be a great way to bridge the gap between what you are eating and what your body needs! www.JuicePlus.com

● Get active together! Whether this involves a family gym membership or hiking through the woods on snowshoes, the important part is that you are moving! To motivate kids check out http://healthylivingrevolution.com/start-strong-kids-challenge/. This Strong Kids Challenge sticker sheets offer lots of ideas to help kids incorporate all of these healthy choices and keep track of their progress. There are also great ideas for healthy snacks, lunchbox planning, and a downloadable cookbook full of tasty recipes that the entire family will love.

Dr. Emily Smith is a pediatric chiropractic specialist but treats patients of all ages at her Menomonie and Eau Claire (Smith & Prissel Chiropractic) offices. She focuses on whole body wellness as it relates to health, including how important good nutrition is. She can be reached at esmithdc@msn.com or (715) 833-3505.

Timing, Speed, and Balance

By Judy Soborowicz, Active Health Chiropractic

Timing is everything, especially in sports. The brain controls all movement and coordination of body timing, such as responding to the sudden change in walking and properly maintaining balance when stepping in a hole, and for explosive movements required for competitive sports. The brain is responsible for coordination, communicating with specialized nerve cells found in every joint and ligament of the body, which allows for the coordinated response of muscles. These specialized nerve cells are activated when the slightest movement occurs within the joint, making the brain able to instantaneously respond with muscle contraction and repositioning of joint position for stabilization in motion.

Functional MRI has shown that the brains of participants post-ACL repair during bending and extending the knee respond differently, as compared to controls. Studies suggest that due to loss of the specialized sensory receptors within the knee, the brain shifts function to rely more on the visual centers of the brain. Even with exercise and movement, the brain displays changes in response. Aside from the input of the inner ear, communication between joint sensory receptors is the primarily way we balance and respond in movement. Relying on visual motor response may be why performance can be so negatively affected.

Take for example, an ankle sprain, or when any joint and surrounding supportive tissue is injured. The motion of that joint is altered because of problems within the joint. During the healing time, the communication between the specialized nerve cells and brain are altered. Post-injury, the body may be able to regain use, but small issues within the joint may persist, decreasing the fast timing and responsiveness accompanying previously healthy movement. This means you may be able to perform, but may notice changes in your speed of responsiveness, balance, or persistent re-injury that negatively affects you overall.

A simple balance test, done in your home, can be a great way to determine how efficient your brain is at gathering information from the specialized nerve cells stimulated by joint position and inner ear. With a partner, in a safe place, attempt to balance on one foot. If you are able to balance with your eyes open, attempt the same with eyes closed. If you are unable to balance without using your eyes, you may be relying on your visual motor response. This may translate to slower performance as an athlete, chronic injuries, or the loss of ability to walk confidently in the dark or on irregular ground.

Optimizing the output from the sensory receptors throughout joints depends on stimulation, which occurs with healthy movement. Chiropractic adjustments address problem movement issues within the joints. Specific adjustments to restore healthy movement translate to big changes in performance. Nerve cells have a “use it or lose it” requirement. Increasing information relayed between the joint receptors and brain begins a process regaining response and performance. Restoring function to joint movement and sensory communication to the brain reduces the likelihood of injuries/re- injuries, and restores brain function to original design. The healthier the movement in the joint, the more robust the signaling for better timing, response, and stabilization.

Judy Soborowicz, DC CCN obtained her chiropractic degree at Palmer College of Chiropractic. Dr Judy enjoys practicing chiropractic and nutrition at Active Health in Eau Claire, alongside her husband Dr John.

Pole Dance Your Way to Fitness

by Kerri Mae Kiernan, Dragonfly Dance and Wellness

Tired of jogging and the same old exercise classes? Maybe it’s time to consider trying the new exercise trend of pole dancing. In August, Dragonfly Dance and Wellness in Eau Claire began offering classes in pole dancing.

Most of the participants have been women, but a few men have also participated. Kerri Mae Kiernan, who is one of the facilitators of the classes, says there are both beginning pole classes and more advanced classes. “Many of our beginner series have really taken off! Most students benefit from enrolling in a series where they can build their foundational skills each week.” If you’ve never tried pole dancing before or have not been exercising regularly, don’t worry, you can still sign up. “You don’t have to be fit to start pole dancing; you can use it to get fit!” she notes.

Each pole dancing class involves a warm-up to get everyone’s muscles ready for peak poses in class. Upbeat music is used that is easy to dance and move to. Each teacher has their own style, and, Kerri Mae notes, “you will find yourself using muscles you never knew you had!” A combination of choreography, aerobic conditioning, and fun floorwork give you a full body workout. Class always ends with stretching and a cool down.

But why pole dancing when you consider all the other exercise choices? Kerri Mae explains:

“Pole fitness is a fun and challenging workout that builds total body strength, and while it may at first be challenging, it is empowering to find yourself growing your skills (and biceps!) as you stick with it. Many women find pole fitness to be very enjoyable for self-expression and for building confidence.”
Jene Luciani, in her article “8 Reasons You Need to Try Pole Fitness” says it’s an opportunity to role play as you exercise, and that attracts women who want something new for their workouts. Another reason is the camaraderie involved. “Women who take the classes together create great friendships while bonding over the fun of pole dancing,” she says. Many who have done pole fitness find its rewards go beyond exercise benefits. “It builds confidence and improves body image and the ability to tackle other seemingly out of reach goals in life,” she says. “This confidence inevitably blends into other areas of your life, including relationships.”1

While the pole dancing classes are fitness classes, Kerrie Mae wants to stress that it is dancing and it’s fun! “Instead of gym shorts and t-shirts, most of the women wear pole dancing clothing. Many beginners do at first come in pants and a t-shirt but soon find out that actually having shorts is helpful as your skin helps you stick to the pole. You will find yourself learning fun and sexy dance moves to help you break a sweat. That’s why pole fitness and dance is fun—because it makes you feel sexy too! Whether it’s just the dance moves or your cute, new little booty shorts. Sometimes we wear heels too! Now that’s a real challenge!”

All the pole fitness instructors at Dragonfly Dance and Wellness have been trained and certified through the accredited XPERT Pole Fitness teacher training. These teachers are also experienced in many circus/flow arts such as hooping, lyra, silks, acro yoga, and fire spinning and have been performing for local events within the community for several years as troupe members of the Torch Sisters.

Follow Dragonfly Dance and Wellness on Facebook and like their pole fitness page “Dragonflyers” to find information about special events and new series starting every four or six weeks!

Sources:
1. Luciani, Jene. “8 Reasons You Need to Try Pole Fitness,” Shape. www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/8-reasons-you-need-try-pole-fitness.

Perfection KILLS Your Progress: Why It’s Okay Not to Be Perfect

by Jeremy Huisheere, FitElite

Have you ever set a goal and the longer you thought about it, the more unattainable it became?  I think it is safe to say that everyone has been in this predicament. In the fitness and wellness realm, these goals are usually connected to the chase of weight loss or an improved physique.  It can be daunting when setting a long-term goal because there are so many opportunities for you to fall off track.

Let’s paint the picture of a 2018 New Year’s Resolution. You are ready to make a life change and start the journey of getting in better shape. You sit down and set a goal of losing 25 pounds. To do this, you decide you are going to quit drinking soda, stop eating added sugars, fried foods, and ice cream, cut down on carbs, increase your vegetables, start drinking more water, sleep better, and start going to the gym six days a week. The list could go on and on.

What are the chances that you are going to eat perfectly, sleep perfectly, and have a perfect gym routine every single day this year? I’ll tell you—ZERO and that is okay! Refocus yourself to nail one thing at a time.

When setting your fitness or wellness goal (or any goal for that matter), don’t dwell on perfection. If you do, you will always fail. Rather, focus on progress. At the end of your day, look yourself in the mirror and ask this one simple question, “Am I making progress?” This gives you so many opportunities to succeed. If what you are doing this week is getting you closer to your end goal, that is progress!

Will your progress come to a screeching halt if you have an off day and your nutrition is less than ideal? Absolutely not! Did going to the gym on that same day, when in the past you would have stayed home, mean you are progressing toward your end goal? Absolutely!

There is no room in the chase of progress for the crippling stress of perfection. Don’t worry about being perfect, and know that every decision is an opportunity leading you one step closer to your end goal.

If you can retrain your brain into the positive thinking of progress, you will no longer have to spend your time worrying about the imperfections that are found in everyday life situations. Treating each individual decision each day as a stepping stone in the right direction will lead to many small “wins” or “successes.” These incremental “wins” will culminate into one massive achievement—reaching your ultimate goal.

The most difficult thing about progress is that it sometimes happens at a snail’s pace. Patience is not something that comes easy for most, but those who are willing to stick it out are the ones who tend to see the greatest successes.

Be patient with your progress, be patient with yourself, and remember, perfection is not the answer. Rather ask, “Am I Making Progress?”