What is Kinesio Taping?

Ever wonder what that pink, blue, or black tape is that is showing up on almost all athletes these days? It’s Kinesio Tape! Do you need to be an Olympic Gold medal winner to enjoy the benefits of kinesio taping? Not at all, Kinesio Taping Association International (KTAI) estimates that 85% of the users of kinesio taping are not athletes but people who suffer from chronic pain, repetitive stress injury, and ligament, tendon, and joint injuries.

In 1979, Dr. Kenzo Kase, developed the kinesio taping method to enhance his manual therapy techniques. To further facilitate his method he developed the kinesio tex tape from 1979 to 1981. Due to the success and popularity of the kinesio taping method, Dr. Kenzo Kase founded the Kinesio Taping Association International and the first conference was held in Japan in 1984.
So how can Kinesio Taping Method help you?

The Kinesio Taping Method is a definitive rehabilitative taping technique that is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process. It provides support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion as well as providing extended soft tissue manipulation to prolong the benefits of manual therapy administered within the clinical setting. Latex-free and wearable for days at a time, Kinesio Tex Tape is safe for populations ranging from pediatric to geriatric, and successfully treats a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and other medical conditions.

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Get Fit While Watching the Super Bowl

Photo by Anthony Quintano on Flickr

Metlife Stadium: Home of Super Bowl 48. Photo by Anthony Quintano on Flickr.

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us! Time to gather around the T.V. and root for your favorite team to win. There will be plenty of beverages, snacks, and high fives to go around. I would like to add another dimension to your yearly routine. Why not get fit while watching the game? It’s a perfect time to do some reps and work on yourself.

These exercises can be done quickly and do not take any extra equipment to perform.

1. Coach Triceps Dips

This can be perform on a sturdy chair, a bench, or a coach.

  • Sit with your back to a bench or chair
  • Place your hands on the bench so your fingers are pointing to you
  • Lift your buttocks off the ground and straighten your legs so only your heels are on the floor
  • Bend your elbows out behind you to lower your buttocks towards the floor
  • Push back up until your elbows are straight
  • Follow this video for a demonstration.
    • People with a shoulder problem should probably not do these unless they are supervised.

2. Crunches

Crunches can be done quickly and are a great workout for your abs.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  • Place your hands behind your head so your thumbs are behind your ears.
  •  Don’t lace your fingers together.
  • Hold your elbows out to the sides but rounded slightly in.
  • Tilt your chin slightly, leaving a few inches of space between your chin and your chest
  • Gently pull your abdominals inward.
  • Curl up and forward so that your head, neck, and shoulder blades lift off the floor.
  • Hold for a moment at the top of the movement and then lower slowly back down.
  • Follow this video for a demonstration.

3. Squats

Considered the king of all exercises, squats develop a lot of lower leg muscles and your core. They are easy and quick to do but there are some key elements you will want to pay attention to. If you have not done squats before we recommend you work with someone who can show you the proper form.

  • Place feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, knees over ankles.
  • Roll the shoulders back and down away from the ears. Note: Allowing the back to round (like a turtle’s shell) will cause unnecessary stress on the lower back.
  • Extend the arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down (like your hands are on someone’s shoulders at a 7th grade dance). Or, if it’s more comfortable, pull the elbows close to the body, palms facing each other and thumbs pointing up.
  • Initiate movement by inhaling into the belly, and unlocking the hips, slightly bringing them back. Keep sending hips backward as the knees begin to bend.
  • While the butt starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, and the back stays straight.
  • Keep the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine.
  • Let the hip joint squat lower to the ground than the knees, if comfortable. Pro tip: Try squatting onto a box. Gentle tapping it with the butt will be a reminder to squat low.
  • Engage the core, and exhale while driving through the heels to return to standing. Imagine the feet are spreading the floor (the left foot to the left, right foot to the right) without actually moving the feet.
  • Follow this video to see a good demonstration.

So if you are on the edge of your seat and have a lot of energy put towards one of these exercises and help yourself become healthier.

References:

1) Beams, Rob “Coach Robb: Strength: Tricep Dips Off Chair or Bench” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqahmBbPfAA

2) Howcast featuring Racheal Buschert Vazirelli “How to Do a Squat | Boot Camp Workout” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXJrBgI2RxA

3) Livestong.com, featuring Amy McCauley “How to do Crunches” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xyd_fa5zoEU

4) McDermott, Nicole “How to do the Perfect Sqaut”. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/25/perfect-squat-form_n_3147277.html

5) “How to do Crunches”.  http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-do-crunches.seriesId-101966.html

6) “Triceps Dips”.  http://www.teachpe.com/strengthening/dips.php

Health Tips For Airline Travel

aeroplane-93498_1280

Thank you to the Aerospace Medical Association for this information. If you would like to learn more about aerospace medicine please click on this link. 

 

Introduction

Airline travel is fast, convenient and safe, with the vast majority of passengers reaching their destinations safely and without harmful health effects. However, the aircraft environment and travel-related factors can cause certain stresses on travelers.

The Aerospace Medical Association has prepared this brochure for passengers, with the hope that the following useful air travel tips and general health information will make your travels more enjoyable

General Tips

Plan ahead

  • Research the health-related conditions in the country you are visiting.
  • Be sure your immunizations are current.
  • Allow ample time to check in and reach your departure gate.
  • Carry your medication with you in your carry-on luggage.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing and comfortable shoes that have been worn previously.
  • Delay your trip if you are not well.
  • Seek the Advice of your physician if you have any

Cabin Environment

Pressurization:

In order to allow for flying at high altitudes where oxygen concentration is lower, aircraft cabins are pressurized. This pressure, called barometric pressure, is lower than at sea level. For most flights the cabin pressure is similar to the pressure on a peak of a small mountain that is at 5,000 – 8,000 feet.

This has two effects:

1. Less oxygen is available because the pressure of oxygen becomes lower, and

2. Gas within our body cavities expands. Both of these phenomena are usually well-tolerated by healthy passengers.

Both of these phenomena are usually well-tolerated by healthy passengers.

Effects of Altitude – Oxygen

With increased cabin altitude comes a decrease in oxygen absorbed into the blood and circulated throughout the body, as compared to ground level. As long as you are in reasonably good health, your body has mechanisms that compensate for this decreased quantity of oxygen.

On the other hand, passengers with significant heart, lung, and blood diseases may not tolerate lower amounts of oxygen well. Therefore, they should consult their physician before air travel to evaluate their capability to travel and to determine if there is a need for medical oxygen or other special assistance.

  • Medical oxygen can be arranged with most airlines. Check with your carrier several days in advance of the flight.
  • The combination of low oxygen, alcohol, inactivity and sleep can generate unpleasant side effects like dizziness and/or fainting if one stands up too fast after awakening. Arm and leg exercises before standing up will usually prevent this.

Effects of Altitude – Gas Expansion

The body contains air in the middle ear (inside of the ear drum) and sinuses. As the aircraft ascends, the air in these cavities will expand but the excess pressure will be released outside via tubes connecting them to the nose. On descent the reverse occurs, with air flowing from outside to these cavities via the same tubes. This is well-tolerated as long as the air can flow into and out of these cavities freely. To facilitate the free flow of air, particularly on descent, it is helpful to periodically swallow, chew or yawn. (This is why it is important that passengers stay awake during descent.) Give something to drink to young children or a pacifier to infants.

  • Avoid flying if you have an ear, nose or sinus infection. Congestion prevents the air from flowing freely in and out of these cavities which could result in pain, bleeding and even a ruptured ear drum.
  • Don’t fly if you are not able to clear your ears.
  • Eat slowly and avoid eating gas-forming foods (peanuts, cabbage, etc.) or carbonated liquids shortly before a flight. The swallowed air or gas formed through digestion will expand and can cause discomfort.

Comfort

Humidity

Humidity in the cabin is usually low: in the range of 20%. There is no specific risk to your health, but low humidity can cause mild discomfort, particularly dry skin and eye irritation for sensitive people.

  • Drink about 8 ounces of water each hour and use a hydrating nasal spray.
  • Limit consumption of alcohol, tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks because they cause you to lose fluids.
  • Wear glasses instead of contact lenses.
  • Apply a skin moisturizer.
  • Consider using eye drops

Motion

Some people are sensitive to the motion of the aircraft and develop nausea and dizziness. Known as motion sickness, this is more common in smaller aircraft and when facing some level of turbulence along the flight.

  • Request a seat over the wings and/or request a window seat.
  • Schedule flights on larger airplanes.
  • Avoid alcohol for the 24 hours prior to flight and in-flight.
  • Consult your physician about motion sickness medication if necessary

Sitting Space

On long flights we tend to remain seated for extended periods of time. In susceptible individuals, prolonged periods of immobility can slow down blood flow in the leg veins. This can lead to ankle swelling and, in predisposed individuals, increase the risk of blood clots to form inside the veins, known as Traveler’s Thrombosis.

Traveler’s Thrombosis manifests as pain and/or swelling in the legs during travel or even several days or weeks afterwards. It can be a serious and, on occasion, a life-threatening situation if a clot breaks off and travels to the lungs causing what is called a pulmonary embolism.

Also, staying seated for prolonged periods of time can cause muscle stiffness and pain.

  • Wear loose clothing (conversely, avoid tight, restrictive garments).
  • Place nothing under the seat in front of you, for more leg space.
  • Stretch and periodically exercise your feet and ankles while seated.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water while minimizing alcohol, sugary and caffeinated beverages.
  • Consult your physician if you have underlying illness such as recent surgery, cancer, blood clotting disorder or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

If you would like to learn more, please continue to the Aero Space Medical Association website.

References

  1. http://www.asma.org/asma/media/asma/Travel-Publications/HEALTH-TIPS-FOR-AIRLINE-TRAVEL-2013.

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Acupuncture

Photo credit to Pixbay

Photo credit to Pixbay

This week’s blog we will cover 5 of the most frequently asked questions about acupuncture. We hope this will be a nice article for people to learn about acupuncture and also educate people who may be interested.

How old is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the longest medical traditions alive in the world today.  Some scholars claim the tradition is 5,000 years old (Neolithic Era), more conservative estimates have put it to being 2,500 years old (Bronze Age). As more archeological evidence is discovered perhaps one day we will have a more clear picture on the subject. In any case, acupuncture has been with us for centuries.

How safe is acupuncture?

Acupuncture when performed by a licensed practitioner using clean needle techniques is generally a safe procedure.

What are the needles like?

All acupuncture needles are sterile, stainless steel, single use (disposable) needles. Acupuncture needles are as thin as a human hair and they glide into the skin.  Acupuncture needles are filiform, meaning they are solid, and are not designed to rip and tear flesh like syringe needles are made to.

Is acupuncture painful ?

Generally, I would say that a majority of my patients do not feel pain or discomfort with my needling style. At times, when dealing with painful conditions, there may be a sense of minimal discomfort but it is a very brief and temporary feeling.

How might acupuncture work?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): “In the TCM system of medicine, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle, yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. Among the major assumptions in TCM are that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a “balanced state” and that disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians. It is believed that there are 12 main meridians and 8 secondary meridians and that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body that connect with them.

Preclinical studies have documented acupuncture’s effects, but they have not been able to fully explain how acupuncture works within the framework of the Western system of medicine that is commonly practiced in the United States. It is proposed that acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.”

Thank you for reading our blog. If you have a condition and would like to know if acupuncture can help, feel free to call us 415.445.9388  or email us info@sfacugroup.com and schedule a free 15 minute consultation.

References:

  1. http://healing.about.com/od/acupuncture/ss/whatisacpunctre_5.htm
  2. http://ezinearticles.com/?How-Old-is-Acupuncture?-Challenging-the-Neolithic-Origins-Theory&id=3067317
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12564354
  4. http://www.bastyrcenter.org/content/view/112/

 

Autumn: An Eastern Prespecitive

Fall Forest

Red and yellow leaves, pumpkin and squash, black cats, and creepy crawlers — autumn is upon. Autumn marks the end of the growing season and the beginning of the yin cycle. A transitory season balanced between a season of highest yang (summer) and of highest yin (winter).  It is a great season to take stock of the year successes and losses and to plan ahead for the upcoming winter and year.

In the cosmology of Chinese medicine autumn is a season marked by the metal element. Metal energy is consolidating and promotes inward movement, like a flower closing its petals. The metal energy gives us strength and determination for the winter ahead and contemplation of the harvest we’ve reaped.

According to Wu Xing (five elements) metal governs the lungs and respiratory system making it a great time of the year to fortify these systems. Traditionally, autumn is seen as a time for dryness, which can negatively affect the lungs. Symptoms of dryness include thirst, dryness of skin, nose, lips, and throat, and itchiness. There are many herbs and formulas that can assist in shoring up the lungs for this pervasive pathogen. Bai He Ju Gin Tang which translates to Lily Bulb to Preserve the Metal decoction is a classic formula for lung dryness. This formula is often used to treat cough and chronic bronchitis.

As autumn is a time to contract inward, more soured flavored foods can aid in this process. These include sauerkraut, olives, pickles, leeks, rose hip tea, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and sour varieties of apples, plums, and grapes. To aid the lungs with dryness: spinach, barley, millet, pear, persimmon, almond, pinenut, clam, crab, and mussel are most appropriate.

In general, autumn is a great time of the year to prepare the body for the challenging winter months ahead. We look to aid our patients with acupuncture and herbal remedies that will strengthen the lungs and respiratory systems, warding off the upcoming cold and flu season. Please contact us if you would like to know more on how to best prepare.

http://www.sfacugroup.com.

References

1) http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/Chinese_Customs/five_elements.htm

2) http://www.5elements.com/docs/elements/metal.html

3)Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition 3rd ed. North Atlantic Books. Berkeley, Ca. 2002.

4) https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Enjoy+the+Energy+of+Fall+Autumn+and+Traditional+Chinese+Medicine

5) PublicDomainPictures– pixabay.com – Uploaded 03/01/2012 (Leaf)

6) LoggaWiggler – pixabay.com – upload 10/26/2012 (Fall Forest)

3 Adaptogenic Herbs That Will Change the Way You Handle Stress

Rhodiola by the water
By Gérald Tapp [CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Stress is an inevitable part of daily life and at times it can easily become unmanagable. What are we to do when the amount of stress we face is increasing and the amount of time we have to ourselves is decreasing? What interventions can we use that will help us in the short term as we work towards a better balance? Let’s take a look at what stress is and how adaptogenic herbs can help us when we need it the most.

In a very basic sense, when we look at the nervous system we have two states; fight or flight (sympathetic) or rest and digest (parasympathetic). In our not so distant past, when we heard a rumbling in a bush or the snapping of a twig, our nervous system would mount a response in our body and we would rush into action to either fight for our lives or run away from the danger.

In modern times, the snapping of the twig has been replaced by our boss, a constant flood of emails, and the ever increasing “to do” list. When our bodies decide to use the same tactic it has evolved from centuries before, this tactic tends to come up short. We simply cannot fight or run from our day to day activities like we could from the beasts that were ready to eat us.

Furthermore, if left uncheck, this stress response can have detrimental effects on the body. Chronic stress contributes to a host of negative signs, symptoms, diseases, and disorders including but not limited to:

  • Memory and concentration impairment
  • Heart disease
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Digestive problems
  • Aches and pains
  • Exacerbation of any chronic disorder or diseases

Having healthy lifestyle habits in place can contribute towards diminishing chronic stress. Our experience has shown us that when people are working really hard, their good habits drop off.

This is where adaptogenic herbs can contribute the most. When people are too busy to exercise, eat healthy, and sleep well. Adaptogenic herbs can buy us time to reestablish a balance in the nervous system and supports the body to better handle the stress.

Adaptogenic herbs are classified as herbs that help protect the body from various stressors, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. These herbs have been used for centuries and across many civilizations. Stress is by no means a modern condition and we are only the latest generation to grapple with how to best defuse it.

Astragulas has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Known primarily for its wonderful benefit as an immune system enhancer. It typically is used to combat colds, influenza (flu), and upper respiratory tract infections. It has the additional bonus of providing energy for people suffering from fatigue due to chronic stress

Ashwagandha, known in the ayurvedic traditions as Indian ginseng, has been associated with promoting good health for centuries. A study indicated that administration of this herb effectively increased tolerance to stress in individuals and improved overall scores in in quality of life samplings. Ashwagandha can also be used to help with reducing inflammation and decreasing pain.

Grown in the artic regions of Asia and Europe, rhodiola is our go to herb for chronically high stressed patients. This plant can increase physical endurance, mental performance, and reduce stress induced fatigue in humans. In a study of military cadets undergoing sleep deprivation and stress found that rhodiola greatly helped the cadets with the effects of fatigue. Athletes are also taking advantage of rhodiola’s properties while training. Rhodiola is great at improving endurance capacity during exercises and shortening the recovery time from high endurance activities.

These are just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to adaptogenic herbs. There are many more adaptogenic herbs that can assist in treating chronic stress. Not to mention an entire pharmacopia of herbal therapies for acute and chronic conditions. If you would like to know more please talk to your local acupuncturist about what they can do for your health.

Lastly, we want to hear from you, our readers. What do you do to manage chronic stress? Are there certain regimens that you use that help with stress? We would love to hear from you and how you go about tackling this common condition.

 

References:

Fight Pain Naturally

Sardines

What does fish, turmeric, and green tea all have in common (other than a great lunch)?

They are all natural sources of anti-inflammatory agents and produce a significant amount of pain relief.

Typically, people with inflammation will take a NSAID (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) to relieve their aches and pains. Common NSAIDS are Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), and Naproxen (Aleve).

Did you know that there are natural alternatives to NSAIDS and that they carry a lot less side effects? NSAID side effects include but are not limited to gastrointestinal upset, gastritis, ulceration, and can adversely affect the kidneys.

Omega 3 EFAs (fish oil) are one of the ways that we can naturally help reduce the inflammation in the body. A study of 250 patients with cervical and lumbar disc disease, who were taking NSAIDS, revealed that 59% could substitute fish oil supplements as a natural anti-inflammatory agent for NSAIDS.

One of the sources for fish oil are through capsule supplementation, we recommend buying from a reputable company (Nordic Naturals). Another way is by food, eating fish 2-3 time per week. The fish should be oily flesh, wild caught, and live in cold water (we really like fresh sardines); if you have concern on quality and environmental impact the Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great website called Seafood Watch.

Turmeric is a flowering plant in the ginger family and an often favorite of Indian cuisine. Curcumin, is the most active part of turmeric. Used in many healing traditions for centuries, both in ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine (called Jiang Huang or “ginger yellow”), new research has given credence to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Green tea, more known for its cardiovascular and cancer preventative characteristic due to its antioxidant properties. The tea has now been getting more recognition for its use in treatment with arthritic conditions. The current research now demonstrates both anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective (promote joint health) effects. Typical recommendations for green tea are 3-4 cups per day.

These are just a few of the many natural alternatives to drug therapy. As with any drug that you take at pharmaceutical recommendations, please consult with a health care provider that is knowledgeable in natural alternatives. There are side effects and drug interactions that you will need to be informed about. All therapies should be in the guidance of a health care professional.

Resources

Weil, Dr. Andrew, “Omega 3”Dr. Weil, July 2nd, 2013  http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/ART00398

“What are NSAIDS” Orthoinfo, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. January 2009, July 2nd 2013.  http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a0028

Maroon JC, Bost JW, Maroon A. “Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief.” Surg Neurol Int.2010;1: