How Stress Affects Your Immune System

Stress is a normal part of life. It’s a natural condition our bodies are designed to deal with quite effectively.  But people are often not aware of the negative consequences of modern day chronic stress on their health until it’s too late. Some people are able to cope with stress better than others. Some take practical steps to reduce their stress each day to diminish the wear and tear on their bodies and minds.

Most of us, though, are not aware of just how much stress is harming our health. It is not until we are diagnosed with a serious illness such as heart disease that we’re told we need to make drastic changes to our lifestyle and reduce stress if we wish to live longer.

So what exactly is stress? Stress is the body and mind’s response to any unusual event or situation which challenges us or that we perceieve is a threat or some kind. Stress provides the body with a burst of energy, outting us into the “fight or flight” response so we can react to the perceived threat.

People either run away from the thing that stresses them (flight), or they turn and try to deal with it (fight). Some strategies are more effective than others depending on the situation. The system is designed to be temprary, though. Once we rid ourself of the threat or danger, we should then return to a normal relaxed state of physiolgy. In the modern world, this stressed state is unfortunately not temporary for most people which leads to problems.

Our life is stressful from the moment we are born. There is the stress of birth, of feeling hunger, or needing our diaper changed. At school, there is the stress of performing well on exams, in presentations in front of the class, the school play, or on the school sports team. In our university years, there are the stresses of needing to maintain a good enough GPA to stay in school, or perhaps even get a scholarship or acceptance to grad school. Then there are social stresses, dating, relationships, friendships, peer pressure, and more.

As adults outside of school, there is the stress of whether or not we will find a job. If we don’t, there is the stress of trying to make ends meet. Even if we do get a job, we must keep it, let alone try to get a raise, promotion, and so on. Even happy occasions such as a new job, business, wedding, baby or home can trigger major stress responses in the body.

Most of us work very hard ‘burning the candle at both ends’ in order to try to keep up with all the demands on our time every day. This can lead to a lack of sleep and “downtime” for relaxation to help recharge the body and mind. The lack of rest and downtime can in turn lead to a weakened immune system. Sleep is when the body heals and repairs itself.

A lack of sleep has been shown to have the same effects on the immune system as stress. Stress in turn can interfere with one’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This in turn can create a vicious cycle of even more stress through sleep deprivation, which can leave your immune system vulnerable and open to attack.

If you’re a workaholic, not getting enough sleep, and not taking time out for relaxation, it’s time to get your stress under control. Above all, you must avoid burning out. This is a serious situation that damages your immune system and leads to excessive inflammation which has been linked to many conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

There are many ways to reduce stress effectively –  yoga, meditation, tai chi, a relaxing bath, a good night’s sleep, doing something fun that you enjoy, spending quality time with friends and family. If you have been overworking, it’s time to make some new appointments on your calendar for you. Add exercise and a good sleep habit to your daily routine to better support your immune system.

by  Dr Robert Inesta DC L.Ac CFMP CCSP

Choosing Your Workout

Working out is not always fun. You are not always motivated to go outside or go to the gym. So what can you do to motivate yourself??

Do you brush your teeth every day? Do you enjoy it or look forward to it? Perhaps after eating garlic knots or drinking some nasty green drink, you may want to brush your teeth but few people look forward to cleaning their teeth. You brush your teeth every day (hopefully) because it is part of your routine. You don’t think about it, you just do it every morning after you shower and before you go to bed because that is what you do. This strategy needs to be the same with working out. It is as simple as making part of your daily routine.

I go to the gym every morning, except my surgery day, before work. Many days I don’t really feel like going, but I just end up going because it is what I do. I almost always feel better afterwards. I have more energy after and feel better about myself. Some workouts are better than others, but even my worst workouts make me feel better than if I did not work out at all.

In choosing your workout, do what you enjoy. If you hate running you will never want to do it. If you love the elliptical or swimming, that is what you need to do. It is important to vary your workout so you don’t get bored and so you shock your body to challenge different muscles and make more gains, but don’t do things you don’t like.

It is important to do cardio workouts as well as resistance training with weights. I find the gains I make from weight training motivate me more since you can see the results in the mirror and feel it in your strength. The cardio is extremely important to give you energy and help you live longer and healthier. Weight lifting prevents weakness in the bones especially in people predisposed to osteoporosis. Your bone strength peaks at around 30 years old and after that you lose bone. Resistance training will help prevent bone loss and prevent fractures as we get older. I have seen too many old people with spine and hip fractures because they let their bones get weak. You don’t want this to happen to you.

We all need workout at least 5 days a week. Find what you like to do and make it part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth. I promise you will feel better afterwards and the gains you make will be noticed not just by you but by others as well.

 

by

Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA

Director Orthopedic Surgery Westchester Sport & Spine at White Plains Hospital

Enhancing Peak Performance from the Inside Out

Trust, confidence, and being in the present moment express the sensation that we experience when we are 100% focused on a task without entertaining mechanical or distracting thoughts in our minds. When we are totally focused, we achieve our goals, become productive, and feel proud for having moved forward. If being totally focused is so positive, what prevents us from being in that positive mindset for longer time?

It appears that, for some people, staying focused seems to come more naturally while for others it requires a greater amount of conscientious effort. Even for those fortunate individuals, their genetic “focused” gene pool barely counts enough to completely do away from acquiring new experiences and conscientiously putting effort to promote being in the present moment.  By far, experiences and effort much more so than genes are the primary learned source of knowledge that lead to achieve a greater level of emotional regulation in stressful experiences, which in turn, promote focus and enhances results.

The neuroscience behind focusing

Two individuals having a pleasant social interaction not only leads to fun and laughter, but also, unbeknown to them, promotes self-regulation of emotions at a non-verbal language. While having a good time, their respective nervous systems are simultaneously “talking” with one another synchronizing emotions. The nervous system from person A is reading the smiley face from person B, which causes a calmer demeanor and, in turn, responds with another smile. The nervous system from person B reads A’s positive verbal and non-verbal cues, which promotes being in the present moment. The human ability to expand on the capacity to be in the present moment is experience dependent, not genetic dependent. Hence, the quality in the human interaction between athlete and coach has a powerful effect on the ability to enhance peak performance.

The learning pyramid

Picking up a game requires a skill development process. How to properly hold a racquet, hit drive shots, lobs, and serves need technical instructions. Eventually, those skills become a second thought and the athlete moves to the second phase of needing to learn the strategies of the game. Reading the breaks of a golf green increases the chances of making putts. Learning how to talk with a soccer teammate helps to create passing opportunities to score. The third phase is physical development. Athletes require physical stamina, flexibility, and strength to sustain the demands of each sport. However, when the pressure is on, it is the mind that will take over and become pivotal in helping athletes to remain focused and achieve the best possible results. At that moment, the pyramid flips upside down and, unless athletes either learned or were taught to regulate emotions, it means they are less likely to use mental skills to promote a focused state of mind which was not practiced. Based on research, the main factor leading to peak performance in Olympic athletes is the coach-athlete relationship over optimal training environment. When looking at coaches’ behavioral traits that promote peak performance, a 2005 survey found looking at the athlete as a whole person rather than primarily focusing on strategies and skills made the significant difference.

The inside out of peak performance

Achieving peak performance requires teaching athletes how to trust in themselves. When the pressure is on, athletes pay less attention on their skills and more on their emotional regulation. Coaches can promote trust by positively supporting the learning process. When a mistake is made, coaches need to provide a corrective instruction in a positive and encouraging demeanor. Even when the athlete knows the drill and still makes a mistake, motivating rather than using a punishing tone of voice promotes focus rather than fear of making the same mistake again. When making positive progress, applaud the effort more so than the innate talent. Also, coaches should not take progress for granted. They need to keep encouraging and reinforcing mental focus. Help athletes to express the skill they are using that enhances focus as it will be easier to recall their own words rather than the coach’s. Maybe it is a positive cue that crosses their mind or maintaining awareness to a relaxed breathing is what is helping them to remain focused. Whatever works better for them, the easier will it be remembered and used when it really counts.

The more they “own” their sense of being able to regulate their emotions, the more likely they will tap on such an internal source of knowledge. Once the athlete takes ownership of their own ability to promote mental focus, the higher the likelihood that they will achieve their best results. When the game in on the line and the athlete feels most pressure, it matters most the athlete’s inner knowledge and language than the coaches’. Having a sense of confidence and trust come from within. Once it is learned, it is stored in the athletes’ implicit memory for life.

 

Alex Diaz, PhD

Sports Mental Edge

Fitness Isn’t a Seasonal Hobby. Fitness is a Lifestyle.

Summer is here! Time to break out the bathing suits, suntan lotion, and to start planning that trip of a lifetime! Let’s face it – we’ve all been guilty of considering a vacation our “reward” after dedicating ourselves to eating healthy and working out. It’s perfectly fine to indulge a little and let yourself truly enjoy your vacation. However, you can make tons of memories without destroying all of your hard work!

For starters, you can keep up with your workouts. A great way to get exercise while on vacation is to run or walk by the beach. Get up a little early and hit the boardwalk before the heat kicks in! You can even add some strength training to the mix. Be creative and just soak in the moment – after all, it’s not every day that you can run next to or on a beach. Another great idea – hiking. Find a trail or mountain near where you’re staying and spend your morning exploring. You can even include your friends &/or family in on the fun! Lastly, you can work out in the hotel. Even if the hotel you’re staying at doesn’t have a gym on-site, you can get creative and do a short workout in your room. A short workout is better than none at all!

One of the hardest parts of a vacation is avoiding all of the delicious food and drinks available to you. Often people use a vacation as an excuse to just eat everything in sight. You’ve spent months getting ready for this vacation – so why throw it all away now? You can still eat reasonably healthy while enjoying a few treats from time to time. Pick and choose! For instance, if you want that Belgian waffle for breakfast, make sure to have a salad for lunch and a sensible dinner. If you want to enjoy a few frozen cocktails by the pool, just make smart choices elsewhere throughout your day. If you decide to go to a buffet, load your plate with salad, protein, and vegetables so that you only have a small amount of the more decadent things.

Whether you’re hitting the Vegas strip, heading to the Caribbean on a cruise, or just heading to your nearest shore point, you can still be healthy while making memories that will last a lifetime. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself and to not spend every waking second agonizing over a few extra calories or a few less workouts. Don’t stress; just do your best to be as healthy as possible while having the time of your life.

by Gina Stallone

What is ART (Active Release Technique)?

ART, which stands for “Active Release Technique” is a type of soft tissue massage that was created and patented by P. Michael Leahy. It treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and fascia. It focuses on relieving nerve trigger points and tight muscles. By manipulating the soft tissue, less stress will be placed on the joints and nerves, which can help relieve a wide range of chronic pains and injuries.

The goal of ART is to restore the mobility to the muscles so they can move easier around nerves. It also stimulates the lymphatic system and lowers inflammation by moving joint fluid around the body. Many times, overused muscles can develop scar tissue, tears, pulls, strains and inflammation.  Specifically, when a muscle is overused, the tissue can transform by either not getting enough oxygen, accumulating small micro-tears, or through an acute condition, such as a pull or tear. All of these can cause the production of scar tissue, which binds the tissue and prohibits it from moving freely. As a result, the muscle is weaker and shorter, which may entrap nerves or cause tendonitis. This results in pain and reduced range of motion. Some possible symptoms of scar tissue in the body are neck stiffness, stiffness in the elbow, hands, knees or back, increased pain when exercising, loss of muscle strength, inflamed or painful joints, reduced flexibility, and signs of nerve damage, such as tingling or numbness.

During an ART session, the therapist will use tension combined with patient movements to treat the affected areas. There are over 500 treatment protocols used to correct the issues of the individual clients. The protocols use precise, targeted movements, and each treatment is individualized for the patient. ART works to actively release and break up the scar tissue to restore range of motion, increase flexibility, improve performance, and prevent running injuries. Some of the conditions that can be alleviated by ART are lower back pain, tension headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, frozen shoulder, bursitis, and sciatica. ART is different from a massage because a massage may decrease pain by utilizing pressure points, but it won’t break up the scar tissue in your body.

ART is an aggressive therapy, and it may feel painful during the treatment. The amount of sessions needed will vary by condition and range in the frequency needed. Make sure that the practitioner is a certified ART provider, and they can be found on the ART website.

 

by Denise Groothuis

Four Common Chiropractic Myths Busted

Myth 1: Chiropractic Care is Dangerous

Myths BustedA study from Johns Hopkins showed that there are over 250,000 deaths a year from medical errors, with numbers even estimated to be much higher. So over a quarter million deaths alone are from medical errors. This is actually the THIRD leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer. Scary.

The numbers of adverse effects as a result of chiropractic treatments is nearly non-existent compared to the above statistic.

The greatest indicator, though, of the safety of chiropractic care malpractice insurance premiums. No one that knows risks better then malpractice insurance companies – it’s their business. They are the front lines, seeing the claims first hand and they are the ones paying out on the claims. So they certainly do their homework when it comes to the risks involved with these procedures.

The malpractice insurance premium for a primary care physician or general practitioner medical doctor starts at around $10,000 per year and that is on the lower end. Malpractice insurance for a chiropractor is around $2000 a year and that is on the high end. This alone is clearly a huge difference.

Of course medical malpractice only goes up from there as you get in to specialties and surgeries, even into the hundreds of thousands per year in premiums! So if you do the math, where is the risk?

If chiropractic were dangerous our malpractice insurance premium would be much higher. The rates are astronomical for medical malpractice insurance whereas compared to chiropractic. So according to a malpractice insurance company who knows risk better than anyone, it’s a lot more dangerous to go to a medical doctor then it is to go to a chiropractor.

There are risks with any treatment or procedure. And in some cases, chiropractic care, or specific treatment options within chiropractic, would not be appropriate, also known as contraindicated. Proper evaluation of a patient by a chiropractor will determine what treatment is appropriate, if any, or if the patient should be referred to another practitioner.

When practicing in accordance with clinical guidelines, there is no comparison between the risks of medical interventions (drugs and surgery) and chiropractic care.

Myth 2: Chiropractic Care is Addictive

This is a common concern and a common question I’m asked. People often think that if they go to a chiropractor once they will need to go back for the rest of their lives because they will become addicted.  This usually pertains to the the spinal adjustment, which is what most people think of when thinking of chiropractic. This is false.

You will not become physically addicted to chiropractic treatments or adjustments.

You are far more likely to be addicted to medical/pharmaceutical interventions that can actually kill you than to chiropractic. Tens of thousands of people are dying every year from actual medical addictions.  There is no comparison. So even if chiropractic was addictive (and it’s not), we know it’s safe and is good for you!

Now let’s examine some factors that may cause people to think that they may become addicted to chiropractic. The world we live in is extremely unhealthy and there are a lot of things working against us. People have terrible posture, are sitting for hours over computers, staring down at smart phones and not moving as much as they should.  Diets are poor, stress is high and exposure to toxins is unprecedented. So we are developing health problems as a result including tension, restrictions and musculoskeletal problems.

Most chiropractic treatments are based on restoring movement to joints and soft tissues that not moving properly. This allows better communication in the nervous system and fascia, and also improves circulation.  So think about this – would feel good if you’ve been “unstuck” after being “stuck” for a while? If your body has been restricted, stiff or in pain, and now you can move better and your pain is gone, would it feel good? Of course! And naturally you would want more. Restoring health feels good. It doesn’t mean you’re addicted to chiropractic.

In a perfect world, humans would be moving correctly, have perfect posture, eating correctly, have normal stress loads and are not burdened with toxic chemicals. The body would not have as much working against it. It could more easily maintain good health and there would probably be less need for chiropractic treatments.

The main responsibility as a health professional should be to educate patients on how to be healthy so they won’t need us as often. How can you minimize the negative forces of the modern world working against you, how can you eat better, sleep better, think better, move better and allow you body to better repair itself?

So no, chiropractic care is not addictive but you might want more because your body will feel better after experiencing it. Better movement and function is always something to look forward to and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Myth 3: There is No Evidence that Chiropractic Care Works

Did you know that it is estimated by researchers that less than 20% of what physicians do have solid evidence to support it? Think about that for a moment. Less than 20% has solid evidence to support it! That is a small number when we think of “evidence based care.” If less than 20% of procedures have solid evidence behind them, can we truly call it evidence based care?

If someone tells you chiropractic has no evidence to support it, ask what are they actually comparing it to? A different system that does not have significant evidence to support it and furthermore kills a quarter of a million people per year just from errors alone?

There is plenty of scientific research in major peer-reviewed medical journals that demonstrates that chiropractic has positive effects on health and physiology. Spinal adjustments alone have been shown to be effective as a treatment for lower back pain, neck pain and headaches compared to other treatment options. Spinal manipulation has been included in the FDA guidelines for the treatment of pain before the use of opioids.

There is evidence that shows spinal manipulation has neurophysiological effects in the central (brain and spinal cord), peripheral (nerves in arms and legs, and autonomic (organ function and stress response) sections of the nervous system. It has been shown to affect muscle activation and even associated with strength increase in athletes. And this is only the spinal adjustment.

While most chiropractors focus on spinal adjustments, there are many different styles and techniques of chiropractic care. Some of these other specialties include soft tissue therapy, functional rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation and nutrition. Stecco Fascial Manipulation, for example, is a soft tissue technique practiced by some chiropractors and has the most scientific research supporting it of any soft tissue technique.

I’ve heard people say that their medical doctor told them not to see a chiropractor because there is no evidence to support it or because it was dangerous. Anyone who says this is giving you bad information and is clearly not current with the research. I personally would not want to go to a practitioner who was ignorant of the current literature and closed minded to safe, effective options.

Myth 4: Chiropractic Care is Only for Back Pain

Neuromusculoskeletal issues such as shoulder problems, ankle injuries, tennis elbow, knee pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, jaw pain can be helped by chiropractic. Even ear infections and sinus conditions can benefit from chiropractic care. Some chiropractors specialize in pediatric care while others focus on sports injuries and athletic performance optimization.

Most chiropractors do focus on the spine but there are many other styles of practice. Some focus on extremities, some focus on the soft tissues such as muscles and fascia, some focus on neurological function, others focus on nutrition. Even though you don’t have back pain, chiropractic can play a significant role in keeping you healthy.

Think of the body as a functional unit – everything is connected and works together. Everything affects everything else, and if we’re not looking at the body as a whole then we are certainly missing out on a big part of the puzzle. A good chiropractor will see body in this way, look for the imbalances and treat accordingly.

Other popular techniques used by chiropractors use you may not have heard of are soft tissue therapies such as Stecco Facial Manipulation, Active Release Techniques (A.R.T.) and Graston Technique, Applied Kinesiology, functional rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation, and functional medicine.

Final Thoughts

I hope this helped to shed light the fact that these common myths about chiropractors are in fact myths and are false.

Keep in mind that some of the reasons for these myths have been perpetuated by the chiropractic profession itself. There are unethical chiropractors as there are, unfortunately, unethical practitioners in every field. There are practices that have given the profession a bad name. There are practitioners who do not examine their patients properly and use a one-size-fits-all for everybody, which clearly is not an effective approach and can lead to problems. There are people who have had negative experiences with a chiropractor and have had a bad taste left behind.

But there are many people, if not more, that have had negative experiences with mainstream medical practitioners. But because it’s mainstream, the whole profession doesn’t get a bad name. It’s simply thought of as a negative experience with that particular doctor, and they’ll move on and find another doctor.

Mainstream media seems to emphasize negative chiropractic experiences because it is against the grain. If one person has an adverse reaction to a chiropractic treatment it will get mainstream press that will create much fear and doubt. But again, the well over 250,000 people who die every year from medical mistakes typically will not get mainstream press.

Of course there is a time and a place for the mainstream medical model. Modern medicine saves lives in many cases and we are fortunate to have it. This is not an anti-medicine article by any means. But given the risks involved and the availability of natural, safe and effective options such as chiropractic, there needs to be more awareness and a change in perception. Why not go from least invasive/least risk to more invasive/more risk when considering treatments?

When choosing a chiropractor here are some things to consider:

  • Do they properly examine their patients?
  • Do they explain treatment options and develop a plan based on your needs and goals?
  • Do they educate their patients?
  • Are they trying to minimize dependency on care and empowering patients to stay healthy on their own?
  • What techniques do they use?

Chiropractic is an amazing profession that can truly help you feeling better. You can avoid harmful medications and risky procedures that down the road can cause more problems.

If one style of chiropractic does not work for you consider trying something different, as again, there are many different approaches. But you can be confident that chiropractic care is safe, non-addictive, supported by evidence and effective in helping with many different health conditions!

Dr. Robert Inesta DC, L.Ac, CFMP, CCSP

Decreased Dementia Associated with Midlife Cardiovascular Fitness

In a 44-year-long study involving women, high midlife cardiovascular fitness was related to a decreased risk in dementia.  The study found a dose-dependent relationship between fitness level and dementia risk.  Those with a high cardiovascular fitness level had only a 5% incidence of all-cause dementia by the end of the study, as compared with 25% for medium fitness, and 32% for low fitness.  Furthermore, for those who did develop dementia, the onset was an average of five years later in the high fitness group, than in the medium fitness group.  The average age of dementia was 11 years higher in women with a higher fitness level than those with a medium fitness level.

Cardiovascular fitness levels were measured at the start of the study using a stationary bicycle test that incrementally increased workload, in which participants cycled to exhaustion.  Dementia assessments were administered to the participants every 5-10 years thereafter.  The women who had the highest fitness levels also on average had higher wine consumption, their own income, and less hypertension compared with the medium or low fitness groups.  Although this study only involved women, similar conclusions can be extrapolated to men.  A Swedish study that tested cardiovascular fitness utilizing the bicycle test in 18-year-old men, found an increased risk in the onset of dementia occurring among medium fitness levels as compared with highly fit men, and further increased the risk in those with low fitness levels.  A very high dementia incidence was found particularly in participants who could not complete the bicycle test before reaching a submaximal load.

Although the findings were not causative, there is a definitive association between higher cardiovascular fitness and a lower risk for dementia.  Physiologically speaking, those who are the most fit, have a greater amount of oxygen circulating through their bodies.  Higher oxygenation to muscles increase endurance and performance.  Similarly, the same effect can be hypothesized to apply to brain function, as many associative studies have supported.  In short, increasing your cardiovascular fitness level will almost surely enhance your mental function.  Yet another pillar for the benefits of exercise.

by Rima Sidhu, Maze Health

Concussions: What You Need to Know

Concussions, also known as a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI), occur when there is an impact to the head and the brain hits against the bone inside of the cranium and bounces and hits the other side. Berger asserts that the brain gets scraped against any bone irregulates on the inside of the cranial bones. The impact can stretch and tear tiny blood vessels and delicate nervous tissues. The scraping on the inside of the cranium can cause bleeding and bruising to the brain. Depending on the severity of the impact, it can lead to momentary alteration or loss of consciousness, or posttraumatic amnesia.

What you might have not been told is that post-concussion injuries can be accompanied by post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSD). PTSD symptoms occur when we are exposed to an experience that overwhelms our instinctive ability to protect ourselves. When we either recall or re-experience the original traumatic event, the nervous system reacts as if we were reliving the upsetting episode. Highly charged emotions hijack our thinking as our nervous system remains stuck as implicit memory of the traumatic episode. Common PTSD symptoms are manifested in highly aroused anxiety, panic attacks, avoidance, flashbacks, loss of interest, social isolation or irritability. What is really important is that concussion and PTSD symptoms go hand-in-hand and both symptoms must be addressed to restore complete healing.

However, underreporting and/or the pressure to return to competition/class often cuts short the necessary time for the brain to rest. A May 2013 survey revealed 53 percent of high school students would continue to play even if they had a headache stemming from a head injury. Just 54 percent said they would “always or sometimes report symptoms of a concussion to their coach” as per Chris Nowinski, a former athlete himself and co-founder of Sports Legacy Institute.

If young athletes minimize headaches or pain symptoms, then what does this say about giving importance to the lingering emotional symptoms that remain unaddressed? The symptoms of mTBI of PTSD can mimic and overlap with one another and trigger each other. Non-trauma trained professionals may not even consider addressing PTSD symptoms at all. Hence, individuals may present PTSD symptoms and not necessarily associate them with the concussion.

It is precisely during resting time that athletes become restless. Driven by a mental toughness culture and/or the fear of losing out potential athletic scholarships, emotions like depression and anger are normally experienced. Research indicates that depression is about 8 times more common in the first year after Mtbi than in the general population. Likewise, studies are showing that ADHD symptoms may appear even 7 to 10 years after the concussion episode took place. Dr. Asarnow from UCLA indicates that these children may do relatively well when are less academically challenged, but as studying becomes more demanding, ADHD symptoms become more apparent.

A real concern is that teenage athletes are turning into alcohol as a way to “cure” emotional pain. However, drugs and use of alcohol will only worsen the depressive symptoms. Not only it reduces the effectiveness of anti-depressive medication, it can lead to a concerning addiction. Likewise, the recovery time to treat concussions will be prolonged as its symptoms stronger symptoms are typically experienced.

What you NOW know:

  • Concussions are accompanied by PTSD symptoms;
  • Underreporting emotional discomfort will only prolong healing process;
  • Anger, anxiety, and depression are normal emotional symptoms that need to be addressed or athlete may find unhealthy coping skills to alleviate such a pain;
  • The time to begin addressing emotional discomfort is during resting time as boredom may lead to cut short or underreport symptoms.

 

Alex Diaz, PhD

Sports Mental Edge

Older, but Not Weaker

Bone strength peaks by age 30 in humans. That is it…after that your bones get weaker. Muscle strength peaks at about 25 years old and plateaus until 35 years old. After that, you lose muscle strength. So what does that mean for the aging athlete?

Why do you need to maintain bone mass (strength)? Because weaker bones are more likely to break. The death rate after a hip fracture is14-58%. Studies show up 50% of people die within one year of breaking their hip. You don’t want to be one of these unfortunate victims of death by osteoporosis.

There are a few ways to maintain bone strength. First, it is important to reach your peak strength by developing good bones when you are young. You need to get adequate vitamin D and Calcium in your diet at all ages, but if you deprive your body of either of these at a younger age your bones will start out weak. Impact activities such as running or even walking build bone. Non-weight bearing activities like swimming do not build bone. Using weights and doing resistance exercises also helps build bone.

Similarly, building muscle is done through exercise and strength training. Each year after 35 years old, the average person loses 0.5-1% of their muscle mass. If you do not work out, you will get weaker. Even if you work-out, you will still lose strength but not as quickly.

For bones, the most important and common fractures are the hip and the wrist. Leg work-outs especially for the quads are key to maintaining the hip. I like squats, biking, walking and if able running. If any of these hurt, find out why and don’t do them. See your local orthopedist if you develop pain or swelling.

To strengthen your arms, biceps and triceps are important. If your forearms don’t get tired working out, add wrist flexions and extensions with light weights. Wrist fractures are very common in patients older than 65 years old and can be prevented in many people by strength training.

Unfortunately, a common consequence of weak bones is compression fractures of the spine. When older people say they are shrinking it is often due to collapse of the bones of the spine from osteoporosis. Core strengthening and impact exercises can help prevent these fractures.

At any age, you need to eat well and exercise. If you don’t do both, you will get older quicker. You will become frail and more likely to die at a younger age. This is up to you. If you develop pain, don’t give up but find out what the problem is. Have a good doctor you trust available to help you maintain your good health.

By Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA

Director Orthopedic Surgery Westchester Sport & Spine at White Plains Hospital

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

It seems like every year there is a new diet craze or a new way of eating. Many people are searching for the magic bullet for weight loss, and they go from diet to diet hoping that one works. The “new” craze is the ketogenic or keto diet. What is the ketogenic diet, and is it right for you?

The keto diet is based on scientific evidence and has been utilized for almost 90 years. It was originally created for patients with epilepsy since the keto diet mimics fasting, which has been shown to reduce the number of seizures for patients.  It is a very low carbohydrate diet which enables the body to use dietary fat and body fat storage as the primary fuel source for energy, rather than carbohydrates.  The body believes it is fasting because of the very low carbohydrate intake, and it starts to burn fat for energy. ”Ketosis” is a physiological mechanism that occurs in the body when adequate carbohydrates are not available to burn for energy, and instead, the body burns fat for energy, producing ketones as a by-product. When ketones rise in the body, it enters into ketosis, which is a fat-burning metabolic state that results in weight loss.

The diet works by severely limiting the number of carbohydrates that you consume to 10% of total calories. Carbs should come predominantly from leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables. For most people, this is about 30-50 net grams of carbohydrates, but some people get the best results on only 20g of carbohydrates. 20% of the diet should be from protein, especially fish high in omega-3s and grass fed and organic meats. All processed meat should be avoided. The remaining 70% should consist of healthy fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, coconuts, and medium-chain triglyceride oils. Dairy is allowed, but it should be limited. All sugar, grains, processed foods, and alcohol should be avoided.

In addition to weight loss, the keto diet has been shown to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and to improve blood sugar management. It also protects against cancer, decreases the risk of heart disease, and protects against Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions. It may also increase mental focus and alertness as well as increase energy.

The keto diet has been shown to work for weight loss, but it can be difficult to adhere to. Additionally, some people, especially those who have difficulty metabolizing fats, will not do well on the ketogenic diet. Consult a health care practitioner before starting the keto diet and see if it is the best option for your weight loss and daily regimen.