Sleep Hygiene Tips – How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

sleep hygiene tipsHaving a restful sleep is fundamental to overall health, restoration, relaxation and well-being. If you are plagued by insomnia or are frequently fatigued, consider these tips. If you are still having problems, you may consider having a sleep study to identify any problems. A sleep study – or polysomnography – records physiological changes during sleep like heart rate, breathing rate, muscle activity, eye movements and brain function.

5 Things To Ensure:

1) maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle

It is important to maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle. This means trying to go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning at the same time each day. This will program healthy circadian rhythms. What are circadian rhythms? Circadian rhythms are natural rhythms in the body that regulate the sleep-wake cycle, digestion and other body process that occur in cyclic patterns during a 24 hour period. They tell the body when it needs to produce certain hormones and enzymes that regulate body processes. Shift work is particularly detrimental to health as it disrupts circadian rhythms. Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night.

2) wind down before bed

Meditation and deep breathing are great ways to wind down before bed. Spend 5-10min before bed to find a quiet place and consciously relax your muscles. Clear your mind of the day’s earlier stresses and allow yourself to sink. You may consider, a warm bath, yoga, thai chi, some calming music or a novel. Combine deep breathing with visualizing yourself in a fresh and relaxed place.

3) sleep environment awareness

The bed is meant for sleeping in. To program yourself to sleep when in bed, be sure to leave your work behind. Don’t watch TV or bring your laptop to bed with you.

4) daily exercise

Be sure to incorporate cardiovascular exercise into daily routine (just don’t do it right before bed!). Exercise reduces daily stress and releases endorphins.

5) get comfortable

Invest in a good quality, comfortable mattress. It may make all the difference in the quality of your sleep. A comfortable, supportive pillow is also important. Your chiropractor may have some suggestions as to the best types of pillows to use. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your back or side will ensure a better spinal alignment to reduce stiffness/soreness upon waking.

5 Things To Avoid:

1) avoid daytime naps

Daytime naps may prevent you from sleeping at a normal time at night. Thus, it is better to avoid this.

2) avoid/limit alcohol consumption

When alcohol is metabolized, heat is produced. This warmth is often responsible for waking people up in the middle of the night after consuming alcohol.

3) avoid/limit caffeine consumption in the afternoon and evening hours

As caffeine is a stimulant, it should be avoided in the evening hours especially. Thus, it is best to avoid coffee, tea (other than herbal tea), certain soft drinks, chocolate and energy drinks at this time.

4) avoid large meals close to bedtime

Digestion burns energy and can make you warm. Thus, dinner should be consumed several hours before bed and have only a light snack before bed if you’re hungry.

5) avoid sound pollution

Sometimes this is difficult especially if you live in an urban area or have many people in your household. Investing in a white-noise maker or using a small electric fan may make a huge difference.

For other healthful tips, visit your local chiropractor. Or if you’re in Aurora or York Region, come see me!

Dr. Elisabeth Miron

Headaches – Tips for Management & Prevention

headache tips

Headaches are a complicated subject because there are many different headache types and there are often many factors involved in their development (often, there is not one single identifiable cause). This article serves as an introduction to the topic of headaches with some tips about management and prevention. More information about headache classification can be found on the International Headache Society website.

The most common type of headache, responsible for ~90% of all headaches, is a tension type headache (TTH). Pain quality is described as a tensor band squeezing the head, bilateral across the temples and/or around the base of the skull. TTHs, along with a few other headache types have musculoskeletal components to their etiology. For example, tight muscles in the neck and shoulders and the joints of the neck and jaw can refer pain to the head. Overall posture and especially head carriage can be responsible for the development of joint irritation and muscle tension that results in headache development.

Management and Prevention Tips:

  1. Have a proper evaluation:

    Most headaches are benign in origin but having a proper diagnosis is important because the management may differ. In addition, certain “red flags” may indicate a pathology that must be taken seriously. Make sure to consult with a healthcare professional if the headache is severe, different from your typical headache has an abrupt onset or is associated with trauma, neurological signs, fever, other unusual symptoms or if you have concerns.

  1. Create a headache diary:

    If you have headaches frequently, creating a headache diary may be beneficial. This will help identify your possible triggers such that you can avoid them. Jot down what you were doing, eating, drinking, feeling, the type of environment you were in, the quality of your sleep, and amount of stress you felt during the 24 hours prior to headache onset. When you see a health professional about your headaches, you can also discuss your headache diary.

  1. Avoid headache triggers:

    Once you establish your headache triggers, you can try avoiding them. Some common triggers are food sensitivity / allergy, coffee, alcohol, stress, dehydration, loud sounds, bright lights, hunger and poor sleep. Wear sunglasses if bright light triggers your headache.

  1. Improve your posture:

Headaches are often associated with posture – especially head carriage. Having optimal posture reduces the stress on muscles, joints and ligaments that can otherwise refer pain to the head resulting in a headache. The biggest culprit is the forward head carriage where the chin and head jut forward relative to the shoulders. The muscles of the neck must work harder and tense to counterbalance the weight of the head (which is like a bowling ball sitting on your neck). Forward head carriage is common in students and office workers who slump forward at a computer for hours each day. Loss of the normal curve of the neck may also be associated with headaches due to joint irritation. A chiropractor can provide you with specific exercises for improving posture and advice regarding office ergonomics.

  1. Exercise regularly:

Regular cardiovascular exercise is good for overall health and stress relief.

  1. Stop smoking:

Smoke may be an allergen that triggers headaches. In addition, nicotine has an effect on the vascular system and the vascular system is thought to trigger certain types of headaches – especially migraines.

  1. Reduce stress:

Overall stress reduction may help headache sufferers. Take some time to enjoy hobbies, socialize and exercise so that there is balance between work and play. Some stress relieving activities include yoga, thai chi and meditation.

  1. Regular sleep pattern:

Getting enough sleep is just as important as maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle. There are natural fluctuations in the body – for hormone levels, sugar levels and enzyme levels – which are influenced by sleep-wake cycle. These are know as circadian rhythms. Disruption of circadian rhythms may be responsible for headaches in some people. As far as quantity of sleep goes, the typical recommendation is 8 hrs of uninterrupted sleep per night. The best sleep positions for the back and neck are on your back or side (never sleep on your stomach).

  1. Find a cool dark place to nap:

Sometimes when a headache hits, the best thing to do is to lay down and let the headache run its course.

  1. Apply cold or heat

Applying a cool, moist cloth across the forehead or base of the skull can be especially good for relieving headache pain.

  1. Visit your chiropractor:

As previously mentioned, headaches are often associated with tight muscles and dysfunction of joints of the neck or jaw. Regular spinal check-ups and adjustments as part of a wellness plan help keep headaches at bay in many people. Chiropractors are also trained to identify red flags associated with headaches and to refer accordingly if necessary.

  1. Other:

Other natural methods for headache relief include acupuncture and massage therapy.

Headaches can be significantly disruptive to everyday life. I hope these tips have been helpful.

Foot Facts – Tips for Healthy Feet

tips for healthy feetYour feet are your foundation. They function to support body weight during stance and to propel the body forward during gait. There are 26 bones in each foot and 206 total bones in the human body. Thus, your feet account for 25% of the bones in your body! An average person takes between 5000 and 7000 steps per day and this increases for people who are more active.

overpronation causing posture changeYou don’t need to have foot pain to have a foot problem. Typically, unaddressed mechanical problems of the feet exist for a period of time before causing symptoms. Sometimes mechanical issues only become apparent after a change or increase in one’s activity level or an increase in body weight (due to added stress and resulting pain). In addition, a mechanical or alignment problem at the feet can alter mechanics and position of joints higher up in the kinetic chain including ankles, knees, hips, the back and even the neck! Thus, foot posture is related to one’s whole body posture and a mechanical foot issue can cause or contribute to pain in other areas of the body. Uncorrected, postural imbalance and uneven joint wear can accelerate joint degeneration (arthritis).

1) Choose appropriate footwear:

The unfortunate trend is people choosing fashion over function, however, footwear with poor support and fit is frequently the cause or contributor of musculoskeletal foot disorders. Womens’ high heeled shoes are the worst culprit forcing excessive weight distribution at the ball of the foot and inward deviation of the toes. When choosing footwear…

a) choose flats or a slight heal over high heeled shoes

b) ensure correct fit

The toe box should not put excessive pressure on the sides, top or front of feet. A good tip when buying shoes is to take the insole out and place your foot on it – your footprint shouldn’t go over the edges of the insole for correct fit. Another tip is to shop for shoes at the end of the day as your footprint will be slightly larger from the day’s stresses.

c) for adequate motion control and support, shoes should pass 4 tests (shown below)

Dish Rag Test: if the shoe twists easily, it fails the test

dish rag test for torsional rigidityPinch Test:if the heel counter is soft, it fails the test

pinch test for heel counter rigidityFold Test: the shoe should bend easily where the toes naturally bend only

fold test for flexion stabilityShelf Test: there shouldn’t be any drifting of the shelf relative to the heel when viewing shoes end on; there shouldn’t be excess ‘give’ when you push the shelf side to side.

shelf test2) Replace shoes every year:

Running shoes should be replaced at a minimum of yearly but even sooner (every 3-6 months) for runners or the overweight as shoe structure breaks down faster.

3) Weight loss if overweight:

Being overweight will result in more load on all joints of the body but especially the feet because they support the whole body. As a result, obese people tend to have flattened arches more often than the general public. Muscles must also work harder to support excessive weight. The added force of weight also exacerbates any mechanical or alignment problems.

4) Do exercises for feet and calves:

Appropriate stretching and strengthening of the lower extremity muscles can be greatly beneficial. Tight, shortened muscles should to stretched and weaker, lengthened muscles should be strengthened. By doing so, muscles become more balanced which adds mechanical balance to related joints. A chiropractor can give you more specifics related to your particular case. For example, stretching the the calves is particularly helpful for those with plantar fasciitis (a painful inflammation and scarring of the plantar fasciia which results in heel and arch pain that is worst with the first morning steps). Rolling your foot forward and back over a tennis ball is also great, massaging and improving circulation. There are also specific exercises for those with flat feet which help to strengthen and support the longitudinal arch of the foot.

5) Have a gait scan:

gaitscan by The Orthotic GroupHaving a gait scan involves walking barefoot across a pressure sensitive mat. A computer records data and generates an image of where you put pressure on your feet when you walk. This is compared to the normal foot. A gait scan (along with a chiropractic analysis) helps to determine need for orthotics. Data from the scan can be used to create custom-made orthotics which will reduce abnormal foot function while walking and realign your feet to a more normal position. As many as 60-70% of people have some sort of abnormal foot function and can benefit from a custom orthotics prescription. The cost of foot orthotics is covered by most extended healthcare and insurance plans.  Some insurance plans require a referral from your medical doctor first.  Check with your policy for the specifics of your coverage.

6) Have a chiropractic analysis:

Chiropractors are skilled at assessing posture, alignment and function of the neuromusculoskeletal system. As mentioned earlier, foot position relates to whole body posture. Thus if you have a foot problem, a full spinal analysis is beneficial as well. Chiropractic adjustments to the spine help normalize overall mechanics and also reinforce response to orthotic prescription. Chiropractic can assess bones in feet and determine if a particular joint is restricted. If a joint is restricted then it means that other joints must compensate – this can lead to pain. Adjustments help correct this.

7) Other:

Other tips for healthy feet include regular cardiovascular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet as these are beneficial for overall health and healing. It is also important to maintain good foot hygiene including keeping toenails neatly trimmed. Inspect feet for any unusual changes in appearance.

Dr. Elisabeth Miron

Looking for custom foot orthotics in Aurora? Visit Dr. Miron’s chiropractic website.

Middle Ear Infection – Causes, Risk Factors & Treatment Options

Acute_Otitis_MediaEar infection is one of the most common reasons for pediatric visits to the doctor. For the purpose of this article, I’m talking about otitis media which is infection of the middle ear. Ear infections can be extremely uncomfortable producing symptoms such as ear pain and muffled hearing. School aged children with otitis media often have a difficult time concentrating in class.

Causes & Risk Factors:

Otitis media is caused by either bacterial, viral or fungal infection. Interestingly, it appears that for the majority of ear infections, both bacteria and viruses are present (1). Why do some children get ear infections and others do not? The main reason is that your child’s immune system is out of balance. If the immune system were functioning optimally, the body would fight off the infection with little difficulty before it truly becomes a problem. Below are a few risk factors or triggers for ear infection.

  • Recent cold: An upper respiratory tract infection often precedes an ear infection. (Cold and flu infections are both viral.)

  • Anatomical considerations: The eustachian tube of a child is oriented more horizontally than in an adult which anatomically can result in poorer drainage of fluid from the inner ear to the back of the throat.

  • Exposure to second-hand smoke & other environmental toxins: Toxins in the environment and foods (like certain preservatives) can hamper immune system function making one more susceptible to ear infection (and other infections).

  • Food allergies and sensitivities: Food allergies and sensitivities can thicken mucus and contribute to inflammation. One of the most common culprits is milk and milk products.

  • Eustachian tube dysfunction: The eustachian tube connects the inner ear to the back of the throat and is responsible for allowing the inner ear’s pressure to equalize with atmospheric pressure and to serve as a passageway for fluid to drain. Eustachian tube dysfunction is commonly implicated in inner ear infection.

  • Imbalance in overall immune system function: There are other physical, chemical and psychological factors that affect immune system function. Overall health and lifestyle choices will affect immunity.

Medical Management of Ear Infection:

The current literature supports that family doctors and pediatricians follow a “watch and wait” approach for acute ear infections. Certainly, if you suspect your child has an ear infection, he/she should be evaluated and appropriately diagnosed. That being said, most ear infections will heal on their own within a couple weeks (hence, the reason for initial watch and wait recommendation). In rare circumstances, symptoms can persist, become chronic or worsen.

The initial medical management for ear infections is antibiotic use. Keep in mind though, that antibiotics kill bacteria but not viruses and that most ear infections harbour both bacteria and viruses. So if there is a viral component, antibiotics are unlikely to work and may actually make things worse. In addition, antibiotics will destroy the healthy bacteria inhabiting the gut thus lowering one’s overall immunity (as the gut plays an important role in immune system function). Overall, the evidence suggests that antibiotics are poorly effective in treating otitis media (2).

Another option is tympanostomy tube or “ear tube” insertion. This is reserved for chronic cases whereby the infection is gone but fluid persists in the ear. The child is put under general anesthesia and small tubes are surgically attached to the ear drum allowing aeration of the middle ear. Similarly, the necessity and effectiveness of ear tubes is questionable.

Chiropractic Management of Patients with Ear Infection:

For the record, chiropractors do not diagnose or claim to cure ear infection. That being said, there are many benefits to chiropractic care for patients with ear infection. Chiropractic offers an alternative approach or an additional type of care for those who opt for co-management.

Chiropractic care, through natural means, seeks to optimize nervous system function and to correct any mechanical causes or contributors to the problem. It’s about putting your body in balance so that it may heal itself to its greatest potential. Healing comes from the inside.

How does chiropractic work? We know that the central nervous system controls and co-ordinates all systems and functions in the body. A nervous system free of interference will allow optimal communication and hence optimal healing. This is achieved by providing specific spinal adjustments to optimize spinal alignment and mobility. Chiropractic care has been shown to balance immune system function by reducing inflammation and stimulating antibody production (3, 4). A healthy spine = a healthy body.

Chiropractic care can often correct eustachian tube dysfunction as well. As mentioned earlier, it is often implicated in ear infection. Sometimes eustachian tube dysfunction persists after the infection is gone leading to persistence of muffled hearing and stuffiness. Correcting this dysfunction will allow the pressure to balance and the fluid to drain. Read my article about eustachian tube dysfunction.

Chiropractic care is very safe and for pediatric patients, gentle techniques are used. Kids enjoy their visits to the chiropractor!

To me, chiropractic care along with other approaches to boost natural immunity is a logical choice. Read my article about tips to boost immunity.

Has your child been diagnosed with acute or chronic otitis media? Are you searching for alternative care that is safe and effective? See a children’s chiropractor! Or, if you’re near North York, come see me.

  1. Infectious Diseases Society of America (2006, November 6). Most Ear Infections Host Both Bacteria And Viruses, Study Shows.

  2. Dowell, S, Marcy, M, Phillips, W, Gerber, M & Schwartz, B. (1998) Otitis media – participles of judicious use of antimicrobial agents. Pediatrics; 101(supplement)165-171.

  3. Tedorzyk-Injeyan JA, et al. Spinal Manipulative Therapy Reduces Inflammatory Cytokines but Not Substance P Production in Normal Subjects. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2006 (Jan); 29 (1): 14–21.

  4. Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, et al. Interleukin-2 regulated in vitro antibody production following a single spinal manipulative treatment in normal subjects. Chiropr Osteopat, 2010;18:26.

Dr. Elisabeth Miron

Check out Dr. Mirons Chiropractic Website!

The Anti-inflammatory Diet – Foods that Heal

What is Inflammation?

anti-inflammatory foodsInflammation is a natural process with the biological purpose to initiate healing by increasing circulation. It is a complex process involving both the immune system and vascular system and the interplay of various chemical mediators. Increased circulation brings white blood cells and nourishment to the site of injury or infection so that invading pathogens are killed and damage may be repaired. Characteristic signs of inflammation include pain (dolor), heat (calor), swelling (tumor) and redness (rubor).

When Inflammation Goes Awry:

While some inflammation is beneficial and appropriate for healing, chronic or excessive inflammation, serving no purpose produces damage. Chronic inflammation has a bad reputation because it is implicated in various disease processes including (but not limited to)…

    • autoimmune diseases

    • arthritis

    • diabetes

    • Alzheimer’s disease

    • atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries that leads to heart attack and stroke)

    • ADD and ADHD

    • allergies & asthma

    • cancers

    • inflammatory bowel disease

Soft tissue swelling and chemical mediators involved in inflammation can also irritate nerve endings, contributing to pain.

What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

It is a well-known fact that different foods are metabolized differently, some promoting inflammation and others reducing it. The purpose of the anti-inflammatory diet is to promote optimal health and healing by choosing foods that reduce inflammation. If one can successfully control excessive inflammation through natural means (like through diet), it reduces one’s dependance on anti-inflammatory medications that have unwanted and unhealthy side effects and don’t solve the underlying problem. While anti-inflammatory medications (such as NSAIDs) are a quick fix to ease symptoms, they ultimately weaken the immune system by damaging the gastrointestinal tract which plays an important role in immune system function (1).

Anti-inflammatory Diet Basics:

In general, eat an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, anti-inflammatory fats and nuts while limiting processed foods, meat protein, milk products, refined sugars, artificial colours/flavours/sweeteners and food sensitivities.


Eat and Enjoy:

Enjoy an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits in a variety of colours (preferably organic). Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre which give the body the essential building blocks for health. Examples include beans, squash, lintels, sweet potatoes, cruciferous vegetables, avocados, dark leafy greens… There are so many choices! As for fruits, pineapple and papaya are particularly good because they are high in bromelain, a powerful natural anti-inflammatory. Fruits and vegetables also make great, healthy snacks.

Avoid / Limit:

Avoid produce that is not grown organically. Toxic chemical residues from herbicides and pesticides can remain and when ingested are foreign irritants to the system. Many crops in North America are also genetically engineered and are put on the market without rigorous scientific study to determine safety for human consumption. Independent research is finally being done to show toxic effects of consuming genetically modified organisms (2). Foreign DNA is randomly inserted into the genome of a crop. Examples include herbicide resistant corn and soy which are resistant to the herbicide Roundup, made by Monsanto. Roughly 90% of all corn and soy sold in North America is genetically modified. Also be aware of derivatives of genetically modified ingredients (such as corn starch and corn syrup etc.). It has also been suggested that consuming GMOs is a contributing factor to the rise in allergies as our bodies are recognizing these food substances as foreign (3). By choosing items with the “certified organic” label, you avoid both GMOs and toxic herbicides/pesticides.

For some people, vegetables in the nightshade family may pose a concern. Examples of nightshade vegetables include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant. Nightshades contain alkaloids which are thought to exacerbate inflammation and joint damage in certain susceptible individuals with arthritis (though research is conflicting). Thus, for some individuals, limiting or avoiding nightshade vegetables may be beneficial.


Eat and Enjoy:

Enjoy healthy, anti-inflammatory fats including olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, salmon and sardines. In humans, there are two essential fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3) and linoleic acid (an omega-6). These are “essential” because they are required for good health but the body does not synthesize them. Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory. Omega-6 fats can be pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory (as it can be metabolized by two different pathways). Researchers suggest that keeping the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 between 2:1 and 4:1 is best for health. The modern diet tends to be high in omega-6 as it is abundantly available in cooking oils. Thus, including rich sources of omega-3 is important (such as fish, flax and walnuts especially).

Avoid / Limit:

Fats to limit or avoid include margarine, butter, shortening, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, saturated fats, and milk fat. Omega-6 fats are very high in corn oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. Trans fats are linked with inflammatory diseases (4).


Eat and Enjoy:

In general, limit animal proteins because they tend to acidify the body and also promote inflammation. When selecting animal protein, enjoy fish, poultry (especially free-range and organically raised), lamb and omega-3 eggs.

Avoid / Limit:

Limit beef, pork, shellfish and factory farmed eggs. In general, grass-fed is superior to grain-fed. Avoid charred foods, smoked foods and cold cuts. Cold cuts contain nitrates and nitrites which promote cancer. Barbequed foods contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which also promote cancer.


Eat and Enjoy:

Enjoy dairy substitutes in moderation (such as almond milk).

Avoid / Limit:

Avoid or limit dairy products in general. This includes milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream. As we age, we lose the enzyme that digests dairy, resulting in lactose intolerance and inflammation. The milk protein, casein, is also acidifying which (despite what many people are brought up thinking) robs the bones of calcium.


Eat and Enjoy:

Enjoy whole grains as opposed to refined grains. Refined grains are grains in which the germ and bran have been removed. This means there is loss of fiber, minerals and vitamins. In other words, the good stuff is removed in exchange for a longer shelf life. Some good examples of healthy grains include (organic) whole wheat/oats/bulgar/coucous, quinoa and whole oats (like steel-cut oats).

Whole grains are also a rich source of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates (as opposed to simple sugars) will prevent spikes in your blood sugar level. Sugar promotes inflammation.

Avoid / Limit:

Avoid or limit refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pastries, sweet things and pastas.


Eat and Enjoy:

Enjoy nuts and nut butters such as almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax.

Avoid / Limit:

Avoid any specific nut allergies.


Eat and Enjoy:

Enjoy plenty of pure, filtered water (avoiding chlorine, fluoride and other contaminants which are irritants that promote inflammation). Other great choices are lemon water and herbal teas.

Avoid / Limit:

Avoid sugary sodas, fruit juice (with sugar added) and milk.


Eat and Enjoy:

Many spices reduce inflammation. Some great examples are turmeric, oregano, rosemary, ginger, garlic and cinnamon. Bioflavenoids and polyphenols reduce inflammation and fight free radicals. Cayenne pepper is also anti-inflammatory, as it contains capsicum. Capsicum is often used in pain-relief creams.


Eat and Enjoy:

Enjoy stevia, molasses, maple syrup or honey as better alternatives for refined sugar.

Avoid / Limit:

Avoid refined sugar, fructose and especially high fructose corn syrup which promote inflammation. Avoid artificial sweeteners.


Eat and Enjoy:

Enjoy fermented foods such as kimchi, miso soup and sauerkraut. Fermented foods are probiotic and help to rebuild the immune system by supporting healthy microflora in the gut and to reduce inflammation. Fermented foods also tend to be easy to digest and are also factories for B vitamins.

Avoid / Limit:

In general, eliminate processed foods, artificial colours, artificial flavours and preservatives. Also avoid foods that you have a known sensitivity or allergy to as this promotes inflammation. Low grade sensitivities are easy to miss, so if you’re unsure, have a food allergy test. Some of the most common problem foods include wheat (gluten), corn, soy, milk and nuts.

Everything we need for health, can be found in nature. We just need to choose well. If you need help and ideas of what to eat, there are plenty of anti-inflammatory diet recipe books available.

What Else Can You Do to Reduce Inflammation?

  • Chiropractic care boosts immune system and reduces inflammation!

  • Reduce exposure to environmental toxins (such as smoke)

  • Reduce stress (5)

  • Certain types of exercise reduce inflammation – specifically, long term, gradually progressive training, avoiding over-exertion (6)

  1. Singh G & Triadafilopoulos G. (1999). Epidemiology of NSAID induced gastrointestinal complications. The Journal of Rheumatology, Supplement; 56:18-24.

  2. Seralini, GE, Clair E & Mesnage R et al. (Sept. 2012). Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food and Chemical Toxicology.

  3. S. J. Khan, S. Muafia, Z. Nasreen and A.M. Salariya. (2012). Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Food Security or Threat to Food Safety. Pakistan Journal of Science; 64(2):85-91.

  4. Lopez- Garcia, E, Schulze, M & Meigs, J et al. (2005). Consumption of Trans Fatty Acids Is Related to Plasma Biomarkers of Inflammation and Endothelial Dysfunction. Nutritional Epidemiology; 135:562-566.

  5. Cohena, S, Janicki-Deertsa, D & Doyleb, W et al. (2012) Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. Psychological and Cognitive Sciences.

  6. Ploeger HE, Takken T, de Greef MH, Timmons BW (2009). The effects of acute and chronic exercise on inflammatory markers in children and adults with a chronic inflammatory disease: a systematic review. Exerc Immunol Rev. 2009;15:6-41.

Dr. Elisabeth Miron

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Chiropractic Care for the Cyclist

chiropractic care for the cyclistChiropractic care is an effective way for maximizing your cycling experience by treating and preventing common cycling injuries, improving flexibility and optimizing your body’s biomechanics. As you roll right through summer, be sure to take care of your body! Whether you are a recreational cyclist, a commuter or a competitive cyclist, chiropractic care has much to offer. Let’s learn more about common cycling injuries and how chiropractic care works.

Common Cycling Injuries

Aurora and York Region are full of cycling enthusiasts and Dr. Elisabeth Miron is one of them! As a chiropractor, she diagnoses and treats the underlying cause of cycling-related injuries as well as other sports injuries. Certain types of musculoskeletal injuries and imbalances are common among cyclists due to body posture / position and repetitive use of certain muscles. Pain or discomfort can arise acutely or may develop over time due to chronic overuse. Instead of waiting, have an assessment by a competent health professional in your area and have your imbalances / injuries treated in a timely and appropriate manner. Remember, you don’t always need pain to have a problem. It is reasonable to have a chiropractic assessment regardless of pain as you are sure to learn a lot about your body and may even prevent pain or injury from happening! Some common cycling injuries include:

  • low back pain due to forward flexed posture during cycling

  • neck pain due to facet joint irritation, pinched nerves or strain to posterior neck muscles

  • shoulder pain

  • wrist and hand pain from carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar neuropathy (handlebar palsy)

  • knee pain due to iliotibial band syndrome or patellofemoral syndrome

  • hamstring and quadriceps muscle strains

  • hip pain

  • ligament sprains

  • thoracic outlet syndrome

  • Achilles tendonitis

  • bruises, abrasions and fractures from trauma

Neck pain and back pain among cyclists are often attributed to poor body posture such as hyperextension of the neck and forward flexion of the low back. This can cause certain muscles to become tight and irritated and spinal joint restriction and irritation to develop.

How Chiropractic Helps

Prior to any treatment, new patients will undergo a health history and physical examination to identify functional problems and establish a diagnosis. The recommended treatment and treatment frequency will vary depending on the diagnosis and prognostic factors. Treatment is likely to consist of hands-on manual care such as adjustment to spinal or extremity joints, joint mobilization and/or directed soft tissue therapy. This is likely to be combined with specific corrective exercise prescription so that you may facilitate your recovery at home (stretching chronically tight/short muscles and strengthening chronically long/weak muscles). The goals are to reduce pain naturally, heal faster and more fully and to restore optimal biomechanics in terms of function, flexibility and range of motion. Chiropractic care is great because it is non-invasive, drug-free, effective and logical.

Benefits of chiropractic care include:

  • pain relief

  • enhanced flexibility / range of motion

  • improved cycling biomechanics

  • improved muscle balance and tone

  • faster healing for injuries involving muscles, ligaments, joints and nerves

  • injury prevention and wellness

If a foot imbalance is identified, custom foot orthotics may be recommended as they help to restore optimal alignment at your base of support.

Other Helpful Tips for the Cyclist

Be aware of your cycling posture! When gripping the handlebars, keep your wrists in a neutral position to minimize risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome and handlebar palsy. Keep a slight, comfortable bend in your elbows instead of locking them. Keep your shoulders low and set. Feet should point forward. Engage your core as you ride. Having your bike professionally fitted can also make a big difference in optimizing your body’s alignment and efficiency during cycling.

So, if you are looking for a chiropractor in North York, book an appointment with Dr. Serbinski and find out how she can help.

Dr. Elisabeth Miron

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Scoliosis Treatment Options – Chiropractic Care & Medical Model

scoliosis treatmentScoliosis is a condition in which there is an abnormal lateral deviation of the spine. In layman’s translation: if you look at a person from the back side, the spine has a C-shape or S-shape curve instead of the normal, vertically upright orientation.

There are two categories of scoliosis: postural scoliosis and structural scoliosis. The purpose of this article is to differentiate these two types of scoliosis, to describe the chiropractic approach to scoliosis care and lastly, to differentiate this from the medical approach. This is so that you may better understand some of the various available options for scoliosis care.

Functional / Postural Scoliosis:

overpronation causing posture changeA postural scoliosis is essentially an postural adaptation to an imbalance in your base of support. For example, a leg length inequality or a low arch on one side compared to the other. This will cause the pelvis to dip down on one side. Then your spine will curve as an adaptive response because all of the joints are functionally connected. This type of scoliosis is generally flexible and can be diagnosed from physical examination findings (evidence of short leg and a flexible spinal curve that unwinds with side bending of the torso). This type of scoliosis is also usually fairly straightforward to correct. Custom foot orthotics are used to correct the alignment of the feet or a heel rise is used if there is a structurally short leg. Chiropractic care may also be recommended to the postural scoliosis patient to address any muscle or joint findings and any resulting pain from years of abnormal force distribution.

Structural Scoliosis:

A structural scoliosis is a bit more complicated to deal with. There are many types of structural scoliosis. One such type is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. This is a rigid, inflexible spinal curve and for unknown reasons, the spine just grows that way. While the spine continues to grow, there is a risk that it will continue to get worse. Chiropractic management includes manual adjustments and/or mobilizations to the spine to improve flexibility, function, alignment and mechanical balance. Chiropractic care is also helpful for naturally managing pain. Exercises are also prescribed.

Proprioceptive exercises are particularly beneficial for scoliosis patients (of either type). Proprioceptive exercises are exercises that improve body position awareness. Examples include exercises on an exercise ball, rocker board, wobble board or vibration platform. Yoga and Tai Chi are also great balancing exercises. Chiropractic care combined with proprioceptive exercises help to retrain the central nervous system. Beyond this, specific corrective exercises may be prescribed which are designed to stretch the relatively tighter muscles and strengthen the relatively weaker ones. Preferably, these should be done daily. Deep breathing exercises and sleep posture awareness are also beneficial.

Risks of Scoliosis:

Just because you have scoliosis does not guarantee that you will have problems later in life. Many people carry on with their lives with no idea and a scoliosis is incidentally found later. That being said, there are some risks with scoliosis. Statistically, with greater curves there tends to be more pain and also earlier onset of arthritis due to uneven wear and tear to the joints. There is also a risk that the scoliosis may continue to progress (especially during adolescence, when the spine is still growing). With structural scoliosis, there is concern about compression of the internal organs when curves progress beyond a certain point.

Scoliosis Diagnosis:

Scoliosis is diagnosed through physical examination and/or x-ray imaging. The physical examination entails an assessment of posture, flexibility of spinal ranges of motion and orthopedic testing. Chiropractors have trained eyes for detecting posture abnormalities such as unleveling of the shoulders, pelvis, hips, knees and feet which may indicate an underlying scoliosis. If a scoliosis is detected, the second step is to determine if it is postural or structural. A postural scoliosis will unwind upon side bending of the torso. A structural scoliosis will not unwind fully upon side bending and will have a positive Adam’s test (forward flexing the spine will have evidence of rib protrusion on one side). An x-ray may be ordered to evaluate the severity and objectively measure the curve. Other potential causes for scoliosis also need to be ruled out.

Conventional Medical Management of Structural Scoliosis:

The conventional medical management of structural scoliosis involves monitoring, bracing, medication and/or surgery. Medication is suggested only as a means for symptomatic relief and does nothing to solve the underlying cause (which is unknown). If the patient is still growing, progression is monitored by first a baseline x-ray and then follow-up x-rays every few months. If the curve progresses, a spinal brace is typically recommended. A brace is intended to prevent further progression but patient compliance is a challenge because spinal braces tend to be uncomfortable and awkward (especially for the self-conscious adolescent). If the scoliosis progresses beyond a certain point, the patient may be recommended spinal surgery in which a metal rod is surgically fused to the spine to straighten it out. This procedure is invasive and has many inherent risks.

Why Chiropractic Makes Sense:

In light of the other available options, chiropractic care is a logical approach for scoliosis management. Chiropractic care is hands on, non-invasive and drug-free. It attempts to correct the underlying mechanical problems in scoliosis, relieve pain naturally and empower the patient to continue appropriate home care corrective and postural awareness exercises. While there is no guarantee that chiropractic will correct a structural scoliosis, there is evidence in the literature that it can slow the progression and improve the curve in some cases. For these reasons, chiropractic care makes sense. If unsuccessful, the conventional medical management is still an option. While chiropractic care is a logical approach, it is not a quick fix. Typically a lengthy course of care is recommended, with regular progress examinations to objectively evaluate changes.

  1. Chen, Kao-Chang & Chiu, Elley. (2008). Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Treated by Spinal Manipulation: A Case Study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: 14(6); 749-751.

  2. Sanna, Mark. (2009). A New Look at Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. The American Chiropractor: April 2009; 18-19.

  3. Woggon, Dennis. (2005). Scoliosis Correction – CEAR Solutions; Chiropractic Leadership, Educational Advancement & Research. The American Chiropractor. February 2005; 54-56.

  4. Hyland, John. (2008). Functional Scoliosis. The American Chiropractor. April 2008; 30-31

  5. Payne, Mark. (2008). Scoliosis: A Postural Approach. The American Chiropractor. April 2008; 26-28.

  6. Yochum, Terry & Maola, Chad. (2008). Scoliosis. The American Chiropractor. April 2008; 14-16.

  7. Lamantia, Marc. (2009). Review of the Literature: Non-operative Scoliosis Treatment. The American Chiropractor. April 2009; 20-23.

  8. Woggon, Dennis. (2006). Can Chiropractic Care Help Scoliosis? The American Chiropractor: May 2006; 24-25.

  9. Morningstar, Mark, Woggan, Dennis & Lawrence, Gary. (2004). Scoliosis treatment using a combination of manipulative and rehabilitative therapy: a retrospective case series. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Dr. Elisabeth Miron

Golf and Chiropractic: Don’t Let Injury and Pain be Par for the Course!

golf and chiropracticGolf is a great activity for amateur and professional golfers alike. It allows one to appreciate the outdoors, be active and challenge one’s skill/balance and co-ordination. Understandably frustrating at times, but overall a fun sport! Just imagine how much more frustrating it would be to not play on account of pain or injury…

Chiropractic care is a safe and effective means to maximize your golf experience by treating and preventing common golf-related injury, improving flexibility and optimizing your body’s biomechanics. The purpose of this article is to provide information to help prevent golf injuries and on how to hasten recovery should one occur, for an earlier pain-free return to play.

Common Golf-Related Injury

Being a whole body activity, it is not surprising that a golf injury can involve any structure in the body including the low back, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees or ankles! A full examination of each problem area as well as related structures is necessary to properly diagnose and treat the problem.

Since golf is a non-contact sport, overuse injuries are far more common than single traumatic events. Just think of the repetitive nature of the golf swing and the rotational forces that the body must go through! Muscle imbalance is very common in golfers because it is a very repetitive, one sided activity. In addition to the golf swing itself, the sport also requires walking on uneven surfaces, repetitive bending to retrieve the ball and manoeuvring a heavy golf bag.

Studies show that golf-related injury is far more common towards the beginning of golf season. This is why it is important to stay physically fit all year round.

Why Chiropractic for the Golfer?

Some common reasons for golfers to seek chiropractic care are as follows…

  • treatment of golf related injuries (for a more complete recovery and earlier pain-free return to play)

  • early detection of mechanical problems in asymptomatic individuals

  • prevention of sports related injury and possibly even improved performance

During an initial visit to a chiropractor, a health history and physical examination is done. The purpose is to fully understand the patient’s presenting concerns and overall health and then to objectively record any findings. A physical examination is likely to consist of an assessment of posture, flexibility of the spine and related joints, functional testing, muscle challenge and neurological testing. The information gathered is used to diagnose problems and to identify any areas of imbalance that may contribute to pain, injury and suboptimal performance.

Chiropractic treatment consists of hands-on care which may include muscle work and adjustments to the spine, pelvis or extremity joints for any identified problem areas. The goal is to restore optimal mechanics/function of the joints and to improve muscle function. Beyond this, exercises may be prescribed for improving muscle balance, golf posture and core strength. Core strengthening, endurance training, balance training and resistance exercises are all great golf-specific exercises both on and off-season.

If you think about the mechanics of the golf swing, it really involves the entire body. Flexibility and stability are both required. For complete rotation during the golf swing, flexibility is required for all joints including the spine, hips and shoulders. A restriction in the full range of motion at any one joint may cause undue stress to other joints (above and below the restricted area) as compensation patterns develop. This can result in irritation and pain over time. Chiropractic helps by ensuring that all joints are moving efficiently and there are no restrictions in the kinetic chain. It restores balance and optimal biomechanics.

Tips for Golf Injury Prevention

The Ontario Chiropractic Association recommends the following ten tips for golf injury prevention…

  1. When lifting your golf bag, bend your knees and lift using your legs, not your back

  2. Always warm up with a few minutes of aerobic activity, such as brisk walking

  3. Stretch the muscles in your back, abdomen, legs and shoulders before your game

  4. Use clubs that are the correct length, so you don’t have to bend or overextend your back

  5. Wear soft spikes on your shoes for greater cushioning and shock absorption

  6. Use a cart rather than carrying your clubs

  7. Take some lessons on how to swing and choose the correct club.

  8. Occasionally practice swinging in the opposite direction to balance the stress on the muscles in your back

  9. Bend your knees and use a golf club for support when stooping to retrieve your ball

  10. Always stretch to cool down after finishing a game

Other Helpful Tips for the Golfer

golf posture and chiropracticBe aware of your body posture and position during the golf swing. The optimal starting position for the golf swing is a slight bend in the knees and hips and a neutral spine position. A neutral spine is achieved when the natural curves of the spine are maintained – including a slight backward curve in the low back and neck and a slight forward curve in the upper back. The neutral spine position is a strong, athletic, efficient and safe position for the back to be in. These curves should be maintained throughout the golf swing so that there is only rotation in the joints and no flexion/extension. Some researchers also suggest shortening of the back-swing to reduce spinal torsion/shearing as a back injury prevention strategy. In this situation, the shoulders and pelvis remain parallel for the majority of the swing.

Regular core strengthening exercises should be done both on and off-season. A strong core helps to protect the spine from injury by providing stabilization. The core muscles also provide a lot of the driving force for the golf swing.

Another consideration for the golfer is custom foot orthotics. The feet are one’s base of support, so faulty alignment at the feet can actually impact the rest of the body. One of the most common foot functional problems is over-pronation which can contribute to pain/irritation of the feet, knees, hips and even the back.

Dr. Elisabeth Miron

Neck Pain? See a Chiropractor! Spinal Manipulation is Superior to Medication According to Research

chiropractic adjustmentToday I’d like to share an article published by the Annals of Internal Medicine: “Spinal Manipulation, Medication, or Home Exercise With Advice for Acute and Subacute Neck Pain, A Randomized Trial.” This trial was a collaboration among medical doctors and chiropractors.

In this trial, 272 persons aged 18-65 were randomized to one of three intervention groups:

  1. Spinal Manipulative Therapy (SMT) Group: Sessions lasted 15-20 minutes and included manual adjustment (high velocity joint thrust) and mobilization (low velocity joint oscillation) to involved areas of the spine (areas of segmental loss of mobility). Additional therapies included light soft-tissue massage, stretching and hot/cold packs.

  2. Medication Group: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen or both were given as the first line of therapy. For those who did not respond, narcotic medications were used. Muscle relaxants were also used.

  3. Home Exercise with Advice (HEA) Group: Two 1-hour sessions were provided in which therapists instructed participants on simple self-mobilization exercises for the neck and shoulders. Participants were instructed to do 5-10 repetitions of each exercise 6-8 times per day.

Throughout the trial, participants rated their level of pain, disability, global improvement, satisfaction, general health status and any side effects. The study concluded that SMT was superior to medication for both the short and long term for pain as well as the other outcome measures for participants with acute or subacute neck pain. A few sessions of HEA produced similar positive outcomes. Of note, side effects were most frequent in the medication group (at 60% of participants) and were systemic in nature (mainly GI symptoms and drowsiness) compared to SMT (at 40%) and HEA (at 46%) which were primarily musculoskeletal (mainly muscle soreness).

So, what is the take home message here? If you have neck pain, see a chiropractor! A chiropractor is a spinal health expert. The purpose of chiropractic is to restore optimal function and mechanical balance in your body such that no one area is being over-worked. It also helps to restore optimal communication within the nervous system such that you can heal at your greatest potential. A chiropractor will examine the area of complaint (as well as related structures), provide a diagnosis and offer manual therapy and advice to treat the underlying problem so you may return to your normal activities that you love.

Neck pain is fairly prevalent, affecting an estimated 70% of people at some point in their lives. It can have a significant negative effect on quality of life. So why wait? See your chiropractor today!

Dr. Elisabeth Miron

How to Find Time for Exercise in your Busy Life

exercise for health - Aurora ChiropractorI know exercise is good for me but I just don’t have time!” I hear this excuse from patients all the time and let me tell you, it’s easier than you think. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym or take yoga or dancing lessons (although these are all wonderful and fun ideas). You don’t even have to set aside an hour here and there every day to follow a precise regimen. Here are some tips to incorporate exercise into your busy life. Some exercise is better than none at all. So if you’re currently doing nothing, then definitely do these!

Take the stairs. Maybe you work in a big building that has an elevator. From now on, take the stairs (for at least the first couple flights). Stair climbing is an excellent workout! Will you really miss the extra 2 minutes?

Park further from the entrance. Most of us look for the closest spot possible. From now on, park at the far corner. This will add some walking distance.

Take micro-breaks. Do you sit at a desk for long hours? Every half hour (you can even buy a cheap timer), stand up and stretch. Reach up to the sky, to the front and to the back. Lean your body forwards and back and side to side. Go up on you toes and up on your heels. Roll your head in circles and roll your shoulders. Take some deep breaths. Then get back to work. You’ll be surprised at how better you feel and how much more energy and productivity you have!

Fidgeting is good for you. Really, it is. The body is meant for movement. Bounce your knees up and down. Roll your chair forward and back.

Drink more water. Drinking more water will force you to get up more often to go to the bathroom (and prevent dehydration).

Buy a stability ball chair. There are various stability ball chairs available in the market. The concept behind these is to sit on a slightly unstable surface. This causes you to use your core muscles more which will improve your posture and endurance.

Use an exercise ball while watching TV. Instead of lounging on the sofa as you watch your favourite program, get out your stability ball and sit on it and more around. You can do pelvic rocks and dips, roll outs or even bounce up and down. It’s fun.

Have a lunchtime stroll. Go outside and walk for 10 minutes during your lunch break.

Most people don’t achieve the minimal recommended exercise requirements for good health. By incorporating the above suggestions into your routine, it’s easy. So, get started today! Need some more motivation? Learn some of the many benefits of regular exercise. 

Is pain preventing you from exercising? Or, need some help getting started? Visit your local chiropractor. Or if you’re looking for a chiropractor in Aurora or York Region, come see me!

Dr. Elisabeth Miron