All Posts tagged Chronic Pain

7 Tips to Add Mindfulness to Your Routine and Reduce Stress

7 Tips to Add Mindfulness to Your Routine and Reduce Stress
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Mindfulness; it’s become a popular topic for mental health and well-being, but what does it actually mean, and where does it come from? Mindfulness, a form of meditation, has its roots in Buddhism. It is one group of many meditation techniques that originated in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions. Today, it is often practised to help with stress reduction.1

Most commonly, mindfulness meditation is used to help modify a person’s response to stress. A growing body of research shows that the practice is effective in reducing stress and improving mood, and may even help to improve cognition in older adults.2 It has also been shown to improve anxiety, sleep disturbances, stress, and chronic pain.

There are a few other reasons why mindfulness meditation is gaining in popularity: it involves low physical and emotional risk, is easy to implement, is not expensive, and it has the potential to empower people to be more actively engaged in their mental health.2

Many mindfulness exercises involve practising just that—being mindful. It involves focusing on breath, posture, and the space you occupy at the present moment. Often, even just adding a few minutes of meditation to your routine per day can make a big difference in your overall sense of mental well-being. Here are some tips to help add meditation to your daily routine3:

  1. Choose a time. Morning is a calm time in many people’s days, but choose what’s easiest for you and stick to it.
  2. Choose a place. Consistency of space can be helpful to ground your practice. Preferably choose a place that’s quiet and where you can sit quietly and relax for a few minutes each day.
  3. Choose a duration. It’s good to decide before you start how long you’re committed to. Start with five minutes, and slowly build upon it.
  4. Set an intention. At the beginning of each meditation, remind yourself why you are meditating that day.
  5. Set your posture. This is about more than spinal health: having a healthy posture increases alertness in your meditation, and it helps keep you focused. (There are more posture tips below.)
  6. Take a few deep inhales, and a few deep exhales, allowing your body to unwind. As you breathe out, focus on relaxing different muscles and areas of the body with each breath, moving in one direction up (or down) the body.
  7. Choose an object of attention. Not necessarily a physical object, but a point of focus, such as the breath as it flows in and out of the nostrils, or the chest, as it rises and falls with each breath. With a relaxed body and an open posture, this keeps your meditation focused on the present.

Remember, concentration involves placing your attention on one thing or in one place. Mindfulness is noticing everything in its purest form, moment-to-moment. Neither of these things come easily. Meditation is a practice, not just an activity, so it takes time to develop it as a skill unto itself.3

Here are a few tips for setting your posture: try sitting on a chair or cushion. When you first start each meditation, it’s best to find back support in a chair or sit with your back against a wall to maintain a straight-back position. In this position, let the rest of your body hang freely. You can rest your hands on your knees or lap. When you let your eyes close, you allow yourself to bring the attention inward to the body, and to the present moment.3

If you’re able to sit a little bit each day and be mindful of the present moment, not only will you experience noticeable benefits like the ones listed above, the practice will become easier. Commit to what’s possible for you, and stick with it. Happy meditating!

References

  1. Horowitz S. Health Benefits of Meditation: What the Newest Research Shows. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 2010; 16(4): 223-8. doi:10.1089/act.2010.16402.
  1. Morone N, Greco C, Weiner D. Mindfulness meditation for the treatment of chronic low back pain in older adults: A randomized controlled pilot study. Pain. 2008; 134(3): 310-9. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2007.04.038.
  1. How to Meditate | New York Insight Meditation Center. Nyimcorg. 2016. Available at: https://www.nyimc.org/how-to-meditate/. Accessed November 4, 2016.

Source: CCA Blog

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How Sitting Is the New Smoking

How Sitting Is the New Smoking
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There’s no sugar-coating it: North Americans sit a lot. Two-thirds of the North American workforce sits for all or part of their workday.1 When you don’t adjust your posture frequently enough, you’re more likely to experience discomfort while sitting—and you’re inviting a whole host of other musculoskeletal problems along with it.1

Today, on average, sitting takes up more than half of an adult’s waking hours.2What’s worse is that, according to Mayo Clinic cardiologist Martha Grogan, “for people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.”3 Based on current trends, researchers predict the number of hours we spend sedentary will likely increase.2

There are other health risks that come from being more sedentary: prolonged time spent while sitting or reclining can tamper with your glucose levels and your metabolism.4 It’s also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.4 The good news is that if you break up those long periods of sitting, you can reduce your risk of having diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.4

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada5 recommends at least thirty minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity—such as brisk walking or bike riding—at least five days out of the week. If you work Monday to Friday, consider adding a few steps to your commute, or taking two 15 minute walk breaks each workday.

Here are some more helpful tips to help break up your sitting time6,7:

  • Create a schedule to remind you to stand up and move. Programming your day can help you stick to something you may otherwise forget to do. A good goal is 5–10 minutes of activity per hour. For example, if you have a job that involves sitting most of the day, plan to spend five minutes every hour up from your chair and moving around the office (like getting coffee, walking around the building, or taking a restroom break) and spend the other five minutes doing stretches.
  • Walk around on your lunch break. Invite coworkers from your office to go for a walk with you at lunch. You can check out a nearby park or take a new route around the neighbourhood.
  • Park further away and walk. Whether you’re running errands or parking at work, you can choose to park further away and walk those extra few steps to your destination.
  • Walk around the house while talking on the phone or during commercial breaks of your favourite show. You might find other opportunities throughout the day too!

Little changes can go a long way to improve your posture and decrease a number of health risks. Whatever method you choose, you can also use the Straighten Up Canada app and Fit-in 15 program to find small exercises you can do during the day.

 

References

  1. Fenety A, Walker JM. Short-term effects of workstation exercises on musculoskeletal discomfort and postural changes in seated video display unit workers. J Am Phys Ther Assoc. 2002; 82(6): 578-89.
  1. Healy GN, Eakin EG, Owen N, et al. A cluster randomized controlled trial to reduce office workers’ sitting time. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016; 48(9): 1787-97. doi:10.1249/mss.0000000000000972.
  1. Winslow, R. The guide to beating a heart attack: first line defense is lowering risk, even when genetics isn’t on your side. The Wall Street Journal. April 16, 2012. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304818404577347982400815676. Accessed November 25, 2016.
  1. Benatti FB, Ried-Larsen M. The effects of breaking up prolonged sitting time. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015; 47(10): 2053-61. doi:10.1249/mss.0000000000000654.
  1. Stay active. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 2016. Available at: http://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/stay-active#How-much-activity-do-I-need. Accessed November 22, 2016.
  1. Storrs C. Stand up, sit less and move more, researchers say; here’s how to do it. CNN. August 6, 2015. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/06/health/how-to-move-more/. Accessed October 14, 2016.
  1. Sit less. The Heart Foundation. Available at: https://heartfoundation.org.au/active-living/sit-less. Accessed October 14, 2016.
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9 Tips to Stay Active during the Winter Months

9 Tips to Stay Active during the Winter Months
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When it gets cold outside, we tend to spend more time indoors doing sedentary activities and it can be difficult to stay active. It’s helpful to plan ahead and set some time aside in your schedule a few days a week to make sure you’re getting the activity you need.

To have health benefits from exercise, adults need a total of 2.5 hours of activity spread across the week, in bouts of ten minutes or more. These activities need to be moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activities. Moderate-intensity physical activities include brisk walking or bike riding. Generally, you know your activity is moderate-intensity if you sweat a little and breathe harder than when you’re moving about day-to-day. Vigorous-intensity activities include jogging or cross-country skiing, and you’re likely to find yourself sweating and feeling out of breath.1

Here are a few tips to help keep you motivated to stay active during the winter months2:

  • Plan activities ahead. When activities are in your calendar, you’re less likely to forget them. Preparedness also helps set good habits.
  • Find a fun local activity, like snow shoeing, skiing, skating, or cross-country skiing.
  • Dress in layers. Insulate your body. When you can keep your body warm, it’s easier to continue being active outside.
  • Use your daylight hours. It’s easier to stay outside while it’s still light out. It’s easy to miss out on activities when you start them too late in the day.
  • Find indoor activities at your local community centre. This could be aerobics classes, badminton, basketball, or yoga classes.
  • Climb stairs. Deliberately add more steps to your day. Consider going up and down a flight in your home, the mall, or an office building more than once over the course of your regular daily activities. As little as five minutes can make a huge difference for your health.
  • Visit a library to find more motivation. There are plenty of free exercise DVDs you can borrow, including dance, step, aerobics, or Pilates. You can use the return date as a deadline to pick up another one!
  • Sign up for a fun run. You can often find non-competitive “fun runs” in your community that are usually between 5 and 10 kilometers. You can invite friends and family to join in!
  • Find an activity buddy. Find someone willing to commit to being active as often as you are, and set a plan. That could be planning to meet for morning walks or afternoon workouts. Having a friend keeps you accountable.

Whatever your activity level is, remember to stay hydrated. It is easy to forget to drink water when it’s cold out, but your body needs just as much hydration in a snowstorm as it does in a heatwave.2

Most importantly, stay motivated. Revisit your goals (or look for tips to set new ones) to make sure you’re still on track. Plan ahead and make sure you can envision your goal as you look ahead towards the finish line.

Here’s to staying active in the new year!

 

References

  1. Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. 1st ed. CSEP; 2016. Available at: http://www.csep.ca/CMFIles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_adults_en.pdf. Accessed November 7, 2016.
  1. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 11 ways to stay active in winter. 2009. Heartandstroke.ca. Available at: http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ikIQLcMWJtE&b=4832209&ct=7596299. Accessed November 7, 2016.
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3 Easy Core Exercises to Support Your Low Back

3 Easy Core Exercises to Support Your Low Back
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Your core muscles are essential for supporting your back, stabilizing nearby joints, and reducing the risk  of injury.1 A stable core helps to maintain the integrity of the spinal column and if it isn’t stable, you may experience low back pain.2 The good news is that there are a few exercises you can do to help reduce or even prevent low back pain.3,4

Below are three core exercises developed by Dr. Stuart McGill designed to increase your endurance, support your core, and, ultimately, protect your back5:

  1. Modified Curl-up: Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other straight. Place your hands under the arch of the low back and maintain the arch during the modified curl-up. Start by bracing your abdomen by bearing down through your belly and focus your gaze at one point in the ceiling. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground about 30° while keeping your neck and spine in line. Make sure your chin remains tucked, rather than pointing at the ceiling during the movement. Complete 3 sets of 10 to 12 curl-ups.5 

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  1. Side Bridge: Lie on your side and prop yourself up on your elbow, which should be placed directly under your shoulder. Keep your legs straight, and put your top foot on the ground in front of your bottom foot. Place your top hand on your bottom shoulder. Maintain the natural curve of your spine, brace your abdomen, squeeze your gluteal muscles, and lift your hips off the ground. Hold for 8 to 10 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side. If that’s too easy, increase the number of repetitions rather than the length of time.5 

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  1. Bird Dog: Begin on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Brace your abdomen and squeeze your gluteal muscles. Lift your right arm straight in front of you until it is level with your shoulder and squeeze your muscles between your shoulder blades. At the same time, straighten your left leg straight back until it is level with your hips, keeping your hips square to the floor. Return to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner and switch sides. That is one repetition. Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.5 

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Core exercises are just one of many ways to support your back and to help with back pain. Dr. Luciano Di Loreto & Associates at Fit for Life Wellness & Rehabilitation Centre are is trained to offer a range of treatments which includes guidance on strengthening exercises.

 

References

  1. Abdelraouf OR, Abdel-aziem AA. The relationship between core endurance and back dysfunction in collegiate male athletes with and without nonspecific low back pain. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2016; 11(3): 337-44.
  2. Gordon R, Bloxham S. A systematic review of the effects of exercise and physical activity on non-specific chronic low back pain. Healthcare. 2016; 4(2): 22.
  3. Willson JD, Dougherty CP, Ireland ML, Davis IM. Core stability and its relationship to lower extremity function and injury. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2005; 13(5): 316-25.
  4. Chang WD, Lin HY, Lai PT. Core strength training for patients with chronic low back pain. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015; 27(3): 619-22. doi: 10.1589/jpts.27.619.
  5. Callaghan J. ‘THE BIG 3’ EXERCISES FOR YOUR CORE – RunWaterloo [Internet]. RunWaterloo. 2014 [cited 8 September 2016]. Available from: http://runwaterloo.com/the-big-3-exercises-for-your-core/. Accessed November 18, 2016.

Sourced from the CCA Blog

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How Sitting is the New Smoking

How Sitting is the New Smoking
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There’s no sugar-coating it: North Americans sit a lot. Two-thirds of the North American workforce sits for all or part of their workday.1 When you don’t adjust your posture frequently enough, you’re more likely to experience discomfort while sitting—and you’re inviting a whole host of other musculoskeletal problems along with it.1

Today, on average, sitting takes up more than half of an adult’s waking hours.What’s worse is that, according to Mayo Clinic cardiologist Martha Grogan, “for people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.”3 Based on current trends, researchers predict the number of hours we spend sedentary will likely increase.2

There are other health risks that come from being more sedentary: prolonged time spent while sitting or reclining can tamper with your glucose levels and your metabolism.4 It’s also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.4 The good news is that if you break up those long periods of sitting, you can reduce your risk of having diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.4

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada5 recommends at least thirty minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity—such as brisk walking or bike riding—at least five days out of the week. If you work Monday to Friday, consider adding a few steps to your commute, or taking two 15 minute walk breaks each workday.

Here are some more helpful tips to help break up your sitting time6,7:

  • Create a schedule to remind you to stand up and move. Programming your day can help you stick to something you may otherwise forget to do. A good goal is 5–10 minutes of activity per hour. For example, if you have a job that involves sitting most of the day, plan to spend five minutes every hour up from your chair and moving around the office (like getting coffee, walking around the building, or taking a restroom break) and spend the other five minutes doing stretches.
  • Walk around on your lunch break. Invite coworkers from your office to go for a walk with you at lunch. You can check out a nearby park or take a new route around the neighbourhood.
  • Park further away and walk. Whether you’re running errands or parking at work, you can choose to park further away and walk those extra few steps to your destination.
  • Walk around the house while talking on the phone or during commercial breaks of your favourite show. You might find other opportunities throughout the day too!

Little changes can go a long way to improve your posture and decrease a number of health risks. Whatever method you choose, you can also use the Straighten Up Canada app and Fit-in 15 program to find small exercises you can do during the day.

 

References

  1. Fenety A, Walker JM. Short-term effects of workstation exercises on musculoskeletal discomfort and postural changes in seated video display unit workers. J Am Phys Ther Assoc. 2002; 82(6): 578-89.
  1. Healy GN, Eakin EG, Owen N, et al. A cluster randomized controlled trial to reduce office workers’ sitting time. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016; 48(9): 1787-97. doi:10.1249/mss.0000000000000972.
  1. Winslow, R. The guide to beating a heart attack: first line defense is lowering risk, even when genetics isn’t on your side. The Wall Street Journal. April 16, 2012. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304818404577347982400815676. Accessed November 25, 2016.
  1. Benatti FB, Ried-Larsen M. The effects of breaking up prolonged sitting time. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015; 47(10): 2053-61. doi:10.1249/mss.0000000000000654.
  1. Stay active. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 2016. Available at: http://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/stay-active#How-much-activity-do-I-need. Accessed November 22, 2016.
  1. Storrs C. Stand up, sit less and move more, researchers say; here’s how to do it. CNN. August 6, 2015. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/06/health/how-to-move-more/. Accessed October 14, 2016.
  1. Sit less. The Heart Foundation. Available at: https://heartfoundation.org.au/active-living/sit-less. Accessed October 14, 2016.

Sourced from CCA Blog.

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Understanding Osteoarthritis: Learn more about the risks

Understanding Osteoarthritis: Learn more about the risks
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Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. In fact, it is a growing epidemic in Canada which is only expected to rise as the population ages. Osteoarthritis is described as the “degeneration of joint cartilage and underlying bone” often resulting in pain and stiffness. Even though osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, the most commonly affected joints are in the hands, knees, hips and spine. It is often considered as “wear and tear”; however, it is believed instead that it may be due to abnormal stress or injury to the joint(s).

What we know is that osteoarthritis affects one in ten Canadians. By 2040, it is estimated that approximately 470,000 Canadians will suffer from osteoarthritis1. Unfortunately, for many, osteoarthritis is a painful condition that can make daily activities very difficult.

To best manage the symptoms and prevent the progression of the condition, it is important to pay attention to early signs. Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are options that can reduce the risk and relieve pain, stiffness and improve function.

Here are some early signs to take note of2:

  • Joint stiffness: Aching, pain and/or stiffness usually occur in the morning or after a period of inactivity and once movement resumes. Typically, stiffness may decrease after about 30 minutes.
  • Joint swelling: A person may notice some swelling in the joints and a reduction in range of motion.
  • Joint crepitus: The joint may grind, grate or experience a crackling sensation, commonly accompanied by a cracking sound.
  • Pain: Pain is usually worse after activity and improves with rest. Early on, the pain may only be triggered by high-impact activities but as it progresses, there may be more frequent episodes of pain. The joint pain or discomfort may affect the person throughout day.

Here are some tips to help manage the condition and prevent progression:

Exercise: Exercise can help manage symptoms while increasing your endurance and strengthening the muscles that help support the joints. Good options for activity include walking, biking and swimming. Download the Straighten Up Canada app for easy to follow exercise videos. Get moving!

Weight management: Excess weight can be an important risk factor due to the additional stress put on your weight-bearing joints. Even a small amount of weight-loss can help reduce pain and limit further joint damage.

Mobility: Gentle stretching may help improve flexibility and mobility, while decreasing stiffness and pain. Exercises like yoga and tai chi can help manage stiffness.

Heat and cold: Applying heat and cold can help relieve pain when aggravated. Heat can relieve stiffness, while ice may help with pain.

Manual therapy: Manual therapy can help provide treatment not only for pain management, but help improve function and prevent progression. Addressing biomechanical dysfunctions can help relieve pressure on joints.

Positive attitude: Studies have demonstrated that a positive attitude can help increase a person’s ability to manage pain.

Like all medical conditions, it’s important to ask questions and get the appropriate information to best manage the symptoms and slow down progression. Osteoarthritis can alter the way you live your life, speak to chiropractor Dr. Luciano Di Loreto & Associates today.

Sourced from Canadian Chiropractic Association

References

1 Claire Bombardier, The Impact of Arthritis in Canada: Today and over the Next 30 Years, https://www.ergoresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Impact%20on%20arthrisis%20in%20Canada_Today%20and%20over%20the%20next%2030%20years.pdf 

2Arthritis Society of Canada, Osteoarthritis, https://arthritis.ca/understand-arthritis/types-of-arthritis/osteoarthritis
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Five Tips for Reducing Chronic Inflammation

Five Tips for Reducing Chronic Inflammation
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The human body is pretty amazing. It can convert food into energy and sunshine into vitamins. And, when everything is working as it should, the human body also has the ability to heal itself. When you get injured, a protective response is triggered that dilates blood vessels to improve blood flow to the injured area. You might experience immobility, heat, pain, redness and swelling, and this is normal. Acute inflammation is the body’s natural response to a threat. White blood cells move in and are then replaced by anti-inflammatory compounds to begin the healing process. Common examples of the normal process of acute inflammation include a sore throat, a sun burn or sinusitis.

Chronic Inflammation

Sometimes, however, when the negative stimulus continues, the inflammation “on” switch gets stuck and there is a persistent activation of inflammatory molecules. This is referred to as chronic inflammation, and can last for days, months, or even years, often with no visible signs. Chronic inflammation can result from a viral or microbial infection or environmental factors, including common allergens such as pollen. The condition can cause damage to the body’s tissues, replacing healthy cells with fibrous tissue. Chronic inflammation is abnormal and does not benefit the body – it signals a failure to eliminate whatever caused the initial acute inflammation. If your medical practitioner suspects that you may be suffering chronic inflammation, he or she can test for biomarkers that indicate inflammation, such as white blood cell count or albumin levels.

Inflammation and MSK Conditions

Chronic inflammation can lead to or complicate a number of diseases and conditions, such as asthma, Crohn’s disease and arthritis. Some cells in the body, such as neurons, cardiac cells and skeletal muscle cells are especially vulnerable to the effects of inflammation. Particularly, some systemic inflammatory MSK conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis can leave individuals susceptible to chronic pain and even signs of inflammation.

In some cases, biomechanical issues, trauma or injury can also lead to chronic inflammation and pain if left untreated. For example, an injury to the knee may cause additional weight loading on the joint and alter the gait. With time, the knee is more and more susceptible to injury and inflammation, and if left untreated, that condition can become chronic or recurrent.

Tips for Reducing Chronic Inflammation

1. Diet

Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats, as well as foods with a high glycemic index. A Mediterranean-style diet that incorporates olive oil, fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains is thought to act as a natural anti-inflammatory. A good diet also helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Also, it is recommended to avoid or limit alcohol, tobacco, sugar and refined carbs among others.1

2. Exercise

Regular exercise keeps your body moving and joints lubricated, your muscles toned and your energy level high. Those who exercise regularly are more likely to heal faster from injuries and less likely to develop chronic inflammation.

3. Rest

Several studies have shown that sleep deprivation can have an impact on inflammation and even increase it. For example, a 2006 study concluded that sleep loss alters molecular processes that drive cellular immune activation and induce inflammatory cytokines,2 which in turn can increase pain.3

4. Drink water

Water is an essential element to maintaining the body’s proper function. In fact, there are many benefits associated with drinking water aside from the basic need to stay hydrated. Water can help optimize energy throughout the day by nourishing your cells, keep the discs of the spine hydrated and even help modulate your calorie intake. It is also thought to help reduce chronic inflammation by reducing acidosis and keeping the body’s PH level in balance.

5. Quit smoking

We have already discussed the negative impacts of smoking on the musculoskeletal system, and it is well known that the toxic minerals contained in cigarette smoke are associated with premature death. Smoking triggers an immunologic response and can increase the level of inflammatory markers.

Sourced from the Canadian Chiropractic Association

 


1. Leo Galland, MD. Diet and Inflammation. Nutr Clin Pract December 2010 vol. 25no. 6.
2. Irwin MR, Wang M, Campomayor CO, Collado-Hidalgo A, Cole S. Sleep deprivation and activation of morning levels of cellular and genomic markers of inflammation. Arch Intern Med. 2006 Sep 18;166(16):1756-62.
3. Jun-Ming Zhang, MSc, MD1 and Jianxiong An, MSc, MD. Cytokines, Inflammation and Pain. Int Anesthesiol Clin. 2007 Spring; 45(2): 27–37.
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