23 Mar

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A Treadmill Desk: What is it like?

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 DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN

Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. – Dr. James Levine, of the Mayo Clinic collaborative with Arizona State University.

I cannot state enough how true this resonates with me. I grew up fascinated with video games and technology. They were, and still are to a degree, my guilty pleasure. I got outside a lot, but sure did spend a significant amount of time in front of a screen.

Unfortunately, screen time takes its toll on the body. Especially if it involves sitting. We sit to get an education. We sit at our jobs. We sit when we come home from our jobs. It really adds up. To compound the issue, an hour of exercise per day rarely counters the deleterious effects of sitting for 6-8 hours per day.

Enter the treadmill desk. It is quite the rage right now. Companies are booming with new standing or treadmill desk products. Each have their own bells and whistles, but the concept is simple: to get you out of your chair. The products aren’t meant to replace regular exercise, but honestly… the stagnation is killing us.

TreadmillDesk1I first started remodeling my “desk health” by purchasing a standing desk. I went with the “VariDesk Pro” after extensive research. (Perhaps I will do a review of this product in the future.) It was easy to use and relatively affordable. After tinkering around with the desk for about a month, I decided I needed to take things one step further. (No pun intended) I knew it was the stagnation more than anything that was detrimental to my well-being.

I plunged into the realm of treadmill desks. Treadmill desks are essentially the equivalent of a regular treadmill without the railings. The “console” has been detached and typically sits on a desk surface.

They are usually cheaper than a regular treadmill. Some people have rigged other treadmills to function as a treadmill desk, but I was not that inclined to do so. There are all kinds of research on this if you search for “DIY Treadmill Desk.”

After weeks of pouring over product reviews, I settled on the Rebel Treadmill 1000. As of this writing, the Rebel Treadmill 1000 desk is just shy of $750 with shipping. I have been delighted with the product so far.

When I talk about my results, I am speaking in general terms of my experience with treadmill desks. Since receiving and using my treadmill desk, I have noticed a significant increase in my productivity, clarity of thought, and general feeling of wellness. I tend not to put things off as much. Words flow easier. I don’t sit staring at the screen nearly as much. In fact, I am blasting out this article in about half the time it typically takes.

It is critical to note that the actual height of the keyboard and mouse must be accurately placed to avoid hunching over during the use of a treadmill desk. See my video above for more details.

Have you experienced a treadmill desk? If so, what are your thoughts?

16 Mar

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Effortlessly Improve Posture While Sleeping

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN

Stop the madness! Stop spending 100’s of dollars finding the “perfect pillow!” Here’s a much cheaper, effective alternative.

As a Physical Therapist, I look at the body largely from a mechanical perspective. I set aside all the hype of advertising, and just ask myself, “What would place me in the most natural position to properly support my spine?” I mention this because of the overwhelming presence of sleep disorders in developed nations such as the United States.

Sleep is designed as a time to rebuild and heal. Unfortunately, sleep can be as destructive as poor postures during the day. As a therapist, I always ask detailed questions about my clients’ sleeping postures. It reveals a lot about why many people are waking up not feeling refreshed. In addition to cultivating a proper sleeping environment, (cool, dark, quiet) posturing is critical to a restful sleep.

Instead of just thinking about what is a decent posture to sleep, I take it a step further. I use props to support the natural curvature of the spine while enhancing areas that tend to suffer from our daily lives. This technique is primarily designed for back sleepers. It works well, and it is cheap. The idea would be derived from restorative poses in yoga or neutral postures in Pilates.

5153121353_67c8b3a8d7_bAs a side note, our spine is made of three primary curves: A lumbar lordosis (inward curve of the low back), a thoracic kyphosis (slight rounding of the mid-spine), and another inward curve of the cervical spine (inward curve of the neck). I use towel rolls and pillows to support these curves in a natural way.

Since initiating this technique, my sleep has been more restful, restorative, and deep. I am less stiff in the morning, and it enhances / locks in a good posture overnight.

It is worth noting that a large percentage of clients’ I have seen prefer to sleep on their sides in a fetal position. This results in excessive hip flexion and a rounding of the entire spine. By taking away the primary curves of the spine, we are facilitating a poor posture during sleep. It might feel good at the moment, but it is not appropriate for spinal health in the long term. I highly encourage side sleepers to keep their primary curves in their spine while decreasing excessive hip flexion. Of course, a better alternative for most people would be to work towards sleeping on your back.

There are some individuals where back sleeping is not an appropriate position. This is especially true with morbid obesity or sleep apnea. Check with your healthcare provider.

It is difficult to explain this technique in words. I highly encourage you to watch the above video in its entirety for a more accurate explanation and demonstration. The technique does have an adjustment period of several days to weeks. This is normal.

Please refer to the video above for more medical contraindications and exact details of the technique. Start resting deeply and take advantage of the time you are sleeping!

Photos by Joel Kramer and Rachel Titiriga

09 Mar

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Why Nutritional Supplement Therapy Often Fails

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN

I want to immediately clear the air by saying that I am a firm believer in integrative health and functional medicine. This approach has resulted in the most favorable outcomes for myself and my own clients. It is fundamentally different than any cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach. I think both Western Medicine and most other philosophies of healing in the natural health realm are guilty of this paradigm.

As healthcare providers and consumers, we can do better. First and foremost, I think the general public would benefit from a greater curiosity about their own bodies. It is best to discard the adage of “here I am, fix me.” No supplement recommendation or medical treatment will do that. Even after you have a knee replacement, you still need to learn how to walk. More responsibility (and power) is in your hands than you ever thought possible.
IMG_2487I bring this up because the public is understandably confused about the role of dietary supplements in overall health or wellbeing. We often hear, “Oh, this herb / supplement is good for this problem.” Just like pharmaceutical drugs, this is not always true. That is only scratching the surface in a superficial way. There is a much deeper level of understanding that must occur to get the best results out of dietary supplements.

Does the Premise Of The Supplement Make Sense?

There are certain things that will never be studied in a double-blinded, peer-reviewed journal article. This will mostly only happen if it is a new technology or pharmaceutical drug. Supplement companies don’t have the resources to sponsor such a level of trials in the first place. Because of this, you should ask yourself: “Does the idea behind the supplement make sense? Is there any data to support a mechanism of action?”

In other words, “Does anyone know how the supplement interacts with the human body?” How will it affect its target tissue? Will it even make it there in the first place? I often think about probiotics and glucosamine-chondroitin. There is little evidence to support that the majority of probiotics ever reach their destination in the large intestine. They may simply be eaten up by stomach acid. Of course, some probiotics are now encapsulated in an enteric coating to survive the transition. The same question arises for things like glucosamine chondroitin. Does it ever reach its target tissue? I’m not sure anyone really knows the answer to that.

Lack of Supporting Clinical Data

Another question to consider: “Is there any data to suggest I should take this particular supplement?” Have you had any labs from a qualified professional, such as a functional medicine practitioner? There are a great deal of independent labs, such as Genova Labs and Quest Diagnostics that can significantly improve the diagnostic capability of a practitioner. The more comprehensive and accurate the data you receive, the easier it will be to determine an appropriate supplement regimen. This is a much more precise, focused approach than throwing the whole kitchen sink into the mix.

Lack of Regulation / Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)

One of the most troubling difficulties with nutritional supplements is the lack of regulation. Just recently, there was a national recall of supplements throughout several pharmaceutical retailers for multivitamins due to quality control issues and a massive discrepancy between the label and the actual active ingredients. It is uncertain how often this occurs. After years of questioning and searching, I’ve settled on a handful of companies that I trust and use regularly for all my nutritional supplementation needs.

This is not to say that these companies are the only quality companies, I just have found them to be forthcoming and transparent. I’ve asked them a lot of questions, and they have delivered. I often find that the smaller, specialty companies tend to make higher quality nutritional supplements. Just like food, when you produce for the masses, quality typically suffers. Unfortunately, this gives the supplement industry a bad rap. When a company doesn’t deliver, the entire natural health field is affected.

Ask the company for third-party testing results for their products. Although a “Good Manufacturing Practices” seal may be a nice start, it might not be enough. Be curious. Ask questions.

Excipients

The majority of consumers purchasing a nutritional supplement are likely doing so with the intent of treating an ailment. If this is the case, would it not make sense to find the “cleanest, leanest” supplements possible? I can spot a poorly-produced supplement within seconds of scanning a label. Before reading any health claims on a bottle, I immediately glance at the “Other ingredients” section. This tells a lot. The longer the list, the more questionable I am about that particular supplement. If they require a great deal of magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, benzoic acid, etc., I have questions about their production process. Most of these would be known as “fillers.” They are used by companies to improve the ease of the production process. Unfortunately, several of these fillers have not been studied on a large scale, and their effects are unknown. And honestly…. Do you want sand (silicon dioxide) in your supplement when healing your gut?

Go Beyond Marketing Claims

I’m about as tough on supplement companies as I am on pharmaceutical drugs. I call them. I ask tough questions. I don’t take their web page marketing as an acceptable form of supporting evidence. Ask them questions like, “Where do you source your ingredients from? Are Genetically-Modified Organisms used in the production of your product? How is the active ingredient extracted? Where is the supplement produced? What types of third party testing have been performed on your supplement? Can you provide me with a Certificate of Analysis?” If they beat around the bush on these things, they may be hiding something.

Favorite Brands

As of this writing, I am not currently selling any nutritional supplements. Based on what I’ve said above, I believe the following brands are an excellent place to start: Pure Encapsulations, Drucker Labs, Arthur Andrew Medical, Designs for Health.

The above companies have passed my rigorous interrogations through multiple phone conversations or other communications. I use them in my personal life, and I believe their products work well for their intended purposes if prescribed properly.

So, How Can I Get The Most Out Of My Supplements?

First and foremost, see a qualified professional. I recommend finding someone with a great reputation in your area as a functional nutritionist or functional medicine physician. They will have a much deeper understanding of accurately prescribing supplements.

Second, don’t just take a supplement because you heard about it on Dr. Oz. This is complete marketing hype, and may or may not have little value to your individual case. Research yourself. Understand yourself. Gather data on yourself. Empower yourself.

23 Feb

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What is Binaural Beat Therapy? How Can It Enhance My Brain?

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 DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN

I’m sure I will never fully grasp the magnificence of the human body. It is a truly remarkable machine. In particular, the possibilities within the human brain are endless. Considering it is similar to a central processing unit of a computer, I’ve made it a primary focus of my studies. My interest in health first started with the gut, which eventually transpired to the brain.

The growing list of diagnosable mental health disorders continue to rise in raw numbers.  It is my opinion that long term solutions to anxiety, depression, and other common mental health ailments will NOT come in the form of a pill. While pharmaceuticals may provide temporary symptomatic relief, there are several other interventions that are worth exploring during a road to recovery. Binaural Beat Therapy is one of those options.

Binaural beat therapy is a form of audio entrainment that typically uses stereo headphones. When you play two steady tones at slightly different pre-determined frequencies, your brain interprets this as a “beat.” The two frequencies are played separately in each ear. Through complex mechanisms, your brain can induce various brainwave states that may result in physiological changes.

Binaural1Because of this, researchers have been interested in the effects of binaural beats for anxiety reduction, concentration, and hypnosis (1),(2). While most studies have been small test group pilot investigations, the initial results for the above purposes are promising (1),(2).

Most of the studies of binaural beat therapy started around the early 1970s, and continued into the 80s. Soon after, the research apparently halted, and dropped out entirely. However, there appears to be a renewed interest in brainwave entrainment since the 1990s. Dozens, if not hundreds of companies now offer a variety of binaural beat therapy digital downloads. Most of these feature music superimposed upon binaural beats.

While this is aesthetically pleasing, I really only care about the results. I purchased several of the “Brain Sync” company downloads previously, but now I frequently search for free products on YouTube. Simply search for “Binaural beat,” and you’ll find some simple, isolated binaural beat tones.

There are various brain wave states that may be influenced by binaural beat therapy, including: Alpha, Beta, Theta, Delta, and Gamma. Each have their own purposes for various roles in human function.

Personally, I often attempt to influence my brain into a Theta state using binaural beat therapy. I combine this with imagery. I imagine things I wish to come to fruition, and how this will occur. When I am successful, I often feel like I am floating, almost in a dream-like state, but yet fully awake. This has been my experience so far. I’d love to learn more about brainwave EEGs in the future, and possibly measure my own brainwaves more closely.

For descriptions of the individual brainwave states, click here.

If you are interested in brainwave entrainment, I recommend starting with a daily session of the 30 minutes for about 2 months. Keep a journal of how you respond to binaural beat therapy. I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below!

Sources:

(1) Binaural Auditory Beats Affect Vigilance Performance and Mood 

(2) Binaural-Beat Induced Theta EEG Activity and Hypnotic Susceptibility 

 Images: by Allan Ajifo

16 Feb

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Easy solutions for bunions, flat feet, plantar fasciitis, hallux valgus

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 DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN

It’s interesting how often we ignore the importance of the foot related to our every day health. We brush our teeth, spend gobs of money on skin products, and yet we turn a blind eye to the first object that strikes the ground every time we take a step.

I’m a Physical Therapist, and I’m often confronted by several patients with hip or knee pain. However, no previous practitioner has considered the potential role of the foot in their dysfunction. The knee is a relatively simple joint, similar to a hinge on a door. Meanwhile, the foot / ankle complex is made up of more than 32-33 joints, depending on your reference. The hip is heavily influenced by the position of the foot and lower leg. If you have flat feet, the arch of the foot (equivalent to a bridge), has collapsed. Where the foot goes, the hip and knee typically follow.

My goal with the above video is not to “cure” any chronic dysfunction in your foot. Anyone who claims they can do so is probably lying. However, I do believe we can maximize what we have available to us, and frequently reduce the need for unnecessary surgeries. If you have a dysfunctional joint, (i.e. your big toe), I often take the strategy of increasing the function of all the surrounding joints. For instance, I will mobilize all the metatarsals around the big toe, strengthen the small muscles of the foot, and make sure we are doing everything necessary to move through the center of the foot.Foot5I highly encourage everyone to consider foot health as part of our daily maintenance. I frequently use two products as part of my routine: Yamuna Foot Wakers, and  Franklin Balls*. Considering that we take thousands of steps with our feet every day, we want our feet to be strong, adaptable, and mobile. This is how they are designed. If we still lived purely in nature, we would be barefoot. Our feet would mold to a variety of surfaces. We would jump, push, etc. But now our feet are confined to shoes. Much of this footwear is not appropriate and eliminates the mobility that is frequently present in our mid/forefoot.

The thing I love about the approach in the above video is the freeing nature of dealing with chronic dysfunction. You have more power than you realize to improve your own health. You just need the drive and correct tools. The above video outlines my daily foot routine to maximize function of my feet and reduce unnecessary dysfunction. Personally, I do this because of a torn labrum in my L hip. I know that improving foot mobility and functional strength will help me to function better. Function is the name of the game. It is no longer about brute strength or 3 sets of 10 reps. That information is outdated. Function is about moving with grace, fluidity, and an awareness of your dynamic center. Watch the above video for more functional movement patterns. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list for more useful self-health empowerment articles.

*The product links above are affiliate links. I will receive a small compensation to keep the website running if you purchase through those links. 

09 Feb

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Are Biofilms a Major Missing Part of Chronic Disease Treatment?

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 DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN

So you’ve ventured into the realm of probiotics. Perhaps you’ve taken the plunge into rabbit hole of your own microbiome. I then pose the question: have you heard about biofilms? Most people have not caught wind of them yet. I only came across biofilms due to my battles with chronic sinusitis. So what are they? Biofilms are an aggregate of microorganisms that are surrounded by a thick matrix of proteins, polymerase, and other binding substances.

This gives the microorganisms inside the biofilm a protective barrier in which they can reproduce and remain safe from external threats. So why does this concern you? Well, biofilms frequently occur within humans as well as throughout our environment. In hospitals, an organism known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa commonly adheres to a surface and forms a biofilm. This infection can also occur internally as well. In some cases, this has resulted in mortality rates as high as 65% (5).

I equate biofilms to a castle wall. Suppose you have an infection. This time however, it is surrounded by a biofilm (castle wall). The invaders (antibiotics or other antimicrobials) will not be able to recognize the infection as a threat. They remain undetected or undeterred by the immune system. Needless to say, this is a serious conundrum in the field of medicine. Even increasing the doses of antimicrobials will do little to thwart the complexity of biofilms.

As we throw endless amounts of antibiotics offensively against the biofilms, they remain unhindered, and “mature” by expanding (3). The microorganisms inside the biofilm can do as they please without concern of eradication. While troubling, it is fascinating to consider how this occurs. Recent microbiology research has demonstrated that bacteria have the ability to communicate with each other, even to complimentary species. This is known as quorum-sensing (1). By connecting with one another, bacteria can determine their chances of success to overcome a host (your immune system.) They can also carry out a variety of other actions that are still poorly understood.

Below is an excellent illustration of how a biofilm works (Click to enlarge). Note the cyclical nature of the process, and why it can be a real issue to eradicate.

Biofilm1

 

(Click to enlarge in new tab)

On a more personal level, I believe that biofilms are highly linked to chronic sinusitis, Lyme disease, and more. I don’t have a peer reviewed study to back this up, because I don’t believe it has been studied yet. However, every functional medicine practitioner I have worked with typically makes significant gains with their clients if biofilms are addressed.

If you suspect biofilms may be a part of your own struggles, Dr. James Schaller’s Book, “Combating Biofilms: Why Your Antibiotics and Antifungals Fail,” is an excellent resource.

You might wonder: what do we do to address biofilms? Well, we have to break down the castle walls. This is typically done by “biofilm busters.” There are hundreds of different options to accomplish this task. Some may be more appropriate than others for an individual.

The top 4 “biofilm busters” I’ve found to work effectively in my own life are:

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE): This is not to be confused with grapeseed extract, which has similar properties. The active components of GSE have been shown to exhibit strong antimicrobial and biofilm busting properties (7).

Garlic: Allicin is a potent biofilm buster and antimicrobial. There is a significant amount of research supporting the antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties of garlic as an adjunct to other treatments.

Syntol AMD: Syntol is a product by Arthur Andrew Medical that uses proteolytic enzymes to break down the walls of a biofilm. I have personally found it highly effective against biofilms and candidiasis in my own clients.

Clove Bud Oil: Clove Bud Oil contains a component known as Eugenol. Run a PubMed search on Eugenol to see how hot this is in the research. It is highly effective against Candida albicans biofilms (6).

For additional information on these biofilm busters, watch my YouTube video above. If you found the video helpful, subscribe to our mailing list above, as well.

WARNING: If you break open a biofilm, understand that the organisms that were inside now have free reign. Be prepared to deal with these organisms swiftly with the appropriate antimicrobials. Discuss this further with your (knowledgeable) healthcare provider.

Another resource worth exploring is Bonnie Bassler’s TED talk: “How bacteria communicate.”

Sources:

(1) The Involvement of Cell-to-Cell Signals in the Development of a Bacterial Biofilm

(2) Staphylococcal Infections: Mechanisms of Biofilm Maturation and Detachment as Critical Determinants of Pathogenicity

(3) How Staphylococcus aureus biofilms develop their characteristic structure

(4) Influence of clove oil on certain quorum-sensing-regulated functions and biofilm of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Aeromonas hydrophila

(5) In Vitro Management of Hospital Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilm Using Indigenous T7-Like Lytic Phage

(6) In vitro activity of eugenol against Candida albicans biofilms

(7) Grapefruit juice and its furocoumarins inhibits autoinducer signaling and biofilm formation in bacteria

Images by: D. Davis and CDC

02 Feb

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Should I Use a Postural Shirt Or Back Brace To Help My Posture?

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 DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN

IMG_0824-e Most people want a quick fix for all their physical ailments. A pill for every ill. Poor posture is apparently no different.  In response, new products are appearing on the market to influence proper posture. This new “posture sportswear” industry is booming, and these companies sure are not hesitant to slap a hefty price tag on their products.

I can’t say enough that improving posture is hard work. It requires dedication, time, and consistent effort. A few minutes of stretching is not going to counter 8-10 hours of sitting at a sedentary job. The same is true with postural sportswear. While they may assist you in a comprehensive  postural program, they certainly will NOT solve your issue long term. Lifestyle changes will. Physical therapy, stretching, and other modifications in your work environment will.

The same thing goes for back braces in regards to low back pain. They give your body an external stabilizer. While this may be beneficial if you are a power lifter or if you’ve had an acute herniated disc, it makes postural muscles lazy. In the long term, they will atrophy. To start, do anything you can to modify your workstation. Get a treadmill desk if at all possible if you have a desk job. I know it may seem like an extreme measure to ask an employer, but how much is your back worth to you? I’ve written a lot more about posture in the article below. Also see our YouTube video on how to loosen up a stiff low back.

Be certain to subscribe to our mailing list for more helpful integrative health articles.

See our recent guide to posture here 

26 Jan

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How To Avoid Health Scam Artists and Save Money

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN

Like many others, my family and I have experienced the ongoing battle of chronic health disorders. In the process of rebuilding our health, we are frequently faced with the daunting task of assembling a healthcare team that fits our individual needs. You may be able to relate.

In terms of finding a quality practitioner, I have to stop and ask myself a series of questions before ever surrendering to the care of another person. I’ve learned these things from my own (costly) mistakes. I’m hoping these guidelines will serve as a basis for you to avoid scams, questionable treatments, and quacks.

If you’ve read some of my previous articles, you may note that my definition of a quack or fraud is quite different than the average person. I’ve lost nearly all faith in Western Medicine for the management of chronic disorders. Chronic disease is too complicated. Most western practitioners have little time, knowledge, or desire to effectively treat these diagnoses. So instead, we have a system of symptom management that never accurately addresses the root cause. This leaves many patients feeling helpless. They begin to search for answers elsewhere, only to be disappointed by fraudulent and shoddy treatments in the “natural” health field.

DoctorsSo what is a person to do? I think it is time we turn to practitioners who have a burning curiosity to provide quality care in a system that is frequently void of such a practice.

What is quality care? This is individual to the person, however, it usually includes some sort of accountability to understand the personal needs of the client. In other words, treatment and diagnosis that consists of a cookie cutter approach is likely not top notch.

I should note there are exceptions to the rule. I believe Western Medicine has fantastic uses in emergency medicine and cardiology. There are some forward thinking integrative health practitioners going against the grain as well who assist others along a health journey. You just have to know the right questions to ask. Hence this article:

CHOOSING THE MOST APPROPRIATE PRACTITIONERS FOR YOUR TIME AND MONEY

FOR MORE ELABORATION ON THE QUESTIONS BELOW, PLEASE SEE THE ABOVE YOUTUBE VIDEO.

Important questions to consider when choosing a healthcare practitioner:

  1. Are their results or clinical findings reproducible with repeat testing?
  2. Are their diagnostics or treatment plans empirically verifiable?
  3. What is their reputation in the community?
  4. What sorts of continuing education or extended learning has the practitioner participated in?
  5. How well do they listen to you?
  6. Will they provide you with patient references?
  7. What are their past results with the particular affliction you are dealing with?

I should note that some of my most positive experiences with healthcare practitioners have been with those who require out of pocket expenses. This is not always the case, however. It just seems that the majority of the “top-of-the-line” practitioners tend to avoid dealing with third party payers.

For more information on how to choose the most fitting healthcare practitioner for your needs, see the video above. What have your experiences been with locating a healthcare practitioner or fits your needs? What questions did you ask? What strategies did you use? Please comment and discuss below.

Images by: Seattle Municipal Services and Dr.Farouk

19 Jan

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Reduce Stress & Muscle Tension With Progressive Muscle Relaxation

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 DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


The following video is the final continuation of our 4 part series on meditation. Be sure to review all the previous types of meditation from the past 3 weeks. Download them, implement them regularly, and most importantly, subscribe to our YouTube channel and mailing lists to receive more self-empowerment tools like these in the future!

As stated in part 1 of this series, progressive muscle relaxation is an invaluable tool to decrease acute stress, reduce muscle tension, and further turn off the “fight-or-flight” response. I have personally written and recorded an additional free guided-meditation practice.

A High-Fidelity, 192 Kbps audio MP3 of this meditation can be found here

If you missed part 1 of our meditation series, it can be found here.

Part 2 can be found here.

Part 3 can be found here.

Here is the YouTube Video of part 1 in the meditation series. It outlines an introduction to meditation:

Here is the YouTube Video of part 2 in the meditation series. It demonstrates a guided mindfulness meditation practice.

 

Here is the YouTube Video of part 3 in the meditation series. It demonstrates a deep breathing meditation practice.

If you prefer a written version of the above meditation practice, it can be found below:

TRANSCRIPT:

ShavasanaHello, and welcome to a progressive muscle relaxation tutorial by Chris Sovey. This meditation is part 4 of a 4-part meditation series. This particular meditation is primarily designed to assist in the reduction of acute stress and muscle tension. Please see the description in the link below. This production is copyright 2015 by Chris Sovey of Healthy Consumer, LLC. All rights reserved. This meditation is available as a free download for personal use in the link below. Let us begin.

Start by finding a comfortable room with no distractions. Turn off your cell phone and other electronic devices. Pick a time of day where you know there will be at least 20 minutes where you will not be interrupted.

If it is not possible to find a quiet room, it is ok. Just try your best to minimize external stimulation.

Begin reclined or lying on your back in a comfortable position. Your knees should preferably be straight but could be slightly bent, with a pillow under your knees if that is safe and comfortable for you. Legs are gently spread and palms face towards the ceiling. The back of the neck is long.

First, take note of any obvious tension in your body. Shake your arms and legs a little, as to wring out any miscellaneous stress from your day.

Next, tune into your breath. Take note of its rhythm. Observe its depth. Is it shallow or deep? Does it flow with ease, or is it labored? Just observe for a few moments, without judging or changing it.

First start with 5 expansive breath cycles.

Inhale… 2… 3… Exhale… 2…. 3… 4… 5… 6… [x5 cycles]

Continue breathing deeply and easily. Don’t force the breath. Let it flow in and out of the body as naturally as possible.

Now …. Tune into the feet. Let’s focus on our contract-relax cycles. We will combine the contractions and relaxations with breath to enhance the effect.

Inhale: flex all the toes on both feet. Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Next, move up to the ankles. Inhale. Flex all your toes and point both ankles down. Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Next, tune into the calf muscles. Inhale. Flex your toes, point your ankles, and squeeze your calf muscles. Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Focus your attention on the front and backs of your thighs. Inhale. Flex your toes, point your ankles, squeeze your calf muscles, and contract the front and back of your thighs. Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Continue up to your pelvic floor, the deep muscles between your thighs. Inhale, draw up all the previous muscles in both legs, and engage the pelvic floor as if you were sucking up water through a straw between your legs. Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Now turn to your gluteal muscles and front of the groin. Inhale, draw up all the previous muscles in both legs, engage the pelvic floor, and activate the gluteal muscles and the front of your groin. Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Move to the lower abdomen. Inhale deeply into the abdominal cavity, expanding in all directions. Draw up the muscles of the foot, ankle, leg, glutes, groin, and now the abdomen. Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Notice any tension in your chest and neck. Inhale. Active your leg muscles, the pelvic floor, groin, glutes, abdomen, and draw in the muscles of the chest and neck. Contract the front, sides, and back of the chest walls. Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Note the position of your shoulders. On an exhale. Let them melt into your supporting surface. Inhale: Legs, pelvic floor, groin, abdomen, chest, neck. Squeeze the front and back of the shoulders, draw your arms into your side body. Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Observe any tension in the forearms, wrists, or fingers. Inhale, active all the previous muscles, squeeze the arms into the side body, engage the forearm, wrists, and reach through the fingertips with energy. Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Lastly, move up to the face. Inhale, contract all the previous sets of muscles, scrunch the face, purse the lips, Hold, hold. Exhale, relax.

Do one last full body contraction together. Inhale, Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze!! Releasing all tension, and relax.

Continue to breath deeply and easily, for as long as you need. When you are ready, return to the room, and open your eyes.

Perform this practice several times a week, as a regular discipline, to help prevent accumulated stress or tension in the muscular system.

 

Photos by: Teakwood and Kah Wai Sin:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/teakwood/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kahwaisin/

 

12 Jan

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How To: Deep Breathing Meditation Tutorial For Relaxation

by

Meditation4

 DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


The following video is a continuation of our 4 part series on meditation. Be sure to check back the next Monday for part 4, and free downloads of all the audio files for use on your mobile device, etc.

As stated in part 1 of this series, deep breathing meditation is an invaluable tool to decrease acute stress, turn off the “fight-or-flight” response, and decrease the response of your sympathetic nervous system. I have personally written and recorded an additional free guided-meditation practice.

A High-Fidelity, 192 Kbps audio MP3 of this meditation can be found here

If you missed part 1 of our meditation series, it can be found here.

Part 2 can be found here.

Here is the YouTube Video of part 1 in the meditation series. It outlines an introduction to meditation:

Here is the YouTube Video of part 2 in the meditation series. It demonstrates a guided mindfulness meditation practice.

 

If you prefer a written version of the above meditation practice, it can be found below:

TRANSCRIPT:

Meditate3Hello, and welcome to a deep breathing and body relaxation tutorial by Chris Sovey. This meditation is part 3 of a 4-part meditation series. Please see the description in the link below. This production is copyright 2015 by Chris Sovey of Healthy Consumer, LLC. All rights reserved. This meditation is available as a free download for personal use in the link below. This recording may contain subtle background sound effects or music to assist in your relaxation. However, they will be kept to a minimum. Let us begin.

Start by finding a comfortable room with no distractions. Turn off your cell phone and other electronic devices. Pick a time of day where you know there will be at least 20 minutes where you will not be interr upted.

If it is not possible to find a quiet room, it is ok. Just try your best to minimize external stimulation.

Begin seated in a comfortable position. You could be slightly reclined, but still internalizing the concept of an erect posture, as to not fall asleep. If you wish to lie down, do so with the concept of internalizing upright posture.

First, take note of any obvious tension in your body. Shake your arms and legs a little, as to wring out any miscellaneous stress from your day.

Next, tune into your breath. Take note of its rhythm. Observe its depth. Is it shallow or deep? Does it flow with ease, or is it labored? Just observe for a few moments, without judging or changing it.

Take note of any stressors floating through your mind, and just let them be. Return to your breath. Gently begin to deepen your breath. We’re going to pace the breath now and deepen the exhalation. This will assist the body in entering a relaxed state.

Lets do this together. We will inhale for 3, exhale for 6 seconds.

Inhale… 2… 3… Exhale… 2…. 3… 4… 5… 6… [x4 cycles]

The exhale may feel too long to you. This is normal, as we spend a great deal of our day with significantly shortened breath cycles. Adjust the breath cycle slightly if needed.

Inhale… 2… 3… Exhale… 2…. 3… 4… 5… 6…

On an inhale, the breath begins in the nares, travels down into the trachea, and expands through the chest, in all directions. Your sternum lifts, and your diaphragm drops down into the abdominal cavity. The feeling of the breath continues all the way down into the pelvic floor. Release any tension along this descent.

Inhale… 2… 3… Exhale… 2…. 3… 4… 5… 6…

Slowing down your stressful day, appreciating this precious time you have set aside for yourself. You deserve it. No worries about what is left for today or what is to come tomorrow.

Inhale… 2… 3… Exhale… 2…. 3… 4… 5… 6…

Checking in with your posture, being certain to maintain an upright posture the entire cycle of this practice.

Inhale… 2… 3… Exhale… 2…. 3… 4… 5… 6…

Continue this cycle as needed, as long as it feels right for you. Come back to this practice daily, and you will be amazed what a regular practice can do for you.

Photos by: Ian Burt and Kah Wai Sin:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oddsock/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kahwaisin/

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