Northwest Wellness's Blog

Useful information for a healthy lifestyle.

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Returning to Running After an Injury

Returning to Running After an Injury

Whether you are a recreational runner or a competitive runner, chances are you have experienced a running-related injury. Getting back out onto the roads/trails after an injury is not always a smooth and easy process. Sometimes, the injury tends to linger, even once you feel like you’re ready to return to running. Having the guidance of a physical therapist during your rehabilitation program will help you get back to running faster, and safely.

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Dr. McCarter's Spotlight on: Reproductive Health

Beginning in March I will begin a series of blog posts and monthly health talks that will focus on reproductive health. As a doctor that focuses primarily on Women's health, the information provided will primarily focus on the female reproductive system and complaints that I commonly treat. Inevitably there will be information applicable to men as well. Overall, this will be information that will be helpful to be aware of regardless of gender. 

As these posts and presentations are influenced by clinical experience, one of the topics that I will be tackling early on is preconception health. What this means is I will be providing information for about factors (female and male) that impact fertility. For quite some time when couples experienced difficulty conceiving, it was primarily associated with female factors (ovarian function, uterine health/function, fallopian tube patency and/or menstrual irregularities etc.), virtually ignoring male fertility/reproductive health altogether. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, as much as 40% of infertility cases can be attributed to male factors; either completely due to male factor infertility or male factors are a contributing influence to the difficulty the couple is having conceiving. This statistic alone should encourage more men to take a more active role in what they can do to enhance their fertility as a part of family planning.

There is also a focus on the decline in fertility that occurs as women age. Well, this also happens in men but for them, it happens a bit later when compared to women. This will be discussed too. So, if you are considering starting a family in the near future or have been having difficulty conceiving and are looking for ways that Naturopathic medicine can be helpful, stay tuned. Also, come in and see me!

Benefits of Chiropractic care for Children

Benefits of Chiropractic care for Children

The spinal cord is the first part of the body formed in the womb, and nervous system is the central controller of it. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. The nerves running out of the spinal cord go to every organ, muscle, cell, tissue, and glands in the body. In children, when there is interference the nerve flow, children could react with constipation, bed wetting, ear infections, colic, torticollis, fussiness, trouble sleeping, etc. Chiropractic adjustments are equally important for children.

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Deep Breath

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A phrase I often repeat to patients during deep tissue sessions is, “remember to take slow, deep breaths”. Not only is oxygen essential on a cellular level, controlled breathing helps the body to relax. This can be especially helpful during trigger point therapy. There are breathing techniques used during certain activities such as yoga, boxing, meditation (reducing stress), sleep aid; the list goes on.

Here are five benefits for controlled breathing:

  1. Stress Management- Controlled breathing prevents the brain from being in a constant state of stress which in turn prevents subsequent damage brought on by high stress levels.
  2. Anxiety Management- Breathing triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which is linked to stimulation of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is responsible for mediating the nervous system’s responses and decreasing heart rate. The vagus nerve releases a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine that catalyzes increased focus and calmness. The more acetylcholine present there will be decreased feelings of anxiety.
  3. Lower Blood Pressure and Heart Rate- this also means less wear and treat on the blood vessels. Prevents the occurrence of stroke and lowers the risk of cerebral aneurysm.
  4. Brain Growth- Studies have shown that breathing used to facilitate meditation can increase brain size. The brain experiences growth in areas associated with attention and processing sensory input.
  5. Alter Gene Expression- specifically the genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism, and insulin secretion.   

Some ways to achieve the relaxation response is mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, progressive muscle relaxation, Qi Gong, and guided imagery. There are also several YouTube videos for guided meditation that emphasis controlled breathing.

Why Should I Meditate?

Why Should I Meditate?

There are thousands of studies that support the benefits of meditation and the positive effects produced when it is practiced regularly.  If you have never meditated, the possibility of sitting quietly on a pillow for 30 minutes simply focusing on your breathing can seem daunting.  In this day and age, it is difficult to imagine not checking your phone, text messages, email or social media for 5 minutes!  The more you recognize yourself in that statement the more I would compel you to take some time to study this ancient practice and reap the many benefits available.  Here are just some of the many advantages offered by a daily meditation practice:

·         Decrease stress and anxiety

·         Better and more restful sleep

·         Clearer thinking and calmness

·         Improved memory and brain function

·         Decreased physical pain

·         More harmony in your relationships

·         Increased sense of happiness

·         Improved Mind-Body-Brain Integration

World-class athletes, top managers and world-class performers have all shown high levels of what’s called brain integration. This means that their brains are wired with strong connections between the different areas, they have heightened attention, and they’re able to think quickly to deal with problems. In addition to all of the benefits listed above, meditation is also the new key to success, as noted by U.S. neuroscientist Dr. Fred Travis.  A study from Harvard Medical School also demonstrated that meditation causes changes in brain waves that actually improve the brain’s functionality. 

For more information on the benefits of meditation please call Northwest Wellness in Federal Way, WA at 2539270660

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What does your pain mean?

Pain is subjective. Has anyone in the medical community asked you to rate your pain from 1 to 10? Does that scale make sense to you? Think of 1 as a minor annoyance and 10 as an emergency room crisis. Maybe that provides you more perspective on the scale. It’s complicated. One person’s minor annoyance may be another’s emergency. Your perception of 6 out of 10 could be completely different than my perceived 6 on that same scale. Along with putting a number to your pain when discussing with your health provider, it’s helpful to describe your discomfort using words like sharp, dull, constant, ache, throbbing, etc.

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Pain is communicative. Receptors around the body send signals to your brain to notify of something amiss. In a helpful way, an instantaneous notification is sent from a place of injury to the brain. The nervous and sensory systems work intelligently to protect you from further damage. In a destructive way, the brain is unable to decipher the report or scale correctly. Something major could be misunderstood as minor, or vice versa. The signaling/communication system can malfunction. The messenger might continue to report noxious narrative after you’ve physiologically healed. The latter concept is often the case with chronic or persistent pain.

Pain is complex.  It’s clever. Mind you, the above description is an over simplification of pain and its communicative system. Below is a link to a video with Lorimer Mosely, Physiotherapist and Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at the University of South Australia. This may help you understand pain as a construct of your brain’s functioning. It might help you understand its meaning better and communicate it with your health provider... And it's funny. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwd-wLdIHjs

For all of your health and wellness needs, visit us at Northwest Wellness!

Northwest Wellness is located at:

37430 Pacific Hwy S.

Federal Way, WA 98003

Phone: (253)-927-0660

February is American Heart Month!

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February is all about heart! In addition to holding one of the most widely celebrated days of the year, Valentine's Day, February is also American Heart Month.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. While there are many therapies to be employed to treat heart disease, I would like to put a spotlight on prevention. I often refer to the list below as the basics. They are not radical or new but have profound impact on overall health and sense of wellness. When incorporated into your daily routine they can be powerful tools in preventing chronic conditions such as heart disease.

The basics are the cornerstone of Naturopathic medicine and an integral component to the treatments recommendations I make. Let's take a look at the basics and why they are import to your overall health and specifically, your heart health.

  • Adequate sleep: **Join me at my monthly health talk on February, 22 when my topic will be "How Sleep Impacts Heart Health".**
  • Regular Elimination: That's right, pooping is important for overall health! This is not a topic that many like to discuss. However, your bowel movements can reveal quite a bit about the status of your health. Having regular bowel movements that is well-formed and easy to pass, is not only integral to colon health but overall health as well. While there are other factors at play, many of us are aware of the link between elevated cholesterol and the impact on cardiovascular health. When cholesterol is metabolized, a portion of it leaves the body in the feces (poop). Additionally, if you are constipated, unrelated to medication or a functional disorder, then it is likely that your dietary habits are such that you are putting yourself at risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Varied and sufficient Diet: Variety is indeed the spice of life. Experiment! Challenge yourself to try one new fruit or vegetable per week. Having a varied diet with a greater emphasis on fruits and veggies will aid in the consumption of not only adequate intake of macro-nutrients (Eg:fats, carbohydrates, protein) but important micro-nutrients (Eg: vitamins and minerals) as well. The fiber from the vegetables will aid in the bowel regularity, weight can be controlled, there are numerous health benefits to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Adequate Hydration: How much water have you drank today? Your body, like the earth, is predominately water. It is essential to good health! Many of us, children and adults alike suffer from chronic dehydration. Insufficient water intake contributes to obesity, elevated blood pressure as well as other chronic diseases.
  • Regular movement: Exercise is essential for heart health! Exercise combats obesity, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. Additionally, it helps you to achieve more restful sleep and also factors into bowel regularity.
  • Stress management: Long-term, chronic stress. The effects of stress on the cardiovascular system are well documented. It wreaks havoc on the heart. I highly recommend checking out Dr. Jeff Thomas' blog post on breathing and incorporating those techniques into your daily life as a strategy to reduce stress. Exercise is also a great way to release stress!
  • Supportive relationships: Social isolation has been recognized as a risk factor for heart disease & stroke. Loving and supportive relationships are essential to an overall sense of well-being and help us to deal with the trials of life. Increasingly scientists and scholars are looking at the degree to which social isolation impacts health. Call a friend and go for a walk, join a meet-up group with others that share your interest in a particular hobby or reconnect with old friends and family members.
  • Exposure to nature: While evidence continues to build regarding the impact of nature on health, many of us can identify with the calming effect of taking a nice walk in a park or among trees, especially here in the Pacific Northwest! There is nothing quite like a sunny day here in Washington! Exposure to nature has a positive impact on one's sense of well-being and can be quite helpful in relieving stress.