Northwest Wellness's Blog

Useful information for a healthy lifestyle.

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Tight Psoas Muscle and Low Back Pain

Tight Psoas Muscle and Low Back Pain

If you have ever had low back pain, often times one of the main culprits is a tight Psoas muscle. The psoas muscle is the primary hip flexor muscle, and is the largest, thickest muscle in the body. The psoas is the most powerful hip flexor. The psoas muscle originates at the lower vertebrae of T12 and inserts on the posterior of the femur. 

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Dr. McCarter's Spotlight on: Skin Health

Summer is right around the corner and many of us were able to enjoy the teaser of what is to come recently! Our skin is one of the largest organs of our body and while it provides us with protection as one of its primary functions, we must also protect it.

As we prepare for fun in the sun it is important to take appropriate precautions to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are three types of UV rays, UV-A, B and C. Of the three, we are exposed to UVA and UVB as these two are not blocked by the ozone layer.  Each year more research occurs to help inform us of the things that we need to do in order to make sure that we are protecting ourselves from these harmful rays. It was once the prevailing thought that we needed to be primarily concerned about UVB rays as they are the cause of sunburn and were more associated with skin cancer. What we have now known for some time is that UVA rays are just as harmful to the skin. Primarily associated with signs of aging (wrinkles, sun spots). UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and can in fact initiate skin cancer. UVA rays are also the primary ray used in tanning beds, making them a hazard for the skin. It is also important to keep in mind that we are exposed to these rays throughout the year. While the intensity of the rays, UVB rays specifically, vary depending on the season, there is exposure year round. Sun protection is not just for the summer!

No matter the skin tone, everyone should take appropriate protective measures against sun damage. While those with darker skin tones have some (natural) protection due to pigmented cells call melanocytes, they are just as susceptible to the damaging rays of the sun and skin cancer as those with lighter skin tones. Individuals with darker skin sunburn just as those with lighter skin. In fact, melanoma, one of the most common and deadly types of skin cancer, is generally detected much later in those with darker skin tones. It is important for all, regardless of skin tone, to wear sunscreen and protective clothing in the event that they will be in the sun for extended periods of time. 

Keep in mind these guidelines from the Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Usa a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

Resources:

Skin Cancer Foundation: www.skincancer.org 

Chiropractic Care and Fibromyalgia

Chiropractic Care and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that causes extreme fatigue and muscle pain. It is more common in women. People who suffer from this condition have tender points in the shoulders, arms, legs, back, hips, and neck. Common symptoms include insomnia, morning stiffness, headaches, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, memory problems, chronic fatigue syndrome. There is not a known cause of fibromyalgia. It may be linked to a variety of things including traumatic events, injuries, illness, stress, diseases. Middle aged women have the highest risk for fibromyalgia.


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Britt's Tips: It's all about ankles this summer!

Britt's Tips: It's all about ankles this summer!

 Some of our favorite summer activities necessitate ankle strength, stability and proprioceptive balance strategy. Hiking, paddle boarding, water skiing, soccer, yoga, surfing and even sandy or rocky beach walks all require stable ankle joint performance. Think of all the stress those joints take on, especially when navigating uneven ground or landing from a big jump. You can improve your skills by upping your ankles’ reliability.  Here are a few strength and balance exercises to prevent injury (the dreaded ankle roll), boost your strength, and keep you upright on that tricky paddle board! No special gym equipment or resistance bands required.  

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PNW Hiking Recommendations

PNW Hiking Recommendations

As an outdoor enthusiast, I appreciate all the amazing hiking and backpacking areas we have here in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve hiked and camped on many of the trails in Washington, but the possibilities are endless and there’s always more to explore. Here are some of my favorite hikes in the area, starting with my favorite, Colchuck Lake!

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Dr. McCarter's Spotlight on: Mental Health

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Each month of the year observes certain health conditions. May is National Mental Health Month. There is increasing conversation surrounding mental health, which has served to increase awareness and remove the stigma that is associated with mental illness. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 1 in 6 adults in the United States lives with a mental illness. Mental illness is generally divided into to broad categories: Any Mental Illness and Serious Mental Illness. Any Mental Illness refers to mental, behavioral or emotional disorders with a range from no symptoms/impairment to severe symptoms/impairment. Serious Mental Illness refers to mental, behavioral or emotional disorders with serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. Each of these broad categories can be further broken down into numerous conditions.

Given these definitions, it is likely that mental illness strikes close to home for many of us since 1 in 5 adults in the US experience some kind of mental illness in a given year. This can be relatively mild such as a bout of temporary depression or much more severe. In many instances mental illness is diagnosed fairly late as there can be decades between when symptoms first appear and when individuals/families seek help for themselves or a family member. Delays in diagnosis and treatment can have devastating effects on the life of the individual, their family and broader community. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) categorizes depression as a public health issue. For many, the delay in diagnosis and treatment can be due to the stigma associated with mental illness. This stigma has been internalized by many, particularly American culture where our society encourages attitudes and behaviors such as "be strong", "push through" or "don't be weak".

There is nothing weak about seeking help. You do not have to be strong or push through and suffer in silence. There are many resources that are available. Your first step may be talking to your primary care provider, who will be able to direct you to where you can receive appropriate care for you or your loved one. If you are in need of this kind of support, I am more than happy to provide it for you at Northwest Wellness and welcome the opportunity to do so. As a Naturopathic doctor, one of our guiding principles is to Treat the Whole Person. This means that I take into consideration the psychosocial and emotional factors that contribution to health and well-being and understand the impact that these factors can have on physical health. Additionally, I can be a member of your healthcare team to ensure that you get the services you need by those best suited to address your concerns.

Please check out the video below as well as the links in the resources section. Become a part of the movement to end the stigma of mental illness.

 

Resources: 

  1. Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults. (n.d.).  from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mental-illness-ami-among-adults.shtml accessed May 3, 2018

  2. Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Among Adults. (n.d.). from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/serious-mental-illness-smi-among-us-adults.shtml accessed May 3, 2018

  3. Bring Change to Mind: https://bringchange2mind.org/

  4. National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/

  5. Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/

 

 

 

Chiropractic care during pregnancy

Chiropractic care during pregnancy

Pregnant women receive a lot of great benefits from chiropractic care.  Women who receive regular chiropractic care are taking care of their nervous system. A better nervous system helps the body be better prepared to handle childbirth.  When the nervous system is working optimally, the whole body works better.  During pregnancy, women’s body’s go through a series of physical and hormonal changes.  It is important to take care of the body with regular chiropractic care.

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Britt's Tips: Posture and the Rear View Mirror Trick

Britt's Tips: Posture and the Rear View Mirror Trick

We all have busy, hectic lives, rarely allowing time to take care of ourselves. Being able to sneak in stretches and exercises wherever possible is key. Often our car commute is the only time we’re not overburdened with work, chasing after kids, taking care of the house, or sleeping. Let’s take advantage of this quiet time and apply one of my favorite postural improvement tips.

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Dr. McCarter's Spotlight on: Stillness and Reflection

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Take a moment to be still. Close your eyes or focus your gaze in front of you. Take a few slow, deep breathes, filling your belly and feeling your chest rise, filling your lungs breathing slowing in and out through your nose. How did that feel?

It is not uncommon to hear "there aren't enough hours in the day". We are constantly on the go often putting everyone and everything else first, including our health. We live in a society where we have become accustomed to doing more, or have fallen into a routine that does not include time for stillness and reflection. I have seen this manifest in patients as an inability to achieve certain health goals despite the feeling of working quite hard to do so. I have also of course, seen this manifest as increase stress, anxiety and insomnia, which have adverse effects on ones health. This has led many that I work with to feel frustrated and fall into habits and a lifestyle that lead them on a path of suboptimal health. 

Often when you hear that you should take a moment to be still and reflect, what comes to mind is meditation or writing in a journal, both of which are associated with taking up time-time that is perpetually in short supply. While journaling and meditation promote stillness and offer a time for reflection, it is not necessarily the case that they have to take up large chunks of time out of your day.  Considering the demands of work and tending to the needs of family, it is a real challenge for some to carve out 15-30 minutes to sit and meditate or journal. What about taking a few seconds either and the start or end of your day to simply breathe deeply? The start of this post began with taking seconds to be in still and take a few deeps breathes. It can be just that simple initially.

During "good" weeks, the beginning of this post is how I begin my day. Taking literally 2-3 minutes after shutting off my alarm to breathe deeply and think about the day that is ahead of me. When I am really on top of things, I take a bit more time to reflect on what I want to accomplish for that day, journal for 10-15 minutes or create my agenda/to-do list for the day and then begin with all of the things that need to be accomplished in the next 12-18 hours. On the days that I do this, I have observed that I feel less stressed throughout the day, I am significantly more productive and I am more calm at the end of the day. I go in and out of regular practice. I generally fall back into practice when I begin to notice, as I mentioned above that I am doing quite a bit but not getting very much done or, I am feeling increasingly and easily frustrated. These are my clues that I have not been taking time for stillness and reflection. 

In last week's blog post, I spoke on the importance of planning. What I did not mention is that your plan, be it toward better health or some other goal does not have to be grand in scale. We accomplish all tasks, however great or small, one day at a time. Begin with a plan for your day. Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of your day to sit in stillness, breathe and reflect on the day you have had or are going to have. On the days that you do this, be mindful of how this practice impacts your mood, stress levels and productivity throughout the day.

Once a regular practice, you may find that you want to take bigger steps toward better health. At that time, when a more robust plan is needed, come in to Northwest Wellness to see a Naturopathic physician that can support you in your health goals by working with you to create your personalized plan for wellness