Be Careful When Decorating For The Holidays

The holiday season is fast approaching, and lots of people are already making plans and decorating, with many more to follow on the day before and in the days following Thanksgiving.

As fun and festive as this time of year is, though, at the risk of sounding like a buzzkill, it’s important to remember a few basic safety tips that can keep you out of the ER and chiropractor’s office this year. Don’t let a moment’s carelessness turn you into a statistic, as more than 15,000 people were injured in holiday and decorating-related accidents last year. Here are a few simple tips you can use to avoid the most common pitfalls:

1) Basic ladder safety – This is hands down the biggest culprit of holiday injuries and mishaps, and here, the trouble takes two forms:
Either people misuse the ladder they have, climbing too high on the rungs or not following basic safety precautions like having someone steady it while you’re on it. The other just as common situation is that people forego the use of a ladder altogether, not wanting to drag it out of storage.
Instead, they’ll climb on chairs or other furniture in order to gain the height they need to hang those last few decorations. Both are recipes for disaster, so just say no!

2) Basic electrical safety – Before you string those dazzling lights all over your house, be sure to go through each strand and check for shorts, frayed wires and burned out bulbs. Failing to take this simple step can result in burns or shocks in the best case, and fires in the worst. Burning your house down for lack of prep work is an even worse way to ring in the holidays than getting hurt, so take your time here.

3) Your Christmas tree – If you get a live tree every year, be sure to keep it well watered and don’t overload it with lights (again, the fire hazard). If you’re using an artificial tree, be sure to get a flame resistant one. In both cases, be sure to keep them well away of any heat source.

Following these simple tips won’t guarantee you an accident-free holiday season, but they’ll go a long way toward helping you avoid the most common types of holiday-related injuries.

How Does Extra Weight Affect Your Back?

By any definition, we have an obesity epidemic in the United States. More than a third of adults and slightly more than that number of children are obese, and millions more are varying shades of overweight.

It’s well known that obesity causes or contributes to a wide range of serious health problems including diabetes and heart disease. What is less well known and understood, though, is the more immediate impact it has on your back. Long before you start showing symptoms of either of the diseases mentioned above, your back will feel the strain.

If you’re at normal body weight, your posture is such that your chest is out, your chin is up, and your stomach is tucked in. This is proper posture, and it minimizes your chances of back pain or back strain.

When you start putting on extra pounds, though, it strains your muscles and ligaments. As your body gets heavier, your spine has an increasingly difficult time straightening out properly. In the short term, this won’t have any serious or lasting impact, but over the longer term, the added weight will absolutely impact your posture.

One of the more common and noticeable changes is that the necks of overweight people will bend increasingly forward, so that their heads lean over their chests, instead of over their shoulders.

This isn’t something you’re going to notice right away, though. It happens gradually, over time. In fact, until your chiropractor points it out to you, you may not notice it at all.

Another common problem is that if your added weight is mostly centered in your stomach, it will cause your pelvis to slant forward as your body attempts to compensate and maintain balance. This is ultimately the reason that so many chronically overweight people suffer from lower back pain.

If you suffer from chronic back and/or neck pain, the first, best thing you can do is lose the extra weight you may have, which will make it easier for your spine to rest in proper alignment. While that won’t fix every back problem you’ve got, it will give you a solid start, and your chiropractor can get you the rest of the way there!

Anxiety Could Be A Factor In Your Joint Pain

“Mind over matter” isn’t a phrase that leaps immediately to mind when people think about joint or muscle pain. When joint pain strikes, most people tend to think in terms of overexertion or old age, but the truth is that sometimes our very thoughts can betray our bodies and cause or contribute to joint and muscle pain.

That might seem silly on its face, but the science behind it is solid, and once you understand it, it’ll go a long way toward explaining aches and pains that have no other apparent cause. Here’s the low-down:

When you’re anxious and stressed, your body responds by tensing up. This is part of the “fight or flight” response and is driven by cortisol levels in your body. The more stressed you are, the higher your cortisol levels will be, and the more stiffness and tension you’ll feel in your muscles.

That causes your joints to have to work harder, which leads directly to the second big problem: inflammation. When muscles become inflamed, you feel it in the form of an aching, burning sensation, and voila! Your stressful thoughts have lead to joint stiffness and pain.

Obviously, this is an oversimplification. Sometimes your joints are screaming in protest because you really did overdo it, or because you’re getting older and that just comes with the territory. This isn’t always the case, though, so when you start to feel aches and pains in your body, it’s important to take a few minutes to do a quick self-assessment.

Maybe the problem is that you tried to do too much. Maybe it’s that you’re stressed to the max and your body is sending you a clear and unmistakable message.

Sure, in the short run, you can ease the pain by taking over-the-counter or prescription medications or bump up the frequency of your chiropractor visits, but in at least some of the cases, the thing that will do the most to fix the problem is to relax, unwind and de-stress.

This is definitely something to think about.

Replace Bad Snacks With Healthy Ones In The Office

If you work in an office environment, you’ve got two big strikes against you where staying healthy is concerned. First and most obvious is the fact that you probably spend most of your day sitting, which means you’re getting almost no exercise. Sitting like this also has long term-impacts on your posture, which can lead to chronic back pain down the road.

The other big factor that can negatively impact your health, though, is the company vending machine. Most every company has one, and as you might expect, they’re usually chock full of unhealthy snack options laden with sugar, salt and other things your body doesn’t need.

What’s a busy professional to do, though?

Fortunately, there are some simple, healthy options you can bring from home that will tide you over during those long afternoon hours. Here are some of the best:

• Nuts – Most nuts are very good for you, although you do have to be at least somewhat discerning. Roasted and/or salted nuts, for instance, are the least healthy option, although even these are much better for you than most of the snacks you’ll find in the vending machine.
To make this a maximally healthy choice, pre-package unsalted nuts in small serving sizes in Ziploc bags and keep them in your desk!

• Packaged Soups – This is another great option, but in order to make the most of it, you’ll want to read nutrition labels carefully. Many packaged soups are filled with sodium and other unhealthy ingredients, so be sure to pick one that isn’t!

• If your office has a fridge in the break room, it really expands the number of snack options you have available, but one of the best is Greek yogurt. This is a healthy, thick, creamy and delicious snack filled with probiotic goodness and lots of nutrients your body needs.

The bottom line here is that you don’t have to exist at the mercy of the company vending machine. There are a raft of healthy alternatives you can bring with you from home to get the midday pick-me-up you need.