7 Key Benefits of Inversion Therapy

August 21, 2010

7 key benefits of inversion for the back pain sufferer

While relieving your back pain is your primary reason for considering inversion therapy, there are a number of additional benefits many people experience with a regular program of inversion. Here are 7 good reasons to use inversion therapy:

  • Maintains your height. Regularly inverting will help you avoid the "shrinkage" that naturally occurs as a result of gravity over a lifetime.
  • Improves circulation. When you're inverted, your blood circulation is aided by gravity rather than having to work against it. In addition, with inversion, gravity helps the lymphatic system clear faster, easing the aches and pains of stiff muscles.
  • Relieves stress. Everyone knows that a full-body stretch is rejuvenating! An inversion table provides the same feeling of relaxation as a yoga class - with a lot less effort. Many people find that they sleep better with regular inversion therapy.
  • Heightens mental alertness. Any upside-down activity increases the supply of oxygen to the brain, which many experts believe helps maintain mental sharpness.
  • Increases flexibility and range of motion. With inversion, your joints stay healthy and supple, meaning you can remain as active as you were in your younger years.
  • Improves posture. The stretching that comes with reversing the force of gravity on your body helps you sit, stand, and move with more ease and grace.
  • Realigns the spine after workouts. Running and other aerobic activities inevitably compress your spine - often unevenly. One-sided activities such as golf or tennis often pull the spine out of alignment. During inversion, minor misalignments often correct themselves naturally.
Disclaimer and safety tips about inversion:
While inversion has been proven to be beneficial, it is best to start slow - that is, at a low angle for short amounts of time. Going straight into full inversion will make you sore. So please resist the temptation to go into full inversion day one. You might be better off having a trained professional guide you through this process after being properly evaluated to determine if inversion is right for you.  Safety first!
 

Spinal Stenosis: What is it and how is it best treated?

July 23, 2010
Treatment for Spinal Stenosis

Spinal StenosisSpinal stenosis is the formal name for a narrowing of the spinal canal. While spinal stenosis can develop in the thoracic, or mid-back, it most commonly occurs in either the lumbar (lower back) or cervical (neck and upper back) regions of the spine.

As narrowing places pressure on the spinal cord and other nerves, mild to excruciating pain or even numbness in various areas of your neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs and buttocks results. Severe cases may even interfere with normal bladder and bowel functions.

Diagnosed primarily in older adults, many dismiss early signs of spinal stenosis as regular aches and pains of growing older. The good news is progression of spinal stenosis can often be slowed or even reversed.

What causes spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis is most commonly attributed to osteoarthritis-related bone damage, but a number of other conditions may constrict the spinal canal including a herniated disc, scar tissue build up, inflammation or even a tumor. In fairly rare cases spinal stenosis can be caused genetically in which case it is already present at birth as opposed to acquired later in life.

Like most health conditions, spinal stenosis is best dealt with through prevention rather than corrective actions after diagnosis. Fortunately many of the preventative steps you can take can also help reduce symptoms of the condition and even relieve the constriction itself depending on the cause.

How to naturally treat — or prevent — spinal stenosis

If you already are experiencing pain from spinal stenosis, you will need to experiment to find what you can tolerate and what treatments work best for you. Surgery may become a a required option for some, but should rarely be necessary if you first use these symptomatic and condition helping natural therapies:

  • Heat therapy, or ice and heat together, can break the pain-spasm cycle. Saunas, hot tubs, or far infrared heat also help improve circulation to bring more healing oxygen and nutrients to injured areas of the spine.
  • Proteolytic enzyme therapy offers a safer solution to the problem of inflammation than offered by over the counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen or prescription medicines. Inflammation is almost always present with pain, and may be the actual cause of your spinal stenosis.
  •  Specific trigger point therapy provides a mechanism to self-treat tiny yet painful muscle knots almost always present along with spinal stenosis.
  • Muscle Balance Therapy gets to the underlying source of many spinal conditions which are postural dysfunctions caused by muscle imbalances.
 

Should You Be Scared Of The Sun?

July 18, 2010
Should You Be Scared of the Sun?

Sun
 and Vitamin D - Don't be AfraidSunny weather means picnics, camping, swimming, hiking, and as many other outdoor activities as possible. But look outside on a warm day. You might be surprised how many people covered up in hats, scarves, and sunglasses religiously slather on gallons of thick, white sunscreen. Believe it or not, sunshine is good for you. In fact, it just might be the wonder drug you’re looking for.

The best-known benefit of the sun is Vitamin D, which a recent New York Times article reminds us can help build bones and healthy joints,
strengthen the immune system and lower the risks of illnesses such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure and cancer. But the best way to get Vitamin D isn’t through popping a pill – it’s by spending time out in the sun.

What’s the Big Deal about Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is naturally made by the body, but is not stored in the body. Production of this vitamin is activated by one’s exposure to sunlight. Individuals with an adequate amount of Vitamin D have been shown to suffer less from osteoporosis and joint pain, to have slowed
effects of arthritis and pain, and to have averted certain types of cancer. Not only is Vitamin D important to stay healthy, inadequate
levels can render your body vulnerable to any number of chronic conditions.

Generally, as little as ten minutes per day, or approximately one hour of sun exposure each week is thought to be enough to produce the necessary amount of Vitamin D.

However, most people do not get even that amount of sun exposure, which is why certain foods high in Vitamin D (fortified milk, eggs and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids) are recommended. Supplements and cod liver oil are two additional sources of this necessary daily part of a
healthy diet. In addition, as we age, our bodies tend to produce less Vitamin D, even with adequate sun exposure.

Why You Need the Sun

Moderation is key in most areas of your health. The same is true for the sun, says John Jacob Cannell, MD, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council, which supports moderate sun exposure. “Fear of the fatal form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, keeps many people out of the sun. The problem with the theory is that the incidence of melanoma continues to increase dramatically although many people have been completely avoiding the sun for years. We are not saying sunburns are safe; they are not. We are saying that brief, full-body sun exposure… is a much smarter thing to do than dying of Vitamin D deficiency.”

In the revelatory book, “Dark Deceptions: Discover the Truth about Sun Exposure,” noted osteopathic physician and natural health advocate Dr. Joseph Mercola reported that over 600,000 people around the world are developing cancer because they do not receive enough sun exposure to optimize their Vitamin D levels.

Factors that influence the amount of Vitamin D necessary for any person are: geographic area, age, obesity, amount of melatonin in the skin, and other factors. A simple blood test administered by your physician or health care professional can identify the ideal amount of this vital
nutrient essential for your individual health and well being.

What’s in Your Sunscreen?

If you were marketing a chemical compound laden with a plethora of potentially harmful ingredients in a lotion, how would you sell it? By telling everyone if they didn’t, they’d die of something worse, of course. And lo, the sunscreen industry is born. Even though more people use sunscreen than ever before, the incidence of skin cancer in the United States and other countries continues to rise.

While the manufacturers are busily pointing out why you need their product to stay healthy in the sun, they neglect to mention what’s in their own concoctions. And the truth may surprise you. There are several potentially harmful chemicals found in sunscreens that purportedly
advance the possibility of skin cancers. There are no fewer than four known carcinogens found in popular sunscreen products. A number of
studies conducted in the 1990s report higher, not lower, incidence of the deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, among frequent
sunscreen users.

In a recently released report questioning the effectiveness and safety of top-selling sunscreens, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claims that many contain potentially hazardous ingredients. In fact, they evaluated 500 sunscreens and found only 8% to be acceptable. About 60% of sunscreens contain the chemical ingredient oxybenzone, which the EWG considers unsafe because of concerns that it can penetrate the skin and disrupt hormone balance.

The Light that Heals

In the end, it’s up to you to cut through the marketing hype and make the right decision for yourself and your optimal health. Boost your Vitamin D levels and increase your sun exposure to appropriate levels that serve you and your well-being.

Related References:

Cannell JJ, Hollis BW.
Alternative medicine review : a journal of clinical therapeutic. 2008
Mar;13(1):6-20.

Mercola, J. Dark Deception: Discover the Truths About the Benefits of Sunlight Exposure. Thomas Nelson. 2008.

Aceituno-Madera P, et al. [Changes in the incidence of skin cancer between 1978 and 2002].

Actas dermo-sifiliográficas. 2010 Jan-Feb;101(1):39-46.

Westerdahl J, Ingvar C, Mâsbäck A, Olsson H. Sunscreen use and malignant melanoma. International journal of cancer. 2000 Jul 1;87(1):145-50.

 

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