Aerobic Exercise Improves Memory, Brain Function, Physical Fitness

Science has shown that aging decreases mental efficiency and memory decline is the number one cognitive complaint of older adults. Physical exercise may be one of the most beneficial and cost-effective therapies widely available to everyone to elevate memory performance.

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Commit to Be Fit!

Daily dose of inspiration to keep you focused and dedicated to your fitness goals. There is no golden secret to achieving a fit and healthy lifestyle. The golden secret is committing yourself to consistency and be accountable for making yourself go exercise! The biggest barrier to staying on a daily exercise regimen is getting there, day in day out. Get over that hump, make no excuses, and just do it. Your body will thank you for it after the workout is completed. Self- improvement and goal attainment starts and ends with you! Go get it!
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The Importance of Dynamic Exercise on Core Stability – By: Albert Huang, DC

Core training has become an increasingly popular fitness trend as people strive to tone their waist-line and achieve that six-pack look. Workouts such as Yoga and Pilates are gaining popularity and have proven to be excellent exercises to build core endurance.

The goal of achieving a toned and slim physique may be a motivating factor to workout but more importantly is the vital internal functional role of the core musculature on spine mechanics.

The core musculature is essential to human movement as it stabilizes the lumbar spine in order to allow for fluidity in our daily motions. Considerable emphasis on core strength and stability has been purposed in spinal health and rehabilitation as these primary muscles act like a corset to brace and coordinate torso and limb movements; it is the center of power generation and energy transfer.

The core is a functional group of muscles that act on the spine and pelvis; it is more than just the ‘abs’. The major muscle groups and adjoining connective tissues that are emphasized when enhancing core function include: the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, multifidus, pelvic floor musculature, the diaphragm, and thoracolumbar fascia. These groups are coupled with muscle actions of the hip including both flexors and extensors. When stability, range of motion, and/or balance in one of these subsystems becomes compromised, an individual may have reduced ability to efficiently transfer force through the trunk to the upper or lower extremities. This leads to poor joint mechanics, energy leaks, and an increased risk of injury.

Stability of the lumbar spine requires both passive and active components. The passive component is made up of the osseous (bone) and ligamentous structures whereas the active component is achieved through muscles. Spinal instability occurs when either of these components is disturbed.

In large, in the absence of trauma, spinal instability is usually the result of imbalances in muscular systems; either inhibited or overactive muscles. A bare spine, without muscles attached, is unable to bear much of a compressive load. This translates into disproportionate pressure(s) loaded onto vertebral discs and facet joints in the lumbar spine. Ongoing stress to the disc and joints can eventually lead to disc herniation(s), degenerative joint disease, arthritic changes, pain, and inflammation. Proper neural feedback between the brain and muscles is vital to an optimally functioning spine.

Muscles act like guy-wires to leverage, support, and disperse forces throughout the body. When certain muscles are not coordinating or contracting properly, spinal support becomes hindered. This is where the importance of a healthy nervous system, precise muscle coordination, core strength and endurance come into play.

Traditionally, core workouts have been based around isolation exercises such as abdominal crunches, planks, and back extensions. These exercises are basic and tend to only focus on singular plane motions. This is a downfall because real human movement never really occurs in a single plane thus these exercises are not reflective of natural human motions. Introductory core stability training can initially focus on isometric planks and bridges to develop baseline endurance, but logically it makes sense that subsequent training techniques should have a dynamic component to it for best possible applicability to human movement. Continue reading

Recent literature shows that stability activities such as the side planks or superman exercises fail to exert the same core activation as compound lifts such as the dead-lift and back squat exercises. The compound lifts actually allow for greater activation of the core musculature than isolated static movements. Compound lifts require more global muscles to be recruited thus increased core stabilization must be attained in order to support the distal contractions.

Imagine contracting your quadriceps to produce leg extension without central support from your torso; the result would be an unsupported contraction leading to give-way weakness. This occurs from the lack of proximal leverage and tendon anchoring. The same theory can be visualized with a door. Similar to a muscle, the hinge of a door has two attachment sites, one on the door and one to a supported frame or wall. If the connection to the wall (core) was weak or absent, there would be no anchoring point to leverage a door swing (muscle contraction). The door (muscle) would have no foundation (torso) or fulcrum to support its movements. This illustrates the biomechanical importance of central torso stabilization on limb kinetics.

The activation of the core musculature is further challenged when the lifts combined ground reaction force with asymmetrical loading as seen in the single arm dead-lift and sandbag squats (single shoulder loaded). Likewise it appears greater trunk activity is encouraged from side loading and rotational exercises rooted in the ground such as the diagonal low to high cable chop. Asymmetric loading increases transitional and moment arm forces in the body which in turn increases the propensity of muscle recruitment as a reaction force. Some asymmetric exercises you can add to your next workout include, single-arm snatches, single-arm kettleball swing, rotational ball throw against a wall, single-legged squat, and single-arm weighted side bends.

So what does this tell us about core stabilization in relation to exercise?

Simple isolation exercises such as abdominal crunches are good, compound exercises such as squats and lunges are better, and asymmetric loading exercises like single-arm snatches are best when inspiring to challenge and strengthen core musculature.

Exercise should be performed in progression and adapted to each individual’s fitness level. Yoga and Pilates are great workouts as they integrate whole body movements in different planes of the body. Resistance training is excellent for spine loading and the development of strength. A mix routine encompassing dynamic movements, asymmetric loading, and diverse compound exercises in different planes is optimal for enhancing proprioceptive feedback and improving human kinetics.

By: Albert Huang, DC

References

Akuthota V, Nadler SF. Core strengthening. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2004;85(3 Suppl 1):S86-92.

http://www.ncsf.org/enew/articles/articles-corestabilizationtranslatessportperformance.aspx

Health or Sickness? It’s Your Choice.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation asks: What will your last 10 years look like? The average Canadian will spend their final decade with sickness and disability. But you can change your future and grow old with vitality.

Learn how at http://www.makehealthlast.ca

The Benefits of Chiropractic on Your Nervous System – By: Albert Huang, DC

       Most often people associate going to a chiropractor for the treatment of low back and neck pain. Although chiropractors do effectively treat pain in the neck and low back, they also address your health through a preventative-holistic model. Your treatment from the chiropractor will often include manual therapy, exercise, diet and other healthy lifestyle modifications to keep you strong and functioning at your optimal levels.

Pain is only a small fraction of the big picture and is the body’s natural defence mechanism to alert the brain about a deeper problem occurring somewhere else in the body. Pain does not necessarily tell you what or where the problem is, it only tells you there is a problem hence, focusing only on pain is not an accurate measure of health. The job of the chiropractor is to find the root cause of what is eliciting the pain and address the problem by altering or eliminating the pain mechanism.

How do chiropractors find the root cause of your problem? 

Through the process of history taking and a physical examination, a chiropractic doctor will gather clinical information about a patient’s presenting symptom(s) with the end goal of formulating a diagnosis. The diagnosis will provide the clinician with a big picture of the patient’s general health and presenting complaint(s).

The identification of a spinal joint dysfunction or vertebral subluxation is the chiropractor’s primary goal. A spinal subluxation is a misalignment of the vertebrae in your spine which leads to altered tissue, abnormal motion, compensation, pain, and poor nerve function.

Pain and dysfunction(s) arise in the body when these subluxations are present. They result in a less efficient nervous system, causing a diminished immune response which can lead to an increased likelihood of getting sick or worse, disease. Think of your nervous system or nerves as a water-hose; water/ electrical flow is best when the hose (nerve) has no impedance. Contrary, when a kink (vertebral subluxation) is present, the flow becomes weakened and slowed.

The central nervous system is the most important domain to a healthy functioning body. Your nervous system is composed of your brain and spinal cord and has an influence on most bodily functions, such as awareness, movements, sensations, thoughts, speech, and memory. It is important to have free-flowing communication between these structures in order to have a strong-responsive body.

By finding and addressing these spinal subluxations, chiropractors invariably improve nervous system function. A decrease in pain is a direct result from a better functioning nervous system.

Chiropractic treatments are guided by the sciences of physics, anatomy, and physiology whereby an external stimulus from manual therapy will cause an internal response and reorganization of bodily systems. This reorganization is a direct result of neurological input to the central nervous system which promotes adaptive restoration in health. Chiropractor’s do not ‘fix’ the spine or pain, rather we provide the stimulus that your body needs in order to facilitate its own healing and natural homeostasis.

Some Benefits of chiropractic and spinal manipulation include,

~ increased mobility
~ improved immune function
~ increased energy and vigour
~ decreased pain
~ greater mind-body connection
~ increased proprioception and awareness
~ reduced pressure off nerves to promote enhanced nerve conduction
~ reduced stress and enhanced relaxation
~ quicker recovery time
~ increased circulation and nutrient supply

Ideally establishing a preventative and proactive lifestyle, before pain arises, is the course one should strive for. Take an active approach to your health and book your spinal check up.

-  Albert Huang, DC

Stress, Stress, and Stress No More

In today’s swift paced world, getting caught behind can quickly add up and cause stressful times. As a population we are more stressed than ever and this accumulation of stress has many negative repercussions that can impact your mental, physical, and chemical health. The good news is that stress can be regulated and decreased by the actions and thoughts that we take. The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. Use mindfulness techniques to improve thinking and incorporate positive thinking to brighten your day. Exercise increases your ‘happy hormones’ and can ease your mind though movement and activity. Become present, embrace the moment, and live life one breath at a time.