Monday, July 18, 2011

Think BETTER... Not Perfect

I had a conversation with some friends of ours this past weekend who had just had their first child. How awesome and how exciting it is to listen to new parents talk about their philosophy on parenting. There is a tremendous amount of conviction in the voice of parents’ of a first born when they talk about WHY they chose this stroller over that one, or WHY they choose to use cloth diapers over throw away diapers. Even more interesting, is listening to new parents discuss their philosophy on breasting feeding, supplementing with formula, and later on what type of foods they are going to feed their children. Every new parent, it seems, has the “perfect” plan for their child.

I think I find this so interesting for a few reasons and I think it also applies to our everyday health choices as adults.

Breastfeeding is an endless debate with endless questions to be answered. How long do you breastfeed you child? 6 months? 9 months? 1 year? Forever? Do I wake my child at night to feed even if they are sound asleep (this must be cross referenced with another question: Do you ever wake a sleeping baby?) Do you supplement with formula? At 6 months? Once a day? Never? Only right before bed because it makes them sleep all through the night? (Which is about as true as a good fiction book.) On and on go the questions.

Today in the parenting circles, there is a big push for kids to eat organic. There is organic formula that you can buy (again cross-reference the question about if you even give your child formula.) There are organic cookies, gluten free pretzels and chips, organic rice cereal and the list goes on and on. I even saw organic chocolate on the shelf at the store the other day.

For the purpose of this blog, we are going to focus on organic foods as our topic of discussion. As we were talking to our friends who I mentioned above, one of them turns to me and asks the question – “…but how do you know if it really organic?”

I told him about how I have heard that if the supplier is out of, say, organic lettuce, they just take the non-organic and put the organic packaging on it. I told him that technically if you have a garden, and you are watering it with your city water, it probably is not considered an organic garden because of all the chemicals they put in the water to “purify” it. He was shocked.

Then I told him he needs to change his way of thinking. I told him to think Better…not perfect. There is no perfect way of eating. There is a better way. Start by shopping the outer ring of the supermarket. This is where all the fresh foods are. Buy organic when you can. (It is not that much more expensive.) The reputation of the supermarket is important. Raley’s is one of my favorites. Know where the food comes from. What is better? A salad from McDonald’s or a fresh salad from your very own garden? B, correct, because you know EXACTLY what was put on it or not put on it. Shop farmer’s markets.

Especially with our children, we try to make the perfect choices. From now on, try to make the BETTER choice, and you will be able to rest easy and enjoy them!

Monday, June 13, 2011

And What Would You Like On Your Turkey Sandwich?

We have all been asked this question before, correct? It is lunch time, and you are downtown and maybe decide to stop at Newman’s Deli or Michael’s Deli for a sandwich. After careful consideration of THE ENTIRE mouth-watering menu, you decide on a turkey sandwich (or roast beef or salami, or whatever you like). You go up and put in your order and the young lady behind the counter asks what type of bread you would like it on, then what type of cheese you want on it, then if you would like it cold or toasted. You fire off answers as we all know EXACTLY how we prefer our favorite lunchtime sandwich.

Next, the young lady scoots the sandwich down the line and she asks what else you would like on your sandwich. You fire off a line of veggies and toppings - Lettuce, tomato, sprouts, mustard, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil.
Finally you watch, mouth wateringly, as your masterpiece is being completed. The top bun is put on and it is artistically cut in half at a perfect 45 degree angle. You can’t wait to take that first bite of the perfection that was just created in front of your eyes.

Everyone knows the exact makeup of their favorite sandwich, right? In fact if I threw out the name of 4 or 5 restaurants like say, Newman’s Deli, The Blind Onion, IHOP, Peg’s Eggs and Silver Peak, you could probably tell me EXACTLY what you order every time you go to each establishment.

Let’s keep that in mind when I ask you this next question. What does HEALTHY mean to you? I would guess that at least ¾ of you that are reading this, just had to pause because you could not reel off exactly what you like on your “turkey sandwich” in this case. Does healthy mean working out 3 times a week? Does it mean staying at such and such a body weight? Does it mean being able to feel great and live life to the fullest every single day? Does it mean being able to run a 5K every year? Does it mean being able to mow the lawn without having to be laid up on the couch for 3 days afterwards?

You see in this case, you can choose to put whatever you want on your “turkey sandwich,” just the same as when you order one for lunch. The key is knowing exactly what you want and STICKING TO THOSE CHOICES. So, let’s put ourselves back in the deli. It is lunch time and you just had the most stressful morning of which started at 3AM today, because your child woke up crying and after getting her back to bed, you rushed to the gym to get a workout in at 5AM. You know you can’t go after work, time does not allow it. You can’t wait to just sit and enjoy this sandwich. You sit, take a big bite and almost spit it out. The young lady accidentally put mayo instead of mustard on your sandwich. You HATE mayo! How do you feel –irritated at the lady for messing up? Disappointed that it is not what you had envisioned? Some of both?

Now, do you feel the same way when you are not meeting you health goals (your turkey sandwich in this case). Or do you just say- “Well, I tried” or do you continue to look in the mirror every morning and wish that extra 15 pounds away, then head kitchen for a morning donut.

With this blog, I challenge all of you to sit down and write out EXACTLY what your “turkey sandwich” consists of when it comes to your health. It should have things like ideal body weight, BMI, or body fat %. It will have workouts schedules, and self reflection schedules (“me time”). It should have achievement goals like “run a 5K” or climb Mt Whitney” or “get my black belt”. It has things like “I will get one massage a month” and “I will get adjusted once a month”. Write it down on paper or write it on your bathroom mirror and repeat it to yourself 3 times every day to make it reality. If you are stuck, ask myself or Doctor Amanda to help you. If you want someone to keep you accountable, we will. The idea is to stick to it so that in the end, you can sit down and enjoy your turkey sandwich.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why Not To Run Like Forest Gump

Everyone, unless you don’t own a TV, has seen Forest Gump once, twice, or 30 times in their life, and we all know that he spent a good chunk of his time RUNN-INGG. While we all know that there was a bit of fiction and exaggeration in the movie, I think sometimes, there is also a lot of parallel in Mr. Gump’s approach to running and ours.

One day, sitting on the porch, Gump had an idea. He decided to start RUNN-INGG. And that is exactly what he did. What he did right, was he had a new, sturdy pair of running shoes. This is important because running, while great cardiovascular exercise, has one big downside. It is HIGH IMPACT, and that impact is absorbed by our joints in the lower extremity and lower back. Which is why runners typically are prone to having foot, ankle, knee, hip and lower back injuries. It is important to have good shoes, with proper fit to YOUR feet. When buying a running shoe, make sure there is a good arch that fits YOUR arch. Every foot is different. If you can’t find a shoe that fits your arch, maybe a good insert would be valuable for you. Also, test the shoe by holding it at the toes and heel, then try to bend it in half. The “bend” should happen at the area of the sole that is at the ball of the foot so that you can get the proper push off when running. Lastly, a key point in the movie showed that Forest never replaced his shoes. You should, and it is recommended to do so every 300-600 miles or 3-6 months.

What did he do wrong? He forgot to WARM UP! Forest, just got up off the porch swing and took off. A major no-no. Rule number one of exercise is warm up properly before and STRETCH after. How much of a warm up is good enough is the next question I get. I would say a good rule of thumb is that for every hour of exercise, you should warm up for 15 minutes and stretch for 15 minutes. So, if you go out on a Saturday morning and run 5 miles, with a 8 minute mile average, you should warm up for 10 minutes and stretch at the end for 10 minutes. What was never mentioned in the movie was that Forest Gump probably had an inflamed IT Band, a strained hamstring, shin splints, and runner’s knee. I hope he had a good chiropractor, as all these conditions can possibly be helped with chiropractic treatment.

Tell me if this has ever happened to you. One day you are sitting on the couch and you reach into the potato chip bag only to discover that the chips are gone. You look around, no one is in the room, so you take the bag, turn it upside down and try to get those last little, greasy crumbs to fall into your mouth. Then you reach for the Big Gulp and suck the last watered down drink up. At that point, you decide you are not happy with your body and make the decision to get in THE BEST SHAPE OF YOUR LIFE! You have a new energy and decide running is going to be the primary exercise that takes you to the next level of health and give you a body that will be gawked at on the Tahoe beaches this summer. You throw your shoes on and run 8 miles. Then 8 miles the next day, then 8 miles the next day. The next day your wake up with shin splints and plantar fasciitis. Is this anyone’s story? SLOW DOWN! Nobody could do what Forest Gump did, but everyone keeps trying. Start slow, a mile or two a few days a week, then when that becomes easy, move to 2-3 miles, then 3-4 miles, up to whatever your goal is. Make a chart, set goals, up the increments by 10 percent every week or so, or more if you are a first time runner. I can train for a 5K in one week, but I have been a runner for 10 years and workout 3-4 times a week. If I were to run a marathon or even a half marathon, I would train for a few months on a very specific schedule because my body is not conditioned for that degree of running.

Forest was a rookie runner, and coincidently he made a lot of rookie mistake. Another was the route he took. He ran back and forth across the United States on the pavement and blacktop. This is very hard on your joints, because there is no give in the hard surface. The force of impact must go somewhere, so it transfers to your knees and lower back. In order of least to most impact on your joins it goes; grass, mulch (like on a trail), blacktop/pavement, concrete and finally the treadmill (although, now some treadmills have shocks built into them). So whenever you can, run on the grass or on a natural trail.

Of course, something that Gump had no control over because of the scoliosis that gave him crooked legs was his gait. It was AWFUL. This is a very important part of running and is just as critical to being able to run without injury as everything mentioned above. It is also a very extensive topic which you can read about in the next blog, or ask Dr Tom to evaluate your running gate the next time you are in the office.

In Good Health,
Dr Tom Rammel

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Big Idea

Dr. Amanda and I have one simple but large goal that we try to achieve every day in practice. That being, try to help as many patients as possible achieve a high quality of life than what they previously had. The avenue that we both chose to do this through is of course, chiropractic.

So, I thought that there would be no better way to kick this blog off, than by giving everyone a little insight into Chiropractic 101. I would like to share with all of you what we discussed in our first class of our first day of chiropractic school. It is "the Big Idea," or underlying though process of which the chiropractic paradigm is based on. We call it the Chiropractic Premise, and it goes as follows:


  • You are a self-healing (your hand healing after you get a cut) and self-regulating organism (heart beat, breathing, digestion, sweating.

  • Your nervous system (brain and spinal cord) controls and coordinates every function in your body (what makes your heart beat, your lungs take in and expel air, and your body sweat when you work out?)

  • If there is interference of "vertebral subluxation" in your nervous system, you are no longer 100% self-healing and self-regulating (SO IMPORTANT IN YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE PREMISE!)

  • Uncorrected vertebral subluxations have devastating effects on human health and well-being (how many of you have experienced better digestion, better breathing, better sleep after being under chiropractic care, and why is that, do you think?)

  • Simply put, our (the chiropractor's) goal is to locate these points of interference or subluxations, remove them (and the cause of them) and allow your body to heal itself on every level.

It is of my opinion and experience that 99% of people would understand and agree with the first two points of The Chiropractic Premise. They are basic facts of human anatomy and physiology, and therefore easily understood and difficult to argue. It is at the 3rd point that people may get lost. When reading this one sentence, you could ask any or all of the following questions:

"What is a vertebral subluxation?"

"What does it interfere with and/ or how does it interfere with my body's ability to work?"

"Why does a vertebral subluxation affect my nervous system?"

These are all critical questions to be answered in order to understand The Big Idea and the chiropractic paradigm. If you are a patient of ours, ask us to explain it to you ASAP, and we apologize for not doing so earlier. If you are not a patient, and are reading this, feel free to email or call us and we will help answer your questions so that you to may have that higher quality of life you wish to achieve!

In Good Health,

Dr. Tom Rammel

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Backpack Dilemma

by: George LeBeau, D.C.

The controversy and dialog about the problem with backpacks has raged for decades. Many groups have done "studies" to determine the extent of continuing trauma to young people literally saddled with carrying numerous books in backpacks that can easily weigh as much as 15% more of this total body weight.

Organizations such as The American Chiropractic Association and the American Orthopedic Association have sponsored and performed numerous studies to determine the long term effects of heavy backpacks on the musculoskeletal frame of children. The results of these studies have been published almost continuously in national and international journals.

Everyone agrees that the "Back Pack Syndrome" is a real and threatening danger to the structural health of children in their formative years. The degree of threat varies from one "report" to another with some going as far as saying it can contribute to "Developmental Scoliosis." The preponderance of information available on this subject shows no good evidence in support of this theory. However, the occurrence of back pain symptoms in children who carry a high percentage of body weight in their backpacks is supported by numerous studies published in high-quality journals from around the world. There is no doubt that the problem exists. The dilemma is... what do we do about it?

All sort of suggestions have been presented from proper weight distribution (not carrying the pack on both shoulder equally) to designing a more ergonomic backpack. To have a better understanding about the confusion surrounding this problem, perform a Google search of "Images, Backpacks." Daunting, to say the least. Of the dozens of pictured suggestions there are arguments for the adoption of each one in eliminating the problem. However, none of these suggestions eliminates anything. At best, they "accomodate" the child to the pack. We, as chiropractors, are always telling our patients that we treat the "cause" of the problem, not the "symptom." Designing a better backpack treats the symptom! To eliminate the "cause", we simply need to get rid of the backpack entirely.

One suggestion for this is "wheeled" backpacks. I believe the airline industry was first in connecting the "continuing trauma" workers compensation disability claims with heavy backpacks. The solution reached by their research department was to require the use of special wheeled cases for their pilots and flight attendants.

While this approach may take the weight off the child's shoulders and back, putting it onto the cart, other issues then come into play. Probably the most serious for young people, especially boys, is teasing and harassment from peers about being a sissy, weakling or any number of inventive, disparaging remarks from their "friends" can come up with. Another problem is the issue of stairs. Most schools from kindergarten to universities about with stairs of every type and description. As a result, we not only have the weight problem to contend with, we also have the awkward and unwieldy (no pun intended) handle and wheels to lug up those pesky stairs. Yes, the handle retracts and there are straps on the trolley, but how many kinds are going to bother with that when the bell rings and they're in a rush?

Others are still promoting the re-institution of school lockers. However, there are a number of inherent problems with school provided lockers in every part of the world; for instance, cost, danger (e.g., drugs, weapons, pornography), graffiti, continuous abuse, damage and repair and last, but not least, hiding younger classmates for later release at the most embarrassing moment.

In today's digital age, and advanced computer technology, a possible solution to this widespread and potentially disastrous problem exists. It is possible to put every word of every book in existence into electronic format. Indeed, this "paperless revolution" is already being done by just about every publishing house in the world, except, for some reason, the educational materials publishers. How simple it would be to take those very heavy textbooks and transfer that material onto a CD or post it on a password protected website. Teachers could had out assignments via email or on a thumb drive. Students would then upload the information to their computer (Do you know any student who does not won one?), follow the "menu" to the appropriate chapter and study directly from their computer. Most of them do this anyway, even though they still have to lug the physical books around. This solution eliminates all but the smallest pack that would be used to hold and transport the CD's. With the tens of billions of dollars spent each year on school books, the savings to Government and State Education Departments would be enormous. What incredible profit margin made by the educational publishing houses, I'm sure the publisher's lobby would surely do everything possible to block this advancement. Where are the environmentalists, "Tree Huggers", when you NEED them?