Can’t Sleep? It may not be your bed’s fault.

Approximately 14% of Canadians suffer from insomnia. It’s safe to assume that a significant number of these individuals are having trouble sleeping because of chronic pain. Just because you hurt after laying in your bed all night, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to trade in your mattress. It’s important to look at all of the different variables in your life before jumping to any conclusions.Consider this: If you’ve been sleeping on the same mattress for over a year and your pain developed suddenly, there is a good chance your bed hasn’t changed all that much and that some other factor is causing your discomfort. Did you load any boxes, luggage or groceries from you car recently? Do you perform duties at work that may bring on a repetitive stress injury? Have you been in a car accident? Have you changed your diet or do you still have that extra holiday weight? Maybe you overdid it at the gym or went a little further on your daily walk? There are countless sources of injury and it is very common for the pain to manifest in the morning after a period of inactivity (laying in your bed all night in this case).Poor sleeping posture can often magnify pre-existing spine conditions. Some of the best positions for sleeping are laying flat on your back and laying on your side with a pillow between your legs to keep your hips and spine in line. Pillows are also very important when it comes to sleep. Make sure your pillow isn’t too high, but does provide ample support for the curve in your neck. If you need advice on how to improve your sleeping posture, your family chiropractor’s office is a great place to start.In some cases, your bed may be responsible for your pain. The ideal sleeping surface is one that is firm with some give in the top to support the natural curvature of the spine. If your mattress has lost its shape, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider an upgrade. Many mattress retailers even provide a trial period for you to test your new bed.The moral of the story? It can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of your pain and it is extremely frustrating when it interferes with your sleep. Don’t wait another night in pain. Talk to your family chiropractor and together you can answer the question of whether or not to a new mattress is in your future.

What does excessive weight really mean to your joints?

It is common knowledge that being overweight is associated with many negative health outcomes.  Heart disease, diabetes and cancer are linked to obesity and are usually the diseases we jump to first.  There are also other very real dangers to our muscles and joints that often present before these diseases manifest as a result of the extra weight.For those who are overweight, there is significantly more stress on the musculoskeletal system.  The demand on the muscles, joints and bones increases exponentially as body mass increases.  In one example, Dr. Michael Lyon, MD, who is actively involved in research around diet, nutrition and weight loss, suggests that every extra 10 pounds contributes to at least 40 pounds of added stress per knee.  Consider that your spine is made up of 24 bone and their related joints.  This extra weight is amplified throughout each of these joints, causing severe strain on your muscles, facets, vertebral discs and nerves which could result in arthritis, stenosis or other mobility issues.Extra weight also throws off your centre of gravity due to far from optimal body mechanics.  Your spine, joints and muscles need to adjust to this change that impacts balance and mobility.  Simply bending down to lift a box is much harder than it once was and puts overweight individuals at a higher risk of injury.The second factor working against your joints and muscles is the activation of the body’s inflammatory response.  This is a biochemical reaction involving the vascular and immune systems that is triggered when the body senses injury or infection.  Essentially, the body believes it is in a diseased state.  Inflammation around the joints contributes to pain, swelling and loss of mobility and is ultimately a precursor to very serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes.Once your vascular system is impaired, blood has a difficult time supplying the tissues of the body with the oxygen and nutrients they need.  Nerve, muscle and other body systems suffer as a result of poor circulation.  Your muscles may feel more tired, you will most likely grow physically weaker and breathing with be more of a chore.Of course, most people do understand the risks and negative aspects of being overweight.  The difficult part is overcoming and maintaining a healthy body weight after suffering from obesity.  Statistics from 2011 suggest that approximately 1/2 of the adult Canadian population self reported as being overweight or obese.  Plus, our country is on track to see these numbers skyrocket in the near future.  It’s a huge problem that most people struggle to overcome.  Dr. Michael Lyon is featured on the Empowered Health show (Mondays at 8:30pm and Thursdays at 4pm on ChekTV or check local listings)  in a two part series highlighting the challenges we encounter when trying to lose weight and more importantly, keep it off.  He offers several suggestions on how to work with your body, rather than against it.

Give Your Back a Holiday

Vacations can be a great opportunity to relax and recharge. Whether you’re flying to a tropical destination or simply heading up to the cabin, holidays are always a welcome event. Despite the time away, I often see patients after their recent vacation or a long weekend. Why? Because they didn’t consider their back during their vacation. Here are a couple things that are far too often overlooked that will help you remain injury free during your next holiday:1) Pack it Light – It doesn’t just apply to your child’s backpack. Be considerate of what you pack in your suitcase as it follows you around for the duration of your holiday. A heavy suitcase can wreak havoc on your spine.2) Watch those lifts – One of the most common causes of back and spine injury is lifting. This includes picking up those bags and placing them in and out of the trunk of your car. Lifts over the head put you at an increased risk of injury so be extra careful when lifting your luggage in and out of the overhead storage containers on airplanes.3) Vacations usually involve long commutes. If you are travelling by car, take advantage of some rest stops along the way to allow yourself and your passengers to stretch. When taking a trip by plane, get up every so often to stretch and walk the aisles [once the captain switches off the seatbelt sign of course!].4) Keep well hydrated. Our bodies are at least 60% water so it makes sense that we need to drink plenty of water. Bring bottles of water or fluids along with you for especially long commutes.5) Stay calm and try to relax. Travelling can be stressful. Keep your eye on the prize… your destination ahead or if you’re heading home, think of all of the wonderful new memories that you made.