What are the health benefits of Golf?

Golfing Stronger to Live Longer

Golfers can live up to 5 years longer compared to non-golfers regardless of age, gender, or income level (Murray et al. 2016). Finally! A way to live healthier, happier, and longer without force feeding yourself bunches of blended kale at 6 am or sitting on a stationary bike for the recommended 150 minutes per week wondering whether you'll meet the suggested requirements of die of boredom first. Not that those are necessarily bad ideas, but I think golfing regularly may bring a little more enjoyment to your physical activity and is a more sustainable option over the long term.

Whether you are a regular golf cart user or not, golf will help prolong your life and keep you active, though you tend to find greater benefits walking the course regularly.

Golf is considered a moderate level of physical activity, which compares torace-walking, heavy gardening, and aerobic dancing...yeah, let’s keep you golfing. Whether you are a regular golf cart user or not, golf will help prolong your life and keep you active, though you tend to find greater benefits walking the course regularly.

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Participating in moderate level physical activity regularly is associated with decreased risk of hip fractures, diabetes, CVD, stroke, colon cancer, depression/dementia, and breast cancer. Not only will golf add years to your life, but it will add life to your years. It is well known that golf will help maintain your social connections and additionally may help to bridge the gap between age groups. Who hasn't gotten a few tips on their game from "Mr Consistent" who doesn’t look like he could drive it past the ladies' tees yet seems to always be on the green in regulation?

Interestingly enough, watching golf can provide great health benefits as well. Sorry, not from sitting on the couch and cheering on every hole of Tiger's comeback. Spectating at golf events has been reported to provide more than the minimum requirements of physical activity in a day. So, when walking hole to hole, socializing with friends and other golf aficionados, or watching your favourite athletes play, you're able to reap the health benefits of walking enough steps to go around the world 4 times, as demonstrated by the 20,000 fans who completed that feat at the 2014 Ryder Cup.

It may seem by now that golf is a miracle elixir to a longer life, which, by many accounts may be true. Golf has been shown to let you live a longer, healthier, and happier life. But... I know there's always a but, golfers have a moderate incidence of injury when compared with other sports. The last thing you need is a nagging back or shoulder injury that keeps you off of the course and missing out on the game you love. The best thing you can do to avoid injury is to be proactive, prevent any future injuries, and fix any limitations in your swing that may currently be causing pain or discomfort. I would suggest finding someone who understands movement, golf, and its effect on the body and let them help you stay on the course golfing stronger for longer.

The best thing you can do to avoid injury is to be proactive, prevent any future injuries, and fix any limitations in your swing that may currently be causing pain or discomfort.

So, next time you're walking out the door trying to rationalize your third game of golf that week. Just remember, golf is going to let me live a longer, healthier, and happier life. You shouldn’t have a hard time winning that debate!

If you do have any questions regarding your golf game, pain, and being proactive against injury please don't hesitate to contact me at ben@talltreehealth.ca or check out www.evolvenaturalhealth.com/evolve-golf for more information.  

Dr. Ben Stebbins is also TPI Certified!

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References

Luscombe, J., Murray, A. D., Jenkins, E., & Archibald, D. (2017). A rapid review to identify physical activity accrued while playing golf. BMJ open, 7(11), e018993.

Murray AD, Daines L, Archibald D, et al, The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 03 October 2016. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096625

Murray, A. D., Turner, K., Archibald, D., Schiphorst, C., Griffin, S. A., Scott, H., ... & Mutrie, N. (2017). An observational study of spectators’ step counts and reasons for attending a professional golf tournament in Scotland. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine, 3(1), e000244.

No Pain, No Gain? No Way.

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I have a high tolerance for pain. I know it needs to hurt. Just do what you need to do. No pain, no gain. Pain is just weakness leaving the body.

These are just some of the common refrains I hear daily in my practice. Anyone who has experienced massage therapy has probably had a painful treatment or two. It’s typical for people to tolerate a barrage of painful stimuli for an hour and then brag about how much pain their massage therapist inflicts upon them. And most people who want a ‘therapeutic’ massage would only consider seeing someone that gives painful treatments.

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Is it necessary to endure a punishing or distressful treatment to get the desired results? In short: maybe not.

There is a common belief that if massage isn’t painful it can’t be therapeutic. This is not surprising when you hear people talk about how much better they feel after receiving their weekly thrashing. And, what about all the different tools available for massage? They look more like tools for performing some sort of medieval torture. Almost everyone who has seen a massage therapist, physiotherapist or chiropractor has been told they should be rolling on a foam roller, a lacrosse ball, or a golf ball. All of these practices have an extremely high ‘ouch factor’. And therapists can become famous (or infamous) for the excruciating treatments they perform.

The belief that massage needs to be painful has permeated our culture and this belief is not going anywhere soon.

Here’s how I feel: there’s good pain and there’s bad pain. The line between them can be a bit blurry and it’s not always easy for therapists to distinguish between the two. Everyone’s sensitivity to pain varies, so the level of pressure that may produce good pain for one may result in the opposite for another. This is why communication between therapist and patient is paramount.

When the nervous system takes notice, good things can happen. It is here that our therapy should be focused, because it’s the nervous system that controls the levels of tension in our muscles.

Anytime a patient recoils, tenses or cries out in response to a technique, they are probably experiencing bad pain and the therapist should lighten up. When this happens, the body is protecting itself. The nervous system senses a threat and nothing good will come of it.

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Good pain is an oxymoron. Maybe we should come up with a new name for it because pain by the very definition is ‘an unpleasant experience’.  This feeling of good pain is anything but unpleasant and, in fact, it can be downright soothing and comforting. This is the feeling people seek when they come for massage.

Massage treatments don’t need to hurt or cause any discomfort. I’m not saying massage should be light and fluffy as this doesn’t satisfy anyone. To be effective, massage needs only to provide novel stimuli for the nervous system. Giving the patient the dramatic sensation of what is truly needed to make a change will produce therapeutic results. That may mean lingering on a sore spot to take the patient to the edge of discomfort – delivering the good pain. Providing the feeling of an itch that has been scratched and sending that positive message to the brain. This is where the nervous system really takes notice, in the space just beyond the good pain but not yet at the bad pain.

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When the nervous system takes notice, good things can happen. It is here that our therapy should be focused, because it’s the nervous system that controls the levels of tension in our muscles. The only way to affect change is through this system and we can do this simply by changing the input it receives. A change in input can change the output.

If you’ve tried massage and been unsatisfied because the treatment was either too aggressive to be of any comfort or too light to feel like anything was done, I encourage you to try again. There is someone out there who will find the sweet spot, the place where good things can happen.

What Does Magnesium Do?

Co-Authored by Dr. Melissa Glover, ND & Dr. Brittany Schamerhorn, ND 

In a perfect world, magnesium is supposed to be the fourth most abundant mineral in our body, as it is necessary for the synthesis of ATP, the body’s main form of energy. However, it is estimated that over 43% of Canadians do not get sufficient magnesium through the diet. This is due to our food sources being depleted of magnesium themselves. With depleted soils, food processing, and absorption issues becoming more common getting enough magnesium in a day can become quite challenging! When you increase your demand for magnesium by chronic stress and various medications, it is no wonder it is one of the most commonly deficient minerals in developed countries.

....it is estimated that over 43% of Canadians do not get sufficient magnesium through the diet.

Magnesium works on a fundamental level and is involved in many biochemical and physiological roles, so the signs of deficiency can be quite variable. Here is a very simplified list of some of the key functions of magnesium:

  • Magnesium activates enzymes - making our biochemical processes more efficient
  • Magnesium activates enzymes that help produce cellular energy (ATP)
  • Magnesium helps with the regulation of minerals - for example: 
    • Sodium and potassium in our nerve cells
    • Pumping calcium out of our muscles (preventing muscle spasms or twitching)

The Optimal Daily Intake is 600-800 mg/day (including all sources, both supplemental and food).

Food Sources: Nuts, whole grains, legumes, leafy green vegetables, fish and meat. (Note: 50-75% of Magnesium is lost in water when vegetables are boiled)

Fun fact: 

 The absorption of magnesium is actually regulated by the level of magnesium you already have. If you are deficient in magnesium, your body will automatically increase absorption, while if you have sufficient magnesium levels your body will decrease absorption.

 photo credit: https://eatlove.live/daily-need-of-magnesium/

photo credit: https://eatlove.live/daily-need-of-magnesium/

Since Magnesium is so crucial to so many processes the signs of deficiency are vast and various! Just a few potential signs of a magnesium deficiency are:

• PMS
• Brain Fog
• Headaches
• Elevated blood pressure
• Decreased glucose tolerance
• Neural excitation
• Inflammation
• Fatigue
• Muscle cramps or tightness
• Irritability
• Weakness
• Insomnia
• Anxiety
• Depression

CONDITIONS THAT MAGNESIUM MAY HELP TREAT:

  • Acid reflux & heartburn - magnesium will reduce spasm of the lower esophageal sphincter and prevent the release of acid into the esophagus. Magnesium is also needed for stomach acid production, so deficiency can be an indicator of low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria).
  • Alzheimer & dementia - magnesium acts as a cofactor for enzymes that break down and prevent amyloid-beta plaques, which are closely associated with Alzheimer's disease & dementia.
  • Anxiety, stress & panic attacks - magnesium promotes relaxation through the sympathetic nervous system, thyroid and adrenal glands.
  • Blood sugar regulation - magnesium helps to improve insulin sensitivity
  • Bone health - magnesium and calcium go hand in hand.
  • Constipation - magnesium induces muscle relaxation and some forms act as a gentle laxatives.
  • Hypertension - magnesium leads to general relaxation and dilation of blood vessels which promote improved circulation at a lower pressure.
  • Vitamin D & calcium deficiencies - magnesium regulates key enzymes that activate Vitamin D and promote calcium absorption
  • Depression - magnesium helps convert tryptophan into serotonin (our happy and calm neurotransmitter)
  • Migraines & headaches - magnesium promotes relaxation of muscles and the production of serotonin (both with have shown effective in treating migraines and headaches)
  • Fatigue - magnesium increases ATP levels which is our main source of cellular energy in the mitochondria.
  • Sports endurance & athletic recovery - magnesium creates cellular energy and promoting optimal muscle relaxation & contraction.

HOW CAN IT BE BOTH RELAXING AND ENERGIZING?!
Now that you know a bit more about magnesium this contraindicating statement should make a bit more sense. Magnesium can be energizing in the fact that it can support our various energy-producing pathways, while also decreasing our stress response and increasing our sleep quality. Magnesium truly can be both relaxing and energizing, acting to balance and optimize the body's energy levels.

Magnesium truly can be both relaxing and energizing, acting to balance and optimize the body’s energy levels



TYPES OF MAGNESIUM
Unfortunately, there is not one type of Magnesium that is better than all of the others. Given the various uses of magnesium in the body, the type best chosen for treatment is specific to both the desired outcome and the demands on an individual.

  • Magnesium Aspartate: thought to help more specifically with fatigue since aspartic acid plays a role in energy production. Higher absorption of ~42%.
  • Magnesium oxide/oxalate: gastrointestinal side effects like diarrhea and bloating are common due to a lower absorption rate. Can be useful for severe constipation. Absorption is low, ~4-5%.
  • Magnesium glycinate: the quickest and easiest to be absorbed through the intestine (this means there is minimal if any, laxative effect). Successfully used for chronic pain and hypertonicity. Higher availability than magnesium oxide.
  • Magnesium citrate: has a more gentle laxative effect than the oxide form and it is rapidly absorbed in the GI tract. Absorption is ~25-30%
  • Magnesium malate: the combination of malate and magnesium can improve ATP production has may relieve pain and tenderness in fibromyalgia. Similar absorbability as magnesium citrate (~25-30%).
  • Magnesium sulfate: not used in oral form, but can be absorbed through the skin, so it is found in topical applications & Epsom bath salts.
  • Magnesium orotate: this form is studied mostly in relation to heart health.
  • Magnesium-L-Threonate: has been shown to improve cognitive function. Not as useful when suspecting magnesium deficiency.


If you think you may be deficient in magnesium or that supplementation may benefit you make sure you talk to your doctor first to make sure it is right for you! This article was written for information purposes only and was not intended to diagnose or prescribe.  


REFERENCES:
E. (2017, April 29). Magnesium - Scientific Review on Usage, Dosage, Side Effects. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from https://examine.com/supplements/magnesium/
Gaby, A. (n.d.). Nutritional medicine. Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.
Zhang, Y., Xun, P., Wang, R., Mao, L., & He, K. (2017). Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance? Nutrients, 9(9), 946. doi:10.3390/nu9090946
On the significance of magnesium in extreme physical stress.Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1998 Sep;12 Suppl 2:197-202.
Can Prev - Magnesium A complete primer  


What Causes Mood Disorders in Young People?

As we grow older, many of us have the tendency to idealize our child- and young-adulthood as a carefree, exploratory time, with few responsibilities or consequences.

Whether that view of our youth is true or not, North American statistics are showing a new trend towards the opposite: a study released by Statistics Canada on January 17 showed that over 11% of Canadians age 15-24 have experienced an MDE (major depressive episode) at some point in their lives. They are the demographic with the highest incidence of mental health disorders in North America.

The number appears to rising, as well: a study done in the US showed a 37% increase in mental health issues in young people between 2005 and 2014. Scarier still? Suicide is the second cause of death for kids in this age bracket.

...a study done in the US showed a 37% increase in mental health issues in young people between 2005 and 2014.

So what’s causing poor mental health in our young adults? And, more importantly, what can we do to help?

The diet

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The inflammatory response in the body and brain is largely due to the dysregulation of stress hormones, infections, environmental toxins and a diet rich in trans fats and sugar.

Canadian researchers found that a protein known to be a marker of inflammation was up to 1/3 higher in the brains of depressed patients compared to healthy ones.  Those with the most severe forms of depression also had the most inflammation.

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The current SAD (standard American diet) is FULL of hidden sugars, allergens, and food stripped of its nutrients due to over-farming… all things that cause massive amounts of inflammation in the body!

Parents have less control over what their kids eat between the ages of 15-24, so there’s a good chance inflammatory foods are being consumed on a regular basis by this at-risk age group - much to their mental health’s detriment.

Healthy gut, healthy brain

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On the subject of what we’re eating, our gut, or gastrointestinal (GI) system, is intimately connected to our brain. Just as emotional situations can cause feelings in our stomach (think about feeling butterflies, or feeling nauseous when we’re nervous), what’s going on in the gut can cause an emotional response.

In fact, did you know that 85% of our “happy hormones”, like serotonin and dopamine, are produced in our gut? Also, 80% of the immune system’s tissues are located in our gut.

The gut is as much of an epicentre in the body as the brain!

This is why it’s vitally important that we sustain a healthy gut flora. When we eat too many sugars, or allergens like wheat, dairy, corn and/or soy, our gut loses its ability to perform optimally.

Never mind just feeling sluggish or low-energy because we’re not digesting our food properly - if our GI system isn’t healthy, it won’t produce enough of the hormones we need to moderate our mood, either.


Screens & Social Media

If you’ve read my blog or visited me at my clinic, you’ll know that I advocate screen-free time strongly, particularly when mental health issues are involved.

Even for adults, who have (mostly) fully-formed opinions of themselves and the world, being exposed to a constant influx of information can have negative impacts on health, and self-worth.

For teens and young adults, too much screen time and exposure to social media can be like poison. As the brain develops it requires real-life social interaction and engagement, not 2D moderated interaction. Additionally, happiness studies have shown that a sense of community is crucial to living a happy, fulfilling life.

The isolation of staring at a screen all day, combined with the social pressure and downright bullying that happens on various social media platforms, make technology a bit of a lethal combo for a young person with a mood disorder - or on the verge of developing one.

How to help

If you suspect your child is struggling with their mental health, I highly recommend visiting a professional - be it an MD, and ND, or a counsellor - who can make suggestions for your unique situation.

That being said, there are some supplements & lifestyle changes you can implement right now.

Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies and underlying hormone imbalances can lead to changes in our brain chemicals and lead to mood disorders.  The following are important to have checked by your MD or ND:  Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, iron, thyroid, adrenals, and blood sugars.

Supplements

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5-HTP may help to increase serotonin synthesis as depression and anxiety have been linked to serotonin imbalances in the brain.

Passionflower is known as a “calming” herb for anxiety or nervousness, insomnia, generalized anxiety disorder, and ADHD.

PharmaGABA is the most inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.  Low levels of GABA have been linked to anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Probiotics will restore imbalances in the microbiota in the gut that can negatively affect brain function.

B vitamins, especially B12, B6, B5 and folic acid are often low in people with anxiety and depression.

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the inflammatory response in the body, which seems to be an underlying cause in depression and anxiety.

Lifestyle

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Encourage your kids to get outside, see their friends in person, engage with their family, read, write (on paper!), play sports - anything that breaks up the lonely monotony that comes with “smart” technology. “Phone free” zones and times of day can be really effective, as can strict boundaries - your kids may not like the feeling of being without their technology at first, but the benefits far outweigh the bad moods!

More than anything, if you suspect your teen/young adult is suffering, a little love & compassion can go a long way. It’s hard enough to be a teenager, but nowadays kids and young adults are contending with a world  - and a level of mental health - we’ve never seen before. Try to be patient with them, and give them the support they need.

What's with "Cracking Backs"? Understanding the Popping Noise you Hear at your Chiropractor

You’re nervously walking into your first visit to a Chiropractic office with stories from your friend who referred you to the doctor who "cracks your bones" ominously swirling around in your head. "Yeah, the ones in your back, your neck and even in your arms and legs", but “don’t worry” they said, “it feels great and my pain is gone”. Yeah, right! How could someone cracking my bones feel "great"? Fair enough, that sounds pretty terrifying to me and I’m a chiropractor… but don’t worry! This is a very common misconception and you’re not the only one who assumes this myth to be true.

Allow me to set your mind at ease and tell you that we do NOT crack bones; to be honest, we do very little to bones at all. A chiropractic adjustment, manipulation, back crack, or whatever you want to call it is intended to affect your bodies joints. Now, as a great teacher of mine once said, "I don’t mean to insult your intelligence" - a joint is a fluid-filled, pressurized, connective tissue capsule that connects bones together and allows for movement in different directions. There are different types of joints with different structures and functions – some of which have more movement than others, and some that are more likely to become restricted and pain producing. Again, we do NOT crack bones, we help to create space and movement within a joint.

Again, we do NOT crack bones, we help to create space and movement within a joint.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, why do your joints make that cracking sound when they are adjusted? Well to use the proper term, we call that noise a ‘cavitation’. A cavitation is the formation of an air bubble inside of a liquid which undergoes the phenomena of ’tribonucleation’, this is a known natural process where distraction forces on a joint result in a small separation due to viscous attraction by the synovial fluid within the joint capsule. The fluid cavity is then formed, and a cavitation may be heard when sufficient force rapidly separates the liquid. The cavity only disappears when the action is completed.

Well that’s a little bit confusing, now isn’t it? Let’s break it down.

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When a Chiropractor administers an adjustment, they’re applying a controlled, high velocity (read: quick) low amplitude (shallow) force to the desired joint. This force is sufficient to gap the joint, which creates enough space within the joint capsule to form the bubble that creates the cracking sound you may hear.

Wait! Bubbles? Yes, just bubbles. Not so bad, right?

What does the joint gapping and adjusting do? How does it get me out of pain? How does it allow me to move my neck, back, arms, and legs more freely? And where did my headache go? Those are all great questions, and ones I look forward to answering another day!

I hope this helps you better understand what is truly happening when your Chiropractor adjusts you!

Summary:

  • Chiropractors do NOT “crack” bones
  • Chiropractors DO gap joints to improve movement and decrease pain
  • The cracking noise is called a cavitation and is caused by a gas bubble forming within the joint
  • Bubbles are not scary:)