News and Tips
Sleep: Can’t get enough of it!
Do you want to know one of the quickest ways to make everyone around you feel miserable and ruin a good day? Try not sleeping! A client of mine recently returned from vacation with a story about her ruined day(s). Upon arriving in Greece for their much anticipated “dream” trip, Steve, her husband was grouchy, short tempered, complaining about everything and so unpleasant to be around that it made the first few days of the trip almost unbearable. Turns out Steve hadn’t slept for days – sleep deprivation doesn’t have any good side effects!
The National Institutes of Health reports that more than 150 million people in the United States may be affected by sleep problems. To put it mildly, we are becoming an increasingly sleepless nation. It’s a big problem — and a big business, especially for the pharmaceutical industry. Annual sales from sleep remedies are staggering and are increasing every year.
Sleep is the real magic bullet for health and longevity and should be taken very seriously. The simple fact that we spend about a third of our lives sleeping signifies that sleep is vital. People mistakenly think that they can get by on four hours of sleep per night and that sleep is a waste of time. But, when you consistently live on four hours of sleep a night, you are chronically impaired and forget what it’s like to really be awake and performing at your best.
Sleep is not merely down time between periods of being awake. Sleep is the body’s natural default state. Much transpires while we are asleep. Cells are being restored and the body is being repaired from the damage it has been through from the day before. Also, important brain activity is taking place. Millions of new connections are made in the brain and sleep helps the mind learn complicated tasks, recover knowledge and problem solve. You’ve heard the statement many times, when confronted with a difficult task or an important decision to make “to just sleep on it.” There is a very clear reason for that! Great advice, proven effective for generations.
There are many indicators used to determine someone’s overall health but sleep is the highest on the list. Let’s take a look at how sleep affects longevity. Woody Allen once said “I don’t want to know when I’ll die. Just tell me where, so I can avoid the place.”
Without proper sleep, we get lethargic and irritable, finding it difficult to focus and concentrate. But research now shows that the amount of sleep we get may actually affect our life expectancy. Studies reveal that chronic sleep loss may not only hasten the onset, but may also increase the severity of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cancer, memory loss, immune-system dysfunction, and many illnesses, plus impaired job performance and productivity in many other activities as well as to safety issues such as car accidents. Research has shown that almost 20 percent of all serious car crash injuries are associated with driver sleepiness, independent of the effects of alcohol. If you’re fatigued you’re impaired. Being awake more than 24 hours impairs performance as much as having a blood-alcohol level of 0.1 percent—which is legally drunk.
What is the solution?
Certainly before resorting to a potentially dangerous pharmaceutical drug such as Ambien (which states on their long list of possible side effects that taking Ambien can be fatal) looking at non- invasive, all natural solutions should be your first choice.
First, because there are so many possible causes for a sleepless night you should look at your sleep environment. Your bed and pillow are the first things to address. A bed older than ten years old is a common source of discomfort and a pillow that has too much loft or is too hard can often disrupt sleep. Second, light is a big interrupter of sleep so something as simple as getting blackout shades for your windows or wearing an eye shade will greatly improve your quality of sleep. Third, because very few people think about doing the right things to set themselves up for a good nights sleep, an all natural multivitamin formula for sleep is the most effective long term strategy. Straight 2 Sleep, with its two stage time released technology is that product. It addresses those who can’t shut their brains off to go to sleep and helps those who wake up and can’t go back to sleep to do just that.
So, try not to ruin someone’s day (or vacation) like Steve did. With the right knowledge and information you can start sleeping better and enjoy life – and that’s a beautiful thing!
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WHAT IS TEST ANXIETY
By Robert Rudelic, BS, NMT, MES
Test Anxiety is described as “an unpleasant feeling or emotional state that has physiological and behavioral components, and that is experienced in formal testing or other situations of evaluation”. Test anxiety has direct debilitating effects on school performance. It’s easy to confuse lack of preparation which can cause difficulty with real test anxiety. The most common sign of test anxiety is freezing up during the test… when you know the answer but can’t get it out. Maybe the words suddenly stop making sense, even though you know the topic inside-out. Maybe you know that you know the answer, but just can’t remember it. Or maybe you’re having problems learning anything in preparation for the test.
Test anxiety is more common than most students realize, and the symptoms are the same for almost all students who experience it.
* Heart pounding
* Tense muscles
* Cold and clammy hands
* Feeling anxious
* Can’t concentrate
* Feeling faint and nauseated
The physical aspects of test anxiety are biological, consisting of hormonal, chemical, and muscular changes in the body. The by-product of this condition is interference with the thinking process. When the physical symptoms are present, basic thinking processes like remembering, analyzing, and problem solving are affected. That is the reason that students who experience test anxiety feel that their brain is just not working right.
The biological state of fear or anxiety occurs in response to a perceived threat. The purpose of this biological reaction is to keep the body vigilant, ready to run or fight if necessary. This is what is known as the “fight or flight” response which is a psychological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. The “fight or flight” response can be triggered due to both real and imaginary threats. A person’s natural reaction is to run away from, or avoid a perceived threat. This is not possible in the classroom, and being required to remain in the presence of a perceived threat (the test) can only increase the symptoms. The physical symptoms and anxiety become a vicious cycle from which the person cannot escape. If the anxiety becomes too great, a person’s brain will in effect shut down. This is the body’s way of dealing with an intolerably high level of stress that cannot be removed.
WHERE DOES IT BEGIN?
Different theorists believe that test anxiety emerges for some children during the pre-school or elementary school years, when parents begin to make unrealistic demands or hold overly high expectations for their children’s performance. The parents then react negatively to their children’s failure to meet their expectations,
and the children in turn become fearful of evaluation in achievement situations and overly concerned about adult reaction to their academic successes and failures.
As a child gets older they may wish to rank in the top of their class or attain higher grades. This can be a result of parental, peer, or self-induced aspirations and expectations. This will place many students under strong pressure to achieve at a higher and higher level which can result in “test anxiety” especially in our highly competitive educational system and society, and, this pressure only increases with age, well into adulthood.
Theories further suggest that anxious children are more sensitive to failure and react more to evaluation from adults than low-anxious children. More specifically, high anxious children have strong motives to avoid criticism and failure because they fear negative evaluation. In contrast, low-anxious children are relatively more motivated to approach success and obtain praise since they do not have as much fear of failure. These different motivational patterns have important behavioral consequences. Low-anxious children are more likely to choose, persist in, and enjoy the challenge of evaluative situations, be less concerned with adult reaction to their performance, and strive to do well on relatively difficult tasks. In contrast, high-anxious children try if possible to avoid highly evaluative situations and are overly concerned with adult evaluation.
HELP FOR TEST ANXIETY
Although you may think you always had test anxiety, you were not born with it! Test anxiety is very real and extremely self-defeating but it is not an insurmountable disease. The good news for students who experience test anxiety is that it can be easily conquered if one is willing to follow some guidelines and practice a very simple yet very effective technique. Research shows that when students have tools and strategies that build both emotional skills and healthy physical habits, overcoming test anxiety and its associated symptoms is attainable. As a result, they improve their ability to prepare for and perform on exams.
THE POWERTAPPING TECHNIQUE …..
When you have the right tool any job is made easier. Talking about the problem only makes it worse in the long run. Even in the short term talking about the issue only brings out the chattering monkeys – you know the voices of doubt in your head. They are so familiar that as soon as you hear them you believe it and behave as usual. Changing this takes more than will power. In fact, will power is a pretty ineffective tool for change. What you need is a set of tools that will erase the underlying beliefs that when triggered produce undesired results like freezing up on a test or choking at a tryout.
The PowerTapping technique is the best, most effective tool you can have in your toolbox. It combines the eastern model of addressing health issues and western cognitive therapies. PowerTapping at first seems odd, using your fingers to tap on points over the face, body and hands. It seems so simple you might immediately dismiss it as too simplistic to be effective until you try it. That’s when your mind starts to shift; in fact you actually feel a difference after tapping for the first time. It has an immediate impact that’s undeniable. Imagine spending 10 minutes 2x’s per day for 5 days doing PowerTapping and realizing you no longer feel anxious about taking tests. As you prepare you automatically think and feel you’ll do well on the test. No more second guessing if you will remember everything or if you studied enough or if the teacher will try to trip you up with tricky questions. All this is replaced with confidence in your ability to stay calm when taking tests. It sounds crazy and almost impossible yet after tapping for the first time it feels very real and very possible!
In my book I present you with the tools necessary (the what, when and how) to purge the beliefs that sabotage your efforts which are keeping you from achieving the results you so desire, and in turn set up beliefs that trigger automatic responses that will produce the outcomes you’re working so hard to achieve. This is about having choices. You can continue to struggle, relying on willpower to get you through – you know, doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. You can talk about it with a counselor and better understand your anxiety, then go to class with that knot still in your stomach and try to do well on the test or, you can try “tapping it out” and put to rest the anxiety and worry forever. That’s how tapping works. When you make the decision to try tapping, you’ll be amazed at the results!
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Injury and Healing 101 — move it to use it!
By Robert Rudelic, BS, NMT, MES
Everyone is so worried about injuries these days it’s a wonder we still play sports at all. After 25 years spent working in the field of sports medicine teaching people how to play their best and avoid injuries, people are still getting hurt, doctors are still giving out prescription drugs like candy and RICE is still used by “forward thinking therapist” to treat injuries.
This is America where innovation is everywhere! Without innovation we would all be driving model T’s and talking on land lines. Innovations in medicine have also come along way as well yet for the most part we still are told to use methods from 30 years ago. An example of this is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Although a safe and very basic strategy, it’s not going to help the person or athlete get back on the field or back to work very quickly. The objective is to limit inflammation and further damage yet it does so while prolonging the length of time it takes to fully recover….crazy!
When you injure yourself the initial injury is recorded emotionally in every cell of the body. That’s that “OH NO” moment when you see it coming and cringe or hold your breath or the “OUCH” moment when you first feel it. Then, the body goes into a state of shock where it limits movement to protect itself as you are lying there wondering how bad it is. Then the inflammatory process begins. You feel it swell up or heat up or if the skin is lacerated blood starts coming out. You need to address all 3 stages for optimum recovery. This is where M.I.C.E.M. (Movement, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Massage) is so effective and is the new paradigm for addressing soft tissue injuries. After the initial trauma is addressed the healing process begins.
By moving the injury site passively and gently you break the initial holding pattern and start signaling the brain to let go and relax. This in turn starts to unwind the emotional response which improves all physiological processes and aids the immune system in working efficiently to heal the injury. This strategy gets circulation going immediately, flushes out the area and breaks the shock/spasm response the body goes into whenever it’s injured to limit the damage. This also reduces the secondary trauma which in many cases is a bigger problem than the original injury. Lastly, it reduced the recovery time greatly by limiting adhesion formation which makes the whole recovery process less painful. Movement also serves a function when the person gets active again. The nervous system lays down memory responses to injury and even though you are feeling better, in the background there’s a reflexive response waiting to be stimulated and when this stimulus occurs the tissue responds the same way it did when it was injured. So, because of the initial injury it’s easier to re-injure the area and the spasmodic response is the same intensity as the first one. It was just waiting for a signal to go into spasm.
RICE starts with rest and ice which both SLOW DOWN the healing process. MICEM starts with gentle passive range of motion which immediately signals the brain that it’s ok to move again and breaks the shock response, flushes out the area and improves circulation. Rest lets everything settle in and often leads to a larger secondary trauma site. Hypoxia is a state of oxygen debt caused by muscle tension during the shock response. It’s in this state that healthy tissue can be suffocated or damaged causing secondary injury. Adding ice makes the tissue go into hibernation which protects it from further damage by limiting the amount of oxygen it needs to stay alive. Initially this is good but with MICEM the need for this is lessened with every repetition of movement because we move quickly out of the shock mode and tissue tension is reduced quickly.
The best approach is M.I.C.E.M. Movement Ice Compression Elevation Massage Taking the R.I.C.E approach to treating an injury is less effective!
R — Is for rest. Conventional wisdom says to rest an injured site. You want to let the body heal itself right? Well, this fly’s in the face of common sense as well as the latest research on how injuries heal. First, Ida Rolf said (Ida Pauline Rolf was a biochemist and the creator of Structural Integration or “Rolfing”) “a lack of movement is death” the only time the body needs rest is when you’re sleeping. Otherwise to address an injury you need movement to shift the body into a healing mode.
I — Ice is recommended but not for weeks like so many are told. Ice should be used in stages and for a short time. I have athletes who continue to ice an injured site for 1-2 weeks to “keep inflammation down”. All it does is slow down the healing process. When you ice an injured area you slow down physiologic processes, i.e. the healing process. The body needs to go through the 5 stages of healing to get better. Ice should be used often for the first 48 hours, then switch to ice/heat/ice for 48 hours then moist heat thereafter. For inflammation after the first 48 hours I use a topical product and IBPROFEN. No Naproxen etc!!!
Compression — Compression is used to limit edema which is the build up of fluid in the tissue. This is a good strategy initially for daytime use when you’re moving around but it can inhibit healing by limiting blood flow all day long. Compression is often overused and used too long. In many cases, with the successful management of initial inflammation, compression is not needed. I advise using it for injuries of the extremities at night so when tossing and turning you don’t wake yourself up.
Elevation — Another strategy for moving lymph and limiting edema. Again depending on the severity of the injury it can be an effective strategy for keeping edema from pooling especially in joint injuries. Most people do not use it correctly. A 60 degree elevation is not going to do it — you need to be 80-90 degrees for 5 minutes then lie flat for 2 minutes before standing up to allow for the valves in the circulatory vessels to readjust.
MICEM is more effective
M — Movement. Immediately start right away with passive ROM (range of motion) using very small movements to get the fluid moving. Dr. Michael Dillingham, co-founder and originator of the Sports Orthopedic and Rehabilitation ( S.O.A.R.) pioneered the use of passive ROM machines in post op. It speeds up the healing process, decreases pain and adhesion formation. The biggest problem with injuries healing correctly is adhesion formation. It slows down the rehab process and makes it more painful when it does not need be. I teach and use Active Isolated Stretching. The Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) method of muscle lengthening and fascial release is a type of Athletic Stretching Technique that provides effective, dynamic, facilitated stretching of major muscle groups, but more importantly, AIS provides functional and physiological restoration of superficial and deep fascial planes.
I — Ice is used only for the first 2 days unless it’s a grade 2 sprain/strain in which case I would discontinue it all together. I learned this from a mentor of mine and it works great for the first 5-7 days along with taking 3 Advil/Motrin 3 times per day. It reduces inflammation and cuts down the pain. I also use topical applications such as Mobility Rx and Traumeel for the same purpose. Remember Ice slows down the healing process so use it wisely.
Compression — Sparingly, unless it’s a weight bearing joint with a grade 2 strain/sprain, and usually only at night so you don’t twist the injured joint and wake up.
Elevation — when relaxing I have the client put the limb up otherwise it’s not a primary tool.
Massage — Gently effleurage (light medium long strokes towards the heart) to flush out the tissue and improve circulation.
I had 2 High School students get injured in the same lacrosse game because of dehydration and exhaustion. I treated one of the boys and the other was treated by the family doctor. I used the MICEM protocol and the very next day (to his parents shock) he could stand and bear weight without pain. I taught him the protocol and how to do the gentle movement and saw him 3 days later. Not only was he feeling good but had no limp and was asking when he could play again. He practiced the following Saturday (1 week after initial injury) at 60% then started back at full strength the following Monday. The other boy went to the doctor, got a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxor and was told to stay off the ankle and rest. Not even RICE. I saw him at the field but did not treat him. Because his parents are very impressed with medical doctors they insisted he be treated by the doctor. He asked me what I thought and told him it was no worse than the other boy’s injury. So as a result of his treatment, he did not practice for 2 weeks then upon returning to the field, pulled his hamstring. This is a predictable event because his body is still guarded from the initial injury which causes tight muscles and slower coordination and reflexes. This time his parents called me because they saw boy #1 already playing and his parents told them about our first visit and their son walking right away.
Bottom line is this — it’s been my experience that doctors are good at diagnosing a problem but unless surgery is necessary treatment is better handled by therapists trained in soft tissue injuries. RICE is very basic and is better than not doing anything but MICEM is highly effective on multiple levels. It’s the way to treat soft tissue injuries in the 21st century. One more thing; once you know the protocol you can treat yourself quickly and effectively and return to active life that much faster. Now, you have choices and it’s your choice how you want to be treated.