Newsletter Archives > Monthly Health Newsletter: January 2013 Health Newsletter

January 2013 Health Newsletter

Current Articles

» The STYD Syndrome
» Misleading Labels, High Caffeine Levels in Diet Supplements
» Whole Grains Reduce Risk of Prediabetes
» Skip Mouth-to-Mouth to Save Heart Attack Victims?
» Kids Offered Healthier Snacks Eat Less

The STYD Syndrome

Spine Lines

December, 2012

So what is the mysterious "STYD" syndrome? 

You've probably heard the phrase, or even used it yourself: Shop Till You Drop!

I usually see it as a person coming into the office with low back ache, stiffness and pain following holiday shopping outings.  And after a description of the aches and pain comes the phrase: "But all I did was go shopping!" 

It does seem a bit surprising that an episode of low back problems could be triggered by something as simple as shopping.  There are, however, some very common activities involved in Christmas holiday shopping that add up to significant stress and strain on the lower (and sometimes upper) back. 

One is the length of time involved.  Holiday shopping outings are usually quite a bit longer than the typical shopping trip.  This may be due to the extra time it takes to get there because of the added traffic, the sometimes lengthy search for a parking spot, a longer walk than usual from that spot to the destination as well as the walking to find the items one is looking for.  

Another may be the number of such shopping trips. Rather than just the usual occasional one these outings they may be much more numerous this time of the year. 

These factors as well as the usually crowded and hectic atmosphere both outside and inside the stores, the difficulty in finding a particular gift that you were sure would be readily available and the unexpected need to find an alternate gift can all add up to an unusually lengthy shopping trip as well as one that is filled with stress!  A very common bodily response to stress is to tighten muscles, especially those that have been the focus of problems in the past.

O.K. So you are finally in the mall or store and have started your serious shopping.  Here's where the additional strain to the lower back comes in.  The problem is the repeated "walk/stop and look/bend and twist/carry" motion.  Very few of us do that on a regular basis so when it is done in a suddenly concentrated form it is a surprise to the muscles of the back. Think of how your low back would feel if you repeated those movements during a walk around the block.  It would actually be less irritating to your back if you actually did go for one of your regular walks. 

But we are not quite finished yet.  You still have to carry all those packages back to your car (let's see now, where did I finally park......?), load them into the car (more bending/twisting/lifting) and then drive home.  By that time you are really tired and you "slouch" in your seat as you drive - more low back stress!

I didn't even go with you and I'm getting that familiar "STYD" knot in my lower back and that feeling of tightness in my neck that I know is going to creep up into my forehead and result in a holiday headache if I'm not careful! 

So what's a serious shopper to do? 

  • Stretch - that's right, stretch your lower back and legs before you leave the house and when you return home.
  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes - the same shoes you would wear if you were going for a walk or exercising.
  • Take walks while shopping - that's right - walk at a brisk pace for a while but do not shop while doing so! 
  • Make several trips to the car to drop off packages - don't wait until you are so burdened with packages that you can hardly make it to the car. 
  • Relax while driving home - turn off the radio, be conscious of how you are sitting, take your time.

Janet, Marilyn and I wish you a peaceful holiday shopping season and a Merry Christmas!   

Next month's newsletter will answer the question: "Why is my back always so stiff and sore in the morning?"

Author: Ted Johnson, D.C.
Source: Office Experience
Copyright: Ted Johnson, D.C. 2012

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Misleading Labels, High Caffeine Levels in Diet Supplements

A recent study of diet supplements conducted by the Harvard Medical School in Boston found that the amount of caffeine in the supplements varied widely and that the product labels were often inaccurate or contained no caffeine information at all. High levels of caffeine can can be dangerous for certain individuals, due to side effects such as tremors and anxiety. The study, published by JAMA Internal Medicine, tested 31 dietary supplements known to contain caffeine or herbal ingredients that naturally contain caffeine. Researchers found that of the products tested, five had labels with inaccurate caffeine information and another six did not have caffeine on their labels, but contained very high levels of caffeine; averaging between 210 and 310 milligrams per serving. To compare, an eight-ounce serving of coffee contains approximately 100 milligrams of caffeine. The study concluded that the levels of caffeine in the supplements would not be an issue on their own, but may cause problems for people who combine the diet products with energy drinks, coffee and other high-caffeine foods and beverages. More troublesome was the wide-spread inaccuracy of the labels, which make it nearly impossible even for users who read the product information to know what they are consuming. The researchers added that current laws regulating product labeling aren’t strong enough and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must do a better job enforcing what labeling regulations exist.

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, online January 7, 2013.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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Whole Grains Reduce Risk of Prediabetes

Researchers in Sweden have recently concluded that the risk of of prediabetes, a blood sugar elevation that often precedes diabetes in adults, can be lowered by the consumption of whole grains. The study followed 5,477 Stockholm residents without diabetes, who kept food diaries of the amounts of whole and refined grains they ate. Blood glucose levels of participants were recorded and then followed up on ten years later. The researchers discovered that subjects who consumed approximately two or more ounces of whole grains per day were found to be 27% less likely to become prediabetic. However, these results may not help Americans, because of the difficulty in obtaining whole grain foods in the U.S. American food manufacturers can label a food that contains eight grams per serving as ‘whole grain’; Sweden requires a food product to contain least half whole grains to receive the designation. Whole grains span the spectrum of grain, from brown rice to whole wheat, but to be whole, the entire kernel is used, including the grain hull. Refined grains, where the hull and other parts of the grain are removed are far more common in the U.S. The American Diabetes Association now estimates that one in four Americans are prediabetic and that nearly a quarter of people with the condition will develop full-blown diabetes. Further, fewer than three percent of Americans get the recommended 48 grams per day of whole grains. Because refined grains contain more calories and carbohydrates, which are risk factors for diabetes, researchers concluded that Americans should simply aim to consume less grain in general.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online December 12, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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Skip Mouth-to-Mouth to Save Heart Attack Victims?

New medical research, recently published in the journal Circulation, finds that heart attack victims given compression-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation were less likely to die in following years than people given standard mouth-to-mouth CPR. This finding supports an American Heart Association recommendation that the simpler form of CPR is more appropriate for bystanders often intimidated by the prospect of combining chest compressions with rescue breathing. Over 383,000 people in the U.S. suffer cardiac arrests every year; only about 10 percent survive. The study, authored by researchers in Seattle, France and Sweden, tracked more than 3,200 adults who suffered heart attacks and were administered either standard or compression-only CPR. Mortality in the compression-only group was 9% lower than in the standard CPR group, with benefits persisting for up to five years after the event. However, the researchers added that their recommendations don't apply to CPR performed by medical personnel or people who are proficient in rescue breathing. They also apply only to adult victims with heart problems, where cardiac arrest was caused by reasons other than trauma, suffocating or drowning. It is still recommended that pediatric victims suffering cardiac arrest be administered rescue breathing.

Source: Circulation, online December 10, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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Kids Offered Healthier Snacks Eat Less

A new study conducted by the Food and Brand Laboratory at Cornell University suggests that substituting cheese or vegetables for potato chips, might help reduce the amount of calories children eat at snack time. The findings are of interest to a nation combating a recognized childhood obesity epidemic and looking for ways to help kids slim down. The study of over 180 children ages nine to twelve, put the kids in a room to watch TV and eat a snack. 45 of the children were given potato chips, 36 were offered cheese, 59 were given raw vegetables and 43 were given cheese and vegetables. There were no restrictions on the quantity of the snacks; the kids were allowed to eat until they felt full. After 45 minutes, the researchers measured the amount of calories eaten. Unsurprisingly, the children in the chip group consumed the most, averaging 620 calories, or approximately 40% of the daily amount of calories recommended for a moderately active eight-year-old boy. The children in the other groups ate an average of 200 calories of cheese, 60 calories of vegetables and 170 calories of the combination cheese-and-vegetables snack. Kids also reported feeling full after eating less of the cheese and vegetables than the potato chips. Experts disagree on the findings however, pointing out that children will eat more of a snack they prefer - like potato chips, than one they don't - like raw vegetables. They also acknowledge that it is not always feasible, especially in lower income families where obesity has hit hardest, to provide healthy alternatives to cheaper processed foods.

Source: Pediatrics, online December 17, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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