Slackline Your Way to Better Balance

Dr. E demonstrates his newfound love of slacklining.

I took up slacklining last summer. My first attempt produced what I call “Elvis Leg,” where even the slightest foot pressure on the line caused my leg to shake uncontrollably. It seemed impossible, like there was no way I would ever achieve the steadiness of the slackliners I had seen practising at the beach days before.

Yet I kept at it, hoisting myself onto the line and falling off, over and over again.

Eventually, my body stabilized over my wobbly foot, and there I was—steady on the line, eyes focused far in front of me, overcome with an exhilarating feeling of balance, like the only thing in the world was the line and my body hanging in space.

I practised in 15-minute intervals a couple of times each week, and by about week four I was able to balance myself slowly along, shakily, inching forward about 25 feet before falling off. After that, I was able to turn myself around, and even move backwards.

And just like that, I was hooked.

The Benefits of Slacklining

Aside from the feelings of exhilaration and accomplishment, slacklining offers some pretty amazing health benefits.

  1. Focused attention & mindfulness ~ a rarity in this era of smartphones, devices and endless distractions.
  2. Balance ~ Try doing a yoga tree pose before slacklining, and then do one afterwards.  You’ll suddenly feel much more stable and balanced, because your body has “clicked in” to its alignment.  You’ll probably even be able to do it with your eyes closed.  Trust me.
  3. And my favourite, Kinesthesia ~ Slacklining promotes an increased awareness of your body in space. It enhances nerve-firing patterns in the ankle, knee and hip joints, which is incredibly healthy for the joints and the brain.

Inspiration

Try watching Man on Wire, a 2008 documentary about Philippe Petit’s famous (and illegal) tightrope high wire routine performed between the World Trade Towers in 1974.  It’s astounding!

How to Get Started

It’s easy! I bought my slacklining kit at True Outdoors in Vernon for about $80. It’s easy to set up and can be done anywhere. All you need are two sturdy trees, a dash of patience, and my favourite trait: tenacity.

By Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Bungee Jump Your Way to the Present

I grip the handles of a bridge and peer 160 ft. down into a rocky, raging river. A stranger pokes me in the back, urging me to lean out as far as possible. I stare into the abyss, gulp deeply, and, when I hear my cue (“5-4-3-2-1…Go!”), I jump.

Just before slamming into the turbulent current, the rubbery cord catches my fall and whips me around. I release a “man-roar” of complete exhilaration.

This describes my recent experience bungee jumping in Whistler, BC—one of my many attempts at capturing the ‘aliveness’ that comes with fear. There is nothing like total fear and trust having coffee together on a sunny day. The billions of nerve fibers in my body were all screaming not to jump…and yet overcoming that resistance made me feel incredibly vital and alive.

Feeling truly present and in the moment can often mean coming to terms with fear, where any illusion of security is taken away. I definitely wasn’t thinking about taxes, the real estate market, or my to-do list. And that, my friends, is present-moment consciousness at its best!

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Do you have an i-Hunch?

Did you know that forward head posture is the cause of many headaches, neck pain, and shoulder strain? This is when your neck slopes forward and downward in a hunched position.

With the increase in screen time, and all the sitting we do, there has never been a more crucial time to address poor posture. All day long people crane their necks sharply down or forward, peering at their phones—150 times per day on average!

Long-term poor posture leads to poor spinal health and degenerative joint conditions. If your head feels too heavy, you feel tired or foggy a lot, and you feel pain in your head, neck, upper back, or shoulders, you likely have poor alignment.

May is Posture Month. Make it a focus to check your posture and spinal alignment health by a qualified Chiropractor. We’re here to help you feel your best!

By Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Arise Wellness Center, Vernon BC

What’s Our “Why”? Providing Drug-Free Healthcare Options

A wellness revolution is unfolding. Everyone is talking about improving their health, losing weight, eating organic, doing yoga, sleeping adequately, and wanting more energy to keep up with the kids, play golf, and meet the day’s demands pain-free.

People are seeking better options for their healthcare. They want natural solutions to their health issues. They’re tired of taking medications; they’re tired of thinking that surgery is the only option. They’re tired of side-effects and hearing alarming stories about the widespread opioid crisis. They want to prevent illness and disease and feel well.

Arise Wellness Centre was created to play a part in this demand.  This is our “Why,” our mission.

We are a large team of talented health professionals sharing the goal of enhancing our community’s well-being, naturally. We have helped thousands of people since opening in 2009, and our team has grown significantly to meet your demands.

The future of health care is patient-centered. This means that people have several health professionals helping them now; they have health teams. It’s common now for patients to simultaneously see a chiropractor, naturopath, counselor, and family doctor. As a result, t’s becoming increasingly important to ensure strong communication between all health professionals – including medical doctors. We aim to encourage this communication, and we feel that if we uphold the highest professional standards, we can break down the walls separating different health professions, so that you, the patient, can enjoy a team approach to your health.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Arise Wellness Center, Vernon, BC

Poor Posture Creates Body Pain

Our lifestyles perpetuate poor posture—hours of driving, sitting at desks, and staring down at our tablets and phones. Chiropractors see this poor posture translate into pain and inflammation in the neck, mid-back, low back, shoulders and hips.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Do you have level shoulders? Is your head sticking out too far in front of your shoulders? Do you have a noticeable head tilt? These are examples of the postural imbalances that can create corresponding joint pain.

If these imbalances are not corrected, they can lead to advancing degenerative joint conditions. The joints will continue to wear-and-tear, causing long-term, permanent damage. Thankfully, Chiropractic can help restore joint alignment and range of motion, correcting postural imbalances and resulting in less pain—naturally.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

The Health Secret No One Talks About

You get your eyes, ears and teeth checked. You test your blood. You measure your height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, vitamin B12 levels and body mass index. Your Fitbit device tracks all of your biometric data, from how many steps you take to the quality of your sleep. When it comes to monitoring your health, no stone goes unturned. Except one, and it’s a biggie: How many times do you get your posture, spine, or spinal alignment checked?

After all, whether you realize it or not, you have endured countless physical trials in your lifetime. You experienced the trauma of being born, and you’ve fallen from couches, trees and monkey bars. You’ve had stitches, sports injuries, broken limbs, and car accidents. Not to mention the fact that you’ve clocked about a million hours hunched over your computers, tablets and cell phones, with your head cranked forward and downwards in a less-than-ideal position.

And maybe now you find yourself noticing various health symptoms–aches and pains, headaches, low-back strain, digestive issues. You find you get sick a lot and generally feel unwell. Yet it has never occurred to you to check the very circuit board that runs literally everything in your body—your spine and nervous system. What if the nerves in your spine are under so much stress from poor alignment that they’re expressing the symptoms of ill health?

How healthy is your spine? How healthy is your child’s spine? Maybe it’s time to find out today. Because Chiropractors know a health secret that no one talks about: Great alignment = Improved health performance!

Are you ready to turn the power back on?

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk

Chief Public Health Officer Supports Chiropractic

nss2erzqwgw-freestocks-org

I recently watched an interview on The National with Dr. Gregory Taylor, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. Dr. Taylor was addressing the opioid crisis in Canada. The large number of recent deaths associated with opioid overdoses is bringing critical awareness to the addictive nature of these drugs.

Although Fentanyl is the culprit for many of these overdose deaths, this crisis highlights the addictive nature of commonly prescribed opioid drugs such as Demerol, Percocet, Hydromorphone, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, and Codeine, and how these prescriptions may create a slippery slope toward addiction.

Opioid drugs are often prescribed to treat chronic pain, particularly spinal pain and lower back pain. Dr. Taylor’s main message was this—instead of prescribing opioid drugs for pain conditions, maybe it’s time to consider less addictive treatments like chiropractic, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. He outlined that there is considerable research showing that Chiropractic is a safe and effective way to treat low back pain, and that he himself has experienced personal success with chiropractic care.

Chiropractors play a strong role in offering treatment for low back and spinal pain that can prevent patients from being prescribed opioids in the first place, thereby helping them avoid the downward spiral that can result once they become addicted to these drugs.

We chiropractors witness the healing benefits of chiropractic every day in practice, and I am happy to see a health minister acknowledging the tremendous evidence in existence proving that chiropractic care is an effective solution to spinal pain.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Always Tired?

When I hit 37, it was like I hit a wall—even my lifelong enthusiastic spirit couldn’t push me through moments of fatigue when I was running uphill or riding my mountain bike. Suddenly it felt much more difficult to get the same job done. Was I pushing myself too hard? Had my metabolism shifted? Or had I simply hit that age everyone warned me about, when you just start feeling tired?

After speaking with thousands of patients over the years, I’ve learned that I’m not alone. The middle years pile up with physical and emotional stress—endless responsibilities, demands from our kids, body aches and pains, layer-upon-layer of small worries about pretty much everything, and the heavy heart that comes from an increasingly dystopian world. Just watch the news for a few minutes and your mind will start spinning with thoughts of environmental collapse, terrorism, genetically modified everything, political disarray, and so on. No wonder we start to feel tired!

However, in my 13 years of clinical practice, I’ve come across some gems of wisdom that have helped me stay strong and vital despite the stresses that can come from daily living.

  • Make sure your posture is as balanced as possible. Muscles working against an imbalanced spine can sap energy and tire your body. Try bending forward when you walk and see how long you last. Most of us possess up to eight postural imbalances like un-level shoulders, twisted hips, forward-head posture and “tech neck.” Get a Chiropractic spinal check-up and regular adjustments to ensure that your body is balanced and firing optimally.
  • Focus on a plant-based, whole-food diet. Now I imagine I won’t convert you into being a plant-based vegetarian just by mentioning this, but at least we all can work toward reducing the low-quality processed foods that populate our diets. List the processed food you eat in a given day—it’s probably way more than you think! (Canned spaghetti sauce is processed by the way). Try a 7-day processed food fast and see how you feel after that week.
  • This has nothing to do with religion. Mediation is a way of understanding how our minds are constantly creating thoughts that cause low and anxious emotional states. Pay attention to the silent conversation you have with yourself each day. Likely it’s pretty negative. Now imagine long stretches of time during which that voice is not chattering. Meditation helps us end suffering by teaching us how to detach from our thoughts and creating greater space and openness in our minds.

There you have it—three effective ways to help overcome stress and tiredness by nurturing your physical self, your chemical/nutritional self, and your mental/emotional self. It’s time to take care of YOU.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Why Do Some Chiropractors Take X-Rays?

Chiropractors pride themselves on the ability to feel, or palpate, disturbances in the motion and alignment of spinal joints. We perform postural evaluations to understand the imbalances in a patient’s skeletal and muscular frame. We may ask a patient to stand on two scales, one under each foot, to detect pressure differences in the hips and legs created by postural imbalances.  We do muscle and reflex testing to see how well the nerves are talking to the muscles and relaying messages back to the brain. There are many different tests that a Chiropractor can perform to help understand clinical aspects of their patients. And taking x-rays allows a Doctor of Chiropractic to understand even more about a patient. When required, they are by far the most helpful way to complete this clinical understanding. 

Chiropractors take x-rays with the patient standing up, so that we can interpret gravitational alignment. Since x-rays are essentially shadow projections of the spine, standing x-rays reveal imbalances caused when the spine is “loaded” under gravity. Lying versus standing pictures of the same patient will often look entirely different! Medical x-rays are generally taken with the patient lying down, because alignment information is not seen as front-and-centre to their analysis. But I always treat a patient using standing x-rays, because it is standing or dynamic alignment that I am most interested in improving.

In addition, spinal pictures allow us to:

  • see how much degeneration exists in and around spinal joints
  • visualize issues a patient may have been born with, like vertebrae that are fused together
  • understand any curvatures of the spine
  • understand bone density and many other factors deemed clinically important

To see is to know.  Not to see is to guess. And when it comes to a patient’s health, I would rather not guess if given the choice. Pictures can tell us WHAT is going on, and armed with this knowledge, we can be clearer about HOW we are going to help.

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

How Chiropractic Helps Heartburn

Heartburn, or acid reflux, is an issue that many of my patients experience alongside their primary complaint. It can either be an occasional annoying side effect following a spicy meal, or it can become a chronic, debilitating problem.

In some circles it is thought that stomach bacteria cause ulcers and heartburn, for which antibiotics can be prescribed. One problem with this line of reasoning is that many ulcer/heartburn sufferers don’t actually have helicobacter pylori infections, and at least 50% of people have this type of bacteria in their guts without any stomach symptoms whatsoever.

Another explanation for heartburn is that the stomach lining is producing too much acid, for which hydrogen-blocking drugs are prescribed. This approach can have problematic side effects, because overly lowering stomach acids can lead to the poor absorption of calcium and proteins, among other unhealthy side effects. Antacids also buffer the acid, offering temporary relief, but this can also lead to poor dietary absorption over time.

As a Chiropractor I always strive to understand the underlying cause. Why would the brain tell the stomach lining to produce too much acid? The brain’s communication system with organs is meant to offer a state of balance, or homeostasis, governed by an innate intelligence that brings harmony to the whole body. Why would this intelligence suddenly break down when determining sufficient acid production? Using drugs and antacids to manipulate your body’s acid balance just doesn’t feel like a good long-term strategy. Also, it would be difficult to establish how many drugs would be required to create optimal acid levels for each individual.

Chiropractic is an option to consider when it comes to relieving heartburn symptoms. The basic thought is this: Between every vertebra in your spine, a nerve courses its way through, supplying the body’s organs, tissues and cells. At the top of your stomach there is a muscle that keeps acid from erupting into your esophagus. The nerve supplying this muscle arrives from the seventh vertebra in the mid-back. If this nerve is being pinched or strained in the spine, the sphincter muscle can weaken, allowing acid into the delicate esophagus and causing reflux or heartburn.

My treatment plan is to begin improving spinal alignment throughout the spine, especially in the thoracic region, which generally improves reflux symptoms. I also offer nutritional recommendations that can drastically improve stomach and digestive health. Certain foods should be avoided, and I like to recommend probiotics so that the patient’s digestive system is loaded with good, healthy bacteria.

In certain cases, a deeper investigation may be required. A scope can help examine the level of ulceration deep in the esophagus, determine if there is a hernia, or rule out other sinister causes. However, in many cases, a trip to your Chiropractor may be all you need to address and improve your heartburn symptoms.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC