When I was in school, sit-ups were my least favourite exercise. Now, many years later, I finally feel vindicated. The US Army is considering phrasing out sit ups due to too many spinal injuries.
An editorial from the Navy Times recently called for sit-ups to be banned completely. It called them an ‘outdated exercise today viewed as a key cause of lower back injuries’. The US Marine Corps is also reviewing its physical fitness and body composition standards – in an attempt to improve fitness and reduce injuries.
The Canadian Armed Forces has already phased out sit-ups; Canadian soldiers now lift 44-pound sandbags instead. Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada said that dozens of studies showed that sit-ups can squeeze the discs in the spine. Over time these discs can bulge, pressing on nerves and causing pain.
Instead of sit-ups or crunches, fitness trainers say men and women should replace them with the plank pose, which is when you stay in the upward part of a push-up.
SAVE THE DATE: From May 6 to 20, you can donate your unused disposable nappies at our clinic and these nappies will go to mothers in shelters and families in need via The Nappy Collective.
Whether your bubba has outgrown his/her current size, or your child has finished toilet-training (yah!), giving away your unused nappies to a good cause is better than them ending up in landfill.
The nappies get redistributed to over 130 organisations around Australia that support mothers fleeing family violence and families struggling with homelessness, mental illness, drug abuse, and extreme financial hardship. Please share to any parents living in the Heidelberg/Rosanna/Ivanhoe area!
Now that Easter is behind us, it's time to talk chocolate, or more specifically, the difference between cocoa and cacao (besides the spelling).
Raw cacao is unheated and unprocessed cacao beans._ Typically, you’ll find raw cacao available in powder form – or as nibs. Raw cacao nibs are cacao beans that have been ground into smaller pieces. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing cacao beans. Because raw cacao isn’t taken through a high-heat processing, it’s packed with antioxidants, fiber and important minerals like magnesium and calcium.
Cocoa, on the other hand, is raw cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures. After being roasted, the beans are cracked, crushed, ground into a paste, and slammed with a large hydraulic press to create a powder. This processing substantially reduces the antioxidant content, and many of the nutritional benefits are lost. Dutch-processed cocoa powder is cocoa that has been further processed with an alkalized solution, making it less acidic. As you may expect, alkalization reduces cocoa’s antioxidant content.
Cacao is definitely the superior product when it comes to packing in the good stuff, for instance, it has over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries. For vegetarians and vegans, cacao has the highest plant-based source of iron known to man, at a whopping 7.3mg per 100g. This compares to beef and lamb at 2.5mg, and spinach at 3.6mg. Note the iron in cacao is non-heme (as is all plant-based iron), so to get the maximum benefits you'll want to combine it with some vitamin C like oranges or kiwifruit. Yum, what a classic combo!
And we all know this - chocolate makes you happy. Cacao is a great source of four scientifically proven bliss chemicals - serotonin, dopamine, anandamide and phenylethylamine. These neurotransmitters are associated with cosy feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and can even alleviate depression.
For a quick pick me up, try a raw cacao hot choc.
2 teaspoons raw cacao
1 teaspoon natural sweetener like honey or coconut sugar
pinch of cinnamon
Add all this to 1 warm cup of plant-based milk (dairy products block the absorption of antioxidants and calcium in cacao). You can make the same thing cold, but dissolve the cacao in some warm water first.
Knee pain can strike young or old and can be from a variety of causes - sports injuries, osteoarthritis, flat feet and trauma are the most common reasons that osteopaths encounter. Besides treatment, exercise can be extremely helpful in keeping the knee pain free. There are three types of exercise:
The knee joint relies heavily on the muscles around it to maintain normal postural alignment during walking and other activities. Muscle weakness is common in knee osteoarthritis and other chronic knee conditions. Strengthening exercises help to build up weak muscles around the hip and knee to protect the knee from forces that load and stress the cartilage.
You can strengthen your knee at the gym or just using a flexible band at home. Cycling is great, as well as pool-based exercises (swimming or aqua aerobics).
Neuromuscular control is a type of strengthening exercise based around everyday movement. People with knee osteoarthritis often adapt their movement patterns to compensate for their knee symptoms. These abnormal movement patterns can cause further weakening of key muscles, especially those around the knee-cap. It is important to do these exercises slowly and with control.
Often, stiffness is a big complaint along with the pain. However the loss of movement in the knee is not caused by the joint alone but also often involves the muscles. Stretching exercises aim to improve the flexibility of the body by stretching out tight muscles, joints and other tissues. Stetching can be incorporated into any exercise program or you may want to take a class that focuses on flexibility such as yoga. Important muscles to stretch are the hamstrings, calves, quads and ITB.
Naturally-fermented food are suddenly the hottest kid on the block, with kimchi pancakes and kefir milkshakes on the menu at the trendiest cafes.
The idea is not new, these fermented foods are teeming with friendly bacteria that can help keep your gut healthy, especially if you get symptoms like bloating, irritable bowel, constipation or diarrhea. An unhealthy gut flora also seems to be linked to inflammatory conditions like arthritis as well as ADHD. Here is a list of food you can try, but remember you only need a tablespoon or two a day.
While it is convenient to get yoghurt from the supermarket, it is really easy to make your own. All you need is a an insulated chiller bag, food thermometer, a few spoons of good-quality unsweetened yoghurt for your starter and any type of milk. If buying, make sure the yoghurt contains the L acidophilus strain and preferably does not have a lot of sugar.
This is a traditional food from the Causasus region in Europe. Kefir is very similar to yoghurt in taste, although it tends to be runnier, more like a yoghurt drink. You can make it at home but first you will need to get kefir grains (they look like lumps of cauliflower). The grains contain a mixture of friendly bacteria and yeast, and will grow in size the more you use it.
This is probably the easiest pickle to make, all you need is cabbage, salt and a jar! There is natural bacteria on the cabbage that will ferment it, but for the best results, use filtered/spring/boiled water instead of tap. You can also get creative and flavour your pickle with dill seeds, mustard seeds or add colour with carrots and beets.
Korea's most famous export, kimchi is a variation of the same pickling method as sauerkraut but with a different flavour profile. It can be mild or fiery, vegetarian or not. It's a great one to always have in the fridge as it brightens up any meal.
Tempeh is a hero to vegetarians and vegans - it is a pressed, fermented soybean square and has a meaty taste. A palm-sized serve of tempeh contains half the amount of protein in a piece of steak the same size. It It is also rich in calcium and iron. Originally from Indonesia, you can get it in natural health food stores and larger supermarkets. If you are trying it for the first time, I recommend the ones that are marinated in soy.
A Japanese staple, miso comes in many varieties depending on what it is made from. It can range from pale and sweet (shiro miso) to dark and funky (brown rice or barley miso). Health food stores would probably have versions of miso made from non-GMO soybeans and do not contain MSG. Always add miso as the last ingredient in soup, as you don't want to kill all the good bacteria with excessive boiling.
Here is a set of 4 yoga stretches you can do to relieve the pain caused by sitting at a desk too long. These poses focus on stretching the lats and opening the chest, muscles that can get achy and shortened after prolonged sitting.
And here is another yoga sequence that involves balancing a glass of wine. Have fun!
All entries complied by osteopath Dr Wei Chua unless otherwise stated.