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Cold and flu season is upon us, and oh yeah, let’s not forget the elephant in the room, the PANDEMIC. With all of these seasonal and circumstantial immune system “villains,” it is essential to remember that there are plenty of simple steps we can take to improve our health and wellbeing. Health does not need to be reactionary. Quite on the contrary. If you can learn how to boost your immune system, you may stay ahead of any ailments that come your way. In this article, you will learn about our favorite immune-boosting foods, as well as other immune-boosting supplements and habits. 

With the current state of affairs, vocabulary words, such as “vaccinations,” have become extremely common. The ICU bed counts in every city are being blasted everywhere and are hard to avoid. Culturally, we are experiencing tragedy, anxiety, and mourning like never before. While science and the medical field at large are of the utmost importance in times like these, we must not forget that we were born with an incredible and sophisticated system to combat many things that may attack our health. Our immune systems are, by design, our body’s first line of defense. We each have the ability to strengthen our personal health with these top five immune-boosting tips.

1. Trade happy hour for a session at the gym.

Let’s face it. Alcohol has a way of taking the edge off some of the panic and anxiety we all may feel. Beyond that, it has a prominent place in our social structure. During the holidays, we drink. During birthdays, we drink. During social or work outings, we drink. The thing is, alcohol suppresses your immune functions. According to the US National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health), alcohol disrupts immune pathways in complex ways. “These disruptions can impair the body’s ability to defend against infection, contribute to organ damage, and impede recovery from tissue injury.”

So, the key to this immune-boosting tip is to drink in moderation. Make sure you stay hydrated, especially when drinking. Make a conscious effort to consume a full glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink.

2. Exercise often and maintain a healthy weight. 

Another way to boost your immune system is to exercise and stay active. When you increase your heart rate, you also increase blood flow to your organs, connective tissue, and lymph nodes. All of this helps your body to rid itself of toxins, flushing them out of your system and allowing new nutrients and oxygen to take their place. 

When you let your weight get out of hand, more goes downhill than your existing wardrobe. Your immune system will also take a hit. According to the National Library of Medicine (National Center for Biotechnology Information), obesity (like other states of malnutrition) alters your leucocyte counts, as well as cell-mediated immune responses. Also, evidence has arisen that an altered immune function contributes to the pathogenesis of obesity. This may be a “chicken or the egg” scenario. The bottom line is, do your best to stay in shape so that your immune system stays healthy. 

3. Commit to getting enough sleep every night. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that sleep has a powerful effect on immune system functionality. In fact, restricted sleep can lead to various disorders, including but not limited to inflammatory cytokines and a higher risk for infection. No thanks! 

In these crazy times (and every year during cold and flu season), it is vital to let your body rest and recharge. Create a bedtime routine to promote a restful night of sleep. This can be done in several ways, but firstly, minimize screen time before bed. That blue light emitted from your cell phone can make it much harder for you to fall asleep and can also cause interruptions throughout the night. 

Related:
The Importance of a Strong Immune System

Perhaps before bed, set aside some time (even 20 or 30 minutes) to meditate or reflect in a journal. Let your mind unwind in preparation for rest and relaxation. Perhaps use essential oils in a diffuser to help create a peaceful environment in your bedroom. Lavender is an excellent choice for promoting sleep.

4. May thy food be thy medicine. 

One of the most important and powerful immune boosters is the food you eat. Historically, humans (and all creatures in nature) ate to fuel their bodies and as a means of survival. The development of eating for pleasure or entertainment is a relatively new phenomenon in the grand scheme of the world’s history. While it is fun and convenient, our bodies may pay the price. 

As a culture, we (voluntarily) consume more chemicals and preservatives than the human body was ever designed to handle. We also overconsume calories because eating is as easy as a walk to the fridge, or at worst, a trip to the store. These habits are a detriment to your immune system. Instead, it would be best if you focused on eating as many whole foods as possible, with a particular focus on produce. Produce is loaded with vitamins and minerals (especially leafy greens – the darker, the better). Also, add as many immune-boosting foods (such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, and citrus) to your diet as possible. 

5. Stop smoking. 

One of the worst things you can do for your immune system (and health in general) is to smoke cigarettes. These nasty, cancer-causing little devils greatly suppress your immune system. They make it difficult for your lungs to do their extremely important job. On top of that, they suppress your appetite and may induce cravings for junk foods. If these reasons are not enough to convince you, cigarettes also cause a greater susceptibility to infections (like the flu and pneumonia) and lower your levels of antioxidants (such as vitamin C) in your bloodstream. 

And finally, don’t forget to wear your mask! While mask-wearing is not technically “immune-boosting,” it will help decrease your risk of being exposed to germs that may lead to sickness. In times like this, play it safe!


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December 18, 2020 FitnessInjury Recovery0

While an injury may bench you from certain athletic activities, there are many low impact workouts and exercises that can keep you in shape and help speed up your recovery. If you are wondering how to speed up your ACL or hamstring injury recovery time, we are here to tell you that many of the exercises you likely already enjoy fall into the category of low impact exercises! Also, make no mistake, low impact does NOT mean easy. 

Suffering an injury can be an athlete’s worst nightmare. Training in the COVID-19 era, after several months of lockdowns and interruptions to our everyday lives, has left many with a higher propensity to get hurt. The more we stay put and the more we sit, the less we elevate our heart rate. The less blood flow we have to our joints, the more likely we are to get injured. No matter what level of pandemic restrictions are in place where you reside, make sure you dedicate time every day (and every hour, if possible) to move your body around. This will not only help you to stay in shape but will also help keep your joints healthy.

WHAT IS A LOW IMPACT WORKOUT?

To understand the benefits of low impact exercises, you must first know what they are. Low impact neither refers to how little your waistline is impacted nor how much muscle mass is gained. Phew! What a relief! So, where, then, is impact minimized?

Your joints! You can see all of the results that you usually see from exercising without the abuse and wear and tear on your body. Let’s face it, without healthy and fully functioning joints, you are going to be warming that bench indefinitely!

Joints get worn out both by overuse and as a natural part of aging. In ideal circumstances, all of the tissue that is damaged within a joint will naturally regenerate. Suppose you are an avid athlete with a training focus geared toward one sport (for example, a pitcher for a baseball team). In that case, you may experience pain, injury, or deterioration in your elbow joint. If you continue to train, even when the tissue has depleted, it will not have proper time to regenerate. Similarly, as we age, that very same tissue begins to wear down naturally and takes longer to heal and replenish. This is why you should cross-train with low impact exercises and give your joints a break so that they can recover.

So, without further adieu, our top three low impact workouts to help keep you in shape and for injury recovery and rehabilitation are yoga, swimming, and cycling. All three are excellent exercises to get your blood pumping without exerting much force on any of your joints. Read on to learn why we chose each of the three and how they can aid your road to injury recovery.

YOGA

Yoga is at the top of the list because who, especially in 2020, doesn’t love an exercise that also eases your anxiety? #amirite?? With yoga, you can improve both your physical and your mental well-being. By intentionally pairing your breath with your movement, you will increase your blood flow to your joints, which will help in the healing effort of any injury you may have.

Yoga is also a great way to target, activate, and workout your stabilizer muscle groups, which don’t typically get a ton of use otherwise. Your stabilizers offer a tremendous amount of support to all of your joints, so this may help you avoid injury in high impact sports.

You may also find that yoga can improve your flexibility and overall sense of well-being. While it may seem a bit “woo woo” for some, we are willing to bet that most serious athletes would find yoga to be far more challenging than expected. It is a great, low-impact way to stay in shape while you are rehabilitating any injury. An hour of yoga burns roughly 400 calories. If you are into hot yoga, that number can increase or even double.

Related: 

Yoga Physical Therapy: Healing From Within

SWIMMING

Another tremendous low-impact cardio workout is swimming. Exercising in water is fantastic because it not only provides resistance, helping you to build up muscle mass, but it also allows your motions to be fluid and weightless. This helps remove the impact from your joints. Imagine running on pavement. When your foot hits the ground with force, that sends a pressure shockwave through your foot, ankle, knee, and hip joints. That source of pressure can be damaging over time and can worsen an existing injury.

Now imagine swimming laps. You are kicking both legs repeatedly while your arms fluidly glide through the resistance that water provides. You are breathing heavily, in rhythm from side to side. All of this is increasing your heart rate, building muscle mass, and burning fat. Swimming is an excellent low impact workout to get yourself in shape! It is a full-body workout and can burn up to 700 calories in an hour.

CYCLING

While we are on the topic of gliding, cycling offers a similar low-impact exercise experience. Because the pedals move continuously on a circular track, your ankle, knee, and hip joints will experience a fluid range of motion. There is no forceful interruption of movement.

If you have ever ridden a bicycle uphill, you already know that cycling can be one of the most challenging cardio exercises out there. Propelling your entire body’s weight forward, plus the weight of your bicycle, will have you winded in no time. Plus, with the many resistance levels that bikes can offer, you will likely find that cycling builds muscle mass in the booty and legs very quickly. Unlike doing squats, which may strain your ankle, knee, and hip joints, cycling will keep the pressure off so that you can see results without experiencing pain. An hour of cycling can burn anywhere from 600 to 750 calories.


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December 11, 2020 Health & Wellness0

When Beyonce came out with the catchy pop tune, “Flawless,” it was impossible to escape teenage girls and Instagram models alike chanting the anthem, “I woke up like this!” Of course, Beyonce was not talking about waking up with an aching back. Experiencing pain as your first sensation of the day is neither glamourous nor #flawless. Welcome to adulthood, where the risk of injury in your sleep is all too real, and the sensations of aches and pains are inevitable. So, why does your back ache in the morning? We have a few ideas and insights that may help you target the cause of this common ailment. Read on to learn about four reasons why your back hurts in the morning and why you may be chanting your own agonizing version of #iwokeuplikethis. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 25% of adults have reported acute low back pain (LBP) in the past three months. That is one-quarter of our entire adult population that is suffering from back pain! The good news is that acute back pain is often defined as lasting less than four weeks, so it is not necessarily a permanent condition. The bad news is that almost 14% of insured patients who sought low back pain care were prescribed opiates, despite an overall lack of evidence to support their efficacy. Opiates are extremely addictive and can cause much more harm overall than a backache.

Related:
Treating Pain Without Pharmaceuticals

If you are among the mass population living with symptoms of morning backaches and pains, you may want to consider some alternative care treatments, such as Yoga Physical Therapy and/or Photobiomodulation Therapy. If you are in the greater Boston Metro area, contact LCG Boston to schedule an in-home or virtual session. We have many options to fit your unique needs. If you would like to personally troubleshoot the source of your back pain, we have listed four common causes below.

Common Causes of Back Pain

1. OLD OR POOR-QUALITY MATTRESS

Mattresses are not designed to last forever. In fact, the average lifespan of a mattress should not exceed seven to ten years, and that is pushing it. Aside from age, additional signs of a bad mattress are sagging, deep grooves or indentations, stains and smells that cannot be removed, bed bug infestations, lumps or bumps, allergens or asthma, squeaks and creaks, and aches or discomfort.

Luckily, mattresses are much less expensive than they once were. On top of that, many companies have shifted to the bed-in-a-box model to add to the convenience. In many cases, gone are the days of hiring a moving company to haul your mattress up the stairs to your apartment or room. New technology has enabled a vacuum packing system where an entire mattress can arrive at your doorstep via post. Check out this Zinus mattress on Amazon! For less than $300 (including shipping), you can have a brand new memory foam mattress delivered to your door! These mattresses are designed to sit on a platform, so you can eliminate the expense and hassle of purchasing a box spring. So, go ahead and #treatyoself. 

2. POOR POSTURE WHEN SLEEPING

We get it; it is hard to control your body when you are… well… sleeping. Unfortunately, the way you sleep may impact how you feel when you wake up. Luckily, there are ways to mitigate your posture when you lay down so that you can help your odds of sleeping with proper alignment.

If you are a side (fetal position) sleeper, be sure to place a pillow between your knees when you lay down. This will take the pressure off of your hip joints and sacrum because your knees will be aligned with your hip sockets. If you try it, you will feel an immediate difference and improvement. If you like to sleep on your back, consider placing a pillow underneath your knees. This will neutralize the curvature of your lower spine and increase blood flow to your back. If you prefer to sleep on your stomach, place a thin pillow underneath your stomach to prevent your lower back from collapsing on itself.

Voila! Sometimes all it takes is a pillow in the right place to change your whole life. (You’re welcome.)

3. OSTEOMALACIA (AKA VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY)

Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium. Because of this, a deficiency may be a precursor to arthritis, osteoporosis, or rickets. As you can imagine, this may be the culprit of agonizing and debilitating back pain. Luckily, the solution here is simple! You can take vitamin D supplements, get more sunshine, and incorporate more vitamin D rich foods into your diet. These include salmon, tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms.

4. LACK OF MOVEMENT AND EXERCISE DURING THE DAY

Like the Beastie Boys say, get your “body movin’!” If you are sedentary all day long, specifically if you are glued to a phone or computer all day, you will not get much blood flow to your spine. “Now, let me get some action from the back section!” Because if you don’t, you may wake up thinking, “hello, nasty.” (See what we did there?)

We get it. We are in the middle of a pandemic and have been told to stay home. This means that screen time has gone through the roof for most of us. For your health, safety, and sanity, make sure that doesn’t translate to staying still on the couch all day long. The change from a brick and mortar workplace to a home office (read: sofa or recliner) may also mean a change from a swanky, ergonomic office chair to slouching in your pajamas all day. This has an inevitable and negative impact on your posture, quality of sleep, and overall health. Make sure to take a break at least every hour to move around. Do some yoga (Cat-Cow is great for the spine) or take a walk.

If you are interested in meeting with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy to discuss any back pain you may be experiencing, you can book an appointment here!


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December 4, 2020 Health & Wellness0

Did you know that strength training is crucial for runners and cardio enthusiasts? That’s right! To optimize your athletic performance (hello, improved race times!), mitigate injury, and strengthen your joints and muscles, you can’t rely on cardio alone. Resistance training is especially important for runners. In fact, we will go as far as to say that strength training is as important as cardiovascular exercise for distance runners. In this article, we will explain the why and how of incorporating strength training into your routine. 

Why is Strength Training Important?

Most avid runners are mainly concerned with endurance and speed. It is not so often that you will hear of a group of track stars comparing six-packs, bragging to their friends about “getting yoked,” or flexing their guns for fame. That is largely because the runner bod is typically leaner due to long-term movements with a higher quantity of less-impactful reps (i.e., running). Over time, however, too much focus on cardio, without any focus on strength training, can lead to depletion of muscle mass and connective tissue and loss of flexibility. This will lead any athlete toward a greater propensity for getting injured.

For runners, strength training is an imperative counterpart to decrease the risk of injury and improve performance. For example, with weight training, your body will actually build muscle mass. The appeal of cardio exercise for many is that you will burn fat and lose weight. That is true, but what is also true is that you can deplete your muscle mass. Here is the kicker with all of that jazz:

The more muscle mass your body has, the more calories you will burn.

Read that again. Have you ever heard of the term “skinny fat?” If you haven’t, it describes slender people (like, they look great in their clothes) who are soft because they have no muscle and lack strength. If you only focus on cardio, you may end up “skinny fat.” While the importance of strength training exceeds your reflection in the mirror, it will help that too. The notion that to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume is nothing new. The more muscle mass your body contains, the more calories you will burn.

One of the other benefits of strength training for runners is a boost for your metabolic rate. This is because during your recovery period after finishing your workout, strength training demands a higher level of post-exercise oxygen consumption. This essentially means that the amount of energy needed to return your body to a resting state after lifting weights (or any other strength-building exercise) is much more work than doing the same post-cardio. In turn, your resting metabolic rate (MRM) will be boosted for more than an entire day after strength training!

Resistance training for runners can also lead to increased bone density, healthier heart functionality, and better blood flow. All of the connective tissue in your joints will benefit from the fresh influx of blood, which will greatly reduce your chances of injury. Your flexibility may improve as well, since you can focus on training ranges that wouldn’t otherwise be worked, decreasing the gap between active and passive flexibility.

(Related: Four Tips to Improve Flexibility)

The Best Strength Training for Runners

Now that we have covered why strength training is important, let’s move on to incorporating it into your fitness routine and/or athletic training.

Use Your Own Body Weight for Resistance!

We have found ourselves in a new situation where going to the gym (if it is even open) poses a considerable health risk for ourselves and others. The good news is that you don’t need gym access to change up your training routine. Your own body weight can be used to strengthen and build muscle mass. Don’t believe it? Look at the aerialists and acrobats in Cirque Du Soleil! There is a sizable range of challenging exercises that can be performed without the use of any equipment. You can work your major muscle groups and your stabilizers (which will help you in your battle against injury).

Consider holding planks

You can gradually increase your hold time as you get stronger. You can also add in side planks to work your obliques. (Always make sure to work both sides evenly.) You can also do lunges. If you really want to feel the burn, maintain a squat with your back up against a wall. Hold it for as long as you can and keep adding time as you get stronger. Another full-body equipment-free favorite is “air swimming.” Lay on your stomach with arms and legs fully extended, pulse your hands and feet up as high as possible, and back down to a hover above the ground. Repeat as many micro pulses as possible. You will surely feel the burn!

Incorporate a medicine ball into your workouts.

Another perfect home-gym option is the medicine ball. If you want to get started with strength and resistance training, but you aren’t too keen on bench presses, weightlifting, and the otherwise iconic, “macho” gym feats, a medicine ball is a perfect starting point. It isn’t intimidating or fussy (there are no bolts, gadgets, or know-how as far as equipment features are concerned). Plus, it can be incorporated into exercises that you probably already know and practice in your running warm-ups.

The other reason why we love the medicine ball is that it is so diverse. You can use it for exercises that require lifting, pushing, and isometrics. One of our favorite medicine ball exercises is reps of lunges with a twist while holding the ball. We also love medicine ball push-ups, which can be done by placing the ball underneath your hands with your body in a plank position. From there, execute push-ups as usual. You will not only be targeting all of the typical muscle groups used in standard push-ups but also all of the stabilizers that are keeping you from rolling off of the ball. The best part of the medicine ball is that it is just a weighted ball! It is simple, and there are no rules. Pick it up. Put it down. Move it around. Really, any way that you can think of manipulating it is going to build strength. Typically, medicine balls come in sets of different weights, so choose your own adventure!

 


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November 20, 2020 Coronavirus0

Pandemic fatigue has taken its toll on just about everyone. We are all ready for this to blow over so we can get back to normal, but unfortunately, that complacency is prolonging the problem at hand. Collectively, we all must do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19. You could potentially be making inadvertent mistakes and contributing to the latest surge of cases. Read on to learn what they are and how to avoid them.

We are approaching our ninth month of the Coronavirus Pandemic. In the beginning, people were very afraid. There were so many unknowns. The shelter-in-place orders were unprecedented and for the most part, people were willing to adhere to whatever mandates necessary to “flatten the curve” so we could all get back to normal. In those early moments of this catastrophic and prominent event in history, everyone believed that the extreme measures would only be in place for a few weeks. Admittedly, many welcomed this interruption from the hustle and bustle, the exhaustion of their normal lives.

Unfortunately, that was March. We are nearing December. Cases are surging. The death count is on the rise. Hospitals are reaching capacity. While the development of vaccines is well underway, they won’t be immediately available if for no reason other than the logistics of distribution. That is, of course, after approval for emergency use is granted.

As a nation, we have not been given uniform directives, leaving many variables for rules, restrictions, and mandates depending upon which municipality you reside in. Therefore, the absolute best thing that everyone can do is to take responsibility into their own hands. That means not only adhering to mandates and restrictions from your local legislation but also going above and beyond when possible. Pandemic fatigue is real. We get it. Everyone is ready for this to be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, we are a ways away from that point and have been warned that the worst is yet to come. It is going to take every person doing their part on an individual level to turn this ship around.

Of course, we have all been told to avoid crowds, stay home when possible, and of course, to wear a mask. Even when you believe you are doing all that you possibly can to stop the spread, there are still ways to slip through the cracks unknowingly or without intent. Below we have outlined some of the common mistakes that people are making that are contributing to the surging spread of Coronavirus.

Common COVID-19 Mistakes

1. NOT WEARING A MASK CORRECTLY

A mask is only an effective precautionary measure if it is worn correctly. We have all seen people in the grocery stores and other outings with their masks lingering somewhere between their noses and mouths. Or worse, some masks are worn below the mouth altogether, resting on the neck. Perhaps at some point over the past nine months, you have also been a victim of a faulty mask that slides down. Look, we know now that this situation isn’t going anywhere for a while. Invest in a few masks that are comfortable and stay up around both the nose and mouth. If you are wearing a surgical mask, note that there is a metal strip that can be bent over your nose for a more secure fit.

2. ATTENDING SMALL GATHERINGS

We all crave human interaction. We have all been deprived, on some level, of our normal communities and activities. For the summer months, most states allowed small gatherings. Because the weather would allow for it, many of these happened outdoors, where the transmission rates are much lower. Now that the temperatures have dropped, people are gathering inside, which is not safe.

While you may be practicing all of the precautionary measures, it is not safe to assume that your friends and family are doing the same. Even if they are, most everyone has to leave home for essentials. Most everyone needs to buy groceries, put gas in their cars, and many people have been back to work. It is important to remember that with this virus, you are never inviting just one person into your home. You are inviting every person they have come in to contact with in the last 14 days.

3. NOT WASHING HANDS OFTEN OR LONG ENOUGH OR WITH SOAP

When washing your hands, be sure to do so for the entire length of the “Happy Birthday” song. Scrub in between fingers, and the tops, palms, and all the way up to the forearms. Use the warmest water possible. Don’t forget to use soap. Wash your hands as frequently as possible.

4. TOUCHING YOUR FACE AND NOT SANITIZING YOUR CELL PHONE

Avoid touching your face. When you touch your face, you are spreading germs both into your eyes and your nasal and oral orifices as well as contaminating your hands with germs that can spread to others.

What touches your face just as often, if not more so than your hands? Your cell phone, of course! Not only that, but you touch your screen with your hands, which touch literally everything else. Commit to a routine to sanitize that (albeit expensive) germ-laden thing! It is gross!

5. NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING

You still need to maintain six feet of distance if you are wearing a mask. With COVID-19, you can’t rely on a single precautionary measure. You need to practice all of them in order to keep yourself and others safe. Even if you are wearing a mask, stay six feet away from others. Masks are not foolproof or airtight. They are simply one helpful tool in combatting this crisis.

6. NOT STAYING HOME WHEN YOU’RE SICK

We have created a culture that prides itself on productivity and overachieving. Prior to COVID-19, it was more common to receive praise for pushing through your seasonal illness and still making it to work, still getting the job done. How times have changed! The tricky thing about Coronavirus is that it is a mutation of the common cold, so symptoms that are common for other illnesses could actually mean that you are infected. If you are sick at all, stay home. End of story.

7. ASSUMING YOU ARE SAFE FROM COVID-19 IF YOU ARE YOUNG

While data has shown that symptoms appear to be more severe among the senior population as well as those with pre-existing conditions, you should not assume that because you don’t fall into one of those categories that you are immune. While you may have a higher chance of surviving the virus, victims (even younger folks) have said that it is a gnarly sickness with lasting symptoms. Not only that but even if you are #blessed with a mild case or no symptoms at all, you can still spread the infection to others. Even if you are young, now is the time to be mindful of the safety and health of others.

Stay safe this holiday season!


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If you are experiencing muscle soreness, a stiff neck, or mobility issues, trigger point dry needling may be for you! Dry needling is an alternative therapy that decreases pain in your muscles by deactivating a myofascial trigger point. Trigger points are tiny knots that develop in a muscle when it is injured or overworked. These spots are tender at the site and often refer pain to other areas. This treatment uses a dry needle (a needle without medicine) to deactivate trigger points in your muscle. Read on to learn what the treatment entails, how it is different from Acupuncture, as well as the benefits and side effects of this revolutionary treatment.

What is Dry Needling Therapy?

Dry needling is a skilled intervention in which a filament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. If you are wondering what that means exactly, you have probably experienced pain in your back and referred to it as having a “knot.” That so-called “knot” is actually a tight and irritated band of muscle fiber. Because it has tightened to a point of forming a bump or nodule, it actually shortens the muscle and restricts your range of motion. This causes pain and inflammation and can have somewhat of a domino effect on your entire body. When muscle groups don’t function to their maximum capacity, other muscles will compensate and you will end up with more “knots” or myofascial trigger points. The treatment of muscles has the greatest effect on reducing the pain mechanisms in the nervous system.

Trigger point dry needling can be used in all phases of healing as well as a “maintenance” tool. The musculoskeletal system is under constant pressure from gravity, stress, work, etc. A regular exercise program combined with good posture can prevent many problems. If the pain returns, “tune-ups” are recommended to treat and prevent serious injuries.

There are a few different techniques that practitioners use. Sparrow pecking or pistoning involves the in-and-out insertion of a needle. The motion is fast and repetitive and stimulates all areas of an affected point. Another technique of dry needling involves a broader stimulation of the entire nervous system. The practitioner will insert needles around the area in pain, but not on the trigger point itself. The needles typically stay in place for longer with this method. The idea is to stimulate the surrounding nerves and muscle tissue in order to create more blood flow and release of tension in the actual trigger point itself.

Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture

At first glance, dry needling and acupuncture may look exactly alike. They both use thin, stainless steel needles. They both involve the insertion of the needles into the skin and they are both beneficial in the treatment of pain and ailments. So, how are they different?

For starters, Acupuncture originated in China (circa 6000 BCE). Since that time, the methods and evolution of the needles used have improved greatly. This ancient Chinese medicine technique has also gained a lot of traction in the Western world, to the point that many U.S. insurance policies now cover it. This ancient form of healing is rooted in Taoist philosophy and tradition. Practitioners would utilize meditation to observe energetic meridians in the body. Using the needles to stimulate specific energetic centers and trigger points, they would direct the flow of energy, releasing any blockages, and encouraging healing.

Dry needle therapy is similar to acupuncture in that the needles target specific trigger points, but the points are actual places of anatomic ailment (i.e. knots) rather than energetic meridians. This means that the target points are tangible and can actually be physically shown. That is not to say that energetic blockages are not real or harmful, but it would be a lot more difficult to show someone a photo of your Chi than it would be to show them a picture of your nodule or bump, caused by a muscle spasm.

For this reason, dry needling may be a bit easier to grasp in the Western world, where people tend to prefer science over spirituality. Performance and placement of dry needling are based on the understanding of neuroanatomy and the physiologic effects on the musculoskeletal system. It involves a thorough evaluation of the musculoskeletal system and identification of trigger points and tissue dysfunction. These areas are where the needles are placed.

In Western medicine, it is also far more common to directly treat the area of the body that is in pain, rather than looking at what may have been the origin. For example, when someone has an injured hip, Western medicine will likely involve targeting the muscles around the hip joint and mobilizing the joint itself. A doctor may prescribe pain medication or a steroid to combat inflammation. When an Eastern medicine practitioner treats a hip injury, he or she will not only aim to mobilize the injured area but will also incorporate breathing and meditation exercises, and perhaps stimulation of the energetic meridians that run through the second or Sacral Chakra.

Related:
Yoga Physical Therapy: Healing From Within

What are the benefits?

The benefits of dry needling include but are not limited to the myofascial release within the neck, back, and shoulders. Dry needle therapy can also reduce headaches (such as migraines and tension-type headaches), foot pain (plantar fasciitis), and leg pain (sciatica, hamstring strains, calf tightness/spasms).

Athletes may enjoy the benefits of trigger point dry needling, as it is capable of increasing one’s range of motion and flexibility as well as providing relief of muscle pain and stiffness.

What are the side effects?

While the side effects of dry needle therapy are common, the majority of them pose no serious risk or long-term complications. The most important precaution for this treatment is the use of sterile needles and also the pre-treatment sterilization of the targeted area. Our Doctors of Physical Therapy use brand new needles out of a package at each point of service and dispose of the needles after use. They also use alcohol prep pads to sterilize your skin before beginning the treatment.

Aside from minor swelling, bruising, bleeding, and temporary soreness at the treatment site, you shouldn’t have much of an adverse reaction. The biggest risk of trigger point needle therapy is the contraction of bloodborne illnesses and/or diseases due to improper sanitation practices. It is more than okay to ask your practitioner to show you the brand new needle in the packaging prior to use and to make sure they are wiping your skin with alcohol.

Where can I go for Dry Needle Therapy?

If you are in the greater Boston metro area, LCG Boston can provide concierge dry needling support and services for any individual.


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October 23, 2020 FitnessHealth & Wellness0

Brrrr! The temperatures have recently dropped, and Baby, it’s cold outside! And you know what that means… The holiday season is on the horizon! You know what they say about gift shopping. The early bird catches the worm! (Or in this case, the better prices.) Folks, it is time to start making your list and checking it twice. After the recent lockdown, the general consensus is that mayyyyybe it is time to hit the gym a little harder, the kitchen a little lighter, and bounce back from the quarantine-fifteen (or twenty…okay, or thirty.) Not to worry! We’ve got you! Read on for our top health-related gifts and gifts for fitness.

1. Bluetooth Headphones

Let’s face it, having to navigate a workout is hard enough on its own. Add in the complication of wires strewn about your body when you are trying to move and all chaos breaks loose! Thankfully the technology gods have risen to the occasion and brought us Bluetooth headphones! Check out one of the best gifts for fitness lovers, this wireless, noise-canceling Jabra Elite 85h headset. One of its greatest features is the nano-coating, water resistant technology to wick away sweat and water. The material on your head will feel like cloth (instead of plastic) for ultimate comfort.

On top of that, these bad boys feature an automatic ear detection sensor, so when you remove the headphones your music will pause automatically. They are also capable of pairing with two devices at the same time, so you can listen to music without worrying about missing call or message notifications during a lunch hour workout. The battery life totally rocks! With just fifteen minutes of charging, you can yield a whopping five hours of playback time! Not bad!

2. LCG Gift Card

Give the gift of long-term health this holiday season! If your loved one lives in or frequents the Boston area, they are going to love a contribution to their health and wellness efforts in the form of an LCG gift card! Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure, where the outcome is a combination of healing, longevity, and recovery. Your gift recipient can apply the card balance to Physical Therapy or Yoga Physical Therapy, or any of our alternative wellness & recovery services. These include Assisted Stretch, Strength & Conditioning, Golf Assessment & Mobility, Percussion Massage Therapy, NormaTec Compression Therapy, Photobiomodulation Therapy, and Dry Needling.

Related:
The Benefits of NormaTec Therapy

3. Personal Blender

The fitness-lover in your life will love having their own, single-serving blender. We like this Oster BLSTPB-WBL My Blend. Millennials have replaced “forty ounces of freedom” with 20 ounces of convenience. Health and fitness have never been more trendy with the 25 to 40-year-old crowd. Nothing beats a tool that allows you to prep breakfast for the next day and leave it in the fridge. The next morning, you can just blend and go. The blender is capable of crushing ice (with its whopping 250 blending watts of power.) The bottle itself is dishwasher safe, since it is stainless steel (BPA? No, thank you!) The bottle also comes with a shaker ball so if you are in a serious rush and only wish to mix protein powders or supplements, you can take and shake on the go, making it one of the best health gifts for busy people. For an added bonus, enjoy some delicious smoothie recipes, included in the manual.

4. Body Wipes

If you are looking for the perfect stocking stuffer, look no further! Millennials are busy people who often wear many, many hats. This means that they are very good at cramming a lot in to one day and are often on the go! Sometimes only an hour is allotted for an office lunch break, but a die-hard fitness lover will not let that get in the way of a dedicated work out regiment. With only an hour to break a sweat, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to hit the showers before returning to the office grind. Enter Goodwipes!

As the packaging touts, these are a “shower in a wipe!” Each one is jumbo-sized (9.5” x 11.5”) and individually wrapped so they won’t dry out in the package. They are 100% biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable. The individual wrapper is awesome because you don’t have to carry around a whole pack in your gym bag or purse (unlike their predecessor, baby wipes. Plus, these won’t leave you smelling like you just had your diaper changed.) Each pack comes with ten wipes so you can divide them into in-case-of-emergency places (i.e. glove box, gym bag, purse, office desk, etc.) Not only are they great for the gym and quick workouts, but they can also be a saving grace for camping, between flights, or music festivals (if those ever happen again….Thanks, Corona!)

5. Veggie Spiralizer

If you haven’t heard, the low carb, gluten-free, and Paleo lifestyles are trending hard right now! In the name of weight loss, better skin and gut health, and more energy, lots of people are swapping out traditional dishes for their low carb counterparts. For example, “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) have become a popular substitute for spaghetti. So much so, that they can be found already prepped in the produce aisle or frozen section of most grocery stores these days.

The thing about buying the pre-made version is that zucchini and other veggies lose their structural integrity and texture very fast when stripped of their protective skin. Not to mention that prepped food is almost always more expensive than making it yourself. To combat the case of the soggy zoodles, we recommend gifting your health-nut this Brieftons 5-Blade Spiralizer. This puppy can handle more than zucchini (try sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and even beets!) The whole, “eat the rainbow” adage is decades old. What better way than to recreate traditional pasta dishes with all sorts of mineral-rich vegetables? This particular spiralizer comes with attachments to cut five different varieties of “pasta.” (It includes a flat blade as well as a blade for angel hair, spaghetti, fettuccine, and pappardelle.) Plus, it comes with a LIFETIME replacement guarantee. Yes, you read that correctly!

 


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October 9, 2020 Health & Wellness0

Fad diets have dominated the health and wellness industry for decades. By now you have probably heard of them all, from vegan, to keto, to paleo, to the South Beach diet, there seems to be a dietary prescription for weight loss and wellness around every corner. The thing is, all bodies are different. What may work well for one, could potentially do nothing, or worse, even harm another. To believe that diet, weight loss, and wellness are a one-size-fits-all conversation, could be short-sighted and lacking the nuanced needs of each individual. So, why not consider eating for your blood type?

Most blood types emerged as a direct result of environmental and/or evolutionary necessity. Because of this, there are large concentrations of certain blood types in geographic regions. Experts believe that your blood type may be closely related to your body’s ability to metabolize specific types of foods. If you adopt the proper diet for your blood type, you are likely to experience a healthy weight, an increase of energy, mental clarity, and even prevent certain diseases. Read on for dietary tips and lifestyle suggestions for each of the four blood types.

If you are Blood Type A:

A is for apple, artichoke, and arugula! If you are blood type A (positive or negative) you will be nourished the best by a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables. People who are blood type A have been shown to have less stomach acid than people with other blood types. Because of this, meat (especially red meat) may be difficult to digest. Therefore, a mostly-vegetarian diet will be optimal.

Seafood and occasional lean, white meat, such as turkey or chicken will be better for those with this blood type than beef. Tofu and tempeh will be the best consistent sources of protein. Dairy intake should be mostly restricted. Cultured dairy is better than uncultured. People with blood type A will be able to easily digest yogurt, kefir, goat milk products, and select cheeses (such as feta and goat cheese.)

When it comes to healthy fats, most nuts are okay for blood type A. The best and most beneficial nuts for this blood type are peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. For cooking, marinades, and salad dressings, type A folks should stick to flaxseed oil and extra virgin olive oil. Cod liver oil is extremely healthy and can be taken as a supplement.

Blood type A people are more likely to develop cancer and diabetes than other blood types. Routine check-ups and evaluations from a health care provider are recommended.

If you are Blood Type B:

B is for balance. A balanced diet will serve those with type B the best. This blood type first appeared in the Himalayan Highland areas (present-day India and Pakistan). This blood type is actually the rarest in the Western world. Type B makes one very adaptable and apt for a nomadic lifestyle. If this is your blood type, you will benefit the most from a diet rich in produce and most meats, except for chicken and pork. The key for you is to maintain even amounts of nourishment from both the vegetable and animal kingdoms because if your diet ventures too far in either direction, you will potentially fall ill from being out of balance.

As far as health challenges and indications go, those with blood type B tend to produce higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) than those with other blood types. Because of this, blood type B folks have a higher propensity to develop inflammation, and Syndrome X (which may result in chronic viruses such as Lupus, CFS, MS, and autoimmune diseases.) People with blood type B (if adhering to proper diet and exercise regimens) are more apt for physical fitness, and less prone to mental illness. They are also able to adapt to changes in altitude than people with other blood types.

If you are Blood Type AB:

If you are blood type AB, you are the rarest of the bunch! Less than 5% of the population has this blood type. As would be imagined from its title, type AB was developed by consistent mixing of the A and B blood types over several centuries. This is unusual, as every other blood type emerged as an adaptive means of survival, and as a direct response to environment and evolution.

Those with the AB blood type should avoid all alcohol and caffeine. They are more apt than other blood types to suffer from stress and stress-related illnesses. These folks should also avoid all cured and smoked meats. Because they inherited lower than average stomach acidity from their type A predecessors, they too have a proneness for stomach cancer. Luckily, they also inherited the blood type B’s ability to digest meat. They must be mindful of the types of meats they eat. Because of this, people with blood type AB should stick primarily to seafood for their protein intake.

If you are Blood Type O:

People with type O blood are considered the hunter/caveman archetype, making them the complete opposites of those with blood type A. They have much more stomach acid, which enables them to digest meats more easily. If this is your blood type, chances are that your body has an enhanced ability to process the cholesterol in animal products. By now you have probably noticed that for every benefit of each blood type, there is also something that isn’t well-suited. For the folks with blood type O, the latter would be grains and dairy. These should be avoided or completely omitted from the O diet.

If you are blood type O, your most likely health-related issue will be anything that involves inflammation of the joints and tendons. Arthritis is something that you should watch out for. You are likely to enjoy (and be very good at) high-intensity athletic endeavors. Unlike some of your blood type counterparts, you thrive in a competitive, high-risk environment. Because of this and your propensity for inflamed joints, you must take extra precautions during warming up and cooling down. Maintaining flexibility and joint mobility will be important so that you don’t strain or injure yourself.

Related:
Four Tips to Improve Flexibility


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October 2, 2020 Senior Lifestyle0

Our senior population has always been at risk of isolation. Being amid a pandemic has increased that risk exponentially. While human to human contact has been minimized for every demographic, the need for companionship and connection is, perhaps, more vital than ever. Luckily, the addition of a pet may help fulfill many of the emotional needs that are lacking in a senior’s life. Read on to learn our top five reasons why the senior in your life could benefit from having a pet. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are several benefits of owning a pet. This includes decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness, and increased opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities, and socialization.

Companionship

With the Coronavirus pandemic and the growing potential for senior isolation, pets may provide a sense of companionship to their owners. Loneliness may lead to depression and anxiety. The addition of a living being may help the senior in your life overcome those conditions and cope with long periods without friends or family around.

The bond between a human and their pet should not be underestimated or taken lightly. A study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which included 2,233 pet owners in the United States (74% of dog owners, 60% of cat owners, and 45% of bird owners), considered their pet to be a child or family member. Imagine the amazing psychological and mental health benefits that would have on a senior, who’s family has grown up and moved out. The study also revealed that pet owners in the United States spent $34.4 billion on their pets, making the pet industry nearly double the toy industry’s size.

Exercise

Pets may offer the elderly a reason to get out and get active. You may be wondering, “what is the best pet for a senior?” For those who can still walk and move about with ease, a dog may be the perfect addition to their lives. It will give them a reason to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. Generally, larger dogs require more extensive exercise regimens and more space (i.e., a big yard). If that isn’t available, consider either a smaller dog or an elderly dog. Check with your local ASPCA or shelter. They may even offer free pet adoption for seniors. With several fire evacuations in effect on the west coast, many pet shelters are overfull and in need.

Cats also make fantastic pets for seniors because they are relatively self-sufficient and don’t need to be taken for walks. A self-cleaning litterbox may be all that is required. If the cat is allowed outdoors, consider installing a pet door so that they can go in and out without any assistance.

Security

Because the senior population may be vulnerable, they have an inherent risk for home theft or burglary. If no one nearby can help protect them from predators, a pet may offer the perfect solution. Even though most well-natured dogs won’t necessarily attack someone who trespasses, they will likely bark and make noise when anyone approaches their home. This can, at the very least, give the senior an alert that someone is coming. If the pet of choice is a larger or more aggressive breed, they may be territorial enough and pose a threat to unwanted visitors by looks alone.

Emotional Support

After the passing of a spouse, many elders wind up living alone. They may go days or weeks without friends or family members stopping by for a visit. This can lead to emotional (or physical) isolation. All human beings need touch and connection to maintain their mental health. A pet can be the perfect solution for fulfilling this need. Mammals especially enjoy being pet, touched, cuddled, and spoken to.

According to Dacher Keltner, Ph.D. and professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkely, “To touch is to give life.” In his article, he explains that preterm newborns who received a mere three 15-minute sessions of touch therapy each day for just five to ten days gained a whopping 47% more weight than premature infants who had received standard medical treatment. He also explains that touch signals safety and trust, it soothes, and even calms cardiovascular stress. This is all due to the release of oxytocin, aka, “the love hormone.” This release is triggered by touch and contact. A pet may be the perfect means to stimulate this response, and these benefits for a senior who lives alone.

Structure and Routine

After a lifetime of working hard and a fruitful career, many elders may be burdened with a sense of futility and boredom after they retire. The transition from upholding many responsibilities and caring for others to a life alone with no assignments may lead to depression and confusion. The pandemic proved to many people of all ages that it could be easy to lose track of what day it is and the time when the structural confines of schedules and tasks are removed from our lives.

For an elder who lives alone, a pet may help instill a sense of purpose, structure, and routine. Taking care of a living being who demands food at certain times, regimented exercise, health and wellness checks, and regular hygiene care may be an excellent addition to the life of someone who doesn’t have much else to worry about. It could give them a sense of structure and routine.

In addition to these five benefits of pet ownership, there are many opportunities for socialization with other humans based on having a furry friend. If you are in the Boston area, here are several Meetups for pet owners. Most places have Meetups, so feel free to search the city that you live in to connect with other people with pets.


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They may look like space boots, but NormaTec devices won’t take you to the moon. They will, however, propel you to a faster warm-up and workout recovery. Compression therapy has been hot in the health and fitness industry for decades. NormaTec compression boots have added a whole new level of sophistication, technology, and science to the age-old compression wear products typically found on the market. Read on to learn more. 

What is NormaTec?

Okay, so far, we know that NormaTec boots look like something that an astronaut would wear and that they are some sort of fancy shmancy compression device. But, what makes them different from a brace or even an Ace Bandage? The answer is a whole lot of technology. But don’t worry, you don’t need to purchase an in-home device to enjoy the many benefits of NormaTec. Treatment sessions are now available at many health groups nationwide, including our own! If you are located in the Boston area, book now.

You are probably wondering, “What does NormaTec do?” The technology we are referring to is compressed air on the interior of the boots. They can be programmed to perform pulse massage patterns up and down your legs, increasing blood flow, improving athletic performance, speeding up recovery after training, and relieving pain. Can your Ace Bandage do that? …We didn’t think so.

Who is NormaTec for?

NormaTec is for anyone who has legs and uses them. Seriously! While this kind of treatment will likely appeal mostly to athletes and those who are physically active, the benefit of NormaTec compression doesn’t end there. Anyone who experiences soreness from working on their feet or standing all day, or anyone prone to inflammation, can find relief in NormaTec recovery. If you work in a production or packaging warehouse, you know what we are talking about. If you work in a restaurant or hospital, running from table to table, patient to patient, you know what we are talking about. If you suffer from lymphedema (AKA chronic swelling), then you definitely know what we are talking about! Luckily, there is a solution.

How does NormaTec Work, and What Are the Benefits?

Sometimes, soreness is the result of the overuse of a muscle or joint. (This is typical in athletes.) Other times, the culprit of pain or fatigue is lactic acid. If we use running as an example, the faster you run, the more lactic acid your body produces and consumes. When you hit your maximum speed or maintain a high speed for too long, your body will produce more lactic acid than it can consume (or “clear”) from your bloodstream. 

In layman’s terms, the acid more or less builds up and gets stuck. This will prevent your muscles from being able to contract fully. When that happens, your mobility is compromised, and you aren’t going to be running anywhere. This affects your speed and your overall performance. When left as is, that build-up of lactic acid will leave you feeling very sore until your body can naturally flush it out. NormaTec treatments will speed up the lactate clearance process, reducing soreness, improving range of motion, and allowing your muscles to, once again, be able to contract fully.

NormaTec can also lower Oxidative Stress. If you aren’t aware, Oxidative Stress occurs when your body has an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals can enter your system from external sources (such as environmental sources, like pollution or radiation). Sometimes they are created internally, either during normal metabolic processes or temporarily during natural immune responses. (In the latter scenario, this usually manifests in inflammation while your body is fighting an illness or infection.) 

Cells in your body naturally produce some of the necessary antioxidants to fight the free radicals in your system. Your diet can also aid in adding antioxidants (and, who doesn’t love blueberries?) If you are not watching what you eat, staying active, or if you are a victim of environmental factors, your balance can quickly get out of whack. Oxidative Stress can contribute to faster aging and many other health complications. Given that the entire West coast has basically been on fire for the past several weeks, creating terrible air quality nationwide (Hello, free radicals. Please be gone now!), we know that some of you really understand what Oxidative Stress feels like. Luckily, another awesome benefit of NormaTec is that it lowers your Oxidative Stress levels.

Another benefit of treatments is an increased level of RPS-6, which is an essential protein for rebuilding and repairing muscles. When you exercise, the fibers in your muscles tear. Your body rebuilds them, and they come back stronger. With added levels of RPS-6, this process can occur much faster. The treatments also increase eNOS, which is a precursor to Nitric oxide. Among other beneficial cell processes, Nitric oxide widens blood vessels (this is known as vasodilation), increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This greatly enhances athletic performance. 

NormaTec Compression Therapy also increases peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator (okay, now say it really fast, five times in a row!) Only joking; it is shortened to PGC1alpha. This plays a key role in regulating cellular energy metabolism, as it participates in the regulation and metabolization of both carbohydrates and lipids. As your PGC1alpha levels rise, you will experience an increase in energy (and, therefore, stronger athletic performance). Users will also experience a thermography impact on the treated and contralateral limb. This is an indicator of improved systematic circulation.

So, what do you say? Is it time to ditch the compression braces and Ace Bandages? Those devices temporarily prevent blood from flowing to a particular area. When they are removed, the blood rushes back to that area, which provides a momentary sensation of relief. With NormaTec boots, the manipulation of blood flow and stimulated response is constant and calculated. The benefits are much greater and longer-lasting.


Copyright by LCG Boston © 2020. All rights reserved.