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If the he thought of making your bed in the great outdoors makes you apprehensive, you’re not alone. Most of us have gotten accustomed to sleeping in a quiet room with lots of pillows and a cushy mattress to help soothe us to sleep. However, you too can enjoy camping out under the stars on a balmy summer’s night by following some of these helpful tips.
Set up your tent on a flat surface. Having your belongings slide into one corner or experiencing all the blood rushing to your head as you sleep because you are on a tilted surface does not make for a restful night’s sleep. Also ensure that the area over which you set up your tent is free of bumpy objects such as rocks and tree roots that will make you wake up feeling sore and bruised.
Use an inflatable sleeping pad (if you are hiking) or an inflatable air mattress (for those who do not have to trek it along for miles) under your sleeping bag to provide extra padding. And if you use an air mattress, don’t forget to bring along the pump or your lungs will likely give out before you have filled it to anything like a useable state.
Check the weather forecast to see what level of insulation you will need for your sleeping bag. Being either too hot or too cold is not conducive to sleep. And remember that even in locations where it is warm during the day, the temperature can often drop significantly overnight. You can purchase a sleeping bag liner that will add an additional 25 degrees of warmth without being bulky. And if it’s too hot, you can always sleep on top of your sleeping bag.
Though some people find the sound of crickets is an aid in lulling them to sleep, for some (particularly city dwellers) it’s worse than traffic noise on a busy Manhattan street. For those who are light sleepers, consider bringing along some earplugs. Or if you are someone who needs white noise and you are not near the ocean or the crickets in your area have gone on strike, there are a number of smartphone apps that can provide sounds such as that of ocean waves or rain falling on the roof.
Be sure your sleepwear is dry. If your clothing is damp or wet, change into dry ones and put on a fresh pair of socks to make you feel extra comfortable. And make sure you do not overdress, as you can become overheated and sweaty, which can lead to getting a chill. A light pair of long underwear is your best bet, and if you are a bit too cool, throw your jacket or a light blanket over your sleeping bag for extra warmth.
A little light exercise before bed can also help you get a good night’s sleep. Nothing too vigorous to get you sweating, just a few sit-ups or some yoga is good for getting the circulation going and tiring you just enough to settle you down to sleep. So take these tips and enjoy your night under the star-filled sky!
Having a good fit between yourself and your bicycle is important for ensuring comfort and stability when you ride, whether it’s just cycling to the market to pick up some milk or cycling to the next state. An improperly fitted bike can lead to blisters, saddle sores, back pain, knee pain and numbness in the hands and feet. A proper setup makes your pedaling more efficient, improving performance and reducing fatigue.
The first step in setting up your bike is to adjust the seat to the proper height. If the seat is too high it can cause pain in the back of the knee and your hips will move from side to side as you pedal, causing discomfort. While in your biking clothes, check to see that your leg is fully extended as you pedal backwards with your heels on the pedals, without having to “reach” for the pedals. Then, if you move the balls of your feet onto the pedals, into the position they would be while cycling, your leg should be just slightly bent at the knee when the pedal is at its lowest. If the seat is too low, it can cause pain in the front of the knee and in the quadriceps muscles of your thighs.
Next, adjust the angle of your seat by starting with it parallel to the ground. If you find it is putting pressure on your pelvis, angle it down slightly. If you feel as though you are being pitched forward, angle it up a bit, as this position will put excess strain on your hands and arms. The angle should be no more than 3 degrees out of parallel, however.
To get the ideal forward and aft seat position, place your forearm and extended hand parallel to the ground and in front of the seat, with your elbow just touching the front of the seat. Move the seat forward or back until your middle finger is just touching the middle of the handlebars.
Pain in your shoulder, back, neck or hands may indicate that your handlebars are not properly adjusted. You should be able to reach all positions of the handlebars comfortably without having to strain to reach them, and without having to lock your elbows. Riding with your elbows slightly bent will act as a sort of shock absorber so your hands and shoulders will not have to absorb all the bumps in the road. Your weight should be evenly distributed between the seat and the handlebars, so if your arms fatigue easily, raise the handlebars up slightly. If your bum is sore, lower the handlebars so your arms take more of the weight.
Just a little extra time spent in setting up your bike properly will reward you with many hours of enjoyable, comfortable cycling.
It’s difficult to enjoy your golf game when the pain in your elbow is a constant companion. Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) not only affects golfers, it can be a problem for anyone who uses their forearms for jobs or sports involving repetitive activity, such as hammering, gardening, shoveling, bowling and swimming. Overuse can strain the tendons that connect the inner elbow to the forearm, leading to pain, weakness and inflammation (tendonitis). Golfer’s elbow is different from tennis elbow, a condition in which the tendons on the outside of the elbow become inflamed.
Physical therapists who treat golfers agree that one of the most common causes of golfer’s elbow (at least for golfers) is what’s called the “chicken wing” swing. This is when the golfer draws his or her arms in toward the body just as the club hits the ball. This pulling in of the arms against the centrifugal force being exerted by the club puts strain on the muscles and tendons of the forearm. This can be caused by being improperly aligned with the ball, or can also be due to a limited range of motion in the shoulder joint.
Another problem with a golfer’s swing that can lead to golfer’s elbow is if the arm hyperextends during follow-through (usually by striking down on the ball rather than swinging up and through), which can cause the tendons to stretch beyond their capacity, creating small tears in the flexor tendons inside the elbow.
There are a number of treatment options available for golfer’s elbow, most of which are simple and non-invasive. First, rest the elbow as much as possible. Though this may require you to put your golf game aside for a few weeks, it will be worth it, as continuing to put wear and tear on damaged tendons will only exacerbate the situation and cause a buildup of scar tissue in the tendon, which will weaken it and make it less flexible.
You can apply an ice pack wrapped in a damp towel for 10 or 15 minutes every couple of hours to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Keeping the arm compressed with an elastic bandage and elevated when possible will also help with this.
The best way to prevent golfer’s elbow is to stretch and strengthen the forearms regularly, particularly before a game. Circling your wrists and bending your hands in towards your elbow and out again will help gently stretch the muscles and tendons. Chiropractic care can also be useful both for treatment and prevention. Your chiropractor can recommend specific exercises to stretch and strengthen the elbow and can use chiropractic manipulation to increase range of motion in the shoulder and at the wrist and elbow that may be contributing to the condition.
In rare cases, if these other therapies have not relieved the problem after six months of treatment, surgery may be necessary to remove part of damaged tendon, but most cases are successfully healed in a few weeks with proper care.
As we get older, age-related spinal degeneration becomes more common, which is one of the reasons why cervical stenosis most often appears in people over the age of 50. Cervical stenosis is a chronic condition in which the spinal canal in the region of the neck becomes increasingly narrower, causing the nerves that run through the spinal cord to become compressed, leading to cervical myelopathy, which involves a range of symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the arms, and sometimes in the legs as well.
Normal everyday wear and tear on the spine begins to make its effects more known the older we get. The vertebral disks that cushion the spine begin to lose fluid and become less flexible. Small tears can occur in the discs, causing them to bulge into the area of the spinal canal. In addition, the bones of the vertebra itself may begin to break down, and in response to this the body tries to build bone on the site of the damage, creating bone spurs (osteophytes) that may also impinge on the area of the spinal canal.
Another condition that can arise as we age is the calcification of our ligaments. This causes them to harden and thicken, and if it involves the ligaments in the spine, this can also create pressure on the nerves that run through the spinal canal. Other possible causes are spondylolisthesis (where one vertebra slips out over the one below it), arthritis (both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can be risk factors for cervical stenosis), tumors, trauma due to displacement of the discs and bone fragments from fractures that fall into the area of the spinal canal. Cervical stenosis that shows up in young people is generally due to a genetic defect that causes the development of a narrow spinal canal.
Mild cases of cervical stenosis often cause little or no pain and can be treated with non-invasive methods such as chiropractic care, physical therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Your chiropractor can recommend exercises and stretches that will help to decompress the spinal canal and can use spinal manipulation to help realign misaligned vertebrae or apply traction to increase the space between the vertebral discs. In severe cases your chiropractor can refer you to a qualified neurosurgeon.
Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain, but these should not be used for a prolonged period of time, and its success is limited. If surgery is required, the surgeon will aim to create more space in the spinal canal so as to take the pressure off the nerves. This most usually involves a laminectomy, where a portion of the spine (the lamina) is removed to create more space for the nerves.
Now that summer has finally arrived, it is tempting to spend as much time outdoors as we can, taking advantage of the long days and the brilliant sun. But summer can also bring with it a lot of heat, so it’s important to know how to keep cool on those hot summer days and how to recognize the signs of heat stroke.
The body normally regulates its own temperature by sweating as ambient temperatures rise. However, in cases of extreme heat, the body’s regulation mechanism can sometimes be overwhelmed, leading first to heat exhaustion and then to heat stroke if nothing is done. The danger of heat stroke is particularly risky on days that are extremely hot and humid, as excessive humidity does not allow the body to cool itself properly through sweating.
Those at greater risk of heat stroke are babies, the elderly, those with heart, kidney or lung disease, and people taking some forms of medication. When it is very hot and humid, body temperature in those affected can rise very quickly to 106 °F or more in only about 10-15 minutes. Following are some of the possible signs of heat stroke:
Heat stroke can cause organ failure, brain damage, and eventually death if not treated promptly. If you believe someone may have heat stroke, move them to a cool or shady location and call emergency services immediately. While waiting for help, you can do some things to help minimize the damage.
Get the victim cooled down as quickly as possible; remove excess clothing and use whatever method available to reduce the victim’s body temperature. Ideally, place them in a bathtub filled with cool water. If that is not possible, a cold shower or ice packs on the head, neck, groin and armpits will help. In situations with lower humidity, you can also wrap the victim in a sheet that has been wet with cold water and turn a fan on them. If outdoors, cool water from a garden hose can be used to cool down the victim while waiting for help.
To help ensure that you do not become a victim of heat stroke yourself, be sure to keep well hydrated on hot days, wear light clothing, avoid alcohol, and seek out air-conditioned environments. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, consider going to the mall, the library or taking in a movie. Using these tips will help you to enjoy your summer safely!
Degenerative disc disease is misnomer, because it’s not really a disease. It is a term that refers to the normal changes in the spine as we age. In particular, it refers to the deterioration of our spinal discs, which are the soft, cushiony discs between our bony vertebrae.
Spinal discs are like shock absorbers, in that they separate the bones and allow the spine to bend, twist, and flex. Degenerative disc disease usually occurs in the lumbar region of the spine (lower back) and the cervical region (neck). It results in
These conditions can lead to pain and nerve problems, due to pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.
The cause of degenerative disc disease is aging. Aging leads to a loss of fluid in the discs, making them more brittle and less flexible. They also become thinner, which brings the vertebrae closer together. In addition, small cracks or tears in the discs may cause leakage of the jellylike material inside. This causes bulging, breaking, or fragmenting of the discs.
Degenerative disc disease does not affect everyone the same way and at the same rate. It is usually worse among smokers and those who do heavy physical labor that taxes the spine. People who are overweight and obese tend to have worse symptoms as well. A sudden injury can also initiate the process of deterioration.
When the discs between the vertebrae get thinner, there is less cushion for the spine and it loses stability. In response, the body generates bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, which can cause pain due to pressure on the spinal nerves. The pain may be felt in the back or the neck, depending on the person and the location of the degeneration. Discs that are affected in the neck region can lead to pain in the arms or neck, while affected discs in the lumbar or lower region can lead to leg, back, or buttock pain.
Your doctor or chiropractor can diagnose degenerative disc disease through the use of a physical examination and a medical history. He or she will look for areas of tenderness, range of motion, pain, numbness, reflexes, and any additional conditions such as fractures or infections. Imaging tests are not particularly useful for degenerative disc disease. Treatment usually includes ice or heat, anti-inflammatory medications, and rest. Stretches and physical therapy are often recommended. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the damaged disc(s).