Posts Tagged ‘injuries’

Aquatherapy, Salmon & Traumeel: My healing miracle workers!

March 7, 2009

A few days ago while working in the pool with an aquatic training/therapy client, I got too close to the wall in the deep end and kicked the heck out of  the metal ladder, smashing my second and middle toes and traumatizing my entire foot!!  By that evening, my foot was purple and so swollen I had trouble putting on a shoe!

Seriously, my foot resembled a plump piece of eggplant. Needless to say,  I started to freak out and was pretty certain I’d broken at least one of my phalanges (the small bones in the toes). After limping around much of the rest of that day I decided to put my wellness coach hat while simultaneously becoming  my own client.

So what did I do?  I took my advice and slathered on Traumeel – a homeopathic anti-inflammatory that I recommend to many of my clients – 3 times a day. I also tweaked my diet to include even more healing foods, including salmon, flax oil, chia seeds and lots of vegetables, especially broccoli and celery to reduce inflammation and collard greens for calcium and vitamin K (in case I had broken the bones).

The third key to my healing was spending time exercising with clients in the deep end – without putting any weight on the foot. Moving in warm water helps to pull edema out of the body and increase range of motion of the joints, muscles and tendons. So after a few hours of working in the pool, the swelling in my foot had significantly decreased and I was even able to bend my toes a bit without pain.

I’m happy to report that  48 hours later, my eggplant foot is now nearly back to its usual pale, bony state. I’m walking without much pain and able to wear a normal shoe. Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve broken, rather  just badly bruised my toes. Anyway, this latest trauma was yet another reminder of the incredible healing power of the body – if given the proper tools.

Be Well (and Be Careful!),

Carolyn

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Throw Gravity Out the Window!

November 14, 2008

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about gravity. I suppose it’s only natural given the gravitas of the current economic situation.  It could also be the fact that as an aquatic therapist, I spend many hours a week speaking to clients about gravity’s counterpoint – buoyancy. Apart from outer space, deep water is the only place where we can literally throw gravity out the window and free our bodies (and our minds) of its heavy influence.  

Did you ever consider the negative connotation of the words and expressions that stem from gravity? There’s the aforementioned gravitas, there’s grave – as in “going to an early grave” or thegrave expression on his face“, not to mention the “gravity of a situation“. Buoyancy, on the other hand, coveys lightness, cheerfulness and exuberance – “he was buoyant in his attitude” “the fans were buoyant after the big win“, “she gave him a buoyant hug and kiss at the airport“.

Of course we need gravity to anchor us to the earth. Often, though, we are too weighted down by it – whether it be physically with musculoskeletal pain from injuries or surgery, or emotionally with worry and stress. Certainly our country is anything but buoyant economically right now. Lately it feels as thought we’re sinking rather than floating financially (unless it’s after being given a life raft like some of the banks and mortgage lenders). But maybe it’s time to literally and figuratively “throw gravity out the window” . Smile, breathe, laugh, hope and if possible, emerge yourself in a body of water, trading buoyancy for gravity.

As she was quietly floating upright in the deep end of my warm swimming pool at the end of her workout the other night, my client Cathy said to me, “everyone should have a few minutes a day without gravity”.  I couldn’t agree more!

Be well,

Carolyn

Help Your Body Heal Part II: Foods That Heal

October 28, 2008

Last time we looked at facilitating the overall healing process through exercise, nutrition and sleep.  Now I want to zero in on foods that help you heal. Certain foods can foster “healing” when you’re recovering from injury or surgery, including: nutrient-dense vegetables; foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids; and mineral-rich foods for bone re-growth.

Vegetables: Nature’s Potent Healers

Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients – all of which are powerful healing agents. In fact, vegetables are the most nutrient-dense of all foods. In addition to the ubiquitous broccoli, spinach and carrots, there are many other winning vegetables that can help your body repair itself. Asparagus, for example, contains a unique anti-inflammatory phytochemical. The juice from asparagus is also effective in reducing the acidity of the blood and helps cleanse the tissues and muscles of waste. Peas are another powerhouse of healing help. They are great source of muscle-relaxing magnesium, which is also important for protein synthesis and bone repair. Avocados, loaded with vitamins E and B6, are also high in potassium, which helps balance your body’s electrolytes, aids muscle activity, nerve function and energy metabolism.

Celery, often viewed as a second-class citizen vegetable, in fact it offers important healing nutrients. The potassium and sodium in celery helps to regulate body fluid and stimulate urine production, making it an important help to rid the body of excess fluid. It also helps to normalize body temperature and calm the nervous system. Finally, the polyacetylene in celery provides excellent relief for all forms of inflammation.  While I’ve focused on 3 green veggies, you should consume a variety of different colors – red, orange, yellow, green and purple – as each color offers different phytonutrients.

 Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A Polyunsaturated Powerhouse

Omega-3s are powerful polyunsaturated fatty acids which have a number of wonderful functions.  They can decrease inflammation and blood clotting and can also decrease muscle-protein breakdown. Omega 3s are found in abundance in cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, Alaskan black cod, herring, sardines. Vegetarian forms include flax seeds and flax oil, extra-virgin olive oil, walnuts, hazelnuts and chia seeds. 

Bone-Repairing Foods:

If you’re recovering from a stress-fracture or broken bone, you’ll want to focus on bone-building foods. Dairy products are the richest source, but many fruits and vegetables and some nuts also contain calcium and other important minerals. Broccoli, kale, swiss chard, blackberries, raspberries, black currants, figs and almonds are all good non-dairy calcium sources. Research has shown that certain compounds in fermented (miso, tempeh) soy foods also help build bones. Soy protein contains isoflavones, compounds that scientists believe support bone development and maintenance. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium in the gastrointestinal tract. Sources include sunlight, fortified milk, salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. Vitamin K binds calcium and other minerals to the bone. Sources include kale, spinach, collard, beet and mustard greens, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Magnesium enhances the deposit of calcium into bones. Good sources include almonds, green leafy vegetables, peas, whole grains, seeds, black and white beans. Boron is a trace mineral involved in calcium metabolism. Sources include apples, pears, cherries, cabbage, legumes and nuts. Silicon is important in the growth and maintenance of bones, ligaments and tendons. Sources include asparagus, cucumbers, lettuce, olives, radishes, rice and oats.

Healing Spices

In addition to healing foods, certain spices can also aid in your recovery. Mostly known for its use in curry powder, turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. In fact studies have compared it favorably with NSAIDs such as Advil. Curry powder only contains about 20% turmeric – so it’s best to by the whole, ground spice.  It’s delicious sprinkled in soups, on salads or cooked vegetables. Ginger is another effective anti-inflammatory and it helps alleviate nausea as well. 

A Honey of a Healer

Honey is a wonderful natural, topical healing agent for minor scrapes and burns. It forms a protective, anti-bacterial barrier over the wound, while encouraging skin to regrow. It also reduces swelling and helps minimize scarring. Try honey if you scrape or scald yourself and this is one case in which you might want to literally lick your wounds!

Finally, here are some general guidelines for eating to heal:

1. Aim for variety

2. Include as much fresh food as possible.

3. Minimize your consumption of processed foods and fast food.

4. Eat an abundance of fruits and ESPECIALLY vegetables. 

5. Eat plenty of protein to facilitate tissue repair.

6. Avoid excessive consumption of salt, refined sugar, alcohol, coffee and cola which can hamper the absorption and increase the excretion of certain nutrients.

As a nutritionist, I recommend that you consume as many healing nutrients as possible from natural food sources, supplementing only when you need a therapeutic dosage. As I’ve said, certain foods mentioned above can act as powerful assistance when your body is “in the shop” for repairs. Hippocrates said it best: “Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Thy Medicine Be Thy Food” (Hippocrates 460-377 BC).

Be well,

Carolyn