Thursday, 21 April 2011

6 astounding causes of back pain

If you’ve ever had a bout of back pain, you’re not alone: According to the National Institutes of Health, 8 out of 10 people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Most of the time, back pain is set off by something totally minor, says Venu Akuthota, MD, director of the Spine Center at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado.

Besides obvious causes (constantly lugging a too-heavy purse, for instance), experts say that everyday habits like hunching over your smartphone can strain your spine and the surrounding muscles over time, causing pain and making you more vulnerable to serious injury. To stop back pain now—and avoid future agony—try targeting these unexpected culprits.

Culprit No. 1: Your fancy office chair

Even an expensive, ergonomic chair can be bad for your back if you sit in it all day without a break. Sitting not only lessens blood flow to the discs that cushion your spine (wearing them out and stressing your back), but it puts 30% more pressure on the spine than standing or walking, says New York City chiropractor Todd Sinett, author of The Truth About Back Pain. Be sure to stretch at your desk and get up every hour to walk around. Don’t assume that built-in lumbar support makes your chair back-friendly—in fact, for many people, lumbar supports don’t make a bit of difference, especially if they aren’t positioned properly (at the base of your spine), says Heidi Prather, a physical-medicine and rehabilitation specialist and associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

No matter what type of chair you sit in, make sure your head is straight (not tilted down) when you’re typing or reading. Avoid slouching and adjust your seat so it tilts back slightly to help alleviate some of the load on your back, Sinett says. And keep your feet planted firmly on the floor.

Culprit No. 2: The wrong shoes

When you strut in stilettos, your foot strikes the ground in a toe-forward motion rather than the normal heel-toe gait, stressing your knees, hips, and back, Sinett explains. "Wearing heels also alters the angle of your body so your weight isn’t evenly distributed over the spine," he says. This instability can set you up for pain and injury radiating from your knees all the way to your back.

Another shoe no-no: the backless kind (even flats and flip-flops), which allow your heel to slide around. Again, the lack of stability distributes your body weight unevenly, putting more pressure on your spine. Your shoe should firmly hold your foot in place to keep you stable and protect your back, says Sinett, who also advises sticking to heels that are less than three inches high.

Culprit No. 3: Your beloved smartphone or tablet

Mobile technology has not been kind to our backs and necks, Prather says. "We’re hovering over laptops, iPads, and smartphones all the time," she notes. "This head-down position strains the muscles in the neck, and the pain can extend all the way down your spine to your lower back." Take frequent breaks, and try to look straight ahead—rather than down—while using a laptop, tablet, or phone. You can buy a stand to help hold your laptop or tablet at a more back-friendly height and angle.

Culprit No. 4: Extra pounds

Carrying even just a few extra inches around your midsection—whether it’s due to belly fat or pregnancy—makes your pelvis tilt forward and out of alignment, as your body works to keep itself balanced. This can cause excessive strain on your lower back, Dr. Akuthota says. He recommends doing this easy stretch several times daily: Tighten your abs (like you’re bracing for a punch in the stomach) to activate core muscles and take a load off the lumbar discs; hold 10 seconds, then release. (Pregnant? Check with your doctor before doing any exercise.)

And if weight gain is your problem, consider making whole grains an essential part of your slim-down plan: A new study from Tufts University found that those who ate three or more servings of whole grains a day had 10% less abdominal fat compared with those who ate essentially no whole grains.

Culprit No. 5: The wrong bra
Large-breasted women obviously carry significantly more weight in front than those who have smaller breasts. This can lead to hunching and sore neck and back muscles, Sinett says. A bra that offers proper support can actually minimize that forward hunch and relieve pain, while one that doesn’t may exacerbate the problem, as you hunch or strain even more to compensate for uncomfortable straps or a riding-up band.

Research shows that many women wear the wrong size bra, but the right fit can mean the difference between sagging and supported; get fitted by a bra professional. Prather says you may want to try a T-back (a.k.a. racer-back) style. "It gives the body a cue to pull the shoulders back," she says.

Culprit No. 6: Your crazy schedule

Just like the rest of you, your back muscles can tense up when you’re frazzled. Muscles are designed to contract and relax, Sinett explains, but when you’re stressed, they may contract so much that they can eventually start to spasm. Stress also boosts production of the hormone cortisol, which increases inflammation and can lead to achiness, he says.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Some Foods and Drinks That Activate Indigestion

If you're flat to the painful burn of heartburn, don't just pop an antacid what you eat to avoid getting heartburn in the first put.

The American Gastroenterological Association lists these foods and drinks to avoid, as they may activate heartburn:

  • Foods that is high in fat or fried.
  • Foods with chocolate or peppermint.
  • Alcoholic beverages, beverages with carbonation and all coffee.
  • Mustard and ketchup, as well as tomato sauces.
  • Acidic substances such as vinegar, citrus juices and citrus fruits.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Get Smooth, Toned Arms

Here's amazing you'll love to learn: Your shoulders and upper back tend to carry less fat than the rest of your body, so the right movements can give this area a nearly instant alteration, says Ramona Braganza, a celebrity coach who has worked with stars such as Anne Hathaway and Jessica Alba. Braganza's workout underneath hits every main upper-body muscle and will help stabilize your shoulder joints, improve your bearing, and build that strong, toned look you're after.

Using five-to eight-pound weights do 15 to 20 reps of each exercise and go from one move to the next with small or no rest flanked by. Do two or three sets three times a week.

Four Top-Tier Moves

1. Reverse fly
Reverse fly

Clutch a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent. Bend forward at the hips and let your arms hang straight down from your shoulders, palms facing (a). Raise both arms out to the sides as you squeeze your shoulder blades together (b). Return to start. That's one rep.

2. Biceps curl
Biceps curl

Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing forward, and keep your back straight and chest up (a). Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the weights toward your shoulders (b). Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position, straightening your arms completely. That's one rep.

3. Dumbbell cross jab

Dumbbell cross jab
Stand with your feet a bit wider than hip width and knees slightly bent. Hold the dumbbells at chest height with elbows bent and palms facing each other. Extend your left arm across your body until the weight is in line with your right shoulder (a). As you return to start, repeat with the right arm (b). That's one rep.

4. Lying triceps extension

Lying triceps extension
Lie face-up on a bench and hold a pair of dumbbells above your head, arms straight and palms facing each other (a). Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells until they are at either side of your head (b). Pause, and then lift the weights back to the starting position. That's one rep.

12 quick tips for a longer, healthier life

1. Tea off in the morning

Hot tea can cut your risk of kidney cancer by 15 percent, according to a evaluation in the International Journal of Cancer. Try pu-erh tea, which is better than green or black tea at preventing DNA damage. 

2. Sleep smarter

Too much sleep, or not enough of it, can kill you. A British study found that receiving more than 9 hours of sack time a night, or less than 6, doubles your risk of an early death from any reason. Aim for 7 to 8 hours a night. 

3. Pop in your lenses post-shower

Soaping up while tiring your contacts can depiction your eyes to infection-causing waterborne microbes, say University of Illinois at Chicago researchers. 

4. Drink wine, stay lean

Polyphenols, the compound found in red wine, help your body block fat amalgamation, an Israeli study found. Red-wine marinades work, too. 

5. Lose the lint

Taking 2 seconds to empty the lint trap in your clothes dryer can stop you from being one of the 315 dryer-fire wounded each year in the United States. 

6. Check your neck

An American Journal of Medicine study found that a mildly underactive thyroid can boost your heart-disease risk by 65 percent. A quick blood test can tax your level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). 

7. Lean back

Parking your torso at a 90-degree angle damages your spine, say Scottish and Canadian researchers. Instead, give your chair the La-Z-Boy treatment and recline the seat back slightly. The ideal angle is 45 degrees off vertical. 

8. Scent your air safely

Some air fresheners contain phthalates, compounds that may disrupt hormone procedures, Natural Resources Defense Council testing reveals. Stick with Febreze Air Effects and Renuzit Subtle Effects. 

9. Boost your defenses

An Archives of Internal Medicine review reports that 400 IU of vitamin D a day reduces your risk of an early death by 7 percent. Try Carlson's vitamin D ( 

10. Skip the spray
Using household spray cleaners just once a week increases your risk of an asthma attack by 76 percent, say Spanish researchers. Use cleans instead. 

11. Steam your broccoli

Italian researchers recently discovered that steaming broccoli increases its concentration of glucosinolates (compounds found to fight cancer) by 30 percent. Boiling actually lowers the levels. 

12. Stretch it out

Genes in your body linked to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity can be "turned on" if you sit for hours on end, reports a study in Diabetes. Hit the "off" button by taking hourly laps during TV, book, and Web sessions.