Safe lifting techniques

So this week I was at a retail store where they were gearing up to do inventory.  They asked me to come in to review safe lifting techniques – which by the way is a great idea.  Although many people have been taught this along the way it is always good to review.  And I find that the more people you get information from the more you remember and you tend to learn a different little tip from each source.

So I thought it may be a good idea to review.  Just this week I have had a patient move homes, another continue to pack and go through things to move homes, patients travelling, and patients who work in retail or warehouses who lift regularly.  Also there are the rest of us who continually lift and carry throughout our days: small children, bags and boxes for work, groceries, hockey bags you name it and we lift it. (does the question ‘hey doc why does my back hurt?’ seem a bit more clear cut now?  Ya life is full of busy and we are hard on our bodies… this stuff is cumulative and one day when you bend over the bathroom sink to brush your teeth you can’t stand back up.  Toothbrush too heavy? Nope. Just all of that catching up with you and the bending in the morning was the straw (or toothbrush) that broke the camel’s back so to speak).  Ok so lets do our best to protect the camels shall we?  (the camel is you in case you were confused).

Lifting tips and rules to live by:

Before you lift anything brace your stomach muscles (see Brace2 video link below)


Bend at the knees not at the back

Keep the load as close to your body as possible

take breaks

share heavy or awkward loads with a partner

Do not twist while lifting

Here is a helpful poster I found on line:

Also for smaller items try the golfer’s lift – see video link below !

Golfers lift

Sore throats and head colds – something you can do to help yourself

Ok, so you know the chicken soup, lots of fluids, vitamin C thing but here is a  technique you can do at home to help your own sore throat and cold symptoms.  It’s not magic, just simple physical manual medicine and works by helping your lymphatic system drain.

Hold up. What the hell is they lymphatic system?

“The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system and an important part of the immune system, comprising a network of lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph (from Latin, lympha meaning “water”[1]) directionally towards the heart.”

(Thanks Wikipedia!)

Ok so these lymptatic thingies (vessels and nodes) can get backed up if there is an excess of fluid – like when you are fighting a cold.  It gets all congested with fluid, dead white blood cells and dead bacteria/virus corpses and then the fluid slows down and gets literally backed up like Highway 400 Northbound at 4:30 pm on a Friday of a summer long weekend. Ain’t nobody going nowhere fast.

You have a ton of these vessels and nodes in and around your head, face and neck and if you can get them to drain just a bit your sore throat can go away or get better.  Below is a chart of the head and neck lymphatic chains so you get an idea where they are:

There is a simple soft tissue technique you can do for this that will be posted on my clinic fb page under videos.  I do this to help patients all the time with their symptoms and it works great.  basically you gently stroke the areas of the lymphatic vessels from top to bottom to encourage them to drain. Don’t push too hard and rub your skin raw and like with anything else you read here check with your health care provider first as there are some contraindications to this.  Or come on in to see me and I can let you know if it is safe for you.

Here is a link to my fb clinic page to check out the video – when I figure it out I shall also post it here.  Hope this helped!

I figured out how to add it here but have no idea why it is sideways – if I can fix it I will if not sorry!!! turn your screen 🙂  Click on the link below to view my sideways video:

sore throat

Slow Cooker Coconut Curried Chicken and Cauliflower Rice

So I love Curried Chicken.  This recipe is paleo and Whole 30 and originally came from a website called I breathe I’m Hungry (  Originally it had potatoes and jalapeno peppers as well as other things in it but if you have been following my blog and recipes at all you will know that I tend to modify recipes.  Mostly because I’m lazy or somehow I have forgotten to buy an ingredient.  So here is my version. It is way easier than the original and I make it during the winter at least twice per month… I like it even better than the original and I serve it over Cauliflower rice too – my recipe for that is below. I often double or triple the recipe because I never feel like I can get enough of this for lunch.

Coconut Curried Slow Cooker Chicken:


8-12 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 Tbsp spicy yellow curry powder

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt


For the curry:

2 cups coconut milk (I use 1 can milk and 1 can coconut cream)

1 Tbsp (or more to taste) curry powder

coconut flour to thicken


Oil and spices for marinade in large Ziploc bag and mix well.  Add chicken and mix up to coat all.  Leave in fridge over night or several hours.  Just before you are ready to turn on crock pot put all ingredients listed under curry into it and mix well with whisk.  Heat a pan and coat with cooking spray and brown marinated chicken on both sides quickly then place in slow cooker and make sure chicken is covered mostly with coconut milk.  Set slow cooker for 6 hours on high and walk away (best part).

Is super tender and amazing when you get back to it! That’s it really!!!


Cauliflower Rice:

1 head cauliflower – florets removed

olive oil

salt to taste

Place florets into food processor and grind until small pieces resembling rice. Place with oil in deep pot and fry until tender – you may need to place lid on pot – don’t over cook or it will get mushy.

That is it for this one too!!!

This is a super easy one and is really yummy. Love love love this one.




Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)- A.K.A. “the winter blues”

Wow that’s a bunch of acronyms right up there…

Ok so Seasonal Affective Disorder- the definition from Google is below – saved you a step there, didn’t I?

“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also called winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, and seasonal depression, is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.”

From the Mayo clinic website here are some symptoms of SAD:

“Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide”

You may have one or a combination of the above symptoms.

Ok, so does this sound like you or someone you know? If so you should talk to your doctor and see if you need to take further steps for your mental health but there are some other things you can add to the regime recommended by your doctor.

One amazing thing is a Seasonal Affective Disorder Light.  The basic premise of this light is that it must shine into your eyes (not directly but while you are looking at something else, say a computer screen) for about 20 minutes to 30 minutes per day.  Receptors in the eye are stimulated which triggers the release of Serotonin (the “happy” hormone).  These lights have been found to be very effective and I have recommended them for my patients.  I generally recommend them from the website below because I know that these ones have the right bulbs and light being emitted to stimulate the receptors mentioned above.

If you have more questions about this please don’t hesitate to contact me.

And if you do have thoughts of suicide, please tell someone.  You are not alone.

Suicide hotline for immediate help in Toronto call: 416-408-4357

Make your own Essential Oil Body Butter

I decided to make body butter this year as some of the Christmas Gifts I am giving out – The one pictured is using Young Living’s Gentle Baby Essential Oil which is terrific for new moms and babies and helps with Mother/Baby bonding, is good for cracked nipples from nursing and is great for skin recovery (stretch marks) but also makes a great hand cream for dry skin.  I decided to give this one to people who handle lots of babies (and Moms) – Midwives and Pediatricians that I know.

You can make any ‘flavour’ body butter and it is surprisingly easy.  The hardest part was ordering ingredients (which I got online in bulk from a company called New Directions Aromatics here in Mississauga – I now have enough for several batches and will definitely make more!)

This is surprisingly easy to do yourself at home and makes a beautiful fluffy cream that smells great.  Best of all you know exactly what the ingredients are and they are all super healthy and natural.

Here is how:

Body Butter Recipe:

1/2 cup Shea Butter

1/2 cup Cocoa Butter

1 cup Coconut Oil (I had this in the cupboard from the health food store)

1/8 cup Calendula Oil

1/8 cup Jojoba or Sweet Almond Oil (no nuts in mine or in my house so…)

1 teaspoon Vitamin E Oil

20-40 drops Essential oil of your choice (depends how strong you wish it to smell)

Melt Shea , Cocoa Butter in a double boiler and add Coconut Oil.  Stir until melted.  Add liquid oils and essential oil and stir.  Pour into mixing bowl and refrigerate a few hours until it is a  soft solid.  Take out and beat with a hand blender until it is light and fluffy.  Put in to containers for use.


That is it!

some really nice oils to use are Peppermint and PanAway for pain or Lavender for relaxation.


Hot Quinoa and Spinach Salad

Ok, so here is one that I totally made up.  I love it and make it for lunch lots but you may hate it so if so sorry!!!  I never do this make up your own recipe thing.  This one came about because I was looking for something yummy yet healthy to make that still tasted like comfort food.  For me this one does it.  Also was limited to what I had in the kitchen, and frankly the large box of baby spinach was looking like it was going to go off soon so in it went.  You can eat this as a side but I usually make it my whole meal for a few days in the week when I make this recipe.  I can get three lunches for me out of the recipe – of course the hubby and child wont go anywhere near it. Its way WAY too green.  Full of Calcium, protein and other amazing stuff…

So here is the Recipe:

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 cups of water

1 large box of fresh baby spinach

1-2 chicken breast or even better: left over roasted chicken from grocery store/Costco

1-2 avocados

Siracha sauce for taste (I use rooster sauce)

Salt to taste

Cook quinoa in water according to directions and set aside.  In a large bowl of a food processor puree all spinach, avocado and chicken and mix together well.  Place quinoa and spinach/chicken mixture into a large mixing bowl and mix together until uniform colour.  Add Siracha sauce and/or salt to taste.  Serve warm – does well heating up in the microwave and will store for a few days in the fridge. Also freezes well in batches.


Hope you like it – I do – Made it last week!


Gratitude rocks

Practicing gratitude is all the rage these days.  I seem to remember it started with Oprah and gratitude journals – for the masses anyways.  This is the first time I think I remember encountering the idea of Gratitude on a mass scale anyways.

So why is a chiropractor’s blog talking about gratitude anyways?  Wellness is a main tenant of chiropractic right?  We, as chiropractors want people to be as well as possible as long as possible.  In general, we pride ourselves on being holistic in our approach and thinking.  Thinking in general is a big part of wellbeing I think (see what I did there?).  I believe positive thinking effects the body in a positive way and negative thinking, well negative thinking can suck it really…

Gratitude is on my mind recently as I have really begun ‘upping my game’ in the gratitude department lately.  Not that I wasn’t thankful before, I was.  I am just more mindful of it now and trying to be more so increasingly daily.

Why? you ask, what has changed?

Me I guess.

Here is some back story.  I have anxiety.  This is not news to anyone who knows me well.  One of my best friends in the world calls me neurotic (in a loving way as she is much the same).  Ya, it’s true. I am. And frankly I am sick of it.  I have suffered with anxiety in fits and starts that was diagnosed officially after I had my son Leo.  It has come and gone since then but I had another pretty bad bout of it beginning this summer and resurging in early fall this year… but I’m feeling much better now.

So back to being sick of it.  I have decided to start doing things differently and re-write my self talk and re-wire my brain.  How? Affirmations, meditation, mindfulness, and you guessed it – Gratitude.  Harvard medical school recently said “Expressing thanks may be one of the best ways to feel better”.  I love quoting Harvard Medical School, makes me feel smrt (yes that is a Simpson’s reference. Right now my husband is super proud of me).

I didn’t just make up that Harvard part either – here is the Link – check out the first line:

There is research about this gratitude thing in there and everything (for us self-professed nerds) – turns out if you take groups of people and have the one group write gratitude journals for 10 weeks and the other group write anti-gratitude journals (things that irritate them or bother them) the gratitude group was more optimistic, felt better about their lives, exercised more and visited the doctor less than the anti-gratitude group (that is my term not the study’s – it amuses me).

Ever notice if you hang out with negative people a lot you become more negative?

Guess what, if you hang out with negative thoughts of your own a lot same thing happens. So lets hang out with positive thoughts shall we?

Ok, may be easier said than done. But take it from me (here is where I put my Doctor Chiropractor hat on – yes we have hats shhhh don’t tell anyone I told you that), the human body is amazingly adaptive and so is the brain. You can train it to do anything.   When I was 14 years old running 2 km made me almost vomit.  Now at 43 I have run 5 half marathons.  If I can do that I can totally change my brain.  I’m going to be Zen damnit!

This is actually remarkably simple. But it isn’t easy.

Practice gratitude.  Every day.

There are many ways to do this – gratitude journal daily, send a thank you card to someone weekly, count your blessings, make things that are seemingly negative and switch them into a positive in your brain, meditate about abundance and gratitude. The trick, I think, is to do it every day. More than once per day actually. Try for hourly.  Do it for a month. Then do it for three more months. Until it is habit.

Admittedly I am in the middle of doing this right now and started about a month ago.  I think it may be a life long process.  Not sure.  Pretty good guess though.

What I can tell you is that I feel better. Not perfect all the time but resoundingly better lots of the time.   I also use amazing smelling Essential Oils in my practice and life and I think they are a good reminder of this and also help. They make me happy. Whatever works.


I am superhuman – crap I hurt my back…

And so, I got the above picture from a patient via text this week with the following words attached: “I didn’t want to make two trips and now my lower back hurts… have anything this week at your home (office)?”

Yep, we’ve all done it. Sometimes we get away with it unscathed with no problems but most of the time we tweak something in to hurting… that picture above is 9 grocery bags from the car to condo by the way.

So, lesson one – make two trips

lesson 2- text me for an appointment because there is no way you will actually make two trips

This is a good one because she did. I did see her and her problem is minor and relatively easy to treat at this stage… leave it  a week or two or three and if it is unresolved the longer it has been around the longer it takes to get rid of as a general rule.  Even if it seems to go away you really shouldn’t ignore what your body is telling you hurts – these aches and pains that come and disappear unfortunately accumulate over time and build until one day you do something innocent seeming, like bending over at the sink to spit out your toothpaste, and you can’t get back up.  (Seriously I have heard this story I don’t know how many times over the years and when they told us that at school I thought they were joking).

Patients always ask me – Doc how did I get this? what can I avoid so this doesn’t happen again I mean I was only bending over the sink?!?!

Well the bending over the sink didn’t do all of it – it was the straw that broke the camels back (pun intended).  Life happens. We all do stuff we shouldn’t do like not make two trips, sit too long in front of the TV or computer, stand too long at work, lift things that are too heavy, engage in weekend warrior antics, play one sided sports like golf or hockey, carry kids in one arm primarily … I could go on forever and I haven’t even mentioned slips and falls and minor injuries.  Scar tissue and injury accumulate over the years.  Chiropractic care can make sure that you aren’t headed for that last straw by making sure that the minor things that are there already are taken care of before that happens.   Love living life to the fullest myself and I don’t have time for setbacks…. Chiropractic wellness care is just for that. And if you do hurt yourself, don’t wait, make the call and get it fixed sooner than later.

I have #*@%&! Fruit flies! – An Easy Peasy Solution


Everyone hates being swarmed in the kitchen by fruit flies.   Here is an easy solution to the problem.

Don’t get fruit flies.

(O.K. fine that was my Dad’s answer…)

first find the culprit – aging fruit or veggies usually do it – get rid of them if needed or put in the refrigerator.

If you can’t find the culprit  – it is ok this solution will hopefully catch all of the files and get rid of the problem.


Get a small bowl and fill it with about a half a centimeter of Apple Cider Vinegar.  Put plastic wrap over the top and secure with an elastic band. Poke holes in the plastic big enough for the flies to get in.  Place near where you see the flies and wait.  They cant resist the smell of the Apple Cider Vinegar and once they go into the trap they cant get out.

Easy and safe method of getting rid of them with no harsh chemicals.

Look I caught one already….

So I hear there is a Gastrointestinal bug around – Your Grandmother was right, you should listen to her.

So a Gastrointestinal bug generally takes us unaware and can hit with nausea, vomiting and for added fun…. diarrhea. (I can never spell that word, I had to spell check – think its my mind blocking it out… fair enough).

People confuse with the flu or call it the ‘stomach flu’ but really it has nothing to do with the flu (which is cause by one of the many influenza viruses) while a GI or Gastrointestinal bug can have varied causes…. mostly the ones that go through us fast (like in 24 to 48 hours) are viral.  So basically you have to keep hydrated and wait it out while trying to be as comfortable as possible.  If it lasts longer than a day or you are worried you aren’t keeping hydrated please seek medical care – dehydration is very dangerous – and it can happen fast, especially with children.

I generally suggest water or flat ginger ale or chicken soup.  Stay away from Gatoraide as a general rule as the loads of sugar wont do you any favours and it really isn’t formulated for this kind of illness.  Pedialyte or Gastrolyte work too . Research has actually been done on chicken soup and illness and people who consume home made chicken soup actually do fair better on recovery from illness.  (Seriously, Grandma is always right so just give in).

While you are nauseated something you can do to help the nausea is smell Peppermint Essential Oil .  It works remarkably fast, is safe as you are just smelling it, and totally non-invasive.  Good for kids and pregnant women too.  One caveat.  The oils you can buy off the shelf are not all equal.  There is no laws governing what companies put on their bottles or in them.  For this reason you may thing you have a pure essential oil that is not.  I use Young Living Essential Oils in my practice and at home as I am happy with their process of standardizing what is in every bottle and they have outside labs cross check the contents.  It is a great product.

Ok, so now you are in recovery mode and your tummy is tender.  What do you go back to eating right away so as to not freak out your system?

Back to grandma and her advice: B.R.A.T.

Eat only B.R.A.T. for 24 hours then you should be good to reintroduce other foods slowly.  Take your time re-introducing meats (especially red meat – this may take a week or so) and dairy (can take even longer). Sometimes your normal flora in the gut is off after one of these bouts with a bug and especially diary and meet can trigger another bout of diarrhea.  Happened with my son not long ago… sigh, poor kid (He is all good now though thanks!).  Also – a good probiotic can really help – really we should all take one daily but especially in this situation.  If is your kids who are sick there are also really good chewable probiotics formulated for children.

Wait – what is BRAT?

B- bananas

R- rice

A – apple sauce

T- toast

These things tend to be binding and easy on the GI system and have a bonus of generally being around the house.  If you don’t have apple sauce on hand here is a quick recipe for apple sauce that can be easily whipped up:

Apple Sauce

3 apples




seriously that’s it – peel and core apples and chop – throw in a pot and cover with water.  Boil this adding water periodically as it evaporates until the apples lose their form and you can smush them.  Add honey for sweetness and cinnamon (but be careful with this on a tender tummy not all will like it).  The honey has the added bonus of being anti-microbial and has been used since antiquity for healing.  Certainly can’t hurt here.

Also, almost goes without saying… wash your hands lots. Best way to prevent the spread of illness.  Be serious about it.  I make my son sing the alphabet song as he is soaping up – that’s about how long you need to do it. Then let the soap and water flow ‘downhill’ as you rinse it off so as to carry the virus or bacteria away from you and down the drain (I mean angle hands down and let water flow from wrists to fingertips and off).

Something Grandma may not have known is that chiropractic adjustments have been shown to boost the white blood cell count – if you are feeling sick you shouldn’t cancel you appointment you should go to see the chiropractor -or book an appointment at the start of the cold – we can boost your immune system! Stay healthy this cold and flu season – one of the ways to do that is regular chiropractic care.  If you have more questions about this please contact Dr. Karen.

Hope all this helps.  And remember, just listen to your Grandmother.  She was right all along.