Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spinal Support: The Body’s Three Main Curves

The human body is unique in form. From the spine to the bending of knees, to angles in which the neck can turn, every day we create new angles with our limbs. Out of all those possible angles, however, some are more important to body (specifically bone) health than others. By focusing on the main curves – each of us has three of them – you can improve your posture health and spinal support all in one.

While they might be slight, it’s these curves that hold the body in place and upright on a consistent basis. And by taking care of them, you can increase flexibility and strength of the spinal system as a whole.

So, what are these curves and why are they so important?

First, the lower back. Where the base of the spine meets the rear, each person juts out to create a cushioned seating space. The bones have to account for that “curve,” allowing the bum to offset itself from the back. Without this bend, we wouldn’t be able to sit up straight or properly align ourselves while walking.

Next, the middle of the spine. Though this curve is less severe, if you stop and look at the spine, it doesn’t sit perfectly straight. Rather, it curves slightly at the top and base to account for a body’s stance pattern.

Finally, the base of the neck. This area curves in slightly to allow the head to move as needed, and for the spine’s curvature to naturally take place.

How to Take Care of Your Spinal Curves

Now that we’ve established these main bone shapes, it’s important to know what to do with them. To avoid pains or aches, it’s best to allow the body to bend naturally. This means sleeping with curves, not against them. (For instance, on your side in a subtle C.) It also means staying aware of posture so the body can shape itself as best as possible.

Just by understanding the shapes of our bodies, we can better adjust our activities and reflect better bone health. Start sleeping (and sitting) smart to improve your own body curves.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Increase Pregnancy Comfort with the Flip Pillow

For mothers to be, sleeping through the night can be difficult – to say the least. Or, if not actual sleep, it’s hard to stay comfortable through weight gain, bladder pressure, and inability to sleep on your stomach. But no matter the cause behind it, it’s likely comfort – on some level – has managed to escape you in your growing form. Whether in the beginning stages of pregnancy or reaching toward the home stretch, this is a common factor that affects all trimesters.

However, there are also plenty of ways to reduce that growing pressure – such as the Flip Pillow. Coming in varied heights, this plush model allows ladies to rest on an incline, which reduces weight and settling that can come from lying flat. The incline also reduces uncomfortable side effects such as acid reflux or pressure points.

The Flip Pillow is also great for resting on the couch, reading or watching TV, and reducing back pain. Gaining disproportional weight in such a short amount of time has left countless expecting mothers with mid and lower back pains. This becomes even more complicated when favorite or preferred pain medications aren’t deemed safe for the baby. By sleeping or sitting with the Flip Pillow, however, back pains can be naturally reduced, and in a way that’s safe for both baby and mom.

Additional Flip Pillow Perks

Use it to prop or elevate legs to gain some much needed relief.
Adds comfort when on bed rest or after baby arrives.
Can be adjusted for steep or gradual inclines, depending on preference.
Offers plush support when sitting.

For women in all trimesters, using the Flip Pillow can offer a great deal of comfort. Even once baby arrives it can be used to prop, lean, and sleep on virtually any surface. Talk to your doctor about your sleeping surface options and get started on gaining serious comfort – pregnancy and all – today.

Shop here for the Flip Pillow!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why Nervous System Health Trumps All

When it comes to health concerns, there is a practically unending list of things that can go wrong … and to varying degrees. Muscles can deteriorate, bacteria can infiltrate the body, organs can lose efficiency, and that’s only the beginning. Then combine that with how parts and systems interact with one another, and there’s an entire new list of problems that can go wrong. Rather than looking to sickness and function interaction as a possible cause, however, creating a healthy nervous system can work to eliminate the latter as a viable threat.

After all, the nervous system is what allows muscles and organs to communicate with one another. Each tells another part of the body what it’s doing, or what needs to be done next, and when those communication gaps are hindered, the body itself suffers.

How to Keep All Body Functions Working

The most important part of the nervous system is the brain. Without it’s proper health, body parts wouldn’t be able to communicate properly … or at all. Their translation gaps could range from speaking with a heavy accent, to yelling near a booming speaker with non-English speaking listeners. But by adhering specifically to the brain’s health needs, you can easily make sure everyone’s on equal speaking – and listening – fields.

Start with your diet. A healthy brain needs plenty of Vitamins D and B6. Exercise and a regular fluid intake also works to flush out toxins that may bog down the brain or other parts of the body. (Combine exercise with a few glasses of water for the maximum toxin-flushing results.) Nervous systems can also flourish with an increase of protein and a decrease in fat. You can also look to doctor recommended supplements or additional vitamins shown to improve brain health.

Whether you’re looking out for your body’s cohesiveness or are just taking steps to get healthier, the nervous system is a great place to start. Look to the above or talk with your doctor about getting brain healthier today.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Stiff Neck Can Actually be a Sign of Food Poisoning

When we hear the term “food poisoning,” most think of an unpleasant scene. One where nights are spent on the bathroom floor and food can’t be kept down until the spell has passed. A stint of nausea, pain, and the feeling of never wanting to eat again. (At least for the time being.) But contrary to popular believe, suffering from food poisoning can mean a whole new list of symptoms. Such as a stiff neck or sore muscles throughout the body. A recent announcement associated with cheeses in the New England area has been linked to listeria – a form of bacteria – telling shoppers to beware or purchasing or eating these items. Officials have warned folks to stay away from certain brands, and to look out for signs of bacteria exposure.

Specifically, a stiff neck – recurring suddenly or for multiple days on end – can mean you’ve been exposed to something other than dairy. And if left untreated, listeria exposure can lead to an infection and further health concerns. Other symptoms include nausea, a sense of confusion, loss of balance, and fever.

Other muscle aches can also be a point of concern. If you’re experiencing aches and pains that are out of the ordinary (and haven’t worked out or strained muscles recently, etc.), it may be time to talk to your doctor about potential food exposures. Be sure to look at local warnings and headlines that may explain just what bacteria(s) you may have been exposed to. Then, take note of symptoms, especially when they began to take place in relation to your intake of contaminated foods.

Oftentimes a stiff neck is only a sign of sleeping wrong or turning one’s head to quickly. However, it can also mean the onset of something far more serious. To ensure your aches are nothing more than sore muscles, talk to your doctor today.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What Does the Future Hold for Russian Olympian’s Broken Spine?

Last week, the world watched as one of the world’s top athletes was rushed to the hospital after a nasty spill. It wasn’t a head or leg injury caused by the ill-landed ski jump, however, it was a broken spine. Maria Komissarova, a Russian athlete, was taken off the ski slopes by medical professionals after she lay motionless on the slopes (though she did sit up for a short amount of time.) While it’s never a good sight for athletes to fall – especially on such a competitive level – Komissarova’s might just be one of the most severe back injuries in Olympic skiing history. A spokesperson for the International Olympics Committee said Komissarova “fractured the 12th dorsal vertebrae in her lower-middle back.”

After the injury, she underwent an almost 7-hour emergency surgery, before being airlifted to Germany to receive specialized treatment. Officials have since declared the operation a “success,” yet giving few details about what’s next in store for the athlete. And though doctors and spokespersons alike are remaining mum about Komissarova’s recovery, it’s likely she’s in for months of painful therapy and treatments. A process that will help her in the long term.

The Long-Term Effects of a Back Injury

One of the biggest factors contributing to long-term back pains are the initial recovery stages. Depending on how one’s back heals in the first few weeks, and whether or not swelling becomes an issue, Komissarova’s – or anyone with a back injury’s – healing process could take very different paths. The future could hold years of skiing and moving with a healthy back, or it could mean ongoing pains and a spine that never quite works the same again. Perhaps that’s why officials are keeping quiet about the process. [ESPN]

Whatever the outcome, however, the IOC has made clear that they’re on the lookout for other athletes’ safety. By looking into new regulations, checking slope conditions, and more, they hope to prevent this or any other serious injury from taking place in the future.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Could Your Sleep Improve With the Right Type of Pillow?

When was the last time you bought a new pillow? Or even considered upgrading to a more customized model? For those who weak up unrested or with regular aches, your pillow just may be to blame. Yet it’s one of the most overlooked factors of sleep-related issues. Whether worn out or not offering the right type of support for the way you sleep, pillows have a far bigger affect on sleep than most of us ever realize. Without the proper support, levels, or structure to cradle the neck and head, folks can see a dramatic decrease in sleep quality … and without ever even knowing why.

Because everyone sleeps differently, however, everyone’s pillow should offer different features. Side sleepers need their neck to stay propped without over-elevating the head. Stomach sleepers need a flatter surface to lay their head. While outside medical conditions, such as acid reflux or sleep apnea can call for a whole new level of equipment. For instance pillow wedges that raise the body on a comforting incline. This is great for keeping acid reflux at bay, and allow allows for better sleep during colds, or just a cozy way to lie before bed.

Those with sleep apnea can use a pillow with special cut-outs for their mask, that way there’s no disconnect between trying to obtain better sleep, but not being able to because of one’s sleeping equipment.

The Universal Pillow

Some options will offer multiple perks for sleepers, no matter how they prefer to snooze. Thanks to the help of cradling technology and foam that won’t wear or sag over time. That way, no matter your go-to sleeping position, the neck and head can receiving the cradling that they need. And in the process, sleep can be improved as well.

If you wake up groggy or with aches and pains one or more mornings per week, it may be time for a better pillow. Check out Contour’s selection (here) to get the right model for your resting needs.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How to Take Better Care of your Vertebrae

In the wide realm of back and spinal health, there are plenty of body parts that don’t get the attention they deserve. And by not tending to all of them, sudden pains or twinges can occur, or lay under the surface only to cause something more serious. And since the whole point of back health is set to include all of the back, why should little or underlying sections be any different?

This is especially true for the vertebrae, which are small but provide the literal backbone of the human body. Without these little puzzle pieces, we wouldn’t be able to stand, bend, stretch, or perform most of our daily movements. A tall order for such tiny bones to take on. But by working as a team, vertebrae are able to provide the strength and support the back needs.

So, are you taking care of your vertebrae as well as you should?

Steps for Better Back Health

According to medical professionals, taking care of vertebrae is as simple as taking care of your body. This means drinking plenty of water, proper resting habits (so muscles and bones can repair themselves), and getting in exercise/movement on a regular basis. Sounds cliché, right? While it may be an over-read list of habits, they’re also listed so often for a reason: they work. With plenty of fluids, the body can properly digest, circulate blood and other liquids, and replenish nutrients throughout the body. By sleeping regularly, the body is able to repair any minor injuries that may have taken place (even the ones we don’t know about). And by moving and getting in plenty of exercise, bones and muscles alike can stay loose and ready to take on a day’s worth of back-moving events.

And most importantly, doctors say to stay aware of any warning signs, such as ongoing aches or pains, which could be a sign of something more significant. [Everyday Health]

To take better care of your back, look to simple tips that focus on the vertebrae to better your back from the inside out.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

5 Winter Olympic Sports Sure to Put you in a Back Brace

This past week the world was introduced to Sochi, Russia, the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics. And for days the best athletes have been flipping, skiing, and sliding their way into our daily entertainment. Performing tricks most of us can only consider in cartoon form, these athletes have proven just how much talent and control it requires to become a contending winter athlete.

For the most part, these athletes are young, and there’s a reason for the age discrepancy. After a certain age, we simply can’t perform acrobatics without causing extreme bodily consequences. For the non-Olympic population, here are the top five injury-inducing winter sports. Avoid them to keep your back and your sanity in working order.

5. The Bobsleigh

Cramming four people into a tiny sled looks less than comfortable. Hunching over to obtain maximum wind resistance sounds even worse. Anyone with a back problem should steer ever clear from bobsledding activities.

4. Hockey

Not only does this sport require quick, sudden movements, it’s likely to land you against the wall multiple times per game. Stay off the ice to avoid these competitive smashing movements.

3. Figure Skating

The jumps these figure skaters make send bodies into constant twirls and turns. Not so bad for those who can land them, but each fall looks like it’s a purple bruise and a back adjustment waiting to happen.

2. Skiing/Snowboarding

Again, the jumps and flips look like your spine’s worst nightmare. Even with protective gear and years of training, nothing saves the back from these epic tricks like not attempting them at all.

1. Curling

A sport that combines target practice with brooms, athletes must bend and frantically sweep for long periods of time. Put on repeat and your lower back is likely to be aching something fierce after a single tournament.

This winter, leave these backbreaking events to the pros. Your body – and your future health – will thank you.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Need an Excuse to Sleep Better? Check out These Funny YouTube Videos

The term “sleeping around” has long since had a sexual connotation. When taken in the more literal sense, however, sleeping around can simply mean sleeping – actually sleeping – in several places other than one’s bed. This can mean falling asleep in school, in the car (hopefully not while driving), in one’s sitting chair, or anywhere else where nodding off isn’t exactly comfortable. Sure, in some of these instances naps are taken on purpose, but when you’re too tired to stay awake in everyday situations, this can become a problem. One known as impromptu sleeping around.

Firm believers in the art of gaining a good night’s sleep, there is now an entire YouTube channel dedicated to this cause. Combined with its entertaining videos, Stop Sleeping Around allows viewers to learn about better sleep while laughing at those who aren’t. Or rather, laughing with them. In each short, someone is falling asleep while said fall or slow drift, is caught by a sleuth-y cameraman. For instance, a teacher falling out of her chair in the middle of class, or an unsuspecting guest diving headfirst into their dinner plate.

Like this one:

Whether using these videos for entertainment or for inspiration to get better sleep, they’re a great example as to what can happen when one doesn’t properly rest. Recharging is one of the body’s most important functions, and depriving it for too long can lead to more problems than just a sudden bout of sleep. But, by taking steps toward regular rest, you can easily keep health functions at their highest while avoiding an embarrassing sleep display in public.

To learn more about getting a better night of sleep at night or to tune into Stop Sleeping Around’s videos, head to their YouTube channel.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Customers are Saying About the BackMax Wedge

Convertible comfort has always been the goal of the BackMax Plus. With the ability to turn and rearrange into eight different positions, it’s a pillow that adapts to user needs as they’re happening. Use the cushion to elevate knees or legs after surgery, allow it to take the weight off your lower back, or simply use it as a comfortable place to lounge – whether on the floor or the bed. With its versatility and smart design, the BackMax has been helping patients since its release.

Over the years, we’ve upgraded the cushion to better meet user needs – based on comments and requests. We created a wider version in the extra-wide deluxe set, we include a free fleece cover for ample comfort and cleanliness, and we even offer free shipping to help get your BackMax to your door faster.

But we aren’t the only one singing this product’s praises. Our customers, too, have shared their love for the BackMax Wedge.

They write:

“Wonderful product! Very easy to elevate legs -- easy to use like the pictures.” Jeffrey, 5-21-13
“I didn't know what to do about my back problem; I had not been sleeping in my bed for over five years. The neck pain often became excruciating. It finally dawned on me to search the Internet and I found Contour Living’s BackMax. Best thing I could have done. I had to return it only to EXCHANGE for BackMax Plus. Firm and comfortable. Thank you Contour Living!” Joyce G., 2-3-14
“Excellent product helps my aching back!” Robert, 5-21-13
“I have spent the last three years of my life in pain. I’ve seen both physiotherapists and osteotherapists, and still had continued to live with the pain, that was until I found the Contour BackMax. After four nights, I am now waking up without any pain. This has been a complete lifesaver, Thank you Contour!” from “Satisfied Customer,” 1-28-14
“I now own two sets because I NEVER want to be without it. One set is just for back up. So happy I found these -- I have back issues and fibromyalgia. The [BackMax] gives a very firm support, which I need. If I heard this company was going out of business, I would probably buy ten sets. That's how much I like them.” Mick, 8-6-13

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

10 Surprising Causes to Chronic Back Pain

For most, the thought of chronic or ongoing back pain sounds like a life sentence. Because it’s generally caused by an injury or intricacy of some kind (muscle spasms, pinched nerves or discs, etc.), these pains can be hard to locate, let alone cure. And unfortunately, for some folks, that remains true. For the majority of the population, however, back pain is often caused by simple everyday occurrences.

But by not understanding the cause(s), these behaviors are repeated and lead to even more painful symptoms. And believe it or not, the causes can be as simple as what you eat. How many of us wouldn’t change our diets if it would reduce or eliminate pain?

Check out these everyday activities that can lead to back pains.

  1. Failing to exercise – without regular movement muscles can become strained and stiff, often leading to pain. 
  2. Bad shoulder posture – slumped shoulders can realign the back and refocus where weight and muscles rest.
  3. Smoking – unhealthy and a steady habit, smoking can reduce oxygen and blood flow, among other medical issues. Without blood making its way through the lower back, pains are likely to develop; smokers suffer from back pains twice as often as non-smokers.
  4. A bra that doesn’t hold its weight – Without the support of a bra, the body is forced to pick up the slack on its own, causing excess weight toward the front of the body.
  5. Stress – When you can’t relax, all sorts of side effects take place, including that of manifested pains. 
  6. A poor diet – taking in too many fats and calories is bad for the body in more way than one. Avoid these foods when back pains occur.
  7. Sleeping on an old mattress – Without nighttime support, the back can strain and take on extra weight, resulting in lower back pains. 
  8. Heavy purses – Over time, carrying a purse can wear down muscles and put strains on the shoulder, all the way down to the lower back.
  9. Office chairs – Because they’re sat in for hours on end, office chairs should cradle and align the back, not bring on extra pressure. The same goes for the rear’s portion of the chair. 
  10. Too-worn shoes – Feet can be directly linked to a number of areas in the body, including the back. Without proper protection and weight displacement, that lack of reinforcement can often be felt elsewhere.