Summer Back Tips for Gardening

It’s that time of year again for clearing out weeds and sprucing up your flower beds. Gardening may not look like a marathon, but it can take a lot more energy and strain on your back than you think. While it can be a productive, relaxing activity to some, it can also turn into a sore nightmare for others. Between the bending and tugging, your back is vulnerable to pressure or pulls.

It doesn’t have to be a painful chore, though. There are ways to avoid a sore back by taking a few steps to adjust how you garden.

Before Your Hurt Yourself, Put Down that Mulch

Jumping right into lifting or twisting can lead to some potentially serious injuries. Be sure to take your time stretching before you get down and dirty. The best way to get your spine and hip motion warmed up is to perform a dynamic warmup that focuses on total body movement. First, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and put your hands in a prayer sign. Begin rotating your upper body slowly left and right and as you feel your body movement improve increase the speed slightly. Then, lie on your back with your knees pulled together up to your chest. Taking slow breaths, ease your knees from one side to the other. The classic lean backwards with your hands on your hips will help stretch your back the opposite way of bending forward.


You’re in the Weeds, What Now?

Gardening in the heat should not be done for too long a period of time. Not only will you dehydrate, your sore back is going to keep you out of the game for a while. Your back will thank you if you are sure to take breaks stretching and keeping your posture safe.

Sitting might seem like the most comfortable option for a moment or two. But between the circulation cut off to your legs and the twisting around in one spot, you are bound to cause more strain that will inevitably lead to pain. And bending at the waist is just begging for disc or knee pressure as you pull and dig.

The best position you can be in for gardening is actually on all fours. Having five points of contact between your knees, feet, and a hand or two on the ground is stable posture for your core. And luckily, you can keep your legs dirt-free still by using a foam garden pad or old towel.

Afterwards, You’ve Dug Yourself a Hole

If you were unaware of positions to avoid, or lifted something too heavy, your back may be aching or tingling because of that disc pressure. Even after the best attempts at protecting your posture, a sore back can arise. Fortunately, mild pain can be alleviated at home with hot compresses or some gentle stretching.

Photo from Shutterstock // Stylecraze


In addition to stretching, anti-inflammatory supplements like Omega3s and turmeric help decrease swelling and improve function.

If you’re feeling more severe or persistent soreness, pain, or stiffness, it’s time to get some lower back therapy from your local Pittsburgh chiropractor! Turack Chiropractic in the Pittsburgh area is your go-to facility dedicated to giving you your fullest motion and stability. Dr. Dan Turack practices an integrative form of Chiropractic that incorporates a variety of manual adjusting and soft tissue techniques perfect for lower back therapy or injuries. You can give us a call at 724-940-3499 or check us out online to book your appointment!

4 Unhealthy Desk Habits You Should Break

Many of us have office jobs in which we’re hunched over the computer eight or ten hours a day. Not only is inactivity bad for your health, but there are other bad habits that you may have picked up that aren’t so good for you.

Here are some unhealthy desk habits that you may want to change:

1. Sitting Too Long

Inactivity or sitting at your desk too long is not good for your health. Studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time can lead to heart disease, obesity, and cancer. It can even affect you mentally, with an increased risk for anxiety, depression, or memory impairment.

Dr. Dan, of Turack Chiropractic and Performance Health, put together a series of desk stretches that can help you engage your posture upward. Check out the first episode:

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Americans should stand, move, and take breaks for a least two hours out of the eight hour work day. Combined with Dr. Dan’s stretches, it could help to get up every few hours, take a walk around the office, or hit a few flights of stairs.

2. Eating at Your Desk

Having lunch at your desk can cause you to sit even more. It also means you’re not socializing, and frankly, it’s a little unsanitary. You don’t want to be eating a sandwich and drop mayonnaise on your keyboard, or eating that leftover pizza and get grease all over your mouse. Try to ask friends or colleagues to go out to lunch once or twice a week, or at least chat with a work buddy as your meal heats up in the microwave.

3. Bad Posture

Many of us lean forward in a craned neck position as we sit at the computer. Not only is this bad for your neck and back, but it could even cause sleeping issues and long-term injury if you notice pain developing. Injuries occur from years of repetitive movements with poor form and posture. Be sure to check your posture every few hours, engage your back and shoulder muscles, and sit upright.

Should you develop pain or a worsening condition, Turack Chiropractic and Performance Health offers an integrative form of chiropractic that involves a variety of manual adjustments and soft tissue techniques. Our services are tailored to your individual needs, whether it be neck pain, shoulder pain, or other issues.

4. Drinking Excessive Coffee

Yes, you can drink too much coffee. Some side effects of too much coffee intake include affecting the lining of your stomach, loose bowel movements, and irritation of the bladder, among other digestive issues. You don’t have to cut cold turkey; maybe just take it down to one cup a day or every other day, and drink a lot of water.

If you are concerned about the health of your gut, Turack Chiropractic and Performance Health offers a GI Effects testing tool to help you assess your digestive function, gut inflammation, and gut microbiome. Normalizing GI function can have positive effects on your overall health.

Contact Our Pittsburgh Chiropractor

Good posture and healthy habits can help you clean up your daily desk routine. At Turack Chiropractic and Performance Health, we provide patients with functional medicine practices that can assist you with your overall health. Call our Pittsburgh office at (724) 940-3499 to schedule an appointment today.

Better Sleep for Your Body and Back

How to Sleep Correctly: Proper Sleep Positions That Can Benefit Your Health

On average, people spend one-third of their entire life sleeping. That means that when you reach the age of 75, you may have slept away almost 25 years! Since sleep is such a large part of your life, it is essential to make sure you are getting your best rest and sleeping “the right way.”

Achieving the proper sleep position can be good for your spine, joints, muscles, and overall body health. Dr. Dan, of Turack Chiropractic and Performance Health, shares some functional medicine tips on how to sleep correctly.

Want to see more videos?

Dr. Dan’s Guide to Better Sleeping:

Sleeping Face Down Is the Worst 🙅‍♀️

Oftentimes, when you sleep on your stomach, you turn your head, rest on your arm, and raise your leg to get comfortable. This causes your back to contort into unnatural or potentially harmful poses. Sleeping face down causes your spine to twist and the muscles in your neck to tighten up. If you spend the six to eight hours sleeping like this each night, you could start to suffer from neck pain, headaches, and shoulder issues from creating tension or an imbalance in your body.

Side Sleeping is Okay… But You Can Make It Better 🤷‍♀️

When you lay on your side, you may settle into a fetal or ball-like position. But, this isn’t great for your neck or lower back as it can cause your muscles to tense up. One way to improve a side sleeping position is to lay on one side, stretch your shoulders back and down, and tilt the head up (looking up at your headboard). Then, cross your arms, one over the other (or over a pillow in front of you), and practice extending your spine.

Sleeping on Your Back is Best 🙆‍♀️

Falling asleep on your back allows the spine to stretch out. Most of the day, we’re sitting in an upright position at our desks or in our cars that compresses the spine. However, when you lay flat on your back, with a good support pillow, the pressure in your head, spine, and torso is released. This provides an opportunity for your spinal discs to reabsorb the water and nutrients they need in order to heal.

But How Do I Get Used to It?

Sleeping on your back can be difficult to get used to; however, it is possible to train yourself to feel like it’s comfortable position. Start by laying flat on your back and resting your hands folded on your chest. Then, close your eyes and focus on your breathing; take 50 to 100 deep breaths to relax. Try this every night for a week to two weeks. This will help you start to train yourself to rest in a proper sleep position.

Find a Partner in Functional Medicine

Sleeping correctly can benefit your neck, spine, and joints. It can also help you feel refreshed and energized the next day. Turack Chiropractic and Performance Health, located in the Pittsburgh area, offers functional medicine practices that may be able to help you with common sleep problems such as insomnia as well as other issues like fatigue, digestive upsets, hormone imbalances, and much more. We try to understand the origins of what might be ailing you and help you live your best life.

Call our Pittsburgh area office today at (724) 940-3499 or email [email protected] to schedule an appointment.

More from Dr. Dan: Turack Tells All: The 101 on Food Allergies

Turack Tells All: The 101 on Food Allergies

Turack Tells All: The 101 on Food Allergies

Lately, we hear all the time that food allergies are on the rise. Doctors and medical experts say food allergies are a growing public health concern. There’s no doubt food allergies are very real. In fact, they can be deadly. But there’s also a growing concern that the allergy tag is being overused right now.

A recent report from the National Academy of Sciences summarized that it’s difficult to know exactly how many people in the United States have a food allergy. It’s also difficult to determine if the number of people with food allergies is legitimately on the rise.

A quick Google search tells us that an estimated 15 million people in the U.S. have food allergies. You can even find a breakdown of that number. 9 million adults and 6 million children. But here’s why I’m in the “We just don’t know!” crowd. At least for now.

Many Food Allergies Are Often Self-Diagnosed

People self-diagnose themselves with a food allergy all the time. Someone gets a phlegmy cough or an upset stomach after eating something. They or their parent immediately self-diagnose it as a food allergy. Or they mention it to a doctor who says, “Sounds like a food allergy!” There’s never any test to confirm. Perhaps there was one test when you were five-years-old and no follow-up. You just stay away from whatever it is you ate that didn’t agree with you. Citing your suspected allergy for years and years.

I suspect that many are misinterpreting symptoms of food intolerance/food sensitivity as a food allergy. Approximately 80 percent of the U.S. population is believed to have a sensitivity or intolerance to certain food.

It’s very common today to hear someone mention that they’re lactose intolerant or suffer from non-celiac wheat or gluten sensitivity. Take a stroll down the aisle of a grocery store and you’ll see packaging with words like “Lactose Free!” or “Gluten-Free!” in bold or highlighted print. Such conditions have become super commercialized. There’s clearly money in targeting these folks.

Does that mean the people these products target have a real food allergy? The short answer is “no.” Food intolerance is a non-allergic (non IgE) hypersensitivity to a certain food. You don’t feel well. Your stomach may be upset. There may be a feeling of malaise or sluggishness. Some brain fog and a sense that you’re not optimally running physically or mentally.

But there is no Anaphylaxis response (life-threatening swelling of the airways) within minutes of digestion like there is with a legitimate food allergy. The symptoms of food sensitivity or intolerance just aren’t as severe or potentially life-threatening as those of a true food allergy. That said, there is indeed an overlap in symptoms. An overlap that has unfortunately made diagnosing a food allergy very difficult.

Milder symptoms of a food allergy may include a stuffy nose, throat clearing, a cough, hives, itching, and GI distress. Many of these same symptoms can also be found in cases of food intolerance or sensitivity. A severe immune system response to a food allergy can include all of the above but also more dangerous swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath/wheezing, vomiting, a serious drop in blood pressure, a weak pulse, multiple organ failure, and even death.

The Kids Aren’t Alright

Kids have always been the most affected by food allergies. Traditionally, childhood allergies to wheat, milk, eggs, and soy generally are resolved by the time a child starts school. It’s the allergies more likely to induce a severe immune system response – peanuts, fish (tuna, salmon, and cod), tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios), and shellfish (shrimp and lobster) – that tend to be lifelong.

However, we’re finding out that kids today are slower to outgrow milk and egg allergies than previous generations. There are increasing instances of these conditions now persisting well into adolescence. Many children today aren’t developing a tolerance to milk and eggs until they’re 16 years-old or older.

One theory is most parents these days immediately put their child on a dairy-free diet once an allergy is suggested. So there’s no gradual exposure to milk and eggs over time for the child to build up a tolerance to them.

But you also can’t blame the parents for this. There are so many horror stories about children having a mild reaction when eating something the first few times but a severe reaction another time they try it. So, what’s the big deal if the house switches to a dairy-free plant based protein milk or an alternative like soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk assuming there’s no allergy to those substitutions?

There is much data suggesting that the prevalence of food allergies among children is indeed on the rise. In 2013, the CDC reported that food allergies among kids increased by approximately 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. It’s estimated that one in every 13 children today has a food allergy. That number was once about 1 in 25. But there’s again no way to tell how many kids are wrongly diagnosed with food allergies due to flaws in testing or if they’ve outgrown a legit test result but were never re-tested.

A CDC report found that more than 300,000 ambulatory visits a year are due to food allergies among children under the age of 18.

In fact, severe allergic reactions to food have skyrocketed nearly 400 percent over the past decade, according to a study released by the nonprofit healthcare organization FAIR Health.

This is all very concerning and a reminder that we’ve got to find ways to distinguish between food allergies and food intolerance/sensitivity moving forward. This comes down to improved testing, monitoring, and management.

The Emotional Health of a Child with Food Allergies (And His or Her Parents)

Being a kid is hard enough as it is. A child with food allergies faces even more challenges.

First, there is constant stress and anxiety from both the parents and the child. Kids can literally find themselves scared to eat. Parents can find themselves fraught with panic anytime their child is at a friend’s house for dinner, a sleepover, a picnic, or airplane ride. Many parents can go as far as homeschooling their child to keep them out of harm’s way.

Parents must talk to their children about their food allergy. Kids need to understand that certain foods can make them very sick. Particularly if we’re talking about peanut, tree nut, fish, or shellfish allergies since reactions to those can be fatal. They need to understand that what they’re allergic to can be masked as an ingredient in something else. If their allergy is severe enough that an EpiPen needs to be carried, they need learn how it works. Some communication and education can do a lot to calm all parties down.

There is also another worsening problem. A 2012 study published in Pediatrics reported that 30 percent of kids with food allergies are bullied. This suggests a social stigma towards food allergies. Kids that can’t participate in the most basic of social interactions – the ritual of sharing food in a group – are shunned and seen as outcasts.

For instance, if cupcakes are brought to class, a child with an egg allergy will decline. This means they can’t be part of the group of kids celebrating a holiday or someone’s birthday. Some schools, sometimes out of fear of liability or in an effort to make those with food allergies not feel ostracized, will place restrictions on what treats can be brought to school. This can unfortunately create further hostility towards the students known to have food allergies.

Why I’m a Proponent of ALCAT Testing

I believe in whole body wellness. Finding the root cause of whatever hurts or is ailing someone. This is why I administer ALCAT testing at my Wexford, PA office to any patient with a suspected food intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy.

Some naysayers will say, “But the ALCAT doesn’t measure IgE antibodies and therefore isn’t an accurate test for food allergies.” This is partially true, it’s a food tolerance test, but I personally believe that we offer the most reliable food allergy testing in Pittsburgh. Here’s why.

There really isn’t one skin or blood test available to accurately determine whether or not a person is allergic to one specific food. Let’s use the common skin-prick test as an example. In this test, the patient is scratched by a needle that’s coated with proteins from the suspected food allergen. Signs of irritation are present 50 to 60 percent of the time whether the person has a legitimate food allergy or not. This can lead to many false positives.

As far as a blood test for food allergies, IgE antibodies in the blood should produce inflammation and irritation when stimulated by the allergen. But these allergen-specific antibodies are often times too low – even in those with a food allergy – to produce that desired response in a simulated food allergy test.

The ALCAT effectively measures the body’s reaction to over 350 foods, chemicals, and mold particles. My team and I can decipher between reactions indicative of a food intolerance/sensitivity issue and the more severe adverse reactions indicative of a food allergy.

From there, I can tell you which foods are safe to consume, which foods should only be consumed in moderation, and which ones you need to avoid altogether. Of course, you and your family care physician are encouraged to conduct further food allergy testing using my findings as a baseline.

If you’d like some help determining if it’s a food allergy or food intolerance/sensitivity issue impacting your overall health and well-being, call Turack Chiropractic today at 724-940-3499. Ask about our food intolerance, food sensitivity, and food allergy testing in Pittsburgh, PA.