Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 22nd 2014 Contents A36
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, February 22, 2014
You eat well, you exercise, and you
even get the right amount of sleep
(most nights, anyway; no one s per-
fect). But chances are, you ve got some
other little habits that are costing you
in the health department---without you
You cross your legs
Sitting with legs crossed at the knee
can bump up blood pressure, according
to a study published in Blood Pressure
Monitoring. Leg crossing increased sys-
tolic blood pressure nearly 7 per cent
and diastolic by 2 per cent.
"Frequent crossing of the legs also
puts stress on the hip joints and can
cause pooling of blood in the legs when
the veins are compressed," says Stephen
T Sinatra, MD, FACC, a Connecticut-
based cardiologist and author of The
Great Cholesterol Myth.
"This could predispose you to inflam-
mation of the veins of the lower legs
and possibly a blood clot."
Dr Sinatra says to avoid crossing your
legs for longer than 10 to 15 minutes,
and to get up and walk around every
half hour or so.
You stand with locked knees
It may feel easier to stand with your
knees locked, but it increases stress on
the knee joint.
"All of our joints are stabilised by
activation of the surrounding muscles,"
says David W Kruse, MD, an orthopaedic
specialist with Hoag Orthopedic Institute
in Irvine, California. "When you stand
with knees locked, you are no longer
efficiently using the muscles that sur-
round the joint. Consequently, forces to
the joint are increased."
When you stand, do so with your
knees slightly bent.
You sleep on your stomach
Snoozing on your stomach puts your
neck in a tilted-back position, which
can lead to pain or numbness in your
upper extremities, says Richard Lee,
MD, a spine surgeon at Hoag Orthopedic
Institute. Nerves become compressed
in this area when the head tilts back,
which can lead to pain or numbness.
"Simply change sleeping positions
such that the neck is no longer tilted
backward during sleep," says Dr Lee.
See a doctor if symptoms remain.
You wear your belts tight
A tight belt may cinch your waist,
but it can backfire on you in the form
of digestive issues: Your snug belt creates
intra-abdominal pressure, which can
result in acid reflux (GERD), says Patrick
Takahashi, MD, chief of gastroenterology
at St Vincent Medical Center in Los
Symptoms of GERD can range from
something as small as a bitter taste in
the mouth, to a burning or pain in the
chest or upper stomach region, chronic
cough, or even difficulty swallowing. Dr
Takahashi recommends wearing your
belts no tighter than the waistband of
"You should be able to inhale and
exhale comfortably with the belt tight-
ened," he says.
Slouching can lead to shoulder pain
or impingement when the rotator cuff
muscles (shoulder stabilisers) become
compressed against the shoulder blade,
says David Geier, MD, an orthopaedic
surgeon in Charleston, South Carolina.
Poor posture could also lead to a muscle
imbalance that can contribute to further
Check your posture: While standing
sideways to a mirror, you should be able
to run an imaginary line through the
centre of your ear, shoulder, hip, knee,
You drive long distances
without a break
Motoring for many miles without
stopping can have a similar effect to
crossing your legs, where you get blood
pooling in the legs that can lead to clot-
ting, says Dr Sinatra. After driving for
about 100 to 150 miles, stop the car and
go walk around to improve blood flow
and reduce inflammation. Do the same
when flying long distances.
"Getting up and going to the bath-
room is one of the healthiest things you
can do on a flight," says Dr Sinatra.
You stretch as soon as you get up
Back stretches first thing in the morn-
ing can put the discs in your back at
risk, says Ted Dreisinger, PhD, FACSM,
researcher and managing partner with
Therapy Advisors, consultants special-
ising in the treatment of chronic back
and neck pain.
"Spinal discs become hydrated during
the night, which creates more pressure
on them when you first wake up. This
also makes them more prone to stresses
such as stretching."
Warm up with small activities (getting
coffee, brushing your teeth) for about
10 minutes before stretching.
You hold off on using the
restroom when nature calls
If you delay using the bathroom for
prolonged periods of time, you may be
putting yourself at risk for developing
urinary tract infections.
"UTIs can result due to a woman s
shorter urethra and close proximity to
the vagina," says Riya Pulicharam, MD,
director of clinical research for Healthcare
Partners Medical Group in Los Angeles.
"Bacteria in the urine can multiply very
Crossing your legs can
bump up blood pressure
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Avoid crossing legs for longer than 10 to 15 minutes, and get up
and walk around every half hour or so.
quickly, so holding urine for prolonged
periods can lead to infections. Listen to
You chew gum
You may want to ditch the gum if you
find yourself with a sore jaw at the end
of the day, says Don C Atkins, DDS, a
family dentist in Long Beach, Califor-
"The jaw joint is designed to chew
food, not gum. The time you spend
chewing food each day is much less than
the many minutes some people chew
gum," he says.
Like any overused muscle, constant
chewing can lead to pain and problems.
Pops and clicks in the jaw joint can indi-
cate jaw joint damage, says Dr Atkins.
"Give it a rest, especially if you hear
sounds or feel tenderness in the jaw."
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