This is easy to make, looks elegant and makes a special gift for any occasion
280g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup coarsely chopped unsalted roasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped freeze-dried plums or cherries
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp cacao nibs
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt (optional)
Line an oven tray with baking paper
Gently melt the chocolate in a large bowl over a pot of boiling water
Remove from heat and spread evenly and thinly on the tray with a spatula
Sprinkle over the rest of the ingredients, and leave at room temperature to set
Break or chop onto shards, and store in a sealed container in a cool place
Chocolate: considered a delicacy for thousands of years, it’s indulgent, sophisticated, delicious... but is it really good for you?
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, the seeds from the cacao tree - an evergreen tree native to the tropical area of South America. After harvesting, the beans are fermented, dried, roasted and crushed, resulting in cacao nibs. These nibs are then ground into non-alcoholic liquor ready to be made into chocolate.
Not all chocolate is created equal; to reap the benefits you need to choose the highest quality dark chocolate, raw cacao powder, or cacao nibs, as these products usually have less added sugar and are higher in nutrients.
Generally, the darker the chocolate the higher the cacao (cocoa) content, so choose your chocolate carefully and enjoy:
If you’re looking for a sweet snack, a square or two of carefully chosen quality dark chocolate is a great choice.
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The bag you casually throw over one shoulder could be hurting your spine, altering your gait, and causing back, neck and shoulder pain.
For many of you this may have been a lifelong habit, and perhaps one that you haven’t given much thought to, but it can lead to serious issues for your body.
As fashion collides with convenience, large handbags come ready to carry numerous items, from laptops and phones to cosmetics and drink bottles. Each item adds additional weight, creating imbalance and strain on your body.
When you carry your bag on one side of your body, it immediately creates an imbalance; even a light bag can create a problem. In order to stop the bag from slipping off, one of your shoulders tilts higher than the other one. Over time, this imbalance can create a distortion in your upper back, shoulders and neck, as well as postural alterations throughout your spine. A heavy bag can result in muscle contraction on the side opposite to the bag, and your spine can curve incorrectly to stop you from toppling over.
Choosing a suitable bag is an important first step. Consider switching your handbag for a small backpack, as these evenly distribute the load on both shoulders. There are plenty of chic choices. Opt for equal load distribution, comfortable straps and cushioning between it and your spine.
If you really must have a handbag, carry it in your hand and exchange sides regularly. If, at times you must use your shoulder, try alternating sides. Keep the weight as light as possible and regularly unpack unnecessary items. While it is amazing what you can fit, sometimes it can be months before you realise that you are carrying around half your house in your bag!
It may seem like such a small thing but correcting this habit can help protect your spine and body from unnecessary stress and pain. So, take the challenge and note over the next few days how you are carrying your handbag. You may be surprised! For a start, avoid hanging it on your shoulder, before too long you will have broken the habit, and be carrying your bag in a healthier way.
Chiropractors play a crucial role with their focus on the health of the spine and correcting postural distortions. They can assess the weight of your bag and evaluate your posture to detect any areas of concern, provide advice, and if necessary, appropriate spinal care.
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Have you ever thought about how our spine works and what it does?
In the day-to-day bustle of life, not many people do.Yet, this incredible piece of living machinery enables you to move, keep upright, and acts as the strong foundation for your body. It both protects and directly contributes to how your nervous system works. Its design, in essence, perfectly matches its function.
The spine consists of many bones (or vertebrae): seven cervical, twelve thoracic, and
five lumbar vertebrae, plus the sacrum and the coccyx at the base. Most vertebrae are held together by facet joints, which click together like tongue and groove floorboards, and
While the spine is incredibly strong and supportive, it also wields a secret power. It is key
to brain function. As researcher and Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Roger Sperry, said, “Ninety percent of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine.” Motion of the spinal joints enables us to know where we are in space and contributes to movement
control and co-ordination.
The spinal canal surrounds and encloses our spinal cord, protecting the delicate nerve tissue that is critical for the brain
and body to communicate. At each vertebral level, a pair of nerves exit. These spinal nerves stimulate muscles, skin, and the fight and flight and rest and relax systems. This enables us to move, feel, respond to threats, and to relax and recuperate.
Muscles attach one vertebra to the next and act to stabilise the spine, maintain posture, and enable movement. Ligaments also secure one bone to another, and provide mobile strength. The fascia provides another piece of the spinal puzzle. The fascia is a strong tissue that modulates tension and stiffness, and adds strength.
With its involvement in nervous system function, its support of the body, and the effect it has on wellbeing, it’s no wonder chiropractors focus on caring for the spine! As spinal joints become jammed and underperform, muscles in the back become stressed and strained from poor posture, function decreases, and injury can occur with profound effects on your health.
As you can see, it’s important to look after your spine. Daily exercise, a variety of fresh, nutrient-rich whole foods, maintaining an ideal weight, and being smoke-free are fundamental elements for spine health. Correct posture, appropriate lifting techniques, and strengthening and stretching muscles are also essential preventative steps.
Chiropractors offer a customised, drug- free, hands-on approach to spinal care. As well as helping with existing spinal health issues, they can assist you in maintaining healthy spinal practices that will improve your overall wellbeing.
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Have you ever sprinted for a backhand only to have a back spasm stop you in your tracks? Maybe you’ve been nursing spinal discomfort but it’s affecting your serve and smash? Back pain is common in tennis players; your sport might be causing, or making your pain worse.
It’s not surprising when you consider that the pressure placed on the spinal column while serving is a staggering eight times the force generated by running. Serving requires hyperextension, which can compress your spinal joints. Front and backhand shots require sudden side and twisting movements. As you toss, stretch, run, and bend with force, sometimes something gives!
According to the International Tennis Federation, 95% of players who experience low back pain have what’s called the ‘non- specific’ type. That means most problems stem from muscle and spine related injuries, the kind your chiropractor specialises in. The good news is there are ways to enjoy your passion and ease your pain.
These four important steps will help you to strengthen, support and heal your back, and improve your tennis game.
Warm up: A sufficient warm up is important to prepare your body. Five minutes of cardio, then taking your joints through their range of motion and practicing your strokes will get you ready for your game.
Professional advice: Have a tennis professional check your style, playing posture and the suitability of your racquet. The right amount of knee bend and strong muscles that fire in the correct sequence, reduce dysfunction and discomfort. Strokes performed with the right technique can increase power while lessening pain and chance of injury.
Practice the bird dog: The bird dog is a strengthening exercise that focuses on toning the core and back muscles together. Kneel on all fours. Flatten your back and brace your stomach muscles. Lift one arm out straight in front and in line with your ear, at the same time that you extend the opposite leg straight behind. Ensure your posture is stable and then hold for 10 - 30 seconds. Return to the starting position, swap sides and repeat.
Switch up your serve: Serving is a serious business that places your back under significant strain. Converting to a lower force option, for example from a kick to a slice serve, will reduce the amount of back arch.
While lower back pain is common in tennis, other injuries can occur too. If your shoulder range of motion is restricted and it hurts to reach up, or to lie on that side, you might have a rotator cuff injury. Pain in the front of the knee, damage to the calf muscle or Achilles tendon, ankle sprains, and elbow and wrist problems are also frequent events. There is even a condition called ‘tennis toe’, where the toes hit the end of the shoe causing bruising under the nail.
Remember, playing tennis creates significant spinal and joint strain. Protect your game and playing future by caring for your body in health and in injury.
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The negative impact of sedentary lifestyle has become well known throughout the world. Movement has become more important for longevity in a world that sits more.
Sitting puts more pressure on your spine compared to standing. A high percentage of people with back pain report sitting for long hours or have a sedentary lifestyle. Movement hydrates the discs in your spine and keeps blood flowing to provide nutrients. That means quicker recovery and prevention of injury all together.
Long hours of sitting increases the risk of disc and spinal injuries, particularly in the low back. With more injuries and abnormal posture, spina degeneration begins earlier in life.
When people sit they often end up in a slumped posture. A slumped posture compresses the stomach and intestines. This decreases the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Over time, core strength can be lost.
Slumping also puts the hips into a position of long term flexion, in this position of long term flexion. In this position the psoas muscles, which connect the lumbar vertebrae to the femur, tighten, gluteal (buttock) muscles become weaker, and hips loose their range of motion.
In the elderly population these physical consequences increase the likelihood of a fall. Falls for the elderly increase the risk of death in the following three months by five to eight times! Besides the fact that the more falls equals more fractures resulting in decreased quality of life thereafter.
If you’re sitting anywhere for a prolonged times, get up and move every 30 minutes.
Data from the 2016 Women’s Cohort study suggests that even fidgeting is more beneficial than no movement at all. A gentle 10 minute movement routine can prevent any blood flow damage which can occur with three or more hours of sitting. Loss of blood flow by just 1% can increase an adult’s risk of heart disease by 13%.
Movement is life. Your ability to move can reduce the development of some of the most common spinal injuries and chronic diseases known in our world.
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The effects of posture on health are becoming more evident.
Spinal pain, headaches, moodiness, blood pressure, pulse rate and lung capacity are among the many functions most easily influenced by poor posture. Many symptoms, including pain, may be moderated or eliminated simply by improving one’s posture.
One of the most common postural problems is Forward Head Posture. Ideally the head should sit directly on the neck and shoulders. Given the weight of the human head is generally between 4.5- 5 kilograms, it’s important that this load is distributed appropriately. When your head sits perfectly upon your neck and shoulders, the body naturally adapts to holding this weight. If your head is constantly pulled forward, the weight of your head pulls on your neck and puts pressure on your spine. This additional pressure on your neck, shoulders and back could lead to serious tissue damage.
We have been forced to adapt to having our heads forward of our bodies due to the repetitive use of computers, video games and tablets, and even carrying backpacks has forced the body to adapt to a forward head posture. ‘Text neck’ is also a significant contributor of Forward Head Posture. This is the term used to describe the injuries and pain sustained from looking down at mobile phones or other devices for too long. ‘Text neck’ does not occur only from texting, as looking down to read or work with crafts can also cause this. The symptoms associated with ‘text neck’ include chronic headaches, upper back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and increased curvature of the spine.
Repetitive movements in a certain direction will strengthen nerve and muscle pathways to move that way more readily and cause postural changes over time. When spinal tissues are subjected to a significant load for sustained periods of time, they deform and undergo remodelling changes that could become permanent. One commonly seen deformity is ‘Dowager’s Hump’, often referred to as a ‘Back Hump’ or ‘fatty hump at the back of the neck’. Dowager’s Hump is a hump that can form at the base of the neck. It is most commonly caused by having improper posture; more specifically, Forward Head Posture. Over time, the spine adapts to support the new position of the head which results in a more extreme curvature of the spine, leaving a hump.
Forward Head Posture has also been shown to flatten the normal neck curve, resulting in disc compression and damage, and even early arthritis of the spine. It’s important to understand that long standing postural problems can cause spine and nerve damage, and that often symptoms will not present early on, but rather after several months or years.
Therefore, monitoring good posture is essential for optimum health. With a little awareness and a chiropractor by your side, you can avoid suffering from damage and degeneration that poor posture can bring. If you are concerned about your posture, or your family’s posture, talk to your chiropractor to learn more about what you can do to prevent future posture- related problems.
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One of the most often misunderstood conditions, and a frequently asked health question is “what is a herniated disc?” It’s a common condition which commonly occurs in the lower part of the spine and is often referred to as a ‘slipped disc’.
Between each vertebra in the spine lies a spinal disc. These spinal discs have three main functions. They
Each spinal disc has a semi-liquid or jelly- like centre surrounded by cartilage. This cartilage is arranged in rings, similar to the inside of a tree when you cut it in half.
When a disc is herniated, the “jelly” in the centre breaks through the cartilage rings and forms a “bulge” or “herniation” on the outside of the disc. This herniation can cause major health issues by putting pressure on the adjacent spinal nerves, causing pain and possible dysfunction of the organs that the nerves control.
Disc herniation is usually caused by an injury of some sort such as a car accident, overuse as a result of repetitive movement over time, or even just by lifting incorrectly.
There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of someone having a herniated spinal disc. These include smoking, lack of exercise, sitting for long periods, and being overweight. Spinal discs can also lose some of their water as a person ages, which makes the discs less supple and more prone to cracking.
Symptoms related to a herniated disc vary. Some people can experience slight localised pain, while others experience severe shooting pain into the arms or legs. Organ dysfunction can
also occur in some individuals, as a result of pressure on the nerves that control the organ.
Appropriate treatment of a disc herniation will only be recommended after an examination. Your chiropractor is trained and qualified to provide professional health advice on suitable treatment options.
Although damage to the disc may heal, often the disc does not return to its full original strength. As a result, many people experience recurring back injuries even while lifting a light object or simply bending over. It can often end in a more serious
herniation as a result.
Many things can be done to avoid disc herniation or prevent a recurrence of an existing herniation. Core strength and flexibility are at the top of this list. Yoga, strengthening exercises, swimming, and walking all help maintain good core strength and flexibility. It’s also very important to maintain correct posture when carrying out daily tasks.
An active lifestyle and a healthy diet can directly impact the health of your spine and decrease the chance of a disc herniation occurring. Seek advice from your chiropractor about concerns or symptoms you have that might be related.
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We know that those who exercise and follow sensible healthy lifestyles live longer, healthier lives. More specifically, aerobic exercise is great for improving overall body function, stamina and fitness, but many people are unsure what it involves and how much to do.
What is aerobic exercise?
Sustained, low to moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, dancing, or any other activity comprising continuous energetic movement is known as ‘aerobic’ exercise. This means that it triggers the body’s oxygen use in the muscles to generate energy and burn calories.
How much should I exercise?
It depends on your starting point; if you currently do little exercise, start off gradually and progress towards an optimal exercise regime. Going straight from sedentary to serious sustained exercise can increase your risk of injury, or just prove so difficult and unenjoyable that you give up. It’s hard to say how much to exercise exactly; some health authorities recommend around three hours per week, spread out over several days. It’s okay to adapt the length and intensity of the exercise to suit your ability.
Any increase in your fitness level is a good thing; so be guided by your body, and gradually build-up the amount of aerobic exercise you do until you’re comfortable with your fitness and schedule.
Is it good for me?
Regular aerobic exercise is a great way to stay in shape and excellent for improving cardiovascular function—the health of
the heart and blood vessels. If you’re looking to build significant muscle mass however, aerobic exercise will need to be supplemented with high intensity exercise like weight training.
Aerobic exercise is achievable for many people as it can be adapted to suit most levels of ability and mobility; plus it can be a social activity. Many people find it easier and more enjoyable to exercise with a friend or in a group, and physical activity and socialising are both linked to good mental health.
If you have a specific health condition that might be affected by a sudden change in activity, remember to consult your health professional before you start.
Golf is a very popular sport for people of all ages, but it’s also one that can cause many players back pain if a few precautions aren’t taken. There are some key areas that can help prevent injury.
A proper warmup before starting your round of golf can dramatically decrease the chance of back injury. Start by walking for ten minutes to warm the muscles and joints of the body. Then perform a light stretching routine specifically targeting the hamstrings, lower back and shoulders. After stretching, a few minutes of light swinging with a club (not full golf swings), will prepare the joints and muscles for twisting. And finally, some practice shots on the driving range. Start with some easy pitch shots, then small irons before progressing to larger woods. Muscles that have been stretched gradually are much less prone to injury.
Golf is a unilateral sport; most players swing either right or left handed. This can cause an imbalance in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that protect the spine. These imbalances can lead to muscle tightness, muscle spasm, and even chronic pain. A simple tip to help avoid these imbalances is to take several swings with your opposite hand during your warm up and at least every other hole during the round.
Good balance, even weight distribution, and developing a correct technique for the swing can reduce stress to your lower back. When you first start to play golf it’s advisable to take lessons or advice from a sport professional to help you achieve the correct posture.
Strength training is sometimes overlooked by many golfers, or not considered very important, but it should be performed by all golfers. Be sure to focus on core strengthening exercises. Planks, cat-cow yoga poses, push-ups, and body weight squats are all simple, effective ways to start a core strengthening routine with no weights or gym membership needed. Of course a good weightlifting and/or yoga routine can help take your core fitness (and golf swing) to a new level.
If your technique has you missing rounds of golf due to nagging back pain, consult your chiropractor. Take care of your body and your golf handicap might just benefit as well!
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Adam's Back is a team of dedicated complimentary health professionals. Our aim is to support you in finding drug-free solutions for better health.