Gardening Ergonomics

Spring is here, the weather is warming up, sprouts are springing forth, and for some of you, that means that it is time to go play in the dirt. There is no question that springtime is a time to get the yard and garden ready to go and this can also mean the start of some aches and pains that come with kneeling on the ground and raking mulch or running all the equipment that has been packed away all winter as you help all your green friends recover from the (milder than normal) winter. Here are some tips to keep you from needing some recovery as well.

The work you are setting out to do is going to be fun but remember to get ready to do it. Like any other workouts it is important to include warm up and cool down periods. Preparing your body for these activities is important especially if you haven’t been doing these motions for awhile. It is also a good idea to add variety to your activities, and remember to take it easy.

Yard and Garden Fitness Stretches:

  • Breathing deeply and rhythmically, and being comfortable are the basics to remember while doing any stretches. You should feel no pain as you do your stretches.
  • While standing with one foot on a step or a bench, gently bend forward until you can feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh and hold for 15 seconds. Do this two times and repeat on the other side.
  • Stand up and balance yourself by holding a wall or other stable surface if needed. Bend one knee and grab your ankle with the hand on that same side. Pull your heel toward your buttocks and hold this position for 20 seconds to stretch your quadriceps muscle on the front of your thigh. Do this two times and repeat on the other side.
  • While standing, weave your fingers together with your palms up and lean to one side for 10 seconds. This should stretch the side of your upper body, then reverse to stretch the other side. Repeat this stretch 2 to 3 times.
  • “Hug your best friend” next by wrapping your arms around yourself after letting your breath out and rotate to one side. Stretch as far as you can comfortably go and hold for 10 seconds before you reverse. Repeat this fun little number 2 to 3 times.

There are other things to keep in mind as you go through your yard and garden workout:

  • Use good posture and body mechanics:
    • Kneel rather than bending at the waist while working in the garden.
    • Stand up as straight as possible and keep your head up as you mow and rake.
    • Bend at the knees, not the waist, as you pick up piles of leaves and grass.
  • Switch sides or positions as you work, especially if you are doing lots of repetitive motions.
  • Continue to stretch as you work and take frequent breaks.
  • Avoid the heat, when it is warm outside, try to do most of your work in the cooler mornings or evening if possible.
  • Drink lots of water, remember, this is a workout too.
  • You can bend and you can twist but try to avoid activities where you have to both bend and twist at the same time.
  • Make small piles of leaves or garden scraps to avoid the possibility of back strain.
  • Consider electric power tools and equipment as they are often much lighter than their engine powered brethren.
  • When using the mower, use your whole body weight to push the mower rather than just your arms and back.

After a satisfying day giving your green thumb a thorough workout you may feel some aches and pains despite your best efforts with warm up and cool down stretches. There are some ways to alleviate some of the discomfort by applying a cold pack to any sore areas for the first 48 hours and a heat pack after 48 hours. Consider chiropractic care if there is no improvement after 2 to 3 days.

Be safe. Be well. Be green.

Yours in health,

Dr. Kevin Leveille DC


Health & Organic FoodStand Up for Your Right to Know! Say “no!” to bad rules regarding GMOs!

If the U.S. government has its way, a powerful intergovernmental group you’ve probably never heard of may soon prevent anyone anywhere from labeling genetically modified (GMO) food.

Operated by the United Nations, the Codex Alimentarius is a collection of guidelines, codes and recommendations regarding food safety and labeling standards which are used by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to settle international disputes regarding food and agricultural trade agreements.

The U.S. Delegation to the Codex meeting is adopting a position that would make it virtually impossible to label foods as “GMO-free” anywhere in the world.

Stop this end-run around our democratic process and make sure the voice of the American people is heard on GMO labeling by signing this petition.

According to draft language circulated by the FDA, the U.S. will oppose a proposal at an upcoming meeting of an important Codex committee that would allow the labeling of genetically engineered food. Consumers Union and more than 80 family farm, public health, environmental and organic food organizations, including Food Democracy Now!, have raised concerns that the U.S. position will create major problems for American producers who want to label their products as “GMO-free.”

Unfortunately, rather than taking a proactive stance on GMO labeling and standing up for the rights of America’s citizens, the Obama administration has incorporated pre-existing Bush administration positions, stating that Codex should not “suggest or imply that GM/GE foods are in any way different from other foods.”

Leading national food policy experts believe this position directly contradicts USDA Organic standards, which prohibit the use of genetically engineered products. If adopted, the Obama administration’s proposal might not only weaken organic standards, but could also lead to further genetic contamination of U.S. organic crops – the fastest and most profitable segment of agriculture today.

Even worse, the current U.S. draft position paper declares that mandatory labeling laws such as they have in Europe are “false, misleading or deceptive.” If the U.S. succeeds in writing this proposed Codex regulation, any attempts to label foods here in the U.S. as genetically engineered, whether voluntary or by law, would become far more difficult, if not impossible.

This extreme position on genetically engineered food is unacceptable. Countries should be able to make their own decisions on the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Sign the petition today!

This is a great video on the state of our health care and how we can make changes to help ourselves:

immune challengesWith all the rage of the swine flu, I wanted to give you some information so you can stay informed.

Here is a link to the National Vaccine Information Center for those families who would like more information about the current flu: National Vaccine Information Center.

Also, my friend and colleague, Dr. Heather Rice, will be doing a teleseminar/ webinar on Wed Oct 28th on the topic of vaccinations. (I believe it is free of charge). For those interested in registering for the class call 802 985-9850 or send email to

As always we welcome you to come in and see us at Cedar Wood Chiropractic for a nutrition screening, chiropractic care or just to say hi!

Stay well and stay informed.

Hope this helps,
Dr.Suzy Harris

If you’re thinking of getting vaccinated know the facts first. The following video discusses the possible side affects this vaccine can cause. Just passing this on to help you stay informed during this cold and flu season.  Please come see us or shoot us an email and let us help you keep your immune system strong.

In the meantime here are some things you can do to try and stay healthy during flu season:

  • Cut out sugar, dairy, grains as much as you can and eat instead good proteins (meats, eggs, beans, quinoa, nuts) and good fats (olive oil, eggs, avocados, butter, coconut milk/oil, meats), yummy lower starch veggies – broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, green beans, etc.,
  • Drink lots of pure water (not tap)
  • Limit fruits (especially fruit juices– too high in sugar!) better fruits are berries and apples as opposed to high sugar fruits like banana, pineapple, mango and any dried fruits
  • Get lots of rest
  • Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your mouth/nose/face too much

Limit Your Grains

label readingCompared to the 1970s, Americans now consume 50% more grain products, mostly as white breads, refined-flour pastas, and corn as snack chips.

There has been a tremendous amount of debate regarding grains. Whole unprocessed grains can be a rich source of vitamins and minerals, but with soil depletion and the special strain of grains that modern agriculture has developed, it isn’t clear what nutrients remain. The two predominantly used grains in this country are genetically engineered and have 5 times the gluten content and only 1/3 of the protein content of the original wheat from which it was derived. The high gluten content is to blame for patients’ allergic reaction.

The Evidence is Clear

Scholars have studied disease patterns and the decline of various civlizations, and found many of the degenerative diseases developed when cultivation of grains became a major part of their diet. Chemicals naturally found in certain grains, lack of the appropriate enzymes and the carbohydrate content of grains make them a source of trouble for many individuals. Our opinion at this time is to minimize grains such as wheat and barley. Unprocessed rye, rolled oats, and brown rice can be considered on occasion to give you more variety. Danish and German brown breads like pumpernickel seem to be nutritious.

For more information about grains, more fun health tips and a great recipe for Roast Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Basil, check out our Fall 2009 Newsletter.

healthy-foodSugar, dairy and wheat are common allergens. They are relatively new foods to humans — they are not foods we ate as hunter-gatherers, therefore our bodies are not used to digesting them. These three foods, especially in their processed forms (refined white sugar, breads, pasta, baked goods), are difficult to digest and cause inflammation in our digestive systems as well as all over our bodies.

Inflammation is a reaction of the immune system; its presence means that the body has found something offending and is trying to get rid of it. An inflamed bowel will not absorb nutrients efficiently and may cause fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion or any number of other maladies. In some cases, the inflammation can appear in the skin, joints, and muscles causing headaches, arthritis, acne, and eczema, to name but a few.

Wheat contains a compound called gluten. Gluten is notoriously difficult to digest. Many people are sensitive to it. Gluten intolerance can lead to inflammation of the bowel causing indigestion, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and even asthma. Furthermore, processed wheat products like breads, pastas, and baked goods, plus starchy foods like potatoes, are broken down to sugar very quickly in the body. This causes a spike in blood-glucose levels, which causes your pancreas to produce a lot of insulin in a short amount of time.

If these insulin spikes happen often, insulin resistance can result. When this occurs, elevated levels of sugar and insulin are found in the blood, making it difficult for your body to appropriately convert sugar into energy. This condition leads to metabolic disorders including diabetes, fatigue, high blood pressure, weight gain/inability to lose weight, bloating, and even depression!

Eating refined sugar products causes the same insulin spikes as stated above.

Dairy contains lactose, a sugar. Lactose intolerance, even in milder forms, is very common in adults. Lactase is the name of the enzyme our bodies use to digest lactose. However, this enzyme is mainly found in children, causing lactose intolerance to appear in adults. Lactose intolerance is characterized by bloating/gas, nausea, cramps, and diarrhea.

Dairy also contains a large amount of an animal protein known as casein. Casein is a very large molecule that takes a lot more time and energy for the body to digest. Some people cannot digest this protein at all, while some people can digest it but only in small amounts. Cow’s milk can have up to 300 times the amount of protein as other types of milk, making it a taxing food for the body’s digestive system. Again, if you are eating something that your bowels have a hard time breaking down and using as nutrients, your body will react with inflammation. Inability to digest casein results in vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, hives, and other skin rashes.

When these foods are reduced or removed from one’s diet, the body will be given a chance to focus on healing instead of using all of its energy on trying to digest these difficult foods. You will find that shifting your diet away from processed foods and towards whole foods (vegetables, lean meats, low-sugar fruits) will not only make you feel better, but it will be the first step in addressing all of your health concerns!

Keep in mind: whenever deciding to change your food intake, moderation is the key! It isn’t always necessary to avoid wheat, sugar, and dairy altogether. The best thing for you is to find the appropriate balance in your diet.

Yours in health,
Dr. Suzy Harris
Clinical Nutritionist/Chiropractic Physician