Prevent and Prevail
BY: JENNIFER RATANAPRATUM
About 8 percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution successfully achieve their goal. Health related New Year’s resolutions can be found at the top of most people’s list, whether they are already in shape or not. As college students, we expend so much of our time and energy on school, work and relationships, while our physical wellness gets pushed to the sidelines. We can get caught up in front of computer screens or tablets for long periods of time. Yet, we neglect to think about how these compounding habits will affect our health in the future.
Dr. Jean-Pierre Khreich from Fitness Chiropractic and Massage Therapy in Long Beach says the key to keeping our body balanced is curing the cause before the effect. “Prevention is more beneficial than treatment,” Khreich says. Khreich treats many Cal State Long Beach students and teachers in his Long Beach facilities. He says he sees the same kinds of problems over and over again. “I always have the same topic to talk about with students and teachers,” Khreich says. “We joke about it- we call it the student-teacher syndrome.” This “syndrome” affects those who sit all day and spend more than three to five hours in front of a computer, iPad, smart phone or writing and reading. Long before technology became a large part of everyday life, we were very active. The need for physical exertion was necessary in almost every part of life. Now, the labor saving devices we so much depend on, such as computers, can lead to a variety of problems such as obesity, postural distortions in the spine and joint dysfunction in wrists, also known as carpal tunnel. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, “low-back pain is a primary cause of musculoskeletal degeneration seen in the adult population” affecting nearly 80 percent of all adults. This occurs when a person spends long hours sitting still and not moving. To produce any type of movement, our nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems must work together to stimulate that movement. Sitting at a desk all day can put a lot of stress on the muscles, and the effects are not felt until later in the day. “A lot of people tell me ‘Yeah, you know I feel fine during the daytime, but when I go to sleep, everything goes into spasm,’” Khreich says. When someone has been sitting slouched over a computer all day and then they try to sleep and relax; all the muscles that have been stretched go into spasm, “causing headaches, chronic neck pain and upper back pain,” he says. The headaches occur because the tight muscles pinch the blood going up and down the brain and restrict blood flow. Khreich teaches students how to compensate for bad posture as a preventative measure. “Number one trick is always keeping your shoulders touching the back of the chair when you’re sitting down at a computer, and if you cannot setup your computer with your shoulders touching the chair, that means you are ergonomically incorrect,” he says. Khreich recommends using proper ergonomics while sitting at a desk for hours at a time. He says this reduces the tension that gravity forces on us, thereby decreasing pain from the neck, back, shoulders and wrists.
“It’s easier to prevent you from going to that bad posture than to dealing with your body and trying to reverse what you’ve damaged,” Khreich says.
Headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and carpal tunnel are common problems Khreich He says that college students, typically, experience a drastic change in their lifestyle when they start attending college. Many students go from playing team sports or high activity in high school to drinking alcohol and exercising less. “You’re taking 18 units, you discover drinking and you’re not exercising as much,” Khreich says. “Gaining weight will also make your posture even worse.” What we eat affects aspects of our health that is much deeper than an emotional feeling; it is a vital component to maintaining health from the inside out. The choices we make from meals to snacks ultimately determine how we feel and look. Being attentive, listening and responding to our body appropriately by putting in the essential nutrients for our bodies will help us feel better about our choices and develop healthier habits for the future. Junior Cal State Long Beach nutrition major Jennifer Miller has adopted a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent illness. “I think that exercise, nutrition and health all play a huge role in preventative health,” Miller says. “The more frequently you exercise, the better you eat, and the more regular your sleep patterns are, the less likely you are to get sick from not being in a healthy state.” Obesity is connected to an array of other diseases. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer…” These conditions alter our body composition, therefore, causing an imbalance in our body. “For me, eating right and exercising go together, and I have a hard time doing one without the other,” says CSULB nutrition and dietetics major Erin Moore. Moore says she tries to be a role model for others when it comes to healthy eating and living.
“My biggest tip for staying fit and healthy is to stick with it,” she says. “You can't eat healthy one day or go on one run or have one good workout and expect to be super fit and healthy. It takes time. Once you start seeing or feeling even the smallest change you won't believe how much more you become capable of."
Fitness Chiropractic and Massage Therapy is located at 100 Oceangate Blvd, P280 Long Beach, CA 90802. Services offered include chiropractic care, physical rehabilitation, massage therapy, acupuncture, personal training and cold laser therapy.