Hydration is Key to Performance!

Summer is here as are summer sports! This past weekend I participated in the Ragnar Northwest Passage Race, where I was reminded of the importance of proper hydration when exercising as well as in daily life. IMG_20170716_213251_01

All too often, we forget to stay hydrated, leave the water bottle at home, and find ourselves with a dry mouth or muscle cramps, etc later. This is extremely evident when looking at runners, cyclists, and triathletes who compete in long duration activities. Even slight dehydration can immensely impact performance and recovery.

Exercise performance is impaired when an individual is dehydrated by as little as 2% of body weight. Losses in excess of 5% of body weight can decrease the capacity for work by about 30% (Armstrong et al. 1985; Craig and Cummings 1966; Maughan 1991; Sawka and Pandolf 1990).

As indicated by the above quote, it is possible to determine your level of hydration vs dehydration using your bathroom scale. A best practice is to weigh yourself naked before your workout, then again after. When you compare the numbers, you can see if you were adequately hydrating during your exercise. A discrepancy indicates that you need to increase your fluid intake during the course of your workout.


Remember, that drinking only when thirsty is not an accurate way to assess hydration. You are already dehydrated when you are thirsty! Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the course of every day is beneficial to overall health and it is best not to be dehydrated when beginning your exercise!

It may also be of benefit to discuss your hydration levels and training practices with your coach, medical doctor, chiropractor, PT, etc and assess your specific needs including electrolyte intake.

While dehydration impacts overall health, many times we first see this as a drop in performance.

According to Human Kinetics, dehydration impacts performance for the following reasons: reduction in blood volume, decreased skin blood flow, decreased sweat rate, decreased heat dissipation, increased core temperature, and increased rate of muscle glycogen use.


Please speak with your health care provider regarding your individual needs as an athlete, whether you run 5K’s or 100 mile races. Each person’s body has unique needs and this blog is intended for informational purposes only. If you would like to speak with Seed of Life Chiropractic and Wellness, LLC about your health, please make an appointment!


The Shoulder: A Delicate Balance

The shoulder is a delicate balance between stability and flexibility. Part of the shoulder complex, the glenohumeral joint, has the largest range of motion in the body. Our shoulders sacrifice their stability for that range of motion.


The shoulder consists of several joints.

Acromioclavicular Joint

The acromioclavicular joint is a joint between the shoulder blade (scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle). Where these two bones meet is the only physical articulation holding the arm onto the body. On your body, you can feel this joint by placing your left hand on the front of your right shoulder then raising your arm. You should feel the collarbone rock and roll under your fingers. In the image below, it is indicated by the arrow labeled (1).

R anterior shoulder

Glenohumeral Joint

The glenohumeral joint is visualized in the image above, labeled (2).

This joint is what most people think of when they refer to their shoulder. When you think of the proportions, it is almost equivalent to a baseball sitting on a golf tee. The glenohumeral joint provides us with the most range of motion in the shoulder complex.

Scapulothoracic Joint

The scapulothoracic joint is probably the most overlooked part of the shoulder complex. Visualized in the image below, this joint refers to the relationship between the shoulder blade and the rib cage. As the arm is brought away from the side, the shoulder blade has to depress and rotate in order for the glenohumeral joint to have space to move.Posterior Scapulothoracic view

Put it all together…

When these three joints are considered as a whole, they make up the shoulder complex.  The shoulder is an intimate relationship between these joints, mobility in the cervical spine (neck), and balance in over twenty one muscles.

It’s no wonder that injuries to the shoulder are some of the most complicated and frustrating to rehabilitate. It is important to seek out a provider who has experience working with this joint and understands its anatomy well.

Some common injuries associated with the shoulder include:x-ray-1884888_1280

  • Dislocation
  • Multiplanar Instability
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Labral Tears
  • Chronic Tendinitis
  • Impingement Syndrome
  • Biceps Tendon Tears
  • Rotator Cuff Injury
  • etc.

A Delicate Balance

One of the most important messages that I have learned from the shoulder is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure- as cliche as that sounds! By ensuring that your cervical spine, thoracic spine, and the shoulder joint are moving in a balanced and healthy way,  you can prevent many painful shoulder conditions.

Please seek out a healthcare professional such as a Chiropractor, Physical Therapist, Massage Therapist, or Sports Medicine Specialist to evaluate your personal movement patterns for imbalances.

What in the heck is Pandiculation?

This weekend, while cruising Facebook, I stumbled across a blog discussing pandiculation versus stretching. They posit that pandiculation is more effective than stretching at changing muscle length and improving flexibility. Completely fascinated, I have started learning more…

Pandiculation Defined:

Dictionary.com defines Pandiculation as a noun. “The act of stretching oneself.” It then goes on to explain that it is most commonly associated with yawning.

Interesting, but I am pretty sure that we all recognize that a yawn is a much different kind of stretch than we achieve from a toe-touch. (Are you yawning yet? Because I am.) The real question is: Why do we feel looser in our jaw, neck, and even shoulders from a yawn, when a voluntary stretch is not as effective?

Perhaps Dictionary.com’s definition is a little incomplete.

EssentialSomatics.com defines Pandiculation as:

A conscious, voluntary contraction of a muscle, followed by a slow, deliberate lengthening of that muscle and a complete relaxation

They further explain that the conscious, voluntary component of pandiculation helps to reset the way our brain perceives the length of our muscles. For the neurology, read this.

Pandiculation versus Stretch

Essentially, pandiculation changes our brain’s understanding of muscle length, acting as a sort of soft reset.

It is important to contrast this with an understanding of our basic stretch. When we stretch a muscle, as in our hamstrings with a toe touch, a reflex tells the spinal cord that is happening in the muscle. This triggers a return signal to the muscle to contract or shorten. This defeats the intention of the toe touch and can actually reduce muscle power afterward. (See the first link in this post for more details)

This seems to indicate that if we truly want to lengthen a muscle, we must control that movement and engage the brain.

Why does it matter/How to apply this

I started reading about this during my down-time at a trail marathon and 50K where I was providing post race soft tissue work for athletes. While assessing the runners, I began to notice trends in their imbalances as well as how hamstrings and glute muscles responded to even a gentle evaluation of length/tension. They tend to cramp or contract in protest! This is a perfect setting to understand that basic stretch reflex. Many of these runners would benefit from an understanding of applied Pandiculation. (Which may be my new favorite word)

One of the best human examples of pandiculation mentioned earlier was yawning. Yawning is a controlled contraction of the muscles in the lower jaw and neck followed by a gradual release.

Now, think about your cat or dog at home. Have you ever seen your feline friend get up from sleeping without that luxurious stretch that they hold and then gently release? I am pretty sure that my cats are expert pandiculaters.


As humans, most of this is not instinctual for us as it is with our pets. However, yoga is one form of exercise that applies pandiculation to its movements. I know that I sometimes walk into a yoga class unable to touch my toes in forward bend, but after a few flows, I am so much looser and stay that way for days. A great yoga practice literally resets your brain’s perception of muscle length.

Take Home

It is hugely important to make sure that you are training your body with intention and the help of professionals! It is possible to avoid injury, increase power and endurance, and improve overall performance by learning more about your own body’s balance and imbalances. Please work with your health care provider to ensure that your workouts and your body are balanced and appropriate for you. If you are in the greater Seattle area and would like a consultation regarding your fitness, please feel free to contact us at (206)565-9691 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Samelak.

And just for fun… try saying Pandiculation three times, quickly!


Muscle Testing and Chiropractic- Applied Kinesiology

As a Chiropractor, one of my main techniques is Applied Kinesiology. While in Chiropractic school, I obtained my 100 hour certification in this technique. According to the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK):

Applied Kinesiology (AK) is a system that evaluates structural, chemical and mental aspects of health using manual muscle testing combined with other standard methods of diagnosis… The combined terms “applied” and “kinesiology” describe the basis of this system, which is the use of manual muscle testing to evaluate body function through the dynamics of the musculoskeletal system

The basis of Applied Kinesiology is in the manual muscle test.

When working with patients, I use the muscles of the body as indicators to help me decide where there is stress in the system and what I can do to help support the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. A manual muscle test involves isolating a specific muscle in the body- like the deltoid or the latissimus dorsi, and checking to make sure that it is “turned on” or working how it should.

This can seem mystical and magical, but all boils down to basic neurology. Can the brain find that particular muscle and tell it to do a specific task? If it can’t, why not? According to the ICAK:

Manual muscle tests evaluate the ability of the nervous system to adapt the muscle to meet the changing pressure of the examiner’s test. This requires that the examiner be trained in the anatomy, physiology, and neurology of muscle function. The action of the muscle being tested, as well as the role of synergistic muscles, must be understood. Manual muscle testing is both a science and an art. To achieve accurate results, muscle tests must be performed according to a precise testing protocol. The following factors must be carefully considered when testing muscles in clinical and research settings:

• Proper positioning so the test muscle is the prime mover

• Adequate stabilization of regional anatomy

• Observation of the manner in which the patient or subject assumes and maintains the test position

• Observation of the manner in which the patient or subject performs the test

• Consistent timing, pressure, and position

• Avoidance of preconceived impressions regarding the test outcome

• Nonpainful contacts – nonpainful execution of the test

• Contraindications due to age, debilitative disease, acute pain, and local pathology or inflammation

What all of that means is this: It is important that a practitioner using manual muscle testing (MMT) is able to be consistent, specific, and observant when evaluating the human body. By ensuring that all muscle tests that are performed follow these basic guidelines, the results of a muscle test should be clinically useful. (ie: They should help me to tell what is going on with my patient. )

For example, when there is severe low back pain, are the muscles in the pelvis and lower back properly supporting the spine? If not, why not? How can we turn them on and make sure that they are doing their job?

In 2007, a paper was published in the Journal of Chiropractic and Osteopathy that evaluates the reliability and validity of the MMT through a review of the literature. This paper found that there is significant evidence to support the clinical use of the manual muscle test in practice; however, the experience of the provider and the adherence to specific guidelines for muscle testing is important. This review suggests that muscle testing is a useful way to evaluate the neuromusculoskeletal system, but it will be important to continue studying MMT and to incorporate randomized controlled trials, if possible.

3 Summer Fitness Trends to Try This Summer

Summer weather is here! It is warm enough to spend time out of doors and move from our winter fitness routines to summer fun. Read on to learn about 3 outdoor fitness trends that provide more than physical health benefits.

Paddle Boarding

You’ve probably seen them out in the Sound or on Lake Washington. Paddle boarding season is here! This fun fitness trend provides a full-body workout. However, its benefits don’t stop there.

paddle-board-1122355_1920.jpgPaddle boarding is a great way to improve balance. If you have a history of ankle or knee injury, balance work can help to prevent future injuries by improving proprioception (the way your body finds its limbs in space). It is important to check with your health care provider before beginning balance work following injury. For more benefits of Paddle Boarding, check out this article.

Outdoor Yoga

Yoga is a fantastic way to balance the spine and support the core. It helps to normalize and optimize breathing. Many people are turning to yoga to improve mental and physical health.

A great twist on your conventional  yoga class is Outdoor Yoga. According to Yoga Journal, benefits of outdoor yoga sessions include:

  1. Replentishing Depleted Energyyoga-2176668_1920
  2. Heightened Awareness
  3. Boosted Confidence
  4. Enhanced Meditative Benefits

Whether you join an organized class or choose to do some sun salutations on the beach at Discovery Park, you can reap the benefits of an outdoor yoga session.

Cycling Club

bicycle-1869432_1920The time has come! Ditch the spin bike and hit the trails and bike paths. Seattle has so many trails and you are sure to see groups of people on the weekends. Join in. Build your cycling skills and learn to repair your own bike. (Pssst! You can make new friends while you are at it!) Working out with a group helps you to commit to your fitness. They act like accountability partners.

Get Outside and Enjoy the Summer!

It is important to spend time in the summer sun, getting fresh air, exploring nature, and making Vitamin D. Always be sure to consult with a healthcare provider prior to starting a new fitness regime. Looking for a Seattle Chiropractor? Check out the rest of our website to learn more about Seed of Life Chiropractic and Wellness, LLC and Dr. Samelak- our Chiropractic Physician.

Why should I take fish oil in pregnancy?

Congratulations! You’re thinking about getting pregnant or you are already pregnant! This is such a beautiful time in life with so much excitement and so many decisions to make. From building a team to surround you in your journey to deciding what to eat and/or what supplements to take.


Omega 3 Fatty Acids


Omega 3 Fatty Acids cannot be made by our bodies, so they must be consumed either in our diets or via supplementation.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are made up of EPA and DHA. These component parts have separate areas in the body which they benefit, though they work together within the body. The EPA portion of Omega 3 supports the heart and immune system. It also helps to minimize inflammation, while DHA supports the brain and nervous system(“Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation During Pregnancy,” Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Fall; 1(4):162-169.) This suggests that a high quality fish oil product is an essential part of any prenatal regimen.

According to americanpregnancy.org, “Omega-3 fatty acids have positive effects on the pregnancy itself. Increased intake of EPA and DHA has been shown to prevent pre-term labor and delivery, lower the risk of preeclampsia, and may increase birth weight. Omega-3 deficiency also increases the mother’s risk for depression. This may explain why postpartum mood disorders may become worse and begin earlier with subsequent pregnancies.”

This barely scratches the surface of the benefits research is discovering regarding supplementation with fish oil throughout life and especially during pregnancy.

Where to get Omega 3 Fatty Acids in your diet.


While all fish contain some amount of Omega 3’s, some have larger concentrations. According to the University of Michigan the top 5 fish with high concentrations of Omega 3 Fatty acids include:

  1. European Canned Anchovies (in oil)
  2. Wild Salmon
  3. Pacific and Jack mackerel
  4. Sable Fish/Black Cod
  5. Whitefish

It is important to be sure to discuss your fish consumption with your birth provider and to avoid fish that are higher in mercury. Many providers have a handout in office that they are happy to provide you.

What to look for in a supplement.

A fish oil supplement has several key features that you need to understand.

Not all fish oil supplements are created equally. It is important to ensure that your fish oil has been verified by a third party with regards to sourcing and quality. A fish oil should not smell “fishy” nor should it taste “fishy”. These oils are generally not of high quality. Often, a flavor is used to cover up this taste. Some fish oils are even made into a tablet with other vitamins like Vitamin D or E to help in digestion.

Seeking out a high quality fish oil supplement, often sold through health care practitioners, is very important.

This blog is intended as a review of resources for general education. It is not intended for the diagnosis or treatment of disease, and statements made have not been approved by the FDA. Please consult with your health care practitioner regarding your personal health needs.


Take a Quick Fitness Test!

That’s right! Stand up from your desk. Put down that phone (okay, after you have finished reading this blog) and perform a quick fitness check.

Sitting Rising Test

Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo, was determined to find an easier way to assess musculoskeletal fitness in his patients. In a paper published in the European Journal of Cardiology  in 2012, he revealed his findings. Dr. Araujo took a large sample size (2002 individuals) between 51 and 80 years of age. He had them perform a simple exercise: The Sitting-Rising Test.

Let’t try it together! (images of this can be found here)

  1. Take your shoes off and stand in an open space
  2. Without support, lower yourself to a seated position, cross-legged on the floor
  3. Try to stand back up without using your hands, arms, knees, etc.

How’d you do?

To score yourself, first, look at sitting. You start out with 5 points. Did you have to take a knee, use a hand, or any other type of support? If so, subtract 1 point for every aid you needed.

Now, how about standing? How many supports did you need to get back to your feet? Subtract 1 point for every aid you needed.

Take your 2 scores and add them together. This is your final score.

What does it all mean?

Dr. Araujo’s study found that lower scores were found in individuals who had a higher mortality risk at 6+ years; whereas higher scores demonstrated significant improvement in survival.

This makes the Sitting Rising Test an excellent predictor of mortality in people between 51 and 80 years of age. It evaluates both muscle strength and flexibility. As we age, one of the most dangerous risks is being able to get up off the floor after a fall.

The good news is this: You are not stuck with your score!

If you didn’t score as highly as you wished, especially if you are under 51 years of age, there is plenty that you can do to improve. This test can be an excellent reality check! Start by talking to your primary care doctor or chiropractor about your findings. Many times, they can watch you perform the test and make suggestions for ways to improve your score. Maybe you have some de-conditioned muscles and would benefit from working with a PT. Maybe there are a few home exercises that would enhance your flexibility and strength. Maybe a yoga or other organized class would provide the support you need.

What is important is getting evaluated by a movement specialist and having them target your areas for improvement. We are all individuals and need to be assessed as such.

As always, you are in charge of your health and wellness! Please make sure that you are safe when you perform this test and have someone there to help you should you need assistance at any time.

Whole Food Nutrition and Chiropractic

“You are what you eat. So don’t be fast, cheap, or easy”- unknown

This is one of my all-time favorite quotes regarding healthy eating. Many times it is easy to forget that the things we choose to eat are the building blocks that our body has to maintain and repair itself.

lunchbox-1375317_1280.pngUnfortunately, in our country (and in most of the world) the soil that our food is grown in is depleted of essential nutrients like minerals. Our school cafeterias provide meals that are devoid of nutrition. Our grocery stores are filled with food-like products instead of food. The products we put on our bodies contribute to hormone disruption. It is hard to know what to eat in order to get proper nutrition- and sometimes it is impossible to eat enough of a certain food to be healthy.

why whole food nutrition?

Whole food nutrition is based upon optimizing the diet and removing items that are harming us as well as supplementing the diet with supplements derived from FOOD. This combination is amazingly powerful.


Supplements that are made from whole foods are easily recognized by the body and very bioavailable. This means that you digest them easily and your body understands where to use them. It also means that when you read the labels, you actually know what is in them!


Whole food supplements FEED your body- they help you to build a healthier structure!!!

This is why many Chiropractors evaluate nutrition in their patients.

The nerves of the body all originate from the spinal cord and branch out at specific levels of the spine before plugging into muscles and organs to supply them with information. You can think of them like wires. Without proper nutritional support, many times Chiropractors notice areas of recurrent dysfunction in the spine or ligaments that are not as strong as they should be. By FEEDING the body with dietary modifications and whole food supplements, we see balance not just in the spine, but in the whole body.

It is important to be analyzed as an individual before beginning any dietary or lifestyle changes. Supplements are used to support the spine and the body as it undergoes life challenges.

Nutrition is an integral part of practice at Seed of Life Chiropractic and Wellness, LLC.

Make Fitness a Family Affair

Color RunThis weekend my husband and I ran the Color Run in Seattle. It was a last minute thing, and we had an amazing time! One of the things that touched my heart was seeing all the families that came out to do the run together. It really got me thinking about how more families can start making healthier choices with their children.


Children learn from their parents, siblings, and those that are around them most. It is so important, therefore, to lead by example.

We have evolved a special and very powerful form of learning. That special form of learning is “imitation,” the ability to learn behavior from observing the actions of others. Imitation is so commonplace among adults and children that it is often overlooked in infancy, but infants make good use of imitation. Understanding imitation in infancy changes the way we look at infants. In so doing, it changes the way we look at ourselves, because we begin to see ourselves reflected in the behavior of our youngest children.-Born to Learn

Think of the activities that make up a healthy and fit lifestyle. This may include:

  • Healthy eating
  • Working out
  • Choosing Family and Friends over media and devices
  • Having a spiritual practice
  • Family Chiropractic Care
  • And so much more!!!

By engaging our children in these activities and ensuring that we are showing them our dedication, we can teach them the foundations of fitness.

Healthy Eating

You are what you eat! The things that we put into our bodies, be they food or food-like-substances are the building blocks that our muscles, skin, organs, etc are made of. Some fitness experts say that 80% of fitness happens in the kitchen. It is so important to teach kids how to prepare real food. In fact, many times children who are picky eaters will try new foods when they have been involved in making them!fruits-320136_1280

Cooking with children also means that they learn about what whole food ingredients go into a home-made meal. Later on, when they learn to read and look at labels, they won’t see some of the same ingredients they know go in spaghetti sauce or bread on store labels. This is an excellent way to talk to kids about food additives and preservatives.

They also get to spend quality time with you and learn from you in a really authentic way about food and, often, family. One of the things I wish I had done was cook more with my Aunt. She has all of the family recipes in her head- not on paper. Family heritage can easily be passed down in the kitchen.

Working Out

From a young age, there are many classes that get parents and their children involved in fitness. Seattle Holistic Center offers a variety of classes that encourage families to engage in fitness together. Choosing an after dinner walk or a family trip to a park on a Saturday are other ways to ditch the TV and get active with your kids. When these activities become part of everyday life, it is easier to maintain and fitness is an integral part of family.

It is important to work out without your kids, too. Talking to your children about going to a yoga class or playing basketball with friends lets them know that you are taking care of your body. It also gives you some de-stress time.

Ditch the Devices

iphone-500291_1280More and more devices rule our existence. They manage our schedules, tell us when to get up in the morning, we get sucked into Facebook and Twitter, and we spend time with them instead of our families.

It’s time to ditch the devices.

Some families are starting to have tech-free dinner or family time that is designated. The phones, tablets, and computers are put away in favor of game night. No phones are allowed in bedrooms or at the dinner table. Families spend time with one another.

If you are reading this and thinking …. my kids are grown, but what would we even talk about at family dinners? Try a game like Table Topics. These cards have questions on them that are meant to start discussion- and you never know what you will learn about friends or family. It’s never too late to put your phone away!

Spiritual Practice

More and more research is being performed that examines the value of taking time away for self. For some this may be an organized religion, self meditation practice, yoga practice, or simply quiet time alone. No matter how you choose to practice, it is becoming more and more apparent that our bodies and brains need time to disengage and reboot.

Kids can learn from this in a big way. More and more programs are available for kids guided meditation through apps and in person instruction.

Many families find that setting time aside for family reflection about a Bible verse, poem, idea, or object is a way to get everyone involved in practicing together.

Family Chiropractic Care

iphone-500291_1280I love when I see whole families making wellness a priority. Chiropractic care is an essential part of health and wellness and as a family oriented Chiropractor, nothing makes me smile more than checking an infant, their siblings, parents, and grandparents all together. Keeping everyone’s nervous systems functioning at their highest level helps to improve overall health. Plus, many parents and grandparents find that it helps them to keep up with their kids!

I hope that you have gotten some ideas for how to integrate fitness into your family. If you have tried some of these things or have comments, please feel free to leave them below!

What is arthritis, anyway?

The general term Arthritis means joint inflammation. It is a term used to describe a category of conditions. There are many kinds of arthritis including psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, infectious arthritis, and more. Due to lifestyle and previous injuries, many people end up with a diagnosis of “Arthritis” in their knees, hips, or spine at some point in their lives. Often times, this is blamed for pain and discomfort when studies show that, “a poor correlation exists among the extend of radiologic changes and clinical signs and symptoms.” [1] This means that many times we see arthritis on x-ray or CT when the patient has no signs or symptoms of pain or inflammation in the area. figure-1707104_1920

This is great news! It means that just because you have been told that you have arthritis, doesn’t mean you are doomed to a lifetime of pain and discomfort.  

Garden variety osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease, “a progressive, non-inflammatory disease characterized by degenerative pathologic changes in articular cartilage and its related components.” [1] Simply, a joint that has DJD has moved improperly or been injured in the past. In order to protect it, the body has made changes in the cartilage or added calcium (like in bone spurs) to help protect the joint.

Many times Chiropractic care and Physical Therapy can work to retrain the patient’s brain and body into a better, more supportive posture or movement pattern. This can eliminate discomfort associated with arthritis AND help to slow its advance. In fact, many times in my practice, I have been able to work with patients to restore their function and improve their quality of life by teaching them to move more effectively.

Do you have questions about arthritis? Post them in the comment section below!

This blog is not intended to provide medical advice. It is always recommended that each person consult with their own healthcare provider about their individual case before making major lifestyle changes.

[1] Yochum and Rowe’s Essentials of Skeletal Radiology, Third Edition; pages 958-959