Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Vacation - Tips for Taking a Road Trip with Diabetes

Road trips are a summertime favorite among families and young people alike. But road tripping with diabetes can be challenging, especially in the summer heat!

If you are going on your first road trip after being diagnosed with diabetes or taking a diabetic friend or family member along on your summer vacation you will want to plan appropriately to make sure everyone has fun and stays safe along the way. Here are some great tips to manage diabetes during summertime get-aways.

Before You Leave...
  • Plan Your Route

    Plan out your route ahead of time so that you know how far you will be traveling each day, where rest stops are located, and where you can stop and eat. Leaving these essential elements to chance can be increase the risk of having a diabetic incident.

  • Get an Up-to-Date Map

    A physical map, GPS system, or a map application on your cell phone will help you find rest stops, convenience stores, drug stores, and hospitals along the way should you need them.

What to Pack
  • Plenty of Diabetes Supplies

    Absolutely be sure to pack your insulin, syringes, glucose monitor, and any other diabetes supplies and medicines that you need. Many diabetics report using about twice as many supplies as usual when on vacation due to changes in diet, exercise, and sleep patterns; so to be on the safe side, you should pack about three times as many supplies as you think you will need.

  • A Small Cooler

    Insulin and glucose meters are sensitive and do not hold up well in the heat. Leaving these supplies in the car for as little as 10 minutes in the summer can affect them - insulin can lose its effectiveness and glucose meters can be damaged. Always be sure to bring diabetes supplies with you when leaving the car, or for greater convenience, pack them in a cooler.

  • Snacks and Water

    Pack snacks and plenty of water to hold you over between stops - this will help you regulate your blood sugar and stay hydrated on stretches where there may not be travel conveniences available.

  • A Container for Syringes

    It is important to have a container on hand for syringe disposal. Either plan to bring something with you or use something you pick up along the way. Some vacationing diabetics just use items of convenience like a plastic bottle, but small individual sharps containers are discrete and easy to carry when traveling.

Travel Tips

  • Wear Appropriate Clothing

    Any time you are driving long distances it is important to wear the right clothing, but for a diabetic on vacation it is especially important to wear appropriate clothing. Diabetics should wear breathable, loose fitting clothing and comfortable, supportive diabetic footwear.

  • Check Your Blood Sugar

    Make sure to check your blood sugar before you leave and then regularly throughout the trip. Knowing how your blood sugar is doing will allow you to assess your situation and deal with any minor issues before they become major issues.

  • Stop and Go for a Walk

    Whether or not you have diabetes it is a good idea to stop every 2-4 hours to get out and stretch. If you have diabetes use these breaks to take a brief walk to help you keep your exercise level up.

  • Keep a Normal Routine

    Maintaining a normal sleep schedule can be especially difficult on a road trip because you are sleeping in a new place each night, but sticking to a regular routine can help keep your diabetes in check.

  • Hand Over the Keys

    Once you are on the road it is easy to want to keep going, but if you notice that you are not feeling well, for whatever reason, make sure to let someone else drive or pull over.

Following these tips can ensure that vacationing with diabetes will be fun and memorable!

Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition, or be taken as medical advice. For more information related to your unique situation, please speak with your personal physician.

About the Author: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is one of North America's premiere medical brace distributors. Based in Houston Texas, MMAR specializes in orthopedic braces, splints and supports, as well as diabetic footwear and cold therapy products.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Identifying & Avoiding Back Pain

Whether the result of a strained muscle or a health condition, most of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. For many, this back pain will be temporary and can be relieved with an ibuprofen or a quick stretch. However, those who find themselves experiencing chronic or severe back pain may need to see their doctor as this could indicate other problems.

Many of us experience back pain at work due to the requirements of our job; heaving lifting, repetitive movements, and sitting at a desk all day can all take a toll on your back and cause stiffness, aches, and pain. The most common types of back pains are muscle spasms which can be caused by most daily activities from stretching to bending; however more serious conditions can affect the vertebrae disks, whether from aging (disk degeneration), arthritis, or issues affecting the sacroiliac joints.

What Causes Back Pain?

Back pain is often caused by one of the following: force, posture, and stress. These are the most common contributors to back pain, especially in the work environment. Force occurs when you exert too much pressure on your back, such as when lifting or moving heavy objects. Those in factory and construction work, as well as most physical laborers, are at most risk for these types of injury. Many workplaces now either provide or require that employees wear a back brace in order to stave off injuries. Posture and stress injuries most often occur in those who lead more sedentary lives, such as those with desk jobs or whose jobs require less mobility. Slouching can lead to muscle fatigue and eventual injury, while pressure and stress levels cause muscle tension and tightness which exacerbate back problems. For older patients, back pain may indicate arthritis, disk slippage or deterioration, or another health condition.

How to Avoid Back Pain

  1. Work it out: Exercise has been linked to improvements in every aspect of health and this is not different. Maintaining a healthy weight decreases stress on your back and regular exercise will strengthen chest, back and core muscles which will distribute effort evenly on your body as opposed to putting strain on your back. In order to support the spine, the most important muscles to strengthen are the abdominals. As for cardio, the best exercises are also the most simple – walking, biking, swimming and walking up the stairs!

  2. Straighten Up!: If you spend much of your day seated, make sure that your desk and chair are positioned in such a way as to alleviate back strain. When seated, your feet should touch the floor and knees should be level with hips. Be sure to provide lumbar support for your lower back, either by placing a rolled up towel or pillow at your lower back, or by investing in a supportive lumbar brace.

  3. Lift Correctly: When lifting, carrying, and lowering objects, bend your knees to squat down, grasp the object squarely, and tighten your core (abdominal) muscles to lift. Be sure to pay attention to how you are lifting the object so that you do not bend at the waist and put all the strain of carrying the object on your back.

  4. Back Strengthening & Stretching: In addition to strength training with weights and cardio, back stretches are crucial for keeping the sacroiliac joints healthy and strengthening the spine. We recommend doing these stretches 2-3 times a week at least.

  5. Sleeping Positions: Humans spend about a third of our lives in bed yet few of us stop to consider how our beds are impacting our backs. Many sleep-related backaches are due to a mattress that is too soft. Additionally, consider your sleeping position – sleeping on your side or back are best, but sleeping on your stomach can cause back strain.

Note: if you experience chronic back pain that is severe or in addition to other conditions, please see a doctor.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a premier supplier of high quality medical products including a wide selection of orthopedic braces and supports. MMAR Medical specializes in high quality orthopedic medical back braces, including lumbar braces.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Relieving Back Pain When You Work a Desk Job

I have recently come across report after report highlighting the various unhealthy drawbacks to working a 9-to-5 desk job. A recent study from the American Journal of Epidemiology determined that people who work at a desk 6+ hours a day were significantly more likely to die sooner than those who didn’t. That’s right; your job might quite literally be killing you. Couple a sedentary desk job with a stressful career and you’re really in trouble… stressed individuals are 40-percent more likely to suffer from heart disease.

It is clear... desk jobs are unhealthy. Our bodies just weren't made to slump over a desk for most of the day. And one of the first signs that something is wrong, is chronic back pain.

Back pain can be caused by many things, but if you spend long hours sitting at a desk, it is likely the primary cause for your back issues. In many cases, you may have experienced a traumatic back injury at some point in time, and sitting at a desk aggravates that injury. But what can you do?! For many of us, we have no choice but to work at a desk. Were it not for our offices and computers, we might not have a job.

The good news is that there are things we can do to counter the negative effects of a sedentary desk job. The following list features the most effective ways to reduce back pain (as well as other health issues) when you work a desk job.

  • Find the right chair. Look for ergonomic chairs and be sure to adjust the height so that your arms fall at a comfortable 90 degree angle to the keyboard. If you have a documented medical issue, most companies will buy the chair for you. If they do not, it is worth the person investment.

  • Sit up straight. Do not lean forward or slouch in your chair. A lumbar support cushion or a lower back lumbar brace will help you hold the correct posture.

  • Use a foot rest. A small foot rest that holds your feet at a ninety degree angle will help to reduce tension and relieve lower back pain.

  • Take a break. Take hourly breaks and walk around a bit.

  • Exercise at your desk. Consider purchasing a small bicycle peddler to place underneath your desk. This will not only move your body, countering the sedentary issue, but if you lightly peddle for half the day (4 hours), you could burn between 800 to 1000 calories. That’s a whopping 10 to 17 pounds in a month according to this biking calorie counter. Add less belly weight means less strain on your back.

  • Have a stretch. There are a number of yoga-like stretches you can perform at your desk that will relieve muscle tension as well as stress.

  • Get stronger. Try to work in strength training at least twice each week, with particular focus on core and back muscles. This could be lifting weights, using resistance bands, or even practicing yoga or Pilates. If you do not have a serious injury, a balance ball chair will teach your body to hold the correct posture while also strengthening your core.

Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition, or be taken as medical advice. For more information related to your unique situation, please speak with your personal physician.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a wholesale medical supplier specializing in footwear for diabetics and orthopedic braces. Please visit for the best selection in diabetic footwear and all your brace/support needs.