Dr. Craig Hazel, Author at Synergy Chiropractic

The dreaded “granny hump”

You know what I’m referring to. That ‘granny hump’ on the upper back that you’ve likely seen on people usually older than 50. Sadly, we are seeing it more and more in younger and younger people.

This week’s blog will answer some of the important questions regarding “Granny Hump”

What is it?
Why does it happen?
What can we do to get rid of it?
How do we get rid of it?

In order to understand what it is, we need to start with what a normal posture is.

From the front, the hips, shoulders and ears should all be level and the head should line up directly over the midline of the hips. From the side, the ear should line up over the shoulder; the shoulder over the hips; and the hips over the outside of the ankle. That’s what things look like on the outside. On the inside (via an x-ray), we should see a forward c-shaped curve in the neck, a backward c-shaped curve in the mid back and another forward c-shaped curve in the low back. In this position, the spine is in the strongest position possible and most importantly, the nervous system is free to move and is relaxed neuro-structurally.

The Granny Hump

The hump, technically referred to as Dowager’s Hump, can be the result of several bio-mechanical faults that come with a lack of maintenance. Our heads weigh between 12-14lbs on average. As the head translates (shifts) forward over the shoulders, it causes a reciprocal backward shift of the shoulders to compensate. The weight of the head is pulled down by gravity and we end up losing and gravity ends up winning Not good. We call this (AHS) Anterior Head Syndrome. AHS causes a myriad of secondary problems like TMJ dysfunction, headaches, neck pain, mid back pain, low back pain, cervicogenic vertigo, numbness and tingling into the arms and hands, and more.

As a result of this forward shift of the head, the ligaments and soft tissues on the back of the neck become weak, tired and irritated from constantly trying to keep the head up. In an effort to counter this, the body begins to lay down fat tissue in an effort to stabilize the tissues. Over time, the fat accumulates and the we see a hump emerge.

Left alone, the hump grows as we age and gravity pulls us further forward. The shoulders shift further back and the hips then move forward to counter the balance of the body and a ‘sway-back’ effect happens.

Other causes of the Dowager’s hump can be osteoporosis (softening of the bones causes compression fractures within the vertebrae), hemi-vertebrae (the vertebrae are malformed when they developed in the fetus), arthritides like Sheuermann’s disease.  Regardless of the condition, the following exercises can help improve the posture and add strength to the system of joints and muscles.

The Fix

We have to correct the posture and the Anterior Head Syndrome. We have to ensure that the proper neck curve is present and we have to be aware and cognizant of our posture always.

Try these exercises:
1. Wall Slides:

Wall Slides

Great for strengthening the upper back






2. Chin Tucks:

chin tucks

Chin tucks








3. Thoracic extension exercises

thoracic extensions

Remedy for prolonged sitting







4. Seated cat/cow


Seated cat cow exercises are great to do every hour at work or school








5. Swimmers


Swimmers exercise










By working through this series of exercises, daily, you will strengthen the muscles of the upper back and neck to work on correcting your posture. Now truly, working the muscles and strengthening will help but only so far. Creating the spinal neuro-structural shifts takes time through proper alignment and neuro-structural corrective traction. If you find that after doing these exercises, you aren’t seeing a change in your postural alignment, then I recommend scheduling a consultation to determine whether a NeuroStructural shift or a loss of normal cervical curve in your spine is holding you back from getting rid of the Granny hump.

Stressed Out and Sneezing

August is here and so begins the ‘sneezing season’ for some allergy sufferers.  Ragweed wreaks havoc on many this time of year.  Itchy eyes and ears, sneezing, scratchy throats – it can be crippling.

What many people don’t realize is there is high levels of stress can cause your allergies to become worse. This has been confirmed by research in the field of psychoneuroimmunology.  Mental stress can upset the balance of your nervous system and immune system. If your nervous system is overstimulated with stress, it can affect the response of your immune system to an allergen.

How is that possible?

Our nervous systems have two divisions – the sympathetic (gas pedal) and parasympathetic (brake pedal).  You probably remember the terms ‘high or flight’ (sympathetic) or the ‘rest/digest’ (parasympathetic) from high school health classes.  Both of these systems work simultaneously to keep us constantly adapting to changes in our bodies and outside our bodies every second of the day.  Think of both systems working together like two kids on a teeter totter.  Sometimes the sympathetic system needs to be ‘up’ and at other times, the parasympathetic system takes a turn working harder.  Both offset each other to avoid one system becoming dominant.

So here’s how it affects you as an allergy sufferer.  The sympathetic system is responsible for our response to allergens.  When pollen or dust contacts the membranes of the nose or eyes, the body launches an immune assault to resist it.  This drives up histamine.  If the sympathetic system is overly dominant, then the histamine levels can be greater than necessary.

Schedules, finances, workloads, not enough exercise, poor diets, chemical stress and more can press down on our ‘gas pedal’ causing our system into sympathetic dominance.

So with that understanding, by decreasing mental, physical and chemical stress, your immune system can function better and head off many allergies at the pass.

Why it Matters:

Exciting new research has showcased how stress reduction can reduce the symptoms we associate with seasonal allergies. Meditation and chiropractic adjustments have been shown to reduce stress levels. And with reduced stress levels, your immune system has the potential to function at a higher level. Feeling more relaxed is something all of us could benefit from- and it may even help reduce your seasonal allergies.

– Physical, chemical, and emotional stress can cause your immune system to become hypersensitive.

– A hypersensitive immune system often overreacts to a potential threat resulting in worsening allergies.

– Reduce stress, and allergies, with a stress-reducing activity like exercise, meditation, or even getting chiropractic adjustments!

Next Steps:

Aside from putting you in a bad mood, being over-stressed has far-reaching effects on your body. If you “start to feel your allergies coming on” find stress-reducing activities that you enjoy. It may be reading a book, meditating, getting a massage, or perhaps even getting a chiropractic adjustment. Feeling better mentally and reducing your seasonal allergies are just a few of the benefits you can expect by lowering your stress levels!

Take a moment and think about one thing that you could do to reduce your stress and plan how you intend to do just that.

Science Source: Stress and Allergic Diseases. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2011.

Dr. Craig Hazel’s mission is to help families THRIVE. After graduating from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education, he went on to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and a Bachelor of Science in Anatomy from Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas Texas. He is passionate about seeing children and families in his private practice at Synergy Chiropractic in Kanata Ontario. A sought after speaker, he has been featured regularly on TSN Team 1200, CTV and Rogers TV. He is also the Chairman of the Alliance for Chiropractic of Ontario.

Is the ‘keto’ diet right for you?

If you have a sweet tooth, you know it can be difficult to avoid sugary foods like pastries, candy, or even soda. Which sugary food is your weakness?

Researchers have proven that sugar is a key contributor to weight gain. But how?

Well, sugar is made up of two molecules: glucose and fructose. Glucose is what your body uses for energy. Fructose, on the other hand, is a molecule that your liver turns to fat and is a key contributor to weight gain and disease.

When you eat carbohydrates/sugar, it causes your blood glucose to rise, which can be toxic if it is in large amounts. So your body produces insulin to get the glucose out of your blood and into the cells to be used for energy. Over time, when your body is chronically and your body can actually build a resistance to insulin which means that your pancreas works harder to create the same balance. When the resistance to insulin reaches a critical point, it can result in type II diabetes. But first, your body begins storing an overabundance of fat in your fat cells. The worst part? Not only do you start “gaining weight” but your body has a tough time getting the energy out of the fat cells, which means your brain thinks you are hungry, and you eat even more. What a vicious cycle!

  • Excess sugar can lead to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.
  • Eating sugary foods can result in your body storing away more fat.
  • Sugar can trick your brain into thinking it’s still hungry (even after you’ve eaten a full meal).

Enter the Ketogenic Diet

The Ketogenic diet is a very strict and significant cutting out of carbohydrates and replaces them with higher amounts of fat and protein. Ketogenic diets have been shown to reverse type II diabetes, changed the lives of those with epilepsy and shows great results for those with Alzheimer’s. The effects of massive reductions in blood sugar have huge implications in all sorts of other health conditions. Some of these conditions are greatly helped by reductions in blood sugar levels:

  • cholesterol
  • triglycerides
  • metabolic syndrome
  • stroke
  • cardiovascular disease
  • syndrome X
  • brain injuries
  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • acne

By drastically reducing the carbohydrate intake, the body reduces its production of insulin. Body fat is then highly mobilized for energy production (yay fat burning!). But the key players here are another less well known fuel source – KETONES.

What are KETONES?

What are ketone bodies?

Ketones are a metabolite that the brain and body can use as an efficient energy fuel source. Ketones are a type of fuel produced by the liver. Getting the liver to produce ketones is challenging unless you are able to cut out carbs almost entirely. It may take a few days to actually get into ketosis and you have to watch the quantity of protein you are eating as well.

So how do you follow the keto diet?

Ketogenic diets rely on a large intake of fat. Eating fat at every meal is essential. In a typical 2000 calorie per day diet, one might strive for 165 grams of fat, 75 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbohydrates.

OK, OK – stay with me. Eating quality fats is advantageous for many reasons. Once vilified for its supposed negative effects on cardiovascular disease, fats are not all equal. In the ketogenic diet, saturated fats (lard, coconut, palm, butter and cocoa butter) are consumed in high quantities. Unsaturated fats like almonds, walnuts, avocados are all great too. Trans fats like hydrogenated oils are definitely out. These are the ones highly connected with inflammation and disease.

Carbohydrate source like low glycemic vegetables like leafy greens (spinach, chard, etc), broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus, pepper, garlic, etc are amazing choices. Fruit is allowed but restricted to low glycemic types like berries and only in small amounts.

Risks associated with Ketogenic Diets

There are some inherent risks with the diet that require you to pay attention to.

Liver and Kidney problems. By consuming large amounts of fat and protein, any existing liver or kidney problems may worsen.

Constipation. Cutting out lots of fibrous foods can shut down your digestion. It’s important to maintain good electrolyte levels. Consider adding salt to drinking water to avoid problems.

Mental Health. Cutting out carbs can can cause ‘fuzzy’ brain and mood swings. While these typically only occur at the beginning, many people report higher levels of mental clarity once they achieve ketosis.

Nutrient Deficiency. Maintaining adequate nutrient intake is paramount to human health. Consuming large levels of a variety of vegetables is critical to maintaining proper nutritional mineral and vitamin levels.

Where do you go from here?

Staying fit and healthy can be challenging, but we’re here for you. How you choose to eat is one of the most important aspects of living a healthy life. When you make good choices about how you eat, how you move, and how you think – you are set up for a healthy life.

Dropping the Winter Weight

If you are looking to lose a few extra pounds this month, you are not alone. Many of our patients are working towards a similar goal.

How you move, eat, and think every day will determine your success. All three are part of maintaining an active lifestyle.
So where does Chiropractic fit in?

Unfortunately, no Chiropractic technique takes off 10 pounds with each adjustment; but people just like you have been able to maintain a healthy weight by adding Chiropractic care into their active lifestyle.

Research has suggested that periodic Chiropractic care can help evaluate, detect and treat emerging problems. So, by reducing injuries, you will be able to stay active and keep your exercise routine on track.

Also, many people report reduced stress after getting adjusted. This makes sense because research studies have shown reduced muscle tension in the body after an adjustment.

And finally, we firmly believe that healthy food choices make a significant impact on your body’s ability to be well and stay well. Eating healthy whole foods and sometimes even using select supplements can give your body the fuel it needs to get through the day.

Join us for our Weight Loss Workshop March 26, 2019 at 6:15PM.

Click here to Register!

Dr. Craig Hazel’s mission is to help families THRIVE. After graduating from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education, he went on to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and a Bachelor of Science in Anatomy from Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas Texas. He is passionate about seeing children and families in his private practice at Synergy Chiropractic in Kanata Ontario. A sought after speaker, he has been featured regularly on TSN Team 1200, CTV and RogersTV.He is also the Chairman of the Alliance for Chiropractic of Ontario.

“No I am not pregnant”

“Are you pregnant?” No. “Really because at this angle it looks like a bump.” I promise you, I am NOT pregnant, just fat.

I shared the below post on my personal Facebook page yesterday, and what I received back was an outpouring of love, support and encouragement, but also commiseration from women who have been or are there and are struggling. We’ve all been there in one way or another, and we all need to help each other out. Today is a day to reflect on mental health and the grip it can have on so many.


This is going to be a bit long and a lot personal. I feel the need to reiterate a few of the MANY reasons to not EVER ask a woman if she’s pregnant.

  1. She may well be pregnant, but is not ready to tell anyone and now she feels awkward.
  2. She may not be, despite desperately trying to no avail for who knows how long, and now she wants to go cry in a corner.
  3. She may have recently suffered a miscarriage, is still trying to process it, and now she wants to go cry in a corner.
  4. She may not want kids at all but faces the constant pressure of everyone asking WHEN she’s going to have them instead of IF, and now she feels self-conscious about her choice.
  5. She may not be able to have kids, and now she wants to go cry in a corner.
  6. And last but certainly not least, she’s just overweight and now she feels awkward, self-conscious and wants to go cry in a corner.

This last one is my experience and although I am strong enough to resist crying in a corner, I struggle every day to fight with the girl in my head that says I’m too big and I’m not doing enough. 18 months ago I gave birth by emergency C-section, and spent the better part of the next month attempting to navigate this completely uncharted territory of motherhood, all while trying to recover from my body being cut open and put back together, and the debilitating headache caused by CSF escaping the hole in my spine. I struggled from the beginning to produce enough milk and that proved even harder when my 2 month old ended up in hospital for 3 weeks. One of the best things for milk production you ask? Calories in. So I ate because I wanted to provide the best for my baby and I ate because I didn’t truly enjoy the first six months of her life. Around month 6, I started to love being a mother and spent all my time with her, especially the most peaceful time of the day, nap time. This left no time for myself, let alone exercise. This past fall I fell into a slump. A slump I consulted my medical doctor about. When I wasn’t working and had time to myself I spent it sitting, eating and struggling to motivate myself to move. Though I have embraced therapy many times for myself, this time I forced myself to take care of me. For the past 2 months I’ve worked out half an hour every day and I’ve made a conscious choice for the past 3 months to eat better, with occasional slips. But, I am still the heaviest I have ever been. This week I was asked if I was pregnant and when I said no, they persisted by pointing out how the shape of my body would have led them to believe that. No. No baby. Just fat and unused muscle.

Loving One’s Self

I have gotten to a point where I still love myself despite my new size, and I’m ok with doing the best I can. I have the most beautiful little girl who lights up my entire life and I would do it all over again for her. Preparing and trying to conceive, carrying and delivering a baby, raising your first, second or fifth baby, or supporting your partner in any of these ventures, deserves effing SUPER HERO status. This job is THE hardest and what makes it even more difficult is what your mind and body go through as a result. As baby carriers, our bodies change drastically. And sometimes…most times…it is a colossal sized struggle to get back to “the way we were”, and the pressure to do so is undeniable.

A New Vision

I believe we live in a world that is making it increasingly difficult to say with 100% conviction that “I am beautiful”, “I am strong”, “I believe in myself”, and “I am a good person.” I am eternally grateful that I was raised with a basic foundation of self-worth, and I have only built on that over 3 decades to be able to hear words like the above question and know that I am still more than good enough. There are women and men who are not this strong. There are teenagers struggling to get through the throes of high school. There are adults taking it day by day at the workplace or within their families. My daughter may or may not grow up having a certain level of strength to take on what’s out there, but I will fight every day to show her how beautiful she is no matter her size, looks or what anyone else says about her.

I didn’t write any of this to garner sympathy but to remind us all to be CONSCIOUS of our words and our actions. You have NO idea what anyone’s story is, but we all have one. Share your story, it might entice someone to share theirs. And they may need a little of your support to get through the day. But they will be better off for it, as will you.

Chiropractic and a wellness lifestyle changed her life.  She had such an incredible experience and change in her health, that she decided she help change people’s lives.  In addition to being the Director of First Impressions at Synergy, she is also a Certified Holistic Health Coach. When she’s not at the office, you will find her either at the gym kickboxing, or with my husband, Mike, and their 3 dogs.  She is a philanthropist and founded a non-profit charity, Families First Community Cancer Support, which supports and provides financial relief to cancer-burdened families in the community.