American Pharmacists Month

It’s well known that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but did you know that it’s also American Pharmacists Month? This year, for the first time, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Governor Pat McCrory have declared October American Pharmacists Month in Chapel Hill and the state of North Carolina.

Dr. Macary Marciniak and pharmacy students Evan Colmenares, Trang Leminh, and Jenny Levine with the proclamations from Mayor Kleinschidt and Governor McCrory.

Dr. Macary Marciniak and pharmacy students Evan Colmenares, Trang Leminh, and Jenny Levine with the proclamations from Mayor Kleinschmidt and Governor McCrory.

The profession of pharmacy has come a long way in the last few decades. Pharmacists aren’t just “pill pushers” sitting behind the counter at your local pharmacy and counting out pills. They are the medication experts of the health care team. Some of their newer roles include giving immunizations, rounding with doctors in hospitals, and in many states (including North Carolina), they can even prescribe medications.

Pharmacists ensure that your prescriptions are filled accurately and safely. They are also an excellent resource to help you take your medications correctly and get the maximum benefit from them. They can teach you how to use your new inhaler or nose spray correctly, and they are the best people to ask about which over the counter products would be the best and safest for you. Pharmacists have special training in many areas including the management of conditions like diabetes and asthma. Studies have shown that frequent conversations with pharmacists between regular doctor visits can help improve control of these conditions and improve quality of life.

Student pharmacists here at UNC are involved in many different projects providing education about medications and promoting healthy living across campus and throughout the community. On any given day at Campus Health, you can wander into the pharmacy and receive a flu shot from one of these student pharmacists. They organize health screenings at local pharmacies to improve awareness of conditions like high blood pressure. They even put together after-school events to talk to kids about diabetes and promote healthy living starting at a young age.

The pharmacists here at Campus Health each have special areas of training and interests. They can help you choose the right form of contraception and answer any questions you may have about it. They can even prescribe emergency contraception for those “uh oh” moments. They work closely with students with diabetes to help them make the transition to life in college. If you’re studying abroad, they can help make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you leave, including making vaccination recommendations and providing preventative medications for travel-related illnesses such as malaria and altitude illness.

Pharmacists strive every day to help people in their community lead healthier lives. Utilize them for more than just filling prescriptions, and you will surely see the benefits. October is American Pharmacist Month; now is the time to get to know your medicines and know your pharmacist.

APhM Banner

The Chapel Hill in UNC-Chapel Hill

UNC Historical Marker

“UNC Historical Marker” by Will McInerney

UNC Old Well

“UNC Old Well” by Will McInerney

The history of UNC runs deep. Very deep. Established in 1789, UNC is the oldest public university in the nation. Our beautiful and historic campus stretches from the bustling shops and restaurants of Franklin Street to the hallowed steps of South Building, from the Bell Tower to the Old Well, and from Morehead Planetarium to the open green pastures of the quad. UNC’s campus has much to offer our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. But, the UNC community does not stop at our storied and stonewalled perimeter. Part of what makes UNC so special is the city we call home, Chapel Hill.

UNC and Chapel Hill are hard to separate, and in fact the two were created together. At the same time the original UNC Board of Trustees was dreaming up our campus, they organized a group to build an adjacent community, Chapel Hill.

Despite the deep connection between the town and our university, sometimes UNC can feel like a bubble. College life keeps us very busy, but it’s important to take time and to learn about the beautiful, vibrant, and important history and culture that literally surrounds our campus. By learning about this history and culture we will be better students and better community members.

Franklin Street

“Franklin Street” by Will McInerney

Below are a couple of organizations and resources that can help you learn more about the place UNC calls home, Chapel Hill.

The Center for the Study of the American South

Located at the Love House on Franklin Street, The Center for Study of the American South is an amazing campus resource for learning about the history of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the American South as a whole. The Center offers a range of resources in print and digital formats that paint a vivid picture of Chapel Hill’s history. Check out the Center’s Southern Oral History Program to find a vast collection of powerful and insightful stories that document the history and culture of Chapel Hill.

The Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History

The Jackson Center is located next to St. Josephs’ CME Church on Rosemary Street, at the gateway to the historic Northside community in Chapel Hill. The Jackson Center is a public history and community development non-profit that works in the historically African American Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods of Chapel Hill. Their aim is “to listen, to hear, and to preserve the life stories of residents, neighbors, and friends.” All too often these stories are forgotten, undervalued, and placed aside. The Jackson Center, in collaboration with the community, brings these valuable stories to the spotlight and advocates for community based leadership, growth, and vision in our town. Check out some oral histories from long-time Chapel Hill residents on their website and consider volunteering if you want to help out.

The Chapel Hill Historical Society

Located on Franklin Street just past the Love House and the Center for the Study of the American South, The Chapel Hill Historical Society is a local institution dedicated to researching, documenting, and sharing Chapel Hill’s history. Programs and publications offered by the Historical Society cover a range of issues spanning from the Civil Rights Movement in our town to the array of famous local cuisine. Check out the videos from the Historical Society’s recent event where they helped Merritt’s Store and Grill celebrate its 85th anniversary by detailing the history and culture of this local foodie legend.

Preservation Chapel Hill

Preservation Chapel Hill is located in the famous Horace Williams House on Franklin Street and is dedicated to “protecting the character and heritage of the town of Chapel Hill, and the surrounding community, through the preservation and conservation of its historical building and cultural landscapes.” Preservation Chapel Hill does this through a combination of educational programs, advocacy work, and physical preservation of buildings. Check out the organizations huge collection of historical documents and records available for public viewing and research purposes at their offices.

UNC Sign

“UNC Sign” by Will McInerney

P.S. The history of Chapel Hill evolves everyday! In addition to The Daily Tar Heel, be sure to stay informed with local news by checking out ChapelBoro and The Chapel Hill News.

 

 

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: The Importance of Good Posture

by Emily Wheeler

 

You sit down at your desk to start that paper that you’ve been procrastinating for the entirety of Fall Break: for those first 15 minutes of staring blankly at the empty Microsoft Word page on your computer, you’re sitting up straight, your back against the back of the chair, and your feet are on the floor. By the time you come up with a thesis, you’re sitting on one foot you’ve tucked under the other leg and the distance between your face and the computer screen has been cut in half. By the end of the introduction, it looks like the Hunchback of Notre Dame is sitting at your computer, and by the end of the first page, you’re just typing a million ”g’s” because your face is laying on the keyboard. Good posture isn’t found on the priority list of most college students, but it can have a drastic impact on your long-term health.

Maintaining good posture means sitting in a way that allows your bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons to all be in proper alignment so that no particular area or part of your body has an unnecessary amount of stress placed on it. Proper posture prevents joint and muscle pain that can become almost permanent over time as the stress causes damage to your body. Improper posture can increase your risk of arthritis and even limit proper organ and nervous system function if you’re constantly hunched over so much that your torso is significantly shorter than it should be.

ID-100148426Holding poor posture on a regular basis can be a result of both weak muscles and overly tight muscles. Stress and long hours of sitting in the same place, working on a computer, for example, can cause the neck, shoulder, and back muscles to tighten up and encourage bad posture as we hunch and lean and sag to try to compensate for the tension we’re feeling. If your abdominal muscles are weak, your posture will also suffer significantly because the core muscles are essential for supporting the spine and even aligning the hips as you walk and sit, which is just another reason to be sure you’re making time to incorporate some core strengthening exercises into your routine.

It seems like we often recognize bad posture when we see it or feel it, but could you demonstrate perfect posture if you were asked? Proper posture is different if you’re sitting, standing, lying down, or exercising. Here are some tips for improving your posture no matter what you’re up to:

If you’re sitting:

Start by lengthening your torso and “sitting up straight.” You’ll probably be surprised at how much you were just slouching without even realizing it! Roll your shoulders back to relax them and align them with your hips, and place your feet flat on the floor so that your torso-to-thigh and thigh-to-calf angles should both be 90 degrees. Make sure you’re not holding tension in your shoulders and keeping them up too high or hunching them forward toward whatever you’re working on, even though it’s always quite tempting.

If you’re standing:

Your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles should all be in one lovely straight line for optimal standing posture. It’s best to stand with your feet about hip-distance apart instead of with feet together or spread widely. You’ll also want to keep your toes pointing forward, avoid locking the knees, keep equal weight in both legs or shift back and forth slightly, and keep the spine long and straight. Think about how in movies, children are taught to maintain proper walking posture by walking while balancing a book on their heads. There really is benefit to keeping the chin up and parallel to the floor, because it helps to keep your back straight and your shoulders down and back, as well!

If you’re sleeping:

Maintaining good posture while sleeping can be extremely difficult because it’s always just easiest to lay the way that feels most comfortable instead of sleeping in a way that’s best for your spine. I’m always tempted to sleep sprawled out on my stomach, but this is actually one of the worst positions in which to sleep according to the American Chiropractic Association. Sleeping on your stomach can cause the spine to be curved backward more than it should, causing unnecessary strain on the back muscles and that unwanted soreness in the morning when you finally try to roll over. The best ways to sleep for your spine and muscular health are on your side with a pillow between your legs, or on your back with a pillow under your knees. These sleeping positions might take a little getting used to, but can actually be quite comfortable if you’re willing to give it a try, and can help you to sleep better by reducing stress on your body.

If you’re exercising:

When exercising, posture is more commonly referred to as “proper form,” but is just as important as during all other times of your daily life. During weight lifting exercises especially, it’s important to keep the shoulders and shoulder blades down and back and the chest and face up and forward, as they would be when you’re standing. Make sure that you learn the proper form for any exercise before you attempt it or do that exercise regularly to ensure maximum benefit and minimal damage to your body. If you feel that you have poor posture in your daily life, incorporating gentle muscle-strengthening exercises into your week, such as yoga or light weight lifting can help you gain the strength to naturally hold your body in a healthier position. Superman and cobra poses and exercises can be great for strengthening weak back muscles and stretching out the abdominals, and the Warrior yoga poses can be good for stretching out your hips if they have that achy feeling after a long day of sitting.

The good news is that you are completely in control of your posture, and it’s never too late to make great changes to improve your health and comfort! It can be so hard to pay attention to something as seemingly simple as the way we stand, sit, or ever sleep, but just developing this healthy habit can have long-lasting benefits to our overall health. In addition to improving your skeletal and muscular health, proper posture can also help you to simply look more respectable in a meeting, classroom, or interview setting and portrays a confident appearance as opposed to an apathetic, tired appearance if you’re slouching over the table in your seat. Comfort is important, but before you curl into a tiny ball in one of the comfortable chairs in the library, consider giving a day of good posture a try to improve not only your health and long-term comfort, but to create a setting of wakefulness and focus as you sit down to finish that paper!

Sources:

  1. http://www.livestrong.com/article/78788-posture-important/
  2. http://www.kansaschirofoundation.org/goodposture-article.html
  3. http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=1452
  4. freedigitalphotos.net

What’re YOU Gonna be for Halloween? You Might Think Twice After Reading This…

Halloween should be a time for carefree fun and expression, but some common costumes perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes. And that’s not good for our Cultural Wellness.

Wait…WHA–? Cultural wellness…what in the world?

At Student Wellness, we believe wellness has multiple dimensions, and one of those dimensions is Cultural Wellness, which involves understanding diverse backgrounds while creating safe, inclusive spaces for all to feel welcome. Research shows that marginalized populations experience higher rates of stress and stress-related health problems, even when we control for factors like socio-economic status and education level. Much of this stress can be linked to repeated, often everyday, experiences of discrimination or bias, like seeing one’s group made fun of in a costume.

crowd on franklin street during Halloween

“crowd on franklin street.” Selena N. B. H. Flickr Creative Commons.

Ok, so what does this have to do with Halloween?

The DTH recently touched on this in an article about costume racism. Halloween costumes that promote racial and ethnic stereotypes make fun of people who are already marginalized. For example, Native Americans make up 2% of the incoming class of UNC first years, and their numbers have declined 33% over the last 4 years at UNC, and yet Native American costumes are an ever-popular choice for Halloween in Chapel Hill. But sporting that “Sexy Pocahontas” costume trivializes the many rich and varied cultural traditions of Native Americans, not to mention the centuries of forced migration and genocide they have endured. Check out this video made by Native students at UNC about their experience. 

But, it’s HALLOWEEN! It’s all just a joke…aren’t people being TOO sensitive?

It can be very frustrating to always feel in fear of offending someone, especially when it was not intended. And there aren’t hard and fast rules; what offends one person may seem harmless to another. But just because someone has good intentions does not automatically make the impact harmless. Recently, a good friend of mine made a passing comment about my body shape that upset me. I confronted her about it after it had been on my mind all day. She could have blown me off and said I was being “too sensitive.” And then we would have fought and I would have felt even worse, and maybe I would have avoided her after that. She didn’t do that. Instead, she validated my feelings, and she apologized for saying what she said. I knew she never meant to hurt me. But what she said still hurt. She owned it and she apologized and agreed not to make the comment again. And VOILÀ! We are back to hanging out and watching bad TV together.

word "Empathy" in stonework on a bench

“Empathy.” Glenda Sims. Flickr Creative Commons.

Regardless of intent, our actions and words impact other people, and recognizing that impact can improve our relationships. Respecting other identities allows people to feel welcomed and heard—just like my friend made me feel when I confronted her. We know that certain Halloween costumes offend marginalized groups. Not meaning any harm, or dressing in these costumes “all in good fun” will not change the impact a costume has on that group. So, why not choose a Halloween costume that speaks to inclusion rather than stereotypes? Find out more about avoiding offensive costumes here and here. And check out some of our multicultural resources on campus to improve your own Cultural Wellness!

Inner TLC and Your Physical Health

Stress Free Zone

Stress Free Zone

We’ve all been there. Yep, the mid-semester slump. That time of the year when your balanced diet, workout goals, and pursuit of healthy living are thrown out of the window and replaced with junk food, long hours sitting in front of the computer, and a desire just to survive midterm exams and papers. You may find that your energy levels are low, you’re easily distracted, not sleeping enough or sleeping too much, and overall, just not feeling like yourself. If this describes you, it just might be time to engage in some self-care, or what I like to call, inner TLC. Continue reading

How to Foam Roll

By: Emily Wheeler
"Foam Roller" by Naoto Sato; Flickr Creative Commons

“Foam Roller” by Naoto Sato; Flickr Creative Commons

       Think about that feeling when you wake up the day after an intense workout and as soon as you move to get out of bed you can’t help but groan because you’re so sore. Now think about how having someone else massage an especially sore muscle or doing it yourself can hurt but feel good at the same time. Lifting weights, general strenuous exercise and even stressful daily activities can cause our muscles to feel tight and sore. We can even get “muscle knots,” as people like to call them, where a particular area of muscle feels uncomfortably tight and stretching just doesn’t release the tension enough to feel completely normal. Firmly massaging these “muscle knots” with a thumb can even cause pain to radiate out to the surrounding muscle, even though that’s not where you’re touching.
       For quite some time, athletes and personal trainers have been using a simple secret to release this muscle tension and discomfort: the foam roll. A foam roll is exactly what it sounds like, a cylindrical piece of hard foam, and it is designed especially for use in self-massaging sore and tight muscles! The official name of what most people casually refer to as “foam rolling,” is self-myofascial release, which means to massage your own muscles to release tightness and soreness. I prefer the fun verbified form of the noun, so I’ll call it foam rolling.
       The first time I learned to use a foam roll, I actually wasn’t feeling very sore at all, nor could I identify any especially tight muscles; I was just doing it because I was learning how to do so in a fitness class. However, we started by rolling the quads and hamstrings and I quickly realized that whether you think you do or not, you probably have a lot of muscle tension that could benefit from some foam rolling! I usually have fairly tight hamstrings, so as soon and I put the pressure of my body weight down onto the roll and started moving it down the back of my thigh, there was definitely some major discomfort involved!
       Now, why would I do something painful, you might ask? Foam rolling muscle pain is one of those “it hurts, but in a good way” kind of muscle feelings. Stretching, or a deep tissue massage, can also be painful, yet people still do it voluntarily and claim to feel better afterward. This is a similar situation and you’re just going to have to trust me until you try it when I say that you’ll feel so much better afterward.
       Here are the basics of how foam rolling works. First, start with your foam roll, comfortable clothing, and some space to lay on the floor. You’ll pick a muscle that you want to target, and we’ll just stick with the hamstring example for now. Your hamstring muscle runs down the back of your leg from the bottom of your gluts down to the back of your knee. Start by placing the foam roller under your leg at the top of one of your hamstrings, stretching out that leg and leaning back so that your hands are on the floor behind you and are holding you up slightly. Then, slowly release your arms so that your hands are still on the floor behind you but the majority of your body weight is resting on the foam roller. Then start to move yourself backward over the roller slowly, so that it rolls down toward the back of your knee. This is where you might start to feel some discomfort, so listen to your own body to tell you whether you’re feeling pain (bad) or discomfort (good), and use your arms to lift some of your body weight off of the roller if it becomes painful.
Here I am, foam rolling my hammies for you guys.

Here I am, foam rolling my hammies for you guys.

Now, there are a few key rules to remember when foam rolling to keep it safe for your body:
  1. Always roll very slowly to achieve maximum benefits, and when you find an especially sore spot, pause there to let that point relax and prevent unnecessary pain
  2. Never roll over a joint or directly on a bone. Doing so can cause more harm than good. An example of rolling over a joint would be rolling down your hamstring all the way down to your calf, because you’ve rolled over your knee joint. Instead, roll down to just above the knee, move the roll beneath the knee, and then continue to roll over the calf. An example of rolling over a bone would be laying on your stomach and rolling up your quad over your hipbone. Any bones that you can clearly feel are not protected by muscle and you shouldn’t be rolling over them.
  3. Do not roll your lower back or neck muscles. These are more sensitive to damage, and your pain in these areas might be coming from a problem that needs to addressed by a professional, such as a chiropractor.
  4. Do not roll the same areas over and over in a short period of time. If you concentrate on a certain muscle group, wait at least 24 hours to roll that muscle group again to give it time to relax and heal.
  5. Always roll with the grain of the muscle. Your hamstring runs vertically down your leg, so you should never roll horizontally across your hamstring muscle. It’s best to actually keep your rolling in a single direction, so after your roll down your hamstring, remove the roll and start back up at the top if you’re going to do it again instead of rolling back up the hamstring.
       Here is an awesome article called “How to Foam Roll Like a Pro!” It includes cartoon graphics to help you know how to target certain muscles! I have to say that I think that place that is consistently most uncomfortable yet most beneficial to me is rolling my IT band, which is the muscle that runs down the outer side of your leg above the knee. Try rolling yours and tell me if that doesn’t make you make some crazy faces because you had no idea how much tension you had to release there.
Rolling the IT band; I’m still smiling because I wasn’t actually putting my full body weight on that thing at this point. The simultaneous laughing and cringing comes later.

Rolling the IT band; I’m still smiling because I wasn’t actually putting my full body weight on that thing at this point. The simultaneous laughing and cringing comes later.

       Shortly after you foam roll, and especially the next day, you should start to feel your soreness fade, your muscles become more relaxed, and your range of motion increase compared to before you foam rolled! You can purchase your own foam roller at any major sporting goods store for anywhere from $10-$40 depending on how intense you want to get, but you can also check out foam rollers from the front desk of the Student Recreation Center on campus for convenient and free use! P.S. Side comment– I have no idea why a hunk of foam can cost $40.
       Try it out the next time you come to work out and make it a regular part of your routine! I can’t lie, I almost kind of like the sore feeling in my muscles after a good workout because it makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile when I can actually feel the change, but what I don’t like is constant or long-lingering soreness and foam rolling definitely helps me prevent that from happening! Ironically enough, it can also help you wake up and start your day in the morning if you have time, but can still help you relax and feel ready to sleep if you choose to do it at the end of the day. It might feel silly at first, but give it a try and you’ll see why it’s worth it! I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing some foam rolling this week after I attend the “muscle-cut barbells” and “upper body conditioning” group fitness classes; be sure to check back in at the end of the week to read my reviews on what I thought about both classes!

“Eyes on the Street”: Why Be Active In Your Community?

"Just Walking"; Beverly Goodwin; Flickr Creative Commons
"Just Walking"; Beverly Goodwin; Flickr Creative Commons

There are plenty of personal reasons to walk, jog, bike or otherwise actively get around: it increases one’s own ability to get exercise, it’s cheap (or free!), and can have positive mental health outcomes like lowering stress and anxiety. But, actively getting around has greater altruistic benefits as well. Many of these are centered around the “eyes on the street” principle from sociologist Jane Jacobs:

“This is something everyone knows: a well-used city street is apt to be a safe street. A deserted city street is apt to be unsafe.”

The idea here is that the more eyes you have on a given street, the greater sense of community ownership and safety. The spirit of “eyes on the street” is not so much about watching what’s around us, but rather seeing and taking a part in what is around us, and thus, shaping the community. Here are the “eyes on the street” benefits of actively getting around campus and community by walking, biking, jogging, etc.:

 

"Just Walking"; Beverly Goodwin; Flickr Creative Commons

“Just Walking”; Beverly Goodwin; Flickr Creative Commons

Getting to know community and community members

It sounds like a no-brainer, but actively getting around campus and the community allows us to get better acquainted with neighbors and those around us. When we choose to walk or bike versus drive, we have the ability to interact with those around us by smiling, waving, taking a minute to talk, etc. In a local example: in the Chapel Hill community, these kinds of connections with surroundings and neighbors can help bridge the UNC campus to the greater Chapel Hill community.

 

Neighborhood health and safety benefits

Actively getting around a community also means actively taking part in it. That means acknowledging what we appreciate about a neighborhood, and, importantly, it also means spotting things that seem like they need attention—from a large crack in the sidewalk, to a stray dog, to a jogger who has fallen. This can lead to benefits in crime-reduction and generally making things safer.

 

Increases community norms around activity

Actively getting around campus and community is contagious. The more people you see walking around, the more likely you might be to walk around yourself! In this way, being an active commuter is a way of changing social norms around activity.

 

Resources

 These are just some of the community-wide benefits of actively getting around a community. Though we’ve focused on the benefits of actively getting around, it’s important to be safe while doing so. For more information on pedestrian and cyclist safety check out links at the UNC Department of Public Safety, and the Town of Chapel Hill.