Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 4

debunked


All references and related links are in the 
highlighted text and will open in a separate window when clicked
Also click to see
part 1 here
part 2 here
part 3 here 

#7) Once you start seeing a chiropractor you have to continue for the rest of your life

This is one myth that I bought into before going into chiropractic school. Most of the chiropractors I knew at the timechiropractic_symbol_fw sold care packages and the insurance companies paid for X number of adjustments per year so of course they wanted you to come in at least that many times. Since I did not really know what a chiropractor truly did, I had trouble letting go of the fallacy that when a doctor “fixes” something then it should stay fixed. In my ignorance I thought that one adjustment should be enough to get a bone back into place and if it was not then that means the chiropractor was not doing something correctly. I understand now that I was setting chiropractors up for failure because my belief system was based on expecting the impossible. No doctor can “fix” anything in your body. Your body has to do the fixing and that includes alignment.

I once heard of a dentist joke saying something that is relevant to this topic. A dentist said; “You know that you don’t have to brush your teeth every day, right? You only need to brush the teeth you want to keep.”  This is the exact same concept with chiropractic, AutonomicNerveChartyou only need to maintain the parts of your spine and nervous system you want to keep functional. You don’t need to come, get checked and adjusted when necessary for the rest of your life but it would be healthier if you made that choice. There is a difference between a need and a desire. I need water to survive. I desire to maintain my function so that I don’t lose it and need emergency intervention in the long run. Most people that seek my help start off needing chiropractic care. They come in limping, on crutches, being carried, or on medication because they cannot function normally. This time of need for most people is relatively short and before long they no longer need chiropractic. The smart ones will, however, make a choice to utilize chiropractic for what it is best at which is preventative maintenance.

HighMaintenanceLifeSo really it comes down to this: You have very few basic needs and chiropractic is most likely not one of them. But, do you really want to go through life only covering your needs? How many things in life, that you work for, are actually desires above your needs? This is the difference between surviving and thriving. Both are important but one takes more conscious effort and action.

 

#5) Chiropractic is not safe for SurprisedCatchildren

This myth comes mostly from people who either are not aware of how children are adjusted or confuse chiropractic with medicine. Some people imagine that kids with tiny spines are going to have their neck cranked all the way around and the chiropractor is going to jump up and down on their backs as if they’re a full grown adult.  My daughter was adjusted when she was just two minutes old, so I can assure you that it is very different.IMG_3479 Life is rough on a growing and developing body. As if squeezing through a birth canal is not enough, lots of bonks and falls await them as they grow. Children, too, have a spine with a nervous system and so it only makes sense that if their spine is torqued, twisted, or just slightly causing stress on their nervous system then this will have negative effects on their growing and developing bodies. The truth is, anyone and anything with a spine and nervous system will benefit from a good chiropractic adjustment, if they need it. But this post is not about the benefits to kids, it is about the evidence or lack thereof for chiropractic to be dangerous.

If anyone wants to do a search in the largest database of published peer reviewed scientific articles, PubMed, for chiropractic pediatrics adverse events only 4 articles will show up. One of these articles has nothing to do with chiropractic, one is on a specific condition (otitis media with zero averse events). The other two are of interest to this topic.

The first is from the University of Alberta and was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study reviewed 13 published papers about spinal manipulation in general but not specifically chiropractic. In the conclusion the author writes; “neither causation nor incidence rates can be inferred from observational data. Conduct of a prospective population-based active surveillance study is required to properly assess the possibility of rare, yet serious, adverse events as a result of spinal manipulation on pediatric patients.” SO basically we are back to square one with no direct evidence linking chiropractic adjustments to injuries in children receiving chiropractic care. If you have not noticed so far from my blog posts, when you start reading the scientific literature for yourself it becomes obvious that scientific studies are not as “black and white” in their findings as the media makes them out to be.

The second is a similar style of study that the first recommended at a single clinic. Both parents and doctors participated in monitoring the children and documenting adverse events. The adverse events that occurred were relatively mild and similar to what some adults experience. The parents reported that 1 in 867 adjustments led to adverse events and the doctors reported that 1 in 1813 adjustments led to adverse events.  To place this in perspective, take a look at this study that looks at how hospitals can decrease preventable adverse events caused by medical errors. After implementing the better system these events still occurred at a rate of 1 in 5. Which means that, at best, one out of five medical interventions lead to error or injury.health_continuum2.5

Now, I am not a fan of comparing medicine to chiropractic or vise versa. That is comparing apples to oranges. They each have their different benefits and limitations. However, historically the medical profession has lead the charge in spreading the myth that chiropractic is an undue risk to children but when we look directly at the evidence itself, medicine is far more dangerous. There is a reason for this, though. In emergency situations, tough calls must be made in order to save the child’s life that may involve some element of harm to that child’s body. Everyone agrees that this is an acceptable risk even though it is heart breaking. Very few would come away with the idea that children should never go to a hospital when they need it if they have a 1 in 5 chance of being injured. The same is true for chiropractic except, because of the different nature of chiropractic, the risk is hundreds of times less.

Everything comes with an inherent risk, though. This risk is increased by the fact that not every doctor acts in a professional or ethical way. There is also the fact that everyone makes mistakes. I have said this in a previous post and I will say it again. If you really want to see the risk associated with a profession, look at how much malpractice insurance costs. The insurance companies have a great financial incentive to charge riskier practices more money since they will be spending more money paying out to plaintiffs. This is how insurance companies stay in business, by being very good at risk analysis.  In the end there is no scientific evidence that shows a good chiropractic adjustment from a competent chiropractor is an unnecessary risk to a child’s body.

For those of you out there who are still afraid of a chiropractor jerking your kid’s spine around, keep this in mind. A child’s adjustment is far softer than an adult’s adjustment. The force required to adjust a child is FAR LESS than what is required for an adult for two reasons;

PerfectSquat#1) Children do not have as much muscular strength to resist the adjustment like most adults do.

#2) Children, in general, have not had the time that adults have had to develop the bad habits that lead to really bad subluxations.

Children are much easier to adjust and need fewer adjustments than adults because they are still in a state of ease with their body and do not over analyze or over compensate the way adults do. The bones of a baby’s spine are in multiple pieces before they fuse together to form a vertebra. This makes a baby’s spine much more able to create abnormal pressure on the nervous system with these extra pieces but this also means that an adjustment can be done simply by slightly pushing those pieces in the right direction with the very tip of a chiropractor’s pinky finger.

It seems that ignorance and fear are the basis of this myth and unfortunately the consequences of children not being adjusted when they need to can be far more severe than in adults. Any delay or decrease in development can affect someone for the rest of their life. This means that the same children, that those who buy into this myth are trying to protect, are the ones that will suffer the most. Children deserve to have Subluxation3the best start in life possible and chiropractic is one of the simplest and gentlest ways to help them. Every child should be checked by a chiropractor at least a few times during their formative years just to make sure there is nothing biomechanically interfering with their growth and development. It is just too simple to not give kids a chance to develop to their highest potential. Hopefully soon I will write a post about the benefits of chiropractic for kids and what to look for in a good pediatric chiropractor.
Stay tuned and adjusted.

 

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
– Dr. Tad

Advertisements

Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 3

debunkedAll sited references are attached to the highlighted 
text and will open in a new window when clicked
Also click for → part #1 and part #2

#5) Chiropractic treats conditions like pain, asthma or stomach problems.

It all comes down to this: there is only two ways that healing occurs, either the repair or the replacement of the cells that make up our body. It does not matter if a healthy body does the healing normally from the inside or if we seek the help of doctors to stimulate the body from the outside, the result is the same. It can happen in no other way for the physical body.

CellHowever, please keep this in mind, everyday our bodies lose billions of cells. On average, every seven to ten years our bodies are almost a new collection of organisms with very few cells in place from seven to ten years prior. We are built for and by new life, as our cells are actually living entities in and of themselves. As I said before, every cell needs the communication from the nervous system to be able to work in harmony with all of the other cells of the body.

Most, if not all, diseases and conditions start out as “dis-ease” in a normal function. Once the ease of function is lost cells become worn out and damaged before becoming completely dysfunctional. Since the chiropractic adjustment helps the body restore the ease in communication, normal function then has the possibility of being restored by the natural systems that our cells have. This is why many conditions will appear to be healed as a result of receiving good chiropractic care BUT this DOES NOT mean that the chiropractor cured these conditions. Only your body and the intelligence that organizes it can truly heal or cure your body by repairing or replacing damaged cells. Many health care professionals can support your body in the healing process with nutrition, drugs, exercise, touch, surgery, or counseling but only chiropractors are specifically trained to identify and correct the cause of the loss of ease in communication between the cells of our body and brain. No system of the body can function properly with mechanical interference on the nervous system.

“Maintenance it the mortar of health!”

With this in mind, chiropractic is best utilized as routine maintenance to help our brain correct the “dis-ease” before the “dis”-function sets in which precedes disease. If we wait too long then diseases and symptoms will require more time and effort to correct. Waiting to see our chiropractor until something is painfully wrong is very much like waiting to change the oil in our car until the engine starts to seize up. Once the engine seizes it is too late for preventative maintenance. Then our options become limited until, eventually, we have an emergency and emergencies are the specialty of the medical profession.

So in the end, chiropractic does not treat any disease or condition. Rather it treats “dis-ease” and helps to restore the foundational element in optimal function, which is the normal informational flow between the cells and the intelligence that coordinates their function. My family gets checked by our chiropractor about twice per month because we want to be sure we are maintaining as much function as we can. Some people may require more and some people may require less, everyone is unique.

#6) Chiropractic fixes back and neck pain

Although pain is by far the most common reason to go to a chiropractor, this is another marketing inspired mythShockedSmiley based off the observation that most chiropractors experience in practice, which is; most people with back and neck pain benefit from a chiropractic adjustments.  The pain myth became mainstream when in the 1980’s medical insurance companies started reimbursing chiropractors for their services with the stipulation that improvement could be documented and predicted. It is easy to document improvement in symptoms but to claim that something “fixes” pain is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of pain itself. Pain is a creation of the brain. When someone tells you that it is all in your head, they are right, but that does not mean it is not real or it does not hurt. Pain is a very important signal from the brain that tells our body:

StrokeBrain#1) Something is not functioning correctly

#2) Slow down

#3) Fix the problem

Herbs and medication can alter the chemicals that signal pain but no one can fix pain except the person who is experiencing it. Chiropractic can help the body restore the proper communication between the brain and the body. This can help with the cause of pain in two ways.

#1) If the body is sending information along the nervous system and that signal is distorted on its way to the brain then responding correctly to the stress of life is impossible. Our brains need to receive as much correct information as possible from the body in order to make the correct decision on what to do in response. Eventually this lack of correct response can lead to wasting the time and the fuel that is needed for good function and repair. When certain cells of the body do not have the time and/or fuel for repair or function then we can eventually develop pain symptoms as the surrounding cells signal the brain that there is dysfunction.

#2) If the brain is sending information along the nervous system and it gets distorted on its way to the body then responding correctly to the stress of life is, again, impossible. The trillions of individual cells that make up our bodies need the information from the brain to be able to do their part for the body as a whole. We might know what to do but our cells might not be getting the message and simply do their own thing. When our cells stop functioning in communion with the rest of our bodies then dysfunction begins that will eventually lead to destruction and pain.

According to number 17 of the 33 principles of Chiropractic: every effect has a cause and every cause has an effect. Pain is an effect (symptom) and unless the cause is addressed by the intelligence that runs our body then it will never truly go away. Taking drugs for pain is much like unhooking our check engine indicator in our cars. It does not fix the problem with the engine. Now for some people it is necessary to turn that signal off because it can be so overwhelmingAlexGrayEnergyBody that it inhibits the functions required to live. So medicine definitely has its place in these emergency situations and it is very effective. However, outside the emergency situation, the medical philosophy guides a medical doctor to try and fix the engine. This is where chiropractic philosophy differs from medical philosophy. According to the chiropractic principles, since the person who’s engine needs repair has the same intelligence that built the engine to begin with, it would be best to have the builder oversee the repairs. The doctor is an assistant who helps to remove the obstacles preventing the builder from repairing what was broken and worn out.

“The power that made the body heals the body.”

The spinal column (neck and back) is a vital component in signaling to the brain where the body is in relationship to the environment. Without this information it is impossible to adapt and survive. This is why so much pain can be associated with the spine, the brain is very picky about its function. The smallest dysfunction in a single of the 76 joints can result in the brain sending massive pain signals. At the same time, the smallest restoration of joint function can signal the brain to decrease or stop the pain signal completely.

PainPostureAlthough many chiropractors claim they are improving joint function, that is not credit they should take.  Some evidence does exist that very subtle changes in position happens immediately as a result of a good chiropractic adjustment, the improvement in function of the joints is accomplished by the cells that make up the joint. This is the indirect effect chiropractors have on back and neck pain; they help to restore function by applying a force to remove the mechanical interference from the nervous system. A specific chiropractic adjustment frees our nervous system of mechanical interference allowing our inborn intelligence to do its job, which is to organize the material of the body to adapt to the stress of life. Any abnormal inhibition of this system’s function will eventually lead to destruction and dysfunction which causes the brain to give us pain as a warning. Once the brain no longer needs to warn us then the pain goes away.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
– Dr. Tad

Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 2

debunked

Some of the links are embedded into the 
highlighted text and others are cited below.
To view part #1 click here.

#3) Chiropractic neck adjustments cause strokesStrokeBrain

            Yikes! This is a scary one and the people who spread this myth are counting on that. There are only a handful of studies that look at this, few of them by testing the anatomical or physiological aspects of the body necessary to scientifically prove a causative effect. Most of these studies come to varied opinions by simply looking at statistics and applying different forms of analysis. Since the estimated risk range is HUGE (1 in 5000 to 1 in 5 million {[i]} depending on who you read) we must carefully read the body of evidence in its entirety before we jump to conclusions, because a range this big is very suspicious and essentially tells us nothing. The most telling study that I have come across is from a Chiropractic school where the least experienced “doctors-to-be” practice on people. If there is any place that would run a high risk it would be in the schools. However Jaskoviak {[ii]} reported that not a single case of stroke occurred in approximately five million cervical “manipulations” at The National College of Chiropractic Clinic from 1965 to 1980.   Not one!

            Everything comes with a risk. That is a fact that cannot be ignored by anyone. Before I go into too much detail lets look at the supposed risk of chiropractic compared to other things that most of us do without giving a second thought. According to www.squidoo.com/oddsdying on the odds of dying:

HomerReeper2Stroke in the general population 1 in 23

Motor-vehicle accidents over-all 1 in 87

Complications of medical care 1 in 1,313

Fire in building or structure 1 in 1,451

Drowning while in natural water 1 in 2,370

Fall involving furniture 1 in 4,225

Storm 1 in 4,346

Struck by lightening in your lifetime (Est. 80 years) 1 in 5000

Drowning while in swimming-pool 1 in 6,258

Drowning while in bath-tub 1 in 11,042

Average of the insanely large range from “scientific” studies of chiropractic and stroke 1 in 2,497,500

            Now I am not statistician but I can’t figure out how the risk of dying from stroke being 1 in 23 in the general population and the absolute worse estimate for stroke due to a neck manipulation being 1 in 5000 can somehow show chiropractic to be dangerous. If anything it seems to show that we are more likely to drop on the sidewalk from a stroke than on a chiropractic table by thousands of times over. But then again, a chiropractic adjusting table is technically furniture and since that is statistically more dangerous than the adjustment from the chiropractor, it may increase the risk.

For the sake of argument though, let us pretend that the risk is around 1 in 5000. Think of how many chiropractors would have strokes victims in their offices since the average chiropractor delivers around 5200 neck adjustments a year. That averages out to at least one per DrSyringeyear per chiropractor. Think of how much malpractice insurance would cost for chiropractors if every chiropractor was causing one stroke per year! In reality medical malpractice insurance is at least 30x more expensive than chiropractic malpractice insurance. So if $$$ talks then chiropractors are at least 30x safer.

 

One of the major logical errors that we need to be careful of is mistaking correlation with cause and effect. For example, when the weather gets hot more people choose to drink lemonade. Since August is a hotter month in America the increase in lemonade consumption has a correlation to the month of August. However, it would be silly to say that it is the actual month of August that causes the lemonade to jump in peoples’ mouths. This is basically the same with strokes and Chiropractic. Most people who are in the early stages of a stroke start off having headache, shoulder, and/or neck pain. These are very common reasons for seeing a chiropractor. So these people, who are already in the process of having a stroke, walk into the chiropractic office and guess what follows. There may be an argument for a correlation with chiropractic and stroke but there is absolutely no scientific evidence that chiropractic adjustments causes strokes.
ThinkDangerous

The second logical error we need to be careful of would be to only read part of the information and then jump to a conclusion. The majority of the studies that show a higher risk than is reported in reality do not just look at chiropractors. According to Terrett ([iii]); “manipulations” administered by a Kung Fu practitioner, GPs, osteopaths, physiotherapists, a wife, a blind masseur, and an Indian barber were incorrectly attributed to chiropractors.” We must recognize that an MD, DO, or DPT can take a weekend course on “manipulation” then proceed to adjust everyone who comes into their office. However, chiropractors train for a minimum of three years to adjust correctly. This is a huge difference in the amount of training that each profession receives. Personally I would never let a medical doctor adjust me. I would also never let a chiropractor remove my appendix or prescribe me drugs simply because that is not what they are trained for and thus the risks go up.

Here is the bottom line, when all of the literature is read thoroughly; zero scientific evidence can be found that shows chiropractic neck adjustments causes strokes. This is simply a case of fear mongering. When the absolute worst-case scenario is about as likely as getting struck by lightning and in the best case we are 25x more likely to be killed by an asteroid, then chiropractic seems extremely safe by comparison.

[i] Chestnut J: The stroke issue: Paucity of valid data, plethora of unsubstantiated conjecture. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004;27;368-72. http://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161- 4754(04)00054-5/fulltext

 

[ii] Jaskoviac P: Complications arising from manipulation of the cervical spine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1980;3:213. Not available online.

 

[iii] Terrett AGJ: Misuse of the literature by medical authors in discussing spinal manipulative therapy injury. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995;18:203. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7636409

 

 

#4) Chiropractic adjustments hurt

Unfortunately, of all the myths I have discussed so far, this one is the most likely to be true. A good chiropractic adjustment will most of the time feel like a huge relief. However there are some factors that can make this myth true like:Ouch

1) The skill of the chiropractor at finding the right place to adjust

2) The severity of the subluxation

3) The skill of the chiropractor at delivering the adjustment

4) The ability of the patient to relax

5) How much pain the patient is in to begin with

6) How much dysfunction the patient has to begin with

A great chiropractor can make the most difficult adjustment easy and comfortable but a poor chiropractor can make the easiest adjustment very uncomfortable. It greatly depends on the skill of the chiropractor and how good of a relationship between the patient and the chiropractor. That is why when people ask me what to look for in a chiropractor I always start with the most important factor; How much do you trust the person with the chiropractic degree?

Your relationship with your chiropractor plays a big factor in how easy it is to relax right before the adjustment. Since you cannot control how the chiropractor adjusts the best factor you have in your control is your ability to relax. Stress:RelaxThe more relaxed your muscles are the easier it is for your body to correctly receive the adjustive force. This is why some chiropractors recommend receiving a massage before an adjustment. However I totally disagree. A good chiropractor should be able to place your body into a position that is easy to relax into and deliver the adjustment faster than your muscles can tense up. I feel it is laziness on the part of the chiropractor to recommend massage first. If the chiropractic adjustment restores the proper communication between our brain and body then it would make more sense to have your brain fully in charge of the muscles before trying to get them to relax with massage. Otherwise you will be fighting against the massage therapist rather than working together.CrabPinch

The next thing to remember is that there are multiple ways to accomplish something. It is your responsibility to let your chiropractor know that what they are doing makes you uncomfortable and you would like them to try it a different way. A good chiropractor should be able to accommodate this. Again, the more you relax the better so if you are being positioned in a way that makes it more difficult to let go then say something.

One last factor that is not in anyone’s control is the amount of pain that someone comes in with. The more pain you are in before the adjustment the more uncomfortable the adjustment might be but the more relief you will feel after. On the opposite hand, the more dysfunction someone has before the adjustment the more discomfort they might feel after the adjustment. Healing takes time and that time is not always comfortable. Think back to when you were a child if you experienced “growing” pains. Many times our brains will send us signals to tell us to ReduceSpeedslow down so our body can heal, grow, or reorganize. If our brain has been having trouble communicating with our body for a long time then after an adjustment, when the flow of information has been restored, the brain will have a better picture of how it needs to organize the body. Once it gets to work, many times, it needs us to stop stressing our body for a while and thus it triggers pain or discomfort to slow us down. One of my favorite chiropractic quotes; “Chiropractic is designed to help you function better not necessarily to help you feel better.” Now improved function will eventually lead to improved feelings but not always instantaneously. This is another reason that my family uses chiropractic to maintain function rather than to restore dysfunction after it has set in.

 

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
– Dr. Tad

 

 

Work Out While Preventing Injuries -Part 1 of 3

This series of blog post is intended to give the basic principles of a healthy workout to prevent injury in the short and long term. Whether you are a hard core gym rat or you just decided to take some steps toward greater health this will help you out. I am laying out the principles — NOT telling you what or how to do things. There is no perfect workout for everyone but if you follows these principles and apply them to the workout that you choose, then you will not only get the maximum benefit but you will also save yourself from getting hurt.

If you take nothing else away from this series take this: THINK!!!!- Any workout starts in the brain and the body follows.

brain_exercise_pain_relief

A muscle, no matter how strong, is useless if the brain cannot fully control it in the way it was designed to function. A balanced brain leads to a balanced, functional body that looks and feels great.

Unfortunately most people follow what is commonly called “gym-science” in which the biggest guy at the gym must know the most science. This is flawed because, with a few exceptions, body building is a very unhealthy sport. Having lots of overdeveloped muscles leads to more problems and less functionality in the long run. Work out for function not vanity. The healthier you are on the inside the better you will look on the outside. As chiropractic philosophy states; health flows from above down and from inside out.

  1.  Work out your connective tissue before your muscles.  Ligaments and tendons take 3x as long as muscles to strengthen. That is why strains and sprains are the most common reason people stop activity. So especially when you first start to work out do low weight and high repetitions for a few months before you even think about lifting heavy weights. The saying “go heavy or go home” is a fantastic way to get hurt, so you will likely have to actually “go home” for a while.
  2. Spend at least 10 minutes to warm up and cool down with dynamic stretching before and after each workout.  Dynamic stretching means you move your joints only with the muscles that are supposed to move them in a rhythmic motion. Static stretching where you push a joint till you feel a stretch and hold it there for 10 to 15 seconds is OK but only AFTER a workout. If you take a joint and push it passed the normal range of motion before workout then you are setting yourself up for an injury.  To get the benefits of dynamic and static stretching add yoga to your workout. But keep in mind that it is a workout in and of itself. So on yoga days don’t go out and lift heavy right after a long session.
  3. Work out your extensors 2x as much as your flexors and stretch your flexors 2x as much as your extensors.  musclesFvsEFlexor muscles pull our arms and legs toward the center of our body and they pull the center of our body into a fetal type position.  Extensor muscles, on the other hand, pull us into an upright posture and pull our arms and legs away from the center of our body.  Now most things we do in this society involve sitting in a flexed posture or reaching down or in front and thus use our flexors.  Does it really  ake sense to continue to work out our flexors since we use them so often in every day activities? Think about this; babies are born being flexor dominant and develop their extensors in conjunction with the frontal cortex of their brains, where our ability to reason occurs.  As adults, our extensors are supposed to be stronger than our flexors and our frontal cortex is supposed to be stronger than the lower, more animalistic centers of our brains. There is a reason that the stereotypical “meat head” has a low IQ and is easily angered. (If you would like to do more research on the connection between upright posture and brain health look up Dr. Uner Tan Senior Researcher, Department of Physiology, Medical School, Cukurova University, Adana, Turkey. You can start with this interesting PDF @ http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/2051587/214865967/name/REFLECTIONS+OF+A+SCIENTIST.pdf%20)  Regardless of what you start out with, over developing the flexors will lower the ability to reason and increase the likelihood of emotional reactions. Our flexors are mostly on the front of our body from the waste up and on the back of our legs below our butt. Our gluts, butt muscles, are one of the most important extensors to work out. So think about what position your body spends most of the day in, then work out in ways that oppose that position. For example; if you sit at a computer most of the day it would be wise to work out doing squats, lunges, rows, and pull-ups. Avoid doing sit-ups, bench press, and bicep or leg curls. Take extra time throughout the day to stretch your chest, biceps, front of your hips, and the front of your neck.
  4. Balance is the key to correct technique and posture. Here is the hard truth to swallow for most guys who want to lift heavy weights: If you can’t lift the weight while balancing on a fit-ball, Bosu-ball, or wobble board then, no matter what your posture looks like on the ground or sitting, you can’t lift the weight correctly. When you lift weights while balancing you eliminate the use of your core muscles to move the weight because they are fully engaged in their real job, balance, which is really correct posture. This leaves only your outer “movement” muscles to lift the weights unassisted. So not only are you working your core muscles the way they are supposed to be worked but you are also getting the maximum out of the muscles you are targeting with the lift, even though the weight will be necessarily lighter in the beginning  It is hard to have bad posture when you are standing on a fit-ball. No one should do any exercise while sitting EVER because it requires no balance!

Stay tuned for part 2 where we will talk about how much exercise you really “need” and how to accomplish your work out goals most efficiently.

As always… Much Love and stay adjusted, my friends!

Dr. Tad Schexnailder DC

Vitalistic Chiropractor

Work Out While Preventing Injuries – Part 2 of 3

This is the 2nd post in a series on general workout principles, that if followed and applied to the workout you choose, can prevent many injuries both acute and chronic.  Again the most important principle is for you to THINK!!!  Remember to do your own research and make sure that your goals are achievable and simple.Einstien

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch  of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction” –Albert Einstein

5) Stick to functionally based exercises. Most people will never have to push a weight off of their chest outside of the gym but everyone will need to push themselves off of the floor at some point. Bench-press is a useless exercise for anything other than vanity. Push-ups, as with most closed-chain exercises, are a much better exercise that not only improves your strength but also your ability to move your body. That is what your muscles where designed to do, to move your body not to move the things outside of your body. A closed-chain exercise is where your body is free to move and your extremities are planted as in squats, push-ups, and pull-ups. Open-chain exercises keep your body still and your extremities move weights as in leg press, bench press, and lat pull downs on a machine. Multiple scientific studies have been done on the benefits of closed-chain exercises over open-chain.

ClosedKineticChainExerciseBook

“Closed-chain exercises have been shown to require graded, coordinated and sequential muscle activation to govern joint movements; co-contraction muscle activation to govern stability; and emphasis on proprioceptive feedback to initiate and control the muscle activation sequence. Thus, from a functional prospective, they are more beneficial…” — Hyde TE, Gengenbach MS. Conservative Management of Sports Injuries. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2007:73  Its really just common sense, functionality is much more important than looks or the ability to throw heavy weights around for the average person, with the exception being athletes and models. Here is a link to a great book for those of you who want to do more research… http://books.google.com/bookshl=en&lr=&id=8iza_h84kBYC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=closed+chain+exercise+benefits&ots=mOFu4DXzEc&sig=a7DOLAF9pmCZRrgDbHXjYctAmHA#v=onepage&q=closed%20chain%20exercise%20benefits&f=false

6) Work out smarter not harder.  This is a link to a fascinating documentary that explores the research on exactly how much exercise is really needed to accomplish the health benefits of exercise. Insanely interesting, short documentary!!!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17177251

For those of you who want to workout longer than 3 minutes here is the basic idea; intensity matters. If you can work out longer than one hour then your workout is not intense enough, unless you are a professional athlete who works out for a living. Make your workout count, stay focused, and squeeze every second out of your workout that you can then spend the rest of your day with friends and family or relaxing.

7) Know your goals and how to accomplish them. Do you want to trim down and tone up? Don’t just do cardio!!!A beautiful asian woman doing push up at a beach The stereotypical “cardio” workout is great for a warm up or cool down but that is about it. Weight training is the best for trimming up and toning. Plus weight training IS cardio. Try it without increasing your heart rate, it won’t happen! Cardio may burn calories at the time you do it but weight training increases your metabolism long term so you burn more calories all day long. Ladies, don’t worry,  if you do light weight and high repetitions you will never “bulk up” unless you take something to change your body chemistry. The key is to use a weight that is heavy enough to fatigue you to failure after around 15 to 20 reps and do about 2 to 3  sets with a very short rest between sets. Actually it would be better to not rest but to immediately move on to work out another part of your body between sets. This is called circuit training.

Incroyable HulkDo you want to get stronger? Start with core exercises and use explosive movements. After preparing your connective tissue for a month or two begin using weights that are heavy enough to fatigue you to failure after only 3 to 5 repetitions and do this for 5 to 7 sets with a few minutes rest between each set. It would be best to start with your own body weight and then move to weights while on an unbalanced surface (a Bosu ball or wobble board) to promote better posture and proper core activation. Remember if you can not lift the weight while on an unstable surface then you do not have the core strength to lift it properly while on the ground.

Muscular-Squirrel

Do you want to get larger muscles? Look into muscle confusion workouts. The basic concept is to get your muscles to work in all possible directions so you strain every fiber possible. Work with a weight that will fatigue you to failure after 8 to 10 reps and do 3 to 5 sets with a short rest period between.

Remember that the goal of weight training to fail. You want to work your muscles to the point that they can not do any more, rest, and repeat. Change the weight, number of reps, sets, and rest time to accomplish different goals. The best advice is to find an athletic trainer or very educated personal trainer to help you create the ideal work out plan for your individual body.

Fats8) Get good nutrition. It is about quality not just stuffing protein powder into your body. If there are not the correct enzymes present to break down and absorb the protein then it does not matter how much is taken. There are A LOT of marketing ploys out there selling crap that is very harmful to your body but promises “results.”  Don’t get taken advantage of by catch phrases or fancy packaging.  Real food can not be beat!  The best advice is to see a nutritional expert and make sure you are not only taking the proper vitamins, minerals, nutrients and enzymes but they are also in the correct ratio with the correct amount of water for your individual body type.

Spine1

9) Make sure your spine is aligned. If even one of your spinal vertebrae is slightly misaligned then every one above and below it must shift to compensate. Our bodies are not compartmentalized, they are complete integrated systems.  It is called the kinematic chain and if any link is weak then the whole chain is weak. Chiropractors are specifically trained to find the weakest link and help it into a position that strengthens the link and the whole chain. No exercise can be done correctly if even one spinal joint is even slightly misplaced.

If you missed part one here is a link-   https://organiclivingchiropractic.com/2013/04/23/work-out-while-preventing-injuries-part-1-of-3/

Stay tuned for the last post in this series where we will define a simple and easy exercise routine specifically designed for people who sit at a desk or in the car regularly through out the day.

In the mean time, what are your thoughts on this series so far? What have been your experiences in exercising?  I’d love to hear from you: leave a comment!

As always Much Love and  stay adjusted, my friends.

Tad Schexnailder DC

Work Out To Prevent Injuries Part 3 of 3 (Dedicated to everyone who sits a lot)

This is the last post in a series on how to avoid common exercise related injuries and pitfalls. During the last two posts we laid out some general guidelines and principles to be applied to any workout you choose. This post will be a bit different. Today we will lay out a specific workout designed for people who sit all day long.  All of the principles from the previous posts will be applied to target areas that become under-worked due to the stresses of having a sedentary job.

I am very lucky because my job is very physical. Being a chiropractor requires me to be constantly moving: not only my body, but also the bodies of people that come to see me every day. I show people exercises and stretches all day so I have the benefit of being in constant motion. Not everyone is as lucky as I am (although its not too late for you to become a chiropractor!) but that does not mean that you have to be unhealthy just because you don’t have a physically demanding job.

In life we have three options.

  1. Change nothing.  However nothing will change.
  2. Change what you are doing. This is not an option for everyone. I don’t expect you to quit your job just because you want to move your body better (it is still not to late to become a chiropractor, just saying.)
  3. Change the way you do things.  This is a far more practical option for most people. Ideally you could change your work station to be more ergonomically efficient.   Move your work station higher and place different pieces of office equipment around you so that you are standing and moving around the room all day. If this is not possible you could switch out your office chair for a fit ball so that, even though you are sitting, your spine and core muscles are constantly working to keep you balanced and on the ball.

There are many ways of accomplishing option #3. If you cannot change your work space then the next thing would be to look into changing your body movement outside of work to compensate for your work posture.  This is what we will look into today. How to workout to counteract office posture and stress so that it affects you less.

  1. Squat More. This is likely the most important factor missing in most sitters lives. We do not squat down in our society and it causes untold amounts of pain and suffering.  Our legs and hips are the biggest bones surrounded by the biggest muscles of our body. In contrast our spine is made of many small bones surrounded by some of the smallest muscles we have. Our societal habit, however, is to bend and sit in a way to take the load off of our biggest bones and muscles only to place it on some of the smallest and make them do the moving. Does it not make sense to use the big bones and muscles to do the big movements while saving the small ones for the stabilization and detailed tasks? Squatting is also the easiest and most natural way to birth a child or to go to the bathroom.  If any of you reading this have small children who have learned to walk within the last 3 years, watch how they move when they want to look at something or pick it up off the ground. They squat down! There is a reason why kids have to be told to “sit up straight in their chair.” It is not natural!!!  OK my rant is over…sorry.  But seriously we have trained ourselves in this society to use our bodies so backward from the way they are designed and we wonder why we have such a high hip fracture rate and back pain prevalence.  If you cannot squat on a regular basis you can at least practice it a few times a day. During a squat the inner pelvic muscles, the deepest core muscles, are the most engaged. If we have strong flexible inner pelvic muscles we will never have to worry about hernias, low back pain, disc problems, non nutritional constipation, non traumatic hip fractures, organ prolapses, or bladder weakness as we age.  The list could go on but I don’t want to get too technical.   PerfectSquatSo how do you perform a good squat?  First shift all of your body weight onto the balls and heels of your feet and keep it there. You know this has happened if you can pick your toes up off the floor. Second stick your butt as far behind you as you can. Third continue pushing your butt back until you have to bend your knees. Lastly go down as far as you can comfortably. When you have reached this place, hold it for a second then squeeze the inner pelvic muscles (you  squeeze these when you are keeping yourself from going to the bathroom) and push your hips forward like in a skiing type motion. Repeat 100 times.  You will feel this tomorrow!
  2. LungeLunge More. The lunge is a great way to practice balance and make sure we have a stable gate for the rest of our lives. Start out easy and simply take as large of a step forward as you can while keeping your back heel on the ground. Keep that back leg straight while you bend your front knee so that you can just barely see your front toes. Push both feet straight down into the ground while pulling the upper half of your body up to the sky. Hold it for a second then repeat with your other leg forward. Take 10 to 20 lunging steps like this and you will start to feel the burn. For added difficulty try doing this with a weight in each hand or up and down a hill.
  3.  OpposingArmLegRaisesArm and Leg Extensions.  Drop down onto your hands and knees for this next one. From here just extent one arm out in front of you as far as you can. Now extent the opposite leg behind you as far as you can. Be very conscious of squeezing your butt and rear shoulder muscles as tight as you can on the extended arm and leg. Hold here for a count of 20 or so then relax back to all fours. Repeat with the other arm and opposite leg.  Be sure that you are keeping your back flat, extended limbs even with your back, and your eyes stay focused on the hand stretched out in front of you. For added difficulty add some ankle and wrist weights.
  4.  ReverseSitUpsAKA Reverse Sit-ups.  Now lay on your stomach. Extent both arms above your head and both legs behind you so that your hands and feet are as far away from each other as possible. (Think of a football referee making the touchdown sign but face down)  From here tighten your back and shoulder muscles so tight that your head, arms, and legs come off the floor. Hold this for a count of 10 to 20 then relax back down. Repeat 20 times but don’t forget to breath through these. You can change this up a bit and make it more a brain exercise by lifting only one arm and opposite leg at a time. Again, increase the difficulty by adding wrist and ankle weights to this exercise.
  5.  PsoasEccentricEccentric Psoas Contractions.  Just keep reading, I’ll explain. From here roll over onto your back. Bend your knees and pull them toward your chest. Next, try to straighten your legs and push your heels to the ceiling.  Breath and feel the stretch in the back of your legs especially close to the back of your knees.  Now, with your knees straight, SLOWLY lower your legs to the floor. Work up to the point where you can slowly count to 20 or 30 in the time it takes you to lower your legs.  Then repeat 10 to 20 times. The slower you go the better! If this bothers your low back then place your hands under your hips or under the small of your back for support. The more you do this the less low back pain you will experience through out the day. If you have a good massage therapist and they have a Trigger Point chart on their wall, ask them to show you the pain pattern that the psoas produces. You will find it squarely on the low back. I can tell you from personal experience as well as from many years as a massage therapist that the majority of back pain in this country can be either directly linked to or has, as a contributing factor, psoas malfunctional imbalance.  This muscle needs to be strong but since sitting shortens this muscle it become short and tight pulling too hard on the low back muscles. Strengthen your psoas but do it in a way that elongates it. That is why eccentric muscle contractions are best for sitters.
  6. BridgingThe Bridge.  This is an advanced move. If you are just starting out or experience back pain regularly then it would be wise to skip this exercise until you are ready for it. You remember those super flexible kids in school who could bend over backwards, place their hands on the ground behind them, then flip their legs over their heads?  Well this is not NEARLY as difficult.  Start on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Now consciously squeeze your back and butt muscles as tight as you can and lift your pelvis up toward the ceiling so that all of your weight is on your feet and the back of your shoulders. Breathe!! Then slowly lower your pelvis down so that you can feel each back bone touching the floor one at a time all the way down your back. Once your pelvis is able to rest on the floor, arch your back so that you create a small space between your low back and the floor but your pelvis is still on the floor. Now relax, breath, and repeat 20 times.  If you want a real challenge then start on your back, bend your knees with your feet on the floor, and place the palms of your hands on the floor just above your shoulders.  Next push your pelvis up toward the ceiling so high that the only thin touching the floor is your hands and feet. You should be looking at the world upside down. Hold this position for a few breaths while you play around with tightening and relaxing the muscles of your buttocks, back and shoulders. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor and give yourself a high five!

Keep in mind that these are just a few exercises that are targeted to placing your body into the opposite position of sitting but there are many more. Take some time to learn others OR be creative and invent your own.  Do you have any office exercises that you recommend? Leave your comments below!

Good luck and keep moving!