Recovery from Equestrian Falls and Traumatic Brain Injury

Recovery from Equestrian Falls and Traumatic Brain Injury

equestrian_injuryWhen you you live and work in the Village of Wellington, you begin to understand what the equestrian community means to this city. Polo players, dressage, and event jumpers give bring life to the city and firmly establish it as the equestrian capitol of the country.

Many horse owners understand the benefit of chiropractic for their horses, and many riders understand the impact that riding has on the low back pain. However, the main reason I’m writing this article today is because of the staggering impact that head injuries have on the sport.

Dr. Lola Chambless, a neurosurgeon involved with the organization Riders4Helmets has presented some sobering statistics:

  • Roughly 15,000 visits will be made to hospitals around the country from a horse related head injury.
  • A serious motorcycle accident will occur once for every 5,000 hours of riding. Horse riding injuries will happen once every 350 hours!
  • There are approximately 8 deaths from head injury in football each year. Compare that to 60 horse related deaths from head injury in horse riding.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious and debilitating condition regardless of cause. It can lead to a loss of control of limbs/bodily functions, depression, headaches, speech problems, and psychosocial problems. The medical costs of treating the problems associated with head injury can add up to 3 million dollars over a lifetime!

What many people overlook is the fact that a head injury almost always accompanies a structural problem  in the neck. While the structural problem in the neck certainly did not cause the brain injury, it is certainly a factor in recovery from head injury.

Dr. Scott Rosa is a researcher who’s been studying the effects of traumatic injury to the head and neck. A major problem with head injury is how pressure and inflammatory chemicals can build up and compress the brain .   Using advanced imaging, he’s finding that problems in the area where the head meets the neck can prevent proper drainage of fluid from the skull. This in turn causes the inflammatory molecules to stay in the brain and create more damage.

Initial studies are showing promise, as gentle upper cervical corrections are showing signs of relieving the pressure, and allowing much of the residual symptoms of brain injury to decline.

Does this mean that brain injury goes away? Of course not. But it may mean improved quality of life for those who have been battling the effects of such a traumatic incident.

Can gentle atlas corrections help everyone with TBI?

The answer is no. Not everyone with TBI has a structural problem in the Atlas and preventing the brain and nervous system from healing. A full Structural Chiropractic Examination is necessary to help determine if the Atlas Displacement Complex (ADC) is the main culprit.

What Are Some Signs?

  1. When you ask the person to sit or stand up as straight as they can with their eyes closed. If their head tilts repeatedly to one side even slightly, it may be a sign of ADC.
  2. If any doctor, massage therapist, or physical therapist has ever told you that one leg is shorter than the other, it may be a significant sign of ADC.
  3. When the person stands up straight, if one shoulder is visibly higher than the other, it may be a sign of ADC.

If you don’t feel you have the skills to do this quick screening, then I encourage anyone with a suspicion of ADC get a consultation with a Structural or Upper Cervical Chiropractor.

Most offices have Complimentary Consultations as a way to see if this gentle form of chiropractic is appropriate for your case.

If you’re serious about riding, then keeping the head and neck in the optimal position can save you lots of time, expense, and headaches (literally). Most of all, it provides a peace of mind that their condition has an innate capacity to heal from inside out.

Did you like this article? Feel free to share it with the people you care about and see if a Complimentary Consultation is the next step to regain their health.

4 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Bulge – One Might Even Surprise You

4 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Bulge

overeating

Thanksgiving is around the corner and most of us are getting are tummies ready to take on a fantastic meal. However, for people who have been embarking on a journey to make healthy eating choices, the holidays can be a time of dread.

What happens if I cheat? What’s going to happen to my weight loss goals? Will I ever  be able to catch up again?

Here are a few tips to help make the holidays easier on your body and mind.

1. Cheat!

It may sound strange that the first tip to avoid the Holiday Bulge is to cheat, but it’s true. The holidays are times to celebrate being with loved ones, and whether it’s healthy or not, people celebrate with food that isn’t always so good for you.

The truth is, our bodies weren’t made fat, muscular, or skinny by 2 or 3 large cheat meals. Our bodies are the way they are through months and years of daily eating patterns.

If you want to cheat for one day, then do so knowing that it is just going to be for one day. If you have been eating clean for a long time, you may even find out that one day of cheating will leave you feeling so crummy and lethargic, that you don’t even want to cheat more often than that!

2. Meat and Veggies First

On your first plate of eating, load up on your meat and vegetables. By loading up on your protein and fat groups first, your body will start feeling full faster. Additionally, vegetables like sweet potatoes, squashes, and brussel sprouts can fill your body with nutrient dense carbs that may help stave off those cravings for stuffing, bread, and mashed potatoes.

3. Thanksgiving Football

I’m not talking about the Dallas Cowboys or Detroit Lions. I’m talking about you and your family/friends getting together and running around before the big meal. For several years, my friends and family would get together and play touch football before dinner. Not only is it a fun way to get together with family you haven’t seen in a long time, but it’s a much better metabolic alternative than vegging out in front of the TV before gorging on a huge meal.

4. Bring a Meal to Share

The best way to avoid the Holiday bulge is by sharing some creative and great tasting food creations with the people you’re with. The internet has become a tremendous source for recipes and dish ideas that are sensible and delicious.

Not everything on the menu needs to be replaced, but bring something that you know is a prime offender that can be substituted, especially in the dessert section.

Here are some links to dishes and meals that can add some variety, and inspire others to make smart holiday eating choices:

Balanced Bites Holiday Recipe Round Up

Everyday Paleo Thanksgiving Recipes

Holiday Paleo Desserts

Does the Brain Stem Affect Inflammatory Conditions?

Does the Nervous System Affect Inflammatory Conditions?

thermal

You may not know what the term “Autoimmunity” means, but I’m sure you know some of the diseases in it’s family. These include:

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Fibromyalgia
Chronic Fatigue
Celiac Disease
Crohn’s Disease
Lupus
Psoriasis
Multiple Sclerosis

That’s right. Many of the chronic illnesses that we walk and run for every year have a very common factor.  They  all have roots in chronic inflammation. Inflammatory diseases are ones that are characterized by an immune system that is over sensitive, or is tricked into attacking the body that it’s supposed to be defending.

For many of the above diseases, the common route of treatment is to take medications that control the pain and steroid drugs which shut off the overactive immune system. While this strategy is effective for controlling pain, it can have consequences such as leaving the body vulnerable to infections, loss of bone density, and weight gain.

Is there a better way?

In recent years, research in the fields of neuroimmunology and neuroendocrinology have made strides to understand what is happening with these illnesses. Big words aside, it’s basically the study of how your brain interacts with your immune system and endocrine system. What they’ve found is that in many cases of chronic inflammation, there’s a problem in the relationship between brain function and body function.

Rather than going into the complexities of hypothalamic function signals to the pituitary and adrenal glands, or throw around jargon like HPA-axis, I like to use a simple analogy:

The city called Your Body:

Imagine your body was a city where everyone in the city was a law abiding citizen. Your brain and nervous system are like city hall, and your immune system is like the police department. In a well functioning city, city hall runs the police force well, and only criminals get locked up.

One day, a corrupt official starts running city hall and sends a message to start policing the citizens of the city. All of a sudden, theCartoon-Police police officers that were looking to the outside to defend the city start arresting and attacking the citizens of the city.

While taking steroids and reducing inflammation are great short term approaches to getting a grip on autoimmune problems, treating the disease this way would be like taking the police officers out of the city.

The main problem isn’t bad cops, it’s to fix the governing structure that was causing the problem; the scrambled messages.

How do you unscramble those messages?

I’ve taken care of a large number of patients with multiple inflammatory illnesses ranging from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue to rheumatoid arthritis and MS. While these conditions are certainly very complex, many people will respond beautifully when the function of their central nervous system is improved.

Most people have a thyroid or adrenal gland that is physically healthy, but the hormones they are spitting out are not controlling the immune system the way it needs. What’s often missed is the fact that these organs require proper signals and chemical messengers from the brain and the pituitary gland. This of course is dependent on healthy nervous system function.

Proper nervous system function requires structural symmetry of the head and neck. When the head and neck shift as is the case for Atlas Displacement Complex, the loss of symmetry causes the messages that go into the brain to be scrambled, and the brain gets imprecise information about the body.

 

Instead of treating symptoms of a bad organ, what many people need is to address the central nervous system and it’s control on all processes of the body. The nervous system in your body’s inner doctor, making sure every chemical message gets where it needs to, exactly when it needs it. With Structural based chiropractic, we make sure that your inner doctor is working the best that it can, so that you can heal yourself.

 

 

 

CTE and Football: An Upper Cervical Chiropractic Perspective

CTE and the NFL: A Structural Perspective

cTEIf you’re a sports fan like myself, then you’re probably aware of the NFL’s crackdown on violent blows above the shoulders. The reason for this crackdown is because of the emergence of a new diagnosis that is wreaking havoc on retired NFL players. This disease has even driven some of these former NFL alumni like Junior Seau, to take their own life. The name of this disease is chronic traumatic encephalopathy. In recent weeks, former Dolphins wide receiver Mark “Super” Duper has been diagnosed with the disease and is starting to speak out to create awareness.

What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, is a disease caused by repetitive head trauma. Former boxers, hockey players, and football players have experienced the signs, symptoms, and diagnosis of CTE many magnitudes higher than the normal population, even if no history of concussion has ever been documented.

It’s characterized by dramatic mood swings, memory loss, increasing addictive behavior, and severe headaches. As the disease progresses into later ages, an early onset of dementia is often seen and expected. It has even been identified in a 28 year-old hockey player who showed a startling amount of brain damage at such an early age.

Because of the increasing number of diagnoses by former NFL players, the NFL has been under intense scrutiny and potential lawsuits to try and solve this problem. Only within the last 10 years have people been able to find markers of CTE that might be in a living person. Prior to detection of certain antibodies and proteins, CTE was diagnosed after death when brains were examined.

Junior Seau, the most famous well known victim of CTE

What they found is that the brain matter had shrunk substantially compared to normal people. Specifically, areas that are responsible for mood and memory. The damaged brain cells leave markers called Tau-proteins which are a similar sign that brains of Alzheimer’s patients leave as well. The most remarkable point however, is that people don’t usually find this kind of brain atrophy until someone is in their 70’s and 80’s, but it’s being increasingly found in people in their 30’s and 40’s.

The result has been a movement to improve the head gear of NFL players, penalize helmet to helmet contact and launching tackles, but little has offered to help people who already suffer with the disease in retirement.

A Structural Chiropractic Perspective

In recent years, there has been a movement in a small part of chiropractic to study the implications that Atlas alignment has on  the brain. As a result, some promising discoveries have been made which may hold a key to unlocking the devastating effects of CTE.

First, Dr. Michael Flanagan began studying the structural uniqueness of the upper cervical spine and it’s potential effects on the flow of a substance called cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). He found that the upper neck was uniquely situated to shift out of place and block the flow of CSF out of the brain. The result is that this backed up CSF will increase the pressure built up in the brain and cause brain tissue to degenerate.

To test his theories, Dr. Scott Rosa and Dr. Gordon Hasick have been using advanced MRI techniques to study the flow of CSF before and after getting precision Atlas Corrections. Though the studies have been small, they are starting to see definitive changes in the way CSF flow changes the physiology of the brain.

Measurements of CSF flow before and after atlas correction

Measurements of CSF flow before and after atlas correction

What does this mean in laymen’s terms?

Repeated small head impacts leads to Atlas problems –> Atlas problems block CSF –>Blocked CSF could mean damaged brains.

The truth is that we don’t know enough about CTE to know if anything can help the pathology behind the illness. We are not even at the point where we know definitively if someone has CTE until they have died. We do however know when someone has taken brain injury.

But does that mean Atlas corrections could reverse the symptoms of brain injury? Small cases are saying yes. Read this story about former BYU Superstar Jim McMahon. 

Dr. Rosa reached out to him to do a pre and post atlas correction assessment on him. While he’s not perfect, when his atlas position is maintained, he begins to feel human again. I say maintained, because the job of a specific chiropractor isn’t to adjust you repeatedly over and over to feel well. It is to provide a precise correction and teach the body to hold it for as long as possible. That is a huge Structural Chiropractic difference.

 

I say maintained, because the job of a specific chiropractor isn’t to adjust you repeatedly over and over to feel well. It is to provide a precise correction and teach the body to hold it for as long as possible.

 

I remember taking care of a really young patient with all of the signs and symptoms of brain injury. He’s a young, strong guy that looked like he could’ve played college football.  He was less than 20 years old at the time, but was depressed and didn’t know why. Though he hadn’t had a concussion in several years, the repeated blows to the head from playing football had taken it’s toll. Within a few corrections, not only did his hip pain start to dissipate, but you could actually see a huge change in his mood and outlook.

CTE is nothing to take lightly. Not only is it damaging physically, but it’s emotionally draining for the person with the disease AND the people they love. If you are concerned about a love one who has taken one too many blows to the head and you suspect they have some type of brain related illness, it may help to make sure that the neck is working optimally.

5 Movement Patterns that Can Injure Your Neck

5 Movement Patterns that can Injure Your Neck

weight lifting energy

Problems in the cervical spine are things that I take very seriously. In fact, I’ve devoted my career in chiropractic to mastering my understanding of cervical spine mechanics and correction through the NUCCA protocol. The structural and mechanical integrity of the neck are just too important to take lightly. With that said, I received any interesting question from one of my readers.

Recently, a few people at a gym were complaining of neck pain and an inability to turn their heads properly after a series of workouts. She had asked me to write a segment about some tips for making the pain go away on their own. While I’ll go through a couple of tips towards the end of this post, I usually discourage people from working on their own necks. Many people who work on their own necks carelessly will usually cause, or aggravate an injury.

However, I am a huge proponent of understanding common causes of neck injury, especially in the world of fitness. While they are not common, an injury to the neck can put a workout program on hold for months. Most of the time, these injuries begin  a Structural Shift in the upper cervical spine. When left uncorrected, it can go down a road of having military neck, early degeneration, and eventually herniated discs with pinched nerves.

The following list features some of the most common movements responsible for neck injury:

 1. Kipping Hand Stand Push -Ups – most of my thoughts on this are summed up pretty well here. Don’t get me wrong, competitive athletes might require this skill in order stay with the pack (although some of the best Games athletes are doing most of their reps strict). However, if you’re not looking to compete at a serious level, the continuous impact of dropping your body weight on top of your head, and pushing your head into the ground for a rep will eventually wreak havoc on the cervical spine.

2. Chicken necking Pull ups and Push ups – Are you hyperextending your neck to get your chin over the bar? Your entire spine is meant to be a stable frame that supports muscle movement during exercise. Take a few moments to watch this video by Dr. Kelly Starrett.

The repeated extension of the neck sets your neck up for shearing forces in the cervical discs.

In English, that means disc herniations.

3. Deadlifts with hyperextension of the neck – 

deadliftWhile there is some controversy with this particular movement in the weight lifting world, what we know biomechanically is that adding load to a cervical spine in excessive extension puts the neck in a compromising position. Some of the best weight lifters in the world will use it as a tool to prevent the shoulders and thoracic spine from rounding.

Though this may be important for people who are lifting competitively, the truth is that the average weight lifter is undertaking loads that can be handled by a neutral spine and neck position.

 

4. Neck flexed,  Behind the Head Lat Pull Downs

It’s one of the most popular movements that you’ll see inside any normal gym. The idea is that it helps isolate that lat muscles better than pulling in front of your face. While I won’t debate the merits or lack of merit associated with isolated movement patterns, I will say that most people are not doing this effectively.

Trainers are finding that many people are suffering from shoulder impingement syndrome from this exercise. In my experience, I’m seeing lots of Anterior Head Syndrome and lower cervical strains from the lifter jamming the bar into their neck while in a flexed position.

5. Sit-Ups and Crunches with Neck Flexion 

Everyone has to have that tight six-pack tummy, and sit-ups and crunches are the usual go to exercises. In my opinion, there are much better core exercises for a tight tummy, but for those of you that love this movement, then at least protect your neck while crunching away.

What you can see pretty often in the gym are a person’s hands behind their head, using their neck as a lever, and throwing themselves forward for each rep. This forward compression can lead to neck strains, and the repeated jarring flexion of the neck can set someone up for disc bulges.

If you choose to put your hands behind your neck, then use your core to pull you trunk up, rather than your arms to push your neck forward. You can even place your hands around your chest, or underneath your chin as an effective cue for this.

 

That’s All Good Dr. Chung, but I Already Hurt My Neck…..

So what can you do if you’ve already sustained a neck injury?

As I said before, I highly discourage people from treating their own neck if they injured it significantly and should be assessed by a professional.

How do you know if  you’ve injured it badly?
1. Level of pain if 6/10 and greater
2. Pain or numbness goes into your arms, hands, or shoulders
3. You feel a locking feeling upon movement
4. You are unable to move your neck because of spasm

If you don’t fall into any of those categories, but your neck feels achy, the truth is that it will probably resolve on it’s own. That being said, any type of gym injury can cause pain to come and go, but if you suspected that the neck has shifted out of place, I would have it evaluated even if the pain goes away. Long standing structural distortions in the spine can lead to more chronic dysfunction months and years down the road.

But if you don’t fit into the above categories, and you’re convinced that you need temporary relief I encourage a safe approach of  heat and compression. 20 minutes of a warm compression against your cervical muscles is unlikely to damage structures in your neck, and will likely allow for relaxation of some of the spastic musculature.

Additionally, the following stretches may be done gently to release tightness in the upper trapezius; a well known culprit for cervical tightness and soreness. Remember, do these stretches GENTLY. The worst case scenario of any self-treatment is that you do nothing. The best case scenario is that you get some temporary relief from some tightened muscles.
http://www.livestrong.com/video/1007295-neck-shoulder-stretching-exercises/

 

I heard that Chiropractic was just a placebo…

I heard that Chiropractic was just a placebo…

placebo

Today’s post is brought to you by an interesting conversation that I had with someone at lunch last week. I’m part of a Service Club in Wellington that meets for lunch each week. It’s a great group of entrepreneurs and business owners who have found a lot of success and enjoy giving back to the community.

While at lunch, one of the members was actually introducing me to another member who was complaining about a health condition he was having. As she was explaining about how I might be able to help, he actually stopped her and said “No offense, but I don’t really believe in chiropractic”

In a past existence, I used to be offended by a statement like this and I’d react really defensively. However, after a few years in practice, you really get a chance to see where people are coming from. People have been taught that the effects of chiropractic are simply a placebo effect.

The placebo effect a phenomenon in medicine in which a fake treatment is used, but a patient is so convinced of it’s effects, that they get better anyway. It’s actually quite a testament to the power that the mind has on the overall health of the body. The problem with the placebo effect is that you have to TRICK the person into thinking that they’re getting better, so ethical and moral issues come into play.

Here are some things to think about when someone says Chiropractic is a placebo:

1. Chiropractic has documented major physiological changes in brain function, immune response, blood pressure.  Placebos are usually measured for pain, or things that can be measured subjectively. These studies and more show that whether people feel something or not, physiological change is happening in the body.

2. Although it’s not my preference to say this, most people stumble into a Structural Chiropractor’s office after trying almost everything else. By the time someone makes it to my front door, they have usually been seen by a neurologist, orthopedist, accupuncturist, physical therapist and more. With that being said, if chiropractic were strictly a placebo effect, why didn’t the placebo effect kick in with the layers of other doctors and specialists the patient has seen? Most people are also very skeptical of chiropractic as well. Why would an intervention that people are weary of work so well after cases fail with more contemporary solutions?

Are we just that much more charasmatic and capable of psychologically brain washing people? Most of my friends are chiropractors, I promise you we are not that savvy 🙂

3. Chiropractic works for babies. Last I checked, it was very difficult to psychologically trick a baby into getting feeling better. Now, I understand what most people say: “Kid problems like ear infections, colic, reflux and asthma are all things that can resolve on their own with age”

And to those people, I say you’re right. In fact, I believe almost all human ailments are capable of resolving on their own with time. It’s actually the crux of chiropractic’s philosophy of health, that the body can and will heal itself without interference.

But again, I ask why haven’t interventions like antibiotics, inhalers, and reflux medications been more effective before more kids get resolution within a handful of spinal corrections? The number of people who have taken their child to a chiropractor for an ear ache or asthma before seeing their pediatrician is so small, that it’s laughable . Why did the body start healing once they saw the chiropractor?

 

4. Chiropractic works great for animals!

I posted this a few weeks ago on my Facebook page because it makes me smile and laugh everytime. I thought it would be worth sharing again on the blog.

Dogs can’t be duped into thinking a light push into their neck is going to make them walk again. Either physiology is happening, or it’s not. One thing I know is that physiology was happening a lot better after this dog’s adjustment, than before it.

So you decide. Is it all sugar and deception or a step towards more life?

Is Your Blood Pressure a Brain Stem Problem?

Is Your Blood Pressure a Brain Stem Problem?

blood pressure cuff

A recent study has brought hypertension  back into the spotlight as a leading cause of death worldwide, and the leading cause of cardiovascular disease.  Because hypertension has no symptoms, almost 50% of the participants in the study had no idea that they even had high blood pressure. It’s easy to see why this is such a serious problem. Hypertension is a large risk factor for things like heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimers Disease.

Fortunately, doctors and scientists have found easy and reliable ways to control blood pressure for most people. Simple changes to dietary salt, reducing sugar intake, a yoga, meditation exercise, and a multitude of medications have all shown the ability to help reduce blood pressure levels.

But what if this artery problem were really a problem at the level of the nervous system? What do the people do who eat well, exercise, and seemingly have no answer for their blood pressure problem? Is the best answer to really take anti-hypertensive medications for the rest of their lives?

Enter a study by Bakris and Dickholtz in 2007. It showed that people who received an real Atlas Correction using the NUCCA protocol had the same anti-hypertensive effects as 2 blood pressure medications! The average blood pressure reduction was 17 points, while just 1 correction was given during the 8 week period.

Now this is not to say that Atlas Corrections are used to reduce blood pressure. It’s not. It may even raise blood pressure in certain folks with hypotension, or low blood pressure. The only goal for an Atlas Correction is to restore the normal structural alignment of the upper cervical spine to regain normal function of the brain stem.
nuccaWhat does that mean for people suffering with high or low blood pressure? It means that someone’s blood pressure problem may have nothing to do with diet or medication, but it may be a problem with the functioning of the brain stem and central nervous system.

The control centers for blood pressure regulation actually lie within the brain stem. A stuctural shift in the top bone of the neck may compromise the blood flow into the brainstem and trick the body into thinking it needs to pump blood harder. In this way, hypertension may merely be a Secondary Condition to the Atlas Displacement Complex.

Structural Based Chiropractic isn’t for everyone. But if you’re continuing to struggle with something that many other doctors can’t solve, then it may just require looking for something outside the box for a new solution.

Do I Really Need X-rays?

Do I really Need to get X-rays?

nucca x-ray

One of the most common concerns for people visiting a chiropractor’s office is the potential use of ionizing radiation through spinal x-rays. Many people have concerns about the cumulative effects of radiation exposure, particularly after TV gurus like Dr. Oz discuss it on their shows. More and more people are requesting thyroid shields at the dentist’s office, while others will simply opt out completely.

The use of  X-ray in chiropractic is mixed. Some  may use it as a tool to rule out serious conditions like cancer, arthritis, and fractures, while others do not even use x-rays at all before adjusting the spine. It’s not my purpose today to talk about the pros and cons of x-ray use. Whichever method a chiropractor may use, they are most likely well trained and do a great job helping people.

When it comes to Structural Chiropractic and evaluating the mechanicsof the head and neck, I use Precision Structural Radiographs  by the NUCCA protocol. These precision x-rays help identify a specific problem called Atlas Displacement Complex. Atlas displacement can create significant problems and damage with structural shifts as small as 0.30 mm. These small displacements affect the brainstem and spinal cord and creates a disconnect between the central intelligence of the nervous system and the body as a whole. The more chronic this condition becomes the greater odds of Secondary Conditions making themselves known.

In my world, doing precision corrections without the use of these unique x-rays is the same as guessing. The difference in the life of a woman experiencing the burning facial pain of trigeminal neuralgia can come down to one half of one inch. That half inch can mean relief for the first time in years, or a relentless march down the path of a condition that’s earned the title of “Suicide Disease”.

What most people don’t understand is that a standard set of Structural Chiropractic x-rays will expose you to LESS radiation than dental x-rays and CT scans. In fact, you would get exposed to more ionizing radiation if you’ve ever flown from New York City to California, then a set of precision radiographs.

I often talk about how the spine is like the foundation of a house. In this instance, would you want someone to mess around with your house’s foundation if they weren’t taking extremely precise measurements? I know I wouldn’t.

A house collapsing under a poor foundation.

A house collapsing under a poor foundation.

 

A properly planned foundation requires precision measurements.

A properly planned foundation requires precision measurements.

While what I do certainly is not a right fit for everyone, these unique radiographs help me provide the highest quality of care that I can possibly provide. Just like most of you would protect your house at any cost, I protect your health with the same amount of conviction.

 

Is My Training Program Safe?

kettlebellIs My Training Program Safe?

 

There’s been a lot of buzz in the both social and conventional media about the dangers of certain fitness trends, specifically Crossfit. One particular article about weightlifting during pregnancy and another one about a condition called rhabdomyolysis spread virally throughout Facebook and Twitter in the past few weeks. It even spurned a  feature segment on ABC yesterday.

The point of today’s post isn’t to defend or promote Crossfit. Most of my readers are very well aware of my stance on the phenomenon. The truth is, there are risks and benefits of any training program. I’ve seen and heard stories of rhabdomyolysis stemming from high school football training facilities, Tri-atheletes, and body builders.

My goal here today is to help you determine whether or not your training program is safe. Not only for the health of your spine, but for your body as a whole. So how do you know if your training program is safe? Let’s start by looking at the 4 principle reasons for training injuries:

1. Bad Movement Patterns – We’ve all heard this before, bad form will always lead to injury. People are pretty familiar with things like arching your back while doing bicep curls, or the crooked positions people take to get weight over their heads. However, form comes into play in things such as running and yoga as well. A coach or a trainer should be teaching and watching you perform the basic movements of any training activity before advancing to full on workouts.

2. Poor Programming – Everyone knows the guy that overloads on the bench press everyday and blows out their shoulder. We also know the guy that has never used their legs in a workout in their entire existence. However, programming an exercise regiment is about more than aesthetics. It’s about creating an ideal situation that ensures balance in the function of the musculoskeletal system.

1 and 2 are where finding the right coach and trainer play an important role in designing a safe and effective training program. A good coach or trainer is the difference between getting great results, and ENJOYING fitness, or getting hurt and finding it a chore.

When choosing a program of fitness, you should watch how clients in the gym are exercising:
Do their movements look well executed or do they look like they are all over the place?
Are there options for modifying movement patterns or is everyone regardless of skill level forced into one movement?
Most gyms offer a trial period to see if the gym is a right fit for you. Spend a week there. Over the course of a week, are there a variety of exercises performed or are the same ones repeated day after day?
Are trainers providing feedback to people to fine-tune their movements or are people just doing whatever they want with someone watching?

 

So as we can see, selecting a great trainer/program plays a critical role in exercising safely. But I can’t put the hook solely on the trainers. The 2nd part is how YOU determine how safe your program is.

3. Body Awareness Deficiency – the body is an incredibly intelligent piece of machinery. It is always giving us feedback on what does and what doesn’t work for us….most of the time, we just choose not to listen. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that certain foods (gluten, sugar, MSG) tend to cause drowsiness, fatigue, and headaches when we eat them.  Muscles are always making us aware of when a muscle is on the verge of tearing.

One of the biggest reasons people get injured is that they ignore the signals their body is giving them. Now this doesn’t mean you should quit or slow down if you’re tired. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that when you are in tune with your body, you have a sense when something is off or wrong.

I remember just a few months ago, I was working out. While I was doing my warm up, I decide to skip a few steps despite the fact that my hips felt  extra tight from the day before. I knew that I hadn’t warmed up properly, and that the weight may put me in jeopardy, but I decided to go anyway because of laziness. Sure enough, a rib popped out of place and I was sidelined for a couple of days because I didn’t listen to what my body was telling me.

Don’t let coaches or people bully you into doing reps that you know may put you in jeopardy. Your body is aware of what’s happening inside of you, take notice!

SkipGymToday

4. Inability to Rest – There is a certain point when you love to exercise so much, that you dread the days where you don’t work out. I know, because I’m on of them. Short workouts turn into 2 a days. You decide to do yoga in the morning, lift in the afternoon, and run at night. You feel like my friend Dikembe over here, and choose to have “active rest” days, which really turn into workout days anyway.

As much as it may pain you to do this, rest is one of the most important parts of someone’s workout routine. It’s the magical place where muscle grows and gets repaired. It’s what allows those joints to flush out the inflammation from your barbell assault. That’s right, I said it, working out is an assault on your body. A controlled assault when done right, but an assault none the less.

There is no defense against overuse. There isn’t enough proper form, coaching, ice, foam rolling, or chiropractic that can defend against someone putting their through the wringer each and every day. It may slow it down, but injury is almost inevitable.

Regardless of the name of the type of workout you’re doing, what counts is the quality of coaching, the programming, and getting a feel for your body’s response to exercise. I’ve been to Crossfit gyms with outstanding coaches who care and protect their clients from injury,  just as I’ve been to yoga studios who let their members perform high risk poses recklessly.

The fact of the matter is, we know that consistent exercise is a cornerstone of vibrant health. With PREVENTABLE diseases like Type II diabetes and heart disease affecting people at younger ages, we are creating a culture that will collapse the health care system, whether the government pays for it or not. We need people to be proactive and to be PASSIONATE about maintaining their level of fitness.

If you’re looking for great resources in South Florida, check out some of my favorite gyms, studios, and trainers below. Happy lifting!

Crossfit Hardcore – my gym of choice. Great community and great trainers that will ensure your safety. Great boot camp and personal training options available to those who love intensity, but aren’t quite ready for Crossfit at the Royal Palm Beach Location

Hellman Holistic Health– CHEK Certified Coach and trainer. Dan Hellman is one of the most sought after experts in the world. He has helped thousands of people regain their health with a holistic approach to movement. He carries additional expertise in Golf training and working with people with degenerative conditions.

Annutara Yoga Shala – my personal favorite yoga studio. Outstanding teachers from the beginner to the advanced yogi.

Ncognito Personal Training – one of the premier training studios in Palm Beach County, and neighbor the Keystone Chiropractic.

 

Whiplash Associated Disorders – What Are the Facts?

Whiplash Associated Disorders – What are the Facts?

whiplash

In my experience, I’ve found that whiplash is a commonly misunderstood diagnosis among the patient population. Many people self-diagnose the pain in the neck following a bad roller coaster ride or car accident as a whiplash injury. While they may or may not be correct, the truth is that whiplash is a type of injury with serious implications, and is frequently mismanaged by unscrupulous folks with a big stake in the business of personal injury.

Whiplash is a common name for a group of neck disorders known as cervical acceleration-deceleration injury or cervical sprain/strain injury. It occurs when the head and neck are placed in motion and suddenly forced to a stop causing a hyperflexion or hyperextension motion. This irregular movement of the neck causes the ligaments of the spine to sprain and the muscles to splint the unstable structure. This type of injury is also known to cause the discs of the spine to bulge and herniate, thus complicating matters even further.

It’s easy to see how whiplash can be a real pain in the neck (pun intended), but most people treat it like a sprained ankle and hope that the pain goes away in a few weeks. However, there can be long term consequences; even for people who don’t have pain symptoms immediately. Research has shown that whiplash associated disorders are related to inflammatory and endocrine problems like those seen in chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia1. Whiplash is also associated with chronic pain by making your brain more sensitive to pain signals, which explains why so many people can suffer without any evidence of physical damage2. Additionally, people who report whiplash injuries after a rear-end accident are likely to show complaints of headaches, TMJ, back pain, fatigue, and sleep problems even 7 years later3! Whiplash has even been associated with chronic inflammation by making the body’s own immune system overly responsive to normal stimuli4,5.

Though the focus of my practice has never been on auto-accidents cases, the truth is that most drivers will be involved in a collision no matter how good a driver they may be. Most will probably not experience pain immediately after a collision, especially if you’re in your teens or early 20’s. However, the impact of a vehicle traveling at speeds as low as 15 mph can show visible signs of structural damage to the neck. These include s-shaped curves in the neck, anterior ligament instability, Atlas Displacement, and Anterior Head Syndrome. A recent study has found that this type of trauma to the spine can cause parts of the brain and brain stem to slip further into the neck creating a condition called Chiari Malformation6. While they may not be painful in their early stages, these structural changes can pre-dispose the spine to early degeneration and arthritis if left uncorrected over the course of several years.

normal x-ray

Normal Neck X-ray

 

S-shape X-ray Characteristic of Whiplash

S-shape X-ray Characteristic of Whiplash

As a chiropractor focused on structural correction, I see patients everyday with Secondary Conditions like headaches and TMJ related to accidents that took place many years earlier. While some of these patients suffered painful injuries and received treatment following an accident, most people will walk in and say they didn’t have any symptoms until years later. When someone asks why their pain seemed to come out of nowhere, I can usually look at their x-ray and see that the structure of the neck fits the familiar S-shape of a previous rear end collision.

Here are your take home messages:

  • First, problems can grow in the body in the absence of symptoms. Much like cancer and heart disease don’t happen overnight, people with chronic pain usually under go slow physiologic changes in their brain and hormonal systems for years before they have a condition that won’t go away.
  • Second, if you have a physical/structural problem, then you must go beyond treating the pain symptoms to help get full resolution of the problem. Whiplash injuries cause distinct structural problems in the spine. While pain relief is important, making the pain go away while leaving the structure in bad shape is like taking the battery out of a smoke detector when a fire is burning in the house.

Whiplash associated disorders can be a complicated problem that requires a comprehensive solution. When selecting a team of doctors, make sure that you have someone in your corner that can look at you from a functional standpoint rather than sheer pathology, that addresses the structure of your spine in 3-dimensions, and understands the nature of traumatic injuries.

 

References:

  1. Gaab J, Baumann S, Budnoik A et al. Reduced reactivity and enhanced negative feedback sensitivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in chronic whiplash associated disorder. Pain. December 2005. 119(1). 219-224.
  2. Banic B, Peterson-Felix S, Anderson OK et al. Evidence for spinal cord hypersensitivity in chronic pain after whiplash injury and in fibromyalgia. Pain. January 2004. 7-15.
  3. Berglund A, Afredsson L, Jensen I, Cassidy JD, Nygren Ake. The association between exposure to a rear-end collision and future health complaints. J of Clinical Epidemiology. Aug 2001 (54): 851-856.
  4.  Kivioja J, Rinaldi L, Ozenci V et al. Chemokines and their receptors in whiplash injury: elevated RANTES and CCR-5. J Clin Immunol. Jul 2001; 21(4): 272-7
  5. Kivioja J, Ozenci V, Rinaldi L. Systemic response in whiplash injury and ankle sprain: elevated IL06 and IL-10. Clin Immunol. Oct 2001; 101(1): 106-12.
  6. Freeman MD, Rosa S, Harshfield D et al. A case-control study of cerebellar tonsillar ectopia (Chiari) and head/neck trauma (whiplash). Brain Inj. 2010; 24(7-8): 988-94.