resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
January, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 01
The Perils of Perfect Posture, Part I
By Erik Dalton, PhD
Throughout history, human posture has been scrutinized for symbolic values ranging from socioeconomic status to psychological babble. In schools, teachers often reprimanded students to sit up straight.Young girls innocently walked with books balanced perfectly on the top of their heads during "charm school" classes. Aesthetically, even the dancer has come to represent the epitome of graceful posture and balance, with the ethereal vision of the lithe ballerina artlessly stretching to the sky. Meanwhile, the rest of us may never forget the words of well-intentioned parents, "Now, stand up straight or people will think you have something to hide." Society's undying commitment to its tradition for proper postural codes remains alive today, in circles that not only envelop the military private, but also the young debutante in white.
But as we begin to casually observe the people around us, the question must arise: Is perfect posture really a reasonable goal for the average American living in a flexion-addicted society?
Clinical evidence overwhelmingly supports the fact that prolonged sitting or sleeping in flexed positions neurologically shortens and tightens the body's hip flexors, particularly the iliopsoas muscles. As the antagonist gluteus maximus muscles gradually become reciprocally inhibited and weak, a primary muscle imbalance pattern ensues. Could more harm fall upon someone in this condition? Simply put, yes. As he rises from his chair, the shortened iliopsoas and rectus femoris muscles drag the hips and lumbar spine forward. Thus, the unsettling "before" snapshot: A swayback posture and protruding belly ... paving the way to a disappointing first impression.
However, prolonged slumped sitting can also promote an even greater pain-generating problem. While slouching or leaning forward, such as when we tirelessly perform computer or couch potato work, our swayback curve gradually begins to reverse itself by overstretching the posterior low back ligaments and joint capsules. Gravity loudly demands its pound of flesh, and this newly formed "reversed lordosis" gets an extra boost in its battle with the flexion-addicted swayback.
As we repeatedly stand, sit and slouch throughout a typical 8- to 10- hour workday, our low back curve is forced to repetitively translate anteriorly to posteriorly. The inevitable strain from local lumbar hypermobility soon begins to ravage the vulnerable sensory receptors in the body's joints, ligaments and intervertebral discs. Noxious afferent stimuli bombards the central nervous system causing the brain to react by triggering layers of muscle spasm to protect the unstable spine from further insult. Digging out the deep spasm and fascial contractures is usually a sad waste of time and energy unless the underlying joint dysfunction is first appropriately treated. Approaches to restore optimal posture and relieve chronic pain should include specific techniques designed to co-activate hyperactive sensory receptors such as mechanoreceptors, nociceptors and chemoreceptors in joints and ligaments, while activating muscle spindles to tonify inhibited weak tissues.
Ligaments, Muscles and Strain Patterns
While the overstretched ligaments valiantly strive to maintain spinal stability, the unrelenting force of gravity pounds the posterior facet joints and flattens the lumbar discs. The brain then begins its selective recruitment of specific muscles to provide ancillary support to the unstable spine. The problem worsens since contractile tissues designed to move bones are now required to work as spinal stabilizers. Sustained isometric muscular contraction neurologically weakens the lumbar myofascia due to the sudden influx of lactic acid and other toxic waste products. As the shortened tissue tugs unevenly on the spine, the joints' axis of rotation is altered. Predictable strain patterns and postural compensations reverberate throughout the thorax, neck and head. Forward head postures and slumped shoulders are two favorite dance partners of the pained swaybacks in this rapidly growing social circle of "flexaholics."
Postural muscles, such as the iliopsoas, quadratus lumborum, rectus femoris, and hamstrings, are structurally designed to resist fatigue in the presence of prolonged gravitational exposure. So why are distorted postures and chronic pain problems dominating our practices? The easy answer: overuse, underuse and just plain old abuse.
These three primary culprits create muscle imbalances that reduce the body's capacity to resist stress. As with everything in life, the body exists on a plane of give and take. Therefore, when postural muscles tighten, the antagonist groups are overstretched and weakened, allowing asymmetric patterns to develop. Soon the anti-gravity function of the body's myofascial system sends an alarm to deeper structures, such as spinal ligaments, joint capsules and intervertebral discs, to brace for the overbearing compressional loads. The homeostatic threshold has been violated.
The body must now prepare to battle the devastating, self-perpetuating pain/spasm/pain cycle manual therapists confront each workday.
If considering the medley of countless occupations that require the typical 12-pound head to be held in a bent forward position, with arms positioned in front of the body, why is it any shock that neck, shoulder and arm pain run rampant in today's society? Consider the typical profiles of individuals fitting this definition. This endless list runs the gamut from dentists, car mechanics, stockbrokers, hairdressers, etc. - even bodyworkers.
Long hours of passive sitting at the computer, or leaning over therapy tables, create stretch weakness in the rhomboids and lower trapezius. This repetitive physical practice contributes to forward dragging of the shoulder girdle due to the pectorals propensity for domination. Tight latissimus dorsi and subscapularis muscles unite with the clavicular head of pectoralis major to internally rotate the humerus. With the scapulae protracted and the arms internally rotated, the neck reluctantly moves forward on the shoulders often forming the unattractive "dowager's hump". Unfortunately, as the spinal facet joints slide open, the cervical curve loses its lordosis and transforms to a typical straight cervical curve. To prevent the person from only looking at the ground, the brain recruits the suboccipitals and other capital extensor muscles to cock the head back into hyperextension. As the occiput hyperextends and slides forward on the atlas vertebra, the posterior occipital atlantal membrane is squashed along with local neural and vascular structures.
Sadly, tonic reflexes and dural attachments originating at the O-A joint dictate postural muscle tone throughout the entire trunk. Stubborn head, neck, brachial, and scapular pain refuses to leave when in an agitated state. These painful and chronic conditions frustratingly persevere until the therapist chooses to systematically balance the shoulder girdle on the rib cage, the neck on the shoulders, and the head on the neck.
To better understand the consequences of forward head postures and slumped shoulders, try these two experiments:
Most people experience a 25 percent to 50 percent decrease in range of motion while in the forward head position. This exercise helps illustrate the physical limitations of people suffering forward head postures and demonstrates the negative impact these sensitive neck structures must endure during normal activities, such as driving, shopping, dancing, etc., Spondylosis, degenerative disc disease and osteoporosis are but a few names that describe what physically transpires when this structural alignment problem is not corrected in a timely manner. The farther the head slides forward on the sagittal plane, the more devastating the long-term effects. The posterior longitudinal ligament likes to tear away from the discs and vertebral bodies from C4 to C6 causing internal pressure to fill the cracks with calcium or bone spurs (osteophytes) - the resounding reason why bone spurs originating from forward head postures have become the most common cause of chronic neck pain.
Both exercises lead to a compromising conclusion: Always begin upper-quadrant postural alignment by balancing the shoulder girdle on the rib cage, neck on the shoulders, and the head on the neck, before tackling specific extremity pain problems, such as supraspinatus tendonitis or thoracic outlet syndrome.
Supraspinatus tendonitis pain is generally the result of forward head postures and slumped shoulders ... not the cause. When the humerus internally rotates from a slumped posture, the supraspinatus attachment at the greater tubercle of the humerus also rolls forward. Then when called upon to lift a heavy suitcase, the supraspinatus tendon cries for help as the shoulders are retracted. Pain shoots down the arm as the tendon flips back over the humeral head, and soon the fibers begin to tear.
Click here for previous articles by Erik Dalton, PhD.
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