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News in Brief
New President / CEO Takes Office at Yo San University. Electroacupuncture for Constipation?
6 Steps to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet
People often ask me what defines success. Success, for me, is simple: doing exactly what you want to do in life. Whether it's the kind of practice you run, your life at home, your hobbies or something else, it's achieving anything you put your mind to.
Molecular Motors: Tiny Machines Behind the Rhythm of Life
In the clinic, we aim to restore healthy patterns of movement for qi that has gotten trapped or misdirected, or may have even collapsed. We may be focused on freeing stagnation, releasing heat or redirecting counterflow qi, but it often comes down to helping re-establish a flow of sorts.
Herbs for Digestion: The Power of Bitter
Many cultures (and indeed herbal clinicians) around the world have long respected the role of bitter herbs and foods for promoting digestion. For example, aperitifs – drinks consumed before a meal to stimulate appetite and digestion – were originally derived from bitter herbs.
Little Sticker, Big Impact
It's the end of an election year. Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump were the subject of conversation for everyone, everywhere for the entire 2016 calendar year. I don't think any of us can deny that this election affected us all very deeply on a personal level.
A Letter to the Profession from the New President at AAAOM
Volunteering for a national, nonprofit organization brings with it such highs, lows, and accomplishments, as well as a steep learning curve.
Assessing Core Stability and ROM: 5 Basic Checks
One of the first steps in addressing core stability is assessing static posture, ranges of motion, and motion of the pelvic bones, sacrum, femurs, lumbar spine and thoracic spine.
Chiro School Reunion: Whatever Happened to...?
I opened the door to the closet slowly, carefully, since I knew it contained a large number of precariously stacked file boxes. It also held numerous outdated gizmos with electrical cords of various lengths that could trip or strangle a person.
Another Chance to Make a Difference
Just a few months ago, "the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy" hit Louisiana. During this storm, one area experienced 31 inches of rain in 15 hours as almost 7 trillion gallons of water rained down in just one week across the state.
Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes (Pt. 2)
Most overuse injuries are benign, but there are some high-risk injuries that, if unrecognized or inappropriately treated, can result in significant loss in time from the sport or even require leaving the sport.
What We Can Learn From Spine Surgery
Patients with lumbar stenosis presumably present for conservative care to improve their quality of life and avoid surgery. However, providing clear guidance to these patients can be difficult for a number of reasons.
A Q & A About Updated Codes
Yes, indeed there was an update to ICD-10 on Oct.1, 2016. This is a regular update to the diagnosis coding system and this type of update will occur every Oct. 1, just as it did when the ICD-9 system was in place.
Can a Multivitamin Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence?
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multivitamin supplements in cancer prevention. However, with respect to preventing breast cancer recurrence, an important study was published in the Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in 2011 by Kwan ML, et al.
A First for the Profession: CCE Accredits First Chiropractic Residencies
The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) has awarded accreditation to all five chiropractic residency programs currently administered at Veterans Administration facilities, "the first residency programs in the nation ever to be awarded this distinction, a significant advancement in the evolution of chiropractic education," according to a VA press release announcing the milestone.
Meshing TCM With Environmental Pediatrics: Where's the Overlap?
Pediatrics has a long history within Chinese medicine dating back to the late Han dynasty (i.e., the late 200s CE), with the two primary areas of emphasis being herbal medicine and xiao er tui na (pediatric massage).
Dedicated to Defending Chiropractic
Whether you're a veteran DC or a first-trimester student, the name George McAndrews should be part and parcel of your professional vernacular, as familiar as the word chiropractic.
A Simple Protocol for Holiday Stress
It's winter, a time when we should be deep in reflection, eating warming foods and sleeping long hours. Following nature's rhythms, we restore our bodies and minds in preparation for the renewal of spring.
Branding: Set Your Practice Apart
Dr. Brad started his practice seven years ago on a shoestring budget. He created his generic logo in five minutes using a website because he didn't have the time to figure out how to make something special.
2016: A Year in the Life of Acupuncture
Happy Holidays, may you, your family and friends have peace, joy and blessings throughout this special time of year. As 2016 comes to a close, we can look back and celebrate the many events and accomplishments for the profession of acupuncture.
End of an Era Looms at NYCC
New York Chiropractic College recently announced that Dr. Frank Nicchi will retire in August 2017 after 36 years with the college, the past 17 as president.
DVT: Know the Signs and You Could Save a Life
I lost a friend several months ago. He died from a pulmonary embolism (PE) secondary to a deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) that originated in his lower leg. Bobby was in his mid-60s, soft-spoken and had a big heart.
Southwest Acupuncture College Brings It to Division 1 Athletes
When Michael Phelps' photograph with the distinctive round marks left by cupping went viral, the Division 1 student athletes treated through the Dal Ward Athletic Center at the University of Colorado (CU) could relate.
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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