resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
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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