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The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Functional Impingement of the Hip (Part 2): Rehab Exercises
I find functionally impinged hips that don't move properly on so many of my patients. (See part 1 of this article for a description of the condition.)
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Make Every Day Mother's Day
May is a special month for many reasons. After a long, harsh winter, spring is at last in full swing. Memorial Day helps us honor those who have fought and fallen in the name of freedom.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Applauding a Legacy of Leadership
Founding Palmer West President, John Miller, DC, HCD (Hon.), FICA (Hon.), a 1954 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, passed away March 8, 2015 at age 83.
Trouble in the Wellness Waters?
Call me old-fashioned, paranoid or just old, but I do remember graduating from chiropractic college in the late '70s in the midst of the Wilk v AMA lawsuit.
Teach Your Patients About External Healing Applications
Since the skin is the body's largest organ, and is able to respond to both internal and external stimulations, communicate sensations to the brain, protect the body, breathe and even excrete toxins, it can be an excellent source of healing.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
Apple Takes a Bite Out of Research
The more than 700 million iPhone users have just been given the opportunity to "do their part to advance medical research."
If Your Pro-Chiropractic Governor Resigned, Would You Be Prepared?
John Kitzhaber, MD, recently re-elected to a historic fourth term as Oregon governor, has resigned among alleged ethics violations by his fiancée' and first lady, Cylvia Hayes. I developed a personal friendship with John and consider him a good friend.
Talking to Patients About Medial Branch Neurotomy (Part 2)
Even when lumbar facet denervation (medial branch neurotomy) is successful, relief is rarely complete or permanent. Smuck, et al., reviewed 16 articles and found the average duration of >50 percent pain relief for an initial procedure was nine months.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
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 more information about Erik Dalton, PhD.
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