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Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
November, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 11
Advanced Stretching: Using Neural Inhibition to Enhance the Stretch, Part 2
By Joseph E. Muscolino, DC
In part 1 of this series, we discussed contract relax (CR) stretching, which involves neural inhibition to augment the mechanical stretch of the target musculature.Here, in Part 2 of this series, we will discuss agonist contract (AC) stretching, which also uses neural inhibition to augment the mechanical stretch of the target musculature.
Similar to CR stretching, AC stretching also relies upon a neurologic reflex. However, whereas the Golgi tendon organ (GTO) reflex is the proposed neural mechanism for CR stretching, reciprocal inhibition is the proposed neural mechanism for AC stretching. The mechanism of RI is that whenever a mover muscle contracts and shortens to create a joint action, the antagonist musculature (that is usually located on the other side of the joint) must lengthen to allow that motion to occur. RI reflex acts to facilitate the lengthening of the antagonists by inhibiting them from contracting. This inhibition causes a relaxation so that the antagonists more effectively lengthen. As with the GTO reflex, we can take advantage of this reflex to create a better stretch.
AC stretching is performed by creating a scenario in which the target muscle that will be reciprocally inhibited is the antagonist to the joint motion that is performed. The usual AC stretching protocol steps are carried out as follows. The right lateral flexor (RLF) musculature of the neck are used as the example (Fig. 1):
a. Have the client begin in a neutral starting position.
b. Ask the client to actively concentrically contract the left lateral flexion (LLF) musculature, moving the neck into LLF. By doing this, the target RLF musculature is the antagonist of the motion. Their stretch is begun and the RI reflex is triggered. The client usually exhales during the contraction (think "e" for exhale and "e" for exertion).
c. The client then relaxes and we further stretch the client into LLF. The client usually completes the exhale during this step.
d. The client continues to relax as we passively bring the client back to the starting position. The client inhales during this step so she is ready for the next repetition.
Typically eight to 10 repetitions are performed, and we progressively increase the force of the stretch with each repetition. Because a large number of repetitions are performed with AC stretching, each repetition is usually performed fairly quickly. An entire repetition takes approximately 3-5 seconds.
Comparing CR and AC Stretching
To more easily learn these techniques, it can be helpful to compare CR with AC stretching. With CR stretching, the target muscle group isometrically contracts against our resistance. (Note: Part 1 of this series, the target right lateral flexors isometrically contract.) With AC stretching, the target muscle group is turned into the antagonist of the joint motion. Note that in Figure 1a, the left lateral flexors concentrically contract (again the right lateral flexors are the target musculature). It can help to remember that with AC stretching, the client's contraction actually begins the stretch of the target musculature.
Contract Relax Agonist Contract Stretching:
CR and AC stretching can be combined to create contract relax agonist contract (CRAC) stretching. As its name implies, a CRAC stretching repetition is done by sequentially performing the CR and then the AC stretching techniques. The benefit of CRAC stretching is that it triggers both the GTO and the RI reflexes, therefore potentially creating a more powerful inhibition/relaxation of the target musculature. The usual CRAC stretching protocol steps are carried out as follows. The RLF musculature of the neck are again used as the example (Fig. 2):
a. Have the client begin in a neutral starting position.
b. Ask the client to gently isometrically contract the target RLF musculature against our resistance for approximately 5-8 seconds to trigger the GTO reflex. The client holds in the breath during this step. This is the CR portion of the stretch.
c. Then ask the client to concentrically contract the LLF musculature to move into LLF. This begins the stretch the RLF musculature and it triggers the RI reflex. The client exhales during the contraction. This is the AC portion of the stretch.
d. The client then relaxes and we further stretch the client into LLF.
e. We then passively bring the client back to the starting position as the client inhales. This completes one repetition.
Three to five repetitions are usually performed, each one beginning from the same neutral starting position, as is done with AC stretching. Typically, the client is asked to increase the force of contraction with each repetition, and we progressively increase the force of the stretch with each repetition.
Most every stretch can be performed as a CR or an AC stretch, or even a CRAC stretch. Both CR and AC advanced stretching techniques are equally effective. Which one you choose to use will most likely depend upon client preference and which technique is logistically easier for that particular muscle and the position that the client is in. Advanced stretching techniques might take a little more time, effort, and practice to master, but the benefits to your clients are well worth it.
Joseph E. Muscolino, DC, has been a massage therapy educator for 24 years, teaching both core curriculum and continuing education classes. He currently teaches anatomy and physiology at Purchase College, SUNY. He is the owner of The Art and Science of Kinesiology in Stamford, Conn., and is the author of The Muscle and Bone Palpation Manual, with Trigger Points, Referral Zones, and Stretching; The Muscular System Manual, 3rd edition; and Kinesiology, The Skeletal System and Muscle Function, 2nd edition (Elsevier, 2009, 2010, 2010), as well as other publications. For more information or to contact Joseph, visit www.learnmuscles.com.
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