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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
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.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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.
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.
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.
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?
February, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 02
The Bike Body
Working With Cyclists
By Erik Dalton, PhD
It's astonishing the money and time many elite and "weekend-warrior" cyclists devote to retrofitting racing bikes to conform to their bodies rather than first restoring function to the most critical piece of racing equipment: the rider's body.When muscle imbalances, faulty movement patterns and joint fixations distort the body's bony framework, the cyclist is led on a never-ending journey searching for that perfect bike fit. (Fig. 1)
My personal mantra: "Fit the body to the bike, stupid!"
Bodyworkers and functional movement trainers whose practices cater to amateur and elite cyclists are keenly aware of the clinical and performance advantages gained by restoring optimal mobility, flexibility and stability to the biker's muscle/joint complex. It makes sense to first get the kinks out before sending the client off for an expensive and sometimes useless bike retrofit. Without hands-on maintenance and functional fine-tuning, cyclists often unknowingly reinforce dysfunctional movement patterns ingrained from long-forgotten micro- or macro-traumatic injuries.
Confusion and controversy over this chicken-or-egg (bike-or-body) thing is primarily due to lack of understanding of the Law of Cause and Effect. For instance, let's say a bike shop performs a retrofit and Bob, the cyclist, smilingly pedals away on his newly reconstructed machine feeling secure and pain-free. Life is good... or is it?
Unfortunately, if Bob is one of many "flexion-addicted" Americans with a sedentary job that keeps him glued to the computer terminal day-after-day, gravitational exposure will gradually drag his body into a big "C" curve. (Fig. 2) In time, Bob's brain relearns this aberrant posture as normal and on weekend outings his "hip-flexed" desk posture morphs into a similarly distorted riding posture. (Fig. 3)
To make matters worse, stubborn pain-spasm-pain cycles often appear as the hip stiffens and the imposed stress destabilizes sacroiliac and low back structures. In the presence of lumbar spine instability, the brain may decide to lock down the low back and ribcage with protective muscle guarding. Thoracic cage rigidity not only inhibits proper diaphragmatic breathing but also sends shock waves through the thoracolumbar and pectoral fascia and into the upper extremity joints where reverberations are met with strong resistance from habitually locked hands, elbows and arms. (Fig. 4) Meantime, compensations from adhesive hip capsules also traverse down through Bob's knees, ankles and feet searching for a weak link in the lower kinetic chain.
Cyclists who opt for a bike retrofit prior to receiving manual therapy to release fibrotic hip capsules and hip flexors, soon notice a loss of endurance and may develop soft tissue or joint sprains associated with lumbopelvic imbalance. Oddly, many flexion-addicted cyclists attempt to work through the injury despite sensing a noticeable reduction of speed, power and efficiency. "No pain, no gain" is an unacceptable working model for those seeking longevity in the cycling sport.
Does decreased hip angle equal less power?
One of the most common bike positions used by "flexiholics" has the hip flexors locked short and the hams and glutes overstretched and weak. This imbalance pattern as described by Vladimir Janda in his lower crossed syndrome, forces the pelvic bowl to be drawn too far forward creating a decrease in hip angle. (Fig. 5)
Cyclists who consistently ride with an anteriorly rotated pelvis and decreased hip angle are subject to capsular and ligamentous adhesions and a subsequent loss of economy and power. To accommodate the loss of hip extension, many recreational and competitive racers compensate by posteriorly tilting their pelvic bowl and rounding their backs into a hyperkyphotic posture just to increase hip angle and power. The famed cyclist Andy Pruitt believes that changing the seat height by a mere inch alters mechanics and motor control patterns of every joint in the lower extremity. By decreasing seat height, excessive force is transferred to the patellofemoral joint, while raising the saddle too much strains the hamstrings, low back and hands.
Stand and try this: Lift one leg with the knee bent about 90 degrees as high as possible without straining or rounding the back and forcing hip flexion. Most people are able to comfortably hip-flex about 90 degrees. Try this maneuver again except this time forward-bend your trunk about 50 - 60 degrees, while raising the knee. Notice a dramatic reduction in the amount of hip flexion? Try both tests again and this time, measure available hip flexion by observing how high your foot raises off the ground. This test illustrates what can happen to hip-impaired cyclists: decreased hip flexion = greater effort = more work = poor performance.
Riding Postures and Rehab
The first order of business when treating adhesive (motion-restricted) hip flexors and capsules is to mobilize the hip in all three cardinal planes. (Fig. 6a) To restore myofascial balance, fast-paced "spindle-stim" maneuvers such as those shown in Fig. 6b help tonify weakened (neurologically inhibited) gluteal and hamstring muscles. Once the therapist manages to increase hip angle and establish proper functional balance and range of motion, the cyclist is free to decide which type of riding posture (he believes) suits him best.
Some cyclists prefer a high seat so they can posteriorly rotate the pelvis to increase hip angle. Other riders find greater mechanical advantage by putting a little curve in the low back, engaging the core, and then slightly backing off the curve to allow a neutral lumbar spine. Either way, both groups should avoid:
The Yin-Yang of Muscles and Joints
To perform well in such a challenging event, cyclists like Bob would greatly benefit from a well-constructed manual and movement therapy program that focuses on restoration and maintenance of proper intrinsic/extrinsic muscle balance and diaphragmatic breathing patterns. Fluid and dynamic body movement during cycling events is dependent on the ability of muscles and fascia to stay strong, yet flexible. A healthy lumbar spine is the driving engine in most athletic endeavors and length/strength balance between muscles, ligaments, joint capsules, and thoracolumbar fascia is essential for providing that stable platform. Any weakness or motor control issues are magnified by traumatic shocks from funky road conditions or recurring bike injuries. Eventually, excessive neurological input cannot be handled at the spinal cord level and the information is "fast-tracked" to the brain for interpretation via pain-signaling nociceptors. If the brain decides to "splint" the vulnerable area to prevent further insult, pain-spasm-pain cycles may ensue.
Ingrained muscle and motor imbalance patterns such as those discussed by Vladimir Janda, Gray Cook, Craig Liebenson and others, often require a concerted team effort to reestablish normal movement behavior. In most cases, the ideal treatment protocol is to first restore lost mobility to impaired structures and then address stability issues via functional movement training.
Like many of America's other popular, but abnormal, athletic endeavors such as golf, tennis, bowling, etc., cyclists bring with them a complex biomechanical downside that's often hard to completely fix. The "arched back" model is generally the most problematic. In an attempt to level the eyes, the rider must hyperextend occiput on atlas. The cervicothoracic junction is also forced to hyperextend (neck-on-shoulders) causing chronically locked intervertebral joints and rib jamming. This area is particularly affected by road vibrations due to the stationary position of arms, shoulders and hands. Additionally, ligamentous laxity may develop from excessive thoracolumbar and lumbosacral bowing which, in time, sets the stage for low back pain and disability.
The good news is that the human body is both adaptable and dynamic; the bad news is that our biker clients often bring along a lot of baggage including flexion-addicted sitting postures, old injuries, compensations, poor training habits, etc. Once the skilled manual and movement therapist makes necessary corrections, the bike can then be retrofitted to conform to the rider's optimally functioning body. A properly fitted bike combined with a revitalized and functionally balanced neuromuscular system allows muscles and joints to work at optimal levels of motor unit recruitment and synchronization. As endurance and performance improve, so does the natural love of cycling.
Click here for more information about Erik Dalton, PhD.
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