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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, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 02
Freeing the Heart, Part 2: Equalizing the Pressure
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
Cardiovascular disease does not happen overnight. It is a progression that evolves over decades and genetic pre-disposition can accelerate this progression dramatically. That is why we read of so many people in the obituary column dying between the ages of 45 and 65 which is the prime demographic age range of so many of our clients.What is rarely considered is how these progressions toward cardiovascular disease figure into chronic somatic profiles that clients present to us every day and can dramatically affect their quality of life.
Two core principles of the Inside-Out Paradigm assert that the body's two imperatives are to allocate resources (oxygen and nutrition) as equitably as possible to all body tissues and to distribute the strains of physical and emotional stresses across as broad an area as possible. The allocation function is carried out by the blood vessels while the body's intricate reflex arc system governs the distribution of strain thesis. It is my premise that all forms of therapeutic massage and bodywork can positively influence these dynamic relationships.
The names that are given to cardiovascular problems are many and varied. The basic categories concern the heart itself and blood vessels. These terms include: heart attack, stroke, angina pectoris, atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure; all pathological progressions are labeled as diseases. I will explore other heart progressions that relate to disruptions in its electric rhythmic activity, infections and congenital pre-dispositions in a separate article.1
In order to de-mystify some of these terms, let's review the contrasting definitions of arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis since even pronouncing them tangles my tongue. According to the Mayo Clinic, healthy arteries are flexible, strong and elastic. Over time, however, too much pressure in your arteries can make the walls thick and stiff and sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues. This process is called arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis. Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats in and on your artery walls (plaques), which can restrict blood flow. These plaques can also burst, causing a blood clot which can either affect your heart causing a heart attack or, if it reaches the brain, may provoke a stroke.1
Functionally then, the term that I propose which makes the most sense to our orientation as massage therapists is "endothelial health."2 This relates to understanding what happens along the internal walls of arteries as a result of increased pressure and the accumulation of calcium and fatty deposits along their inner vascular tubes. Constant high blood pressure hardens and stiffens the arterial walls and makes them more likely to sluff off plaques. Again, it's a progression of deterioration. Pressure is like the Goldilocks fable... too hard, then, too soft, and finally, ah, just right! Instead of seeing pressure as the enemy, let's resolve to learn how we might assist the body to equalize its internal pressure(s) "between" the body's three great cavities and "within its 60,000 miles of blood vessels."3
In 1987, Dr. Jean Pierre Barral DO, inspired my understanding that the pressure within the thoracic cage needs to be "less" than the pressure of the cranial cavity and within the abdominal-pelvic cavity in order for circulation to maintain a normal homeostatic flow of fluids back to the heart.4 With this perspective, our goal as massage therapists is to increase the pliability of the chest wall, especially around the space of the heart, and to also ease the tensions throughout the thoracic cavity. Let's add two steps to the proposed screening protocol from my last article. First, lift the client's head, memorize its weight. Next, palpate the tension of the abdominal wall.
At the end of any bodywork session, not only do we want the chest to become more distensible, we would also like the head to weigh less and the tension of the abdominal wall to ease. All three markers are reliable indicators in my clinical experience that the pressure between the cavities has equalized to some degree.
Let's review one "inside-out" technique that can jump-start the easing of thoracic pressure. Its effectiveness relies on the loosely organized areolar connective tissue along the posterior margin of the diaphragm muscle. Standing on the right side of your supine client, posteriorly contact the opposite side of the spinous processes, beginning at C7, with your upper hand and placing the palm of your lower hand just below the anterior costal arch. Softly anchor C7 with finger tips in contact with the opposite side of the vertebra then stretch the abdominal tissue inferior and medial toward the belly button. Feel for the connectedness between your hands. Your intention is to stretch the internal tissues within the chest so that at the interface of the diaphragm, the downward and medial stretch gaps the loose connective tissues allowing the thoracic pressure to flow from an area of greater concentration to one with a lower concentration. A diffusion gradient is being manually produced. This same procedure can be repeated along each vertebra from C7 - T12. Yes, do both sides.
This approach is not the whole enchilada, but it consistently primes the pump between the thorax and the abdominal-pelvic cavities. And, this technique allows for a two for one potential effect. This same long lever stretching while anchoring each vertebra creates a potential rocker effect to the vertebral/rib complex which is theorized to hydrate and contribute to mobilizing the posterior thoracic spine. Therefore, is my premise that the progression toward all forms of cardiovascular disease is a backstory lurking behind many chronic somatic problems. It is also my assertion that as massage therapists we can make a real difference in the quality of life for our clients as we aspire to comprehend how the human body really works.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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