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Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
How One Little Symbol (#) Gets You More Patients
Are you struggling to get more fans or followers for your acupuncture practice? Or are looking for ways to simply connect with your patients? Or do you just want to know how to keep them engaged (comments, retweeting, liking and sharing)?
The Nectar of Plants: Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine
Essential oils are a very hot topic these days, especially with the likes of the Ebola virus and the resurgence of measles lurking in our awareness, but when I first became interested in Chinese medicine, essential oils weren't on the radar screen for acupuncturists.
Acupuncture and the Pulse
In 1991, I attended a martial arts workshop hosted coincidentally by Sung Baek, a martial artist and the head of his lineage as a Korean trained acupuncturist. I was enamored by the details Sung could attain from the pulse, as told to me by some of his apprentices.
Use Technology to Gain New Patients and Improve Efficiency
From the smartphone in your pocket to your microwave oven, advancements in technology have made almost every aspect of our lives easier.
What Does Success Mean to You?
Recently, I was asked to speak to young, budding businesswomen about running a successful business — and at first I thought, "Me? You want me to speak to others about success?!"
The Source-Luo Point Combination
The luo collaterals are part of the acupuncture channel system presented in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu (The Nei Jing). The function and clinical application of the luo mai are primarily presented in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, however, they are also found in others chapters in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
The Year to Make Things Happen
It is hard to believe that the Year of the Ram – 2015 is half over. Time seems to be moving especially fast. This is the year for things to happen for the acupuncture profession.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients, in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Calculating Billable Units
I recently learned of an office that was audited based on the number of acupuncture sessions performed in one day. Is there a maximum number of sessions that can be performed in one day?
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 2
A talented young woman presented herself with emotional mood swings, which included being nervous, anxious and jittery.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Acupuncture in the U.K. Today: A Personal View
When asked to write a short piece on the current state of the U.K. acupuncture profession, my first response was to say it has all been relatively quiet.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Breath: The Movement of Oxygen and Energy
I remember with surprising clarity the first time a patient started crying during an acupuncture treatment I was giving. This is now quite a long time ago, back in 1999, when I was a student.
The Modern Acupuncturist
You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.
TMF 2015 Scholarships
The Trudy McAlister Foundation (TMF), a nonprofit organization established to support students who are on track to make contributions either to clinical practice and/or to the understanding of the role of Traditional Oriental Medicine, has announced the 2015 scholarship recipients.
October, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 10
Neck Pain: You Just Have to Move Like Jagger
By Sheri Wells
Have you ever seen an old video of Mick Jagger performing on stage? One of his vintage moves was to strut across the stage with one hand on his hip while moving his head forward and backward like a chicken.An article appearing in the Wall Street Journal titled: "Neck Pain? Skip the Pills, Just Stretch Like a Chicken" is about the first large federally funded study on neck pain. This published study found that simple home exercises, increasing cervical range of motion, are more effective at relieving acute and sub acute neck pain than medication. Dr. Bronfort, the lead author, said that a neck retraction exercise, or chicken-like maneuver of the head, in which people pull their heads back and then tilt their chins slightly downward "seemed to be especially useful." Maybe Mick Jagger was practicing preventative neck pain exercises?
Neck pain affects around 70 percent of people sometime during their lives. This is a common condition that you most likely see in your clients every day. Neck pain can be caused by many factors including:
Along with the above factors, as we age we begin to lose the fight with gravity and the head starts to slowly, progressively move forward on the neck and shoulders. Part of the problem is that the cervical muscles are simply not strong enough to resist the force of gravity. According to Erik Dalton's article, "Forward Head Posture: The 42 Pound Head," for every inch of forward head posture, the weight of the head on the spine is increased by an additional ten pounds. Through basic anatomy and physics, he explains that a normal head centered on the spine weighs about twelve pounds, but once it starts to move forward on the neck by just an inch, it weighs approximately 22 pounds. In comparison, a gallon of milk weighs about eight pounds. What would happen if you carried a gallon of milk in your hands out in front of you all day long? Wouldn't the muscles of the arms be extremely tired and possibly sore or painful by the end of the day? So, why wouldn't we expect the neck to start to complain with an additional ten pound load on it? Plus, realize that if the head is tilted or shifted to one side that this also increases the weight of the head on the spine and creates compensation patterns traveling down the body as the brain tries to keep the eyes level with the horizon.
As manual therapists, what can we do about this condition? First, educate your clients with the pain problems caused by forward head posture. You will see them immediately try to pull their head backward, but they may not be able to sustain this posture for very long. There are three main problems that need to be solved. The short term "fix," is for you to manually release the tight muscles creating forward head posture and to rebalance the head on the neck. Then, you need to gently stretch the tight muscles to restore normal cervical range of motion (ROM). Finally, the long term solution is to have the clients strengthen their weak anterior deep flexor muscles that are allowing the forward head posture to occur. Basically, to achieve and then maintain normal neck/head alignment, your ultimate goal, you must:
The above mentioned neck pain study involved teaching clients gentle, controlled movements including neck flexion, extension, lateral flexion, rotation and neck retraction. But, do not teach stretches or strengthening exercises if you feel that is outside your scope of practice or if your state does not allow it. As a manual therapist, however, you are allowed to assess and to restore normal cervical range of motion. And, if you are going to correct a neck problem this means you can gently mobilize/stretch your clients during a session to achieve normal ROM.
So, what is normal range of motion of the cervical spine and how do you assess it? Different publications vary with the ideal amount and a great reference is James Waslaski's book "Clinical Massage Therapy." He lists the normal ranges of motion, naming the muscles involved, along with a detailed twelve-step program of soft tissue work that can eliminate or prevent painful neck conditions.
Normal ranges of motion involving single plane movements for the cervical spine are: (Figures 1-4)
It is best to assess active range of motion before you begin your session with the client standing or seated. First, show the client the movement you would like them to perform; flexion, extension, lateral flexion or rotation. Ask them to only move their head as far as they can go without any discomfort. Note the amount of ROM and if it was normal or limited. Use a goniometer or simple plastic school protractor to determine the degree of ROM. If any of the motions had less than normal ROM, then have them gently repeat that same movement again several times and see if their ROM improves. Usually, it will improve 5-10 degrees just through this self mobilization. Make note of any limited ROM you find and your strategy will be to release the tight muscles/fascia that are restricting normal ROM.
Please note that as you restore normal cervical range of motion, you may also need to address forward shoulder posture and any other problems that may have contributed to forward head posture. You must treat the body as an entire structure to achieve better, long lasting results.
Once you have performed soft tissue work and created normal range of motion of the cervical spine, the next steps are to teach your client two simple exercises to stretch their tight cervical muscles: sternocleidomastoid, scalenes and suboccipitals and to strengthen their weak anterior neck flexors longus capitis, longus colli, platysma, sternohyoid and sternothyroid. This "homework" is what I have found is the most important part of correcting and maintaining normal head posture and what I teach every one of my clients (of all ages). If you teach your clients these corrective exercises, it empowers them to take charge of their own healing/wellness. You only see your client for an hour or so at a time and this gives them additional tools to use every day to maintain the normal ROM and structural alignment you achieved during your session.
First, teach them a corrective neck retraction stretch. Have them sit or stand upright and relax their shoulders moving them down and slightly backward (neutral posture). Then, have them place one finger on their chin. Ask them to slightly tuck their chin, and then move their head backward like a "chicken" or like Mick Jagger; whichever cue you prefer, while gently pressing on their chin. Have them hold this position for about two seconds and then release. They can repeat this stretch several times. Advise them to perform this gently and that mild discomfort is not ok. (Figures 5, 6)
The best times to perform this stretch is after daily activities that involve forward head posture: working on the computer, eating, watching TV, etc. Precaution note: this is rare, but if the client indicates pain or neurological symptoms (tingling, numbness in their neck, shoulders or arms), during this stretch, immediately have them return their head to neutral and refer them out.
Once the client has mastered the corrective stretch, teach them a corrective strengthening exercise they can perform every day in their car; "neck press backs." Advise them they can only perform this exercise if there is no discomfort or they are not allowed to do it. Before they start their car, tell them to sit upright and relax their shoulders down and backward (neutral posture). Then, have them slightly tuck their chin and move their head backward like a "chicken" or like Mick Jagger, while pressing back into their headrest (neck retraction). Have them hold this isometric contraction for 5 to 10 seconds, repeating this 2 to 3 times. They could also practice this when they are waiting at a stop light. I don't advise performing it while the car is moving. This is an easy exercise and something that they can and must do every day to help prevent or reverse forward head posture and the resultant pain that accompanies it. (Figures 7, 8)
According to the neck pain study, Dr. Bronfort says that for relief from neck pain "it's good news for patients that there's something they can do themselves." So, if you teach your clients to move like Mick Jagger; retracting their head, it may be one of the most important things you can do to help them relieve and prevent occasional and chronic neck pain.
Sheri Wells is a licensed massage therapist (LMT), and advanced personal trainer (CPT) with a Masters degree in education and a B.S in physical education. She specializes in orthopedic muscle balancing and therapeutic massage for injury rehab, scar tissue mobilization, and postural/structural alignment; restoring pain free normal range of motion throughout the body. She has been an upper level teaching assistant for James Waslaski for more than 10 years. She lives in Dallas and can be reached at
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