resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
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.
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.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
July, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 07
Exploring the Anterior Pelvic Tilt
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
Lumbopelvic pain is a common complaint that is not always remedied with many standard low back pain treatments. For many people, some treatments have been helpful, but the condition still persists.Frequently, the pain problem exists because an underlying postural or structural deviation has not been properly addressed. One such postural problem that might be considered is an anterior pelvic tilt, which can contribute to lumbopelvic pain in a number of ways.
The upright posture and locomotion of humans poses biomechanical balance challenges for the pelvis. The weight and force loads of the upper body are transmitted and distributed to the two lower extremities through the pelvis. When the pelvis is not aligned properly numerous biomechanical problems result, which can be painful and debilitating. Let's take a look at what constitutes an anterior pelvic tilt, some of its detrimental effects, and what role massage can play in helping to resolve it.
For the sake of this discussion, the pelvis will be addressed as a whole, even though it is composed of two separate halves, called innominates. The left and right innominate can move independent of each other, but most postural distortions occur when the left and right halves are both out of alignment in the same direction.
An anterior pelvic tilt occurs when the pelvis rotates anteriorly in the sagittal plane. The sacrum is tightly wedged between the two innominates so when the pelvis tilts anteriorly, the sacrum moves with it. The sacrum is tightly bound to the L5 vertebra, which is bound to adjoining vertebra. When the sacrum tips forward, the lower lumbar vertebrae are subsequently tilted forward, creating an increase in the lumbar lordosis at the same time.
There is a natural degree of anterior tilt in the pelvis that is necessary for proper movement and shock absorption. When the degree of tilt is too much, it is considered a dysfunctional anterior tilt. However, it is difficult to get an accurate determination of the exact degree of anterior tilt without a goniometer. Consequently, many clinicians use approximate alignment references to determine if the tilt is excessive.
However, just because it is challenging to define the anterior tilt, doesn't mean we should ignore it. Although massage therapists may not have the training to make accurate goniometer measurements, there are some simple tips for determining if a pelvic tilt could be a contributing factor to a clients pain. One way to evaluate the tilt with visual examination is to look at your client from the side. Place one finger on the posterior superior iliac spine (PSIS) and the other finger on the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS). If the ASIS is more than a half inch lower (and slightly more in females), this would be considered a dysfunctional anterior tilt (Figure 1).
A degree of lordotic curvature in the lumbar region is necessary for proper shock absorption in the spine. However, too much lordosis causes multiple problems. As the lordosis is increased, there is increased pressure on the facet joints of the spine (Figure 2). The increased facet joint compression can lead to pain, irritation and even early arthritic changes in the spine.
An increased lordosis is frequently caused by excessive hypertonicity in the lumbar extensor muscles. Tightness in this muscle group is both a cause and an effect of the exaggerated anterior tilt. The lumbar extensor muscles are often tight in conjunction with the iliopsoas in a postural pattern known as the Lower Crossed Syndrome (Chaitow, Delany vol 1, 2000). A vicious cycle of muscle tightness and postural distortion ensues because muscle tightness contributes to the anterior tilt and is perpetually reinforced as a postural pattern. Myofascial trigger points in the lumbar extensors are also likely to develop as a result of the chronic tightness.
The increased lordosis may also decrease the opening of the intervertebral foramen which could lead to nerve root compression in the area. The risk of nerve root compression is increased if there are bone spurs or other obstructions along the edge of the foramen which encroach on the nerve with the exaggerated lordosis.
Another detrimental effect of the anterior tilt occurs at the Sacroiliac (SI) joint. There is only a slight degree of movement at the SI joint. For the most part, this joint is tightly bound so that the sacrum and ilia on both sides are almost locked into position with each other. The anterior pelvic tilt alters the force loads at the SI joint and is a frequent cause of SI joint pain and dysfunction.
Most of these potential effects are somewhat obvious, but another one that is not quite as clear is the increased risk of hamstring strains. When the pelvis tilts anteriorly, the ischial tuberosity rises in a superior direction, putting greater tensile stress on the hamstring muscle group. The elevated tensile load can lead to an increased incidence of hamstring strains, especially in active individuals.
So, is there a role for massage therapy in addressing this problem? There is a role for soft-tissue treatment, but there is also controversy and misunderstanding in constructing the most helpful treatment plan.
One of the biggest mistakes that clinicians make in attempting to treat the anterior pelvic tilt is to over-simplify the treatment strategy. For example, if you look at a person with an exaggerated anterior tilt from the side, it would appear that the lumbar extensors are tight and the abdominal muscles are weak and elongated, which is true. The mistake comes in attempting to address this distortion by strengthening the abdominal muscles with standard abdominal muscle exercises like sit-ups or crunches performed with the feet rigidly held in position.
When the feet are held rigidly in place for a sit-up exercise, it is called a closed-kinetic chain exercise. Unfortunately, performing a sit-up in a closed kinetic chain position strongly recruits the iliopsoas muscle. Since tightness in the iliopsoas is a contributing factor with this condition, further strengthening is counter to the intended treatment goal.
The key goal in a treatment strategy for the anterior pelvic tilt is to reduce tightness in the lumbar extensor muscles and iliopsoas. In many cases, the abdominal muscles, which appear weak and overstretched, are not weak because they lack sufficient exercise, but are instead weak because they are being neurologically inhibited by the tight lumbar extensors (their antagonists). Reducing tightness in the lumbar extensors will often allow the abdominal muscles to resume a normal level of tonus. A variety of massage techniques can be directly aimed at the lumbar extensors to reduce their hypertonicity.
One of the biggest mistakes that massage therapists make when attempting to address an anterior pelvic tilt is to focus just on the soft-tissue treatment with the idea being that reducing the muscle tightness will restore the proper pelvic position. Unfortunately, that rarely occurs. Postural distortions like the anterior pelvic tilt have developed from chronic habitual reinforcement. Even if you perform excellent massage work on these muscles, the person is likely to quickly slip back into the postural distortion if certain habitual patterns are not addressed.
Dysfunctional postural patterns need to be changed by constant reinforcement of new and more correct postural adaptations. Certain treatment systems like Alexander Technique, yoga or Feldenkrais are aimed at improving awareness of posture and position in order to make changes and reduce dysfunctional positions. However, it isn't always imperative that the client adopt one of these practices.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as teaching new postural positions and encouraging the client to be aware of his or her own postural positions and to reinforce that change as much as possible. Having the client explore the ergonomics of his or her home and work activities is also important. Does their work set up inspire a slumped position at a desk? Do they stand a lot, could they put one foot up on a small block? Can they take more breaks for stretching and be shown good stretching solutions?
As clinicians, our goal is to understand each individual's biomechanical stresses as best we can so we can craft a reliable treatment strategy most likely to achieve beneficial results. At the same time, keep in mind that the presence of an anterior pelvic tilt is not a guarantee of any of the above adverse outcomes. There are people who have an anterior tilt that do not develop any issues. That is why it takes a thinking practitioner to determine when the pelvic tilt might be a contributing factor to a client's pain.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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