Category Archives: Chiropractic

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Movement Monday: Neck and Shoulder Corrections From Your Desk

Video explanation, demonstration, and further detail over at:

Movement Monday: Countering Anterior Dominance

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Unmasking the “Miracle” of the Chiropractic Adjustment

Quite frequently, you will hear someone speak of traditional chiropractic care as a must.  More specifically, certain individuals can attest to experiencing amelioration of seemingly unrelated issues after receiving an adjustment.  At the very least, those who partake in routine spinal adjustments describe an overall feeling of wellness when sticking to a maintenance program and being adjusted regularly.

But why is this? How does causing a specific cavitation (the “pop” or “crack”) within a spinal joint lead to far reaching systemic benefits?  We know and have discussed some of beneficial consequences an adjustment can have on a neuromusculoskeletal level (https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/04/30/what-is-an-adjustment/), but how about some concrete research and evidence of the actual chemical consequences somewhat responsible for these unexplained occurrences of healing and well being?

Well, the studies are out there, and it is truly fascinating and empowering stuff if you are interested in the all natural route to enhancing your quality and quantity of life.  The follow chemicals (neuropeptides) are just two of the many that have been shown to be effected by a chiropractic adjustment; with levels being measured pre and post adjustment.

Neurotensin is a chemical in our bodies that is shown to be reduced in unmediated schizophrenics.  In fact many antipsychotic drugs (oft chalk full of unfavorable side efffects) are designed to elevate neurotensin levels.  This elevation in neurotensin, as seen  in the blood after a chiropractic adjustment of the cervical (neck) or thoracic (upper torso) spine, acts as a psychostimulant.

Decreased levels of neurotensin has also been linked to:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Gastrointestinal function
  • Cardiac function
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Eating disorders
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Stroke
  • Inflammation
  • Cancer of the:
    • Colon
    • Lungs
    • Ovaries
    • Pancreas
    • Prostate
    • Bones
    • Brain

Oxytocin is another neuropeptide that increases after a chiropractic adjustment, specifically of the cervical spine, and plays a crucial role as an endorphin (endogenously produced opioid), which adds further explanation to the pain killing effects experienced through an adjustment.

Most are familiar with the role of oxytocin in promoting lactation and uterine contractions, as a synthetic form is often administered to a mother to help facilitate the birthing process.  With a spinal manipulation of the cervical spine prompting a natural boost in oxytocin levels, could we soon see those forward thinking and open minded mothers to be receiving a cervical adjustment immediately prior to, our even during the birthing process?

In addition to pain modulation and the birthing process, oxytocin is also know to play an integral role in:

  • Memory
  • Bonding
  • Behavior (sexual, social, eating, etc.)
  • Learning
  • Anxiety
  • Sugar metabolism

These correlations are by no means being implicated as the primary drivers or causative factors of each of the conditions and traits mentioned.  However, an undeniable link between the blood levels of chemicals like neurotensin and oxytocin and these issues does indeed exist, and many times it is the chemical manipulation of this link that pharmaceutical companies target.  However, as we know and have stated, these drugs are rarely free of side effects.

We know there is a direct link to a chiropractic adjustment and an increase in these neuropeptides which can help explain why the benefit reaches such a larger scale than simply addressing neck pain or headache.  When it comes to certain, powerful neuropeptides, you are intentionally altering your chemical physiology in a beneficial way.

Sounds like an intelligent addition to the natural, holistic approach to piecing together the wellness puzzle, and living the truly good life.

Running Essentials (Vol. 1)

Being a runner myself, and working with a good amount of road warriors leaves me sympathetic to some of the wear and tear suffered due to this (sometimes) healthy addiction.  While injuries and causes come in all shapes and sizes, there remain various foundational issues that can be applied universally in order to curtail potential issues along the kinematic chain.

Hyper contraction of the hip flexors is a common issue in our society mostly due to the amount of time we spend seated.  In the car during a commute, at a desk glued to computer or a couch glued to the television, around the table while breaking bread with family and friends, even putting in miles on the bike; these all lend themselves to a shortening of the front side hip flexors.

Two immediate issues created by this are a higher propensity for low back pain, and a longer stride out in front while running, which leads to a higher risk of injury due to the increased instability that accompanies a longer lever arm.

Low back pain is perpetuated by shortening and tightness in the chief hip flexor, the psoas.  This muscle has its origin on the lower lumbar spine and when over contracted, will pull down on the lower spine when standing, creating discomfort, and the perception that standing causes pain.  In actuality, while the discomfort is indeed experienced while vertical, the catalyst can be the shortened psoas due to bouts of long, uninterrupted sitting.

Tight hip flexors become an issue while running as it can lead to a longer stride out in front.  The further that leg lands out in front of you, the less stability.  This can interfere with an optimal strike, pronation, and ankle and knee stability.  Unless you are a sprinter or huddler this also is a less efficient way to run.

Modifying gait is a multi-pronged task, with frontside dominance being a key factor.  The flipside to this shortening of the hip flexor is the lengthening and weakening of the antagonist hip extensors, mainly the gluteus maximus and hamstrings.  These posterior chain muscles are designed to move us efficiently and powerfully through life, including while running.

Again we look to front side dominance now being a logical contributor to strain and aggravation to the posterior structures and tissue including the hamstrings, piriformis, SI joint and surrounding ligaments.

Easiest way to begin to avoid this is by breaking up the long, uninterrupted sitting.  Obviously total avoidance of sitting is not possible, but in most cases breaking it up is.

Try to get up and move AT LEAST twice every hour or utilize the increasingly popular and available stand up desk.  Set a silent timer on your phone as a reminder to get up every 15-30 minutes.  Not only will you create more of a balanced state between your hip flexors and extensors (advantageous for low back pain and running) but you will be metabolically awakening your system, which can help control blood sugar/insulin, as well as weight.

Another way to combat this is by working on your movement pattern and neurological firing to the hip extensors.  If when you squat your knees track forward past your mid foot, you are exhibiting front side dominance.  A good way to work on this is to practice getting into a squat with your toes underneath a chair.  The seat of the chair will serve as a barrier to your anteriorly drifting knees and force you to utilize and fire the gluteus maximus, the main hip extensor and power generator during a proper stride.

In directly addressing the actual tightened hip flexors, a foam roller works well with the quadriceps.  However the psoas (and adductors) become more difficult to release due to their positioning and may take the assistance of a trained practitioner in order to reap optimal results.

(The facial expressions and sound effects produced by patients undergoing the psoas release in our office serves as an attestation as to the necessity of the treatment.)

The front side dominant, tight hip flexor issue is obviously not the end all be all when it comes to addressing any problem a patient may present with, nor are the methods mentioned the complete package for doing so.  However, more often than not, there is some hip flexor involvement with low back pain or lower extremity issues in runners and non-runners alike.  Therefore the suggestions mentioned above are a solid addition to any athlete’s preventative or maintenance program, in order to intelligently reduce the risk of potential injury.

Be well and go get it.

The Long Term Solution to Pain

To a clinician, there are a variety of reasons that the public comes knocking.  As a chiropractic physician, the overwhelming reason for that initial visit boils down to the presence of pain.  Pain is the problem and people come to us looking for a solution.  Sure, chiropractors are in the healthcare field and many have opened their own practices but the bottom line is that we are in the solutions business and to be successful you must give the people what they want.

Now, treating pain naturally is a chiropractor’s specialty.  The use of various soft tissue techniques, cold laser or e-stem, and of course the adjustment all can work wonders in alleviating pain.  However, many times the pain returns after the initial relief from treatment.  The reason for this is that the underlying cause of pain was never addressed.  This is where the profession and healthcare as a whole falls short.

When someone presents with a symptom such as pain, the goal of both the practitioner and patient is to get out of that pain.  However, pain alleviation should be just phase one of the treatment progression.   Throwing a treatment at pain, whether it be an adjustment or drug, is nothing more than symptom care at its best.  Granted, the all-natural former comes with virtually no negative side effects but the application of both by their lonesome remains the same.  This is “sick” or “symptom care” that usually leaves the pour soul dependent on treatments due to ignorance, greed, laziness or a combination of all three by the practitioner.

This is one of the main reasons that chiropractors are looked at in a negative light, as the constant need for treatment has many proclaiming, “that once you go to a chiropractor you need to go forever.”  On the same level, it is the reason people pop NSAIDs or prescription pain killers like daily vitamins (yet it seems there is less discontent in resigning to the latter).

It must be pointed out here that it truly does take two to tango in these situations.  The reason NSAID sales, prescription drugs and non-stop palliative chiropractic treatments even exist is because there is a market for it.  It is not just the practitioner who is lazy or ignorant.  Breaking the pain-treatment cycle takes more time and effort and thus many on both sides of the equation do not want to be put out.

The proper way to approach any health issue, whether it be pain or any other symptom, is to take it a step further and find the break down in function.  Symptoms such as pain are helpful signs from our body letting us know that something is wrong.  Somewhere along the line a breakdown in optimal function has occurred and because of that, symptoms of that breakdown are now outwardly manifesting themselves to the point that we have the pleasure of meeting and working together.

For the sake of this discussion, we will stay focused on pain and take it one step further to the chiropractor’s traditional forte: back pain.  Back pain continues to be one of the most debilitating conditions in this country and if the current trends continue, the majority of us will unfortunately fall victim to chronic back pain at some time or another.

Well, this is your wake up call.  You don’t need to be another statistic.  Just because something is deemed “the norm” due to the majority of the population succumbing to it, doesn’t make it right.  You can free yourself from the back pain sentence if you work with a well-trained healthcare professional to identify its cause and do what you can to properly heal and prevent it in the future.

As we stated, pain is a symptom that manifests due to an underlying breakdown in function.  Outside of trauma, back pain in this country is largely a result of our culture of desk jobs, prolonged sitting and poor posture.  What happens is our anterior muscles become tightened and shortened due to us always leaning forward.  This leaves our posterior muscles (think glutes, hamstrings, spinal muscles, etc.) lengthened and weakened.  The problem here is that it is these muscles of the posterior chain that are designed to move us efficiently through the world.

Somewhere along the way in our world of laptops and long hours seated we have picked up a new hunched forward posture and thus a new movement pattern.  Just like with anything else, we eventually adapt to this new mode of operation even though it is not the most efficient for our bodies.  The result is an eventual structural breakdown in the form of disc herniations, osteoarthritis, muscle strains and inflammation.

So how do we tie this all together?  Well, obviously the pain needs to be addressed.  It is the reason treatment was sought in the first place.  Once the pain is alleviated, it needs to be understood that this pain was not just a random, inevitable occurrence.  It occurred for a reason and many times it was due to these faulty movement patterns and a breakdown in proper function as we described.

At this point, it takes extra effort and commitment by both patient and practitioner in order to identify the exact breakdown in function and work together diligently to reset and reprogram the body’s movement pattern.  This is done through repetition and a controlled, intelligent progression through exercises and treatments in order to rebuild the foundation and retrain the body to move correctly.  Only then can we see long lasting relief and prevention of pain.

If any of this resonates with you as it has with me and you would like to work together to not only get out of pain but prevent it in the future, please give me a call (321-848-0987) and let’s get to work on a pain free, smooth moving life.

What’s With that Weird Tape?

If you’re a sports fan like myself, you can’t help notice the increasing presence of an oddly positioned, colored tape being donned by athletes of all sports.  The use of this tape generated much publicity when beach volley ball icons Kerri Walsh and Misty May sported it during their 2008 Olympic gold medal run in Beijing.  Top tennis stars Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, and most recently, NBA superstar and huge proponent of chiropractic, Derrick Rose have been seen taking advantage of the tape’s therapeutic properties.   

Or maybe you’ve noticed someone in the gym or on the streets fashionably accessorizing with the colorful tape.  The point is, it’s out there and more and more people are utilizing it.

But what exactly is it and what does it do?

In most cases, what you are seeing is a form of athletic tape known as kinetic tape.  The tape had its origin as kinesiotape by Dr. Kenzo Kase in the 1970s.  Since then, other brands such as Rock Tape or Strength Tape have followed suit with slight modifications.

While various manufacturers boast their own techniques to the actual taping method, the main purposes of the tape is shared.  Kinetic tape is a form of tape that can provide support and stability without limiting range of motion.  This is a huge deal in that in order for all of us to function optimally, we need to have access to the full range of motion our joints were designed to provide.  This is key for all of us, but is imperative for an athlete.

Another benefit to kinetic taping is that it helps to reduce swelling and inflammation.  Permitting full range of motion allows this by encouraging venous return of blood and the lymphatic system (waste removal), but the tape actually does this in additional ingenuous ways.

The first way the tape does this is by lifting the skin off of the underlying tissue and allowing room for accumulated fluids to exit.  Another way inflammation and swelling is reduced can be facilitated by a distinct taping method in which the tape is cut into individual strips which resemble fingers. When the patient moves, these fingers then lightly squeeze the area of involvement, creating a massaging effect that encourages the removal of stagnant fluids in the area.  This method is quite useful for the acutely injured athlete who is trying to limit the initial swelling.

In addition, properly applied kinetic tape can provide an all natural analgesic or pain-killing effect.  One way this is done is by lessening inflammation in the ways described above.  The chemical mediators of inflammation excite the nerves that transmit pain signals, so anytime we can lessen inflammation, we can also lessen pain.

The second way the perception of pain is dampened by the tape is by closing what is known as the physiological pain gate.

You see, nerves vary in size and speed of transmission, with the bigger, faster nerves overriding the smaller, slower nerves.  Luckily for us, painful stimuli is mainly transmitted by the smaller nerves, while the sensation of touch takes a ride on the larger, faster nerves.  One way to intelligently and naturally lessen pain is to override the signal by stimulating nerves that pick up touch and enter the spinal cord at the same level.

It is this mechanism that serves as the explanation behind why we instinctively shake or rub the finger we just smashed with a hammer.  By doing this you are literally closing the gate on the transmission of the pain.  Unfortunately, as soon as the stimulation by way of rubbing or shaking ceases, the gate re-opens and the pain signals are once again permitted to reach the brain where the perception of pain occurs.

Kinetic tape conveniently comes into play here by providing constant stimulation to the painful area, thus closing the pain gate.  This serves as an extremely practical, temporary fix while we work to fix the underlying cause of the pain.

Neurologically, the tape serves a therapeutic purpose providing feedback from the taped area to our brain.  Aside from pain, when we are injured, feedback from the injured area tends to become inhibited or lessened.  This can lead to further issues as things like balance or proprioception (the sense of where our body or body parts are in space) is largely influenced by feedback from the actual body part.  Kinetic taping provides neurological stimulation to enhance the necessary communication between the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral nervous systems.

At Clarke Chiropractic and Wellness we utilize kinetic taping quite frequently when treating athletes and other patients in order to take advantage of the therapeutic benefits described above.  It should be noted that ideally, the tape is used like any other type of therapy; as an adjunct to chiropractic care and temporarily while we correct the underlying issue.  However, many athletes with chronic issues and a schedule or lifestyle that doesn’t always allow adequate rest for healing absolutely love being routinely taped as well.

If you are curious and would like to explore the world of all natural treatments like kinetic taping feel free to call us at anytime.

I’m ready when you are.