Joints

Building Strong Bones

Posted on October 4, 2018. Filed under: Acupuncturist, Aging, Exercise, Health, Hormone, injury, rebuild, Joints | Tags: , , , , , |

gregmonicaweight1~by Dr. Greg Steiner

Everyone needs strong bones; they provide structure and protect us from injury.  Fortunately, there are many ways to build stronger, denser bones even at an older age.  One of the best ways to increase bone density is exercise, but certain types of exercise yield better results than others.  Bones remodel themselves according to the stress placed upon them.  Doing light weights with lots of repetitions doesn’t really tug and pull and allow enough force on the bones & muscles to strengthen them. To properly “stress” a bone, you’ll want to use heavier weights but not so heavy as to injure yourself.  Body weight used as resistance can also work and can include yoga, elastic tubing, pushups, etc…) Weight bearing refers to how much of your body weight you are holding up while exercising.  For example, walking would be more weight-bearing than bike riding and running is more weight bearing than swimming (due to buoyancy of water there is less resistance).

Changing the direction and various angles in which we move our bodies can strengthen bones as well.  The hips, spine, wrist and ribs are much more prone to density issues, so focus on these areas are important. Because most of the time we move our hips in a straight linear pattern, the bones get the message that they need to maintain density for that path only.  That’s why exercise which involves swiveling, twisting or turning can build strength all around.  Exercises that rotate the hips include dancing, martial arts, tennis and even tai chi.

The next best way to build bone density is through nutrition.  Ample protein is needed because 50% of our bones are made of protein and really low protein can weaken bones.  If you consume a lot of protein, be sure to balance it with lots of vegetables. Be sure to also incorporate calcium.  The RDA is 1000-1200 mg daily but it’s been found that its better absorbed if spread out over the day instead all at once.  Great non-diary calcium providing foods include sardines, salmon, almonds, kale and broccoli.  Vitamin d and k help build strong bones too.  Magnesium is important because it helps activate vitamin D.  Other nutrients that are great for bone health include collagen (for bone flexibility), zinc, and omega oils.  Specifically, omega oils provide an anti-inflammatory response and are protectors against bone loss as we age.  You can boost your omega 3’s with fish and plant sources like chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

These recommendations as well as maintaining a healthy weight can not only keep you from losing bone mass and developing brittle bones but also actually increase it.  As we age, it becomes more difficult to build new bone, but not impossible; so work on building stronger bones and muscles to help battle osteoporosis, keep you more stable and  prevent injury in the future.

Dr Greg is an active resident of Twin Creeks in Allen, TX and his background is in acupuncture, health psychology, and chiropractic. He is with CA Acupuncture and Chiropractic Clinic located at 1101 Raintree Circle, Suite # 288, and can be reached for questions or appointments by phoning 972-747-0928.

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Why Does My Back Hurt?

Posted on February 2, 2016. Filed under: Chiropractic, Health, Joints, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

bigstock-Back-pain-14431652By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

There are many reasons why your back is hurting.  It could be poor posture, an injury, long term wear and tear, etc…  But the pain you are feeling, like fire shooting through your veins or the dull ache that seems constant is usually a form of inflammation.  Whether the problem stems from doing too much or too little, the result can end you up in the same place.  One of the worst things you can do is go from one extreme to another.  If you sit behind your desk all day long and then decide to go out and aggressively clean the entire yard (like shoveling mulch, pulling weeds, etc.) you could be setting yourself up for a painful injury.

Our backs have discs that are designed to cushion the bones.  When we move, those discs work like little squishy sponges.  When we move to the right, that part of the disc compresses while the other side stretches.  These discs need to ingest a certain amount of nutrients to stay healthy.

For the person who sits most of the day and doesn’t move around, the discs essentially start to starve because nutrients aren’t being circulated and they start to become brittle.  When they become brittle, they start to flake and decay and become inflamed at a quicker rate.  So by living a sedentary lifestyle and doing nothing, you can actually harm yourself even more.

For the opposite type of individuals whose career involves moving around a lot, especially those that are athletes, they too can experience problems.  For example, if a long distance runner has improper technique, the discs in their spine or “shock absorbers” can wear out faster.  Even though there is plenty of motion going on, the body is overwhelmed and can’t re-supply all the nutrients it needs quick enough to rebuild, so inflammation starts in that way as well.

Posture can also attribute to back pain.  If you take a bowling ball and hold it straight up, it’s not so hard to do, but if you keep moving it forward inch by inch, for every inch you let your arm creep forward, it will increasingly feel heavier and be harder to hold.  Imagine your head like the bowling ball with all that stress on your neck, there will probably be pain in the upper back which eventually will travel down the spine to include pain in the lower back as well.  The neck and back overwork all day long, the tissues hyper stretch out and they become inflamed and begin to hurt.

That’s why I recommend getting a checkup.  Having your posture analyzed and corrected  can help pinpoint some of the reasons you may be having back pain and help get you on the track to feeling better and reducing that back pain.

 

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Slowing the Aging Process

Posted on November 20, 2015. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Health, Hormone, Joints, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

~ by Dr. Greg Steinerbigstock-Mature-couple-having-fun-in-co-13905050

Growing old is inevitable, but getting old shouldn’t be used as an excuse.  For those who say, “I can’t do this because I’m getting older”, that’s an insufficient answer.  You don’t have to fear aging and let it prohibit you from the things you want to do.  There are a number of things that can be done to slow the process or at the least, allow you to age well.

Many processes going on in the body effect how we age.  Circulation is one of them.  It’s similar to having narrow roads, with fewer trucks on the road making deliveries.  Circulation is our transport system for our bodie’s resources, namely oxygen and nutrition.  As we age, we have a less efficient delivery system.  Also influenced by age is mobility and elasticity.  The gradual need for reading glasses demonstrates a decrease in elasticity in eyes.  It’s kind of ironic how we age that certain things get saggy while other things stiffen up.  Hormones can also get out of whack.  Testosterone & estrogen usually become unbalanced and growth hormone, responsible for repair also decreases.  Imbalanced thyroid levels and insulin can lead us to  suffer from fatigue and other issues.  And let’s not forget about inflammation.  There is inflammation that comes from a recent injury (like breaking a toe), but there’s also inflammation from an injury from 10 years ago.  Some of this stems from scar tissue forming, which over the years becomes less elastic and reduced circulation in that area.  Natural anti-inflammatories in the body work at a slower rate so we feel pain in that particular spot.

But know this, all of those things, at least by some degree are correctable.  Stretching for elasticity and mobility is helpful, but won’t necessarily solve everything.  Due to the computer generation, people these days can barely turn their neck left or right.  It’s double the problem from what I was seeing 20 years ago.  If the neck isn’t kept flexible, it can promote shoulder pain and headaches as well.

Chiropractic can be very helpful in restoring and maintaining mobility and flexibility.  Some people stretch and stretch yet still can’t touch their toes.  Usually this indicates a ligament issue.  Their bones and spine aren’t flexing.  One of the secrets to having a bouncy, happy walk isn’t about being flexible, it’s about having your bones & ligaments moving properly.  If everything is aligned and moving correctly, and the structure is perfectly aligned, the individual has a light, bouncy walk with or without flexibility.

Diet and exercise can help circulation.  Acupuncture and herbs are also useful in promoting circulation as well as helping reduce inflammation.  If you improve the circulation, you’ve got a better supply system which can transport out the waste products.  The healthy diet can then provide the right nutrition to be transported in.  Blood tests can determine how well hormones are balanced.

Everything is tied into one another.  Just like a plate of spaghetti, if one noodle falls off, it usually takes several with it.  Just be sure to treat all the issues together as a whole rather than trying to look at each “noodle” independently.

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Water & Acupuncture = A Good Mix

Posted on July 3, 2013. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Acupuncturist, Healing, Health, Joints | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

water & acupuncture combinedIt’s pretty common knowledge that most people don’t drink enough water.  Some people figure if they drink lots of coffee or soda, or even alcoholic beverages, it counts for water intake.  On the contrary,  instead of quenching your thirst and providing you with hydration, these caffeinated or alcoholic drinks cause your body to lose water reserves instead of adding to it.  So in theory, for every alcoholic or caffeinated drink you take, you have to drink 1 more glass of water to counter balance the effect.  Just make sure you meet the minimum requirement of at least 8 glasses of water a day (64 ounces), and even more if you are vigorously exercising.

Avoid Alcohol & Coffee before & after  Acupuncture
Drinking alcohol or coffee before your acupuncture session can reduce your positive experience.  Because one of the main goals of acupuncture is to bring greater clarity and consciousness to how we really feel, alcohol or coffee before the session can disrupt the bodily awareness.  Since alcohol impairs the senses and caffeinated coffee heightens them, both can potentially counteract or mask the effects of acupuncture.

It’s also important to steer clear of those beverages for a day or two after your acupuncture session as well.  Because acupuncture can help release toxins in the body, staying effectively hydrated will help flush out those toxins.  Drinking clean water works best to do the job. Alcohol and coffee will only work to dehydrate the body, so stay clear.

Interesting Water Facts

  • Most headaches are caused by dehydration.  Simple solution:  drink lots of water!
  • Constipation is a sure sign of not enough water.
  • Hangovers are usually caused by not enough water.  This is due to the fact that alcohol inhibits hormones in the kidney from retaining water therefore allowing your body to lose its reserves
  • At least 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated
  • Being mildly dehydrated can slow down the metabolism as much as 3%
  • One glass of water staved off hunger pangs for 98% of the dieters observed in a Univ. of Wash study
  • Sleepiness & fatigue in the afternoon are triggered by lack of enough water
  • Research has shown that drinking between 8-10 glasses of water daily can significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers
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Arthrostim-the Modern Alternative in Chiropractic Adjustments

Posted on June 12, 2012. Filed under: Chiropractic, Healing, Joints, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

arthrostimmeganThe Arthrostim is a natural solution and revolutionary procedure that is helping hundreds of neck and back pain sufferers get out of pain safely and gently without any side effects. It is a contemporary chiropractic adjustment instrument that is an alternative to traditional manual adjustments. It was designed to gently and safely decrease the muscle and joint tension in the neck and back, thereby reducing any muscle spasm present, increasing joint movement, and eliminating any nerve pressure or irritation

How does it work?

The Arthrostim instrument works with the natural feedback cycle of the nervous system. It delivers a rapid series of controlled thrusts. These thrusts create a barrage of nervous system stimulation to the brain which can help reset dysfunctional muscular and skeletal patterns. The precise movements produced by the adjustment stimulate ‘neural receptors’ in the area which, in turn, produce nerve impulses that relay crucial information back to the brain.

It is this ‘neurological feedback system’ that the brain relies upon in order to update its awareness about the areas of the body.  Upon evaluation of changes produced by the adjustment, the brain issues self-correcting commands to the muscular system and other tissues to bring about healing changes.

There have been recent developments in new ways to produce this important neurological feedback system. The Arthrostim device is one new way of creating this valuable input. It offers the modern doctor many benefits for health-conscious people, using advanced technology to make chiropractic adjustments an enjoyable as well as a rewarding experience.

The Arthrostim instrument can deliver 1 or up to 14 rapid series recoiling thrusts per second, which works with the natural feedback cycle of the nervous system.  Because the Arthrostim oscillations are so rapid, they do not fire pain receptors so the treatment is comfortable yet highly effective. The effectiveness comes from the instruments controlled repetitive input, producing a cumulative ‘snowballing’ effect on the neural receptors. Therefore the Arthrostim, using greatly reduced forces, can create extensive neurological feedback to the brain which can help reset dysfunctional muscular and skeletal patterns.

This instrument can be used to mobilize joints of the spine and extremities and for acute muscular spasms as a way to increase muscular metabolism to release muscular contraction.

Who can use it?

Individuals that may especially benefit from the use of the Arthrostim include:

  • Infants and young children
  • Individuals in acute or chronic pain
  • Particularly sensitive individuals
  • Individuals who dislike being ‘twisted’
  • Individuals with disc or related spinal conditions
  • Individuals with arthritic conditions
  • Individuals with osteoporosis
  • Elderly individuals

Even individuals who are large and stronger (and may be difficult to adjust with a single thrust) can benefit from use of the arthrostim.

By utilizing the Arthrostim, effectiveness of the adjustment can be maintained while reducing the amount of force that is applied. This dynamic combination allows for a wide range of conditions that can be managed more comfortably by the practitioner.

What is it used for?

There are virtually no limitations to the Arthrostim; the following is a short list of potential uses:

  • Ribs blocked in a holding pattern
  • Adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder
  • Deep fascial adhesions
  • Lower cervical laxity coupled with upper thoracic rigidity
  • Muscle spasms
  • Adjusting vertebrae
  • Adhesions in joints and muscles
  • Trigger points
  • Realigning of joints
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Far-Infared Heat & Light Therapy Aids Healing

Posted on June 1, 2012. Filed under: Healing, Joints, Pain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

tdp lamp

Light & Heat Therapy for Healing

The TDP mineral lamp is  a type of far-infared therapy.  Often called the “Miracle Lamp”, as it helps with pain relief and treats an assortment of ailments including back pain, arthritis, shoulder and joint pain among others.  Infrared heat lamp therapy is something we all experience in the form of sunlight. While we can all see the visible light, the heat that you feel when you are out in the sun and your skin is warmed comes from the infrared light rays. This far infrared heat coming from the sun is not dangerous to your skin like the ultraviolet light rays are. Infrared light has been shown to be beneficial to health which is why many people are interested in infrared heat lamp therapy.

Infrared heat therapy emits infrared radiant heat which is absorbed directly into the body. The infrared heat activates and ionizes water molecules in the body and helps to increase blood circulation, stimulates the production of collagen, and rid the body of toxins as well as many other health and beauty benefits.

Because TDP lamp therapy penetrates deep into muscle tissue, it is often used for pain relief. Arthritis sufferers can greatly benefit from heat therapy as it decreases the stiffness in the joints. Athletes can also benefit by using it on sore muscles, inflammations, and to reduce muscle spasms. In addition to relieving pain, it also increases muscle and joint flexibility.

The TDP lamp or TDP mineral lamp is a medical device that has clinical evidence confirming that it can reduce inflammation, calm pain, and improve micro-circulation, and balance metabolism. Evidence was gathered substantiating TDP mineral lamp use promoted cell growth, reproduction, and repair, concurrently with promotion of specific enzyme activity levels and immune function.

Unlike other conventional far infrared lamps, a TDP lamp contains a curing plate. The curing plate, the key component for a TDP lamp, is coated with a proprietary mineral formation consisting of 33 elements essential to the human body. When the curing plate is heated to a certain temperature, it emits unique bio-spectrum electromagnetic waves in 1-25 microns allowing for a maximum absorption into the human body. The absorbed energy promotes microcirculation and metabolism, strengthens the immune system, and achieves short- and long-term pain relief.

In the past 16 years, TDP lamps have been used to treat millions of patients with various chronic ailments worldwide. In China, people refer to the TDP lamp as the “Miracle Lamp” due to its incredible success in treating chronic ailments.

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Wrist Problems: Part 2

Posted on November 2, 2011. Filed under: Exercise, Healing, Joints, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

by Dr. Gregory Steiner~

Carpal tunnel syndrome is only one of many potential problems associated with the wrist joints. Because it is so common, let’s have a better look at specific symptoms and possible corrections for this very aggravating syndrome.

We touched on this last issue, but the capsule summary of what carpal tunnel feels like is this: there is pain, numbness or tingling on the palm side of the wrist which can be worse at night. The symptoms can be mild to very annoying and painful, and can be short or long term sometimes of month’s duration. It may be that you feel an unusual ‘clumsiness’ when trying to grab something small, as though you can’t quite make your fingers and hand do what you want them to. You might notice shrinkage in the size of the palm just under the thumb.

Just to refresh the memory, the usual people who develop carpal tunnel syndrome include not only computer operators, but carpenters, assembly line workers and……..weight lifters! And, a cautionary note is needed here. Most of the time carpal tunnel syndrome is mechanical in origin, from repetitive strain on the wrist when using the wrist for extended periods of time when it is bent forwards or backwards. In weight training the common causes are incorrect wrist position in presses and curls, or simple overwork.

Sometimes patients present into my clinic with wrist complaints mimicking carpal tunnel, and we can trace the cause back to doing overhead or bench presses with tired forearms which prevent the wrists from holding firm. Without the muscle support the wrist joints bend backwards too much, creating an abnormal stretch on the palm side of the wrist, and a compression of the back side. In such cases—if you feel an abnormal fatigue before training wearing a wrist support or taping the wrist may be helpful. As always though, getting dependent on any kind of support is not a good idea, as support tissues need exercise to strengthen. We used to see this a lot in neck cases associated with whiplash, when people were advised to wear collars. In the early days of care this is not a bad idea, but what we found is that people became scared to do without them and by this time their undamaged neck muscles had weakened which only made things worse. Remember, supports are like supplements—you use them when you need them, but not as a way off life unless you have a long-standing weakness that is impossible to fully correct.

As is often the case with musculoskeletal problems, there is a muscle associated with carpal tunnel syndrome that can contain contributory trigger points. That muscle is called the palmaris longus; which starts on the inner part of the upper elbow and extends into the palm. It is one of the muscles that helps bend the wrist forwards. In persons with normal anatomy there is no problem, but if the muscle is constructed slightly differently it can compress or otherwise irritate the nerve that is responsible for true carpal tunnel syndrome. If a trigger point is present, you can compress it hard for up to 30 seconds. To find the trigger point, draw an imaginary line from your ring finger up to your elbow, just to the inside of the tendon you feel when your arm is bent. Press in that line, about ¼-1/3 of the way from your elbow to your wrist. If the point is active you may feel a sensation in your wrist. The bad news is that if the muscle is anatomically altered, it may require a surgical decompression to sort it out.

Another muscle—the flexor carpi radialis which lies just to the thumb side of the palmaris longus–could contain a trigger point that you may think is carpal tunnel but is really not. In any event, if the trigger point is present it could cause pain on the palm side of the wrist. A typical activity which aggravates the trigger point is using scissors to cut tough material- gripping and squeezing a hand gripper would cause pain as well. To find the trigger point, press just to the thumb side of the palmaris longus trigger point area.

Note: sometime finding trigger points is like going on a fishing expedition. You don’t know whether they are there, and you only have a general notion of where they are. And, you need to look both shallow and deep to locate either fish or trigger points!

It is possible that a problem in the neck could create the symptoms as well. As a chiropractor I always look to the neck when I evaluate an extremity problem, as what I have often found over the years in stubborn cases that have not responded to direct treatment to the involved area are neck problems. In such cases there is often an irritation of one or more of the nerves that give sensation to the wrist and power to the muscles that move it. Usually evaluation of neck-related carpal tunnel requires professional analysis, but a rough test is this: tilt your head sideways, first to one side and then to the other. Then bend it forwards and backwards. Then to the side and back. Make the movements slowly but strongly, and take the motion to the end point of the range of motion. If any of these movements creates a “nervy” sensation down your arm, into your upper back or into the wrist, you may have a neck problem that is creating difficulties farther away from the neck. A useful picture to keep in mind is that of the spine as the fuse box, with the nerves as electrical wires. The muscles are the appliances that run off the electricity provided by the spine, as directed by the nerves.

Let’s say you find a trigger point or two, and take care of it by direct pressure. What next?

If the discomfort is really bad and the power in the wrist or grip is poor, a short-term use of a wrist splint could be of use, especially at night if sleep is a problem. Corrective exercise takes place in stages. First, do some light isometrics. Bend your wrist backwards and hold it there for 7-10 seconds, but for the first two weeks with only moderate force. Then increase the force of the contraction.

The second stage involves the use of wrist extensions, usually called reverse forearm curls. Dumbbells or an EZ curl would be better than a barbell at this stage, because the barbell may force the wrist to internally rotate (also called pronation) too much for a sore wrist to comfortably take. Sit down on a bench and using light dumbbells such as 5 lbs, rest your forearms on your thighs, palm down with the dumbbell hanging in front of your knee. Bend your wrist backwards. Do higher repetitions- perhaps 20 or more per set; do 3 or more sets. An alternate position is to kneel at the side of the bench with your forearms resting on the bench, dumbbells hanging over the opposite side. Another exercise is too make figure eights with the dumbbell, again for higher reps. If the dumbbell is really light, increase the reps up to 50. There is no need to add real weight at this stage as mobility, neuromuscular co-ordination and rehabilitation are being developed, not size or big strength. Daily or nearly daily performance of the programme is fine.

The third and final stage involves continuing these basic exercises, but adding weight and performing them every other day. However, do not rush! When the pain in the wrist is minor and has been that way for 3 weeks, it is probably safe to increase the workload.

As far as nutritional supplementation, some patients have responded well to vitamin B-6, a reduction in salt and use of bromelain. B-6 at no more than 100mg. daily for several weeks may help; as B-6 is associated with proper never function. Salt reduction may reduce any swelling, and bromelain is an enzyme that helps the body metabolise ‘rubbish’ in various musculoskeletal tissue structures, thereby reducing inflammation.

Of course, there is very little point in fixing carpal tunnel syndrome—or any other condition for that matter—if you don’t take steps to prevent recurrence. It would be a waste of time and set a poor pattern for future training to do otherwise. However, the first practical steps to take are to pay real attention to your grip when pressing, and we’re speaking of bench, overhead or any other kind. People get into trouble when they let the bar ride too far back, i.e. the wrist is bent too far back as well, creating tremendous stress on both sides of the wrist. It takes a good body-sense to get the right feel for the bar; it should be gripped firmly and not too loosely, as the slacker the grip, the less the actions of the flexors on the palm side of the forearm, which translates to less of a muscular counteraction to the back bending. A strong grip to some degree protects the wrists from excessive motion.

It could be also that curls with a straight bar annoy your wrists. Your wrists may be congenitally tight, meaning you have to work too hard to externally rotate them just to get the underhand grip. Outside of abnormal wrist stress it could set you up for elbow troubles as well, as both ends of the forearm work double-hard to rotate outwards. I knew a power lifter with this condition who eventually had to quit doing curls; his ability to deadlift was much more important.

We always adhere to the old adage about prevention being better than cure, and carpal tunnel is no exception. If your wrists start to play up, outside of the usual admonitions to ice the sore areas for 10-15 minutes it would be a good idea to start doing specific warm-ups for your wrists. Martial artists in the rappelling styles know very well the importance of this, as their wrists are often bent and otherwise abused. For lifting, the best thing to do is do some forearm curls, reverse forearm curls and figure eights, but with very light weghts. Remember, we are talking about warming up, not building at this point!

Finally, if gripping the barbell seems a real problem to your wrists, try using dumbbells instead for your presses. The subtle change in angles may be just the rest your wrists need. And, don’t forget to sort out our computer desk and keyboard! What you do doing your non-training time you bring with you to training.

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Standing Tall

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Exercise, Healing, Joints, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

by Dr. Gregory Steiner~

One of the little, silly catch-phrases we use at the clinic is “Take the Ouch! out of the Slouch.” It’s pitched at the level where everyone can remember it, and even for it’s simplistic -soundingness, there’s a lot in it.

So, let’s deal with real basics, and talk about posture from a chiropractic, mechanical and cosmetic view points.

As in so many areas of my professional life, while I learned a lot form my teachers, I’ve learned even more from the good ones and bad ones in weight training. As a general group, I would say that an unfortunate league table exists for rating how well or how badly people who lift weights wisely use their bodies natural capability. Here’s my evaluation – general impressions formed over years of watching, participating and treating men and women in all the categories.

In bottom place, bodybuilders.

In middle place, power lifters.

In absolute first place, Olympic lifters – as I’ve written many times and will do again, these people know how to stand, how to move, and how to lift great weights with great speed with impeccable co-ordination. All deserving kudos to them!

Ok, not all bodybuilders. In fact, the best ones will have learned how to balance out all main postural muscle groups in order to stand well, to present themselves in the best possible way.

Look at it this way. If you stand straight, you look better. If you stand straight, you breathe better. If you breathe better, your energy is better – and possibly your sleep. If your energy is better, you train better. You’ll have already completed the sequence – if you train better, you get bigger and stronger.

Sometimes various writers discuss posture, usually a physiotherapist, an alternative health practitioner, or another health professional. All the technicalities are good, and alternative health models that talk about releasing energy are fine as well – if they serve their purpose to motivate you to actually stand up straight – habitually. Not for an hour, or when you feel like it, but as a natural way of life.

Probably not “sexy” enough a topic to warrant much discussion in many magazines, you’ll find it’s more the authors who maintain something of the old-time physical culture approach to training that may mention or talk around the topic of posture. Bradley Steiner’s writing has a lot of this flavour – he deserves a read as well as a lot of attention, for two simple reasons. One, he walked the walk – Bradley built himself up from frailty to power and vitality by following these principles, and two, he’s has helped and inspired many, many others to do the same for many, many years. I don’t know if we have a common ancestor somewhere back there, but we share that experience, building from relative frailty to vitality and strength through training in both fitness and martial arts. Seek him out.

The physical culturists were way ahead of their time, though the word hasn’t been used much since WWII, as far as I know. So, why were they ahead of their time? For one, their philosophy from which they designed their training methods was wholistic. That word – “wholism” refers to a certain mindset on how things fit together, the emphasis in on systems. It’s one of the main reasons why wholistic practitioners have enjoyed an tremendous increase in popularity and utilisation of their methods, whether it be wholistic medical doctors, chiropractors or Alexander technique coaches.

In direct terms, the wholistic practitioner in the best sense of the word recognises how this bit connects and interacts with that bit, and how those two bits together work together to interact with the third bit. By contract, old-school medicine perceives the “person” as distinct from the body, and each part of the body as more or less distinct from the other parts. While strictly speaking in orthopedics – sorting out joints and other musculoskeletal structures there is a real use in fixing a battered knee, for example, how that knee affects the gait, and how that altered gait causes pain in the low back or neck receives little attention. In my clinic, for we assume from the start that whatever the problem, it’s connected to something else. Of it’s pain of long standing, there will almost always be some type of distortion as the body shifts to alleviate pain as best it can. If a problem is new, we look for underlying , undiscovered weaknesses or “stuck bits” that set the stage for injury, such as bent or twisted spines in muscles imbalances front and back (or agonist antagonist).

What I’m trying to do here is give some illustration of the principles in action. Physical culture expressed a philosophy enacted in total lifestyle. If I have a criticism about most of modern body building, it’s the overly narcissistic mind set that inverts priorities that lead to long life, good health and lots of energy. What I see is body-beautiful first, strength second, and health as an after thought.

Ok, we know that culture being the way it is, no one except really close family and friends really have much concern for your health, but I can equally guarantee you that every author in Hardgainer look at things the other way round, especially if they have a few years of experience and a few miles on the body. We want to stay fit and strong and looking good – forever! And it can be done.

Ok, we also know that many more people will reward you, shun you and form impressions of you, as you do of yourself – based on how you look. Your gym buddies will categorize you on your strength, and both of these are sources of real motivation.

So, what’s all this leading to? Remember what we said about some doctors looking at the body like a collection of body parts, each one with little relation to the others? And, recall how we discussed the wholistic viewpoint? Physical culture was like the wholistic way of seeing things – healthy mind, in healthy body, in a life lived according to those principles. In daily terms this meant acting and doing in ways to promote that bigger picture of health and vitality. You train hard, you train wisely, you rest well, you eat wisely- and guess what, you look fantastic as a result. Except there is an added bonus – you radiate a certain energy that others can sense, it’s part of what makes some people “naturally beautiful.”

There is some hard-edge scientific research that shows “symmetry” be a Very Big Deal in judgements of attractiveness. Muscle size is certainly part of it, but relative balance and shape counts for much more than sheer size – unless being a strength athlete is your driving goal. The point is, some of our desire for the Better Body may be biologically based, and it operates within us all the time though our exact expression of the desire can be modified according to culture and person.

As a case in point, picture any “charismatic” person you choose. How does that person stand? If you are picturing a slouch, let’s say your tastes are “unique!” The clearest examples of straight posture come from the military of course, and while the military posture can be too stiff – not at all like that of the Olympic lifters who have more “bounce and carriage,” it’s a lot more right than wrong. In my clinical experience I’ve worked enough years to track people’s posture. I rarely, rarely have seen long-term military-types develop that hunched over shuffle I see so much in either desk workers who don’t exercise, or manual workers who have strong back and weak stomachs. Rather, you can read the non-verbal communication that slouching – to the ex-military man – was and is seen as a sin with damnation as the penalty!

Believe it or not, taking postures (in conjunction with adopting facial expressions) characteristic of certain emotions generate real, measurable changes in physiology. For example, if a person assumes an angry posture and expression, heart rate and body temperature rises. If a person assumes the characteristics of fear, heart rate rises but temperature drops. So, there seems to be a direct posture – physiology connection, independent of environmental events that trigger.

So, let’s take this the other way around. If you slouch, there is more chance to feel depressed feelings. But, if you stand straight and tall, everything balanced and working well – you have much more of a chance to feel on top of your game.

In relation to training, what we’re trying to do is establish a basic level, foundational mind-body connection that let’s you know when your posture is “right.” If you can feel this, your margin of safety and future productivity in training has just increased dramatically – as well as your training longevity.

Look in a mirror – or better yet have a tailor look at you and measure you up; tailors and dress makers have an eye to rival the best health professionals. In my clinic I take digital photos of people to let them see what I see – which besides the off-balance and tilted shoulders and hips are shocked looks on patient’s faces when they recognise that being the human Tower of Pisa is not “normal.” After they accept that, we’re usually ready to get to work!

If you see a tilt, consult a sports oriented chiropractor, physio or doctor to advise you; Alexander technique practitioners do a good job as well. So, get to work and take the Ouch out of the Slouch!.

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Wrist Pain, Carpal Tunnel, and Driving Problems…

Posted on October 4, 2011. Filed under: Joints, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , |

When I was studying to be a chiropractor, some of my fellow students were quite heavy into lifting weights. One of my classmates was quite an accomplished power lifter; he was about my size, but he was renowned during our early learning days of “hands on” evaluation and treatment as having the thickest low back muscles of anyone in the class.   We used to joke you could hide a CD between them. He worked out hard of course, and certainly deserved the respect he got for his powerful back..

Why do I mention him? Even back then, his wrist would give problems from time to time.  A year or two ago,  I touched base with him to see how he was doing and found out that a nerve-related condition had caused him to practically stop training and his wrist condition had forced him to quit his clinical practice; the profession suffered a great loss without him.  So, it’s clear that wrist problems are not to be taken lightly.

Complicated Anatomy

Few body parts are as anatomically complicated as the wrist, and the wrist and hand as a unit are certainly the most complex musculoskeletal structure. What I mean by anatomically complicated is that two arm bones, the eight wrist bones, and five hand bones and fourteen finger bones by virtue of direct and indirect connections of ligament and tendon form an incredibly flexible, complicated manipulative instrument. From a clinical point of view, the wrist can be affected by conditions in the neck, shoulder and elbow; remembering the principles of primary and secondary conditions we know that dysfunctions or habitual distortions in one part of the body can and do cause dysfunction and distortions in other parts- the “tugging on the chain” situation in which one link tugs on all the rest.

How do you know when there is a problem?

What You Might Feel

As usual, symptoms come in two broad, inclusive categories. There are problems with how your hand or wrist works, and there are negative changes in how you feel. In other words, it could be that your wrist seems weak, extra loose or more likely resistant to moving in one or more directions. This could be indicative of swelling, deep tissue damage, calcification in some of the soft tissues which should be supple and certainly free of hard, immobile calcium; or muscles could be in spasm.

Pain is easier to talk about as it is harder to ignore than something that is painless but doesn’t work just right. The main symptoms to watch out for are persistent tingling and sharp, stabbing pains, though wrists can ache quit a lot, as well as burn, itch or feel tight and hot. Each of these indicates some sort of underlying disorder.

A key symptom to watch for is a deep ache in the middle of the wrist that persists for weeks or more, especially after a fall. I have had patients who have experienced this and upon close x-ray evaluation have been diagnosed with “avascular necrosis” which translates to an abnormally reduced blood supply to an important wrist bone that has allowed the bone to starve and rot away.

Tingling, numbness and burning on the palm-side of the wrist that persists could indicate carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to irritation of the nerve that travels down the palm-side of the forearm, on top of the rows of wrist bones and which splits to innervate the palm of the hand. At the wrist, a band of tissue called the “flexor retinaculum” connects some of the wrist bones and forms a tunnel through which the nerve passes. If the tissue becomes thickened, the bones become dislodged undo irritation of this nerve can take place and the most unpleasant weakness and pain of “carpal tunnel syndrome” can occur.

This syndrome has received much attention in recent years, especially with the increase in computer usage and the many hours at the keyboard required of students and certain professions.

Fortunately surgery isn’t always needed – in our clinic we successfully treat it by acupuncture vitamin B-6, and making sure the whole arm and neck with it’s many nerves are in perfect shape.

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Stand Up Straight! Good Posture Basics…

Posted on September 27, 2011. Filed under: Aging, Joints | Tags: , , , , , |

By Dr. Greg Steiner

Usually I hear from moms and wives: “I keep telling him (her) to stand up straight! Quit slouching, or you’ll end up like your cousin Betsy who is the little old lady who is all bent over in the front row of the church!”

Ok, maybe that’s a paraphrase, but the essential worry and complaint that a Family Member A has noticed and is starting to worry about Family Member B’s slouch that isn’t going away.

It usually starts in high school, and sometimes even before – the teen age slouch. Sometimes it comes from a pain in the back caused by prolonged sitting; sometimes by sheer laziness; and sometimes from a psychological factor – either looking cool or being shy.

Regardless of the cause, what does good posture look like and how do you measure it?

Ok, grab Loved One B and stand them up and have them face a wall. You stand to their side. If they are standing correctly you should see a person that looks poised, balanced, and at ease all at the same time. Military people usually make a habit of standing very straight, but at times their stance is excessively rigid. Dancers who do modern and jazz usually stand very well – just as straight as the military folk, yet more relaxed. The surprise is that the people who lift weights in the Olympics usually have very good posture – athletic, straight, and very strong for all their size.

Ok, you have them there – what do you look for?

Look at the tip of the ear, the tip of the shoulder, the tip of the hip (usually along the seam line) and the tip of the ankle. If their posture is right, all these “tips” should be aligned along one vertical line.

If it’s wrong, many times the head is forward (called “Forward Head Tilt”).

At first there may not be more than an inch of misalignment, but given time this can develop into a slouch, and finally a great stoop and shuffling walk.

The way it works is like this: the human head weighs as much as a bowling ball. If all that weight starts to shift forward, something else in the body must adapt for you to keep balance. Imagine if your head flopped forward – without a counterbalance you would fall forward on every step. So, in order to move with balance your low and upper back change curve to keep you in a state of basic balance.

The problem is that this mechanism is a compensation for a problem, not a fix for it. In other words, if the forward head isn’t corrected and maintained, for every inch the head tilts the curve in the changes by an inch. Eventual result: back pain to go along with the likely neck pain and headaches!

Kids have it worse, if they carry a backpack that makes them bend too far forward; the load hastens the wear on the spine. If you do take the extra caring step and examine your family, you will be doing them a great favor if you help them correct the issue as soon as possible, before anymore wear takes place. Not one of those stooped, shuffling little old ladies started out that way or suddenly changed on their 60th birthday. No, they were once standing tall and straight. While it’s never too late to achieve some success with slouch and stoop, early detection and correction is always best.

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