Repairing Your Body After Injury

Posted on July 14, 2016. Filed under: Aging, Exercise, Healing, Health, injury, rebuild, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Heat map Acupuncture doll

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

In its simplest terms, aging could be described as the body’s failure to repair. We grow, we mature, we reach various physical and mental peaks, and then…..we age.  When we are young our hormones, e.g. testosterone and growth hormone – are at high levels and command our bodies to grow and repair; our circulatory system is efficient as it transports those hormones and necessary nutrients towards muscles and organs; we have more enzymes that we know what to do with that make the chemical process necessary for growth and repair work at super speed. Though other factors are involved, hormones, transportation, enzymes and nutrients form the basis for growth, and its first cousin – repair.

Have you noted when an athlete of say, 20 years of age sustains an injury he or she seems able to be back on the field in just a few weeks? If an athlete of age 30 sustains an identical injury, it’s often much longer before return to play. At age 40, who knows?  The younger athlete’s speed of recovery demonstrates all those factors in play, working fast and in a coordinated way.

Of course with every injury comes scar tissue. If you tear a hamstring, it will eventually heal, but somewhere within the muscle will likely be a cluster of tough, stringy tissue that while strong, is nowhere near as elastic as the original muscle, nor does it have the same circulation properties which means the scar won’t receive or use nutrients as effectively as original tissue. One thing that I’d say every aging fitness person or athlete knows very, very well is what a painful body feels like. All the accumulated injuries of younger years are still present in scar tissue, and as the body loses efficiency and elasticity, the aging athlete feels them all the more. That’s why putting a strong emphasis on ‘repair’ is crucial to prolonging your active life and living a vigorous lifestyle.

While a team doctor for Master’s weightlifters in Scotland, I would often converse with coaches and lifters who had travelled to Eastern Europe and Russia to train, learn and exchange ideas. Though many bits and pieces of knowledge were exchanged during these travels, two factors truly stuck out. First, the emphasis on conditioning no matter what the sport practiced; and second, how much effort they would put into restoration.  One way of summing up the ‘conditioning’ emphasis was to say ‘an athlete is as good as his legs,’ meaning that legs take real effort to condition, and if the legs are strong and have stamina the whole person probably does too.

Repair then, is replacing what has been lost, mending what has been torn, restoring arrangements in what has been disrupted and so on. To live is to be injured, but through nutrition, good body mechanics, enzymatic replacement, and the right type of conditioning your body has the ability to restore itself.

 

 

 

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Why Strength is Important, Especially as We Age

Posted on May 5, 2016. Filed under: Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Health | Tags: , , , , , |

g&m1

Dr. Greg & Monica Steiner

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

What is the purpose of strength, anyway? Well, at the most fundamental level it’s to enable us to move our bodies though, over, under and around any pathway we find ourselves travelling on, or to surmount any obstacle that impedes our travel. Second, strength enables us to physically manipulate and transport our tools, equipment, and all resources we need for both ourselves and our ‘important people’ to live and thrive. And if these demands of life are satisfied, we are free to develop the strength necessary for sports, athletics and recreation, all of which enhance our lives. Remember, our bodies are essentially anti-gravity machines designed for motion! The greater the strength in our body, the better we defy gravity and the less it impedes us.  Climbing the stairs or carrying bags of groceries become easier just by virtue of being stronger.

Many of us have heard that we lose muscle-tone as we age.  There may be a slight decline, but not so much because of the aging, but because we quit the movement.  Strength decline is mostly from misuse.  Lifestyle changes, stress and poor diet combined with a more sedentary lifestyle can drop testosterone levels and decrease our muscle mass.  Pain also limits us but if we can train intelligently (what is best for your body at the time) we can minimize this decline and even reverse it.

This brings up the question as to whether you actually need to lift heavy weights. Well, the answer depends on several things: your actual needs; your desire and motivation; and your actual physical ability to handle heavy loads.  If your ‘need’ is just to be fit for daily life in the city, you probably don’t need to lift heavy weights. If you have a physical job or hobby or are engaged in sports you may need a heavier program. If lifting heavy actually is a motivation and challenge to you, there is value in pursuing it because to engage in a positive challenge gives life that much more meaning. However, the final arbiter is whether your joints and muscle attachments actually thrive under the load; if you are constantly injured you would do well to rethink your goals and program, or risk accumulated injuries to point you can barely lift at all.  Consider exercises that use your bodyweight for resistance.  This is easier on the joints and tendons.  This includes exercises such as Yoga, Pilates, exercise bands or even dance.

Lastly, for the ladies, be rest assured that lifting weights is not going to give you a massive bulky she-hulk stature!  Most women don’t possess enough natural testosterone to build that much size nor do they eat the large amount of protein necessary to gain such mass.  As a matter of fact, most of the toned and lean women we see actually lift weights in order to produce their shapely curves.

 

 

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Our Environment and Health

Posted on March 28, 2013. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Depression, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

~by Dr. Greg Steiner

What surrounds us affects how we feel, and how we feel affects our health.  When push comes to shove; environmental health is a subset of stress management. Environmental health, in its most common usage, concerns itself with toxicities which ‘poison’ the body, and ergonomics, which is the study of how  our bodies do what they do at work when sitting at desks, operating machines, or making the motions required of work.

One of the first things any doctor or nurse learns is the basics of how the body regulates itself towards health.  The fancy word for this is homeostasis. One example is how our bodies regulate our temperature to 98.6 degrees no matter what happens to it. However, it’s more accurate to say that our bodies attempt to regulate our temperature to 98.6 depending on whether its infected, its hormones are working as a team, its properly hydrated, and whether its dressed appropriate to the environment outside.

Eastern medicine and naturopathic Western medicine both put a great emphasis on how the person interacts with their environment. Western medicine does emphasize this to some degree, all depending on the exact discipline and the practitioner himself.  But Western medicine can also look at a person like an experimental variable, more like a statistical or laboratory problem than a living, changing, ‘inexact’ being constantly influenced by an ever-changing environment.

Both approaches have their uses and abuses – for promoting good, general health the naturalistic way is hard to beat- good food, rest, exercise, ‘natural’ remedies if needed,  which are usually easy on the body and have few side effects. The downside is that sometimes, whatever is wrong with a person is just too much for that person’s own repair system to fix without substantial help.  In this situation, naturalistic remedies may just not be strong enough. For the most part, good health practices help healing overall, even when a stronger intervention is required.

Modern medicine can and does provide those stronger remedies, but at times the weakness is that some doctors see the patient as a ‘lab rat’ in a laboratory setting, as though the patient were a specimen living in a fully predictable and fully controlled environment, or perhaps as an engineering problem needing correction. In orthopedic surgery this approach is largely true – if a knee is worn out,  it needs to be replaced, but the story doesn’t end there. Even with a new knee, the ‘person’ needs to recover, strengthen, feel good internally, and do everything possible to help their overall body heal itself.

The real key though, is how a person feels about their environment. However, in this context we’re not speaking of everyday ‘feeling’, but a deep interpretation and gut-level love-hate, like-dislike of their physical and social environment.  I speak of that  place deep inside where we know the unvarnished truth about ourselves and what we really like, fear, hate, and love. This ‘place’ is a combination of thought, interpretation of events, self-judgment, and habitual feelings whether good and bad.

The point is this – it’s in that place, largely dependent on our overall environment and our reactions to it that creates the hormones that create health, or destroy it.

Eastern medicine continues to put a strong emphasis on the person-environment interaction; if that dynamic is out of balance, it acts to restore it with acupuncture, herbs, and good health practices.

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Get Wet, Get Fit-Joint-Friendly Exercise

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Exercise, Joints | Tags: , , , , |

swim for joint friendly exercise

By Doctor Gregory Steiner~

No, I don’t mean going to the nearest water park and sliding down the tube, though as I write this article it sure sounds good in all the heat…..

What we’re talking about is exercising in the pool, sometimes called “water aerobics,” though there is much more to water exercise then aerobics. First we had better define our terms; that word – ‘aerobics’ – goes back some years now, and was originally coined to describe exercise that particularly stresses the aerobic  energy systems of the body.  Basically this means the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, though there are more parts involved than only those. These days we mean the same thing by ‘cardio.’ You get on the stepper or bike, run or pedal away, and if you get the right intensity and time you get fitter and burn fat, and your resting heart rate starts to drop. Good and necessary stuff this cardio, but there is a reason that most gyms have TV screens in front of the cardio section!

However, cardio by itself is not complete.  Usually among keep-fit people there are three main types – the strength lovers, the endurance-cardio people, and the flexibility folks who gravitate to yoga and often Pilates.  Each of these factors is indeed important, and it’s a fine, fit individual who is simultaneously strong, flexible and who has real staying power.

There is a ‘what if’ however, and that what-it is what happens if a person has painful joints? For example, if a knee or hip is worn away, too much strength stress will hurt the joint, impact from running type motions often jars the joint, and even stretching can be limited and very painful.

That’s one important way in which water exercise comes in. You will note we didn’t use the term ‘water aerobics’ this time and here’s why.  If a water work-out program is designed well, it won’t just be working the heart and lungs, but it will also be crafted to strengthen muscles and mobilize joints.

There are levels intensity to water exercise, ranging from tame to insane….to each his or her own! On the one hand, I have had a large number of older patients who just can’t perform standard gym exercises or cardio due to structural limitation, wear and tear, or just plain old pain. They almost always perform water workouts successfully and profit very much from doing so.

At the other end of the spectrum I have known very ‘serious’ work-out people who have approached water exercise with an extreme intensity to assist their primary athletic pursuits, which have included martial arts and track and field. These people tell me they are amazed at the amount of whole-body effort then expend in a water work-out.

The way you do water exercise varies, but what often takes place is that you put on some ‘flippers, fins and water wings’ – accessories that attach to various parts of your body – and which increase the resistance of the water to any and all motions that you make. This is a unique aspect of water exercise, that no matter how and where you move you are under constant resistance, so the whole body gets a new kind of workout. If you move fast, you get a lot of resistance, if you push less hard, less resistance. And, water being water, your body can move in and direction possible as it is not confined to the angles of the machine.

Easy on the joint, hard on the muscles and lungs – try water exercise for a joint-healthy change of pace.

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