Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

May 20, 2019

The Context of “Exercise” – The Recovery Phase

First there was when to stop.

Then Relief Care context.

Then Rehab, the transition.

Then “core” stabilization or strengthening.

I kind of backed into this series of Posts inadvertently. Initially, I wanted to address some of the issues that could come up in the consideration of why or why not to do an exercise – when to stop doing it.

But, years ago, I did want to do a series on this cycle (injury-relief-rehab-recovery-reinjury). I began with the story about my own back injury and how I progressed to full recovery. (It took 15 years and had almost nothing to do with any of the health care professionals I came in contact with – the rehab and recovery phases didn’t that is.)

So why is it necessary to talk about recovery at all: you are ‘recovered’ after all. Well, in a word: relapse. In the tissues of a significant injury, aging is going to take place faster than in the surrounding, uninjured tissues. That injured spot is a weak link. Now might be the time to take a more global look. To find out if there are other weaknesses that need to be balanced out. Finally, the phrase, “I just want to ‘get in shape'” makes sense. This part is about your longer term future. The point I would make here is the same one I have made all along: what you do should be guided by why you are doing it. Elsewhere (all over) this Blog I have written about setting goals, assessing where you are now, “progressing” in steps to where you want to be. That is all covered. Use the search box on this Blog, using whatever key words seem appropriate, to find a list of Posts. (Start with “progressions” to get started.) Here, too, there are all kinds of ‘normals’ that can guide you into exercises that will give you meaningful benefits safely. And normal is a worthy goal: most people are far from it. It will keep you healthy. How you get there is a journey. And you know about journeys… they all start with a single step:-)

If you need help, let me know.

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May 18, 2019

The Context of “Exercise” – Rehab Phase “Core Strengthening”

First there was when to stop.

Then Relief Care context.

Then Rehab, the transition.

Now, finally, strengthening the ‘core’ muscles. To begin, there are the following four assumptions: (1) you are pretty much out of pain, (2) you are in adjustment, pretty much, (3) there is little to no pain with palpation during visits to the office, and (4) you do know how to move properly and can demonstrate that.

You can argue whether stretching hamstrings belongs in the Rehab or the Relief phase, but when it comes to core strengthening exercises, failing to factor in the above assumptions can come at a cost.

All of these ‘phases’ overlap in real life. That is where it becomes and ‘Art’.

If you are following the research, then strengthening the core begins with “The Big 3”. These are tried and true exercises that work. They have been studied enough to know that as a way of strengthening, they will work. The Big 3 amounts to abdominal strengthening (ala Stuart McGill if you are absolutely on the straight and narrow). (Personally, this is where I make sure that the Reverse Back Crunch is in place, effective and not painful, then I move patients into the McGill stomach exercise. Second, is the Bird Dog – on the hand and knees, then one arm and the other leg extended. (Like everything else here, we could spend all day talking about the Bird Dog – technique is everything!) Third is the Side Plank: a tough exercise, one which I always give last and bite into carefully. Here too, bracing (but this time the shoulder as well as the trunk) is critical to correctly doing the exercise. Don’t use anything that I have put in a Blog Post as instructions on how to do an exercise: get professional instruction from someone who knows what they are doing.

Strengthening can then proceed, typically, to the repetitive squat, lunge, one-legged standing, and eventually, the gym ball exercises that involve back muscle endurance.

One nice thing about many of these exercises is that they double as balance tests, or tests of what a normal. So if you fail the test, you know that you need to do the exercise – and you have not fully rehabilitated your back.

A reasonable time doing all of these exercises (at least to test), without pain, is the evidence that you have rehabilitated a back pain episode to the point where you can think about “going to the gym to get in shape”.

May 16, 2019

The Context of “Exercise” – Rehab Phase of Chiropractic Care

First I talked about when to stop an exercise…

Then the context of exercises given during the Relief Phase of care…

And then there is Rehab. I have been Blogging for 14 years – there are more than 2,000 Posts here. Given that it would probably be safe to say that half have to do with Tai chi, all toll I would guess 75% of all Posts on this Blog could, in some way, shape, or form, being incorporated into a discussion of rehab. The scope of this Post is typical patients, typical exercises, and the typical thought process.

Transitioning from Relief to Rehab is a step into the grey zone. As a chiropractor, I keep track of where, how many, and how often various levels of the spine (or extremities) need to be adjusted. Whether the patient is still in pain or not. And whether there is pain when I touch the injured area with a little bit of pressure. A chiropractor’s first priority is the subluxation. When a person returns for several visits and the same parts of the spine continue to need to be adjusted, that is the time to consider giving the patient a way to keep the joints moving, themselves, in between visits. These exercises are designed to articulate the joints, primarily. They also restore reflex patterns to normal, and retrain muscles and movement patterns. In addition, there may be stretching, and finally – only after all of the rest has been done, strengthening.

Exercises to Articulate Joints

That is a little oversimplification, but it will do. And it is not a category of exercises usually discussed. But, to the chiropractor, it is a very important consideration: it will help patients hold adjustments – and that is how they get the results that they do. Some of the exercises that we recommend you can find on the internet: Brugger’s comes to mind (although when I looked for a video that I could put on my Blog, I was not happy with any of the videos that I saw). It is usually better to discuss, demonstrate, and have the patient perform it in the office. They will do it correctly that way; and I will know that they know how to to it correctly before they are off on their own. Brugger’s Maneuver is the exercise that counteracts many of the ill effects of a sitting desk job, crouched over a computer. It stretches everything on the front side of the body, while it strengthens everything on the back side: and it moves joints at the same time.

We have a neck exercise with the same primary objective: to move the joints and keep them moving while retraining normal reflex and muscle patterns. We call it the Figure Eight exercise. I learned it from a patient, who learned it from a book by an eye doctor, who credited his Tai chi teacher with teaching it to him. (Imagine that!)

Finally, for the pelvis (sacroiliac joints) there is an exercise that I got from a Yoga Therapist (I did not even know that there was such a thing until I met.) She didn’t have a name for it, so I made one up: you won’t find it on the internet.

The point here is, if you were subluxated, and that caused you to have symptoms, and getting adjusted relieved your symptoms, and there was an exercise that you could do to hold your adjustments longer, when do you think is a good time to stop doing that exercise?

Rehab (especially in the context of back pain) usually, or often at least, also involves the need to stretch the hamstring muscles. As a chiropractor concerned with joints articulating properly, I recommend stretches that also involve making sure that the hip socket moves properly. Here we discuss passive stretching and active stretching (again, it is already part of the Brugger’s conversation).

This Post is already over 600 words so I will take up Spinal Stabilization strengthening in a separate Post.

May 15, 2019

The Context of “Exercise” – Relief Phase of Chiropractic Care

The other day I wrote about when, and why to stop doing an exercise.

There I mentioned the Relief-Rehab-Recovery-Reinjury cycle. What I really wanted to talk about was the context of any given exercise, within each of the phases of care in the cycle. (It should go without saying that as a chiropractor, I offer a chiropractic perspective. A good reason for me to write it and a good reason, maybe, for you to read it: you might not get it anywhere else.)

That said, it also needs to be said that the chiropractic overall goal of care is to promote health (toward normal – a measurable normal). It bears reminding that we are the ones who have been talking about addressing the cause and not just the symptoms – for 124 years! Yes, patients are focused on the feeling. And, yes, we need to honor and respect that. And we need to deal with the pain (usually it is pain). But in keeping with our primary focus (health promotion), we also attempt to educate and increase awareness of function. Enough about all of that for now.

Speaking of symptoms, the Relief Phase of care is all about relieving them. That is where ice is recommended. We chiropractors find the joints that don’t move (subluxations) and we move them (adjustments). But that is not all we do. To the extent that pain allows, we begin the process of restoring function beyond just moving joints that were not previously moving (or not properly moving).

Keeping in mind that everything we recommend is a test: and the feedback from the patient after trying it is measure: Did they do it (a measure of compliance)? Did it increase, decrease, or have no effect on the symptoms, and what does that mean in terms of continuing, discontinuing, or modifying it.

In the Relief Phase, exercises such as bracing are described and discussed. Coughing engages those muscles and a patient can try that to find out how it feels. They also become aware of which muscles are involved, and begin to get acquainted with those muscles. This stiffening of the spine is an important feature of many important motions a patient is expected to do, usually, in there work. Bracing is also enhanced, and much else is learned, by an exercise called the Reverse Back Crunch (see Pain Free, by Peter Egosque, 1997 – a good book, a great exercise). While they are still in pain, this may be relieving. They can do it while they are on ice. It trains the abdominal muscles. All the while it is also increasing awareness and the patient is gaining control.

This has turned into 400 plus words already so I will do Rehab Phase and Recovery Phase exercises in additional Posts, but here, in the Relief Phase, proper moving technique (biomechanics) are also discussed. How to bend and lift, get up off the ground, and sometimes how to push and/or pull, are important movements patients often have to do all day every day at work. If they are doing them poorly, then relief and recovery are much harder to accomplish. If they begin to do them well, it is another opportunity for epiphanies as a patient becomes aware and gains control. They feel stronger and more stable, and they are less likely to get hurt again.

That is a start on the exercises in the Relief Phase of care. Does knowing the context help? It does help patients.

May 9, 2019

How To Stay Motivated

One way to stay motivated is to expose yourself to good news about what you are trying to stick to or accomplish. This link regarding new research into the whys and hows of the Mediterranean Diet is not news – but it is encouraging. I do not know why they refer to Mediterranean ‘Diets’ but whatever.

Notice that they did not even mention fasting. By narrowing the conversation to just “diet” (what you eat), they miss two points now regarded as critical to the understanding of how and why the Mediterranean Lifestyle produces the healthiest, happiest, and oldest folks on planet Earth. The first is that fasting (which we now have to put in parentheses, but…) may be one of the most important aspects; the other is that it is a lifestyle. What you actually eat is important, in all kinds of ways. But it doesn’t get you there. Look at the bigger picture.

Take a look at the study and be motivated, inspired and energized for being right in the middle of the path to health.

February 20, 2019

Exercise May Improve Health by Increasing Gut Bacterial Diversity

https://neurosciencenews.com/exercise-microbiome-diversity-10762/

February 13, 2019

More is Better When Coordinating with Others

Think Tai Chi class when reading about this new research.

February 4, 2019

The Sky is Blue (usually), Rain is Wet, and…

Exercise is Your Best Defense Against Deep Abdominal Fat

Well, actually, it won’t be enough, long term, by itself… search “Jason Fung, MD” on this Blog for Posts on a message that we all need to hear.

January 28, 2019

Seth Godin (Again) – Opportunity Costs

He is a genius.

Opportunity costs just went up

Every choice has a price.

If you have $100 to invest and you buy this stock instead of that bond, the interest you gave up in making your choice is your opportunity cost.

At the dinner buffet, you can take as much food as you like, but you can only consume so much food. Which means that eating the jambalaya means you won’t have room to eat a dosa. That’s your opportunity cost.

Opportunity cost is the key to making decisions. Once you know the value of the alternatives you’re giving up, you can be smarter about what you’re choosing to do.

Time is finite. We only get the next hour once, and then it’s gone forever. So choices about how we spend or invest our time come with real opportunity costs.

A car with a bumper sticker that says, “I’d rather be surfing,” tells us a lot about the driver (including the inconsistency of his or her actions). But it’s proof that each of us wrestles with opportunity costs every day.

With that in mind, the cost of watching a cat video on YouTube is real indeed.

And the internet has raised the opportunity cost of time spent.

Our access to the world of learning and online resources means that the alternatives are far more valuable than they used to be.

You’re about to spend 11 minutes perfecting an email to a customer. You could do a 90% ideal job in one minute, and the extra 10 minutes spent will increase the ‘quality’ of the email to 92%.

The alternative? Now, you could spend that ten minutes reading a chapter of an important new book. You could learn a few new functions in Javascript. You could dive deep into the underlying economics of your new project…

Or perhaps you’re about to spend an hour manually cleaning a database or tweaking some image files. You do this every day.

Today, though, you could invest an hour in learning to build a macro that will do this recurring job in just a minute a day from now on. Or you could figure out how to hire a trusted freelancer who will do the job on a regular basis for far less than it’s costing you to do it yourself.

Next week, the choices you made at the buffet won’t matter much. But if you learn a new skill, you own it forever.

Human beings don’t like thinking about opportunity costs. As they approach infinity, it’s easy to get paralyzed. As they get harder to compute, it’s difficult to focus and be mindful of the choices already made. That’s a challenge.

But worse, far worse, is to ignore them and fail to learn and connect and level up.

January 27, 2019

Truth: On Many Levels (Seth Godin)

Relentlessly lowering expectations

We always compare performance on a relative basis. “Well, it’s better than it was yesterday…”

Toddlers, for example, seem like geniuses compared to the babies they used to be.

Some people around us have embraced a strategy of always lowering expectations so that their mediocre effort is seen as acceptable. Over time, we embrace the pretty good memo or the decent leadership moment, because it’s so much better than we feared.

And some? Some relentlessly raise expectations, establishing a standard that it’s hard to imagine exceeding. And then they do.

If you’ve been cornered into following, working with or serving someone in the first group, an intervention can be rewarding. For you and for the person trapped in this downward cycle.

Raising our expectations is a fine way to raise performance as well.

January 26, 2019

Muscle Atrophy and Retraining

If the results shown in this study turn out to be also true for humans, then this will be very important.

It just adds to the very long list of reasons for getting strong – whenever, and however you can, no matter who you are.

And getting stronger has never been easier. Search ‘strong’ and ‘strength’ on this Blog and you will find a wealth of information that will assist you in getting strong safely and easily.

Leave a question if you have one.

May 10, 2018

Getting Better Word Production Skills

As if we need more reasons to exercise…

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