Lower extremity injuries make up 66% of all sports injuries. One of the most common knee injuries is rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL. Recent data indicates that the rate of ACL injuries is rising rapidly.
I want to share with you what my staff and I have learned to improve your experience at OrthoWell and to remind you how awesome you CAN feel. Read on and let’s get you back on track.
Are you looking for a way to help those in need this holiday season?
Here’s how we can do it if we work together.
As a way of serving our community, OrthoWell Physical Therapy will be donating $10 for each new patient that comes through our doors through the end of 2015 to either of two awesome organizations in Beverly called Beverly Bootstraps or in Amesbury called Our Neighbors Table.
Let’s do this together!
Over the past several months I have been noticing a trend of increased number of patients complaining of neck pain which has sparked my interest to participate in continuing education focused on neck pain in order to get the best results for my patients. I recently completed a 16 hour course focused on cervical (neck) pathology at the Institute of Manual Therapy where I was able to refine my skills and apply new knowledge to all of my patient with neck pain.
So if you or someone you know is suffering from neck pain because life can certainly be a “pain in the neck”, then come on in. You are always guaranteed the most up-to-date, comprehensive and holistic physical therapy at OrthoWell.
“OrthoWell PT has given me my life back, no doubt! After 3 months of knee pain with every step I took, I feared for my job as a nurse and my normally active lifestyle was severely curtailed. Surgery was an option, but without guarantee for improvement.
After just one session of PT and 1 laser treatment i was able to walk without limping. After 1 month of therapy and new orthotics, I am closing in on 100% return of function and I am thrilled with the progress.
The holistic approach used by Chris and his team is unique compared to other PT experiences I have had. I highly recommend OrthoWell PT as the best option out there!”
I have struggled over the years as to the importance of including toe flexor strengthening as part of a program for plantar fasciitis. Many researches agree that the potential causes of plantar fasciitis are just too numerous and multi-factorial. The evidence in the literature has not been conclusive and I have let many of my patient’s comments that “this is silly” when picking up marbles dictate my decision-making. I have slowly but surely, and I believe wrongly, eliminated this important exercise from my treatment approach. I have recently read several articles that have rekindled my enthusiasm for toe flexor strengthening. So why the change in heart??
I am always looking for ways to get our patients better…faster. I have written a book on plantar fasciitis called the Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Manual and it identifies ankle muscle weakness as a result of plantar fasciitis but not include the presence of toe flexor weakness. That is my oversight and I will correct that in the book. Yes, the literature does identify weakness of the ankle muscles and the toes flexor muscles with the plantar fasciits population, yet the research does NOT confirm any causative factor of this weakness on the development of plantar fasciitis.(1,3,4) It is the chicken or the egg conundrum. Unfortunately, there are theoretical assertions that the “flexor digitorum brevis muscle (the muscle directly underneath the plantar fascia) plays an important role in distributing pressure away from the plantar fascia” that are simply not supported by research. (2) Does this mean that we should not perform strengthening exercises? Let me provide some more evidence.
As we get older, we get weaker. We all lose muscle mass, we lose muscle fibers and, as a consequence, we see decreases in strength between the ages of 30 and 80 within a range of 20-40%.(5) Several articles have also shown that “older people” exhibit 24-40% less strength in the muscles of the foot and ankle(5,6,7,8). As a consequence of foot and ankle weakness, older adults are more susceptible to loss of balance, the development of foot and toe deformities and can be susceptible to overuse syndromes such as plantar fasciitis. (5,6,7,8) The biggest question that has not been answered when it comes to strengthening exercises for older adults is WHICH exercises are the most effective?
As a result, we have to rely on some common sense. If the muscles in our ankles and feet get weaker as we get older (proven!), then we should strengthen them to avoid plantar fasciitis. Right? Not necessarily. There is not a direct correlation between weakness and the development of plantar fasciitis but, then again, many people don’t believe that there is a direct correlation between human activity and climate change. My point is why should we wait to change our approach until it is conclusive – whether it be climate change or your plantar fasciitis?
CANCER- I FOUND A CURE!!
My subject line is no joke. I really did find a cure for cancer!!
The realization will come as quite a shock to many of you.
I spend a lot of time reading and talking about health and fitness. I thoroughly research each and every blog post before I share it with you. Patient education is a top priority at OrthoWell and it is an integral part of our mission statement. We really DO care about you and your health. For this reason, I feel obligated to share the following information.
I was introduced to a book by one of my patients that may change or even SAVE your life! The title of the book is Outsmart Your Cancer by Tanya Harter Pierce. I have had the unfortunate experience of getting a phone call by my father that he has bladder cancer. The realization, of course, was more unfortunate for him. This came up in the conversation with my patient as we broached the cancer subject. She shared her experiences regarding her own cancer history and then she began to open my eyes, my mind, and my anger to the realization that our medical establishment is intentionally misinforming the public about cancer. Some of you may be saying “yeah, right, why wouldn’t my doctor tell me if there was a cure for cancer?” or, like my father said, “yes, I have heard these things before” but then he dispels the “myth” and decides to go through with his radiation and chemo. Don’t get caught up in the “disbelief factor”. I am telling you, from the bottom of my heart, not to be naïve and not to stay ignorant to this realization. You NEED to read this book as my words alone will not do it justice.
Outsmart Your Cancer is not a promotional vehicle for a new cancer pill or a new cancer prevention diet. As a matter of fact, the author does not promote any one single approach to curing cancer. Her objective is to share with us all that has been hidden from us. Yes, there are MANY alternative treatment options to both prevent and to cure yourself of cancer. Her introduction to cancer was the same as mine. The realization that a loved one may die from cancer! I would like to share some excerpts form the book regarding the misinformation campaign that has been waged on the public.
In the author’s words:
“I have also discovered that for many of these cancer approaches, the way they work has been proven by rigorous scientific research performed by highly respected physicians, brilliant biochemists, and Nobel prize-winning scientists. Effective alternative approaches to cancer ARE obtainable today, and they are not bogus methods developed by quacks and kooks as the public has been led to believe.’
“During my research, I spoke to over 100 people who had recovered from their cancers using the alternative treatments presented in this book.”
“The suppression (of information) has been carried out in many different ways by many different organizations and is simply the result of business economics and common unethical tactics that tend to occur when large money interests are involved in any field.’
‘Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation involve billions of dollars of profits for the industries that supply them… the cost of developing and bringing a new cancer drug to market is close to $1 billion… A treatment made up of natural ingredients is not patentable… A natural form of treating cancer will never be pursued by a drug company… alternative treatments will always be considered an economic threat to the multibillion-dollar cancer establishment.”
If you want to watch a YouTube video to convince yourself of the misinformation campaign that has been waged by the FDA and American Medical Association, then watch this video on Dr Burzynski’s treatment for cancer. CLICK HERE.
So when should you start an alternative treatment approach if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer?
As soon as possible! Unfortunately, most people start with conventional treatment before they try alternative approaches. It is the fear and shock factor associated with “I have Cancer” that makes people decide prematurely regarding the BEST treatment option. They usually start with the big three…chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Don’t become a statistic. Get educated!
So how do you make an educated decision on what treatment path to follow after you’ve been diagnosed with cancer?
Outsmart Your Cancer spells it out in simple terms and in black-and-white. There ARE options…successful options that have cured thousands of patients with cancer. All you need to do is read and/or listen (a DVD of patient testimonials comes with the book).
So when do you start a cancer prevention program?
NOW!! Outsmart Your Cancer will empower you to start a prevention program today. Scrutinize what you put into your body. Yes, you ARE what you eat. Don’t forget to read my post on Vitamins-To Take or Not To Take for more information.
Because I WANT to be your advocate for health and wellness and because I WANT you to stay cancer-free, I am stocking Outsmart Your Cancer in my clinic. I feel that strongly about the information in this book! I have purchased them in bulk so the wholesale cost is only $20 per book. Don’t delay! Get the facts!
Other things that could change your life that are discussed in the book include:
ACIDIC vs ALKALINE
Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that cancer cells cannot survive if the environment is alkaline enough? Did you know that the QUALITY of what you consume determines whether your body becomes acidic or alkaline? Many people, either with cancer or attempting to prevent cancer, strive to maintain their body pH at an optimal alkaline range between 7.0 and 7.5. Your body pH can be evaluated by a simple saliva test using pH strips in the privacy of your own home. So how do you do this? I’ll give you the answer even though you need to read more about it…CALCIUM. One of the most important roles of calcium is to help our bodies maintain proper pH levels. In addition, the absorption of calcium into the body is completely dependent on the levels of vitamin D in the intestinal tract.
WOMEN -THE PILL – HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Do you really understand the effect of synthetic hormone replacement therapy? Outsmart Your Cancer discusses what every woman NEEDS to know about the effects of The Pill and hormone replacement therapy. You need to really be aware of the things that your doctor is NOT telling you. Long-term clinical studies have proven the cancer-causing effects of synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Get the facts!
MEN-TESTOSTERONE & PROSTATE CANCER
As for the men, did you realize how controversial conventional treatments are for prostate cancer? There are studies in the medical literature which contradict the current use of testosterone inhibiting drugs to lower your PSA level. It has been shown that testosterone actively INHIBITS cancer growth and that elevated PSA is actually a man’s defensive strategy for fighting prostate cancer. So then, why does the medical establishment advocate the exact opposite approach?
DENTAL FILLINGS & MERCURY
Did you know that the main component of silver fillings is mercury and that mercury is one of the most deadly substances on earth if ingested? Did you know that your dentist is not required to tell you that your filling contains mercury? Did you know that several European countries have band silver-mercury amalgam feelings for decades but they continue to be used in the United States? The toxic nature of amalgam feelings has been down-played by the American Dental Association for a century in spite of warnings to dentists to “never touch the amalgam with your fingers” and “it must be disposed of under strict toxic waste protocols.” Dentists who have been outspoken against amalgam fillings have lost their licenses to practice. Outsmart Your Cancer references a book written by one such dentist who describes the alleviation of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson symptoms as well as cancer via the removal of amalgam feelings. Once again, get the facts.
There is SO MUCH more in Outsmart Your Cancer. The rest is up to you!!
DEEP TISSUE LASER THERAPY IS HERE!!!
For those of you who haven’t been in to see us recently, we have been using a demo class IV laser device from Litecure since the beginning of June and have been getting some amazing results. We were so impressed with the results that we “bit the bullet” and purchased our own laser. A very worthwhile investment for OrthoWell and for the health of all of our patients.
I have added a page on our website that provides a comprehensive explanation and videos of the benefits and effects that a class IV deep tissue therapy device provides. In a nutshell, the laser uses photon energy to stimulate chemical reactions at the cellular level. Research has demonstrated an increase in metabolism, a decrease in inflammation, a decrease in pain, and an acceleration of healing at the treatment site. In other words, the application of laser in combination with our manual therapy and exercise techniques is getting our patient better even FASTER! It has also been extremely beneficial to conditions that have NOT been responsive to our traditional physical therapy interventions.
If you are interested in trying laser or if you feel that your symptoms have plateaued, then laser may be the answer that you are looking for.
We want you to experience the benefits of deep tissue laser therapy so we are announcing a special offer. Call us now to schedule a FREE laser treatment. We will introduce you to laser therapy and provide a laser treatment FREE of charge. Let us know what works for you!
Do you take a multi-vitamin? Do you take vitamin C? If you said yes, you wouldn’t be alone. Supplement sales in 2012 hit $11.5 billion and are projected to be over $15 billion by 2017. People are looking for alternatives to traditional medicine and pharmaceuticals. If you have been in my physical therapy clinic, I am sure that many of you have heard me say “I am trying to place your body in the best position to heal”. The same can be said for my thoughts on vitamin and mineral supplements. Our bodies are incredible healing machines if you simply provide it the proper environment and the proper sustenance in which to heal. This blog post has been a labor of love as it has taken over 6 months to complete. I have attempted to provide THE EVIDENCE for why and what we should take for supplements. I hope this helps! Let me know what you think.
The first thing you need to realize is that there are a lot of unsubstantiated health claims made about vitamin and mineral supplements. You have to be a careful observer when reading about the “health effects” of supplements. Most of these substances are unregulated by the FDA. There has been an advocacy movement on the part of the USFDA to protect the consumer from unsubstantiated health claims. You can read more HERE. You need to be the educated consumer before making a purchase. Websites such as www.multivitaminguide.org provides a scientific comparison of over 100 brands of multi-vitamins. Check it out and see how YOUR choice compares.
I am of the opinion that you have to base your decision regarding supplements on the best available scientific information. This may mean that you put more trust in the biological “process” than in the actual “claim”. For example, we know that free radical damage is a “process” that can be mitigated by antioxidants. However, we cannot claim that antioxidants will “prevent cancer”. Read HERE to see four scientific examples or do a Medline search for the “effects of antioxidants” and take your pick.
I think that all of you would agree that stress is a threat to a person’s well-being. Your body responds to stress by utilizing an elaborate system of enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to defend itself. Read HERE for details. An antioxidant is a compound that neutralizes the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that attack the nearest stable molecule and strip it of an electron. This can cause a chain reaction called oxidative stress which can cause damage to a living cell. Free radicals are a natural byproduct of cellular metabolism but their numbers may exceed the number of antioxidants when experiencing high levels of emotional OR physical stress. If this cycle goes unabated, it may lead to inflammation, infection, heart disease, or cancer to name a few. Obviously, this is a process that we want to mitigate. As a result of the depletion of antioxidants when under stress, it is recommended that you supplement or ingest fruit & vegetables not just once, but several times during the day. Yes, there are many different types of antioxidants. Vitamin E & C are probably the most popular. What do you choose as part of a dietary supplement regimen? It depends on who or what you read and how much money you want to spend. Is one any better than the other? Same answer! One way to look at it is “the more you stress, the more you need”.
The recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables to maximize your levels of dietary antioxidants is 5-10 servings. Rich Vitamin E sources are things such as whole grain, nuts (especially almonds!), and seeds. Read more HERE. Unfortunately, most people don’t come close to these daily allowances. One way to help neutralize the effects of free radicals is to supplement your diet with antioxidants. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is very efficient at breaking the oxidative stress chain. Vitamin C is a very abundant water-soluble antioxidant. It actually plays a role in returning Vitamin E to its active form. All citrus fruits contain high levels of Vitamin C. Polyphenols are another option. They are the chemicals that give fruit and vegetables their color. They are powerful antioxidants as well. Here is one example of polyphenols and one that I take on a daily basis. Check it out HERE.
So what’s up with the fatty acids? I’m sure that you have heard of omega-3’s and omega- 6’s. Right? This is the reason some people take “fish oil”. Some of you may even remember choking down cod liver oil as a child. With the advent of preservatives and the addition of poor quality vegetable oils in our foods, our ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 has gone awry. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the typical Western diet can be up to 16:1. Not good! Human beings evolved with the ratio being around 1:1. Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio can promote diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, whereas increased levels of omega-3 (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) can have a preventative effect. Omega-3 can also help regulate pain and inflammation as well as maintain proper blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Read HERE for more.
So how do you decide which omega product to purchase? You want to purchase a product that has the highest purity and potency. Purity means that it is free of toxic chemicals such as mercury and PCB’s. Potency is based on the actual amount of EPA and DHA in the oil. EPA and DHA are the essential fatty acids in omega-3. Essential fatty acids cannot be produced by the body and are “essential” to ingest. Food sources high in omega-3 are salmon, almonds, flax, walnuts just to name a few. Check on-line for a chart. You want to ensure that the product that you intend on purchasing has undergone third party testing. The International Fish Oil Standards Program at http://www.ifosprogram.com/ is one such organization. Here is an example of the IFOS page for the omega 3 product that I use. Click HERE. So how much omega-3 do you need? I have concluded based upon my research that the daily recommended allowance for omega-3’s is anywhere between 2500-10,000 mg.
Have you ever had your Vitamin D level checked? If not, you may want to. A study published in the Archive of Internal Medicine in 2009 showed that Vitamin D levels have “plummeted” among ALL U.S. ages, races, and ethnic groups over the past two decades. This is especially true in seasonal parts of the country like New England where sun exposure is variable. Because there are such small amounts of Vitamin D in food, the only 2 ways to get adequate amounts is thru direct sun exposure or via supplements. The best form to take is Vitamin D3 and it is this form that is produced during sun exposure. Over the past 10 years, several researchers have found an association between extremely low vitamin D levels and chronic, general pain that doesn’t respond to treatment. Read HERE. Go the preceding link to read several examples of people who had miraculous results in pain reduction with Vitamin D supplementation. So how much should you take? The Vitamin D council recommends anywhere between 5000-10,000 IU per day. Check out their recommendations HERE. Here is a LINK comparing options for purchasing vitamin D. I take the generic Vit D3 from CVS.
So how about the MANY other vitamins and minerals? The Vitamin D Council gives recommendations for vitamins that work synergistically with Vitamin D. They include Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Zinc, Boron and Magnesium. You can read more about them and the recommended daily allowances HERE. As mentioned earlier, websites such as www.multivitaminguide.org provides a scientific comparison of over 100 brands of multi-vitamins which should contain all the recommended daily allowances of trace minerals and vitamins. My choice is first on the list from XtendLife: Total Balance. If you need to supplement your B vitamins, another option in liquid form is called Folidreen. Taking your supplements in liquid form and adding them to juice is a great option for those who have difficulty taking pills.
I have also been questioned about and have had personal experience with urine turning a bright yellow when taking a multivitamin. Is this bad? One of the main reasons for this is the excretion of riboflavin. The Latin origin of riboflavin is from the word flavus which means “yellow” or “blonde”. Your yellow urine reveals one key thing. Your body has taken what it can from the vitamins and the rest is excreted. Read more HERE.
So why do we need trace minerals? Minerals are essentially the elements on the periodic table in chemistry class. They are things like chromium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron etc. They work synergistically with all of the other vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need to maintain optimal health. Ideally, trace minerals should come from eating a raw food diet. Unfortunately, researchers have shown that raw food isn’t even enough because our soils have been so depleted of these vital minerals. It is believed that 90% of people are deficient in trace minerals. READ HERE. If it’s not in the soil and it’s not in our food, then what do you do? You need to get your trace minerals via a supplement. You need to scrutinize your multi-vitamin and even look into liquid options such as Concentrace: Trace Mineral Drops.
Another example of the importance of minerals is the balance of calcium and magnesium in our systems. As stated at Natural Vitality:
“Magnesium and calcium are fundamental nutrients that need to be in balance with each other in order for you to fully experience good health. Their importance on a cellular level is critical. Calcium and magnesium are like opposite sides of a coin. Calcium excites nerves, while magnesium calms them down. Calcium makes muscles contract. Magnesium is necessary for muscles to relax. Calcium is needed for blood clotting, but magnesium keeps the blood flowing freely.”
Deficiency of magnesium or calcium can be caused by a number of stresses on the body including emotional stress, taking drugs such as diuretics, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, insulin, or cortisone, heavy exercise, diabetes, and gastrointestinal disorders. Some people may need to seriously consider supplementation when these conditions exist. Calcium is extremely important as an alkalizing agent for your body. Stress and poor nutrition makes your body acidic. Acidic environments promote cancer growth! The recommended daily intake of calcium according to the National Institute of Health is 1000mg for adults aged 19-50 and 1200 for 51 plus. The recommended daily intake for magnesium according to the NIH is 320g for age 30 and older. Don’t forget that calcium CANNOT be ingested without Vitamin D. So you may want to order the combination of the two in a product. An excellent source of calcium is coral calcium. You can read HERE for a comparison of the best coral calcium products on the market. I order mine in tablet and powder form (for my smoothies) from True Blue.
So how about your joints? What are the best supplements? You want to focus on products that deliver RESULTS! The best known supplements for joint health are glucosamine and chondroitin. But have they been shown to be effective? The Cochrane Database www.cochrane.org of Systemic Review is the largest collection of randomized controlled studies in the world. The Cochrane Review of glucosamine for arthritis looked at 4963 patients and concluded that glucosamine “failed to show benefit in pain and function”.
Products which contain esterified fatty acids are turning out to be the new gold standard in the treatment of joint pain. One example is EFAC or esterified fatty acids complex. It is comprised of a proprietary blend of esterified fatty acids that inhibit the inflammatory cascade by bonding to white blood cells and inhibiting a mediator of inflammation called prostaglandin. Double-blind studies using EFAC for osteoarthritis and periodontal (gum) disease have been published in leading medical journals including the Journal of Rheumatology and the Journal of Periodontology. It has been shown that EFAC can reduce joint and muscular discomfort within 30 minutes of topical application and within 14 days of oral consumption. You can read more HERE.
It is available in both capsules and creams in order to maximize your results. Both are available and for sale in our clinic. You can find more information at www.hopescience.com.
In conclusion, yes, I am a believer in taking supplements. I hope that this blog post has made you a believer as well. Please let me know your thoughts or your experiences with supplements. We can all learn from one another!
In my last post, I highlighted elbow injuries in the throwing athlete. Lets review!
“For many pitchers, the first sign of impending trouble with the UCL(ulnar collateral ligament on inside of the elbow) is pain or stiffness in the flexors of the forearm. The flexors and pronators of the forearm are the active restraints and the UCL is the primary passive restraint to the extreme valgus forces that occur at the elbow during terminal cocking phase and early acceleration. Did you know that when the UCL is tested in isolation during cadaver studies that it only takes 32 newton/meters of force to rupture it? Guess how much valgus stress is on the inside part of the elbow during terminal cocking phase….64 newton/meters!! It has been shown that the UCL takes on 35 newton/meters of that force. Yikes!! So why doesn’t it rupture? It doesn’t rupture because the rest of that stress is controlled by the active restraints…your muscles in the forearm. You can probably guess what happens when you ignore your forearm muscles?”
It is my job as physical therapist to not only emphasize prevention of an injury but to provide the most effective treatment of an injury. This video demonstrates the use of Active Release Technique, Graston Technique, and a compression flossing technique to treat elbow pain. Check it out!!
I am excited to announce a new program being offered at OrthoWell Physical Therapy. It’s called our Friends and Family Appreciation Program. We’ve been really fortunate to have received much praise and appreciation for the quality of our physical therapy services. You can see for yourself at our website on the Patient Testimonials and the Patient Satisfaction Survey pages. We are truly grateful for all the kind words that our patients have shared with us and have shared with their families. Truly, the best way that our patients can say thank you is to refer a friend or family member to OrthoWell for physical therapy or to WalkWell for custom foot orthotics. A very important part of our mission statement is to “establish lifelong partnerships with our patients and with the community in optimizing health and wellness.”
It is only fair that we show OUR appreciation for your referrals by offering YOU a referral discount that can be applied to a maintenance physical therapy session or to your next pair of custom foot orthotics. We are offering a 20 dollar appreciation discount on each and every friend or family member that you refer to us who either starts physical therapy services or purchases a pair of custom foot orthotics. All you have to do is make sure your friend or family member mentions YOUR name and we will keep the running tally of all of your referrals. It’s that easy!
So why should you refer to us? Hopefully, you refer because you want your friend or family member to receive the same quality of service that you did. I would like to share with you two recent patient stories as further reason WHY you should refer to us.
This patient received physical therapy at two different clinics within the past 6 months for a diagnosis of low back pain. She came to OrthoWell because her symptoms were unresolved. Upon evaluation, it was determined that she presented with a 1 cm undiagnosed leg length discrepancy which was contributing to her lumbar scoliosis. She was issued a heel lift. She also was not thoroughly reeducated in lifestyle and work modifications in order to control the biomechanical stresses that were being placed on her lumbar discs as a result of her gardening. She responded extremely well to a McKenzie extension program in combination with manual traction and spinal stabilization exercises. Her pain was completely resolved after 7 visits! Lesson #1: don’t assume that you tried physical therapy and it didn’t work! It is all about the RIGHT physical therapy!
This patient was a graduating physical therapy student who came to us for treatment. She acknowledged that upon completion of her PT program she did “not feel confident with her training in outpatient orthopedics.” She reported that her orthopedic physical therapy teacher in PT school “hadn’t been in the clinic for years.” Unfortunately, this lack of experience is the result of inadequate training with some of our PT training programs. Lesson #2: don’t assume that your physical therapist is adequately trained. Know it…by coming and referring to OrthoWell!!
The other part of our mission statement is to “maximize your results in minimal time using the BEST in evidence based care, comprehensive evaluations and patient education.” At OrthoWell and WalkWell, you don’t have to worry whether you are receiving a comprehensive evaluation or whether your therapist is properly trained. So, please, refer your friends and family members so they can experience the same quality results that you did.
What do you think of when you visualize someone who is really stressed out? It sure seems like some people are wound tightly these days. I have had my own issues with stress. I’m sure you have too. I find myself talking more and more with my patients about the effects of stress and how beneficial diaphragmatic breathing and proper nutrition can be. We will discuss nutrition in an upcoming post. You also need to be aware of other possible manifestations of stress like increased muscle tone, rapid heart rate, palpitations, increased blood pressure, GI distress, mood swings, loss of appetite, and sleep disturbances to name just a few. These symptoms make living a happy, relaxed and “normal” life much more difficult.
So what about the relationship between stress and breathing? Breathing occurs at a very primal level. If you don’t breathe, you don’t live! Your body will do whatever it takes to draw air into the lungs. Instead of using the diaphragm, it may recruit other accessory muscles in your neck or low back. This pattern reinforces poor posture and causes impaired flexibility which can promote shallow, ineffective breathing. It prevents the ability to exhale fully and to perform a proper, full diaphragmatic breath. Lets review what that means.
First of all, when performing a diaphragmatic breath, your belly should expand outward. This is due to the downward movement of your diaphragm as you inhale. Secondly, your lower ribcage should expand. Thirdly, your upper ribcage will expand during a maximal inhalation. Your ribcage should expand as a unit. It should NOT elevate. Movement of your ribcage upward, shoulder shrugging, or contraction of your neck muscles are all signs of faulty breathing patterns. Remember that slouched sitting and forward head posture encourages shallow breathing and prevents full, complete expansion of your ribcage. We discussed breathing pattern disorders in relation to CORE activation during my last post and video demonstration. Here it is in case you missed it:
So what does the research say about the link between pain and breathing disorders? A very interesting phenomenon is the prevalence of pain syndromes that are NOT caused by a specific organic illness. Katon & Walker (1998) noted that patients with the most common physical symptoms (i.e. abdominal pain, chest pain, headache, back pain), are responsible for half of all primary care visits in the USA, and yet only 10%–15% of these are found to be caused by organic illness! All these symptoms are well recognized as capable of being the result of breathing pattern disorders.
Perri and Holford (2004) evaluated 111 patients attending a chiropractic pain clinic and found 56.4% demonstrated faulty breathing on relaxed inhalation, increasing to 75% when taking a deep breath. 87% reported a history of various musculoskeletal pain problems. Based on this population, they observe that: “Chances are 3 in 4 that new patients seen today will have faulty breathing patterns.”
So what does the research say about the effects of breathing exercises on stress? Remember, stress reactions are controlled by our autonomic nervous system i.e. sympathetic and parasympathetic. Fight or flight? In Pal and colleagues, breathing exercises were shown to enhance the parasympathetic (inhibitory or calming) effects and decrease the sympathetic (excitatory) effects of muscles and nerves. They improve respiratory and cardiovascular function and improve both physical and mental health. Convinced yet?
So how do you begin breathing exercises?The first step is understanding that the relaxation response has to be relearned. You need to learn how to identify and turn off the stress response. As stated by Kabat-Zinn, “you need to learn how to replace negative thoughts and physical tension with regular practice of ‘calm stillness of mind and body’ “. Buddha is in the house! The next step is to schedule regular daily practice. You need to invest 10-15 minutes at least one time every day. According to Leon Chaitow, we need to “restore an energy-efficient, low chest, nose-breathing pattern with a relaxed pause at the end of exhalation”. He calls it “low slow nose breathing”. Initially, lay comfortably supported by pillows in a quiet room. Progress to sitting once a positive outcome is achieved in lying. You need to reinforce proper posture at home, work, and car and realize that breathing and relaxation techniques only help eliminate the symptoms, not the causes of stress. Be honest about making realistic lifestyle changes. The video below demonstrates a method that uses both breathing and physical relaxation techniques.
Remember that breathing drives everything that happens, both good and bad, throughout our entire bodies. So breathe right to live right!!