Monday, August 29, 2011

Time For New Beginnings

The time is always right to begin returning to good health. Regardless of whether your issues involve weight, exercise, diet, blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic pain, now is the time to begin taking action on your own behalf.

You are not alone. Literally hundreds of millions of people worldwide have various chronic complaints and illnesses.1,2,3 Some problems are more serious than others, but everyone eventually wants to find a better way to manage their health problems. Eventually everyone wants to actually begin to be healthier and feel better.

Of course, a healthy diet and regular vigorous exercise are the key elements in any process of returning to good health. People know this, but for the most part this knowledge alone does not do any good. The deep truth is that feeling good and actually being healthy takes a lot of effort. It's much easier to pick up dinner from a fast food restaurant than to spend precious time planning and shopping and preparing meals. It's much easier to sit on your couch and watch people on TV trying to lose weight than to actually do the work of losing weight yourself. It's much easier to spend 30 minutes watching the news for the third time that day than to put on your workout clothes and go for a brisk 30-minute walk.

We are all slaves to our habitual ways of thinking and habitual ways of living. Just as in physics, people have inertia. Newton's First Law of Motion states that a body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion stays in motion, unless it is acted upon by an external unbalanced force. We will do the same things we have always done, achieving the same results we have always achieved, unless we make an active choice to engage in new thinking and new activities.

By the way, no one is going to make any lasting changes in their lifestyle - for example, by choosing a healthy diet and daily exercise - merely because someone told them they needed to do it. If you're chronically overweight, your doctor has told you every year that you need to make changes. Every year at your annual physical she tells you to begin regular, vigorous exercise and adopt healthy eating habits. Do any of these admonitions ever make a lasting difference? They don't, not becauses they are bad advice, but because they were not a match for your own world view. Real change, lasting change, has to come from within, from your own personal choice.

When a person is actually ready to choose to revamp her lifestyle with respect to achieving good health, there are many possible steps to take. Chiropractic care can be an important and critical component of an overall health improvement strategy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Above Down - Inside out!

"Above-down, inside-out" is a poetic coinage by Dr. B.J. Palmer, one of the founders of the field of chiropractic. "B.J.", as he has been affectionately known by chiropractors for almost 100 years, was describing the inner workings of the brain and spinal cord, the complex nerve system connected to all parts of the body, and the cells, tissues, and organs comprising the bulk of human physiology.

In his inimitable style, Dr. Palmer was addressing many deep, complex phenomena all at once. From a high-level viewpoint, he was describing how the central nervous system communicates with the rest of the body. One major conclusion is that the brain (as the originator of nerve signals that flow to the spinal cord and from there to the organs, tissues, and cells) is the master controller of all the other systems. The gastrointestinal, endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and musculoskeletal systems are all ultimately controlled and regulated by activities within the brain.

More than this, "B.J." was pointing directly to an organizing intelligence responsible for all the operations of living tissue. This concept, "Innate Intelligence", was propounded by his father, Dr. Daniel David Palmer. "B.J." expanded, publicized, and promoted the idea of Innate Intelligence as he helped the field of chiropractic grow into the second largest healing arts profession in the United States.

In the above-down, inside-out paradigm, Innate Intelligence is an intrinsic guiding and instructional force that maintained ongoing health and healing. Innate Intelligence knows how much oxygen and other nutrients a cell needs to meet its energy requirements. Innate Intelligence knows how to direct B lymphocytes to build a new antibody to fight a previously unencountered bacteria or virus. Innate Intelligence knows how much insulin should be released by beta cells in the pancreatic islets of Langerhans in order to properly use the carbohydrates you ingested during your last heart-healthy meal.

But disorder within the nerve system can interfere with the body's ability to carry out the instructions of Innate Intelligence. Symptoms, pain, disorders, and disease ensue from such nerve interference. Chiropractic care helps restore balance within the nerve system, thus helping restore health and well-being.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Have You Been Suffering From Chronic Knee Pain?

Chronic knee pain is notoriously difficult to treat successfully. Persons with these problems often become discouraged as they shuttle from specialist to specialist, from rheumatologist to orthopedic surgeon to physical therapist to acupuncturist and back again. Lack of progress and improvement becomes understandable when one considers that typical evaluation and treatment are directed at the symptoms. But with chronic knee pain, and many other pain syndromes, actual benefits may be obtained by addressing underlying biomechanical problems.

Faulty biomechanics are at the root of many ongoing knee problems. Of course, various other diseases and orthopedic conditions may cause the same type of chronic pain. The most likely of these possibilities need to be considered and ruled out before a diagnosis of biomechanical knee pain is established. Osteochondritis dissecans, a torn meniscus, and synovial effusion are all frequently encountered in persons over age 40 with chronic knee pain. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis are a few rheumatologic conditions which may result in sporadic or chronic knee pain.

When these medical entities have been eliminated as possibilities, a biomechanical causation becomes probable. How does a person develop "faulty biomechanics"? In fact, most of us have never received effective instruction in how to use our bodies. We stand and sit in all kinds of unsound postures, slouching and slumping and generally giving in to every available force of gravity. We stand with all our body weight on one leg, neck and shoulder muscles gripped tightly and abdominal muscles sagging and protruding. When we sit we slump down, stressing the lower back with poorly tolerated mechanical forces, or sit for hours with legs crossed, stressing the lower back, hips, and knees.

Over the course of a lifetime, our bodies have continually tried to adapt to a range of inefficient and stressful postures and habits. But eventually no more adaptation is possible. As a result joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons break down and fail. We experience this failure as pain. And once this type of pain has started, it is not going to go away unless the underlying causes are corrected. Specifically, the person's biomechanics need to be restored closer to normal.

Correction of posture takes time and can only be accomplished gradually. The key is to learn what to do, learn how to do it, and to be working on posture every day. The most important thing is to begin. Three basic biomechanical corrections are as follows: (1) When standing, be sure to have your weight over the balls of your feet and to have your weight evenly distributed on both legs. (2) Activate your deep abdominal muscles by visualizing an "inner lift". (3) Have straight lines of force running down your legs (rather than lines of force crossing at your knee, creating torsion and tension). Visualize "straight energy" flowing from your hip sockets, straight down through the center of your knees, straight down to your feet, between your first and second toes.

Visualizing and implementing these three biomechanical corrections on a daily basis represents the first series of steps toward improving knee mechanics and reducing chronic knee pain.