Exploring a New Culture and Country

Can you think of a better way to see a new area than to strip yourself down to the bare essentials (a pair of running shoes and no noisy distractions)? Well, that sounds like heaven to me. As for me, 2019 has been an interesting year to say the least. I had my worst marathon in over 3 years, traveled for 2 weeks with US Speedskating to beautiful northern Italy and travelled halfway around the globe to India to see my best friend marry his bride.

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In January I went to Disney World to complete my 3rd Disney marathon. I can honestly admit that I find it hard not to ride everything I can and criss-cross the park to feel like I “accomplished” it all. Needless to say, that may not lead to a great marathon on tired legs. Unfortunately I found myself in a decent amount of pain the day prior to the race. I did the best I could to rest and recover but at this time, it was too late. The first mile may have been one of the most uncomfortable I have run in a very long time. I had two options: be mad and drop out or do something I would never do ordinarily and take as many pictures with characters and landmarks as I could and enjoy the experience. I had to go with the latter. I had a great time in the end and some really fun pictures.

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In February I travelled to northern Italy with US Speedskating. The junior team decided to pick up a World Cup competition. This lead to me being away longer than I would have ever done on my own, but I could not pass up this great experience. Baselga di Pine was an amazing backdrop to the competition. Two weekends of races meant a lot of work on my part. Treatments started after breakfast and lasted until after dinner. To my great relief, the team was willing to let me get a run in over my lunch or in the afternoon.
I had the most amazing runs of my life. I cannot lie that they were the same path almost every day, but the sights and sounds were out of this world. Donkeys and dogs, horses and chickens; it was almost like I was embraced and given a giant bear hug from the Trento region. I got to see so much and experience life of a local.
The racing by our athletes was also amazing. The ice was fast, but dangerous; therefore the crashes were not to be taken lightly. I was really pleased that I had two weeks to work with the team. That gave me enough time to get some real changes before their big events.

Before I knew it, I was leaving for India. This trip came up faster than I could have imagined. I will admit that I never take off from work more than one week a year, but I couldn’t miss my best friend’s wedding. I have been to Europe before as I have worked there so I find myself more comfortable there. India left me speechless. I didn’t want to offend anyone nor did I know where I was. After a couple days of saying “I don’t know what to do”, I took a tour. After seeing life in Bangalore, I found myself more comfortable. After our guide found out I was a runner, he asked to run with my the following morning. We ran around Cubbon Park, the ‘lung’ of Bangaluru city, as well as past law buildings and the local arena. Sport in not in schools. If you show an interest, you must seek it out on your own. The local arena was a range of youth to elders, all being active at 6:30am on their “summer break” so to speak. A true sliver of life in Bangalore. It was a great way to see the city before it woke up to an onslaught of beeping motors and traffic. It was a hot, hard 10k run, but well worth it. 

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Traveling is a great treat. Sometimes you can find more beauty off the beaten path. I suggest you get comfortable being uncomfortable. Life is not pretty all the time, you may see things that are foreign and different. Embrace it. Let it make a mark on you. You will regret it if you don’t. 

Olympic Training Center 2018

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It has been two years since I last visited the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It felt much more familiar this time around since I knew the lay of the land and what is expected of us [volunteers] while we are staying here. Although it is not a vacation as you are in a tiny little dorm with a shared bathroom for the floor, working 6 days a week; it is not an opportunity to be missed.

First off, I need to say how amazing the cafeteria is. They really know how to get you excited for all three meals a day. The cafeteria is open most of the day except for a couple hours to change things over. They have a great cold bar that has deli sandwiches and cold salads and fruit, hot meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a grill for your creature comforts (burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches). The menu changes daily and it was always fantastic. All caloric needs are listed as well as any allergy considerations. Herbs and spices are so plentiful as well. I’ll admit that eating well here is a joy as its perfectly laid out for the athletes every day.



The clinic was a buzz with athletes coming and going from competitions. I love Colorado Springs for the amount of amazing para-olympic athletes that either live and train on campus or pass through on their way to their destination. These athletes really make the words “I CAN’T” null. I met an amazing woman who just lost her leg this spring and is on campus now training for swimming for Tokyo 2020. Talk about a no “I Can’t” attitude. I hope to also see her run Boston in the future - and I hope to be there myself! Triathlon, swimming, alpine skiing, basketball; you name it, they are here.

The range of care depends on their needs as well. I had the pleasure to work with a para-basketball player who got a concussion while playing for a league in Germany. We worked together a twice a day to help relieve his symptoms and get him home so he could propose to his girlfriend. We did a lot of Active Release Techniques with him to help elevate his head pain. Another athletes was para-olympic triathlete who had no use of his legs. His sport requires him to use his arms for all three disciplines - very different from the rest of us who get to rely on our legs for 2 of the 3 disciplines. The fact that these athletes have training and rehab/treatment at their fingertips is so important.

Fortunately, while we are at the clinic, we are open to sit in on practices with the Athletic Trainers. For my rotation, mens wresting and mens gymnastics were on campus. USA Cycling was finished a training camp at elevation at the velodrome. As a le Tour de France fan, it was amazing to see one of the popular EF Education First USA cyclists in house. The women were getting a last big training in before leaving for Berlin for competition and onward. 


While we were working, the LA Rams also made an appearance! They were supposed to play in New Mexico so scheduled a couple days to train at altitude in the Strength and Conditioning Center that is right outside the clinic doors. To see those men doing box jumps as tall as me while side by side the Pairs Figure Skating team did some gym work was amazing. 


Another part of being a volunteer at the OTC is a requirement to be on-call at night. During our stay, we will be on-call for two evenings. That means you have to be able to respond to an athletes call in 10 minutes thus requiring you to remain on campus. It is just a new level of responsibility that we have there that we not have at home in clinic. 

It is a phenomenal experience to work with TEAM USA. I was able to see some athletes I worked with in 2016 win gold in South Korea with past winter Olympics. I’m honored to have worked with these amazing athletes and cannot wait to come back. Thank you, OTC!

A Week at the Olympic Training Center

A few months ago, I was invited to work at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Not many chiropractors get the opportunity as you have to be a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) or higher and be accepted by the USOC. So, of course I eagerly accepted when they invited me to spend a week at the training center to work with the athletes on campus.

The Colorado Springs Training Center is home to many sports, but during my stay, athletes ranged from Men’s gymnastics, wrestling, shooting, bobsled, and modern pentathlon; just name a few. Myself, along with three other volunteers, were able to sit in on practices and then assist athletes in the beautiful Sports Medicine facility. The athletes have many professionals with different disciplines on-site from Chiropractors, Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers. 

Outside of the Sports Medicine clinic was the strength and conditioning center. Here, you can find an indoor track, a turf hill at a 45 degree angle for hill repeats, weights, bikes, and pretty much every piece of training equipment one could desire. It was very cool to be able to spend my evening after work in the same gym that world class athletes train in! 

I also got to dine with the athletes 3x a day. The food on hand for them is amazing, as one would expect. Above every option in the cafeteria was a breakdown of the nutritional value. Each athlete on campus has their diet evaluated and a plan for what to eat and when to eat it is also available for them. 

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Some athletes would be in the Sports Med clinic 2-3x a day; post warm up and after practices. The facilities included hot and cold tubs, a PT room, massage, diagnostic ultrasound, on-site pharmacy, compression therapy (such as Normatec), MRI, DEXA scan, steam rooms, and about 12 treatment tables.

Meeting the athletes was of course a highlight. I had the honor to hold a Paraolympic silver medal. The medal is much heavier than you’d think and the paraolympics medals are a bit different as they have brail and they also make different noises to tell visually impaired athletes which medal they have. The paraolympians were some of my favorites. It is always amazing to see people overcome adversity and achieve something that many of us can only imagine in our wildest dreams.

Athletes hailed from all over the USA. A Milwaukee athletes was even on campus. The stories about how they came into their sport and the ups and downs were very humbling. Some have been competing since they were children as where others may have just started training for their event or sport in the last 3 years or so. Their dedication was most inspiring. Some of the athletes I worked with have had broken wrists and ankles, yet pushed and persevered and have competed in two Olympic games. 

 

Working with such well trained athletes was a joy. Unlike the rest of us who may be camped out in front of a computer for hours a day, for athletes, training is their job. The need to recover is just as important, but the time frame is expedited. The goal is to address a problem before it begins if at all possible. Beside adjustments, I preformed ART on every athlete I worked with which they seemed to greatly appreciate.

I hope to be able to find time in the future to volunteer my time for the USOC again. I had a great time and met some great people. 

Dr. Brett MD, Angie ATC, Dr. Beth DC, CCSP and Gene PT, ATC.

Dr. Brett MD, Angie ATC, Dr. Beth DC, CCSP and Gene PT, ATC.

Menstrual Issues

Chiropractors probably are not at the top of your list when you think of menstrual irregularities. Often times, women will go through a barrage of tests and ancillary treatments when they start encountering menstrual changes. Your first step should always be to see your OB/GYN to rule out anything serious. But when all diagnostic come back negative or within normal limits, perhaps turn your mind to spinal health.

The spine is the “expressway” from which all information in your body travels to your organs, tissues and brain. Information is sent from your brain to your other tissues and back again. At different levels of the spine, nerves take their “exit ramp” out and to the areas they are supposed to be influencing. In the case of menstrual irregularities, it would be the nerves at the base of your spine; lumbar and sacral areas. Now imagine that the “exit ramp” is smaller than it should be or it is congested; that nerve can struggle to get its full information out to or from the spine. There is a kink in the system. Studies show that the weight of a dime can change a nerves function by 60%! That weight of a dime could be from swelling, misalignment, or even a muscular spasm. The same “kink” may also be occurring on nerves that influence our tissues that regulate hormonal release and creation. 

 

To adjust that area of dysfunction and properly align the vertebrae so the message is not interrupted can many times help with menstrual issues. Once the interruption is removed, the organ and brain can talk to one another more clearly; like taking the kink out of a garden hose.

Think of your nervous system this way; when you touch a hot griddle with your finger, its not your finger that decides to pull away. Instead, your pain receptions or nociceptors in your finger send a lightening fast message to your brain and your brain responds just as quickly with a reply of “Ouch! That is hot!” and you pull your finger off the griddle in an instant.

Personally, I owe much of my own success with chiropractic care to my Mother. When I was experiencing muscle, bone and nerve pain as a child, it was my Mother that took me to a chiropractor because she had ha such a profound experience herself. After three years of almost month long menses, multiple doctors, tests and surgeries, a family member suggested she see a chiropractor. After 3 months of chiropractic care, what she had been dealing with for 3 years with absolutely no change was gone!

If you think you might be experiencing something similar, do not hesitate to contact us. We alway offer a free consultation so we can better understand what is going on and if chiropractic could help you.

Scar Tissue

Virtually all injuries are Soft Tissue in nature. That means that a muscle, tendon, ligament or fascia is irritated or inflamed and thus ultimately causes pain. 
Soft tissue injuries all present the same and can take up to or over 3 months to completely heal. The sooner you address the issue, the faster you can remedy and heal it. 
*Within the first 24-72 hours after injury, you should notice inflammation. This can present as redness, the area feeling hot, swelling or simply just pain. 
*The next phase is the "stringy" phase, which can last upwards of 2 weeks. The tissue will feel tense and "guitar string-like" to the touch. 
*The third phase is described as lumpy tissue. When you or a healthcare professional palpate the area of injury, a firm, tender lumpy can be felt. This is because the edge areas of the defect in the muscle or fascia begins to enlarge as it begins to heal and the body lays down fibrous tissue as support - also known as adhesions or scar tissue.
*The last tissue change is a leathery change that changes slowly. The defect tissue gets firm and spreads to surrounding tissues giving it a leathery feel. 
All these changes occur in order. 
HOWEVER, you can treat these injuries. There are techniques available such as Active Release Technique (ART) and Graston that can help you achieve a pain free status much faster and effectively than just at home icing and stretching alone. 

With that said, Dr. Beth has taken Graston courses as well as  Lower Extremity and Spinal muscle certificate courses in ART and will be taking the Upper Extremity course in May. 
Due to this, we will be closed the week of Memorial Day - May 25-29th as Dr. Beth must travel out of state for this course/certificate. 

The Scoop about Poop

That good ole #2. Yes, I’m talking about poop. I frequently get questions about constipation. People ask about IBS or similar GI issues such as Celiac and Crohn’s Disease. Gluten is also a big topic when people notice they feel more bloated or don’t seem to be regular.  What about probiotics? However, did you know that the “bugs” in your gut can also have a direct impact on your weight? With that in mind, let’s discuss a little about our trusty GI system.

A healthy gut is a happy gut. We need bugs in our gut – healthy bugs. With new research suggesting that flora in our gut may be contributing to weight gain, we should all be making sure we have the right bugs. Treatments of antibiotics can deplete good flora. Dysbiosis, the imbalance on or inside the body, of good bugs can lead to decreased satiety (the feeling of being full after a meal), increased calorie absorption, increased inflammation, decreased fat burning and a leaky gut. There are also studies on how poor gut flora and autism may be related. If our food is not being broken down appropriately, we will not get the nutrition we need, nor will it be easy to pass through our intestines.

So what is normal for our bodies? How often should we be eliminating? From start to finish, you should be moving your food through your GI system in 18-22 hours. It breaks down like this: after chewing and swallowing, your food will pass through the esophagus in 4-8 seconds and then be in your stomach for 2-4 hours. After your stomach, your food will move into your small intestines for about 3-5 hours. Remember, your small intestines are about 20 feet long in the average adult and this is where we want our gut flora to do their job. After the small intestines, what remains of your food will be in the colon for 10 hours.

A lot of the population is dehydrated. I also suggest that you start by trying to drink at least two liters of water a day. You can also divide your body weight by two and drink at least that many ounces of water. We are roughly 60% water after all!  Hydration is key for good and consistent bowel movements. So how can you poop right? First, make sure you are getting enough fiber – both soluble and insoluble. The best way to get the fiber your need is to eat more fruits and vegetables. If you feel like your stool is still painful to pass, try Magnesium Citrate supplementation. Our stool should have a toothpaste like consistency.  Physical movement is good for our bodies. In yoga, they talk about poses massaging the organs. And of course, make sure you have good gut flora!

I have noticed that many of us are also gluten sensitive. Gluten is the substance that makes breads chewy. It is gelatinous in nature and sometimes a hard substance for some people to digest. They may notice gas or bloating after a meal. Sometimes you may see a mucus or oily substance in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement. The simplest way to see if you do have a sensitivity is to cut it out of your diet for a period of time and then slowly introduce something with gluten back in. Gluten is in things we would expect like breads and cookies but also in soy sauce and of all things, Twizzlers. Think of it as a glue. Most processed foods contain gluten.

If you have concerns about your digestive health, never be afraid to ask your healthcare provider. This was just the tip of the iceberg. Things like medications and stress can also play a huge role in your digestive function. We all deserve to poop right. 

Sciatica

 

Have you ever had a tooth-achy pain in your rear-end that drove you crazy? Many times the pain comes out of no where and can be so sharp and intense that it stops you in an instant.  These could be symptoms of sciatica. Let me talk a little bit about the causes of sciatic pain.

Common causes are spinal stenosis, which is a decrease of space in the spinal canal most commonly due to excess arthritic bone formation or a disc herniation. Another cause is piriformis syndrome, which is a muscle in the buttock region that runs just over the sciatic nerve. When this muscle tightens or spasms, it puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and in a small population, the sciatic nerve actually runs through the belly of this muscle. Pregnancy can also cause sciatic pain due to the change in posture and pressure increase on the nerve.

    Some at home exercises to try would involve stretching the piriformis muscle by lying on your back, crossing one leg over the other and pulling the top thigh to the chest. Hold this stretch for about 15 seconds, but no bouncing. Make it a solid hold and repeat on both sides. (See the picture for placement.) You can also place a tennis ball on the area of discomfort and light sit and shift your weight on top of it to get more of a trigger point effect. It is important to remember that the piriformis muscle is a postural muscle which means it will rarely be found to be lax. The muscle also functions as a lateral rotator, so if you notice your toes are pointing out more as you walk, the piriformis muscle is most likely tight.


    Especially for men, do make sure they do not sit on their wallet. This extra inch or so changes the placement of the tailbone and puts pressure directly on the sciatic nerve. Many times, just simply removing the wallet from the back of the pants decreases the pressure on the nerve instantly. 

    Back extension exercises also will decrease pressure on the nerves if the problem is due to a disc issue. The intervertebral discs herniate more posteriorly, so to lean back a little bit causes the disc to move anteriorly and back into its place.

However, with these simple remedies, it is always important to determine what the cause of the sciatic pain is. For diagnostic purposes, X-rays should be taken. Soft tissue work like Active Release Technique (ART) can help decrease the pressure put on by the piriformis muscle and decrease swelling. As chiropractors, we have special equipment and adjustments to help get the spine back in alignment.

Pregnancy + Chiropractic

Pregnancy takes a toll on the female body. As the baby grows and shifts, so does the mother’s body. Often times the mother will complain of low back pain. This is not uncommon since the center of gravity has now moved out towards the growing belly. This puts lots of strain on the low back vertebrae, soft tissues, as well as the pelvis which results in a change of posture. If you are experiencing these problems, chiropractic can help you.

The pregnant body causes the pelvis to roll forward therefore increase the curve in the low back. Many times this can cause pain, muscle spasms or nerve tingles in the lower body. 

As the baby grows, the pelvis starts to shift down in abdomen. This causes a misalignment that could make the birth a little more difficult by reducing the amount of space available for the growing baby. When the pelvis rolls forwards, it also affects the position of the lumbar spine, thus causing it to increase its curvature. By increasing the curve in the low back, the nerves in this area now have smaller holes to leave the spine which could cause sharp or shooting pain as well as numbness or tingling in the lower extremities. Many times pregnant women experience sciatic pain which is pain that can be on one or both sides of the buttocks that sends sharp, shooting pain down the back of the leg to the knee.

When the spine curves with the belly as it grows forward, the woman has to offset that change and shirt of weight by recruiting more muscles in the back to stand upright. This can cause spasms and fatigue when standing or sitting for long periods of time.

The pregnant body needs to shift and grow to accommodate the growing fetus. Thankfully the hormone relaxin makes this possible with very small amounts of discomfort by allowing the body to become a bit looser. However, that same hormone affects the whole body which can change the alignment of the spine in the mother which can be uncomfortable and even painful.

Some of the benefits of seeing a chiropractor during your pregnancy are:
- reducing the time of the labor and delivery
- relieving back pain and other joint pain
- having an overall healthier pregnancy

Talk to your doctor. Many OBs are referring their patients to chiropractors to help decrease the discomforts of pregnancy.

As a Doctor of chiropractic, we are here to help. If you are unsure about what chiropractic can do for you, ask for a consultation to see what your options are. You will be happy you did!

Pain With Running

Running is a quite physically demanding activity that tends to lead to some lower body impact. However, studies have shown that there is no relationship between running and early onset of bone degeneration.

With that said, I’d like to explore some simple tools to make sure you are running properly and with the right equipment.

 

SHOES

If you are running, you should always use shoes specific to that activity. Trail running shoes are for trails just as tennis shoes are for tennis. Not all shoes are created equally just as not all feet are the same. Get your foot wet and step on the pavement, look to see if your arch is maintained, falls in or is high. People with high arches tend to do better with a cushioning type of shoes since their feet tend to be more rigid. If you pronate or your arches tend to fall in with walking, you have a more flexible foot that requires you to wear more of a stable shoe. Studies have shown that a foot with slight over-pronation seems to react better on uneven surfaces like trails more than a high arched, rigid foot.
Shoes that are better suited to a high arch will be straighter when you look at them on the ground. If you pull out the sockliner, the bottom of the shoe will be a softer white padding most often from heel to toe. Shoes for pronated or over-pronated feet should be more of a curved shoe when looking at it on the ground. There should be a gray midsole on the arch of the outer shoe and if you remove the sockliner, it should either be brown board from heel to toe or brown by the heel that is sewn to white foam after the midfoot. 

Without the proper supported foot, the constant impact of running can affect the knees, hips and low back as well. 

 

STRETCHING

Unfortunately, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of stretching. Some studies have shown that there is little to no affect on athleticism with stretching. However, I disagree with that, as many other health professionals do also. Stretching cold, inactive muscles prior to exercise does increase your chance of strain/sprain injuries. A cold muscle or ligament is rigid and if over stretched can cause future damage. Therefore, if you prefer to stretch early on, always do 5 minutes of a warm up. Stretching post-exercise is beneficial. Runners tend to acquire plantar fasciitis on the heel surface of their foot and the Achilles tendon is part of this structure. The calves of a runner should always be stretched. All muscles from back, arms, and legs should be stretched following a run. 


POSTURE
Good posture can increase your athletic ability. We need good lung space to run. Therefore we should always have our head up, shoulders back and a very slight lean forwards. Rolling your shoulders forwards will round your upper back and also put strain on your ability to take nice deep breaths. Some people run more on their midfoot/forefoot that is all the rage right now. With this posture, you will have a slight forward bend to your torso starting at the hip. Midfoot runners will have a smaller stride so they can land on the ball of their foot, which will help to propel them forward. 

 

Overall I would suggest you visit a chiropractor or a sports doctor. Checking the alignment of your knees, feet, shoe wear and general overall health should be a first priority when being physically active. Always make sure that you are doing your sport correctly so you don’t end up hurting yourself more seriously down the road.