What did I do to myself?
By Dr. Greg Long, Chiropractic & Clinic Director
So often in clinical practice, patients present with insidious complaints asking my guidance as to what they did. They are genuinely at a loss as to how the symptoms they are now experiencing were generated. Logic would suggest that if they can identify what events or actions resulted in specific complaints, perhaps it can be prevented from recurring. Sometimes, as in trauma or sports injuries, it is actually quite simple to determine what happened and why, based on an understanding of how the anatomical structures are integrated and the mechanisms described in the history. For many cases in average people however, that insidious nature of complaint creates a much more difficult situation to understand. In this instance the question which provides the most insight might be “what didn’t I do?”
Humans are organisms. As organisms we are subject to the laws of stimulus and response, or put another way, the use it or lose it principle. The human body is an incredibly efficient organism. It will adapt to its environment. If certain systems and processes do not seem to be required for its existence, it will discontinue to use precious energy to maintain them. It takes energy for the body to maintain and produce red blood cells, to maintain lung capacity, to propagate motor units to allow muscular function to occur. Put simply, the body will degenerate into its easiest energetic state when not stimulated to do otherwise. In effect, it kind of accelerates the dying process.
What’s the good news?
As with stimulus-response, we can affect our responses by intentionally altering the stimulus (lack of stimulus is a type of stimulus). A case of what “didn’t” we do. The tricky part; it looks and feels a lot like work at first, because it is. The caveat, yes, you CAN do it. You have to do it.
In the case of spinal care, I’ve taken up calling it spinal hygiene. In a broader sense, we can consider it movement hygiene. I go so far as to suggest that if there is short cutting or lack of occurrence of our movement practices, try not brushing ones teeth for a few months and test the outcome of that.
I think I speak universally when I say that doing small range exercises with the sole intent of getting out of pain is not only mind numbingly boring, but only marginally effective as it falls in to the Descartes way of looking at the world as mechanistic parts. Exercises as such are too easy to discontinue if the pain actually abates. The only way to ensure compliance with a movement practice is to actually make it enjoyable and habitual. People know what they need to do. Often they just don’t know how to do it. A lifestyle shift doesn’t need to be monumental to be effective. Often it is a lot like eating an elephant, bite by bite, but it is only enjoyable if you can find a tasty one.
Are Your Feet Being Overlooked?
By Jackie Caione, D.O.M.P, CAT (C), Osteopathic Manual Therapist
Did you know that 30% of our proprioception (our body’s awareness in space) comes from our feet? Our feet are responsible for the vertical balance of our body, continuous weight-bearing in standing & walking, and for our body’s ability to move. As well, our eyes and vestibular system (inner ear) also contribute to our proprioception.
Osteopathically, the assessment of the foot should not be overlooked as the condition of a person’s feet can have significant implications on the function of their entire body. Osteopathic Manual Therapists consider the lines of gravity (anterior & posterior lines that create the resultant central line) and the myofascial chain to determine if it is primarily a “foot issue” (lesion of the foot creates dysfunction elsewhere in the body), or an issue elsewhere that creates a lesion for where the foot must compensate.
The curves of the spine, along with the arches of the foot are important for shock absorption. In the presence of a lesion or rigidity of the arches of the foot, there will be a reduction in the flexibility of the spinal curves through the synergy of the springs and vice versa. This may present as back pain, neck pain, stiffness or may even influence the digestive system. Our sympathetic nervous system for most of our digestive organs is found at the thoracic levels T5-T9 in the spine. In the foot it may present as plantar fasciitis, general foot pain, changes in gait or shin splints.
Further up the chain, there is also a relationship between the foot and cranial sphere. A dysfunction between the foot and cranial sphere may present with neck pain, stiffness, headaches, changes in posture and of course poor proprioception.
The fibula is found in on the lateral side of the lower leg. Unlike the tibia, which is much stronger for weight-bearing, the fibula is adaptive to external forces. It adjusts, compensates, stabilizes, balances and regulates the tensions of the lower extremity. The fibula has a direct relationship through the fascial system from the foot to the ilium (pelvis). A lesion found in the fibula may present as pain or dysfunction in the ankle/foot, knee, hip joint or pelvis.
Our bodies are incredible when compensating around these changes or dysfunctions. However, we can only sustain this for so long until we are no longer able to compensate further. Osteopathy looks past the area of pain to identify the root cause rather than chasing symptoms!
Start with the feet!
Living Strategies for Spring
A Chinese Medicine Perspective
By Dr. Kerri McLean, Doctor of TCM, Registered Acupuncturist, Yoga Instructor
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
~ Charles Dickens
There is a reason why, at this time of the year, people get inspired to clean, organize and grow. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season has its own energy (Qi) and this energy allows nature to change. In essence, our activities, emotions, food and mental perspective can change with the cycle of the seasons. Based on nature’s rhythm, spring is the prime time for creating, cleansing, movement and personal growth. Just like a tree dormant in the winter, we can use this time to grow and blossom in health, mental clarity and overall well-being.
Spring is all the about the Liver and Gallbladder and the Element of Wood
According to Chinese Medicine, the liver and the gallbladder correspond to spring. A healthy liver is our main organ for detoxification, while the gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver to aid in the digestive process.
Energetically, in Chinese Medicine, the main job for the liver is to keep the energy of the body smooth and regulated. In addition, it oversees the health of ligaments and tendons ensuring fluidity of movement and flexibility. Whereas, the gallbladder’s function is to make decisions, evaluate and provide wise judgement. It organizes and coordinates every plan we make and every goal we have set our sights on.
Together, the liver and gallbladder are associated with the element of wood. Movement of this element is about balanced expansion, activity and change. This is represented by the metaphor of the tree which grows from roots that are solidly planted in the earth while growing upwards and outwards.
According to the Wisdom of Chinese Medicine
Healthy Liver/Gallbladder Emotional Signs
The ability to ‘Go with the Flow’
Willing to let go
Energetic Liver/Gallbladder Signs of Imbalance
Lack of assertion
Foods for Spring: A Season of In-between
Let go of stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and tobacco. The stimulating movement of spring can give us a natural boost.
Eat you greens. The liver is associated with the colour green. Take advantage of what’s in season such as kale, sprouts, arugula and other green vegetables.
Add more sour flavours to your diet. Sour is the flavour of the liver. Try adding lemon or apple cider vinegar to your water first thing in the morning.
Continue to consume warm cooked foods in addition to adding more of the foods above.
Activities for Spring
Stay calm! The liver needs movement and so do you, Go out in nature and do gentle exercises that relax your mind and body.
Recreate order- Go through your home and office and get rid of stuff. Create space for new to come in.
Practice forgiveness- Let go of old resentments and start fresh.
Add some eye exercises to your day. The liver opens into the eyes and is connected to proper eye function.
In summary, try to focus your attention to the changes that present in nature at this time our year. Focus your attention to diet, stress and lifestyle. Focus on foods that are green, sour and in season to help support your liver and gallbladder. Allow your awareness to be focused on personal growth and being emotionally flexible. Lastly, schedule an acupuncture appointment for a seasonal boost.
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For all appointments, kindly text us from your vehicle (403-851-8821) upon arrival and we will notify you when your practitioner is ready to see you. Please wear a mask to your appointment.