What is “Evidence-Based Medicine”?

Chiropractor in Burke, VAWhen patients go to a doctor, they want the best possible diagnosis and treatment. But how does that doctor know exactly what to do in any particular circumstance?

Medical school (of course) is the first part of the answer to this question. Clinical experience is the second part. This combination of formal training and day-to-day practice is what helps a physician to build the expertise and judgment they need to be good at their work.

However, even the very best education and most extensive professional experience cannot prepare a doctor perfectly for any situation. The simple truth is that the human body is so complex that no one physician can possibly know everything about it or about every health condition or potential treatment option. This is one reason that today’s doctors often choose to specialize, consult with each other and pursue continuing education. It’s also one reason why the healthcare community is working to pool its knowledge and develop treatment protocols based on its collective experience about what has worked best for patients in the past. This systematic approach is called “Evidence-Based Medicine”.

Evidence-based medicine has been described as “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.” Such evidence is based on randomized controlled trials to ensure an unbiased and entirely objective analysis of each study. The aim of evidence-based medicine (EBM) is to provide both quantitative and qualitative assistance in the clinician’s decision making process.

Proponents of the EBM approach realize that no system is perfect for all cases. They know that patient preferences and values can play an important part. They know, too, that not every patient is going to fit into the definitions described by a randomized controlled trial. Individual pathology and physiology may differ and not every patient will respond to the same treatment.

Trisha Greenhalgh and epidemiologist Anna Donald extended and clarified the EBM definition. They wrote that evidence-based medicine is, “the use of mathematical estimates of the risk of benefit and harm, derived from high-quality research on population samples, to inform clinical decision-making in the diagnosis, investigation or management of individual patients.”

One of the key objectives of EBM is to help make medical decision-making more objective in order to achieve better results for each individual patient.

The concept of evidence-based medicine has gained wide acceptance in most parts of the healthcare community. However, it does also have its practical limitations.

  • The results upon which EBM is based may not prove relevant in all situations. This is because much of the quantitative research produced by EBM depends on randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
  • Not every medical problem has been thoroughly investigated, making the body of evidence incomplete.
  • Certain groups remain under-researched, and thus generalizing from RCT findings becomes imperfect at best.
  • Research topics are strongly controlled by the sponsor’s interests. After all, RCTs are expensive and are rarely, if ever, conducted on methodologies that possess little or no profit incentive. In other words, traditional, alternative and holistic approaches remain largely under-represented.
  • There is always a delay—sometimes substantial—between the time an RCT is conducted and the actual publication of its findings.
  • There is also a delay between the publication of RCT results and the proper application of those results.
  • Some corporations have stifled the publication of RCT findings when the results proved detrimental to the public view of one or more of their products. This becomes particularly problematic when a former employee of the corporation in question becomes an editor at the peer-reviewed journal which would carry those research findings. Such corporate intervention jeopardizes not only the integrity of the body of scientific evidence, but also jeopardizes the health of the patients which EBM is supposed to benefit.

While evidence-based medicine certainly presents its share of challenges, it’s the best hope we have today for applying our growing body of healthcare experience to individual cases. As researchers and clinicians continue to collect data and make it more widely available and easier to access, EBM will offer more opportunities for physicians to treat their patients based on the best, most up-to-date information.  To learn more please visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.

What is Tennis Elbow? How Do You Treat It?

Tennis Elbow Relief in Burke, VATennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is an overuse injury causing pain in the outside of the elbow. This condition is caused by repeated bending back (extension) and turning (rotation) of the forearm and wrist muscles. Repeated and forceful activities such as turning a screw driver, chopping food, and swinging a tennis racquet, can lead to tennis elbow.

The elbow is formed by 3 bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), and the 2 bones of the forearm (radius and ulna). There are many muscles that cross the elbow and wrist to complete the detailed movements of the arm and hand. Muscles in the forearm involved in tennis elbow include the wrist extensors which bend the wrist back, and the supinator which turns your palm upwards.

The lateral epicondyle is the part of the upper arm bone where forearm muscles attach. Tennis elbow may involve tiny tears in tendons that attach to the outside of the elbow, resulting in irritation and pain.

Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and burning at the outside of the elbow, and this pain usually starts gradually and without an injury. Tennis elbow can also cause difficulty lifting or grasping objects, and any repeated movement of the wrist and elbow.

Preventing tennis elbow can include using proper technique and equipment, avoiding repeated movements when able, and including stretching and strengthening of the arms in your fitness routine.

To treat tennis elbow we use a combination of Active Release Techniques, Graston Technique, Laser Therapy and Dry Needling to decrease the muscle tightness and help with tendon healing.  Typically a patient will receive treatment twice per week for two weeks followed by specific exercises like isometric and eccentric elbow exercises to further promote healing and to strength the muscles and tendons.  If you have been suffering from Tennis Elbow give our office a call at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.

What is the Paleo Diet?

Chiropractor in Burke, VAShould you eat like a caveman? Supporters of the Paleo Diet say “Yes!” This popular new diet trend focuses on eating the same types of foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors survived on hundreds of thousands of years ago. It’s certainly an intriguing idea, but is it a good one? Read on for a little bit of perspective on the Paleo Diet.

What is the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo Diet is a food plan that attempts to mimic a paleolithic style of eating. Refined sugars, processed foods, legumes, dairy, and grains are all out. Instead, dieters focus on animal meat and products, vegetables, fruits, raw seeds and nuts, and some added fats like avocado and coconut oil. The theory is that by abstaining from the ingredients most common in the modern diet, you can avoid modern health problems like obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Just How Healthy Were Our Ancestors?

A diet rich in lean meats, vegetables, and healthy fats is absolutely a good idea, but is it really necessary to go as far as proponents of the Paleo Diet suggest? Probably not, especially considering that hunter-gatherers were not exactly paragons of health themselves. While our ancestors were unlikely to suffer from obesity or diabetes, they were extremely susceptible to other problems that may have stemmed from nutritional gaps as well as parasites and infectious diseases.

Even more intriguing, a study published in The Lancet found that a very high proportion of hunter-gatherers suffered from atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke). After comparing 137 mummies from civilizations all over the world, the study found that 47 showed evidence of atherosclerosis. That’s more than one in three.

A Diet You Can Stick With

Even though our prehistoric relatives were not as healthy as fans of the Paleo Diet might have you believe, there is no doubt that reducing processed foods and increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats is a healthy switch. Where the problem lies, however, is in the restrictions required to follow this diet completely.

There’s a reason why 95% of diets (including Paleo) fail before a goal weight is reached. Placing heavy restrictions on what you can and can’t eat almost sets you up to fail. With an “all or nothing” approach to dieting, one slip-up can make you feel like a failure, and may prompt you to abandon the diet plan altogether. The Paleo Diet (and other diets like it) can be very difficult to stick with, especially over the long term. While you are very likely to lose weight while you stick to this diet, the pounds will probably return as soon as you return to your normal eating patterns.

If you aren’t willing to spend the rest of your life eating like a caveman, that’s okay. Making small adjustments in your eating habits that you can stick with is much more likely to give you the results you want than going all in on a very restrictive diet that doesn’t last a month. If you’re not sure where to start, consult your chiropractor. He or she can help you build a diet plan that is designed with your specific goals in mind and suited to your lifestyle, giving you a much higher chance of success.

So what’s the bottom line? The Paleo diet is not a bad idea, but its high levels of restriction make it extremely difficult for most people to stick with. For many dieters, it is simply not a realistic long-term option.  To learn more please visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.


How Long Does it Really Take Muscles to Recover After a Good Workout?

Chiropractor in Burke, VA“Working out,” as fun as it can be, is also…uh…work.  Whatever your chosen form of exercise, your muscles don’t really get any stronger unless you actually work them. Interestingly enough, though, it’s not the actual time you spend working your muscles that enables them to grow and become stronger—it’s the recovery period between workouts that increases strength.

During the workout itself, you stretch and work your muscles and break down muscle tissue. Then, when you rest afterwards, a biochemical repair and synthesis process allows the muscles to rebuild themselves, and thus become both larger and stronger. Your body needs this recovery period. The truth is that if you exercised every day, with no rest between workouts, it wouldn’t work as well, and you would actually make less progress than by resting between workouts.

So how long is enough rest between workouts?

This is actually a much more complex question than it appears to be. The answer will vary depending on a variety of factors—the nature of the workout, which sets of muscles are being exercised, your nutrition, your age, and your sleep cycles—just to name a few of the big ones. In the following sections we’ll give some general guidelines for how much recovery time to allocate after your exercise sessions.

  • Recovery after running. We’ll start with running because it uses the same basic muscles and sets of muscles in every session. The variables that determine how long you should rest between runs therefore depend on other factors, such as intensity (how fast or hard you ran), duration (how long you ran), surface (did you run on grass, sand or concrete?), and topography (was the surface flat or hilly?). Beginning runners should probably rest a day between runs, but with experience you can safely run every day. However, running either uphill or downhill puts more stress on your muscles and requires more recovery, as does running hard, for example during a marathon or other competition.
  • Recovery after lifting weights. Recovery time depends on the muscle groups used, and your weight-lifting schedule. In general, large muscle groups (such as thigh muscles used during squats) require more recovery time than smaller muscles. Many bodybuilders alternate their workouts by focusing on upper body one day, then lower body the next, etc., but sports physicians suggest that if you’re really working your muscles hard, resting for 48 hours before working that set of muscles again is a better idea. Our advice is to take it easy and err on the side of more recovery time , because overtraining can lead to injuries.
  • Nutrition matters. The length of recovery time can be profoundly influenced by your diet—how you “feed” and “fuel” the muscles you’re exercising. While exercising, you really need to make sure to drink enough fluids and electrolytes, along with carbohydrates if it’s an extended workout. Afterwards, it’s good to drink even more fluids and eat a high-protein meal to ensure your body has the “building blocks” it needs to rebuild muscle tissue.
  • Despite what you might like to believe, your age matters, too. Young muscles recover faster after exercise than older ones. Period. If you’re past your 30s, respect your body and give it more time to recover after each hard workout.
  • Finally, if you want to maximize the health and fitness benefits of your workouts, get enough sleep. Many people report that they fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and feel more rested after a good workout. There is a reason for this—the harder you work out, the more sleep your body needs to recover afterwards. Two possible signs of overtraining and not getting sufficient rest between workouts are insomnia (which can happen due to overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system) or daytime sleepiness (the result of poor quality sleep).

These are just guidelines. If you are committed to your exercise and workout program, work with your coach, trainer or sports chiropractor to find a training/rest schedule that works best for you. The American Council on Exercise recommends as a general schedule several high-intensity workouts per week, with at least 48 hours in between to give your muscles plenty of time to recover and rebuild. Lower-intensity workouts may require less recovery time, and you may feel comfortable with 24 hours of rest between workouts. But whatever you choose, bear in mind that the actual strength-building takes place during the rest/recovery periods, not during the actual workout periods.  If you have any questions please contact me at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.

The Top Five Causes of Neck Pain

Chiropractor in Burke, VA Neck pain: it’s a real pain in the neck, isn’t it? Bad jokes aside, neck pain is a very common problem. A 2010 study found that in an average year, as many as one in five American adults experience discomfort in this area of the body. In part, this is because the neck is especially susceptible to stress, strain and injury. Knowing the five most common causes of neck tension can help you stay healthy and pain-free.

The Top Five Causes of Neck Pain

  1. Overuse of Muscle: Your neck is a remarkably easy part of your body to overwork, especially if you spend long hours sitting at a desk during the day. A poorly designed work area forces your neck to stay in an unnatural position for hours on end, causing unnecessary strain. Over time, this can cause chronic neck pain.
  2. Injuries: Trauma to the neck muscles can cause pain. One of the most common types of neck trauma chiropractors see is the result of traffic accidents. When your head is suddenly forced in a given direction (as can occur if a car you are sitting in is struck from behind), the following “rebound” motion in the opposition direction (also known as whiplash) injures the tissues in your neck. To help counteract this damage, your neck muscles contract, leaving you feeling stiff and uncomfortable.
  3. Poor Posture: Do you have perfect posture when reading or watching TV? If you’re like most of us, the answer is probably no. Poor posture might feel comfortable in the short term, but in the long run slouching can cause neck strain and discomfort. If you are obese or have weak abdominal muscles, your neck may bend forward in compensation, causing misalignment and producing pain.
  4. Diseases: Certain diseases can cause neck discomfort. Degenerative diseases are a particularly common cause of neck pain. Osteoarthritis, a joint disorder that speeds cartilage deterioration, leads to the formation of painful bone spurs. Degenerative disc disease can lead to bulging or herniated discs. Meningitis and some types of cancer can also lead to neck pain, though these conditions are more uncommon.
  5. Nerve Compression: If the nerves in your neck become compressed, neck pain can follow. Herniated discs and bone spurs are two of the most common causes of nerve compression in the neck. A disorder called spinal stenosis can also lead to narrowed nerve passageways, and therefore painfully trapped nerves.

Treating Neck Pain

Treating chronic neck pain effectively requires understanding the underlying cause of your discomfort. Consult with your chiropractor to find solutions! Depending on the situation, your chiropractor might recommend cervical manipulation, a precise adjustment to the joints in your neck that improves spinal alignment and increases range of motion. Chiropractic care is about more than just manual adjustments, though, and your chiropractor will work with you to identify lifestyle changes that can help you make sure your neck stays pain-free.  If you are suffering from neck pain give our office a call at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.

Dos and Don’ts for Getting the Most Nutritional Value from Your Food

Chiropractor in Burke, VAWe all know that some foods are more nutritional than others. What you might not realize is that the way you prepare your foods or the combinations that you put together in meals could make a difference in how many of those nutrients are actually absorbed by your body. A good example is the added absorption of vitamin C that you get when you have adequate supplies of vitamin D. These two nutrients work in harmony to build strong bones.

Some foods that work better in pairs than on their own include:

  • Spinach and Avocado – To release the vitamin A in spinach
  • Tomatoes and Olive Oil – Tomatoes are well-known for their lycopene content, a powerful antioxidant believed to aid in everything from premature aging to prostate cancer prevention. Coating with olive oil ensures better digestion of the lycopene.
  • Yogurt and Flaxseed – Flaxseed feeds the probiotics in the yogurt to help it make greater improvements in digestive health.
  • Chicken and Sweet Potatoes – Chicken supplies the zinc that is needed to distribute the vitamin A from the sweet potatoes throughout your body.

How to Prepare Your Fruits and Vegetables for Maximum Nutrition

It isn’t just the individual foods you choose or how you mix and match them, but also the way you prepare them that determines how much of their nutrients make it into your body. Eating them raw is almost always the first choice when it comes to getting the most nutritional value from them. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t always a safe or practical choice when you are preparing foods for you and your family.

Onions and garlic are two exceptions to the raw foods rule. Both of these vegetables belong to the same Allium family and they both have unusually high amounts of compounds containing sulfur. The heat from cooking increases or concentrates the amount of sulfur they contain, making the cooked versions even healthier than the raw ones. However, the opposite is true in almost every other case.

When vegetables are steamed, it is usually for a much shorter period of time than they are cooked in other ways. This shorter cooking time helps to preserve more of the nutrients than other cooking methods do. Steam vegetables only as long as needed to make them tender. If mixing vegetables, add those that require the longest amount of time to steam first with the others being added in as appropriate.

Avoid cooking vegetables in water as this automatically means a reduction in the preserved nutrients. When you do use this method, be aware of how long it takes them to get done and remove them from the water as soon as they are. Tenderness is usually the goal for cooking any vegetable, and it should be the primary signal to you that they have cooked long enough.

Getting the Nutrients in Fruit

Never opt for fruit juice when the whole fruit is available—regardless of the juicing method that is used. The majority of the nutrients come from eating the entire fruit. Fruit skins contain flavonoids and carotenoids essential to good health while the pulp is an important source of fiber and vitamin C. One of the many advantages of eating fruits and vegetables is that they don’t require cooking to make them safe or edible!

Neck Pain Causes

neck-headacheWe all know what it feels like to have limited neck motion, as most of us have had neck pain at some point in time. It makes doing simple things like backing up a car, rolling over in bed, reading, and watching TV difficult-to-impossible. The goal of this article is to review some of the many causes of neck pain and what to do about it! Let’s take a look at the various types of tissues that can generate pain:

  1. MUSCLES: There are MANY layers of muscles in the neck. There are the very small, deep “intrinsic” muscles that are important for stability of the spine and fine, intricate movements while the larger outside “extrinsic” muscles are long and strong, allowing us to sustain stresses like playing football, rugby, hockey, or falling on the ice. Long car drives/rides, computer work, studying/reading, or having a conversation with someone not sitting directly in front of you are just a few examples of how these muscles can experience overuse that can generate neck pain!
  2. LIGAMENTS: These are tough, non-stretching tissues that hold bone to bone and can tear in trauma like whiplash, while playing sports, or in a fall. Because ligaments are important in keeping our joints stable, disrupted ligaments can lead to excessive “play” in a joint and can wear down the cartilage or the smooth, silky covering at the ends of bones, which can lead to premature osteoarthritis (OA) – the “wear and tear” kind that everyone gets eventually.
  3. WORN JOINTS: There is something called “the natural history of degeneration” that naturally occurs if we live long enough. As previously discussed, ligament tearing leads to instability of the involved joint(s), and excessive motion in the joint leads to OA. In the neck, there are two sets of small joints between six of the seven vertebrae called facet joints and uncinate processes that are vulnerable for OA and are frequent pain generators.
  4. DISK INJURY: The disks rest between the big vertebral bodies and act as shock absorbers. They are like jelly donuts, and when the disk’s tough outer layers tear, the jelly can leak out and this may or may not hurt, depending on the direction, the amount of the leaked out “jelly,” and if the “jelly” pinches pain-sensitive tissues. A “herniated disk” is the most common cause for a pinched nerve (see next entry).
  5. NERVE COMPRESSION: The nerves in the neck travel into the arms, and nerve compression or pinching can result in numbness/tingling/burning pain in the arm and/or hand with or without weakness. Each nerve has a different role, and by mapping the numbness area and testing reflexes and muscle strength, it can help your doctor identify the specific nerve that is injured.
  6. DISEASES: Though significantly less common, neck pain can arise from certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, and/or cancer. When these are suspect, blood tests and special tests such as bone scan, CT/MRI, and/or biopsy can help to specifically identify the condition.

WHAT TO DO: Make an appointment and your chiropractor in Burke, VA will perform a history, physical examination, and possibly take x-rays to help determine what is generating your pain. Once the diagnosis is understood, he or she will put together a treatment plan for you. This usually includes procedures done in the office as well as those that they will teach you how to do at home and/or work to help you manage your neck pain back and return to normal activities as quickly as possible!

New Research Claims Treating Back Pain Quickly and Effectively May Help Reduce Future Pain, Suffering, and Even Disability

Lower Back Pain in Burke, VAIf you have ever had low back pain, then you will find this information very useful… especially if you do not want your back pain to come back!

New research published in the Journal of Pain (a peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society) indicates that pain severity during an episode of back pain is correlated with future pain and disability.

The authors of the study write, “After six months, the results showed that baseline pain intensity was associated with a 12 percent higher risk for developing chronic low back pain and patient beliefs that pain would persist conveyed a 4 percent risk increase. After five years, baseline pain intensity yielded a 9 percent increased risk for chronic pain, while believing that pain would persist had increased the risk by 6 percent.”

According to Science Daily:  “The authors noted that their research confirms previous studies concluding that baseline pain intensity is a key predictor of future pain and disability.

“Clinically, the study confirms that effective pain relief in the initial management of low-back pain has implications for long-term improvement.”

Based on this research, it is clear that all back pain should be taken seriously and treated appropriately because treating back pain quickly and effectively may help reduce future pain, suffering, and even disability.

What About Preventing Back Pain?

If you want to prevent low back pain, then you must first understand its cause.  A 2008 study found that the majority of low back pain (97%) is mechanical in nature.  Mechanical low back pain is the general term that refers to any type of back pain caused by injury to the spinal structures (bones, ligaments, and disks, for example).

In other words, if you have low back pain, the odds are the cause is NOT a tumor or anything life-threatening.  But… and this is a very big BUT… every case of low back pain should be evaluated by an appropriate physician to rule out non-mechanical causes.  This is why chiropractors are trained in differential diagnosis to determine when low back pain is mechanical and when it is something more serious.

What Treatments Help Mechanical Low Back Pain?

Chiropractic has been shown to be both safe and effective for the treatment of mechanical low back pain.  For example, a study published back in 1990 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) compared Chiropractic care to hospital outpatient treatment and found:  “Chiropractic treatment was more effective than hospital outpatient management, mainly for patients with chronic or severe back pain.  A benefit of about 7% points on the Oswestry scale was seen at two years.  The benefit of chiropractic treatment became more evident throughout the follow-up period.  Secondary outcome measures also showed that chiropractic was more beneficial.”

The study concluded, “For patients with low back pain in whom manipulation is not contraindicated, chiropractic almost certainly confers worthwhile, long-term benefit in comparison with hospital outpatient management. The benefit is seen mainly in those with chronic or severe pain.”

It is great that Chiropractic care can help low back pain, but the main goal of any treatment should be to get you out of pain AND prevent your pain from coming back.

New research published in Arthritis Care & Research, the journal of the American College of Rheumatology, shows that being engaged in manual tasks involving awkward positions can increase an individual’s risk for a low back injury by up to 800%. Researchers also found that those who are distracted or fatigued while performing physical tasks are also at significantly higher risk for a low back injury.

What’s the Take-Home Message Here?

First, the majority of low back pain is mechanical and can be treated with chiropractic care.  Second, many cases of low back pain can be prevented in the first place by avoiding awkward positions, distractions, and fatigue while performing physical activities.

Learning proper posture while sitting can help prevent the abnormal stress and strain that lead to low back pain over time. If you develop low back pain, seek the proper treatment, one that has a proven track record.

Getting the best care to get out of pain as fast as possible is extremely important.  Also, make sure your treatment plan includes information on how you can prevent your low back pain from coming back (such as learning proper lifting technique) because relapses are often worse than the original injury.

Study Shows Meditation Helps Brain Function!

A new study by UCLA researchers found that meditation appears to help preserve the brain’s gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons.  This is extremely important because at some time in the mid-to-late 20s, the brain begins to decrease in size and can often lose some function.

According to the study, the effects of meditation were greater than expected. Study co-author Dr. Florian Kurth writes, “We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating… Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”

Dr. Kurth warns that this study does not “prove” meditation preserved gray matter in the brain.  There are many other factors such as lifestyle and genetics that can have an effect, but the results are promising and hopefully more research will give more definitive answers.

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Adding Variety to Your Resistance Band Workouts

Chiropractor in Burke, VAIn the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation, “resistance was futile” against the Borg arch villains. But when it comes to exercise and staying in good shape, resistance is NOT futile, and can be one of the best ways to have a great workout—anytime and anywhere.

Resistance bands are the “great democratizer” of the exercise world. Sure, you could join an expensive gym and have access to their shiny exercise machines and racks of free weights. Or you can buy a set of resistance bands for about the same cost as one single month’s membership at the gym and effectively perform all of the same exercises (and more) any time you want and wherever you want to do them. With resistance bands, you can easily exercise at home without having to convert a whole room into a mini-gym to hold all the equipment.  And the bands are lightweight, so you can toss them in your luggage and take them with you when you travel. This makes it easy to exercise in your hotel room!

Ease of use is not the only advantage of resistance bands over weights and machines.

With resistance bands, you can perform pretty much all of the same exercises you can perform using free weights or specialized exercise machines at the gym. For example, by simply standing on one end of the resistance band and pulling upwards, you can do biceps curls. By securing the band at the top of a door jam, you can pull downwards to do pulldowns or triceps pushdowns. You can wrap the band around a vertical pole and perform the same motions as bench presses or butterfly presses to work on your chest. The possibilities are endless and limited only by your own imagination. You can even use your resistance bands in conjunction with other pieces of exercise equipment you have, such as stability balls, Bosu balls, steps, or wall mounts.

Another advantage of resistance bands over free weights or exercise machines is that you get to decide where the resistance comes from, and keep it constant during the full range of motion. With free weights, resistance is determined by gravity, so for example when you are performing biceps curls the resistance is stronger during the upswing of the curl (when you are working against gravity) than during the downswing of the curl (when you are being assisted by gravity). With bands, the resistance is constant, forcing you to use more muscle groups, and improving your coordination and balance at the same time you build strength.

The main benefit of bands, however, is the variety that can be built into a workout.

We could list dozens of ways to use your resistance bands in this article, but our advice is to just use your imagination to think up your own new ways to exercise using them. One quick Google search will give you dozens of “starter” ideas, but then (if you’re like most people) you’ll discover the fun of inventing your own workout routines and start inventing new exercises of your own to add variety to your workout.

And variety is essential for several reasons. First, it keeps you from getting bored with the same old routine and makes it more likely that you’ll develop an exercise habit that sticks. With resistance bands and a little creativity, you can have a different workout almost every day, and never fall into the rut that many people experience with their exercise routines at the gym. All it takes is a little creativity. Just for starters, you can change the anchor point of the bands and create resistance from wherever you want it—the side, overhead, below, wherever. If you play sports, you can also use the bands to mimic movements you want to strengthen, such as your golf swing or tennis serve. No machine in a gym allows you to do that through the full range of motion.

Resistance bands—especially the type with detachable handles that can be “mixed and matched” to produce different levels of resistance—are great for all fitness levels. You can benefit from them as a beginner, but if you use a little creativity you can benefit even more from them as an advanced exerciser. So go boldly forth and invent new exercises, because no matter what the Borg said in Star Trek, resistance is NOT futile. To learn more please visit Chiropractor in Burke, VA.

What is the McKenzie Method?

The McKenzie Method is a technique for treating spinal problems and related pain that is well-regarded in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, but so far is not as well-known here in America. The McKenzie Method was created in the 1960s by New Zealand physical therapist Robin McKenzie. The concept behind his method is called Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment, or MDT. It is a complete system that encompasses the full range of assessment or evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the spine and extremities.

A central tenet of the McKenzie Method is that self-healing and self-treatment are important in alleviating the patient’s pain and facilitating rehabilitation. Diagnosis is an interactive process during which the patient works with a certified McKenzie physical therapist to assess pain and range of motion by working through a series of safe movements that enable the therapist to determine exercises that can most quickly heal any abnormalities. Also, no “passive” modalities—such as heat, cold, ultrasound, medications, or needles—are used during the treatment itself.

What is McKenzie Method treatment like?

The therapist works with the patient to determine whether his or her condition should be categorized into one of three syndromes – postural (related to end-range stress in normal musculoskeletal structures), dysfunction (related to end-range stress due to musculoskeletal structures shortened by scarring or fibrosis), or derangement (related to anatomical disruption or abnormality). Each of these syndromes is then addressed uniquely, using proprietary mechanical procedures involving movement, extension exercises, and static positions.

McKenzie physical therapists work with patients, emphasizing education to help them understand why each exercise or position is being used, and how it helps the healing process. The goal is to develop a pattern of active patient involvement in which patients learn the movements and then practice them at home, not just while in the therapist’s office. Many studies have indicated that this approach has many advantages—it decreases pain rapidly, and restores motor function, range of motion, and independence, all while minimizing the actual number of visits to the clinic. One 2012 study found that when used to treat lumbar disorders, the McKenzie Method “was associated with a better recovery prognosis in terms of pain, short- and long-terms disability, and reduced likelihood of undergoing surgery in the following year.”

Other studies have suggested that the McKenzie Method is more effective for treating acute low back pain than for chronic low back pain, and in general is more effective when dealing with acute pain than long-term chronic pain. The primary benefit of the McKenzie Method as opposed to traditional chiropractic manipulation is that the sense of patient involvement seems to facilitate faster and more complete healing in some patients. However, it’s important to keep in mind that chiropractic physicians are typically trained to apply a wider variety of techniques depending on the patient’s condition, and that most chiropractors also emphasize the importance of lifestyle changes (often related to exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress management) in their broader treatment plans. Because of their expertise in treating a range of musculoskeletal conditions, they are often consulted in cases involving auto-, work- and sports-related injuries.

If you are interested in finding out more about the McKenzie Method, please give our office a call at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA. We’ll be happy to explain its uses as well as how it compares with other approaches to manual therapy, including spinal manipulation and mobilization.