I get tons of patients in my Woodbridge, Dale City VA Chiropractic office with neck and upper back pain. The crazy thing is a lot of the time it is coming from their chest muscles being too tight. Stretching the chest muscle can sometimes take the pressure off the upper back and allow those muscles to rest and decrease their waste production. That usually cuts down on the numb spot or that burning spot in the upper back area. Here is some great information from Kenneth Miller MS on upper cross syndrome.
If you’re like the millions of people who use electronic tools such as a cell phone, tablet, laptop or desk computer, you’ve probably spent hours upon hours looking at the screen with your head jutted forward. Other situations that might have you holding your head forward of your shoulders include reading books, significant time behind the steering wheel or watching TV. Whatever the cause, the migration of your head to this forward position can ultimately lead to overactive muscles and a complementing set of underactive muscles. This postural distortion pattern, known as upper crossed syndrome (UCS), can result in imbalances of muscle tone or timing, often leading to poor movement patterns, and in this tech heavy society, increased stress on the head, neck and shoulder joints.
Poor posture at any level may lead to muscle imbalances. This can have a trickle-down effect into the rest of the body, not just in the local areas of the neck and shoulders. An associated sequence of muscle imbalances in the hip region, referred to as lower crossed syndrome, can oftentimes be observed in conjunction with upper crossed syndrome. When looking for long-term success in relieving UCS, identifying and addressing postural issues that could exist elsewhere in the body will also be needed. This total-body approach will relieve tensions through the entire kinetic chain, while also enhancing desired results.
Crossed and Countercrossed
The “crossed” in upper crossed syndrome refers to the crossing pattern of the overactive muscles with the countercrossing of the underactive muscles. When viewed from the side, an X pattern can be drawn for these two sets of muscles. The overactive muscles form a diagonal pattern from the posterior neck with the upper trapezius and levators down and across to the anterior neck and shoulder with the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and pectoralis major. The other side of the X now depicts the underactive muscles, with the deep cervical flexors down toward the mid/lower trapezius, rhomboids and serratus anterior. As we continually assume the seated, forward head postures driven by electronic devices or poor exercise selection and technique, this X pattern of muscle imbalances will increase.
When working with clients or performing your own workout routine, attaining and maintaining ideal posture is paramount to a safe and effective program. In order to address postural or movement imbalances, the less-than-ideal posture has to be identified and a corrective exercise strategy developed. This corrective program can have two applications. First, it can serve as a stand-alone phase of training that will help the client achieve better postural control and endurance. Second, it can be applied as the movement preparation for a workout. In the first application, the client may be in a post-rehabilitation situation and need a program that incorporates flexibility with local and integrated strengthening. The second application will most likely be for the client looking to move better and improve coordination before applying speed and increased force during their workout session.
The first step to improving any postural distortion pattern is being able to identify the condition. Upper crossed syndrome can be observed from different vantage points with different motions. Some basic assessments that can be implemented to identify distortion patterns are gait observations, overhead squat, pushing and pulling motions, and static posture analysis. With any postural assessment—static, dynamic or transitional—UCS can be observed by watching head position relative to the shoulders, and the arms and shoulder blades relative to the ribs.
By using the landmarks of the ears, shoulders and the glenohumeral (GH) joint, a static posture assessment can identify UCS by observing if the ears are forward of the shoulder. You might even say that this person is slouching.
Observations for the shoulder blade and the upper arm can be seen from the front and side views with the overhead squat, pushing (pushup) and pulling (cable row) motions. The movements to note during an overhead squat assessment for possible signs of UCS include
Arms falling forward or to side during the descent
Head migrating forward
Elevating or elevated shoulder blades
Elbows flexed or challenged in keeping arms straight
Depending on the extent of the distortion, someone may exhibit one or more of the listed movement compensations. Combining the different assessments can also confirm findings. This helps in prioritizing the corrective strategies during program design. Call Doroski Chiropractic to have this problem evaluated and to get some possible home exercises to help it go away.
As a chiropractor in the Woodbridge, Dale City VA area I get asked a lot if it is ok to adjust a child. The answer is almost always yes. With that being said the visit is very different than the parents. One concern I am sure everyone reading this who has been to a chiropractor would be are you going to squish my child. Children don’t have the same muscle development so they adjust so much easier. So don’t worry about them being squished. Here is some information about child adjusting you may find interesting if you are thinking about it.
According to Dr. David Sackett, the father of evidence-based medicine, there are three prongs to the evidence-based decision: clinical expertise, scientific research and patient preference. While chiropractic has more than 100 years of clinical expertise from which to draw, our profession is still quite young when it comes to its base of scientific research—a state that is even more so for one of our youngest subspecialties, chiropractic pediatrics. Dedicated researchers are working hard to fill in these gaps. Recent studies are beginning to confirm what our century of clinical experience has already shown—that chiropractic care for children is not only safe, but also effective for a variety of pediatric conditions.
Dr. Joyce Miller and her colleagues at the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic in the U.K. have contributed much to our knowledge of chiropractic pediatrics in the past few years. Here is a brief summary of some of their latest studies:
Safety study: Miller et al. examined 781 pediatric patients under three years of age (73.5 percent of whom were under 13 weeks) who received a total of 5,242 chiropractic treatments at a chiropractic teaching clinic in England between 2002 and 2004.¹ There were no serious adverse effects (reaction lasting >24 hours or needing hospital care) over the three-year study period. There were seven reported minor adverse effects, such as transient crying or interrupted sleep.
Nursing study: Miller et al. also performed a clinical case series of chiropractic care for 114 infants with hospital- or lactation-consultant-diagnosed nursing dysfunction.² The average age at first visit was three weeks. All infants in the study showed some improvement, with 78 percent able to exclusively breastfeed after two to five treatments within a two-week period.
Colic: Browning et al. performed a single-blinded randomized comparison trial of the effects of spinal manipulative therapy and occipito-sacral decompression therapy on infants with colic.³ Forty-three infants younger than eight weeks of age received two weeks of chiropractic care. Two weeks and four weeks after beginning treatment, the infants in both treatment groups cried significantly less and slept significantly more than prior to receiving chiropractic care.
Long-term sequelae of colic: Research has shown that children who were colicky as infants suffer from poor behavior and disturbed sleep as toddlers. Miller et al. performed a survey of parents of 117 such toddlers who had received chiropractic care as infants vs. 111 who had not received chiropractic care.4 They found the treated toddlers were twice as likely not to experience long-term sequelae of infantile colic, such as temper tantrums and frequent nocturnal waking. In other words, colicky infants who had received chiropractic care were twice as likely to sleep well and to experience fewer temper tantrums in their toddler years.
That is just a sampling of some of the great work that is being done by the dedicated and hard-working researchers focusing on chiropractic pediatrics.
Miller JE, Benfield K. Adverse effects of spinal manipulation therapy in children younger than 3 years: a retrospective study in a chiropractic teaching clinic. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2008;31(6):419-422.
Miller JE, Miller L, et al. Contribution of chiropractic therapy to resolving suboptimal breastfeeding: A case series of 114 infants. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2009;32(8):670-674.
Browning M, Miller JE. Comparison of the short-term effects of chiropractic spinal manipulation and occipito-sacral decompression in the treatment of infant colic: A single-blinded, randomised, comparison trial. Clinical Chiropractic 2008;11(3):122-129.
Miller JE, Phillips HL. Long-term effects of infant colic: a survey comparison of chiropractic treatment and non-treatment groups. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2009;32(8):635-638.
I could hardly believe my eyes but I actually saw a back to school ad! I am thinking didn’t school just end. As your chiropractor in the Woodbridge Dale City VA area I want to share some tips from the BC chiropractic association.
Proper backpack use is often taken for granted and the effects of this could be drastic on our growing children and youth.
The body is a very sensitive and complex organism that adapts to the stressors we place on it. If we continually place undue and uneven stress on one of the most important parts of our body, the spinal column, we could end up in trouble later on in life! Examples of poor backpack use can include but are not limited to: muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, improper growth and development and even nerve damage.
This being said, it’s imperative that we understand how to properly use backpacks in a way that they don’t place negative and uneven stress on our spine in an attempt to promote healthy growth and development!
Here are some great tips from the BC Chiropractic Association Backpack Safety Program, PACK IT LIGHT, WEAR IT RIGHT! that will help your family with proper backpack use:
Lighten up your backpack by ensuring you only have the essentials for the day. Things like shoes, old lunch boxes, old clothes and books for other courses don’t need to be carried around endlessly throughout the week.
If you’re carrying more than 15% of your body weight then you need to, lighten your load! For young and small children 10% of their body weight should be the upper limit!
Carry the heaviest items closest to the body! If you have a waist strap, USE IT!
Choose a backpack that has lots of pockets and areas to store things as this will make the load seem lighter.
When loading your backpack, do it on a table or a ledge that is at least waist height.
When putting your backpack on, keep it on the table and place BOTH straps on one at a time. Using both straps is essential to evenly distribute the weight being carried. Uneven weight distribution could lead to unwanted curvatures and abnormalities in the developing spine and musculature, respectively.
Inflammation can be as obvious as a twisted ankle. That is the most common type of inflammation we think of. Dunk it in a bucket of ice wait three days and it is gone. That is the easy on. But there are other types of inflammation that we deal with that we can’t see but can really cause problems for us. As your chiropractor in the Woodbridge, Dale City VA area I want to share with you some information from Harvard Medical School.
Your immune system attacks anything in your body that it recognizes as foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. The process is called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.
However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That’s when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation.
One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.
Foods that inflame
Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:
refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
French fries and other fried foods
soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
margarine, shortening, and lard
Not surprisingly, the same foods that contribute to inflammation are generally considered bad for our health, including sodas and refined carbohydrates, as well as red meat and processed meats.
“Some of the foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation,” Dr. Hu says. “It’s not surprising, since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases.”
Unhealthy foods also contribute to weight gain, which is itself a risk factor for inflammation. Yet in several studies, even after researchers took obesity into account, the link between foods and inflammation remained, which suggests weight gain isn’t the sole driver. “Some of the food components or ingredients may have independent effects on inflammation over and above increased caloric intake,” Dr. Hu says.
Foods that combat inflammation
Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods in your diet:
green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
nuts like almonds and walnuts
fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
On the flip side are foods and beverages that have been found to reduce the risk of inflammation, and with it, chronic disease, says Dr. Hu. He notes in particular fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants.
Studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Coffee, which contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, may protect against inflammation, as well.
To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet. If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.
In addition to lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can have noticeable effects on your physical and emotional health. “A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving mood and overall quality of life,” Dr. Hu says.
Summer heat is here and it isn’t really summer! As your chiropractor in the Woodbridge, Dale City VA area I can’t say stay hydrated enough. It helps with overall body health but also plays a huge roll in muscle function and muscle spasm. Muscle spasm is something I deal with daily. Here are a few ways to stay hydrated during your busy day!
Many people are so busy that they barely have time to eat, let alone pause for a water break, and you may find you often go hours and hours without quenching your thirst. But staying hydrated has real advantages, including helping you maintain your energy and focus so you can operate more efficiently, so it’s important to give your drinking habits the attention they deserve. Here are some simple ways to make fueling up with fluid throughout the day a little easier:
Always carry a water bottle, and if you have desk job, always keep one at your desk. If you have a bottle within arms reach, it’s very likely that you’ll mindlessly sip from it throughout the day, without having to make a conscious effort.
When you’re feeling frazzled or hazy, grab a glass of cold water. Studies show that people instantly feel more alert after drinking H2O. It’s a simple, healthy way to snap out of a midday slump.
Sip on a mug of herbal tea every evening. If you make this a habit, you’ll add an extra cup of fluid to your tally every single day. On top of that, this relaxing ritual is a wonderful way to de-stress at the end of the day.
Eat a diet rich in whole foods. By eating water-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, and yogurt, you’ll automatically up your fluid intake. On the other hand, processed snack foods like chips, crackers, and baked goods have minimal water content.
If you’re an elderly adult or a caretaker for one, it’s especially important to pay attention to hydration. Aging impairs the body’s natural thirst mechanisms, which makes it easier to become dehydrated. It may be helpful to fill up a big water bottle (at least 1 liter) at the beginning of the day, with the goal of emptying it by the end of the day. The water bottle is a physical reminder to drink even if you’re not thirsty.
It is summer time! You can tell because it is miserably hot and the humidity is unbearable! But it is also weekend warrior time! Time to look around the basement and find you glove, clubs, racket… And that generally amounts to the pre-event perpetration. As your chiropractor in the Woodbridge, Dale City VA area I have to tell you that isn’t enough. Although I have no credibility because my pre-run stretching amounts to me bending over to put on my running shoes. Besides that point here are some common injuries and some ways to prevent them.
Anyone who concentrates all their exercise into 1 or 2 intense bouts a week could be considered a weekend warrior. But physicians agree that weekend warriors tend to be men older than 30, especially former competitive athletes who expect their bodies to adapt to—and recover from—activity the same way it did when they were teenagers.
But even people who are not super athletes can suffer injuries if they do intense activities over the course of a day or two, such as a weekend of yard work or cleaning gutters.
The types of injuries that frequently occur for weekend warriors are:
Muscle strains, such as hamstring injuries
Ligament sprains, particularly ankle sprains
Tendonitis in the Achilles tendon and elsewhere
Shoulder or rotator cuff injuries
Nearly all of these types of injuries can be resolved by following the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevate) protocol. If pain lasts longer than a few weeks or doesn’t improve, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Prevent injuries before they occur
The main trigger for weekend warrior injuries is the abrupt transition from little or no activity to intense bouts of it. Muscles and soft tissues need gradual conditioning to perform at their best.
To prevent this, it’s important to exercise more regularly, if possible. Even if your main period of activity is on the weekends, try to fit in at least 1 or 2 periods of exercise on weekdays.
Build up activity slowly.
If you’ve been inactive for most of the winter or you’re starting training for a marathon in the fall, gradually increase your exercise time and intensity each week.
Before you jump into activity, warm up your muscles with 10 minutes of moderately paced activity like jogging, for example.
After doing a few minutes of light exercise, stretch your major muscle groups, such as your quads and hamstrings, as well as any muscles that will be heavily used during your chosen activity. You can also benefit from using a foam roller before you stretch, which has been shown to increase flexibility and lessen post-exercise pain.
Don’t forget to stretch after you finish exercising too. The findings about the benefits of pre-exercise stretching are mixed, but stretching after exercise has clear benefits for decreasing soreness and helping muscle tissue return to its normal state.
Use proper technique and proper equipment.
It may help to consult a coach, trainer, or physical therapist if you’re new to a sport or piece of equipment.
Find an exercise program.
A class or race training group can help you set a good pace for working toward your exercise goals.
Don’t push through serious pain.
Mild muscle soreness is normal after a workout, but stop exercising if you experience sudden, piercing pain or if you have pain that’s getting steadily worse.
Most times when we hurt our backs the actual mechanism of injury blows your mind. As your Chiropractor in the Woodbridge, Dale City VA area I am here to reassure you that sneeze didn’t blow out your back! The best way to prevent those types of injuries is having a good posture. Good posture is key because it keeps us balanced and keeps the muscles relaxed. Here is some pretty good information and tips to help keep you neutral.
Good posture helps us stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities. Correct posture:
Helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
Reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.
Allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, preventing muscle fatigue.
Helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.
Several factors contribute to poor posture-most commonly, stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes. In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to poor body positioning.
How do I sit properly?
Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.
Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support.
Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.
How do I stand properly?
Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
Keep your knees slightly bent.
Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward.
Tuck your stomach in.
Keep your head level-your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Do not push your head forward, backward, or to the side.
Shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other, if you have to stand for a long time.
What is the proper lying position?
Find the mattress that is right for you. While a firm mattress is generally recommended, some people find that softer mattresses reduce their back pain. Your comfort is important.
Sleep with a pillow. Special pillows are available to help with postural problems resulting from a poor sleeping position.
Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for back pain.
If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs.
If you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees.
Your doctor of chiropractic can assist you with proper posture, including recommending exercises to strengthen your core postural muscles. He or she can also assist you with choosing proper postures during your activities, helping reduce your risk of injury.
Here we go! Golf, Softball, lose that 10 lbs and the never-ending yard work that seems to always need to be done. Most of these sound like easy things and just get out there and get them done! The problem is you are a year older and a year tighter. We need to warm up before prolonged activities. As your Chiropractor in the Woodbridge, Dale City VA area I have some great low tech tips to help keep you from getting injured.
Whether your workout plan is a bodyweight routine in the park or a 5K, warming up should be the first thing on the to-do list (after that pre-workout snack). But what’s the ideal way to warm up? Experts agree a warm-up should heat and loosen the body, and prepare the mind for action. But there are a few moves you should avoid too.
When it comes to strength training and a variety of sports, coaches often think of their warm-ups as training preparation—using techniques such as foam rolling and movement practice to get the gears aligned.
We perform optimally and better avoid injury after a warm-up that does what its name promises: warm us up. And while a marathoner doesn’t warm up like a powerlifter (the same way an opera singer doesn’t warm up like a modern dancer), there could be some similarities.
For endurance or cardio routines, research shows a dynamic approach, including dynamic stretching—active range of motion movements that tend to be similar to what you’ll do in your workout, can improve performance. Some experts even suggest performing a few short intervals of the planned exercise at a lower intensity (for example: brisk walking before running, or bodyweight squats before adding weight).
As for static stretching, leave it for the cool-down. Numerous studies have shown that it can hinder performance and increase the risk of injury.
Your Action Plan
Every warm-up will be different, depending on your fitness level and the goal of your workout. But as a jumping off point, start with these four basic goals for every warm-up, as outlined by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Warm your joints, muscles, and prep your body for exercise with mobility movements. If you’ve got one, now is also a great time for foam rolling. Start by rolling your back, then hit every section of the legs, glutes, and hip flexors.
Get your heart pumping.
Increased heart thumping warms up your muscles and switches on your nervous system. Jog, slowly row, or ride a bike on low resistance. Just be sure you’re able to converse with your workout buddy (or sing along to your Spotify playlist).
Do some dynamic stretches.
Stretch your warm muscles, but don’t hold it. Remember: Static stretching during a warm-up can actually hinder your performance. Instead, do dynamic stretching, which involves continuously moving through a range of motion. For instance, you can make big arm circles in both directions, kick your legs forward, or simply touch your toes and then reach for the sky. The key is to not hold in any position.
Move through the exercises planned for that day’s workout at a lower intensity. Have a long, hard run ahead? Warm up with a few technique drills. Back squats? Start with bodyweight squats or by holding an empty bar. Practicing the movement patterns teaches muscle memory (a.k.a. neuromuscular adaptation) and continues to prepare your body for action.
Find an enjoyable warm-up and remember to listen to your body’s cues. Your warm-up should not fatigue you. After all, it’s only one aspect of the workout. And don’t forget to cool down at the end.
As your chiropractor in the Woodbridge, Dale City VA area I want to share this article with you. It is also fitting since I watched Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins make it to the Stanley Cup finals last night. This is a great article called Rebuilding Sidney Crosby’s brain by Cathy Gulli. It is about the comeback of Sidney Crosby from a brain injury. Dr Carrick is head of the Carrick Institute which is the school I got my Diplomate in Neurology.
Ted Carrick is listening to Sidney Crosby’s heart. The NHL superstar is strapped into a computerized rotating chair that has just spun him like a merry-go-round. It is, as Carrick likes to tell people who visit his lab at Life University near Atlanta, one of only three “whole-body gyroscopes” in the world, and it’s integral to his work as the founding father of “chiropractic neurology.” He uses it to stimulate certain injured and diseased brains.
Crosby, who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins and has been famously sidelined with a concussion since January, is Carrick’s newest patient, and this day in August is the first time they’ve met. Carrick leans in close, his balding, tanned head looming inches from Crosby’s face, and rests the stethoscope on his chest. “Let’s make sure you’re not dead.”
Satisfied, Carrick turns to the others in this cramped blue room, who include Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson, trainer Andy O’Brien and several chiropractic neurologists or studentsin- training wearing white lab coats. “He’s fine,” Carrick says. “It’s going to be good.”
Nodding to his colleague Derek Barton, who usually operates the lab equipment, Carrick signals to restart the gyroscope—with one difference. This time Crosby will be turned upside-down while he is also spun around. He hasn’t experienced this dual action yet.
Barton and Carrick discuss the appropriate speed setting the gyroscope. Then Barton enters Carrick’s directions into a computer that controls the gyroscope (chiropractic neurology uses no drugs or surgery), and tells Crosby to keep his head pressed against the back of the black cushioned seat. Crosby, wearing a grey T-shirt, black shorts and white ankle socks, scans the crowd on the other side of the clear plastic cylinder surrounding the machine. The door clangs shut. Above it, a stack of red, yellow and green lights shines while 10 high-pitched beeps signal the gyroscope is about to start. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
A low hum floods the room as the gyroscope begins its 20-second “montage” of rotations. With each flip, Crosby grips the black handles flanking his thighs, his face reddens and his jaw clenches. Before long, the gyroscope, called GyroStim, winds down. “Perfect,” Carrick concludes.
As the chair returns to its starting position, Carrick approaches the gyroscope, opens the door, steps in and stands in front of his patient. 6 2 “Still there?” he asks, as he plugs the stethoscope back into his ears. He listens to Crosby’s heart again, and checks his eye movements. “That’s much better,” Carrick informs Crosby. “Just sit there for a sec. Relax for a bit.” Carrick asks him a few questions, and then surmises, “That’s good. That’s good!”
Inside the Pittsburgh hockey arena, known as the Consol Energy Center, Sidney Crosby is sitting behind a long table littered with microphones and audio recorders. His name is typed in bold black letters on a white sign. But Crosby needs no introduction. On this day, Sept. 7, nearly 100 journalists, camera operators, publicists, agents and team executives have convened for a rare press conference updating his health status. Ray Shero, the Penguins’ general manager, sits to his left. On the end, farthest from Crosby, is Michael Collins, a neuropsychologist who has been treating him for months. And at Crosby’s right hand is Ted Carrick.
It’s only been weeks since they were in Georgia together, and 249 days since Crosby sustained the first of two head shots that caused his concussion. That hit, which happened during the annual Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, was a blow unlike any the hockey world had ever experienced: the best player since Wayne Gretzky was suddenly knocked out of the game indefinitely because of an invisible injury: no blood on the ice, no cracks on any X-rays and no way to know how bad was the damage done.
And yet Crosby has turned concussion into the most highly visible of sports injuries. Since January, Google searches of “Crosby” and “concussion” have moved in tandem as hockey fans in Canada, the United States and as far away as Finland, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom try to make sense of what has happened to their favourite player. Scientists, doctors and equipment makers have used Crosby as a talking point to raise awareness and as a case study in the complexity of concussion. One group at the University of Ottawa has gone so far as to reconstruct Crosby’s first head shot to see the link between hits, helmets and brain-tissue stress. The NHL is embroiled in a polarizing debate over fighting in hockey—how to keep it in, but make it safe?—and whether it contributed to the deaths of three players in the past six months. And nervous hockey parents everywhere are reconsidering whether their children should keep playing. How Crosby recovers will help them decide.
Maclean’s obtained exclusive access to the lab where Crosby saw Carrick, and learned about his unique methods of treating brain injuries. While the details of Crosby’s personal health data remain private, over the course of two days, the magazine was granted access to a range of information about the treatments used on patients, including him. During that time in late September and early October, an astonishing assortment of patients came through the clinic. A wealthy businessman and his son. A prominent NFL player. An NHL rookie and a teenage girl, each with a concussion. An aging biology teacher who’d had a stroke. A boy with brain damage sustained after a van ran him over. A middle-aged physician who’d lost his ability to talk or walk after a tick bite. In every case, Carrick ran through a version of the same evaluation, exercises and equipment he used on Crosby. “We saw something like nine MDs, neurologists, cardiologists,” says one patient’s relative. “I’ve seen nothing that compares to this.”
Nor had most of the people at the press conference now bracing to hear about Carrick’s involvement with Crosby. Staring out from behind gold-rimmed eyeglasses, Carrick surveyed the fidgety strangers. “Good day, people. I’m here because Sid asked me to be here to discuss with you some of the things that have been going on in his life over the last little while.”
But Carrick’s statements were more puzzling than clarifying: he took “a different type of approach” to brain injuries, one that looked at “physicality” and involved “specific measurements” to “make a very good diagnostic impression of what was happening in Sid’s brain.” Carrick alluded to Crosby’s compromised spatial awareness—“areas of space were not in an appropriate grid to where he would perceive them”—and described how he had fixed that. “We were able in our lab to quantify this, and then to develop strategies that allowed us to basically build him a new grid,” Carrick declared. “So at the present time he is able to embrace strategies with a new system where everything is in line.” And then he added: “It’s Christmas, I think, for Sid Crosby and for the people that care for him. And it’s a very good start.”
When question period finally arrived, the only thing any reporter could think to ask Carrick specifically was: “The Christmas line—I was a little confused by what that meant, so if you could maybe elaborate on that, please?”
For whatever vague or bewildering comments were made during that 40-minute press conference, a singular message came through loud and clear: Sidney Crosby was getting better, and this man, Ted Carrick, was a big reason.
Carrick started out as a chiropractor, but has since developed an encyclopedic understanding of the brain. But what Carrick practises goes far beyond alignment and adjustments or conventional medicine. He is a self-made man: Carrick invented his discipline, and then founded an educational institution, the Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies, devoted to growing it. He lectures and practises around the world, and has legions of earnest students and loyal graduates. Today, 2,700 individuals in the world are board-certified to practise chiropractic neurology or functional neurology, a related field that permits pharmacy and surgery and draws professionals from other backgrounds too.
The method used by Carrick and his colleagues is notably different from the current “rest and wait” approach endorsed by an international consensus group, which recommends patients refrain from any physical or mental activities until all symptoms have disappeared. Then they slowly reintroduce activity, but if symptoms resume, they revert to the “rest” stage again. Carrick encourages his patients to rest immediately after the injury occurs, but then incorporates stimulation into the treatment, based on a “thorough neurological exam” that pinpoints their particular problems or symptoms as well as what brain functions are most viable. The stimulations might include eye or balance exercises, multi-tasking activities or body rotations. “We tailor our treatments very specifically to the individual,” says Carrick. “When we have an area that’s not working right, we look at other areas that can compensate for that if we need to, or we look at mechanisms to make those areas work right.”
The wait list to see Carrick can be as long as three years, though in some cases, such as with Crosby, patients can be expedited. By the time they met in Georgia, the reality of what Crosby could lose if he didn’t get better soon was abundantly and uncomfortably clear: his career, his endorsements, the adoration of an entire nation. Yet in many ways, the NHL’s golden boy was just like many people stuck in a concussion vacuum where conventional medicine can’t readily cure the injury, leagues can’t easily curb it from happening and patients and their families can’t know how long symptoms will last and what life will be like once they’re gone, if they ever do go.
However strange and sickening that first day of treatment was for Crosby, it proved encouraging enough that he continued seeing Carrick for the whole next week. They’d meet as early as seven in the morning, and they’d go as late as six at night, says Carrick, running through a circuit of high-tech equipment and low-tech exercises in the lab and at the local hockey rink. By the time Crosby travelled back to Pittsburgh, Carrick says, “he was better than, you know, super-normal.” The Penguins’ medical team, who have been overseeing Crosby’s recovery, also saw an improvement: they ran computerized tests called IMPACT to compare his current neurocognitive abilities with what they were before the concussion. The results: not quite “super-normal,” but “the best we’ve seen” since Crosby got hurt, as Collins said at the press conference. (He declined interview requests.)
“Carrick had a very prominent role in Sidney’s current recovery status,” Brisson, Crosby’s agent, told Maclean’s. “He progressed extremely well under Carrick.” Just 10 days after the press conference, Crosby joined his teammates on the ice for the first day of training camp. Three-and-a-half weeks after that, Crosby was cleared for contact—the final step before returning to play. Now, after nearly a year of nagging symptoms that have included fogginess, light-headedness and nausea so paralyzing Crosby couldn’t drive or watch TV, and after a slew of setbacks each time he pushed too hard while exercising or skating, the greatest hockey player of this generation is verging on a comeback—perhaps because of a relatively unknown therapy he received at a relatively unknown university from a relatively unknown man who isn’t even a medical doctor.
Come what may, Carrick has set out to do what no amount of time or rest or other expert has managed to accomplish so far: rebuild Sid’s brain.
It’s just before 8 a.m. on the first Saturday of October. Carrick is about to give a four-hour lecture on chiropractic neurology at Life University in Marietta, Ga. He is standing beside a massive screen displaying the first slide of his PowerPoint presentation. It shows the Carrick Institute coat of arms, which features bees because “they represent work and continuous diligence as a team,” says Carrick, and the motto “seek wisdom” in Latin because it “is something that I have always ascribed to.”
The slide also lists Carrick’s professional titles, which include affiliations with Life, Logan and Parker universities, and president of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Neurology. After his full name, Frederick R. Carrick, there are several acronyms signifying various credentials—60 letters in all, mostly unrecognizable.
A large man stands in front of the slide, and the crowd hushes. John Donofrio, president of the chiropractic neurology board, introduces Carrick by describing the first time he heard him speak. “I was there for one hour when I said, ‘My whole life is now changed forever,’ ” says Donofrio. “He has no idea, okay, of how much of this world he has touched.” Carrick “basically is what D.D. and B.J. were back in the 1900s,” he says, referring to the Palmers, father and son, who founded the field of chiropractics. “He is really the father of chiropractic neurology.”
Carrick was born on Feb. 26, 1952, in Toronto, and raised in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg—wherever work took his father, a career soldier with the Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry who fought in the Korean War. After finishing high school, Carrick says he “had a calling” to join the Princess Pats too, and served in Cyprus. While on leave in the Bahamas, he met his future wife, a New Englander on vacation. After three years in the army, Carrick quit. “I was really going to do it forever, except that I thought that I might be able to help people more in health care.”
The decision to pursue chiropractic rather than medical school was a “very calculated coin toss,” says Carrick, because, as a lifelong martial artist (he still does karate), it seemed more in line with his preference for natural means of healing and well-being. Carrick was also “more impressed” with the chiropractors he talked to than the medical doctors. “I like to do things with vibrancy,” he says over lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant near his lab. “Not death and dying.”
Carrick wed in 1973, and after he graduated in 1979, the couple moved to New Hampshire to set up his practice. Over the years, he developed a clientele that included patients from overseas with “everything from strokes, low back pain, dystonia—you name it, I saw it,” recalls Carrick. “People would come to me when other things failed.” Carrick keeps on hand a state of New Hampshire resolution “honouring” his clinic in 1988 for “its contribution to the quality of human life and performance,” and for his ability “to afford his fellow man great relief from physical pain and disability.”
By the mid-1990s, Carrick and his family had relocated to St. Cloud, Fla., and he obtained a self-designed Ph.D. from Walden University in what he calls “brain-based learning.” Around this time, he gained attention for bringing comatose patients out of their vegetative states using stimulation. A program that aired on PBS, entitled Waking up the Brain: Amazing Adjustments, described Carrick as a “remarkable healer and teacher.”
As Carrick’s practice has grown, so too has the Carrick Institute, which is headquartered in Cape Canaveral. Since the mid-’80s, it has evolved from teaching partnerships between Carrick and a few chiropractic schools into its own educational entity specializing in “clinical neurology.” It has more than a few dozen faculty members who teach courses such as “neuron theory and receptor activation” and a three-part series on “vestibular rehabilitation.” To become a chiropractic neurologist requires three additional years of studying, a residency and board certification exams.
Despite the buzz surrounding this burgeoning field, many people outside it aren’t sure what to think. Before the press conference in September, Blaine Hoshizaki, professor and vice-dean of the University of Ottawa’s school of human kinetics and director of the Neurotrauma Impact Science Laboratory, had never heard of this specialty, despite his extensive work in concussion research. He found it “strange” that a medical neurologist wasn’t included in the Crosby press conference, and is hesitant about Carrick’s approach, saying, “I’m not sure you want your chiropractor as your guide to the new frontier.”
Dr. Kevin Gordon, a pediatric neurologist in Halifax, finds Carrick’s approach intriguing and perplexing. “Are specific exercises targeted at particular parts of the brain likely to change the way in which the brain works? It is a possibility,” says Gordon, a professor at Dalhousie University. Still, he isn’t convinced. “The question is, what’s the science behind these interventions?”
This isn’t Carrick’s first brush with cynics: in 2007, he was the subject of online debate over his credentials and credibility on the website Chirotalk: The skeptical chiropractic discussion forum. “These people are chiropractic haters,” says Carrick now. He gets frustrated that the field is dismissed offhand. “It’s like saying, ‘Hey, what do you think of this curling iron?’ Well, I’m bald. I can’t tell you anything about it. It doesn’t mean it’s bad.” He’s also inflamed by any suggestion that his work is wacky. “To characterize what we do as some fringe science is crazy,” he says. “We don’t have Kool-Aid. We don’t have a little fire. We’re not dancing around naked. There’s no pins in the dolls, and there’s no dolls.”
In fact, Carrick argues that all of his diagnostic techniques, exercises and equipment, excluding the gyroscope, are used by medical doctors too. “There’s nothing we do that is different from anybody else. But the combinations that we do, the frequency that we do it, are often different,” he says. “If you can imagine, you’ve got some eggs, you’ve got some flour, you’ve got some sugar, you’ve got an oven, you’ve got a ramekin, you’ve got some butter. But your soufflé isn’t as puffy as mine,” Carrick continues. “We just put in our recipe a little bit different.”
One thing Carrick says skeptics fail to mention when comparing his methods to the current “rest and wait” approach, which is what Crosby adhered to during most of his recovery, is that “the gold standard people had him for eight months, you know?” he says. “That’s the gold standard, right?”
Before Crosby goes in the gyroscope, Carrick learns more about what problems he’s having. That involves another machine, the “computerized assessment of postural systems,” or CAPS. In a small white room, Crosby stands in his skates on a black foam platform while wearing sound-dampening headphones. Carrick and his colleagues surround him in case he gets unsteady; his agent and trainer watch from the doorway.
Crosby’s only objective is to stand still while his eyes are closed and his head points to the left, to the right and to the ground for 25 seconds at a time. Three sensors inside the platform detect motion and transmit the data into a system that calculates his stability and what is described as his fatigability ratio.
“Tuck your chin down to your chest,” instructs Barton, who is running the system. “And close your eyes.”
Crosby obliges. Carrick, standing nearby, responds with encouragement: “That is so helpful to what we’re going to do for you. Just putting those skates on there gives us exactly the information we wanted to get,” he says. “Now we’re going to fix it for you.”
So begins a week of tests and exercises based on Carrick’s neurological exam of Crosby. Standing in front of him, Carrick pulls from his pocket a red-and-white-striped cloth ribbon called an optokinetic nystagmus strip. He moves it horizontally in front of Crosby’s eyes to check how smoothly he can track the stripes as they go by. Other times Carrick flicks his thumbs in front of Crosby to gauge how quickly and accurately Crosby targets objects. Occasionally Crosby lies on a chiropractic table while one of Carrick’s colleagues transmits high-frequency currents into the tympanic membrane in his ears. They put on graphite conductive gloves that are connected to a machine, and insert their thumbs in his ears. Often, Crosby does eye exercises on an iPad that challenge him to stare at a dot or follow a moving pattern.
Sometimes Crosby has to stare at or track red or green laser-beam dots as they appear or move across a wall. For this test, called videonystagmography, or VNG, he sits on a dusty-rose upholstered metal chair like those found in a banquet hall. He is wearing a pair of black goggles with cameras in each lens that transmit live video of his eyes onto a laptop. Carrick, the lab team and Crosby’s agent and trainer watch as two eyeballs dart from dot to dot or glide from side to side. After one such session, Crosby sees the footage of his own eyes.
As the days go on, Carrick incorporates ice time into the treatment. His colleagues have set up a mini lab in an office inside a nearby arena. Canadian and American flags hang at one end. Half a dozen local hockey players have been recruited to practise with Crosby, and it is easy to pick him out. After running through shooting and skating drills—dozens of pucks are strewn across the ice—Crosby is scuttled into the makeshift lab for more tests.
Crosby, who has on a black jersey like the Penguins wear, takes off his white helmet. He is dripping with sweat, breathing heavily and chugging from a cold bottle. Except for Carrick standing in front of him waiting to do the thumb test, it is easy to imagine that this is the same Crosby that fans have come to idolize. He puts down his drink and begins the eye exercise. Carrick catches a glimpse of the old Crosby too: “The reflex is back there, which is great.”
After their time in Georgia, Carrick says he set an alarm on Crosby’s iPad to go off every hour, reminding him to do various eye exercises. Since then, Carrick says he hasn’t seen Crosby, but they have been in frequent contact. “He’s excited about getting back into the game,” says Carrick, “and hopefully things will continue to go very, very well for him.”
Even medical professionals such as neurologist Kevin Gordon acknowledge that Crosby’s recent progress has been promising. “You’re dealing with a remarkable case report that says this holistic approach with multiple interventions has made somebody with a severe concussion improve on a time course which would seem remarkable compared to how they were recovering before,” he says. But Gordon is cautious about what this means for the future. “Is it going to change his ultimate recovery? We can’t tell yet. Is he completely recovered? We don’t know yet.” Having researched and treated concussions for many years, Gordon says that “if indeed this is the solution, then there are a lot of people this needs to be standardized and developed for. We can’t ignore it. But we have to study it.” At Life University, Carrick and his colleagues have begun a 400-person study to determine whether the gyroscope does improve balance. But he is also emphatic that because his approach is so patient-specific, it is difficult to study. “If you hurt your brain, I’m probably going to treat you differently than this person here. It’s hard to design a study like that, because studies like to say we’re going to give you this drug and we’re going to see what happens,” says Carrick.
For those close to Crosby, all that matters now is whether he is well enough to get back in the game. And there is only one person who can ultimately make that call: Crosby himself. “It’s like a race-car driver. The car could be fixed, the tires are perfect, the pipes are good, but if the driver isn’t mentally prepared to go 250 mph on the track, it outweighs” any expert opinion, says Brisson.
On one of his last days in Georgia, Crosby did another round of VNG. As the testing wrapped up, Carrick responded with unabashed enthusiasm about Crosby’s recovery: “This is so exciting for me,” he told him. “But for you and your brain, I mean, it’s perfect. We shouldn’t test you anymore, just send you home.”
And Carrick did just that. Crosby returned to Pittsburgh, to his team, to his fans, to the same rink where less than a year ago he was skating toward the best season of his life. He’s traded his white helmet for a black one, signalling he can take contact again. He’s goading his teammates into hitting him so he can prove his toughness—as much to himself as to them or to the world, which is analyzing his every move. In this way, nothing has changed: he is still the one hockey player everyone watches. Sidney Crosby is home, indeed.
There’s only one question left: when the time comes, will Sidney Crosby play as if he was never gone?
Almost everyone has dealt with a joint injury once in their lives. The problem with joint injuries is the ligaments and joint capsule can heal but damage to the hyaline cartilage may not. This can lead to early degenerative changes of the injured joint. Glucosamine can help repair the damage to the joint cartilage. As your chiropractor in the Woodbridge, Dale City VA I want to share some information on how glucosamine can help.
This is a good video but you can buy any brand.
Helps Improve Joint Health & Osteoarthritis
Glucosamine is one of the best supplements for supporting joint health and lowering symptoms related to degenerative disorders like osteoarthritis. Aging naturally impacts the strength and durability of our joints, normally causing cartilage loss and joint pain over time. It doesn’t improve symptoms 100 percent of the time, but compared to many other supplements like chondroitin, glucosmine consistently rank as one of the most effective for treating arthritis discomfort.
Glucosamine slows down deterioration of joints when used long-term, plus it offers other benefits that prescription painkillers cannot (such as lowering chronic inflammation and improving digestive health). The results of taking glucosamine differ from person to person, but some long-term users often report pain relief that allows them to avoid surgeries and lower or eliminate medication use.
Osteoarthritis is a disorder characterized by ongoing joint pain caused from years of accumulating pressure and friction places on joints. It’s the most common type of arthritis worldwide, effecting millions of people (especially older adults). Glucosamine is one of the top supplements I recommend as part of a natural treatment approach for managing arthritis with diet and lifestyle changes.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, so it becomes harder to move over the years as joint friction increases. Studies show that taking about 800 to 1500 milligrams of glucosamine daily can help millions of people suffering from degenerative joint diseases, preventing further damage, especially in commonly effected joints such as those in the knees and hips. It has been shown to help offer relief from joint pain within 4–8 weeks, which might be longer than some prescriptions or over-the-counter pain killers, but it’s also a more natural and well-tolerated approach.
Glucosamine, whether used alone or in combination with other supplements like chondroitin, is not a “cure all” and guaranteed to help everyone, but major studies have found it can help many, especially those impacted most by arthritis. The Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT), which is considered the most comprehensive trial ever done involving glucosamine, found that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate used for 8 weeks resulted in significant relief in the majority of study participants who had high amounts of joint pain. Many experienced improvements regarding their moderate-to-severe knee pains, although not all did (including those with milder pains).
Glucosamine is a helpful supplement for improving digestive function and repairing the lining of the GI tract. It’s even been shown to be an effective leaky gut supplement, combating a condition sometimes called “intestinal permeability.” This condition involves undigested food particles and proteins (like gluten, toxins and microbes) passing into the bloodstream through tiny openings in the lining of the GI tract.
Once these particles enter the bloodstream, they often trigger inflammation or initiate or worsen immune responses in the body. These include food sensitivities, arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases. Glucosamine supplements, or naturally glucosamine-rich bone broth, help repair damaged tissue and lower inflammation related to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a set of conditions that are notoriously painful and hard to treat. The supplement may also help repair the lining of the bladder and stomach and intestines.
In 2000, researchers from the University Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology at University College School of Medicine found that glucosamine was an effective, inexpensive and nontoxic supplement used for treating chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Children affected by inflammatory bowel disease tend to have lower levels of glucosamine in the body. Interestingly, N-acetyl supplementation (GlcNAc) offered a mode of action distinct from conventional treatments, resulting in lower symptoms in 75 percent of patients.
The researchers found evidence of significant improvements in the majority of patients using glucosamine, even those who were unresponsive to other anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics. Results showed improved integrity of the GI tract and restoration of healthy epithelial cell structures that helped stop gut permeability.
Can Help Relieve TMJ Symptoms
TMJ (a disorder related to the temporo-manibular joint in the jaw) is common in young to middle-aged adults and characterized by frequent jaw and neck pains, headaches and trouble sleeping. TMJ affects the joint that connects the jaw to the skull and allows for the head to move up and down, or side to side, normally without pain.
As the TMJ joint becomes inflamed and worn down, pain worsens. This makes it harder to talk, eat and function normally. Studies suggest glucosamine helps ease TMJ symptoms and pain in people with arthritis that effects the jaw. The pain relief is on par with taking NSAID pain relievers can (such as ibuprofen or Advil). Taking 500 to 1500 milligrams of glucosamine daily for several months or years may help you sleep better, chew and heal while lowering inflammation in the jaw long-term.
Helps Alleviate Bone Pain
Many people with bone pain, low bone density and a history of fractures can benefit from taking glucosamine, which assists bone healing. This is especially true if they also have joint pains or a form of arthritis. Some evidence suggests that glucosamine helps preserve articular cartilage surrounding bones, decreases pain, increases physical function, and enhances activities in people with bone disorders or those who are at most at risk for bone loss (such as middle-aged and older women).
A 2013 study by the Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology at Haseki Training and Research Hospital in Turkey found that glucosamine helped speed up the time it took rats to heal from bone fractures. Those researchers found that new bone formation and osteoblast lining were significantly higher in glucosamine-treated rats compared to those in control groups. After 4 weeks of taking 230 milligrams of glucosamine sulfate daily, the rats’ connective tissue surrounding bones were more cellular and vascular, and the newly formed bones that were previously fractured were stronger compared to controls.