Yoga and the sacroiliac joints.

Full disclosure: I am not a yogi. I’ve only done yoga a handful of times, and that was only when I conceded to my wife’s request to join her because, “it would be fun”. I learned enough about yoga in chiropractic school to understand some of the health benefits it offers, such as maintaining good joint mobility. As beneficial as I know it to be, it just hasn’t stuck with me yet. I still spend most of my exercise time on a bike. Now, having said that, I would like to discuss something that I have observed clinically in my office.

I have seen a number of patients in my office who are avid yoga students and suffer from sacroiliac joint dysfunction causing pelvis and butt pain. Not knowing if this was cause, correlation, or coincidence, I treated these patients by restoring normal motion to the joints, correcting muscle tension around the area and having the patient take a break from exercise. The good news is that sacroiliac joint dysfunction often resolves with proper treatment. But many of these patients asked me if yoga was causing their problem. I told si jointsthem that I truthfully didn’t know enough about yoga to comment, but in the back of my mind I kept the question:

“Does yoga cause sacroiliac joint problems?”

Joint injury is often caused by too much compression. Compressing a joint beyond its capacity to withstand the pressure occurs in two ways. A force can either be a large, sudden-impact collision like getting hit by a car or it can be a series of small, repetitive-type forces like choosing to stand in a shift stance whereby you put most of your weight only on one leg. Either way, the result can be the same: inflammation, improper joint motion, and eventually, pain.

This weekend I did an informal investigation and asked my two sister-in-laws, both yoga instructors, if they had heard of any concern regarding SI joint injury and yoga. They both replied with an emphatic yes and explained that if people were not properly aligned when doing certain poses that they could indeed cause SI joint dysfunction. Specifically, they talked about the yoga pose called, “Warrior One”. IMG_0153One of them even stated that she often skips that pose because of her history of sacroiliac joint pain. A second concern that they mentioned was that sometimes people don’t self regulate or listen to their own body. Because it is usually done in a class setting, a person may try to “match” another person in the class and do a pose that their body is not ready to do.

To validate these statements I consulted with Kim Valeri of Yogaspirit Studios. Kim has been training and certifying yoga teachers for about 20 years. She agreed with these concerns and took the time to explain the physiopathology (mechanism or process of a disease or injury) by simply stating that too much external rotation of the back leg in Warrior One can be very stressful on the SI joint. She suggested that a person focus on keeping their hips square and their back foot facing more forward when doing Warrior One pose and that this would prevent SI joint injury. She further reiterated the importance of doing each pose in the proper biomechanical alignment to avoid injury and then spouted off about 10 other poses with similar concerns and voiced the merits of working with a trained yoga teacher- such as our very own Stephanie McQuillan of Bodhi Living in Beverly, Ma.

So, in conclusion:

  1. I am not a yogi.
  2. Yoga is a healthy exercise and like any other exercise, it can be done improperly and cause problems.
  3. Work with a certified instructor. A private (one on one session) may be the best way to start.

We are blessed to have a lot of great studios here on the north shore. Find one that fits you and have fun.

Dr. Jerry

P.S. If you see my wife there, tell her I’ll join her next time.

 

 

 

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Healthy eating just became convenient.

I admit that I could eat better. I’m working on it- livelong quest really. It is hard work to eat right and I’m easily tempted. But I have discovered that I do pretty well when someone else makes the food and I just show up to eat it.  Or, as in this case, the food comes to me.

If you have time, check out this local company. They just made it a little more convenient for families to eat healthy food. They are making whole food meals and having people pick up weekly shares locally. You can pick up shares right here in Hamilton.

wholefoods

 

 

 

 

-Dr. Jerry

Shoveling

We will be open this afternoon from 2-6:30. You can text us @ 978-810-1424 before 2pm to schedule if you like.

Some tips on shoveling:
1. When you can, push instead of lift.
2. Try to avoid bending/twisting/lifting combo- this puts a lot of torsional pressure on the discs the back.
3. Dont start cold- some simple rotational stretching before will help to warm up the muscles of the back.
4. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
5. Get adjusted.

Sacrum:The emotional bone.

A subluxated sacrum can do much more than just cause discomfort or sciatic type pain. Reproductive problems, bladder dysfunction, and digestive difficulties may all occur when the sacral bone is not aligned properly (what chiropractors call a subluxation). But the most problematic side effect of a sacral subluxation may be the emotional component. I have seen several patients with chronic sacral subluxations who were being medically treated for depression.

Clinically, I have seen this correlation happen so many times now that it has caused me to incorporate the question “Do you have difficulties with depression?” in my initial examination. Recently a patient reminded me that many old-time chiropractors and osteopaths used to refer to the sacrum as “The Emotional Bone.” Without going into too much depth here, let me try and give you a brief glimpse into the neurology of “why” the sacrum may influence our emotional well-being.

The autonomic portion of the nervous system regulates organ and gland function. This is broken down into two parts: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is in charge of revving things up (fight or flight). The parasympathetic is in control of “resting” activities such as digestion, urination, salivation, and sexual arousal (things that we can take our time with and provide relief). Where do these parasympathetic nerves come from? The upper (cranial) and lower (sacral)  part of the spinal cord.  This is why it is called craniosacral outflow and it might also be why a subluxated sacrum can put an individual in a sour mood. A subluxated sacrum may interfere with proper parasympathetic outflow, causing a dis-ease within the system.

I am not saying the all depressed people have a sacral subluxation or that anyone with a sacral subluxation will become depressed. But I can say that I have seen people’s moods completely change when I adjusted their subluxated sacrum. I have seen it enough times that I believe it warrants more attention from the medical community and more research from the chiropractic community.

-In Health,

Dr. Jerry

Egotistical Athlete Loses Race to 8 year old Girl.

What do you do when your daughter’s 8 year old friend challenges you to a race? In my opinion, you can do one of two things: 1. you can respectfully decline while coming up with a lame excuse of an arthritic knee, or 2. you can say yes, but concede at the finish line and let her go home with the glory.

But what do you do when her mom then taunts you by saying that she has “never been beat”?

This was the pickle I found myself in last Friday.

I had been watching my daughter play with her friend as our two families were enjoying a rare October beach day. As the girls ran around I was amazed to watch her friend put her hands on the ground and walk around on all fours like she was a cat or a gorilla. She moved with such incredible grace that it looked completely  natural.

She had no difficulty walking in the normal bipedal upright position, but could easily transition to all fours and run. In this position, she could bound up and down the rocks or scamper down the beach.

Being a chiropractor, I began to study the movement of her spine and analyze the bio-dynamics that were occurring in her body as she moved. When I asked her mother about her ability to walk on all fours she said, “She started doing it out of curiosity after watching Animal Planet. She began to emulate the animals for fun and just kept doing it til she got really good at it.”

She further stated that last year, when in Florida, a man had come down the beach and expected to find a monkey after watching the movement from afar and was alarmed to discover a young girl just playing.

After a few minutes of this play, she challenged me to a race… on all fours of course. Just like the carney, who was trying to tempt me to win an overstuffed pink cuddly donkey for my daughters by demonstrating how easy it is to climb up and down “The Tricky Ladder” at The Topsfield Fair, this girl had made it look easy and lured me into the belief that anyone could do it.

We lined up, I crouched down and we were off. I fell on my face and she galloped down to the finish line and back before I got the actual sand and figurative mud off my face.

Her ability to move in such a fashion was nothing short of a work of art and had such an impact on me that I thought it appropriate to write about it here. There were so many life lessons for me wrapped up in this moment of play.

Here are a few reflections:

1. There is no substitute for practice and repetition. This is true for keeping your spine in alignment, learning to ride a bike, keeping your teeth clean, and learning to run like a cheetah.

2. Ben Franklin said that necessity is the mother of invention, but I believe, that  curiosity is the best soil for cultivating creativity. I think of all the things Leonardo DaVinci created, designed and built simply because he was curious about his environment.

3. Sometimes children are so over-scheduled that they rarely have the time to simply play, spontaneously create and commune with nature. This leads them susceptible to developing “Nature Deficiency Syndrome.”

And lastly…

4. Like Jim Croce sang: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull on the mask of the lone Lone Ranger” and you don’t race on all fours against an 8 year old girl who has spent years perfecting her craft! You might end up writing a self-incriminating blog about yourself.

In good health and good humor,

Dr. Jerry

p.s. Further insult to injury occurred after the race as I tried to practice this unusual movement and accidentally kicked sand up into the eyes of the children who were watching me.

“Go easy,” my dad said.

Today, I pass on some of the advice I received from my dad before he passed away.

As many of you may know, my dad died on the morning of Christmas Eve. These past several months have brought much self reflection as I have processed the meaning of his death. As to be expected, life appears to be much more fragile to me now. Its ephemeral quality is more apparent.

But yesterday, the questions and unease I felt regarding his death were mysteriously comforted as I chose to think more about his life and the essence of who he was.

Several months before he died I had called him for some advice regarding parenting.  My wife and I were perplexed about how to handle a situation in which one of our children had responded in a less than socially appropriate manner and left us in her wake to try and to figure out how to respond. I felt totally unprepared.

My dad just listened. After a while he laughed. As he spoke he recalled how he had done a similar thing when he was young boy. He then laughed more and reminded me that I had also experimented with the same socially apprehensive act when I was a child.

The conversation then turned back to him and his health crisis. We talked for the next 1/2 hour about doctors, hospitals, and treatment plans. We were all business, but before hanging up he turned it all around. He left me with this simple advice:

“Son,” he said, “Go easy on her. Go easy.”

He didn’t need to say anything else. My concern for how to be a “good” and “fair” and “just” parent was trumped by those simple words. I didn’t just hear him say to “go easy on her”, but to also “go easy on myself” and to “go easy on life”.

That was how my dad lived. He knew how to “go easy”. He jumped in the swimming pool still wearing his dress clothes. He laughed when a little league ball smashed his car’s front windshield. And he was lenient on me when I smashed the family car before I had a license.

I am grateful that he knew how to “go easy”. I am grateful that he modeled this behavior to a young boy, a flailing teenager, and a struggling parent.

I hope today that you benefit from his advice.

Go Easy.