Form Follows Function - Why Function Matters

Form Follows Function

It’s a well-known saying in the exercise world – you can’t change what you don’t measure. Most of us are used to keeping track of a number of health-related metrics, from our blood pressure to our mile time or bench press max. Yet very few of us even consider measuring the range of motion and function in our bodies, and this is a critical oversight that prevents us from seeing the full picture of our health.

If your muscles and joints can’t easily move through a full range of motion and normal function, you could be doing just as much damage long-term to your body as you would be doing to your heart and blood vessels if you had untreated high blood pressure.

If you’ve never had your body’s mobility evaluated by a musculoskeletal specialist, you could be setting yourself up for disaster down the line. You may be completely unaware of mobility issues you’re dealing with, or be chalking it up to “tight hamstrings” or maybe a family history of bad shoulders. The truth is that mobility issues can cause chronic pain, nerve damage, and a range of other adverse effects if left untreated.

Knowledge of where you’re at and what specific challenges you face starts with testing and measuring your function. The tests below can be performed easily at home and can give you a clue as to how your body is moving and whether you should consider seeking treatment for mobility and musculoskeletal issues. Failing any of the below tests means that you’re not moving properly and should be seen by a professional for evaluation and treatment.

Straight Leg Raise (SLR).

This test measures the range of motion of the hip and the health of the muscles and nerves of the low back and hamstring. This includes the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body and a common culprit of low back and hip pain. To perform this test:

1 – Lie on your back with legs extended

2- Keeping your knee straight but muscles relaxed, have a friend lift your leg, hinging at the hip to raise the foot, aiming to get the leg perpendicular to the floor (90 degrees).

A healthy hip and leg will easily raise to 90 degrees with a mild stretch through the hamstring. Pain, constriction, pinching or intense pulling indicates a problem.

Supine Hip Flexion (SHF)

Another test used to check hip joint and low back function, this one also starts with lying on the back with legs extended. One by one, bend a knee and, interlacing hands behind the thigh, try and pull the knee and thigh to touch the bottom of your ribcage. This should take minimal effort and be pain free. Pain or pinching in the hip flexor, hip joint or low back indicates a failed test.

Shoulder Abduction 

This test measures range of motion in the shoulder joint as well as the health of the rotator cuff and shoulder cartilage. Anyone who regularly lifts or throws overhead should regularly perform this test to ensure their long-term shoulder health isn’t being compromised. Stand facing a mirror with hands at your sides and head straight. With palms facing up, raise both arms straight out to the side and overhead in a big arc. Try and have your palms meet overhead with your biceps touching your ears. This movement should be uniformly easy throughout the arc, and pain free.

If you experienced pain during any of these tests and were unable to achieve the full range of motion, Dr. Mike is here to help you. If you’re experiencing pain or limited mobility in an area of the body not described above, there’s a test and help out there for you as well. Dr. Mike at Karma Chiropractic is an expert in diagnosing and treating mobility issues throughout the entire body. Call him at 347-841-6076 to schedule your evaluation today.Call us at 347 841 6076 or visit us at karmachiropractic.com today to get started.

Healthy Runners' Series Part III of III - The Tight Hamstring Myth

This is the final post in a three-part series we are writing this spring about issues pertaining to runners and common complaints we see in the office from our clients who are runners themselves. With summer just around the corner many of us are returning to our exercise routines -  which for some means dusting off the old sneakers and hitting the pavement or treadmill. We’ve written about the drawbacks and potential benefits of running before on our blog, and now we want to give our readers an insider’s perspective into the common issues that stop some runners in their tracks and what you can do to support your body as a runner.

If you are struggling with pain or an injury related to running - we can help resolve your pain for good. Call 347-841-6076 or get in touch at karmachiropractic.com to schedule your FREE phone consultation today!

Tight hamstrings are the curse of many a runner. But did you know that for many of us, no amount of stretching, massage or foam rolling will loosen up those tight hammies? Stretching is a fantastic preventive measure to keep healthy tissue in good working order, but if you’re already experiencing chronically tight hamstrings, you’ve most likely progressed past the point where stretching will be of any help. This is because the two most common causes of tight hamstrings actually have NOTHING to do with a lack of flexibility in the hamstrings. These two phenomena are:

  • Protective Tension

    • A term coined by Dr. Bill Brady (Dr. Mike’s mentor and the founder of Integrative Diagnosis), protective tension describes the tendency of muscle tissue to contract around an injury to prevent excessive stress from being exerted upon damaged tissue. In the case of the hamstrings, they will often go into protective tension mode when damaged muscles or discs in the lower back are strained with activity, such as bending over.

  • Sciatic Nerve Entrapment

    • This occurs when the sciatic nerve - the largest nerve in the body- gets stuck to surrounding muscles and connective tissue in the hip joint or lower down throughout the leg. Sitting is the number-one-culprit for sciatic nerve entrapment, which is often associated with shooting pains in the hamstrings and low back. Other symptoms of sciatic nerve entrapment are tension, burning, tingling and aching pains throughout the backs of the legs, hips and/or up into the low back.

If you’re experiencing protective tension in the hamstrings as a result of low back degeneration or sciatica related to a nerve entrapment, stretching the hamstrings will NOT fix your problem. Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms in the low back or hip, your tight hamstrings are probably telling you something about one of these two areas.

These conditions are frequently overlooked by the medical community, which is a big problem! How many hundreds of thousands of folks are out there creating nascent disc injuries and nerve entrapments thinking the problem is tight hamstrings? The truth is that you would have to have an adhesion the size of a baseball in your hamstring muscle alone to cause a decrease in your ability to stretch that muscle. The sole cause is almost always an adhesion between the sciatic nerve and the muscles of the hips and legs.

Determining the root cause of your tight hamstrings and the severity of your condition takes an expert’s skill set, but there’s a simple self-test you can use to gauge the health of your hip and low back. Here’s how it goes...

How To: Straight Leg Raise - Test Your Range of Motion in the Low Back/Hips

  1. Lie on your back with legs outstretched straight on the ground in front of you.

  2. Keeping leg straight and foot flexed, raise one leg at a time, aiming to get the raised leg perpendicular to the ground, forming a right angle.

  3. You PASS the test if you can raise your leg 90 degrees easily and without pain

  4. You FAIL if you cannot get the leg to 90 degrees perpendicular to the floor, or you experience pain or discomfort in the hamstring, low back, or hip joint during the leg raise. 

A failed test indicates that you are likely suffering from a buildup of myofascial adhesion in the hip or low back. Our bodies layer adhesion - a dense collagenous form of internal scar tissue - in and around weakened and/or injured structures as part of its normal healing processes (if you’ve never heard of adhesion before, check out this post for a more thorough explanation). Over time, repeated activity leads to a buildup of adhesion that can limit range of motion and cause structures that should be separate to become glued together. This is an incredibly common phenomenon, not only for runners and other athletes, but also for sedentary people and those who work a desk job or spend a lot of time sitting down.

If you fail the test above on one or both legs, you could already be on the way to a disc injury or suffering from an entrapped sciatic nerve. Integrative Diagnosis can quickly identify the structures causing you pain and works to remove adhesion over the course of several treatments, unloading your soft tissue and restoring movement and function to the affected areas. Dr. Mike Murray of Karma Chiropractic is the most advanced practitioner of Integrative Diagnosis within 100 miles of New York City and specializes in finding and fixing myofascial adhesion throughout the entire body. Call 347-841-6076 or visit karmachiropractic.com to book a FREE phone consultation with Dr. Mike and take the first step toward living the life you love, pain-free.

Healthy Runners' Series Part 2/3 - Do Your Knees Pass the Test?

This is part two of a three-part series we are writing this spring about issues pertaining to runners and common complaints we see in the office from our clients who are runners themselves. With summer just around the corner many of us are returning to our exercise routines -  which for some means dusting off the old sneakers and hitting the pavement or treadmill. We’ve written about the drawbacks and potential benefits of running before on our blog, and now we want to give our readers an insider’s perspective into the common issues that stop some runners in their tracks and what you can do to support your body as a runner.

If you are struggling with pain or an injury related to running, we can help resolve your pain for good. Call 347-841-6076 or get in touch at karmachiropractic.com to schedule your FREE phone consultation today!

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Even casual runners are familiar with the knee pain that often results from starting or ramping up a running routine. Certainly, a small to moderate amount of soreness and aching is to be expected when we make a change to an exercise routine. What many people don’t realize is that this knee pain shouldn’t just be brushed off as an inevitable nuisance to be ignored. If you’re a runner and have been experiencing knee pain, your body may be trying to tell you something important.

If there were a simple way to test your body and determine whether you are running yourself into a knee injury, you’d want to know about it, right?

In order to be a healthy runner you need to make sure your activity of choice isn’t doing more harm than good, and you can’t be a healthy runner without healthy knees. If you rely on short-term pain relief measures like painkillers in order to get through your day or “run through the pain” in hopes that as you get stronger you’ll get used to it or it will go away, you could be running your way into a chronic issue that could stop you in your tracks.

The following is a simple test we use in the office with our clients that will reveal whether your knees are able to move without pain through a full range of motion. Here’s how it works:

Knee Health Self-Test

1. Lie down on your back with legs outstretched.

2. Raise one knee to 90 degrees - perpendicular to the floor.

3. Grab the shin/ankle and try to sink your heel into your butt.

4. Repeat on the other side to compare your results.

  A dysfunctional knee won't flex fully; the heel of the foot doesn't touch the buttock. In a healthy joint, the heel and buttock touch with ease with without pain. 

A dysfunctional knee won't flex fully; the heel of the foot doesn't touch the buttock.
In a healthy joint, the heel and buttock touch with ease with without pain. 

A failed test means your knees are not fully functional and could be setting you on a path to more serious injury down the line. The most common cause of reduced mobility, weakness and pain in and around the knees is myofascial adhesion. Adhesion is like a glue that your body fills in around injured, overloaded and under-oxygenated structures in the body as part of its natural healing processes. 

If you PASS the knee function test but are still experiencing knee pain, your problem almost certainly originates in either your low back or your feet/ankles. Pain that refers to other areas of the body removed from the actual injury site should NOT be ignored- it could mean your damaged tissues are already impacted to the point of affecting the nerves, and could become an even more serious problem if you don't get proper care. Determining the severity of your condition takes an expert's skill set.
Don't wait to get evaluated and treated until you're no longer able to run or walk without pain. 

Adhesion is one of the most under-recognized, under-diagnosed and most common pathologies in the human body. Luckily, it’s also among the most treatable. Dr. Mike Murray of Karma Chiropractic is NYC’s foremost expert in finding and fixing adhesion. If you’re suffering with knee pain, (or musculoskeletal pain in any part of the body) we can help!

Call us at 347-841-6076 or get in touch via our online contact form to book your evaluation and get on the path to pain-free living today.

Healthy Runners' Series Part 1 of 3 - Feet and Ankles

This post is part one of a three-part mini series we are writing this spring about issues pertaining to runners and common complaints we see in the office from our clients who are runners themselves. With summer just around the corner many of us are returning to our exercise routines -  which for some means dusting off the old sneakers and hitting the pavement or treadmill. We’ve written about the drawbacks and potential benefits of running before on the blog, and now we want to give our readers an insider’s perspective into the common issues that stop some runners in their tracks and what you can do to support your body as a runner.

If you are struggling with pain or an injury related to running - we can help resolve your pain for good. Call 347-841-6076 or get in touch at karmachiropractic.com to schedule your FREE phone consultation today!

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If you love running and/or jogging - be it on trails, treadmills or sidewalks, you probably realize that you’re in for some foot and ankle pain at some point. All athletes push their bodies beyond their present limits -  and while this can make us bigger, stronger, faster and fitter in the short term, we need to actively support the body’s healing and recovery processes in order to 1) get the best results possible, and 2) to ensure that our results are sustainable in the long term.

Most runners rely on a combo of stretching, ice, and lots of ibuprofen to manage the intermittent pain inevitable in restarting or ramping up a running routine. What most people don’t realize is that ignoring the pain or masking it with temporary fixes like painkillers and massage sets up the body for a more acute injury down the road.

To add another layer of complexity to the story, because of the Kinetic Chain of the lower body, the way a runner’s foot hits the ground impacts not only the ankle joint and connective tissues - it reverberates all the way up to the knees, hips and back. So if your ankle is not properly managing the load you place upon it, you risk not only injuring the ankle but other parts of your lower body as well.  

Without a proper understanding of how running is impacting your body, you could literally be running into an injury that could land you back on the couch for weeks, months or even years. This could affect your ability not only to run and engage in athletic activity, but also to complete day to day tasks like walking, sitting comfortably or using the stairs with ease.

In order to ensure that your running routine isn't doing you more harm than good, you need to know whether your feet and ankles are functioning properly. Diagnosing the health and flexibility of the tissues of the ankle is the first step to determining your specific risks. Testing the ankles' range of motion is the easiest way to achieve this. 

A healthy ankle will move easily and without pain through a full range of motion in order to properly support you when running or jogging. Here is a simple test you can use to check the health and flexibility of your ankle joints:

Is My Ankle Healthy? Quick Self-Test

  1. Stand facing any door or wall, placing one foot 5 inches from the wall with the other slightly behind.

  2. Keeping the heel of the foot on the ground, flex the ankle, bending the knee toward the wall in front of you. You can outstretch your hands or use the wall for balance, if needed.

  3. You PASS if you can touch the knee to the wall in front of the flexed ankle with just a relatively easy stretching sensation through the calf.

  4. You FAIL if your heel wants to come off the ground, or if you experience pain and difficulty while performing.

  5. Repeat on the other side to compare results. 

 This is a Passing test - the knee easily touches the wall in front of the foot at 5 inches from the wall. 

This is a Passing test - the knee easily touches the wall in front of the foot at 5 inches from the wall. 

 This is a FAILING test - the knee can only touch the wall at 2 inches distance.

This is a FAILING test - the knee can only touch the wall at 2 inches distance.

 This is a FAILING test - the knee is unable to touch the wall due to lack of mobility. 

This is a FAILING test - the knee is unable to touch the wall due to lack of mobility. 

 This is a FAILING test - the heel peels off the floor when the knee touches the wall. 

This is a FAILING test - the heel peels off the floor when the knee touches the wall. 

If you fail this test, there is a high likelihood that you are suffering from a buildup of myofascial adhesion or tissue degeneration in the foot and/or ankle. If left untreated this will eventually prevent you from running without pain, and potentially from simply going through your day-to-day life with ease. 

At Karma Chiropractic, Dr. Mike is an expert at finding and fixing adhesion and helping clients return to their activities of choice pain-free. Contact our office today to schedule your free phone consultation and take the first step toward solving your pain, for good.
 

Is It Really My Shoulder? Diagnosing Ambiguous Pain Around the Shoulder Blade

Got Pain Around the Shoulder Blade?

One of the most common complaints that people have when they come into our office for treatment is pain between the shoulder blades. If you suffer from pain in this area you know how annoying and persistent it can be - seemingly irritated by almost all of our normal day to day activities and very difficult to get rid of. You’ve probably gotten your fair share of massages and body work to have the “knots” in your neck and shoulders rubbed out, but by now you probably realize that you can’t massage your way out of this problem. 

Many times, when palpating people’s shoulders to search for the structures that are most likely the root cause of their pain, people will say things like “but that's not where it hurts! (*Points at painful spot*,) can you just rub it here and loosen it up?”

While it makes perfect sense that people assume that the location of their pain is also the location of the problem, many times what people experience as pain between the shoulder blades actually originates somewhere else in the body. The truth is that the shoulder is a complicated joint with many overlapping structures at play, and identifying the exact structure that is causing you pain and limited mobility takes an expert’s knowledge and skill set.

In the case of pain stemming from or around the shoulder blade, overloaded muscles near the neck and back result in tightness and pain, but the phenomenon causing these muscles to become overloaded in the first place is likely myofascial adhesion in the neck or shoulder. If you’ve never heard of myofascial adhesion, it’s the most common problem in the human musculoskeletal system and affects almost everybody in some way. So why have you never heard of it before? You have, but have probably heard it called “scar tissue”. Just as picking a scab on your skin can cause scars to harden and heal in a lumpy bumpy way that obstructs the smooth feel and function of surrounding skin tissue, adhesion in the muscles and joints comes from injury (either acute or slowly over time) and causes limited mobility and pain if untreated.

The good news here is that adhesion is one of the most reversible problems in the human body, even if you’ve already been diagnosed with degeneration in your joints or soft tissue. The bad news, as you may have guessed by now, is that no amount of massages will solve the problem- that takes an expert trained in finding and removing adhesion. Once the offending adhesions are identified and removed, the overload is diminished, and the pain is significantly reduced. More good news - Dr. Mike is just such an expert and has helped many clients over the years resolve their stubborn neck and shoulder pain for good.

Getting The Right Diagnosis

So how can you tell where the pain around your shoulder blades is really coming from? First you have to identify whether the pain you’re dealing with is actually located in the shoulder blade. Many people think their pain is located on the shoulder blade when in reality it is actually below, beside, beneath or around the blade itself. The image below maps out the area considered the shoulder blade:

A (1) (2).png

Pain in the “A” region (on either side) demarcates the boundaries of the shoulder blade. Pain in this area is often related to the structures of the rotator cuff (comprised of the infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis and supraspinatus muscles). This is true shoulder blade pain - often appearing near the back of the arm or armpit, in the armpit itself, or under the shoulder blade.

Conversely, pain that is primarily located in the “B” region between the shoulder blade and the spine most likely originates from the cervical spine and neck. Diagnosing pain in this region is a bit more complex that diagnosing rotator cuff issues, but common characteristics of this type of condition are that it gets worse with sitting, or when you tuck your chin to your chest.

Pain in both areas A and B are extremely common for our clients due to the amount of time most of us spend looking down at our phone or computer screens, sitting at a desk, writing and typing. Going through our lives with chronic poor posture and our heads hanging off of our necks staring down at our phones puts our bodies on the fast track to developing adhesions in the neck that cause so much of the pain between the shoulder blade and spine that clients come to us with.  
If you’re currently suffering from neck and/or shoulder pain, you can use the following self tests to give yourself a good sense of where your pain is most likely originating.

Self-Tests For Shoulders and Neck:

Here’s a simple test to quickly check shoulder function. If you fail this test, there’s a good chance that your pain is related to adhesion or degeneration in the shoulder.
You can perform this test on yourself or with a friend. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder length and parallel and arms relaxed at your sides.

  2. Keeping your arms straight, raise them out to your sides, trying to touch your palms together above your head.

  3. You PASS the test if you can touch your biceps to your ears after bringing your palms to meet above your head WITHOUT pain, tension or much effort in the arm and shoulder.

  4. You FAIL if you cannot touch your biceps to your ears with equal ease and comfort on both sides, or if it takes effort or causes you pain to go through the test.

Now let’s test the neck! Failing this test means that your ambiguous shoulder-area pain likely originates in your neck or cervical spine. It goes like this:

  1. Stand up tall and straight with your back to a wall. Your heels, shoulders and the back of your head should easily be able touch the wall at the same time. If you can’t do that,  or you have to crane your neck to get the back of your head to touch the wall behind you, you have already failed the test and are likely suffering from a neck or cervical spine injury. 

  2. Keeping your shoulders against the wall, peel the back of your head off the wall while tucking your chin toward your sternum, trying to touch your chin to your chest.

  3. You PASS if you can get your chin to touch your sternum easily and without pain.

  4. You FAIL if you cannot easily assume the starting posture, if you feel tension or pulling across/between the shoulder blades or in the back when tucking the chin.

“Hold on!” you might be thinking to yourself. “I failed both tests! What gives?”. What gives is that you, like many many others, have a more complicated case compounded by adhesion in multiple area of the body. This is extremely common but makes it all the more urgent that you seek out high quality treatment and a proper diagnosis. An expert should be able to prioritize the issues you face and lay out a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses your goals and concerns.

Final Thoughts

We are consistently shocked by the amount of people we see who tell us that the doctors they’ve previously been treated by have given them diagnoses such as “bursitis” (inflammation of the padding of the shoulder joint), “scoliosis” (a curved spine) and the real kicker, “shoulder pain”! Here's a quick PSA for anyone who has been given these or similar explanations for their pain from medical professionals: THESE ARE NOT TRUE DIAGNOSES - they are symptoms. Unless your doctor can tell you exactly where and what is causing your pain, they have not properly diagnosed you.

If you've gotten unsatisfactory explanations about the source of your pain from three or more other doctors and have all but given up hope for a pain-free future, we can help you. The likely answer is that your diagnosis is adhesion, and we have the tools (and the hands) to address it once and for all. Give us a call at 347 841 6076 to schedule your evaluation and get on the road to a pain-free life today. 

Does Adhesion Come Back? What to do when the Pain Returns

When the Pain Comes Back...

If you’re a veteran or former patient of our office, chances are there was a big glaring problem that demanded your attention and brought you to us.

If you’re not receiving regular treatment any longer, you may have wondered if the adhesions that brought you in can come back. Like most things, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

Once your adhesions are removed they can stay removed for a long time. This is especially true for post-surgical adhesions that are a result of an acute injury or an invasive procedure. On the other hand, if your adhesions are a result of, say, sitting at a desk from work all day, or a result of your chosen sport or lifestyle, they have a high likelihood of returning over time if you do not change the behavior that causes the adhesions.

It’s similar to getting a regular dental cleaning - you get the plaque scraped off regularly to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Adhesion is similar to plaque in this sense - it comes back over time and requires regular maintenance to keep the tissues healthy and fully functional.

What Kind of Maintenance Do I Need?

Just as you get the plaque cleaned from your teeth regularly even though you brush your teeth every day, many people require maintenance treatment to prevent adhesions from re-developing and requiring a more aggressive course of treatment.

For many people this can look like one treatment visit a month, or more or less depending on your lifestyle.

So if monthly maintenance treatments are your biannual dental cleaning, what is your daily brushing and floss? Yoga, foam rolling, consistent hydration and gentle stretching are all excellent maintenance therapies and tools for recovery. If used regularly, these can help speed your recovery in the initial treatment period and prolong the time between visits you need to maintain your progress.

When you compare the cost of a monthly Myofascial Adhesion Release treatment with the out-of-pocket costs associated with MRI, X-ray and other medical procedures for diagnosing and treating degenerated tissue, it becomes clear that the small monthly investment is worth it to prevent incurring more prohibitive costs (and potentially less treatable injuries/degeneration down the road).

The Healing Environment - When You’re Not In the Office

We meet many patients who come in to treat a problem and stick it out for enough consistent treatment that their symptoms go away. Often, these people will gradually fall off of our radar, only to reappear six month to a year afterwards with the same or a similar problem. Usually these folks have returned to their pre-treatment habits and have effectively re-injured themselves, meaning that they have to return to a more intensive course of treatment - which of course means greater expense in a shorter time period. Not ideal!

The bottom line: If your pain and adhesions are a result of your lifestyle and activities and you are unable or not willing to give up the activities that are responsible for creating adhesion, you will most likely require some maintenance treatment to prevent the problem from resurfacing.

We want our patients to be able to do the things they need and love to do without pain. Our goal is to support you through every phase of your recovery to live the life you envision. If you’re experiencing pain again call us at 347 841 6076 or via our website karmachiropractic.com to schedule an appointment for some maintenance treatment.

Myofascial Adhesion 101 - The Biggest Problem You Didn't Know you Had

The Problem You (And Almost Everyone Else) Didn't Know You Had

Have you assumed that your nagging pain is an inevitable part of life as you get older?

Have you tried many different therapies, medicines or exercise programs for your recurring pain only to have it worsen over time?

Has any doctor or therapist you’ve seen thus far been able to tell you the exact cause of the pain you live with day after day?

Our guess is that if you’re reading this post, they haven’t been able to. You’re probably frustrated that so many experts have failed you and have lost hope for a pain-free life.

But there is an answer as to why your pain exists and why your attempts to treat it thus far have not succeeded. In fact, the answer and the solution may strike you as surprisingly simple.

If your lifestyle has you sitting, standing or doing repetitive movements day in and day out, there is a high likelihood that you are suffering from a buildup of excess myofascial adhesion in the body.

Almost everyone does. In fact, it’s the most common condition in the human body.

What is myofascial adhesion and why have I not heard of it before?

You have! But you’ve probably heard it referred to as “scar tissue”. Adhesion is a product of our bodies’ natural healing process. Myofascial refers to the structures of our muscles and fascia - the material that lines all the soft tissues in your body.

Soft tissue develops microtears when we put it through strenuous repetitive activity. This can result in acute injuries like rotator cuff or ACL tears, or more commonly in wear and tear over time that we don’t notice as much, since the damage occurs slowly over time.
Soft tissue can also weaken and degenerate when deprived of oxygen, which can happen when we sit down or stand with poor posture for extended periods of time. When these structures are mashed together over time, our nerves, tendons, muscles and other tissues can become fused together by adhesion.

Both conditions - overuse and underuse - result in a buildup of adhesion over time, causing you pain and limited mobility. Despite being one of the most common problems in the body, adhesion goes undiagnosed a majority of the time by medical doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors.

How do I fix it?

With the help of a specialist trained in finding and fixing adhesion. Most doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors either gloss over or overlook completely the role that adhesion and soft tissue dysfunction plays in the patients they are treating, and their results reflect this.

Doctors certified in Integrative Diagnosis are trained specifically in the location and removal of myofascial adhesion. Dr. Mike is a certified practitioner of Integrative Diagnosis, the most advanced diagnostic and treatment protocol for non-invasive treatment of myofascial adhesion and related pathologies.

If your doctor is giving you cortizone injections month after month, or your chiropractor is performing the same adjustment on you week after week, are you really making sustainable progress? If you’re still reading, we’re willing to bet you haven’t gotten the results you want and you’ve suspected that a better solution is out there.

How does the treatment work?

Integrative Diagnosis uses simple biomechanical tests to help pinpoint the affected structures so that the doctor can pinpoint the root of the dysfunction, and measure your progress over time. Through targeted manual and tool-assisted therapies, the adhesion is gradually “scraped” free from the surrounding tissue. The body’s natural inflammatory response restores blood flow to degenerated tissue and breaks down the adhesion over the course of several visits. With the proper understanding and technique, myofascial adhesion is among the most reversible conditions in the body. Most people find significant relief within a few weeks with regular treatment.

Why hasn’t anything else I’ve tried healed my pain?

Very simply, the answer is that other methods do not remove adhesion - thus they do not treat the root cause of the problem. Pain medications mask the pain but trick us into continuing to overload damaged structures, thereby extending and even worsening pain in the long run. Foam rolling and stretching are good preventative tools but aren’t targeted enough to isolate and remove adhesion. Surgeries create even more scar tissue and weakness and are generally an overly aggressive means of addressing a problem which can be dealt with without a single incision. Integrative Diagnosis and Myofascial Adhesion Release work in harmony with the body’s healing process and actually restore movement, function and health to damaged tissue.

Even if you’ve already received a diagnosis, undergone imaging, or even had surgery, we can help you address the cause of your pain once and for all.

You can read success stories from our patients just like you who have healed their pain and restored their ability to do the things they love here. If you’re interested in learning more about healing your pain, give us a call at 347 841 6076 or email us via karmachiropractic.com and schedule your free consultation today!

5 Easy Steps Toward Creating a Healing Environment

You've heard me say it a million times during treatment - "you must have a healing environment between visits for this to work!" It's true - no amount of manual therapy can counteract a lifestyle that consistently puts excessive stress on the body's physiology without properly supporting its healing capacity. 

But what does a healing environment look like in practice? In truth, it may look different for everyone. Every body is different, but there are a few habits you can adopt that nearly universally will  help to maximize your health and healing so that you are getting the most you can out of not only treatment, but your day to day life. 

These suggestions may seem obvious at first, but it is often the most fundamental aspects of self care that fall by the wayside first when we stop paying close attention. Reflect honestly about whether you could stand to improve in any of these areas and then take action! Build up your foundation and the rest will fall into place in turn. Your body will thank you. 

1) Hydrate More.

There's an old saying that goes "water is life" and nothing could me more true. Water is essential in almost every body function from regulating body temperature, to flushing toxins and waste from the system, to cushioning our joints and organs during impact. Staying hydrated helps curb appetite and prevent overeating - in fact many people mistake their thirst for hunger and eat when their body really craves hydration! From a vanity perspective, water is crucial to maintaining healthy and young-looking skin throughout our lives. Dehydrated bodies pull water from skin cells in order to maintain their key functions, resulting in a saggy papery complexion. Water is also calorie free!

Water is really the only beverage  you need to be drinking, and yet so many of us will go whole days drinking dehydrating caffeinated beverages and sugar-laden energy drinks without realizing that the ultimate energy drink comes out of our tap!
The amount of water you need varies based on your size, environment and activity level. A good guideline is to drink between one half and one full ounce of water per pound you weigh. So an active woman weighing 130 pounds should be aiming toward the higher end - maybe 120 oz., but a sedentary woman of the same weight might only need 70 oz. a day to stay hydrated. If you struggle to stay properly hydrated try keeping a water bottle with you at all times so you have a constant supply on hand.

2) Eat Fiber More

When I say "fiber" you might think of a bran muffin or a glass of Metamucil, but fresh fiber, meaning fresh fruits and vegetables, is the best source of naturally occurring fiber out thereFiber is a critical part of a healthy diet to keep digestion moving along properly so that waste products are removed from the system as soon as possible. These foods also contain lots of water, not to mention vitamins and minerals that support all of the body's systems. In order to get more fresh fruits and veggies into your diet, get creative! When cooking, double the amount of vegetables and halve the starches in a recipe. Invest in a steamer for fast-cooking vegetable side dishes. Consider joining a CSA or local farm share so that you always have a supply of seasonal, fresh produce. There are tons of great food blogs out there with freely available veggie and fruit-laden recipes you can try. Building up a small repertoire of dishes like Buddha bowls, stir fries and sheet pan dinners that you can adapt based on what is available and in season is a great way to keep your diet varied, healthy and delicious. 

3)  Sleep More  Our bodies heal themselves while we sleep and require plenty of rest in order to stay healthy and energized. This is especially true while undergoing manual adhesion release therapy which releases pent-up toxins and oxidized matter back into the system. 8 hours is typically considered the gold standard for a night's rest, but during winter months, it is recommended that we get up to 9.5 hours of sleep in complete darkness per night. Did you ever notice that it is harder to get out of bed on a cold dark morning? It's not just because bed is so warm and comfy and the floor is chilly. As mammals, our bodies are meant to essentially hibernate during the short, cold days of winter. So the next time you are feeling guilty for sleeping in, just remind yourself that it is good for your health!

The quality of our sleep can be affected by many factors, but one of the best ways to help yourself sleep more soundly is to limit you exposure to blue light from electronics. Try unplugging from screens 60 minutes before bedtime and establishing a consistent evening routine to help you unwind. Reading a book, talking with family, and meditation are great ways to help you relax. When you do go to bed, try and make sure your room is as close to completely dark as possible. Light pollution from street lamps, alarm clocks, and your laptop screen that you fell asleep in front of while binge-watching Shameless can all affect the quality of your sleep and trick your body's circadian rhythms. Try hanging blackout curtains in your bedroom to block out street lights and covering artificial light sources. You shouldn't be able to see your hand in front of your face - that's how dark it should be. Also keep in mind, one hour of sleep before midnight is equal to two hours after midnight. Not what we New York night owls like to hear but it's the truth!

4) Exercise More (Not Harder) Studies have shown that most people do not get enough physical activity throughout the course of their day. The majority drive to work or sit on the subway, sit for 8 hours or more at their job, and then come home to watch TV. Our days can be exhausting, and most of us don’t feel like working out when we get home. This makes working out in the morning a great option. Morning exercise kick-starts your metabolism and helps the body ease into an active state and shake off some of the "fuzz" that builds up in our bodies while we sleep.  

If you want to exercise in the morning, but are having trouble getting started, set your alarm for the time would like to start. The first few mornings you may not even get out of bed (which is okay), but this will start to prep your mindset for the activity. Once your body adjusts to waking up at that time, the next step is to get out of bed and simply put on your workout clothing (or sleep in it the night before!). Then try starting with some simple stretches or light yoga. Over time this will start to prepare your body for more activity. Gradually continue to add more until you are up to an amount that you feel is challenging but not exhausting. Aim for at least 30 minutes of continuous activity. It's crucial to remember that our bodies need to ease into new routines and going from doing nothing for exercise to doing Crossfit every day overnight is not a realistic expectation to have of our bodies. Most important is to find something you truly enjoy doing that will keep you motivated and looking forward to your morning workout. You deserve to enjoy what you're doing. 

5) Chill More. We live in a stressful society and a chaotic city that is constantly bombarding our senses from every direction. Adult life is filled with stressors - from work, to money worries,  to family strife and relationship problems. Some stress is unavoidable, but too much stress can have a serious negative effect on our health and well-being. Stress creates an inflammatory response in the body that causes us to retain excess weight, strains our cardiovascular system, and compromises digestion, the immune system, sleep and motivation (so pretty much all of the other factors discussed above). While we cannot completely avoid stress, there are ways of battling it. To a large extent, it is not stressful events themselves but rather our response to them that determine how stressed we feel.

Keeping your sleep, diet, hydration and exercise in harmony will go a long way toward helping your body cope with the physiological effects of stress, but we can also choose our perspective and attitude about stressful situations and empower ourselves with a better mindset. Lately the best way I have found at relieving my stress is to practice gratitude - especially difficult during tough times, I know, but it is absolutely necessary. Keeping a daily gratitude journal or reciting our blessings out loud are two great ways of doing this. That way we begin to focus on the positive things in our lives instead of the negative. Meditation is another fantastic practice that can help us put some mental padding around our response to stress and remember that all situations, no matter how stressful, are temporary. Just 5 minutes of meditation at the start of your day can totally change your mindset for the better. If you're not sure how or where to begin or struggle with silent meditation, download an app to your phone and schedule yourself a daily reminder. Just remember, life is good! The fact that you’re alive and reading this right now is plenty to be thankful for!

 

These five strategies will help put you on the path toward creating a healing environment, helping you reap the full benefits of treatment for your myofascial adhesions and bolstering your overall health and well-being. What other tools do you use to create a healing environment? Let us know in the comments or at your next visit! Call 347-841-6076 or contact maggie@karmachiropractic.com to book. 

Jogging: Not Actual Running, Mostly Bullshit

The Hard Truth...

I'm about to tell you something that very few doctors will agree with: your running workout is probably bullshit and is causing you more problems than it's solving. 

You don't believe me yet and that's perfectly logical: you are dripping sweat and beet red at the end of your runs. Your body is exhausted and sore the next day. You're working hard and burning calories! everyone knows running is a great workout, right? Cardio = calories burned = workout was good, right?

Here's the thing: most people who call themselves runners do not actually run - they jog. Most people's running routines are relatively slow-paced, lack variation, and overload the joints. If you've been jogging every day or almost every day in hopes of quickly achieving the best physique of your life, get ready to keep waiting. 

Here's a quick thought experiment: considering human genetics have not change in thousands of years, do you think we were built to jog or to sprint?

If I had to guess, I would say no animal was ever hunted down while jogging after it...

True running and slow steady jogging are not the same thing - nor do they produce the same results. Have you ever compared a sprinter to a marathon runner? Which one has more muscle? Who looks more fit? The sprinter with muscles busting out of their tights, or the marathoner who looks emaciated?

The truth is that jogging is not intense or varied enough to cut it as the sole focus of a workout. Over time the body adapts and becomes more efficient at the repetitive motion, eventually burning fewer calories than when you started and requiring more and more of the activity overtime to achieve the same result. 

The fact is: high intensity, varied, short interval activities are required in order to boost metabolism and build muscle. In fact, excessive long jogs can actually counteract our metabolism by keeping our bodies in a catabolic state. This catabolic state causes our bodies to actually break down muscle tissue and DECREASE our metabolic rate if we do not give ourselves the opportunity to recover properly. Muscle mass is what raises your metabolism and keeps you fit - and sustainable lean muscle mass has to be built over time with consistency and proper rest. 

Jogging (especially on unforgiving surfaces like city sidewalks) is also incredibly hard on our joints. It's a high impact activity that exerts unnecessary compressive forces on our ankles, knees and hips that reverberate all the way up the spine. Often the compressive forces put through these joints are 1.5 to 2 times our body weight! This is a LOT of weight for most people to handle and can easily cause injuries and setbacks in your routine. 

A Better Alternative...

If all of this is sounding completely backwards to you I can see why: running/jogging has been sold to us as the ultimate exercise and key to health. Most people, when they decide they want to get in shape and start exercising, lace up their battered old tennis shoes and head out for a jog.   

I see patients on a regular basis with joint pain that stems from jogging who still fail to make the connection between their choice of activity and the pain they experience or who aren't willing to sacrifice their runner's high or modify their routine to meet their bodies halfway. 

Sadly these folks are setting themselves up for injury or serious wear and tear down the road which could set their health and fitness goals back for years. 

So what should you do instead?

If you haven't figured it out by now...SPRINT! It's easier and more fun that it sounds. It also takes much less time to get a proper sprinting workout than it does to plod through a couple of miles of jogging around the neighborhood. And who doesn't want more bang for their buck when it comes to working out???

Here's what I recommend:

Find a soccer field, park, or any area approximately equal to the width of a soccer field. If you can, try your best to find grass to run on (a hot commodity in NYC and many urban environments, I know). Start on one side and run across- literally as fast as you can. Then rest for 30 seconds to a minute - just long enough to catch your breath. Try doing this 5 to 10 times. I promise you'll be just as sweaty and red as after your 5k jog in less than half the time. You can even try interspersing your sprinting intervals with some pushups or other bodyweight exercises to get more of a full body workout. 

Don't forget to take a bottle of water with you! You're going to need it.

A Few Exceptions...

If you just can't quit jogging, can I make a few suggestions?

For starters, stand (jog) up straight! I can't tell you how many times I've seen joggers doing their thing with hunched over posture, leading with their heads like they're going for a photo finish. Leading with the head places an enormous load on the discs in your spine where the neck meets the upper back. For every inch that the head is in front of the body, there is approximately 8lbs of pressure added to that area of the spine. This is the reason your neck hurts after a full day of staring at your computer. Combining the inertia and impact of running with a head-forward posture will add even more load to this area. When you jog, you should do so with your chest tall and try to lead slightly with your chest, not your head/neck. 

My next recommendation is this: whatever you do, try to avoid running on sidewalks. If you stop to look at the sidewalks of NYC, or most cities for that matter, you will notice that they all slant down and in towards the road. While this is great for the run off of rain water, this is terrible for.. you guessed it.. joints!! When you run on the slanted sidewalks, the concrete is not the only thing that is slanted. It starts at the ankles, then the knees, and finally works it way up to your hips and spine. This unleveling of the hips is bad enough to WALK around on, but when combined with the impact of jogging, it's no wonder people often feel so sore and stiff after their relatively low intensity jogging workouts. 

During your next cardio workout, don't waste precious time doing more harm to your body than good. Don't be afraid to really run! And if you're already struggling with muscle, bone or connective tissue pain and suspect your cardio routine is part of the problem, you're most likely suffering from a buildup of myofascial adhesion in your body which will prevent you from reaching your full potential. You can get your adhesions treated and get back in the sneakers in just a few short adhesion release sessions in our office. It's like chiropractic 2.0. 

Call Karma Chiropractic at 347 841 6076 or contact us via our email form and book a visit today!

Happy sprinting!!!

The Little System that Could: Eliminating Congestion for Greater Lymphatic Function

If you are a middle sibling, you may identify with the underappreciated lymphatic system. Outshined by the stalwart arterial circulatory system and the glory-hogging immune system, the lymphatic system is the body's underappreciated middle kid - quietly doing its thing in the background and usually not paid attention to unless it starts raising hell.  

Frequently misunderstood and overlooked, the mysterious lymphatic system is actually something of a Renaissance system - a jack of all trades not to be underestimated when it comes to your health. Eastern healing modalities such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine place a great emphasis on the lymphatic system, but Western medicine is just catching on when it comes to understanding the dramatic impact a congested lymph system can have on one's health. We are here today to at last give the amazing system its due and arm you with the knowledge you need to keep your lymphatic system as nimble as a ballet dancer.

The lymphatic system is the workhorse you can thank for delivering nutrients and removing waste from your cells and preventing disease within your body. Unsurprisingly, such a complicated system can get slowed down and backed up from time to time. There are many symptoms of lymphatic congestion which you may be experiencing and writing off as unavoidable effects of aging, stress, or a modern lifestyle. The truth is, not only should you be paying attention to these symptoms, a backed up lymphatic system and causing you more harm than you realize! If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms take note - lymphatic congestion could be to blame: 

  • Edema (swelling) in the fingers - rings may feel tighter toward the end of the day
  • Excess belly fat or abdominal bloating
  • Excess mucous not associated with illness
  • Coldness in the extremities
  • Brain Fog/forgetfulness
  • Dry Skin and/or acne
  • Breast swelling/tenderness with each menstrual cycle
  • Soreness/Stiffness in the morning
  • Fatigue
  • Pain or soreness at or around the collarbones

So how is the lymphatic system supposed to work and what causes it to go awry? While the response to the first question is quite complicated, the second question has much simpler answers. Let's take a look:

The intricate lymphatic system comprises the bone marrow, thymus gland, spleen, lymph nodes, adenoids, appendix and miles and miles of lymphatic vessels (twice as many as there are miles of veins and arteries in your body!). Functioning both as the body's garbage collector and green grocer, the lymphatic system carries lymph, a clear plasma-based fluid containing disease-fighting white blood cells and lymphocytes (B and T cells) throughout the body so that waste, viruses, bacteria and even cancer cells can be filtered and eliminated. It also delivers fat-soluble nutrients directly to cells. For this reason the lymphatic system is fundamental to the circulatory, immune and excretory systems! 

Waste material collected in the body's cells is pushed through one-way lymph vessels and cleansed in the lymph nodes. Cleansed lymph is then re-integrated into the bloodstream via the subclavian veins located under either side of the collarbone. Unlike the arterial system that moves the blood, the lymphatic system has no equivalent of the heart muscle to keep lymph flowing steadily throughout the body. As a result, the lymphatic system can grow stagnant and congested if steps aren't taken to keep the system activated and mobile. A sedentary lifestyle and poor diet exacerbate the issue, but lymphatic congestion can happen to anyone in our modern toxic environment. 

If you suspect that lymphatic congestion is affecting your health, there are a number of safe, easy steps you can take to mobilize your lymph and wake the entire lymphatic system back up! Try implementing two to three of these tips daily and see how you feel after three weeks. If your suspected lymphatic congestion has not improved, try a few more strategies to see what works best for you!

  • Reduce Stress - Stress has been linked to upwards of 80% of chronic conditions, and lymphatic conditions are no exception! We all lead busy lives and some stress is unavoidable. But take care each day to practice relaxation and unwind from the stressors of the day.
  • Practice Deep Breathing - Slow, purposeful diaphragmatic breathing for 5-10 minutes a day helps mobilize lymph surrounding the gut, where the highest concentration of lymphatic tissue is found. Also a great way to reduce stress!
  • Stay Hydrated - Dehydrated lymph is sticky and doesn't flow freely. Staying hydrated is one of the most effective ways to keep not only your lymphatic system but the entire body in optimal health! Aim for at least 64 oz per day. If you suspect lymphatic congestion in your own body, try sipping hot water throughout the day to mobilize the lymph. 
  • Dry Body Brushing - The lymphatic vessels lie just beneath the surface of the skin and can be stimulated by gentle brushing of the skin with a natural soft-bristle brush. Try this technique before bathing - spend 2-5 minutes and brush from your feet and hands towards the collarbone area, where toxins collected by the lymph are deposited for elimination. 
  • Rebounding - Or bouncing on a small trampoline. 2 minutes of this activity will mobilize lymph, and 20 will give you the benefits of a full hour or traditional cardio! Rebounding utilizes the repetition of positive and negative G-forces exerted on the body to push lymph through it's many one-way valves. This practice has so many wonderful benefits - rebounding boosts the production of white blood cells, helps reduce varicose veins and cellulite, and helps improve digestion. If you don't try this one, you're really missing out! This is the trampoline that Dr. Mike uses for rebounding. 
  • Moderate to Vigorous Exercise - most lymph is moved through gross motor function - the movement of the larger muscles of the body. Running, yoga, stretching, walking, swimming and all other types of physical exercise are great ways to keep your lymphatic system healthy. The key is to find something you love to do and make it part of your routine! Be a movement opportunist. 
  • Dietary Modification - Avoid inflammation-inducing foods such as processed sugars, meat, dairy, eggs, peanuts and caffeine. Instead, fill your diet with foods that fight inflammation - for example: tomatoes, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, leafy greens, nuts, beets, blueberries, and cruciferous vegetables, coconut oil, chia and flax seeds. 

With these tips, you will be well on your way to achieving optimal lymphatic function. If you want to learn more, peruse our short list of links below and keep doing your own research! If you've been living with chronic fatigue, headaches, and general sluggishness, do yourself a favor and spend some time caring for your lymphatic system. Your body will give that love back to you in ways you can't yet imagine! As always, stay curious and be sure to check back here soon for even more creative tips for optimal health. 

References

1. http://lifespa.com/the-miracle-of-lymph/

2. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/5-natural-ways-to-relieve-lymphatic-congestion

3. http://www.diagnose-me.com/symptoms-of/lymphatic-congestion.php 

4. https://www.wellbeingjournal.com/rebounding-good-for-the-lymph-system/

5. https://rebound-air.com/nasa_rebounder_mini_trampoline_report/ 

6. https://branchbasics.com/blog/2015/09/16-ways-to-activate-your-lymphatic-system/

7. https://draxe.com/anti-inflammatory-foods/