Learning my why: Answers, Questions, and Truths

Hi Folks,

Kristins post about part of her story (stay tuned for the rest!) inspired me to think about my own story, and why I’m here, doing what I do.  Here is what I’ve come up with (though I reserve the right to update this as time passes, haha).

Why do I do it?

To be a source of trustworthy knowledge and actionable steps that people need so that they can improve their lives exactly how they want to and maybe even more.

  • I’ve always wanted to be the person people went to for help.
  • I’ve seen how valuable being that person can be, and being able to provide that to someone fills my soul up.

That was the TLDR version.  Read on for how I got there.  Starting with story time…

When I was young, I was being foolish around a pool table and ended up hitting my face on the side of it, cutting up my gums pretty good/bad.  It was during a family function and one of my uncles, a firefighter, was there to help.  At the moment I was afraid and worried that I had done something that would, a: be a problem permanently (in an aesthetic/health respect), and b: get me in trouble with my parents (I told you I was young, though I think that fear never goes away haha).  Immediately, my uncle took calm control of the situation and helped make a plan that assessed where I was between serious injury, and a bump/bruise (it ended up just being a gnarly flap of skin that tore off my gums with a lot of blood that made it look bad) while he also made it all seem like a team effort to help save me and the evening.  It was inspiring to say the least (and I was fine… just being a wimp).  Onto the next story…

Both times I injured my shoulders (one, a clavicular fracture while snowboarding, the other a dislocated shoulder while playing football.  Different shoulders, years apart), I went to the walk-in clinic/hospital and saw a doctor.  While I didn’t enjoy the wait time (none of us does, but it’s a necessary part of having a non-life threatening injury), I appreciated the focus and methodical approach the doctors that ultimately saw me had, as well as their conclusions and reassurance that in time, I’d be just fine.  

I’ve always wanted to be like those people.  I’ve always wanted to be the person that people felt comfortable asking for answers (at least the ones related to health/wellness).  I always wanted to be able to provide measured, calm answers to questions that innately inspire a certain level of fear in people.  Taking away fear, I think, is a pretty valuable skill.  

So, my goal from a young age was to be involved in healthcare.  I originally thought I would go “be a doctor”, but as I got into my third and fourth years of university, I learned that for me, being a medical doctor wasn’t going to provide me with the tools I needed to answer the questions I wanted to answer.  So I explored other options (Physiotherapy, Speech and Language pathology, Audiology, Population and Community Ecology, Chiropractic, Osteopathy, Naturopathy) for school, and even looked into applying to the fire department (they wouldn’t hire colour-blind folks back then).  It eventually took me to Chiropractic college, where I enrolled in their doctor of chiropractic program, as well as their masters of science in applied clinical nutrition programs.  I attended a lot of lectures and labs, and read and studied a LOT.  I learned a lot.  It was such a great thing to think that if I just read and learned as much as I could – if I read all the literature about all the things within my scope of practice (where I could help people), I would finally have all the answers.

Throughout my quest to learn the answers, I learned some hard truths:

First, the textbooks, and some of the information from lectures, labs and skill work would that I was learning, would be obsolete by the time I was allowed to use it.  Not surprising and somewhat easy to mitigate by always working to continue learning.  

Lesson Learned:  You never get to stop learning if you want to be the one providing the answers.

Second, the scientific literature (what I always thought was like gospel, untouchable and un-taintable) was/is biased, unpredictable, and in some cases purposely falsified to serve the needs of those who might benefit from it (sometimes, honestly, as the author wants to see their hypothesis come true, and sometimes in more sinister ways).

Lesson learned:  Scrutinize what you read.  Does it make sense?  Does it fit with everything else we know?  If it doesn’t, WHY?  

Third, most people that DO come to you with questions, will have a somewhat unique and different question than everyone else that has, which makes their answers also unique and different.  It will be very rare that a person presents like they do in the textbooks/classes/exams.  

Lesson Learned:  Providing solutions isn’t, and will never be a “recipe book” or “menu”.  You can’t just file people into tidy and neat categories and each and every case needs to be addressed individually, which requires a lot of patience, willpower, and open-mindedness.

So.  Learning that having the answers to the questions people were asking was going to be very difficult, and in most cases, fairly disappointing, has been hard to accept.  But, as difficult as it is to accept it, it’s the truth.  And one of the most important things I’ve learned is that there is something more important than being the person with the answers; and that is working tirelessly to be someone who provides the truth – even if it means revealing that those we would expect to have solid answers on, still don’t.  

So why do this?  Why put in thousands upon thousands of hours reading, attending seminars, and learning about manual therapy, modalities, food production, different diets, food allergies, intolerances, dyskinesias, program design, rehabilitative exercises, barbell strength, weightlifting, gymnastics, energy systems, fueling systems, fasting, ketogenic dieting, sleep and recovery, stress relief, belief systems, habit building, time management, and a list of other things, some known and some unknown, that will NEVER end?

 

To be a source of trustworthy knowledge and actionable steps that people want and/or need so that they can improve their lives exactly how they want to and maybe even more.

 

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for providing me with the opportunity to do so.  

Your friend,

Adam

Building a BS filter – “Expert” opinions

Hey Folks!

I’ve had one hell of a hiatus from writing, but have been meaning to get back at it for the last few weeks.  I’ve really been enjoying reading more research lately and creating the little sound bites of info from them (see them on my twitter feed here).  But I have missed the larger pieces of synthesis that come from reading all those bits of info and putting them into a longer, coherent and more contextual “article”.  Before I get into any particular topic I want to address something that I’ve had an issue with for as long as I can remember.  I think we all have issue with this in general (as we all tend to have some sort of BS filter), but either way, here goes.

Being extremely educated in one area and/or being considered an “expert” in that area does NOT make you an expert at everything.

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photo from: http://s1182.photobucket.com/user/WeeWeed1/media/rocket_surgeon_500px_zps668d1dfb.jpg.html

I can appreciate that people seeking you out, sharing your info, telling you you’re great and so on would blow your head up, but that doesn’t make it “ok” for you to start spreading misinformation.  I get that you understand research, and you might have knowledge on a related subject, but you’re only making yourself look ridiculous when you don’t acknowledge information that is above your pay-grade.

For example, at this point, when someone asks me about “Dry needling”, I let them know my level of understanding for it, then tell them that they’re best to speak with someone who does it regularly to get a more full understanding.  I may have a great knowledge of anatomy, physiology, neurology and even a decent steeping in traditional acupuncture, but I don’t have experience performing dry-needling, so I refer to people who do.

I’m not interested in debating people either, as I’ve made that mistake far too often.  If you are not an intelligent enough human being to recognize that most  things are not absolute, then you are wasting your time and more importantly you’re wasting my time by speaking on whichever subject you are completely closed to having an informed opinion on.

Then there is the questionable quality of journal articles (that is not limited to shoddy journals, even the NEJM or JAMA have had issues with quality) (link here).  Or good articles, that are written on bad, or even made up data that was never bothered to have been removed from the database it was created in (link here).  There is also the funny coincidence that research funded by either a pharmaceutical company or association that would benefit from a positive outcome, is more likely to find that positive outcome – but when the same study is conducted by independent researchers, the outcomes aren’t quite so rosy (link here).  And it isn’t stuff that “just happens in the states” (link here).

Now then…

I’m not saying we shouldn’t respect and value the opinions of people who have spent their lives devoted to absorbing, deciphering, and relaying information to those interested in hearing about it (I do it every day in trying to educate my patients!), but when that knowledge is based on research that could possibly be from untrustworthy sources, and those sources are more or less impossible to know, we need a new way to know when to trust that info and when not to.  Here are some ways to figure it out:

  • If it backs up a status quo that hasn’t been helping you, it’s questionable (i.e. If your calories in is greater than your calories out, you gain weight!)
  • If it’s got any “extreme” words – i.e. “always”, “never”, “certain”, or whatever else that suggests there is only one answer, it’s likely wrong
  • If you get sucked in, and ask a question that might be contrary to the “knowledge” being doled out, and you’re attacked or personally insulted, the person is upset because they’ve been caught.
  • If it’s a topic that is “in vogue”, and commenting on it would make that person more popular or highlight them in the media, and they haven’t spoken about it before, they likely don’t know much about it (i.e. “Neurosurgeon speaks out about Chiropractic care!”, is about the same as, “Fast food restaurant manager speaks out about Farming!”… what does a restaurant manager have in common with farming other than, maybe food?)
  • Anything that sets off your BS detector in general – i.e. “gluten sensitivity doesn’t exist!”, “Exercise is the answer to all your diet problems!”, “Stop working hard!  Do this one trick and make millions!” – you get the picture.  These are more obvious and more or less relate to the “extreme” words rule.

Good.  Hopefully that helps you guys navigate the %#@storm that is the state of “expert” opinions that seems so pervasive on the internet these days.

Back to improving peoples health through Chiropractic care, Nutritional consulting and Movement and exercise prescription (my areas of expertise, of which I’m constantly trying to improve upon).

Stay Healthy, Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

3 Issues with Going the “One Way”

“Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.

After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.

Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.”

– Bruce Lee

 

Hey Folks!

 

Today we will address something that has been plaguing CrossFit, Chiro, and life in general since I learned of its’ existence.  That thing is that there is NO ONE WAY.  I know what you’re thinking – That’s not a new idea, Adam.  I know it isn’t, but it never takes long for us to convince ourselves that maybe… just maybe there IS ONE WAY.

Oh I need to get my squat up, I have to do the Smolov method.  Oh, the warm up suggests jumping from 75% to 90% of our working weight, I’ll just slap these 45’s on then.  I’m not feeling great; it must be my serotonin levels.  I’d love to lose some weight, but you can only do it if you do the super mega cleanse, and I’m not ready for that.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

 

Issue #1:   We want there to be only one way. 

You have this infection, you need this anti-biotic, and you need to take it for this long.  You want to lose 10 pounds so you need to eat this magic-berry this many times per day before you have your water and air to eat.  We want it to be true.  The number of times I’ve heard, “well just tell me what stretch I need to do”, or, “how many treatments does it take to cure this???” is quite honestly, too many.

 

Issue #2:  People don’t like for there to not be ONE WAY.

People want there to be ONE fix.  ONE stretch they aren’t doing.  ONE piece of food they need to add or omit from their diet that will cure their IBS, add 200 pounds to their back squat and get them an A in their Nuclear Biophysics course at University.  They want that “AHA! THAT is what I’ve been doing wrong!” moment.  They WANT easy.  But easy doesn’t exist – simple does.

Eating veggies, meats, tubers, fruits, and adding in some nuts and seeds is simple.  Coming to the gym and doing the work is simple.  Working on your mobility with a Lacrosse ball, foam roller and some stretches is simple.  Getting adjusted regularly to ensure a healthy nervous system is simple.  Unfortunately simple does not always or usually mean easy.  Endeavour for simplicity, it isn’t always easy, but there is a certain beauty in it.

 

Issue #3:  Many a person has gotten rich off selling you the idea that there is only one way. 

Want to know a surefire way to know when you’re hearing/reading good advice?  When the speaker/writer isn’t going to fight you on adhering to what they suggest.

“I can’t eat ‘paleo’ because I have to have yogourt/milk/oatmeal/etc.”, is a common response I hear to my recommendation for most folks to start with a stripped down paleo approach to eating.  Do you know what an appropriate response to this comment is?  “Ok, then have it – and if or when you’re ready to try going without that item as well, you can”.  Many of the truly successful people are not shoving their rules down peoples’ throats.  Mark Rippetoe doesn’t care if you want to compare Starting Strength to Wendlers 5-3-1.  Robb Wolf doesn’t care if you want to go all primal and add some dairy and wine in with your paleo diet.  Most Chiropractors don’t care if you want to come in once a month instead of once every 2 weeks.  What we do know is that if you stray too far from a plan, it doesn’t work as well, and we know what we know because we do it every day.

 

Notes to provoke your thoughts:

Want to know when you’re being sold something that may be suspect (products, services or advice)?  When the person wants to convince you of its’ truth.

I don’t want to pick on anyone as broad brush strokes are just that, broad, but two examples that come to mind are:

Vegans.  You can’t be “kind of” vegan.  From my experiences they will do everything in their power to convince you of the evils of meat and the saintly power of juicing or kale or whatever.  You can see this in the paleo world too with the “is it paleo” debates, which in my opinion are largely a waste of time.

“Evidence-based” healthcare practitioners.   They are typically extremely confident that their way is the only way.  That is until they learn more.  Until they learn about bias from researchers, from where funding comes from, from bias in statistical analysis (and it’s interpretation), and from poorly written conclusions, abtracts and introductions.  Until they learn about outliers, and paradoxical findings (and responders) and articles that conclude, “while this particular study does not support generally accepted findings, we still suggest that people follow XYZ” and wonder why doesn’t the study support it?

Please keep in mind, these are generalizations, and by far not all vegans or “evidence-based” practitioners are like this, but they come to mind first.  How will you know if the person you’re speaking to is unworthy of your trust?  They don’t listen to your side of the conversation.  Not even a little.  They speak louder to get their point across.  It’s painful to speak and debate with these people and we all get sucked into it from time to time.  Don’t’ waste your time or energy here.

 

Bruce Lee is still viewed with starry eyes.  He was a genius.  He knew that there was no one way, and that the more you learned, the more you realized you knew very little.  After understanding how little you know, you can fully acknowledge the breadth of the subject and how best to approach it.  The important thing to take into account is that we’re all trying to get on the highway to greater health and fitness, but few of us will be driving on the exact same onramp or will be driving the same speed, in my case I always check out the flexmastergeneral, Their newest machine is the Bowflex HVT and it is an awesome tool for my fitness goals.  Where you get on and how fast you go isn’t what matters, heading in the right direction is.  So when you begin to doubt yourself from time to time (and you will), remember, there is no one way, there is only the way you are going – just make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

As always – stay healthy, Friends!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

Research of the Day – Nov 19, 2012 – Colic & Chiro, they go together like bacon and just about anything…

Hey Folks!

I took the weekend off – My brother and Sister-in-law were up to visit so I had more fun things to do.

Todays article

Efficacy of Chiropractic Manual Therapy on Infant Colic: A Pragmatic Single-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial

I don’t have the full text (yet), but I couldn’t rob you of this one…

What they did:

  • Split groups of babies into 1 – Treated and the parents knew, 2 – Treated and the parents DIDN’T know, 3 – not treated and the parents knew
  • I’m not sure why they didn’t include the fourth group (something the full text would elucidate I’m sure…) but oh well
  • Followed up with parents to see if there was any less crying in the colicky babies
  • A significant amount of less crying was quantified as 2 hours less
  • The two treatment groups were made to see if results were based on parents thinking their child got better because they were treated versus them actually being better

What they found:

  • The treated babies cried significantly less than the un-treated babies regardless of whether the parents observed the treatment or not.

What does it mean:

  • It suggests Chiropractic care may help with Colic in infants. Total time spent crying was reduced, which I’m sure would mean a lot to parents.
  • The results were not based on the parents hoping their children were better as even the parents who didn’t know their child was treated or not (but they were) reported less crying.

And so:

  • Chiropractic care with infants is extremely gentle, very low force and not what most would think of when they consider “Chiropractic care”
  • Ensuring proper movement in the spine and therefore better communication between brain and body in infants is less invasive and far more safe an intervention than drugs or surgery to prevent colic
  • I don’t have the full study, I don’t have children, and I’m a Chiropractor (and therefore have built in bias that can’t be avoided) but I believe Chiropractic care for infants should be the mandatory first step in addressing Colic (among other physiological perturbations) in children as it is the least invasive and introduces nothing novel into the digestive tract or blood supply of the infant.
  • I don’t suggest that it will work for all children as health is far more multifactorial than that, but to reduce the patient load on Medical Doctors/Pediatricians and to prevent unnecessary medication usage it only makes sense to have infants checked for movement restriction in their spine and the downstream effects it can have on the nervous system.

Stay healthy, Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

p.s. If you don’t currently see a Doctor of Chiropractic and You or your loved ones are interested in making an appointment, you can book online here, or call my office at (705) 586-7873

Opinion Friday – on reading research…

Hey Folks!

No research today… I read some articles yesterday but lacked the patience to write about them yesterday. Life got a little busier than usual this past week. I think I’ll be reserving Fridays for some commentary on what I’ve read, which I’m sure will include the articles you’ve seen me review as well as others that didn’t deserve a post.

So here’s the deal – most people don’t read research. I mean really read it. So, to make things a little more realistic and give a small idea as to how I do it (which isn’t the “right” way, it’s just what I do to save time and to get to the truth as quickly as I can), I’ll explain my process.

Step 1 – pubmed or PLoS search for articles based on key words I’m interested in that day… simplicity is nice. “Gluten”, “Autoimmunity”, “Insulin sensitivity”, and so on.

Step 2 – Choose a sexy title to read about

Step 3 – Skim the Abstract for something interesting

Step 4 – Find the full text. Skip the abstract and intro.

Step 5 – Read the methods. They’re boring but they let you know what the researchers ACTUALLY DID… If we’re being smart, and it’s an RCT or other experiment – then we know the authors should ONLY be commenting on what the results of their study present.

Step 6 – Read the results. See what happened with their experiment.

Step 7 – Make your own conclusions. Skip the discussion and conclusion. This is where most get lazy. This is where most check the discussion, or probably more realistically, just the conclusion. They usually contain bias and give away the authors hopes and biases. “While our study did not support our hypothesis, the current literature suggests that blah blah is still suggested. Greater sample sizes and longer follow up is suggested to come to more accurate conclusions.” Or some other BS. Don’t read it – it’s there to trick you. Read the methods and results and make your own conclusions.

Step 8 – Hope that it was a good experiment. Use logic and intelligence to put the conclusions into context.

Step 9 – Find a new article to read after that.

If authors are abandoning their conclusions and bringing up poor references (Youdo check their references right?), then their word isn’t to be trusted, but you CAN still take the information their experiment created as it was usually designed with the hopes of supporting their hypothesis.

Anyway, I suppose I’m a little frustrated with the run-around you get when reading studies. It would be nice if all the published were the methods and results, but they don’t. Oh well… I suppose it’s the nature of humans.

Stay healthy, Friends!
Dr. Adam Ball

Health, not anti-Disease

Hey Folks!

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So, at what point have we started eating, living and thinking in ways that are designed to avoid disease? I was just thinking the other day – there are so many “diet” books, and books on lifestyle interventions like exercise, stretching, meditation, etc. that are designed around preventing or treating a particular illness.

“The anti-cancer diet”

“The diabetes exercise solution”

“Meditate your fibromyalgia away!”

And so on and so forth…

What’s the Problem?

The problem is that we need to pursue health, not avoid disease. There are too many diseases to avoid any one in particular. What happens if you get cancer while eating the heart disease diet? Then you just happened to choose the wrong diet to adhere to?

We love doing things, or taking things for a particular reason. When I recommend to patients that they take fish oil, vitamin D or probiotics, the most common follow up question I receive is, “ok, but what is it for?”

It’s for making you healthy. That may seem like a facetious answer, and to some degree it is, but the truth is that I may recommend vitamin D to someone with MS, someone with rheumatoid arthritis, someone with IBS symptoms, and someone with chronic colds. So then, how do I answer that question?

I’m asking you to take vitamin D because living in northern latitudes we simply cannot absorb any from the sun between the months of October and March. We need to supplement it during those months because vitamin D is an essential nutrient involved with too many reactions in your body than this post can justify OR that science has even elucidated. Fish oil and probiotics can be added to that list – as can exercise, good quality sleep, loving relationships, and a whole slew of other healthy activities.

What’s the solution?

We need to realize that we aren’t eating good food, exercising, and loving each other because some scientist somewhere has “discovered” that it is associated with a reduction in your chances for colon cancer. We do all these things because they’re all associated with being healthy, and healthy people have a far lesser chance of getting sick from all illnesses.

The solution is Wellness and Prevention; it’s using and adjusting our lifestyle to match what our DNA requires from us to build a healthy human being.

So while you might take fish oil “for your arthritis”, you’re also taking it for the health of your nervous system, your cardiovascular health and to improve your insulin sensitivity. You exercise because it makes your knee feel better, but also because it helps keep plaques out of your arteries, and improves your ability to learn. You spend time relaxing because it relieves your headache, but also because it lowers cortisol in your blood, improves sexual function, and improves your recovery from exercise. You avoid grains because it makes you feel less bloated, but also because it lowers inflammation, improves the quality of your gut lining and improves the amount of serotonin and dopamine available to your brain.

How to implement all these activities and behaviors in your life will be saved for another post. If you’ve read my previous posts you probably have a good idea where to start though. Thanks for reading everyone!

In Health,
Dr. Adam Ball

Addressing Lifestyle & Making you “Healthy”

Hi Folks!

I have experienced a small handful of patients coming to see me who brought up in passing that “oh yeah, I’ve been feeling numbness over here” or, “oh yeah, and I hit my head really hard and have a wicked headache right now”… Both (and others) which were followed up with – “Can you help with that?”

Yes.  I can.

While my main concern is for the function and structure of your spine and its joints, I can address your extremities (feet, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands… anywhere you have a joint, really), I can address numbness and I can address headaches.  Pretty much any part of your health – I want to know about.  While I don’t want your symptoms to be your focus, knowing that they were present, and that now they are not is a nice metric of you getting healthier and your body finding its balance.  So please, let me know if there is something new, or something in particular that you’d like me to concentrate on.

I am concerned with improving your experience of how you look, how you feel and how you perform (thanks to Robb Wolf for articulating these concise metrics of health).  When you look, feel and perform well – you’re usually pretty darn healthy.  Healthy Folks don’t have numbness, headaches or debilitating back pain/IBS attacks.  Healthy Folks do eat an impeccable diet, exercise intelligently and regularly lower their stress levels.

You have the time.  You just need to schedule it in and be efficient.  Pencil in “20 minute workout”, or “prepare lunch and dinner for tomorrow” instead of “watch Greys”.  Set an alarm on your blackberry/iphone to remind you to work out, say “I love you” to someone or simply smile and take a deep breath.

Make living healthy a habit.  It isn’t difficult.  Living in a wheel chair is difficult.  Not playing with your children because you’re in too much pain is difficult.  The initial change might be uncomfortable at first, but once you’ve gotten used to making healthy decisions, you’ll notice it gets easier and easier.

If you have any questions, let me know – I am well studied in the areas of nutrition/diet, biomechanics, exercise, and most other areas that have an effect on health.

In health,

Dr. Adam Ball

Your DNA doesn’t care about who you are…

As a wellness and prevention practitioner, I face the occasional challenge in regards to patient compliance to a genetically congruent lifestyle far more frequently than I face those patients who have been provided with bad information.  My experiences with patients have taught me something that I’ve heard before, but which really resonated with me today.

Your DNA does not care one bit about WHO you are, how important you may be, or how much money you make.  Not even a little.  THAT is powerful information, and it can be an important reminder to be meticulous with how you spend your time, and what you allow to enter your body (in terms of food, thoughts and movement).

100 times out of 100 your DNA and its’ genes will respond to the stimulus they are provided.  You will only express genes and their corresponding proteins in response to the environmental demand you place on them.  This can mean the expression of vibrant health, or the expression of unfavourable physiological states (often referred to as pathology).

So, this is where the truth comes in, and in some cases where it can sting a little.  If you’re working your butt off, putting in 80 hour weeks, forgetting meals (which doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, depending on what foods you’re eating), neglecting friends and family (your positive social relationships with actual people), and reducing the amount of time you spend sleeping (or avoid it all together) – And all this makes you a billion dollars… well, I hope you have children to pass the money on to, because you aren’t going to be around long enough to enjoy it.

If you don’t make your health a priority now – you will have to at some point (if you’re lucky enough to live).  I know what this is like.  I had 40+ hours a week of classes, supplemented with 40+ hours a week of studying – all leading to something that was going to be my future career, i.e. if I didn’t pass those classes, then I just invested a tonne of cash in an education I wouldn’t be able to use.  That’s a fair amount of pressure and it’s a fair amount of stress – and my body responded with crappy sleep, lots of food cravings and a less than desirable body composition.  When I started out in my first year I would avoid going to the gym, going out with friends and a lot of other stuff I loved doing because I felt like I needed that time to study.  What I found out later on (when I knew I could get good grades without killing myself with the books for hours), was that when I spent that time in the gym or with my friends, that I was more focused when it came to study and I was far more efficient with my time.  My grades improved with less studying.  I retained the knowledge better.  I was healthier and in better shape.  And I grew my relationships with my friends.

What’s the moral of the story?  Your DNA wants you to succeed.  When you provide it what it needs, you will do better in every aspect of your life.  How concentrated are you at work during those 80 hours if you have back pain, blood sugar swings and some mild depression?  Does it make sense to you that you might feel better and concentrate more knowing you are experiencing the best health of your life?

It does to me.  And I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to help it make sense to you too.

 

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

Wellness Explained: The Simple Math Analogy

Hey Folks!

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So I’m back again for another post about the Wellness Paradigm.  I’m always searching for good, or even better ways to explain what my goal is with the treatment of my patients as it can be quite different from the outcomes other health care practitioners are looking for.  While the distinction can be difficult to appreciate in some cases (i.e. where you actually HAVE a problem you would like to remedy and treatment from a Chiropractor provides that remedy for you) it is important to your future and ultimate health.  Let me begin by asking you a series of questions…

  • If you were in good health and you went and had your appendix removed, are you now healthier?
  • What if instead of removing your appendix, you decided to exercise – would that make you healthier?
  • How about if a healthy person decided to take statins and ACE inhibitors (common medications for to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, respectively) – would it make them healthier?
  • What if instead they decided to eat a high quality diet and see a Chiropractor regularly to ensure proper spinal movement – would it make them healthier?

I’ll stop now with the questions, but hopefully you’re sensing a common theme in those questions.  The point I’m trying to make is this – Medications and Surgery (and even many manual therapies) are aimed NOT at increasing health, but in decreasing disease.  This isn’t the same as increasing cold by decreasing hot.  No one in their right mind would elect to take medications or have invasive surgeries performed to increase their health – it’s ridiculous.  Now, this does NOT mean that I think these things are silly or unnecessary, as in many cases they are required to remove disease/dysfunction in order for you to achieve an appropriate baseline of health.  But the goal in treatment is different.

You take antibiotics, and have growths removed to decrease your disease/dysfunction while you exercise, floss, eat well, work your mobility and get your spine checked to increase your health.  Different approaches for different jobs!  You wouldn’t use an axe to rebuild the wall you just chopped down with it, you’d elect for a hammer – so why then, wouldn’t you decide to build on your health instead of waiting for a problem that needs to be “fixed”?

All the best Folks!

 

Dr. Adam Ball

The Shoulder Position – It won’t just strain your rotator cuff

So I had planned on stopping the “shoulders saga” after the previous two posts but then thought about this on the way to work today – there are a lot of ways to work on the shoulders that essentially do nothing for you, therapeutically.  I confess, in my past I have worked on shoulders for my benefit versus the benefit of my patient – but I was just a young buck, and didn’t know any better!  Dear therapists, repeat after me, “I will not punish my patients with painful soft tissue work for my own pleasure”.  Now then, what the hell am I talking about?

As you’ve read about before, the shoulder is an intricate and interesting structure with some pretty amazing functions that, when faced with a poor position to work from, will present with some problems.  I trust you’ve been doing some pre-hab, to correct your poor positioning and prevent future problems.

No doubt, at some point in your shoulder pain/discomfort/tightness past you’ve asked someone to give you a massage/shoulder rub/thumb-destroying good time.  No doubt, it hurt quite a bit, and if you were the victim of experienced hands, you may have had to use your safety word (which may or may not have been “popcorn”).  There is a decent chance you walked away and felt “better”, at least for a little bit.  Was it “better” in comparison to the excruciating pain you were just recently feeling?  Or did your shoulder pain go away only to come back in a day or two?  If you “felt a bit better” for a day or two, that’s good news, but the treatment was ultimately no different than popping a couple advil.

“Heresy!  Those patients’ muscles were sore and I stripped the hell out of their muscles and then they weren’t sore anymore!  What happened to “treating the cause???” – I fixed the problem!”

Did you?  Invariably, the rhomboids, levator scapulae, traps, rotator cuff muscles and maybe even the lats are going to be tender on a patient with an active shoulder complaint.  Taking this a step further, using trigger point therapy (or really just ischemic compression as there probably isn’t any true pain referral happening here), ART, stripping massage, or any of the other dozens of different soft tissue techniques on sore muscles is going to result in, “yeah that really hurts, but it hurts in a good way, you can press harder if you need to”.  Which means the patient believes the therapist is doing the right thing, and so does the therapist.  But WHY are the muscles tender and WHY did they develop this shoulder problem?  (The answer to this second question is not, “because they bailed awkwardly on a ring dip”)

Poor positioning and movement patterns.  This probably just sounds repetitive at this point but unless you work to correct your shoulder positioning, you are going to continue having problems.  Spend some time stretching out your “business” as Kelly Starrett would say.  Instead of being “bad” at certain movements, make sure you aren’t trying to execute those movements from a weak position and take the steps to improve your position.

Now, before I get attacked for “putting down” soft tissue work, which I’m not doing, let’s go back to how you should be approaching the solution to this problem.  You start with some poor scapulae positioning and then you do overhead work, pullups, oly lifting, etc. and experience some pain and your “bad shoulder” starts “acting up”.  By all means, see a therapist if you want to experience some serious pain, and naturally improve your pain status (after treatment) with regards to this acute situation.  Now that you’re past that, move forward and prevent future problems – ask your therapist what steps you should take (where to stretch, where to strengthen) to prevent future painful episodes.  Many times the tender muscles in an acute episode are not the muscles you should be working on to correct shoulder positioning.  For examples, the rhomboids are going to be sore in this acute situation, but they are more than likely weak and stretched away from their optimal position.  Pressing on them does nothing to improve shoulder positioning and may even make the situation worse.  Working on pec minor in an acute situation, isn’t going to do a whole lot to help with the patients pain, but would be the right step to take in improving shoulder positioning.

Now then, since you’re now seeing an awesome athletic therapist, massage therapist, physiotherapist or chiropractor that knows they’ve addressed your true problem and sent you on the path to wellness – Promise referrals, your first born, whatever, but make sure you thank your therapist for caring about you having some solid shoulders versus you coming back next time you do a work out with ring dips in it.

What’s that saying?  An ounce of prevention…?

Cheers Folks!

 

Dr. Adam Ball