Archive for the ‘anatomy & physiology’ Category

Recovery and Therapeutic Techniques- Part 2.

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A spinal nerve with its anterior and posterior...

A spinal nerve with its anterior and posterior roots. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The article/blog post I wrote a few months back entitled, I Have a Message…Go Get a Massage received a good amount of interest, as well as feedback.  I had originally intended to cover several of the therapeutic and recovery techniques that I recommend and employ myself.  After awhile of editing and shortening, I realized there was just far too much info for a single post.  I suppose this could be considered the sequel, so without me rambling on and on (probably going off in a totally different direction in the process) lets get into some of the other therapy practices I believe in.

Perhaps the most polarizing of all “mainstream” healthcare practitioners’ are Chiropractors.  I’ve heard so many varying opinions when it comes to chiropractic care it’s mind boggling. The sentiment towards Chiropractors, at least from what individuals I’ve worked with over the years, ranges from, “Dr. Chiro allowed me to walk again” to “it’s all Dr. Chiro’s fault I’ll never walk again.”  I think this originates from a misunderstanding of what a Chiropractor intends to accomplish through his or her manipulation and adjustments to the effected area of the body.  Your nervous system controls and coordinates all functions with-in the body, when the signals being sent through the system get interfered with, parts of the body will not receive proper messages.  Therefore, impairing proper movement patterns, these impairments are not isolated ONLY to the directly affected area of the body.  That’s only the beginning, remember, the body is a kinetic chain working in harmony like a well conducted orchestra.  Just like an orchestra, the human body is harmonious until just ONE of the numerous possibilities is off tune or misaligned.  This can dramatically alter the sound and flow of the entire orchestra or human body.

A subluxation refers to an incomplete or partial dislocation of a joint or organ.  More specifically a vertebral subluxation is when one or more of the bones of the spine move out of position and create pressure of irritation of spinal nerves.  Spinal nerves are the nerves between each of the bones in the spine.  The pressure or irritation causes these nerves to malfunction and interfere with the signals traveling over the nerves.  It’s the responsibility of the Doctor of Chiropractic to locate subluxations and reduce or correct them.  This is done through a series of chiropractic adjustments designed to correct the vertebral subluxations in your spine.  A study conducted by Drs. Anthony Lauro and Brian Mouch, published in The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation(1991) indicated chiropractic care might improve athletic performance by 16.7% over a two week period.  Like I always say 1% of something, is better than 100% of nothing.  The report also concluded that subluxation free athletes react faster, coordinate better, and execute fine movements with improved accuracy and precision, amounting to an overall better athlete.  In closing, when the body is aligned properly, your nervous system is tuned allowing the kinetic chain to fire in unison.  This leads to peak performance, fewer injuries and faster recovery.

One practice in particular that I’d like to mention is acupuncture.  Acupuncture is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine filiform needles into specific points on the body with the aim of relieving pain for therapeutic purposes.  According to traditional Chinese acupuncture theory, the acupuncture points lie along meridians along which Qi (chi or ch’i) the vital energy flows.  Some of the benefits of acupuncture include a quick reduction in inflammation, as well as, releasing pressure form trigger points which greatly accelerates the healing process.  The importance of reducing any inflammation is that it prevents blood stagnation via release of osmotic pressure away form the injury, again creating a more efficient healing process.  Additional benefits form acupuncture include increased circulation, a boost to the immune system, many patients claim increased energy and serenity, and it has been found to be especially effective in treating ligament and tendon strains which are quite common among training athletes.  Regular acupuncture enthusiasts claim that it helps significantly in their training and performance.  A number of avenues such as building muscle mass, increased glycogen storage, improvement in fast twitch muscle fiber activation and overall energy which are paramount for a great performance.  To give you an idea of the athletic influence that acupuncture has take the 1993 Chinese National Games where a total of 9 women broke world records and claim to have only used legal Chinese herbs and the constant use of acupuncture treatments.  Acupuncture is becoming so respected that for the first time ever it was offered during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, for all athletes and officials to incorporate into their recovery, healing, medical and whatever other forms of treatment they desired (within the parameters of IOC guidelines of course).

Lastly, I want to briefly discuss TENS therapy which stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.  This type of therapy is performed by placing electrodes on a desired location of the body, either directly on an effected area, or at key points along the nerve pathway.  A small battery powered generator emits a milli-amp of electricity through wire leads to the electrodes.  TENS therapy is often used in pain management protocols as well as physical therapy, however I intend to discuss what I believe to be the benefit of TENS therapy for a high performance athlete.  As I discussed when we train we breakdown the muscle fibers and repair them through proper nutrition and so on.  Over the course of these processes we develop micro scaring in the muscles and I believe a TENS unit is great in assisting in the break up of the scare tissue.  One of the reasons for the excellent healing properties of TENS therapy is the increased circulation it brings to the area where the electrodes are placed.  In my experiences, I notice that TENS therapy tends to “open” the muscles fibers, what I mean is, I simply feel there is more volume to the muscle bellies after this type of a therapy session.  I wouldn’t say that there’s a time limit on transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, but I find thirty minutes to be sufficient.  If you plan on having any longevity in your sport of choice it’s imperative that you put just as much effort into recovery and healing your bodies as you do to training and practice.  Being at your absolute best is a 24/7 job, attention to detail is a must in order to achieve Ultimate Human Performance.

-Excerpt from an article I read, thought I’d share…link below*

Picture a morbidly obese mouse, you know, the ones companies use to show as the “before” picture when marketing certain products.  Anyhow, let’s call him Jumbo. Jumbo is unique – he’s an ob/ob mouse. This is a mouse that becomes a type II diabetic, can’t stop eating, and packs away body fat like crazy. No matter how much you feed him, he won’t stop.
Poor Jumbo has a mutation in the gene coding for leptin – he’s totally missing it! His fat cells can’t properly communicate with his hypothalamus because he has no leptin. If you inject Jumbo with leptin, he’ll stop eating and lose weight, but the solution isn’t so simple for us non-mutants.  Most obese people don’t have missing or mutated leptin genes – they can make plenty of it. The problem is that in spite of leptin still finding and binding its receptors all over the body, no downstream message is sent. The system that senses leptin is broken.
This is called leptin resistance, a condition in which the brain can’t determine when body fat is at an okay level. The fat cells are sending leptin out to the hypothalamus to signal that fat stores are full. Leptin binds the receptors, but no downstream messages are sent. It’s like knocking on the door when nobody is home. In spite of all the extra body fat mass, the brain perceives starvation and orders fat storage. The kicker is that you’re also very hungry, and continue to eat more and more.
If you know anyone who just can’t stop eating like Jumbo, as tempting as it may be to instantly judge them, it’s likely not entirely their fault. Many obese people have metabolic systems that are simply broken. You can’t outrun Mother Nature, and if the leptin signaling is messed up, you can only control yourself so much.

 

For full article by John Meadows CSCS check out:  <http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/control_leptin_and_control_your_leanness&cr=&gt;

What the heck is a snack anyways? How many calories is it outside today?.

Forgotten Exercise: Vacuums….

Lymphatic System Series (part 1 of 3)- Lymph.

When’s the last time you walked into the Doctor’s office and asked for a Lymphatic check-up or asked for a Lymph support formula at your local supplement retailer??  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, probably not very recently…what I really mean is, for 99% of people the answer is NEVER!!  The problem is, how can anyone really be expected to show concerned for, or lose sleep over something they know almost nothing about!?   I’ll be the first to admit, only as of recently have I truly been able to grasp the importance of this intricate system…The Lymphatic System is something you learn about briefly during the Circulatory and/or Immune System chapter’s in Anatomy and Physiology 101, and unless you’re a Pre-Med student that’s the last you really hear of it.  Even then I believe it’s importance is grossly ignored among Medical Professionals as a whole…why??  I’m going to let you in on a little secret…if Doctors truly “cured” their patients, they’d be out of a job before they could say, “scamming ain’t easy.”  Oh, and another thing, if we properly implemented nutrition and exercise programs to prevent health issues…we’d no long need massive amounts of medications from one of the most highly influential “groups” looming over our Country’s government…Pharmaceutical Companies (aka, Big Pharm…follow the money trail people)!  Okay, okay, I digress…my intention for this series on the Lymphatic System has absolutely nothing to do with neither myself nor a political soapbox!
The Lymph System is a network of organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels that produce and transport lymph from tissues to the bloodstream.  The lymph system is a major component of the body’s immune system.  Because this system is rather complex, as well as it is truly unique and interesting, I’ve decided to make this a 3 part series as not to overwhelm (bore) you with information.  As I’ve said countless times before…The better and more complete of an understanding you have of the how’s and why’s in which we all function as humans, the more likely you all are to adhere to some of the ways in which it’s possible to optimize the benefits of lymphatic drainage(which I will certainly delve into) .

Part One: Lymph- (Latin; lympha “water goddess”)
Fact- The human body contains four times more lymph than it does blood!!…That statistic still blows my mind!  I purposely throw it out there to being with in order to stress the mere abundance of lymph…which in turn should spark your interest about a fluid that literally saturates your entire body.  If it doesn’t, I hear ignorance is bliss…continue!!  For those looking to maximize every aspect in which you can ensure a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life, let’s start from the beginning.
Lymph is a clear- to yellowish white fluid made up of white blood cells, especially lymphocytes, the cells that attack bacteria in the blood.  A portion of lymph is comprised of a fluid from the intestines called Chyle; chyle is a milky white fluid containing emulsified fat and other products of digestion, formed from chyle in the small intestines and conveyed by the lacteals and thoracic duct to the veins (Dictionary.com definition).  Lymph in the body is analogous to your cities sewage system…nobody pays much mind to it until stops working properly or gets clogged.
In order to best explain the formation of lymph, let’s backpedal for a moment…Blood supplies nutrients and important metabolites to the cells of a tissue and collects back the waste products they produce, which requires a change of respective constituents between the blood and tissue cells.  However, this exchange is not direct but instead is effected through an intermediary called interstitial fluid or tissue fluid that the blood forms.  Interstitial fluid (ISF) is the fluid that occupies the spaces between the cells and constitutes their immediate environment.  As the blood and the surrounding cells continually add and remove substances from the ISF, it’s composition continually changes (the process of  movement by which these fluids travel throughout the body will be discussed in depth in parts 2 & 3).  ISF forms at the arterial (coming from the heart) end of the capillaries because of the higher pressure of blood compared to veins, and most of it returns to its venous ends and venues; the rest (1%) enters the lymph capillaries as lymph.  Thus, lymph when formed is a watery clear liquid with the same composition as the ISF.  However, as it flows through the lymph nodes it comes in contact with blood, and tends to accumulate more cells (particularly, lymphocytes) and proteins.
Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system is not closed and has no central pump.  Lymph transport, therefore, is slow and sporadic.  As lymph circulates, it is pulled into the lymphatic system, an extensive network of vessels and capillaries which is linked to lymph nodes, small nodules which act as filters to trap unwanted substances in the lymph.  Lymph nodes also produce more white blood cells, refreshing the lymph before it’s pumped out of the lymphatic system and back into the body.  Lymph may not be as “showy” as blood, but it is related to an equally complex and ornate system of vessels…This is a good stopping point, by now I hope you have a better understanding about lymph, as well as, a brief introduction to the lymphatic system as a whole, and more importantly a preview or glimpse into part two of this series, where I’ll get into the circulation and re-circulation of lymph and the vessels that make it all possible.