FEEL BETTER AND IMPROVE YOUR SEX LIFE BY VISITING YOUR FAMILY CHIROPRACTOR
Date: 16th October 2014
Reports that a visit to your nearest chiropractor can boost your sex life have been given new impetus by New Zealand research just published, according to The New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association (NZCA).
According to a recent study by a team at the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, published in the international journal Health Psychology, poor posture could be putting our sex drive in jeopardy, causing shallow breathing and exacerbating feelings of stress, which affects our sleep and energy levels1.
Speaking about World Spine Day (16th October), NZCA spokesman and chiropractor, Dr Hayden Thomas says: `We know that good posture is a key part of maintaining good spinal health, so we want to encourage New Zealander’s to visit their chiropractor and make sure that everything is aligned and functioning the way it should be. Your family chiropractor will be able to advise you on ways to improve your posture and ensure you have a healthier spine as a healthy spine and nervous system is a key part of overall health and wellbeing.’
To observe whether an upright seated posture could influence affective (emotional) and cardiovascular responses to a psychological stress task, compared to a slumped seated posture, the University of Auckland researchers recruited a small cohort of 74 people. The participants were randomly assigned to either a slumped or upright seated posture during a reading test while their backs were strapped to hold this posture throughout the experiment. To reduce expectation effects of posture, the cohort was told a cover story. A special task was used to induce stress, and then the participants’ responses were measured, and their mood, self-esteem, and perceived threat were assessed.
The findings revealed participants who sat up straight reported higher self-esteem, more arousal, better mood, and lower fear compared to their slouched counterparts. Slumped participants spoke less than those sitting upright; however, when they did speak, they used more negative emotion words, more first-person singular pronouns, showing they were more self-focused, more words linked to sadness, and fewer positive emotion words. “Adopting an upright seated posture in the face of stress can maintain self-esteem, reduce negative mood, and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture,” the authors wrote in the study.
Each year on October 16th, World Spine Day is observed to encourage spinal health by disseminating information on good spinal health habits. The NZCA runs the Straighten Up New Zealand (SUNZ) online resource www.straightenup.org.nz, which provides information for adults, children, educators and healthcare professionals on ways to keep active and maintain spinal health by using the Just Start Walking and Straighten Up programmes.
Dr Hayden Thomas explains: ‘The NZCA recommends having every member of the family checked by an NZCA member chiropractor to help the spine and nervous system function at an optimal level. Doing the three-minute set of simple exercises recommended by SUNZ every day will help improve posture, stabilise core muscle groups, enhance health and prevent spinal disability. It is also important to encourage family members and work colleagues to stand or sit upright, to take frequent breaks and to walk around and stretch if they have been sitting down for a while. This helps prevent joints stiffening and muscles getting tight and strained.’
Straighten Up New Zealand is a simple, engaging spinal exercise programme, designed to support spinal health. The Straighten Up campaign was originally developed in the USA and is now being adopted by countries all over the world. The NZCA has produced brochures and posters, and developed a website to support the campaign. Remember that it is always advisable to be checked regularly by your family chiropractor and have any pain that is severe or not improving checked out promptly.
For more information on the Straighten Up campaign, visit www.straightenup.org.nz. Further details on the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association can be found at www.chiropractic.org.nz.
ONGOING NZ RESEARCH SHOWS BENEFITS OF CHIROPRACTIC CARE DURING PREGNANCY
Date: 7th October 2014
Ongoing New Zealand research is uncovering new evidence about how chiropractic care can help to make giving birth an easier, safer experience for pregnant women and reduce the need for pharmaceuticals in the crucial months leading up to childbirth. And according to the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association the discoveries are all the more relevant now that common pain relief such as paracetamol has been shown to have detrimental effects on unborn children1.
According to NZCA spokesman and chiropractor Dr Hayden Thomas: `Chiropractic care can benefit all aspects of your body’s ability to be healthy by optimising brain-body communication through the nervous system. Our modern lifestyles mean that these spinal communication systems are often dysfunctional due to postural stresses, altered spinal curves, misalignment, joint restrictions and imbalances in the surrounding muscles, ligaments and other tissues. Altered spinal structure and neurological function can have profound effects in pregnant women meaning that they may experience more discomfort during pregnancy and often require assisted labour.’
Dr Thomas adds that ‘A sedentary lifestyle and some injuries can lead to pelvic fixation, causing tightening or torsion of specific pelvic muscles and ligaments. These tense muscles and ligaments and their constraining effect on the uterus can prevent a baby from comfortably assuming the best possible position for birth, potentially making it more difficult for the mother to give birth.’
Director of Research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic’s Research Centre, Dr Heidi Haavik explains: `The female pelvic floor muscles are very much controlled at a subconscious level by the brain. If these muscles do not function in an ideal manner this can have severe consequences to a woman’s ability to give birth naturally. Abnormal pelvic floor muscle function is also linked with conditions such as stress urinary incontinence, which can cause great suffering for women.’
In her groundbreaking new book, The Reality Check2 Dr Haavik explains what happens in the brain when a chiropractor adjusts specific dysfunctional segments in the spine. It is based on Dr Haavik’s work over the past two decades, which has been instrumental in establishing the link between neuroscience and chiropractic.
Altered weight bearing and movement patterns during pregnancy can place additional pressure on the muscles, ligaments, joints, discs and bones of a woman’s spine and can uncover regions that are not working well. 50% of women experience significant levels of back or pelvic pain during their pregnancy leading many of them them to resort to pain relief such as paracetamol. But research shows that chiropractic care may help to relieve these symptoms in up to 85% of pregnant women.3,4
Dr Haavik has been looking at how chiropractic care may influence pelvic floor muscle function in healthy women before, during, and after childbirth, and the results of one of these studies are due to be published soon.
Dr Haavik points out: ‘We have been working with a number of pregnant and non-pregnant women here in New Zealand to find out how chiropractic adjustments alter the way the pelvic floor muscles work.’
Dr Haavik added: ‘We know that women experience on average a 24% reduction in the length of labour time with chiropractic care during pregnancy and that rises to a 33% reduction for those mothers who have given birth before. By altering the biomechanics and neuromuscular control of the pelvis we are likely enabling the muscles to become more relaxed and joints more mobile which probably helps them to expand more freely during labour and settle more easily afterwards.’
Dr Thomas says: `This improves the ease of delivery, creating less stress and pressure for both the mother and baby. This also means there is less likelihood or need to use interventions such as forceps or caesarean section which can impact upon both mother and newborn child. C-sections have become increasingly common over the last few decades, and now account for as many as one in four births. While they are a necessary and safe option in some high-risk or complicated cases, studies show that natural and drug-free births are safer and healthier in both the short and long term.’ 3-7
3 Back pain during pregnancy and labor. Diakow, PRP, Gadsby, TA, Gadsby JB et al. J Manipulative Physiol Ther Vol. 14, No. 2 Feb. 1991.
5 The effects of chiropractic treatment on pregnancy and labor: a comprehensive study. Fallon J. Proceedings of the world chiropractic congress. 1991; 24-31.
CONCUSSION CAN HAVE EFFECT ON SPINES OF YOUNG ATHLETES, WARN NZ CHIROPRACTORS
Date: 15th July 2014
The New Zealand public is largely unaware that concussion injuries can also affect the spine and this is especially of concern in young athletes, according to the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association. In light of the recent death of a young sportsman, the NZCA stresses the potential seriousness of head injury in sport and the need for careful screening.
According to Dr Hayden Thomas, chiropractor and spokesperson for the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association, concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury, occurs from a blow to the head or violent shaking, with approximately 24,000 cases in New Zealand every year . It is a common injury in sport, with most individuals recovering in 7–10 days but some have persistent symptoms of dizziness, neck pain and/or headaches following a sport-related concussion.
Dr Thomas explains: `We have had a number of reports lately where chiropractors have seen individuals with head injuries, some of which have been diagnosed with concussion, but our members have been shocked that most of the people affected did not understand the neck and spine were also traumatised by the blow to the head. Many people also don’t realise the link between upper neck dysfunction as a possible cause of headaches and dizziness which often gets passed off as coming from the mild traumatic brain injury but responds well to chiropractic care.
`It is paramount the cervical spine and nervous system are checked with any such injury to the head. We know that concussions occur in all contact sports with the highest incidence in rugby, soccer, hockey and basketball and that youth athletes may have a more prolonged recovery and are more susceptible to a concussion accompanied by a catastrophic injury . A greater number, severity and duration of symptoms after a concussion are predictors of a prolonged recovery.’
Dr Thomas points out that New Zealand is leading the world in research into the neurological benefits of chiropractic but that work related specifically to the chiropractic management of concussion in sport is a nascent area of investigation in need of more funding. He notes: `Recent work looking at a combination of cervical and vestibular therapy, which is also carried out by chiropractors trained in sports medicine, shows that there is decreased time to medical clearance to return to sport in youth and young adults with persistent symptoms of dizziness, neck pain and/or headaches following a sport-related concussion .
He adds: `Chiropractors commonly encounter concussed athletes in clinical practice and we encourage our members to understand the importance of using standardised concussion assessment tools and current concussion guidelines.’ Athletes should be aware that chiropractic care to restore the proper function of the spine and nervous system can help in the post-concussive situation and also in the maintenance of spinal function and optimum sports performance.
CHIROPRACTIC CARE MAY REDUCE GYM AND FITNESS-RELATED INJURIES SAY NZ RESEARCHERS
Date: 22nd May 2014
The inability of some people to properly activate and control their core muscles when engaging in exercise, predisposes them to lower back injury, and may be reversible with regular chiropractic care according to researchers at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic.
According to Dr Heidi Haavik, Director of Research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic: `We know that delayed trunk muscle reflex responses increase the risk of low back injuries. Research suggests that this is partly due to a failure of the brain to predict what is going to happen during some movements, affecting what is known as feed-forward activation times of the deep abdominal musculature. There is now accumulating evidence that chiropractic care may play a part in improving the ability of the brain to engage the core muscles appropriately and stabilise the spine.’
Dr Hayden Thomas, chiropractor and spokesperson for the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association explains: `It was exactly a hundred years ago that chiropractic arrived in New Zealand and although hundreds of thousands of patients have benefited since then, like many other successful modalities, it has taken time for science to catch up and demonstrate how it actually works. It now appears that an inability of the brain to activate the core muscles in time may be the cause of many gym and fitness-related injuries. It may be due to poor nervous system co-ordiation which you can’t feel until it is too late.’
According to Dr Haavik: `Chiropractic care improves the communication between the brain and body and results in better control of the core muscles during body movements, so that your spine is at less risk of injury. We are also starting to see research developing which suggests that a single session of chiropractic care may improved muscle activation and increase muscle contractions equivalent to findings following three weeks of strength training. This line of research also suggests chiropractic care may possibly reduce muscle fatigue developing during strong contractions.’
The growing interest in the neuroscientific applications of chiropractic will be highlighted at this year’s NZCA Annual Meeting in Hamilton on 24th May, where the keynote speaker will be Dr John Donofrio, president of the American Chiropractic Association Council of Neurology. Dr Donofrio will discuss how researchers have objectively demonstrated that chiropractic care can change aspects of nervous system function including the way the brain controls muscles, responds to sensory stimuli and controls limb function. New Zealand research has already indicated that chiropractic care may have a role to play in assisting those who display poor proprioceptive function; the ability of the brain to sense the relative position of the body parts in space, and the ability to move accurately and precisely without having to look at what you are doing. Without accurate proprioception you would not be able to drive a car safely as you would need to constantly look at what your arms and legs were doing.
As Dr Haavik explains: ‘When proprioceptive function is impaired, for instance not knowing precisely where your arm is when your eyes are closed, you are more likely to be clumsy and accident prone. We know that chiropractic care assists brain function in many ways, one of which is proprioceptive function and this improves the accuracy of the internal brain map so your brain accurately knows what is going on all the times.’ ‘We are developing a dysfunctional sensorimotor integration scale, or I suppose you could call it a ‘clumsiness scale’. With this, the higher your reading on the scale, the more likely you may need to be seen by a chiropractor.’
In a review published in the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology in 2012 Dr Haavik and Professor Bernadette Murphy from Canada provided an overview of the growing body of research on the effects of spinal manipulation or adjustments on sensory processing, motor output, functional performance and sensorimotor integration. The review looked at studies using somatosensory evoked potentials, transcranial magnetic brain stimulation, and electromyographic techniques to demonstrate neurophysiological changes following chiropractic interventions.
SIGNIFICANT ROLE FOR CHIROPRACTORS IN MANAGEMENT OF OSTEOARTHRITIS ACCORDING TO NEW CLINICAL GUIDELINES
Date: 27th February 2014
Local muscle strengthening and general aerobic fitness together with manipulation and stretching should be the core treatments for managing osteoarthritis according to a major update on guidance to healthcare professionals from the influential UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) published this month. The New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association (NZCA) has welcomed the guidance, which recommends care that is widely available from the country’s chiropractors. According to Arthritis New Zealand over 300,000 New Zealanders are living with osteoarthritis. NZCA spokesperson and chiropractor Dr Hayden Thomas says: `Activity is a key part of maintaining good joint health. Proper movement and alignment of the spine is especially important as it forms the lynchpin for overall health and wellbeing through its relationship with the nervous system. The new guidance points out that osteoarthritis need not be an inevitable part of ageing or that it will necessarily get worse. These evidence-based recommendations on the most effective ways of diagnosing and managing osteoarthritis show that the core treatment for osteoarthritis remains exercise, which relieves pain for some people and also improves function. `As chiropractors we already offer advice to those with osteoarthritis who are overweight or obese on ways to lose weight as part of helping them self-manage their condition and it is good to see this is another amended original recommendation. We welcome too the recommendation that the symptoms often caused by osteoarthritis, such as pain and limited joint movement, can be managed with muscle strengthening, exercise and weight loss if people are overweight. We note too that the original recommendation that manipulation and stretching should be considered as an adjunct to core treatments, particularly for osteoarthritis of the hip, has been maintained, all of which reinforces the important role that chiropractors can play in the management of this condition.’ NZCA members are pleased to be working cooperatively with all agencies and professions in supporting the findings from this research. Dr Thomas pointed out that research is showing us that we are relying too much on pharmaceutical medications with potentially dangerous side effects, when what many of us need to do is take steps to improve our health and wellbeing with lifestyle changes. The NZCA recommends a basic 3 point plan to help support healthy joint function and minimise the possibility of degeneration: 1) Get checked – having every member of the family checked by an NZCA member chiropractor helps the spine and nervous system to function at an optimal level for overall health and well-being. They can also give you great advice on making positive lifestyle changes. 2) Straighten Up daily – Doing the three-minute set of simple exercises recommended by Straighten Up New Zealand every day will help improve posture, stabilise core muscle groups, enhance health and prevent spinal disability. 3) Watch your back – It is also important to encourage family members and work colleagues to stand or sit correctly and to take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch if they have been sitting down for a while. This will help to stop muscles getting tight and strained. Each of these recommendations alone is great, but in combination they are a real winning strategy. For more information on the Straighten Up campaign, visit www.straightenup.org.nz. Further details on the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association can be found at www.chiropractic.org.nz