“We’ve ridden exclusively on the tandem (for the past 27 years!) We take pride in pushing boundaries for what Tandems can achieve. In 2013 we became the first tandem to complete the Colorado Triple Crown, the country’s hardest double century series, setting course records for tandem on all three courses. In 2014 we set a tandem course record on hoodoo 500. And in 2015 we were on the 4-tandem mixed RAAM team that shattered the course record that had stood for 19 years, for a 4-tandem mixed team under 50 (and the over 50 record while we were at it.) 3050 miles on 6 days 10 hours 37 minutes. We’re planning a Great Divide off pavement tandem expedition for 2017.” Andy White
Lumbar Curve and Pelvic Tilt Mythology
Of the 80% who have low back pain, an inordinate number seem to be getting, and worsening this condition from believing in some common low back pain-perpetuating myths. These myths surround misconceptions about the role played by the lumbar curve and the pelvic tilt. Their lumbar curve and pelvic tilt assumptions come from an uninformed aesthetic, structural and functional point of view.
Flattening Your Lumbar Curve
Forward bending exercises and stretches, without objective assessment of lumbar curvature, may cause you to develop an abnormally flat low back.
Sitting in a “C- shape”, the shape forced upon us when we sit in a bucket seat, will flatten your low back too.
Flattening your lumbar curve moves your spinal load forward, stretching open and spraining the posterior ligaments of your lumbar spine. Injured ligaments cause joints to become unstable — predisposing them to further misalignments and resulting nerve, inflammation, muscle and pain problems.
Flattening your lumbar curve overloads your front-side lumbar discs, increasing your risk for acute disc injury (bulging, herniation, rupture) and disc degeneration. Flattening your lumbar curve removes or decreases that curve’s spring-action, shock-absorbing function. Therefore, pounding forces traveling through your spine, previously absorbed by this spring, are focused upon your anterior lumbar discs.
Posterior Pelvis Rotation
Rotating your pelvis in the posterior direction additionally flattens your lumbar curve, adding to your already elevated risk for acute lumbar disc injuries and degenerative arthritis of the lumbar spine.
Also, by rotating your pelvis in the posterior direction, it is often believed that you activate your abdominal core muscles, stabilizing your pelvis, low back and rib cage. Unfortunately posterior pelvic rotation does not activate your abdominal core. By assuming that it does; and by using this maneuver during spinal loading activities like lifting, pushing and pulling; you exposes your unstable pelvis, low back and rib cage to joint misalignments and acute joint injuries.
Excessive Lumbar Curve
On the other hand, excessive lumbar curve and forward rotation of your pelvis shifts the loading down your posterior lumbar spine. Doing so stretches and sprains your lumbar spine’s anterior ligaments, resulting in associated ligament-injury problems.
Posterior loading of your lumbar spine takes the load off your intervertebral discs and shifts it upon your lumbar facet joints. Overloading of these joints causes compressive joint ligament injuries and joint surface wear and tear, bone deformation and arthritis.
Your lumbar discs cushion and absorb shocks passing along your spine. Shifting loading forces from your lumbar discs to your facet joints exposes these joints, and also joints throughout your entire body, to excessive pounding.
Bypassing Abdominal Core
Posterior lumbar load-shifting will bypasses the the critical weight-bearing/weight-transferring work performed by your abdominal core musculature.
Bypassing Lumbar “Leaf-Spring”
Furthermore, posterior loading of your lumbar spine diverts shock-producing forces from becoming dissipated through the leaf-spring action of the lumbar curve and into the posterior facet joints of your lumbar spine.
Snowboarding season is upon us here in Colorado and I can’t tell you how many times I have treated these athletes for sacroiliac joint butt-landing ligament injuries. These ligament failures accompany sacroiliac joint subluxations (misalignments less than dislocations) with attendant pain, stiffness and weakness. Depending upon the patient’s age and general health, immediate, accurate diagnosis and treatment will re-align the sacroiliac joints and heal the ligaments for uncomplicated recovery.
On the other hand, most people with chronic low back-hip-pelvis-leg pain, stiffness and weakness have, at some time in the more distant past, fallen on their butts and experienced the same injuries. Due to the long-term wear and tear of these injuries, these cases are often complicated by more severe ligament laxities, inflammation, cartilage loss and the pain of degenerative osteoarthritis.
I recommend that you take care of your sacroiliac joint ligament injuries and their attendant joint subluxations quickly and effectively. If you are still symptomatic after undergoing reasonable treatment, seek another opinion from a sacroiliac joint injury expert. Left unattended, these injuries can make your life miserable.
When performance of your activities of daily living are successful and within your ability to maintain good health, you have baseline fitness. Looking specifically at your joints, when you do your everyday lifting, bending, sitting, walking, running, pushing, pulling and throwing, do your joints remain stable? Are they already aligned or are they misaligned? If they are aligned, when you use them, do they remain aligned? How do you know if your joints are aligned in the first place? How do you know if you have healthy brain-to-nerve-to-muscle-to-joint feedback?
Of course you may come to see me and I’ll answer these questions for you. However, by using the following criteria, you should be able give yourself a fairly accurate assessment.
- Do you have joint aches or pains? When your joints miss-align, their state of abnormal mechanics cause them to grind and chafe, to become inflamed and they hurt.
- Do you have muscle aches or pains? When your joints miss-align, their associated nerve endings will report this to your brain. You brain will respond to this abnormal feedback by contracting certain muscles. Long-term muscle shortening strangles the muscular blood supply, cutting off the exchange of oxygen (anoxia) and nutrients with carbon dioxide and other waste products. Contracted, oxygen-deprived, waste-saturated muscles hurt.
- Are your joints stiff? Contracted muscles stiffen your joints.
- Are your muscles weak? Poor neuromuscular control of your joints weakens your muscles.
The stability your joints depends upon their ability to function with strength, flexibility and comfort. Your joint-mover and joint-stabilizer muscles must be reporting and receiving normal information to and from your brain. While your joint mover-muscles remain active, your joint stabilizer muscles must effectively oppose the actions of your joint-movers to keep your joints aligned and healthy. This is joint fitness in a nutshell.
Neuromuscular re-education is an attempt to teach your body to move normally through analysis of your abnormal movement and then learning and practicing the normal movement. Theoretically, your normal movement patterns involve specific nerve signals transmitted through specific nerve tracts between your muscles and your brain. By practicing normal movement repeatedly over time, these nerve tracts become reinforced and these normal muscle movement patterns are learned and remembered. It is thought that normal muscle movement patterns are disrupted when nerves or muscles are injured, and normal movement may be regained through Neuromuscular re-education.
I find it is true that abnormal movement results from nerve and muscle injuries and may be relearned. However, it is my clinical experience that certain conditions must be in place for that to occur. Namely, movement-disrupting injuries are more extensive than those to nerves and muscles, and to restore normal movement, these injuries must be healed.
The traumas which injure muscles and nerves will most likely injure your joints too. In most of my cases, joint injury is the primary injury and the nerve and muscle injuries are secondary to (they are caused by) the joint injury. Joint injuries occur from both acute and repetitive stress traumas. Acute traumas abound in contact sports and motor vehicle collisions, where excessive forces sprain your ligaments, strain your muscles and bruise your nerves, and worse. Accompanying these sprains and strains are displacements of your bones from their healthy, neutral alignments within your joint capsules.
Your joints contain bone, cartilage and synovial fluid encapsulated by ligaments, muscles and membranes. Your joints contain nerve endings (mechanoreceptors) which deliver feedback such as information about the alignment of the bones within your joints, joint capsular pressure, ligament, tendon and muscle tension/tone and the position of your limbs in space. When your joints are injured, and therefore misaligned, feedback from these injured joints to your central nervous system becomes abnormal. You’ve heard the expression “garbage in — garbage out”. The control of the nerves associated with those injured joints is disrupted or lost and abnormal motion of the joints ensues.
In this case, treating the abnormal muscles and nerves without realigning the joint and healing the ligament and other soft tissue injuries can only go so far. Based upon my clinical experience, I propose that the injured ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves will not effectively heal until their associated joints are realigned and are moving normally in the first place.
Your pelvis, shoulders and head may be tilted and positioned to the right or left of your center of gravity. One of your legs might be pulled upward, making it appear short. While standing and feeling like you are balanced, you could be carrying considerably more weight on the right or left side of your body.
You may be surprised to know that these asymmetries are very common — in fact quite typical. In the eyes of most health practitioners, these physical asymmetries are not even considered distortions. But, if a majority of people are crooked, is that normal, or is this a widespread disease condition?
Yes, these postural distortions are statistically normal, but for a small group of doctors like myself, they constitute a widespread curable disease condition. Postural distortions exert harmful mechanical, neurological, chemical, muscular and gravitational stresses upon your spinal and extra-spinal joints. When your body’s structures are tilting off their horizontal or leaning away from their vertical relationships to gravity, your joint components become both compressed and closely packed, and stretched open in relation to their neutral operating positions. Under these circumstances your joint surfaces grind and chafe; ligaments, tendons and muscles wear and weaken; muscles deactivate, contract and stiffen, while others loosen and atrophy. Eventually inflammation, pain and arthritic degeneration ensues.
Eliminating Postural Distortion?
Yes, this is the question. Most people, including health care practitioners, do not recognize postural distortion. Some recognize different aspects of this condition, but see each element separately; pelvis, low back, upper back, neck and head; as individual areas of distortion, weakness and muscle length/muscle tension imbalance. Treatment under this paradigm involves stretching the short, contacted muscles using muscle-lengthening procedures. These include stretching exercises, massage and acupuncture. The overly lengthened muscles are contracted and shorted with resistance exercise. This approach fails to eliminate the patient’s global pattern of postural distortion because the practitioner fails to locate and correct, at its source, what’s fundamentally causing distortion of the posture.
Yes, Eliminating Postural Distortion.
Accidents and injuries often mechanically miss-align your head from the top of your neck, and this misalignment is called the upper cervical subluxation. The abnormal position and movement of your occiput (base of your head) with the upper neck vertebra distorts the spine’s neural canal, the passageway through which your spinal cord travels from your brain to your lower body. Resulting compression and tension of your spinal cord and congestion of your cerebral spinal fluid disrupts muscle tone-controlling nerves, thus throwing your body into a pattern of head-to-toe postural distortion. The key to eliminating the tilting and shifting of your pelvis, spine and head, your right-to-left weight imbalance and apparent short leg is straightening out your neural canal. Doing so requires upper cervical specific examination, X-rays, X-ray analysis, corrective procedure, re-examination, post-initial treatment X-rays and X-ray analysis, and successful follow-up.
How to Find A Qualified Doctor?
Chiropractors trained in upper cervical correction are the only doctors qualified to realign your upper cervical spine. Make sure your doctor measures your posture before and after treatment and during every subsequent follow-up visit. Make sure your doctor administers specialized upper cervical X-rays and X-ray analysis. Make sure the doctor’s treatment procedure quickly eliminates your pelvis and spinal tilting and shifting, your weight imbalance and your apparent short leg.
We adhere to these standards at Boulder Chiropractic Clinic. In addition, we screen our patients for joint conditions throughout their bodies, and perform detailed regional evaluations, corrective and rehabilitation procedures for abnormal pelvis, hip, low back, upper back, lower neck, TMJ, ribs, shoulders, elbows, wrist and hand, knee, ankle and foot joints.
Trauma, both big and small build up and shut us down. Obvious traumas from car crashes or contact sports produce physical pain. Do you know that less severe traumas may not produce obvious symptoms, but their cumulative affect contributes to your mental, emotional and physiological stress load and impairs your capacity for perception, thinking, feeling and physical functioning. Former CU Buffalo running-back and performance-psychologist Dr. Judson Johns joins Dr. Tom Groover to discuss this phenomenon and the best ways to release trauma, reduce your stress/performance-barrier load and achieve much better performance in sports and life.
At Boulder Chiropractic Clinic, we measured a new patient’s hip muscle strengths 60 minutes apart, first before and then after the patient’s first lumbar/pelvis specific chiropractic treatment. The average hip muscle strength increase was 233.8%. There was a 31.98% average decrease in strength disparity between the patient’s right and left sides. The greatest strength improvement occurred with the patient’s left hip adductors, 1215.1% increase, measured with the patient supine while the hips were flexed and knees were simultaneously bent upward.
Manual testing of the patient’s hip muscles was performed earlier during his initial global screening consultation, and his hip adductor musc were noted to be very weak. Hip adductors are core muscles primarily responsible for stabilizing your legs, pelvis and low back, keeping them aligned within your frontal plane (side-to-side orientation when viewed front-to-back). Weakness of these muscles allows your legs to abduct (spread apart), disturbing the upright alignment of your body and exposing it to injuries. Weakness of the hip adductors while both hips and knees are flexed specifically indicates misalignment (subluxation) of the pubic symphysis, a joint subluxation (misalignment less than a dislocation) which contributes to subluxations of your sacroiliac joints, hip sockets, low back vertebra, knees, ankles and feet, and everywhere else in your body for that matter.
Joint subluxations cause loss of neuromuscular control, meaning your movement will be weaker and less coordinated. The subluxation’s associated mechanical problems cause acute joint injuries and chronic joint wear and tear leading to degenerative arthritis.
The huge increase in hip adductor strength seen in this study demonstrates that the patient’s pubic symphysis was subluxated, but also that this subluxation was severely impairing his latently immense hip adductor muscle strength. The patient is an advanced athlete and reported that jumping up into a standing position upon an exercise ball had been a challenge before he began his joint corrective care.
The second measurement taken 60 minutes after the first, was take after the patient’s pelvis was leveled, upper back aligned with his center-of-gravity and standing body weight balanced between the rights and left sides of his body, and pubic symphysis, sacroiliac joints and low back joints were aligned. On the patient’s next follow-up visit the patient reported that immediately after receiving this corrective care, he began jumping up on the ball and standing there without hesitation or instability, and was able to do his cable resistance training there without stumbling, wavering or losing his balance.
The hip muscle strength testing on 6/1/2016 was performed immediately before treatment and was repeated 42 minutes later after the patient’s first treatment for her low back and pelvis abnormalities and resulting pain. Her average hip muscle strength had increased 16.7% and the difference between her right and left side muscle strengths had reduced 22.4%. Her greatest strength improvement was 27.5% for her left quadriceps. Her left adductor strength reduced by 12.7%, which was attributed to the the pain patient experienced by the patient while she performed this test.
The tests were repeated again on 6/29/2016 after the patient’s corrective care had stabilized and her pain was relieved. Her average hip muscle strength had increased from 16.7% to 23.27%, while the reduced difference between her right and left side muscle strength had not changed significantly. Her greatest strength improvement was 55% for her left quadriceps.
The 39.34% additional average strength increase occurring between the second strength measurement performed on 6/1/2016 and measurement performed on 6/29/2016 is attributed to stabilization of the patient’s corrective care, resultant tissue healing, and therefore, pain elimination.
Pain while contracting specific hip muscles provides abnormal feedback to the specific control centers for individual nerve and muscle activity. In reaction to this abnormal feedback, the neuromuscular control center inhibits nerve and muscle function, producing the muscle weakness. The tissue damage provides abnormal feedback to the neuromuscular control center also.
The muscle strength increases found in this study occurred from joint realignment, tissue healing and resultant pain elimination and not from exercise training.
Spinal nerve roots are the large nerves emanating from your spinal cord. These nerves are inhibited when your spinal vertebra misalign. When your nerves become inhibited, the muscles controlled by those nerves are weakened.
A myotome is a group of muscles which a single spinal nerve root enervates. In the diagram above, you will see the myotomes listed in relation to the nerve roots which control them. These myotomes of a 56 year-old female patient with low back and hip pain were tested before and after low back and pelvis treatment using a hand held computer assisted dynamometer. She demonstrated an immediate average 16.7% lumbar myotome strength increase, and 22.4% improvement in strength disparities between her right and left side lumbar myotomes. Healthy patients are expected to have less than 6% strength differences between their right and left sides.
You will notice her hip adductor strengths decreased after her first treatment. This was because her pain had not completely resolved because her condition had not stabilized. At Groover Chiropractic Clinic, we consider our patients have stabilized when patients are maintaining the corrective care we give them. Another lumbar myotome test will be performed for this patient when she has stabilized, and her muscle strengths are expected to be significantly greater.