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Healthy Muscle Length and Strength

exerciseMuscles have one primary function and that function is contraction. The best way to understand muscle contraction is to visualize muscles becoming tense and taut in response to stimulation. When a muscle becomes tense it might actually contract, like your hamstrings or they might stabilize like the core muscles in your abdomen. In both situations muscles might get stuck in contraction due to overuse, under use, trauma or repetitive movement. This continued contraction can lead to muscular spasm, tight ropy bands of muscle tissue and injury at the muscle, tendon and bone attachment.

In most outdoor activities the whole body is engaged. The muscles in your legs and thighs propel you forward, the muscles in arms and shoulder grasp and hold. Even the muscles deep in your abdomen help stabilize your core. As these muscles work and perform their assigned jobs the chance for injury increases.

A good way to avoid injury is to work towards healthy muscle length and strength.

In East Asian medicine (acupuncture), healthy muscle length and strength can be achieved through the concepts of balance and harmony.

When a muscle is out of balance it can become short, tight and constricted. This imbalance causes a stagnation of your body’s vital substances (Qi and Blood), leading to trauma. These constricted muscles also pull on tendon attachment sites (bones) causing injury.

A great activity for balancing the body is cross training. Cross training makes sure you’re not spending too much time in one activity, engaging many muscles groups and body regions. Keeping your body engaged in different activities will balance the muscle groups, enhancing your strengthen and endurance.

Good activities to add to any cross training routine are yoga, tai qi and swimming

Along with cross training, a good pre and post stretching routine is recommended. An added component to the post exercise stretching is a technique I call “active acupressure”. This technique uses acupressure points to help release muscle stagnation and tightness, helping you avoid injury.

Acupuncture is a great way to achieve the harmony needed to recovery from injury. By addressing the entire body, the injury has a better chance to fully heal. Acupuncture works to improve circulation, decrease inflammation and stop the pain associated with trauma.

By giving the office a call and scheduling an appointment, you’ll be on your way to a more balanced and harmonious life.

 Author:

Dr. Derek Kirkham, DAOM, MS, EAMP, LAc is an Acupuncturist, Herbalist and Clinic Director at Glow Natural health Center.

 

 

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shoulder

 

Frozen shoulder can be a painful and often debilitating condition. The main visible sign associated with frozen shoulder is a limitation in range of motion and movement. There can be a number of factors in its development:

1) A history of broken or fractured bones in the shoulder or arm that leads to a lack of movement, eventually causing immobilization.

2) Injury to the rotator cuff muscles. These muscle help stabilize the joint and aid in movement. The injury causes the muscle to stiffen.

3) Post surgery trauma usually involves the formation of scare tissue, which can limit movement.

4) Unknown causes

In all of these situations it’s believed that the initial injury eventually leads to inflammation of the capsule surrounding the joint, causing the signs and symptoms associated with frozen shoulder. This condition can be seen in all segments of the population, however, it’s most common in women over the age of forty.

From an East Asian medical perspective the signs and symptoms associated with frozen shoulder can occur from the same or similar causative factors as mentioned above but how these factors affect the joint and the surrounding tissue is different. The injury tends to cause local stagnation or obstruction of Qi (functional energy) and blood, which leads to the limitation in range of motion and pain.

Acupuncture can help decrease the pain and improve range of motion by removing the obstruction or stagnation, loosing the affected muscle and improving circulation. It’s also helping at decreasing inflammation. Along with the acupuncture treatments, tui na, a style of East Asian bodywork that incorporates massage techniques with movement and stretching can be extremely beneficial. The tui na works in conjunction with the acupuncture to speed up the healing process. Please give the office a call if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment.

Author:

Derek Kirkham, DAOM, MS, EAMP, LAc. Acupuncturist & clinic director at Glow

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facet-joint384Facet joints allow your spine to twist, flex and extend without injury. They are like hinges protecting the spine from excessive movement and trauma. Unfortunately, like all joints in the human body they are vulnerable to injury and degeneration. Some of the symptoms associated with facet joint dysfunction are:

1) localized low back pain

2) low back pain that moves into your gluts

3) pain aggravated by extending your back.

Causes of this type of injury can range from sports injuries, such as running or soccer, all the way to prolonged sitting or repetitive movements.

In acupuncture, there are a series of points that run adjacent to the spine called Hua Tuo Jia Ji points. These points are used to treat the tissues and surrounding structures of the spine. These points can be used to address the signs and symptoms of facet joint pain. Acupuncture can help decrease the pain, inflammation and local swelling seen in this situation. Please contact Glow Natural health Center if you have any questions about acupuncture and how it can help in this situation.

Author:

Dr. Derek Kirkham, DAOM, MS, EAMP, LAc is an Acupuncturist, Herbalist and Clinic Director at Glow Natural health Center.

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A type of bodywork originating in Asia, tui na is a therapeutic style of bodywork and is intended to facilitate pain reduction, improve range of motion and mobility. Tui na uses a variety of techniques and movements to correct structural and energetic imbalances. Some of the techniques utilized during a treatment might sound a little unusual like kneading, rolling or shaking, almost like someone is trying to make bread. On the other hand, other techniques are more familiar like stretching and pressing. The stretching in tui na aids the body in movement, focusing on opening the body’s energetic and structural pathways. In this way acupuncture and tui na are very similar in how they view body and how the body should be treated, that is why the combination of the two modalities is so powerful. In the end, the real benefit of tui na comes from the movement it creates. Tui na facilitates the healthy movement of muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. Its goal is to bring the body back into balance through physical movement. Bodywork is a great addition to an acupuncture treatment or can be the sole treatment modality.

Author:

Dr. Derek Kirkham, DAOM, MS, EAMP, LAc is an Acupuncturist, Herbalist and Clinic Director at Glow Natural health Center.

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This type of anterior knee pain is very common in runners and can be experienced at any time in ones running career. Common symptoms include pain, instability and/or popping sounds. The primary cause of this problem is overuse but other factors might be to blame.

Other possible factors:

  1. Foot or ankle injuries
  2. Trauma or injury to surrounding muscles or bones
  3. Direct injury to the knee

The key to this condition like all others is to determine the primary cause of the injury and treat the source. From an Asian medical perspective, when overuse is the cause, rest with treatment is usually the best course of action. Treatment will generally consist of acupuncture and cold laser. The acupuncture and cold laser reduce pain, decrease inflammation and improve circulation. The combination of the two modalities produce a powerful synergy. In acute cases the recommended treatment plan is 1-2 times a week with reassessment after three weeks. Chronic conditions can usually be treated with once a week visits, but an initial assessment will be needed to decide the best action plan.

Acupuncture is a powerful tool in the treatment of pain and can be used in many different types of situations, please give the office a call if you have any questions.

Author:

Dr. Derek Kirkham, DAOM, MS, EAMP, LAc is an Acupuncturist, Herbalist and Clinic Director at Glow Natural health Center.

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The major muscles of the neck are the upper trapezius, scalenes and levator scapula. As one of the major muscles, the levator scapula has a couple of important jobs; it elevates the scapula (shoulder blade) towards the ear as the name implies and flexes the neck to one side. When this muscle is injured there are a few key symptoms. These symptoms include; one-sided neck pain, pain that causes the head to feel rotated or bent to one side, or pinpoint pain around the shoulder blade. When these symptoms are present, treatment of the levator scapula should be incorporated into the overall treatment strategy. The important point in this condition is to directly treat the muscle with acupuncture to decrease the tension and contraction. Other modalities can be added, such as gua sha and cupping, these treatments are used to help release and lengthen the muscle. In this condition, the overall goal of acupuncture is to decrease the muscular contraction, eliminate pain and improve range of motion.

Author:

Dr. Derek Kirkham, DAOM, MS, EAMP, LAc is an Acupuncturist, Herbalist and Clinic Director at Glow Natural health Center.

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We would like to announce Derek’s return to Glow. He’s been gone since early May studying abroad in China. Derek graduates from Bastyr’s doctoral program in integrative oncology and pain management June 18th. His first day back at the office will be Saturday, July 2nd. Glow wants to thank Jessica Vargish for her great work while Derek was gone. She has been a great asset to the organization.

Please give the office a call to schedule an appointment with Derek. His new office hours will be Tuesday through Saturday.

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I landed in Shanghai yesterday. The flight was a bit too bumpy for me but we made it safely. I have not see much of the city yet, however, what I have seen has been great. It’s beautiful, clean and the air quality is significantly better than Chengdu. Chengdu was a great experience, I got to see a true blending of Eastern and Western medicine and the power the two create when they work together. It give me hope and ideas on how integrative medicine could work in the U.S. I heard that the hospital we’re working at next is much more westernized… I’ll keep you updated. We’ll see if this integrative trend continues in Shanghai. Well, I’m off to breakfast!

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Two Weeks In China:

I’ve been in China almost two weeks and it has been an adventure to say the least. I’ve experienced some great food and some not so great. I’ve seen some beautiful places and some not so pleasant places. With all that said, the trip has been focused on our experience at Sichuan hospital and at times the experience has been a bit overwhelming. The way they treat cancer is very different then in the west. Over 90% of the hospitals here are integrative. That means a patient will receive both Western and Eastern treatments. With cancer in particular, a patient might get chemotherapy one-day then Chinese herbs, acupuncture and other that modalities that same day. It’s important to note that the majority of practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine here practice both Western and Eastern medicine, unlike their counterparts in the States. So, that means that they will give the chemotherapy or radiotherapy at the same hospital as the Eastern medicine treatments and by the same doctors. They have found in their experience that the treatment of cancer is mot successful when the patient receives Western and Eastern interventions. The side effects of the Western interventions are less and life expectancy and life quality improves. This experience makes it very clear to me the importance of integrative care when it comes to supporting cancer patients and the importance of working more closely with medical oncologist back in the States.

Chengdu Chinese Medicine Herb Market

The herb market was HUGE. It’s the largest herbal market in western China. I would have to guess, but there might be 800-1000 stales all jammed pack with everything of medicinal herb. We found geckos that are dried and kept in pairs, one male and one female. Medicinally, they are used together to strengthen the Yin (female) and Yang (male) aspect of the patient. We found herb that are used in Glow’s dispensary and other herbs, or animal products that one might NOT find at Glow like dog penis. It was a great experience to see such a large mass of herbal products that have been used for millennia to promote health and treat diseases.

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