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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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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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Recently, attention has been drawn to some studies questioning the value of vitamins and minerals.  This comes mostly from a few recent studies: one showing modest prevention of future heart events after someone has had a heart attack, one showing no improvement in brain function in elderly men after taking Centrum, and a third looking at prevention of cancer and heart disease showing mixed results.  One problem is that there are recent studies showing a protective effect that were not included in these reviews.

Multivatamins at Glow Natural Health Seattle

The vast majority of studies on multivitamins use Centrum which is low dose, has poorly-used forms of the nutrients, contains chemical binders, and whose ability to dissolve has been questioned (though improvements have been made).  I have been shocked at the poor design (form, dose used, not distinguishing between food and supp sources) of some supplement trials.  This poor design would never be tolerated in a trial of a pharmaceutical.  Also, no one is saying, “Here, take this multi to prevent your heart attack!”  I would be a terrible doctor if that was all that I discussed with a patient after heart attack.

While the studies on Centrum have shown little to mixed benefit, solid scientific research on nutrients *abounds*, so statements that supplement use is not scientifically based are unfounded.  Further, when used in conjunction with someone trained and who understands the science, therapy beyond correction of deficiency comes into the process.  For example, B12 is used for energy production, vitamin C stabilizes cells to minimize releasing histamine (involved in allergic response), magnesium is a muscle relaxant, etc. The nutrients are cofactors for every reaction in the body.   So, keep researching, tell it like it is, and be careful about blanket statements.

McNaughton color small  Trained as a family practitioner to address acute and chronic conditions, Dr. McNaughton focuses on  autoimmune disease, allergies, and digestive issues.  She facilitates healing as a knowledgeable guide and partner,  helping her patients make lasting changes and achieve health goals.  She graduated from Bastyr University in  2003.

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By Lindsey Lawson MS EAMP, Acupuncturist, Clinic Director

An estimated 3 million American adults receive acupuncture treatment each year, 1 and chronic pain is the most common presentation.2 I’m an acupuncturist and clinic director at Glow Natural Health Center and I treat pain every day. So it was no surprise to me when research revealed acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating pain in 2012. The great thing about this study is that it looks at 29 randomized, controlled trial studies and analyzed the outcomes. In all, there were nearly 18,000 people who participated, suffering with chronic pain from headaches, osteoarthritis, back and shoulder pain.

There are lots of ways that research can be done to test acupuncture’s effectiveness. These studies looked at “true” acupuncture vs. either “sham” acupuncture or “treatment as usual.” The conclusion was that true acupuncture was statistically better than sham needling and usual care. The authors concluded that acupuncture was an effective and reasonable treatment for the conditions studied. The large sample size and the rigorous nature of the studies make this the best evidence to date of acupuncture’s effectiveness for pain.

1 Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin RL. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007.  Natl Health Stat Report. 2008;(12):1-23
PubMed

2 Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Eisenberg DM, Erro J, Hrbek A, Deyo RA. The practice of acupuncture: who are the providers and what do they do?  Ann Fam Med. 2005;3(2):151-158
PubMed   |  Link to Article

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By Candace McNaughton, ND

Sometimes when research is summarized to one sentence, the message is skewed.  The US Preventative Services Task Force has issued a draft statement saying that vitamin D and calcium should not be taken by healthy men or post-menopausal women to reduce fractures and that it may not prevent cancer.[1]  The evidence is mixed and many-layered, but because we are trained for take-home messages and sound bites, many will simply conclude “Don’t take vitamin D or calcium.”

Actually, they say that they can’t recommend for or against it.  More specifically, they say that 400 IU of vitamin D3 and 1000 mg of calcium carbonate don’t reduce osteoporotic fractures in men or postmenopausal women living at home as much as those living in facilities.  However, the risk is reduced in those living at home.  I think the difference could be because of missed doses. Although D3 is considered to be the active form, some studies use D2. Also, 400 IU of D3 is not a very high dose.  Calcium carbonate is the poorest absorbed form of calcium.  Bone density is best supported with a combination of well-absorbed calcium, vitamin D3, vitamin K, other minerals such as strontium and boron, and weight-bearing exercise. The task force reviewed 19 randomized trials and 28 observational studies (for cancer outcomes).  There are close to 18,000 studies that focus on vitamin D.

The task force reports that there is evidence of decreased risk of cancer, but found some evidence that high blood levels may be associated with an increased risk of cancer. A simple, inexpensive blood test that we commonly run here at Glow can make sure your blood levels don’t get too high. However, there is some evidence that higher blood levels may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

There is clear evidence that people with low blood levels of vitamin D have increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.  Further, some studies show that supplementing with vitamin D reduces risk for heart disease and diabetes, while some don’t.  The blanket conclusion from that research is “vitamin D does not prevent heart disease or diabetes”. I am not sure the answer is that simple.

Auto-immune disorders such as hypothyroidism or multiple sclerosis are skyrocketing in this country. Auto-immune disease-related deaths come only third to heart disease and cancer.[2]  Many diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, are mediated by inflammation.  Vitamin D reduces auto-immunity and inflammation.[3]  A deficiency turns up auto-immunity and inflammation. (more…)

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By Candace McNaughton, ND

I am not an alarmist. But this is alarming. Through a subtle messaging campaign, the prescription of opiate medications has increased fourfold in the last ten years. Drug companies like the makers of OxyContin pay groups like the American Pain Foundation much of their annual income. The messaging came from the drug manufacturers through position statements, clinical guidelines, books, and seminars at conferences. Opiates are no longer just being used for severe post-surgical pain or pain associated with cancer or its treatment. They’re being prescribed for chronic pain issues like headaches, low back pain, and fibromyalgia. The gist of the message? Opiates aren’t addictive if used as prescribed, and there’s essentially no limit on dose. So prescribe away.

Except they are addictive. They cause tolerance (needing more to have the same effect) and addiction (going through withdrawal symptoms if you stop them suddenly). I see patients like this in my practice every day. Mothers who tearfully say they can’t take care of their kids while on Oxycodone. Construction workers who can’t work because they can’t drive, let alone operate machinery on the job while on these meds. I see kids who are still in school saying they were given no treatment options other than an opiate script and now they’re still in pain and falling asleep in school and scared of addiction. (more…)

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By Candace McNaughton, ND

Acid blockers are one of the most prescribed medicines in the world. An article in the British Medical Journal reports on the risk of hip fracture in women who take acid blockers and who smoke. The risk of hip fracture increased by a whopping 50%! This was a survey of almost 80,000 patients over 10 years (from the Nurses Health Study), so the numbers are very likely to reflect the general population. The authors say that the reason is likely because acid blockers and smoking both interfere with calcium absorption. They also showed that taking calcium didn’t seem to help.

If you add on the risk factor of being small-framed, I bet the risk of fracture would be even higher. Acid blockers interfere with the absorption of a number of nutrients such as iron, B12, magnesium, and calcium. This is because the food doesn’t break down completely and because some nutrients (like calcium) are better absorbed in an acidic environment. Yes, that means that milk is a very poor way to get calcium (not to mention it’s not a food group and, and, arrgh!). To protect bone density, you need to start with weight-bearing exercise and take a comprehensive mineral supplement plus vitamin D.

Now the FDA has warned that acid blockers might increase the risk of C difficile-associated diarrhea. C diff is a bug that is usually picked up when people take a lot of antibiotics or from staying in a hospital. Sometimes after treatment, the diarrhea just won’t go away. If you take acid blockers and get C diff (which is on the rise), you are more likely to have chronic recurrent diarrhea that is very difficult to treat.

We need our stomach acid! Acid blockers are most often prescribed for ulcers and acid reflux. Why not make your ulcer go away instead of blocking acid so you don’t notice it’s there? One very important thing that I use for these conditions is chewable licorice extract, or DGL. It not only soothes on contact and is anti-inflammatory, but it also helps the tissue to actually heal. No worries if you’ve heard that licorice can aggravate high blood pressure. The chewable has that component taken out. At Glow we have a really yummy chocolate licorice extract chew. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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