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Way Better Than The NBN

Imagine for a second you’re walking along the beach or a trail and the sand is constantly changing under your footing. Somewhere in your body, evaluation of every millimetre of shift and every half degree of angulation change within the foot and ankle joints is occurring. Then alteration of the tension through the involved muscles body wide occurs and re-computation of this process is occurring numerous times every second.

When the wind blows at you sideways and creates a lateral unbalancing force leading to one side of your pelvic muscles to contract ever so slightly more than the other and the opposite side trapezius to activate in a synergistic manner while constricting your pupil size as the sun sets lower and shines in your eyes, what is evaluating and orchestrating this?

While you’re walking, within the digestive system the makeup of the food and drink you ingested before setting out is being analysed. Analysis of the macro and micro nutrient make up, analysis of what stores of different compounds are needed versus what is to be excreted, analysis of which of the trillions of “gates” into and out of the digestive tract need to be opened and closed according to what it wants to extract, and when.

It’s all your nervous system. And thats not even the smallest tip of the iceberg in regards to its workings. It is the system that controls and regulates every other system with in the body while simultaneously being the communication system of the body. The system that helps us adapt and deal with stress.

Cool, huh?

Dr Ian Northeast
Chiropractor For The Mover

Don’t Shoot The Messenger

Where the pain is and where the problem is are often different.

Did the issue or pain start with a sudden blow or sudden onset? Then that is likely to be the location of the traumatised, damaged tissue.

Was the force of the blow significant enough to reasonably create this much damage, this much pain? If not, then there is a good chance that this injury has been brewing underneath the surface and that the movement being blamed as the instigator was simply the straw that broke the camels back.

If there was a slower onset to the issue, something that you woke up with or seemed to come out of no where, then often the area of pain is separated from the primary issue, the underlying dysfunction.

Why would that be? That seams a bit fat fetched..

Let me explain. There are a couple of factors that can occur. One; leverage, and two; the gradual reduction in strength of tissues as we go from central to peripheral. To describe that in a little more detail if we think of our hip versus our little toe. Our centrally placed hip is a massive, strong joint with sturdy, thick tissues supporting it where as our peripherally placed little toe joints are relatively delicate, small and much smaller supportive tissues. The leverage component refers to if I was to be standing and swing my straightened, right leg forwards so that my thigh came 1 cm forwards, my knee would travel approximately 4 cm forwards and my foot, 12 cm forwards. For the mathematically capable, please don’t do the trigonometry on that!

Like everything in a normally functioning body, this is an intelligent design feature as the hips require that strength where as the little toe generally does not.

Where this can leave us confused is when we have a mild imbalance or dysfunction proximally (close to the body) which the strong tissues in that region can cope with. The tissues further down the limb experience a greater level of stress (think imbalance/torque/strain/disfunction) and are also more delicate in nature, giving them a higher chance of injury and pain.

This is a common theme in runners, cyclists and triathletes who experience knee pain or ankle pain. Also in the desk worker who experience elbow pain and wrist pain. For the equestrian community, the same idea can be applied to our four legged friends.

The take home from this? Treat the sore area absolutely, but not solely. Without addressing the proximal or central issue, I’ve found the peripheral issue simply returns or travels elsewhere.

Dr Ian Northeast

Chiropractor For The Mover

Is It A Bone Thing Or A Muscle Thing?

Whether it’s a “bone thing” or a “muscle thing” or a “joint thing” or a “nerve thing”, it’s ok, I can help out. “But don’t chiropractors just work on bones and put them back in place?”. Oh god no. The next person that suggests your horse has put a disc out or put a vertebrae out or needs a muscle/tendon to be flicked back into place, run. None of the aforementioned things occur short of in a medical emergency or the rarest of rare circumstances where your horse will be on 3 legs if standing at all.

If I’ve thrown a spanner in the works of your understanding of which practitioners do what and when they should be utilised, please let me attempt to clarify.

To start with there is a hierarchy with in the control of the body’s functions, whether that be a horse or a human. At the top of that hierarchy is the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain and the spinal cord. It could be, in a vastly simplified version, considered the super computer running the body. It constantly sends signals out to every tissue, organ and organ system and receives information back regarding their function and state. The information travels from our brain, down the spinal cord and out through the appropriate nerve to the tissue in question and then returns along another nerve to the spinal cord, up the spinal cord and to the brain. This loop is constantly running at billions of signals/second and what keeps us alive. When this loop is functioning properly it’s what keeps us healthy.

When a chiropractor or osteopath performs an adjustive procedure, a thrust to the spine, we are contacting the spine as a way of influencing the nervous system. That nervous system controls the function of the spine so when a horse’s owner is employing my services as they feel there is an issue with the horse’s spine, it makes sense to that person that I’m influencing the spine to fix the spine. In truth, I’m influencing the spine to influence the nervous system which then influences the spine.

That nervous system controls and regulates everything remember? Including the muscles, the proprioception (think balance, self awareness and coordination), the digestion, immune, reproductive, cardiovascular, hormonal, urinary and respiratory systems.

When we adjust the spine, the positive flow on affects currently know are only the tip of the iceberg. Research has investigated the impacts on proprioception, balance, tone of muscles, brain activity, mood, injury prevention and a plethora of weird and wonderful things.

So when there is a muscle thing, often there is a coexisting bone thing, with a coexisting joint thing with an overriding nerve thing and some other “things” we’re not even aware of. Clear as mud, yeah?

Happy spring riding,

Dr Ian Northeast

Chiropractor For The Horse & Rider

No Movement < Movement < Varied Movement

Using evolution as a framework for determining what our body is likely to respond well to is something that works for me. For example in the media and health circles at the moment there is a lot of talk about carbohydrates and sugar having slipped under the radar while the focus was on fat content in the 1990’s. Anthropologists report that while homo sapien and homo erectus are very versatile creatures, a large part of our evolution occurred on a diet high in leafy, fibrous plant material, low in carbohydrate, with occasional fruit, nut and meat intake. As such, a modern diet high in sugars is at contrast with how our system evolved and as such we don’t respond well to it. Analogies could be; putting old style leaded petrol in a motor designed for unleaded petrol, or asking your beautician to layer and colour your hair. Somewhat similar fields but different enough that the outcome is far from ideal.

If we take a similar outlook for our movement and ask our anthropology friends, we can learn from our ancestors (homo erectus 2,000,000 – 50,000 years ago and homo sapiens 100,000 years ago to present). What we learn is that we did a lot of low intensity movement such as walking, foraging (think bending, lifting, reaching, twisting) with intermittent bursts of fast and/or heavy work (think lifting, pushing, pulling).

And this is applicable to me, living and working in metro Melbourne how? Great question. Our body is one designed a long time ago with the assumption that it would be used for the above purposes. That is what it was designed for and how it will perform best, for the longest, most happily. If we urbanites wish to have a body that will perform best, for the longest, most happily we either need to go bush, or more realistically, bring some of our movement requirements to the urban jungle. Our body will give us the warm and fuzzies if we do lots of low intensity exercise in varied positions with short burst of heavy and fast.

The activity tracker on your iPhone or similar will assist in the low intensity volume. A good base line here is the 10,000 steps/day. Varied movement will require a little more creativity. A few options are yoga, pilates, jiu jitsu, adults beginner gymnastics or even as simple as performing the “Ido Squat Routine 2.0” like I’ve been doing during a few times a week. Ido’s video will show you how to do it properly, mine will show you where some previously movement poor mortals start from.

The heavy and fast parts of the movement prescription can come from heaps of different places. One tip here is that our extensor muscles (anti-gravity or postural muscles) generally require much more attention than our flexors.

First move, then move well, lots and with variation.

Dr Ian Northeast

Chiropractor For The Mover

Collection: What & Why From The Perspective Of An Equine Biomechanist/Practitioner

Let’s begin with a definition. In the words of François Robichon de la Guérinière “To collect a horse, or to keep it together; this is to shorten the movements of its gait or its air, to put it on its haunches; which is done by holding the forehand gently with the bridle-hand; and by driving the horse’s haunches under it with the calves of the legs, in order to prepare to put the horse between hand and leg.”

From a biomechanical perspective, why is this of value to the rider and horse? One answer is: mechanical advantage, as un-sexy as that sounds. Try the analogy of doing a bicep curl (as much of a waste of time exercise that is for most of us): if I’m standing with my left arm straight beside me and a heavy dumbbell grasped in that hand, when I initiate the contraction to lift the weight purely by elbow flexion (bending of the elbow), it is hard work that gets easier as I move past midway of the lift. It is difficult as I start in a position where the muscle fibres are stretched to near their maximum and this is a weaker, compromised position with mechanical disadvantage. In the horse, a position of elongation and extension (think the “camped out” conformation) is a similar weakened position. A position of mechanical advantage is where the lever-arm is shorter (think the ease in which you could do multiple bicep curls if you were only lowering the dumbbell one quarter of the way to the bottom versus all the way). In the horse, that position of mechanical advantage comes from lumbopelvic (lower back and pelvis) flexion, as well as coxofemoral (hip) flexion and flexion further down the leg that occurs at the same time. This looks like the horse (when working) takes more weight on the hind quarters, moving his centre of gravity backwards as the hind end moves under the horse and the frame shortens. When I think of this my minds eye goes to the Italian and French sketches of the haute ecole from the 1700-1800’s.

What does this mechanical advantage do? It creates a strong foundation or “core” of the horse by approximating or partially shortening the abdominal wall musculature and pre-tensioning the lumbar musculature. The nervous system, the master control system, recognises this advantageous, strong position and responds by increasing the power output to the limbs and the body as a whole. This mechanically advantageous position creates potential energy in the elastic extensor tissues improving elevation and propulsion of the horse. This creates safer spinal mechanics which has been shown in human models to translate to improved athletic performance throughout the body.

This is my passion, as a qualified chiropractor and Animal Biomechanical Medicine practitioner I focus on assisting this spinal function first, then moving down stream, or down the kinematic chain from there (with some exceptions). Simplified: the backbone is connected to everything, get it functioning more optimally and the athlete improves body wide.

As a practitioner and student of biomechanics, I love appropriate collection in horses for similar reasons I love gymnastic strength training in my horse riding clients: because it aids core strength and function leading to not only mechanical advantage, but happier, safer and better performing athletes with longer careers.

 

Happy spring riding,

Dr Ian Northeast

Chiropractor For The Horse & Rider

Ben and Ian Running

Melbourne, Winter & Vitamin D

Oh gosh, it’s October, where has 2017 gone?!

If you’re like me then you’re thinking it’s time to put the foot down for the last quarter of 2017. Are you feeling like you’ve got the spark, the spring in your step coming out of winter to make that happen?

If not, potentially you’re like 58% of women and 35% of men in Melbourne who are deficient in vitamin D coming out of winter (1).

Getting enough vitamin D is associated with improved immune system function (2), decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (3), numerous hormonal functions, bone health and energy levels to name a few.

With Melbourne’s gorgeous winters, and summers where we are advised to slip, slop & slap which can reduce Vitamin D production by a whopping 99% with only SPF 15+ (4), it’s really no wonder we are thought of as being super deficient in Vitamin D when sun exposure is our main source of it’s production.

Outside of sunlight, other ways to boost vitamin D levels are: oily fish; egg yolks, naturally sun exposed mushrooms and a practitioner prescribed vitamin D supplement.

To begin with, make time to get outside with as much arm, leg and torso exposed that you’re comfortable with, for 20 minutes in the morning. Secondly, include some eggs, mushrooms and oily fish into your diet and thirdly chat to your health practitioner about getting your blood levels assessed and supplementation if needed.

Warmly,

Dr Ian Northeast

Chiropractor for the sun lover

 

 

1. Daly, R. M., Gagnon, C., Lu, Z. X., Magliano, D. J., Dunstan, D. W., Sikaris, K. A., Zimmet, P. Z., Ebeling, P. R. and Shaw, J. E. (2012), Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its determinants in Australian adults aged 25 years and older: a national, population-based study. Clinical Endocrinology, 77: 26–35. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04320.x
2. Korf H, Decallonne B, Mathieu C. Vitamin D for infections. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2014;21:431-436
3. Menezes A et al. Vitamin D and atherosclerosis. Curr Opin Cardiol. 2014;29:571-577
4. Holick MF. High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and implications for health. Mayo Clin Proc. 2006;81(3):353-73.

What Do The Paleo Diet, Born To Run & Stand Up Desks Have In Common?

Their philosophy.

Their understanding that the body is smart, strong and capable rather than weak, injury and disease prone.

Their philosophy that the human body was expertly crafted over millions of years to serve a function, that of a hunter-gatherer. If Homo sapiens (us) have been on earth in our current state for 300,000 years (though our ancestors first stood and became homo erectus about 6 million years ago) and we have been living in our post-industrial revolution for around 200 years, then the below chart is representative of that time line. Can you see the blue sliver? Thats us since the year 1820. Less than 0.7% of our recent history.

Homo Sapiens Pie Chart

The thing that the paleo diet, Born to Run and stand up desks have uncommon is that they recognise: our body wasn’t designed to eat shit from a supermarket isle with a long shelf life; our body wasn’t designed to have the heels of our shoes cushioned by two centimetres of foam and the highly complex movement patterns of the foot’s 26 bones and 33 joints all capable of 6 degrees of movement interrupted; that we were designed for varied movement rather than 14 hours/day on our backsides.

Sometimes, when we take our Porsche 911 Turbo bush bashing then it’s going to need some drastic measures (modern medicine) to stop the wheels falling off. The first step I would have thought though would be to avoid taking it over boulders and through mud in the first place (lifestyle modification) before we do irreversible damage.

In our highly marketed and unnatural lifestyles, it can be hard to navigate, I hear you. There are so many mixed messages from marketing with an agenda that doesn’t have our best interests at heart.

There are lots of reputable, educated professionals who can help you navigate this and we all have a different take or interpretation on the correct path. Really, there isn’t one correct path but a correct path for now.

Dr Ian Northeast

Chiropractor

Single leg glute bridge

Sexy Symmetry

Appearance is a deep and meaningful metric.

Say what?

It can also be a shallow and meaningless metric.

You’ve observed a person and had a feeling about them, pigeon holed them before you even had a chance to interact with them in a more meaningful way, right?

Of course you have, we all have.

Our conscious and unconscious mind is constantly observing our surrounding environment, including the people in it.

From this information we are making educated guesses about those around us regarding their threat or safety level and how we should interact with that individual. Layered on top of that is our lifetime of experiences.

What assumptions are being made about us regarding our posture, movement, breathing pattern, skin flush, tone of voice? Assumptions about our openness to proximity, to conversation. Our mood, energy level, if we slept well last night and have been looking after ourselves. Our confidence, professionalism, seriousness. Our views on self care, on our health, on self respect.

Many of the variables giving these impressions are all within our ability to control or influence. Our body’s ability to change, adapt and heal is phenomenally great. More so than society has been led to believe in the past century.

Want to create symmetry in your body? Your posture is a window to your spine and health. It makes sense, right, that a healthy body is well balanced? The eyes should be balanced with the shoulders, which should be balanced with the hips which should be balanced with the ground. That stuff is super influenceable.

Go after it.

Steph and Ian observing model spine

Sitting is Healthy 🤔

Sitting is healthy? That’s right. Sitting is the new smoking? No way José. Lack of variation is the new smoking. Our body is designed for variation. That means periods of lots of movement and periods of little. Periods of short, sharp and fast with periods of long and slow. Periods of heavy lifting and periods of light lifting. Periods of bountiful food and periods of fasting. Variation is the new black.

When we get uncomfortable sitting at our workstation, our body is telling us something. It’s telling us to move, to change. It’s good that we feel sore because if we didn’t we would either break or wear out prematurely. What is bad is when we ignore that body signal or falsely quieten it with a panadol or a heat pack versus addressing the issue.

So why is sitting health? Because when used as part of a varied working posture routine, it puts the physical demands on different tissues to when you stand, when you kneel, when you sit on a stool, a chair or a swiss ball or lie on the ground. All as part of your healthy work set up and daily movement/position requirement. Pick any of the above mentioned postures and stay in it for 10+ hours a day and you’ll be broken, but mix it up every half hour or so and you’re on the right track.

Not only will changing up our work posture be beneficial for our physical body, but it will pay dividends in: our concentration, work performance and mood via giving the brain varied, healthy signals; it will allow the diaphragm to work in varied positions and contribute to better oxygenation; it will have positive effects to our digestion and hormonal systems.

Chat to a qualified health and movement professional about how to implement this so as to avoid breaking your body in the process of rebuilding it.

Dr Ian Northeast

Movement and Wellness Expert

Chiropractor