From the monthly archives: "August 2011"

You are what you eat has never rung more true.  No, you will not turn into a Twinkie…but the microorganisms in your gut respond and change according to what you eat.  So says a recent study out of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine that showed changes in diet can affect the virus populations that live in your gut.

“Our bodies are like coral reefs, inhabited by many diverse creatures interacting with each other and with us,” senior author Frederic Bushman.

The researchers looked at gut virus populations of six volunteers assigned to eat either a high-fat/low-fiber diet, a low-fat/high-fiber diet or an ad-lib diet.  The researchers analyzed DNA from viruses in the stool of the participants over eight days and found that the largest variation in virus diversity occurred between individuals. However, virus populations among participants who ate the same diet became more similar over time.

“The study provides a new window on the vast viral populations that live in the human gut, demonstrates that they vary radically between individuals, and shows that dietary changes can affect not just bacterial populations but also viral populations,” Bushman said.

This is an interesting study, because we know how important diet is to the overall health.  What we eat affects our physiology in action, and in environment.  In fact, if we think of our body as an ecosystem as much as an individual organism (not unlike the earth, or a galaxy for that matter!), we can see the impact our food choices make on the environment and the organisms within us.

It is tempting to think of all viruses and bacteria as bad or undesirable, but we live in symbiosis with these microorganisms–they are as important to us as digesters (among other things) as we are to them as food and lodgings.  By controlling the substances you put into your body, you are essentially controlling pollution in your internal atmosphere.  If you regularly pollute your inner environment–and not just with what you eat, mind you, but with what you breathe, snort, inject, whatever–you not only affect the intestinal flora, but every cell in your body.

Listen, natural health advocates have been saying this  for years: Watch what you put into your body.  Give it wholesome foods, natural juices and fresh, clean drinking water, and your body will respond by remaining an oasis–lush, fertile, and full of life.  Pollute it with garbage and that’s what it will become–a cesspool.  It will become that to such a degree that it will change you, as it will every cell in your body…and it will also change the life forms residing within your body, because you are an ecosystem, a planet if you will.  Treat your planet as if it’s your body, and vice versa–and you and your viruses should live in mutual satisfaction for millions of microbe generations.

Anybody who has ever been under my care knows the importance I place on the feet.  As our foundation, the feet are directly connected to low back stability.  When foot dysfunction is present it can lead to low back pain, sciatica and even herniated disks.  But foot dysfunction is not only related  to low back issues, it can also cause conditions of the ankles, knees and hips.

It’s probably no surprise, then, that I recommend custom orthotics for anyone suffering from a foot dysfunction.  But when it comes to caring for the feet, there is much more than simply adding orthotic support.  Like all musculoskeletal regions, the feet benefit enormously from a good bit of rubbing and kneading from massage.

There is a theory that toxins build in the body, and can be carried through the circulation to the feet, thus making it important to periodically get one’s feet massaged.  By massaging the feet, the theory goes, built-up crystal deposits can be taken up by the veins, and removed through the kidneys.  As a result, organs corresponding to the massage or pressure points get a ‘reflex’ stimulation and, in turn, heal the body of various ailments.

Now whether this theory is true or not is debatable, but at the very least foot massage must accomplish what all myofascial release does: it enhances circulation, breaks up muscular adhesions, and frees up joints and muscles to allow greater movement, balance and stability.  But most satisfyingly, foot massage feels good, so it relaxes us and allows us to unwind.

I am such a believer in this type of bodywork, that I am now on a quest to find the best foot massages and techniques from around the world.  I am currently receiving foot massage from the Oasis Relax Spa in West Hollywood.  On a five point scale I would rate them a three.

Some pluses are:

  • hour-long foot massage
  • includes neck, back, face and scalp massage
  • great price ($25)
  • nice, clean and quiet facility
  • lots of parking
  • open daily and long hours: 10am-10pm

Some minuses are:

  • foot massage portion not as long as I’d like, but therapist skill can make difference here
  • English not first language hampers communication–sometimes problematic during instruction (on positioning, and so forth)
  • some variation in therapist skills (I’ve got my favorites and I’m not telling you–find your own!)
  • Don’t always have small bills for change–bring singles, or tip in $5′s and $10′s

I would like to ask all my readers to please tell me where you get your feet massaged, and it can be anywhere in the world.  I want to know the best places for foot health including reflexology practices, and even pedicurists, if they do foot massage.  Please leave your comments below, and tell me why you like your favorite foot massage place.  Let us all help each other to find the best foot massages worldwide, so we can be certain that no matter where we are, we can take care of our feet when the need arises.

Today I would like to discuss an oft-overlooked aspect of health: Our connection to something bigger than ourselves.  Yes, I am a spiritualist–I believe in God.  Maybe not in the way of some organized religions, but I am convinced that the universe is a part of a grand order, of which we are bound in our physiology, and thus our health.

I’m not going to necessarily discuss the universal order as it pertains to physiology and health here.  Instead I am going to touch on a few points on spirituality and health, as well as encourage you to watch the beautiful video above to witness the magnificence of the universe from our earthly perspective, and hope you realize it is all much bigger than even this.

Health is directly related to our connections to a greater source.  Whether real or psychological is irrelevant to our discussions here–all I wish to point out is the improvement to physical health when spirituality is believed/practiced/observed.

If we can put aside for one minute our politics, our illusions, our human drives, and our emotional oscillations to just witness the beauty of the all, if only for just this one needle-point view of the grandness offered by the accompanying video, then I am certain we can all catch a glimpse of what we truly are.  THIS is the source of health, and it’s a confirmation that we can all have optimal health if we are in touch with the source.  That’s my belief anyway.

Parents, here’s one to think about: More than 5,000 U.S. children and teens are injured every year in falls from windows; but the problem isn’t confined to high-rises–most falls are from the first or second story.  Something to think about before airing out that unattended room by opening the windows.

According to a recent study published this week in the journal Pediatrics, preschoolers are the most at-risk from falling out of windows, and they also suffer the most head injuries. “Two-thirds of these injuries occurred among children younger than 5. This is the age group that’s mobile, curious and does not recognize the danger of falling from a window,” said senior author Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  Fewer than 1% of these cases led to deaths, but the researchers said the tally likely underestimated fatalities because not all children who die from their injuries are brought to the hospital.

Parents don’t realize how easily children can climb up to windowsills by using toys or furniture as a boost.  And screens may appear as sturdy objects to little ones who don’t know any better.  A fall to the pavement below sure is tough way to learn that lesson.

The good news is that very few are fatal, but head injuries are common, so taking precautions is the best practice.  Window guards that run between $20-$40 can be installed, as can bars.  Window guards have a quick release that allows escape from a fire or other emergency.  No doubt, they’re ugly–but better ugly than Humpty Dumpty.  We have window locks in our place that allow us to keep the windows cracked, but prevent a child from slipping through–godsend for people that love fresh air.

Just think, 5,000 children per year dropping out of 1-2 story windows–that’s 100 per state!  That means the odds of yours being one ain’t that small.  Take precautions and prevent pediatric window diving…especially if you live in Wyoming.

Proprioception is our sense of where we are in space.  It tells us about relative position of body parts, as well as giving us information about our movements.  Proprioception is essential to how we move, how we are supported, and how we function.  To be free from low back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries, and to be in good shape both require a conditioned proprioceptive sensory system.

This system can become deconditioned from a number of interrelated factors: lack of regular, challenging movement, previous or current injury, significant change in weight or strength, drug use and/or abuse, and chronically tight muscles.

The list above should tell you that many people today are deconditioned in their proprioceptive senses.  From increased computer time (which means increased sitting), to changes in activity type (sports, music, art to more media driven activities like video games and computers), to poor diets and lack of movement, even from our advanced medical care that has people recovering from injuries that at one time my have been game-enders, people today need to think about their proprioceptive condition.

In the next few video posts, I will be discussing and demonstrating excellent exercises for stimulating, and thus conditioning, your proprioceptive system.  Although I usually prefer to give low-tech exercises, I really do think having access to some special equipment will be very useful here. The good news is that many gyms have the equipment you will need.  If for any reason that is not an option for you, you can contact my West Hollywood sports chiropractic office to purchase either a rocker board, wobble board or bosu ball.

Watch the video below for the first instruction on proprioceptive training: the short foot exercise.  You will need to master this to go to the next level.  I would practice the short foot exercise for one week before moving on to the next level.  You will see that by mastering this movement, you will have the foundation for keeping your balance no matter what the challenge.  Learn the short foot and have fun–I’ll see you soon for the next level.

So last post I discussed how all industries have an inherent drive toward sustainability.  It’s only natural–no industry will work to render itself obsolete.  This is my best explanation for the significant rise in ADHD diagnoses over the last decade.  As that industry grows, many mouths are fed, from the diagnosticians, to the experts and researchers, to the drug manufacturers, to the authors, to the critics, and the list goes on and on.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that between 2007-2009, an average of 9% of children between the ages of 5 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD. This compared with just under 7% between 1998-2000.  Again I ask the question: Are more children being born with this disorder every year?  The genetic explanation is always popular, you know.  Or is it something in the environment?  Video games, social media, what?

Further, researchers have found a narrowing of prevalence among racial groups–that is, whites, blacks and some Hispanic groups are being diagnosed in comparable numbers.  You don’t say?  With Obamacare on its way, you bet I do.

But astute doctors understand that increased numbers do not always tell the whole story.  According to study author, Dr. Lara J. Akinbami, a medical officer with the National Center for Health Statistics, “We don’t have the data to say for certain what explains these patterns, but I would caution against concluding that what we have here is a real increase in the occurrence of this condition.”  Precisely.

“In fact, it would be hard for me to argue that what we see here is a true change in prevalence,” Akinbami added.  “Instead, I would say that most probably what we found has a lot to do with better access to health care among a broader group of children, and doctors who have become more and more familiar with this condition and now have better tools to screen for it. So, this is probably about better screening, rather than a real increase, and that means we may continue to see this pattern unfold.”  Bingo!

You see, better access means “more widely accepted”, and therefore, “reimbursable.”  That is exactly why it is being diagnosed across a broader racial spectrum.  Universal health care means, “every ADHD diagnosis pays.”  No worrying about the uninsured; everybody has the right to have a child labeled ADHD now.  What a magnificent country we live in–equality at its finest.

And “better tools to screen for it” means, “wider, more accepted parameters; acceptance of subjective criteria used by diagnosticians to account for variability, as this is a mental condition.”  So darn near any non-conforming kid is a candidate for ADHD drugs, like Adderall or Ritalin, and the industry continues to sustain itself.  According to the National Institutes of Health, ADHD is the most common behavioral disorder among children.  Well, no shiitake mushrooms–I hope you see it, too.

This is really an interesting phenomenon if you take the time to analyze it.  The industry will keep growing, and it won’t change until parents say, “Enough! No more!”  No more drugging my children, no more labeling them as dysfunctional, no more holding my child back because teachers don’t understand how to inspire him, no more discouraging my kid by assuming something is wrong with him because he doesn’t care about the same things an outdated school system tells him to care about.  It won’t change until parents wake up.

Don’t believe me when I tell you the ADHD industry is growing by keeping itself relevant and sustainable?  We’ll let the good doctor, Akinbami, explain it in her own words:

“Children of ADHD use a lot more health care dollars than their peers, because the condition itself requires a lot of monitoring. And they are also much more likely to have other chronic health care conditions, such as asthma or learning disabilities or conduct diagnoses like conduct disorder, which makes managing them for schools and physicians and parents much more difficult. So, it’s clearly something for public policy experts to be concerned about.”

In other words, “Not done growing.”  I’ll keep opening my big mouth until people get it.

Wanna see how economics fuels the growth and sustenance of a medical industry niche?  Check it: A new government survey reports that children diagnosed with ADHD has increased significantly over the last decadeYou don’t say?  Yes, I do.  Does this mean that more children are being born with ADHD every year?  Or maybe environmental conditions are increasing the risk?  I’ve heard those childhood vaccinations are pretty bad, but… Anybody who reads this blog knows my impression of the ADHD industry.  I mean, I dedicated the entire month of December 2010 to this non-condition, this normal variant.  So what gives on the rapid increase?

To get a clearer picture, it might be best to start with an analogy, let’s say the auto-mechanics industry (easy choice for me, but could choose any industry, including chiropractic).  So, let’s say auto manufacturers become so good at their craft that the amount of cars needing repair decreases dramatically.  This would present quite the conundrum to the auto-mechanics of the world, considering their livelihood is dependent on fixing cars.

So let’s say, despite the decrease in repair needs, people still need to get their oil changed, so reasonably they go to a garage to have the service performed.  While under the hood, the astute mechanic notices a leak in the transmission and fluid leaking throughout (not too hard to plant oil with a spray canister and some used motor oil).  Uh oh…looks like you need some work done.  In fact, leaking transmissions seem to be on the rise–not surprising as many, if not most mechanics, would need to play along if their family is to eat this week.

Okay, you take it to the dealer for a second opinion.  Well their mechanics need to feed their families too, so guess what?  You got it–leaky transmission syndrome (LTS).  In fact, it has become epidemic.  You see, global warming has increased temperatures to such a degree that motor oil now gets heated to even higher temperatures, plus the fuel coming over from the middle east is now of such poor quality, that it tends to open portions of the transmission allowing leaks.  And there is nothing that can be done about it, except take it in to garages, have the transmission rebuilt and sealed with a special sealer that needs to be re-applied every six month, and…you get the point.

You see, no industry is going to make itself obsolete.  None.  Which shouldn’t be disheartening, because commerce is what makes the world go ’round.  We do all have to eat.

But my problem with this happening in medical care is that we are not talking about something as replaceable as a car.  We are talking peoples’ bodies, their health.  Believe me when I say this is happening in the ADHD industry today.  You can read or re-read my posts from last December to get some background on this complete sham of a disorder.  Then check in for the next post where I’ll discuss the latest info confirming to me how the ADHD industry is keeping itself relevant and sustainable.

How’s this for random and weird?  Three people have died this year from a brain-eating amoebaNaegleria fowleria microscopic organism found in warm fresh water like lakes, rivers, hot springs and soil.  The victims include a a 16-year-old Florida girl, who contracted the infection from swimming in a river, and a 9-year-old Virginia boy, who died a week after he went to a fishing day camp, and a 20-year-old man in Louisiana, who died after using a neti pot–a teapot-shaped device used to run salt water through the sinuses to relieve allergies, colds and sinus troubles.

N. fowleri usually enters the system through the nasal passages, very often from jumping or diving into water.  The amoeba then makes its way up to the brain where it digests brain cells, killing the person within two weeks.  The disease is called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or “PAM.”

Although a harrowing fate for the inhaler, N. fowleri does not actively seek out human brains; it really is a bacteria-consuming parasite.  But, like all of us, it will consume what it can until it finds the meal of its choice–to the great misfortune of the human unlucky enough to inhale the microscopic blob.

This illness is extremely rare–only 120 reported U.S. cases (almost all of them deaths) since the amoeba was first identified in the early 1960s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The annual incidence of infection (and thus deaths) is three per year.

Brain-eating amoebic infection seems to be confined to the south, where all three victims this year contracted it.  The neti pot case is especially weird, as the parasite tends to live in warmer waters.  It also brings up some useful precautions one should take at all times when swimming in fresh water lakes and rivers in the south, or when using a neti pot.

Lake and river swimmers should hold their nose shut or use nose clips to prevent water being forced up the nasal passages.  And neti pot users should always boil and sterilize the water before running it through the nasal passages.  By following the instructions on the package of the neti pot, users will be most safe.

It’s a tragedy for the families suffering the loss of their loved ones to something as random as an encounter with a rare amoeba.  But it should remind us all to take precautions.  I will admit, though, I probably wouldn’t have considered running into a brain-eating amoeba while filling my neti pot, either (although I also have no desire to use one of these–not against it, just not interested).

I think the most important thing is for people to be aware; so perhaps the CDC needs to make one of those public service announcements (PSAs) and show it as summer begins every year.  Saying that, we probably will still see three deaths a year.  N. fowleri probably hasn’t survived for this long without having a few tricks up its flagella.

Here’s a curious case of circumcision whereby a man loses his entire penis to a doctor on a cancer trip.  Put yourself in someone’s shoes: You go to the hospital for a circumcision that’s supposed to help you with inflammation (??? new one for me, but I’ll roll with it).  You’re given your nighty-night nod by the anesthesiologist, only to wake up hours later sans member.  Doh!

Or…you’re a well-known and respected urologist, hired to perform a geriatric foreskin-ectomy, and given full permission to take control of any serious situation you come across.  During the procedure cancer is detected.  To save the life of the patient–you remove the cancer…one penis at a time.  Patient wakes up, checks what he thinks is the new chop top, and finds he has been removed from the club; wife’s even more pissed.  Who’s in the right or wrong?

Deborah and Phillip Seaton

Well, it’ll be up to the Shelby County Circuit Court in Kentucky, which will be entertaining the trial between Phillip Seaton of Waddy and his wife, Deborah, against Dr. John Patterson of Louisville.  The lawsuit alleges that Patterson removed Seaton’s penis without consulting either Phillip or Deborah Seaton.  The Seatons say they would have liked the opportunity to have a second opinion, and who can blame them?  They are seeking unspecified damages from Patterson for “loss of service, love and affection.”

The doctor’s attorney, however, states that his client had full authorization “to perform any medical procedure deemed necessary” and that the doctor found cancer in the organ during the surgery.  The attorney has said that Patterson “had no reasonable option” but to remove the cancer.  The Seatons’ attorney says the situation was not an emergency.

Dr. Patterson (right) and his attorney

Interestingly, Jewish Hospital, where the full-shaft circumcision was performed actually settled with the Seatons for an undisclosed amount.  Hmmm…maybe they know something we don’t…like ain’t no man scorned than he who wakes up without a penis.

So what do you think?  Case of irresponsible amputation, or modern medical heroism?  Should a doctor do what he can to save a life (even if not immediately urgent), or is it up to the individual?  It’s not very different from euthanasia or other medical dilemmas.  I know what I think, but I’m curious to hear other peoples’ opinions. 

What’s more in demand today than plastic surgery?  Cheap plastic surgery!  Don’t act surprised…who doesn’t love a deal?  And when it come to slicing and dicing your morphology, at rock bottom prices, no place beats Morocco.  Ah yes, Moroccan rhinoplasty–best in the world for under five grand. 

According to a recent report, people are flocking to Morocco and its neighboring Tunisia for plastic surgery.  Clinics are plentiful in Rabat and Casablanca, where tourist can get procedures for less than half the cost of European clinics.

Morocco has a history of plastic surgery dating back to the 1950s.  When sex-change operations were banned in Europe, Morocco was a hub.

“The demand for cosmetic surgery in Morocco is actually growing steadily.  There are about 1,000 to 1,200 cosmetic surgeries per month in Morocco, and 10-15% of patients came from abroad,” said Salaheddine Slaoui, a specialist in cosmetic and reparative surgery, adding that the number of plastic surgeries had also doubled in the last decade.

The two most popular procedures are breast enlargement and liposuction.  You don’t say?  And the enhancement of choice for men?  Why, that would be penoplasty, or a good ol’ fashioned penis enlargement.  Yes sir!  In Morocco…sky’s the limit.

Says Sloui again, “Compared with last year, the number of consultations for penoplasty has practically multiplied by five!”

Hey you want it all, and who blames you?  New teats, improved package, cheap price…sounds like Morocco’s the place for you.  And since practically any doctor can practice cosmetic surgery in the western world (at least the U.S.) without special credentials (re: Jan Adams), then why should you worry about a third-world tummy tuck?  You shouldn’t!  Here’s looking at you, kid.

Low back pain, hip pain, butt pain, sciatica–these are all conditions that can occur as a result of a tight piriformis muscle.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Gait abnormalities, hip bursitis and knee pain can also result as secondary disorders related to a tight piriformis muscle.

Stretching a tight piriformis is imperative to prevent these conditions from plaguing you.  And if you’ve already got some of these problems, after you see your friendly neighborhood sports chiropractor, you’ll probably need to stretch your piriformis to bring length to the muscle and help open your hips sufficiently.

In the video, I demonstrate three excellent stretches (really two, with one version having two variants).  Start with the first one–lying on your back–if you are very tight OR you could even do that same stretch while sitting in a chair (although I don’t demonstrate that version in the video).  You can try the other two variants if you have a little more flexibility.

Play with all three to see where you currently are, and then work at that level for two to three weeks.  Once you’ve mastered your current level, you can move on to the next.  Have fun and happy stretching.

Pregnant?  Boy or Girl?  Don’t know?  Throw some spaghetti on the wall; if it sticks…  Or better yet, see how low your belly hangs, that’ll tell ya.  Or if your nails are growing fast and strong, you’re having a…

Okay, okay, these old wives tales may not offer much, but I’ve got something surprising for you–gender-detecting blood tests being sold online.  That’s right, you can find out whether it’s a boy or girl with surprising accuracy by simply purchasing a testing kit online.  And this kit’s no slouch–it accurately determines gender at seven weeks, a full three weeks earlier than conventional gender testing.

Researchers recently analyzed 57 published studies of gender determining blood tests done in rigorous research or academic settings–though not necessarily the same methods or conditions used by direct-to-consumer firms.  The blood tests analyzed use the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to determine the presence or absence of the Y chromosome, which would signify a male (XY) or female (XX) gender respectively.  The test is approximately 95% accurate

The analyzed test can detect fetal DNA in mothers’ blood. It’s about 95 percent accurate at identifying gender when women are at least seven weeks’ pregnant–more than one month before conventional methods. Accuracy of the testing increases as pregnancy advances, the researchers concluded.  Conventional procedures, typically done for medical reasons, can detect gender starting at about 10 weeks.

The researchers pointed out the need to question couples purchasing the tests to determine what the results will be used for.  Although the benefits of the tests are as screens for genetic illnesses, particularly gender specific ones, there is some concern about couples using such tests for gender selection and abortion.

No tests sold directly to consumers, online or otherwise, were actually analyzed; and some doctors interviewed disclosed that they will not provide gender identifying tests, including amniocentesis, for anything other than genetic disease screening.  Companies like Consumer Genetics Inc., based in Santa Clara, CA, sells an “early gender” blood test called Pink or Blue online for $25 plus $265 or more for laboratory testing.

These tests are not available to customers in India–where the costs of marrying off girls has contributed to a cultural preference for boys–or China, which has limits on one child per couple and a traditional preference for male heirs, contributing to abortions.  Consumer Genetics Inc. also won’t test blood samples unless women sign a consent form agreeing not to use the results for gender selection.

Without a doubt, every new breakthrough has a plus and minus associated with it.  As genetic testing becomes more prevalent, we will see more people designing the perfect child for them.  Yes, it will almost always start out as a simple ‘screening’ for genetic diseases, but seriously…how many couples will avoid the temptation of choosing gender, eye color, hair color, skin tone or sexual orientation?  Will some traits be genetically modified out of the species?

Makes me wonder what undesirable…’scuse me, challenging, conditions or traits will be consciously selected out of the gene pool.  Hmmm…could be yours.  Think about it.

This post is for anybody who suffers from low back pain, but it should interest anybody that plays and/or loves sports, particularly baseball.  A recent study showed that lumbopelvic control in baseball pitchers improved pitching accuracy and endurance.

The study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, looked at minor league pitchers.  Seventy-five healthy professional baseball pitchers performed a standing lumbopelvic control test during the last week of spring training for the 2008 and 2009 seasons while wearing a custom-designed testing apparatus called the “Level Belt.”  With the Level Belt secured to the waist, subjects attempted to transition from a 2-leg to a single-leg pitching stance and balance while maintaining a stable pelvic position. Subjects were graded on the maximum sagittal pelvic tilt from a neutral position during the motion.

Pitching performance, number of innings pitched (IP), and injuries were compared for all subjects who pitched at least 50 innings during a season.  The belt measurement was taken for each pitcher during the leg transition exercise, with the 7° being the median measurement.  The researchers then assessed the performance of the players over the two seasons.  They found that players with measurements <7° (or the most stable low back and pelvis during motion) had the significantly fewer walks plus hits per inning than subjects scoring ≥7°.  There was no significant difference in injuries between the two groups. 

Here’s the take home: Lumbopelvic stabilization–something I work on with all my Los Angeles sports chiropractic patients, particularly those with low back pain, hip pain or any other leg or knee injury–improves athletic performance.  And although this study did not see a correlation between good lumbopelvic stabilization and injury prevention, I can tell you that I see it reduce chronic pain an disability in both athletes and non-athletes alike.

Functional lumbopelvic stabilization comes from a combination of strength, flexibility and balance–three area which I emphasize in my sports rehabilitation practice.  Tight hip flexors, weak glutes and a loss of lumbopelvic control from the abdominals (see abdominal hollows and pelvic tilting) all contribute to loss of stabilization of this vital core area.

True, researchers found no correlation to prevention of injury in the pitchers, as both groups in the study suffered injuries.  But this just shows that sports injuries are multifactorial.  What is unquestionable is that pitching performance did improve with lumbopelvic stabilization, and that I would expect, as I know how important it is in musculoskeletal biomechanics.  I hope you found this study as interesting as I did.

I’ve been showing you stretches to open up your hip flexor complex, which includes the iliopsoas (iliacus and psoas major together) muscle.  Another muscle, which is an integral part of this complex and also needs attention in many people, is the rectus femoris (part of the quadriceps muscle) on the front of the thigh.

The rectus femoris attaches from the front of the pelvis to the shin (tibia).  It is involved in both knee extension (straightening the knee) and hip flexion.  In some people, it may be the hip flexor muscle in need of the most lengthening.  When this muscle is tight, it can lead to a number of problems, most notably low back pain and patellar tendonitis.  In either of these cases, stretching will bring quick relief and also prevent the formation and continuation of a chronic problem.

In the video below, I demonstrate four stretches that are excellent openers for the rectus femoris or quadriceps, and thus the hip, low back and knees.  The are actually four successive levels varying in difficulty and intensity.  You should try each one from the beginning to determine your current level.  When you find the one that challenges you the most, but which you can still do without causing too much pain or loss of balance, practice it for one to two weeks before trying the next level.

Within that time, you should be able to master the current level, if you do the stretch every day; and by moving on to the next level, that one will then become challenging but doable.  A principle of all exercise, whether we are talking weight lifting, cardio or stretching, is that you will have to try the next highest level at a lower intensity (whether that means reps, duration, increased intensity of stretch, or whatever) before you will be able to do it regularly and with greater ease.  For example, you won’t be able to master the third level stretch in the video until you can do the second level with some ease; then by taking it to the next level, and practicing, even if it’s uncomfortable, for a shorter period should in time allow you to do that next level comfortably (as comfortable as a stretch can be), and so on to the next level beyond that.  In other words, you won’t be ready for the next level until you do it repeatedly, and ultimately, that will become your next level of mastery (also a metaphor for life!)

Try these stretches to add even greater opening of your hip flexor complex.  I guarantee that once you master all four levels of this rectus femoris stretch, your low back, hips and knees will thank you.  And you’ll also see some amazing improvements in your posture.  Try them, you’ll see.

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