Monday, September 24, 2012

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation (IASTM) and Chiropractic

by Dr. Michael T. Lagueux II, D.C.

Positive Edge Chiropractic

One of the most powerful tools that we use in our office are Gua Sha tools.  While Gua Sha has traditionally been used for purposes other than musculoskeletal issues, we find that it works amazingly well for the purpose of breaking up scar tissue and adhesions.  We routinely use it with our patients to decrease pain, increase range of motion, and increase "tissue compliance", or the "softness" of a muscletendonligament, or the fascia.  Here's what two of our Gua Sha tools look like:

Extensive studies have shown that IASTM has an effect at the cellular level, which can actually be seen (under a microscope) as realigned and more parallel arrangements of collagen fibers.  Countless professional athletes and sports teams make use of IASTM to speed up recovery times and improve athletic performance (including the very famous Michael Phelps, who mentioned Graston Technique, a form of IASTM, in an interview on some of his training secrets).

However, we often use this technique on more "regular folks" (like ourselves) with great results.  It can help to break up scar tissue in areas that are chronically tight or in spasm.  Are you one of those people who "wears their shoulders like earrings"?  If you are (you're probably laughing right now), you could probably benefit from a few encounters with IASTM.  Or perhaps you're a runner or cyclist with a chronically tight iliotibial band, which is extremely common among individuals who participate in those activities.  IASTM can be used to "soften up" those ligaments, which results in decreased pain, increased range of motion and muscle activation, and a happy runner or cyclist.  Rock climbers can benefit, as they commonly have extremely tight forearms.  Tight muscles create pulling forces on the origins and insertion points (where the muscles attach).  Take a look at this example, the forearm of Positive Edge Chiropractic's very own Dr. Mike, a rock climbing addict:

Notice the large red spot by the medial antecubital area?  Um, I mean, the elbow area?  That area is where many wrist and finger flexor muscles originate.  Following an IASTM treatment, the skin often looks like this.  It's a bit of bruising that takes place under the skin, where bits of scar tissue called adhesions have built up during, in Dr. Mike's case, countless rock climbing sessions.  The tools that are used to perform IASTM are scraped across the skin and usually produces something like what you see in the picture above.  One thing to keep in mind is that this process is not painful at all!  Most patients report that the procedure feels very good, and are quite surprised by the "bruising" that takes place, considering that the process was not the least bit painful for them.  Usually any marks that have appeared on the skin as a result of receiving an IASTM treatment will be completely gone within a day or two.

So now you know about Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation!  And you've probably already been able to come up with a few areas on your body where you could use it!  Remember, it's great for people that have had chronic issues, like low back pain, neck pain, tight muscles, etc.  But it's also great for athletes, since they place extra stresses and strains on their bodies.  IASTM can help bring those tight and painful muscles, ligaments, and tendons back to a more normal pain-free state!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Chiropractor's Guide to Picking out a Great Backpack

A Chiropractor's Guide to Picking out a Great Backpack - Five Easy Steps

By Niccole O'Dell, B.A., D.C.
Positive Edge Chiropractic

Once again, the back-to-school shopping rush has begun!  Parents are flooding the stores with long lists of supplies that their children need. One of the most important purchases to make for your child is their backpack. A backpack is a critical item, since it is likely the only item that your kid will wear every day. A great backpack will be durable, cool, and promote good posture, while a bad backpack will cause your kids to slump and suffer from back pain.  Here are five great tips to picking out a winning backpack!

1.  Do not get a backpack that is too big (with too many pockets). If the backpack has too many pockets, then your child will be tempted to overload it with all of their school books, which in most cases can weigh up to fifty pounds! If you get a slightly smaller bag, than the child will have to carry some of those books in their arms which is way better for their posture. If they have a locker, encourage them to use it and only carry the books that they need.

2.  Try to keep that backpack weight to less than 20% of your child's overall weight. For a fifty pound child, that means that they should not be carrying more than 10 pounds on their back. Unfortunately, this is growing more and more difficult as schools assign more books and remove lockers from high school campuses, but encourage your kids to carry extra books in their hands.

3.  Try to get backpacks with thick cushioned straps and belts which attach around the waist. Thick straps help provide more cushioning for your child's shoulders. Also, the snaps in the front allow the weight to be distributed more evenly for the walk home from school.

4.  Beware of backpacks with cartoon characters on them! They often have the thinnest straps and the least ergonomic design. It is preferable to go with a generic backpack because they often have more in the way of comfort and ergonomics, and they are less likely to go out of style in a year!

5.  Rolling backpacks, while in theory a good idea, double-check with your child before you get one of these. They are often seen as "not cool" in the kid world. Also, while using this your child may need to walk slowly and might have a harder time keeping up with a group of kids. Holding the handle with one hand causes the child to walk a bit less efficiently (and certainly less symmetrically). Also, they are not always the most comfortable when worn as a regular backpack. These are, however, excellent for reducing back pain in your kids. Just make sure that they will use it. Remember, the best backpack for your kid, is the one that they will actually use!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chiropractic and Scoliosis

By Michael T. Lagueux II, B.A., D.C.

Positive Edge Chiropractic

Scoliosis refers to a lateral or "sideways" curve in the spine, in either the shape of the letter "C" or "S".  In most people it is not known what the cause is, so the name "idiopathic scoliosis" is given.  In other cases, less commonly, the cause will be something else, such as a congenital defect or a developmental abnormality.  In this article, we will only be referring to the most common type, idiopathic scoliosis.  Maybe you remember the scoliosis screenings that your school nurse performed while you were in elementary school?  Screening large numbers of kids for scoliosis is a good strategy, since it occurs pretty sporadically in about 1.5% of the overall population.  Scoliosis occurs more commonly in females, perhaps for a variety of different reasons, not very well-understood.  At the present time, there isn't a perfect explanation for how or why idiopathic scoliosis occurs in the first place.

So if you've got a slight curve in your spine, what can you do?  If the curve is 10 degrees or less, your medical doctor will most likely not recommend any type of treatment.  If the curve is 10 degrees or more, you might be given the option to use a brace, such as the Boston Brace or the Milwaukee Brace.  When the curve is 20 degrees or more and is likely to progress, a brace is always recommended, sometimes in conjunction with surgery to correct the curve.  When a curve is especially significant, it may eventually result in heart and lung issues for the patient, because one lung is compressed and can't fully expand.  As chiropractors, however, we look at the situation a little bit differently.  We know that by performing specific adjustments to the spine, we can help to realign the vertebrae and to improve the overall range of motion of the spine.  We also know that since all of the peripheral nerves exit from the spine and go to all of the different parts of the body, any interruption in this "flow" can result in a problem involving any of these different parts.  So a patient with scoliosis at our office would be adjusted in such a way to correct their curve, no matter how many degrees it is.  When your spine is aligned and moving properly, the nerves are able to function at their best, and therefore so are you!

At Positive Edge Chiropractic, a patient with scoliosis would be given a program of specific stretches and exercises designed to help correct the curve.  In addition, we perform adjustments to the spine that are also geared toward correcting the curve.  Patients with scoliosis (even a very minor one) generally love getting chiropractic adjustments and report that it feels good.  And it makes sense, we are re-aligning the bones of the spine, helping to put them back where they should be!  Of course that's got to feel pretty good!  Usually after receiving an adjustment, the patient will feel an increase in range of motion and flexibility, increased energy, and an improved ability to breathe.  They will also experience an improvement in their overall posture, maybe even appearing a bit taller than they did before!

How does chiropractic help?  Performing specific adjustments on areas of the spine that are misaligned or don't move the way that they should is the main approach.  All of the joints in the body send information  about your body's position in space, called proprioception, back to the brain.  When joints of the spine are not moving properly or are misaligned, they they may send incorrect information back to the brain, or they may not send this information at all.  This will almost certainly have a negative impact on that person's range of motion, coordination, posture, and it may even cause pain!  At our office, we provide scoliosis patients with very specific adjustments to correct these misalignments, called subluxations.  Most patients with scoliosis report that the adjustments feel great, allow them to move more freely, help correct their posture, and even have unexpected benefits such as an improved ability to breathe.  If you or someone you know has a slight curve or a scoliosis, be sure to let them know how chiropractic can help!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chiropractic in the Olympics

Chiropractic in the Olympics

By Michael T. Lagueux II, B.A., D.C.
Positive Edge Chiropractic

Have you noticed that chiropractic has been in the spotlight during the 2012 London Olympics? A huge number of Olympic Teams have chiropractors as part of their medical staff. This article explains how, since 1979, Doctors of Chiropractic have taken care of Olympic athletes at the Olympic polyclinic - a "multidisciplinary medical services team".

Elite athletes like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, for example, utilize chiropractic on a regular basis. The truth is, nearly all elite athletes incorporate chiropractic into their training regimens in order to gain maximum advantage in their chosen sport. Olympian Dan O'Brien (who won the gold in the decathalon at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics) had this to say about chiropractic: "You obviously can't compete at your fullest if you're not in alignment. And your body can't heal if your back is not in alignment. It was the holistic idea that I liked about Chiropractic and that is what track and field is about. Every track and field athlete that I have ever met has seen a Chiropractor at one time or another. In track and field, it is absolutely essential. Chiropractic care is one of the things I think that no one has denied or refuted." Chiropractic helps to alleviate pain, increase range of motion and flexibility, and assist in recovery by normalizing nerve function and blood flow. With so many athletes incorporating chiropractic care into their training regimens, you have to ask, could us non-olympians benefit from it? The answer is a resounding yes! Even if you are not a gold medal contender, you can definitely benefit from chiropractic in the same ways that olympians and other elite athletes do. Being able to move better and experience less pain allows you to enjoy the activities that you love more frequently and more fully. Whether you're a runner, a golfer, a climber, or a surfer, you'll experience better coordination, more energy, and quicker recovery times. And when you feel good, you'll enjoy your chosen activity that much more. You'll find that you are able to spend more time engaged in the activities you love, which benefits you because you're exercising more and having fun!

Usain Bolt, known as "the world's fastest man", was recently photographed receiving a chiropractic adjustment at the 2012 London Games by the Jamaican Team chiropractor, Dr. Douglas. Have you seen this one?

Of course, you don't need to be one of these elite athletes to benefit from Chiropractic. At Positive Edge Chiropractic, we provide each of our patients with an individualized treatment plan designed to help them meet their health and/or performance goals. Whether your goal is to run a marathon, climb 5.12, or just get out there and enjoy your favorite activities free of pain, chiropractic is the answer! Call our office at (858) 635-9355 to book your appointment with San Diego's best Sports Chiropractors!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Make Kombucha (part 2)

How to Make Kombucha (part 2)

As promised, here is the second part of Dr. Mike's Guide to Making Kombucha. These tips will help you to choose the right ingredients for your kombucha and to give you an idea of what you're looking for in the finished product. After mastering this, you'll be able to share it with friends and family, and teach them how to make it for themselves. Have fun!

Guide to Making Kombucha (version 1.1, October 2011)
Part 2 of 2

By Michael T. Lagueux II, B.A., D.C.
Positive Edge Chiropractic

1. Use ½ distilled water and ½ purified or tap water, it’s less expensive.
2. At the time of writing this guide, Trader Joe’s has the least expensive organic evaporated cane juice.
3. Do not use any “alternative” sweeteners such as agave syrup, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, molasses, fructose, corn syrup, etc. You may prefer these sweeteners for one reason or another, but bacteria and yeasts only want PURE SUGAR!  And keeping these organisms happy is the key to good kombucha.
4. Yamamotoyama (sencha) green tea is a great choice of tea because of its flavor, high quality, health benefits, and because it’s fairly inexpensive. You can find it at any Japanese grocery store.  You can use black teas, but do not use any that contain bergamot oil (e.g. Earl Grey), as it tends to interfere with fermentation.
5. Apple, grape, pineapple, and mango juices are all excellent choices for secondary fermentation because they contain high concentrations of sucrose, which is highly fermentable.
6. Try adding different fruits to add additional flavors to your bottled kombucha (whether you choose secondary fermentation or not). Ginger is highly recommended!
7. To make plain kombucha using the secondary fermentation process, simply make 6 fluid ounces of tea (preferably the same type you used for the original kombucha brew) and add two heaping tablespoons of organic evaporated cane juice. Stir it until the sugar has completely dissolved, then cover the tea and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, you can add it to your kombucha during bottling to produce an unflavored (but carbonated) variety!
8. Be sure to save about 16oz (or more) of kombucha from each batch so that you can use it to make the next one (or give it to friends to help them start a kombucha brew).
9. In between brews, remove the SCOBY and place it on a clean non-metal surface. Rinse out your fermenter with hot water (washing with soap isn’t necessary and may leave behind undesirable residues).
10. The SCOBY should be rinsed off, but be very careful with it! Don’t let it touch anything except the clean surface you used earlier. Rinse it under water that isn’t warm, but isn’t ice cold. Make sure you remove all of the bits of yeast (the brown stuff) that you can see. There may be super-thin layers of SCOBY that are yellow or brown or otherwise unattractive, so you can remove anything like that. You are artificially selecting for a uniform, clean-looking white to off-white cellulose structure.
11. Fermenting kombucha eventually transforms into a highly acidic, somewhat syrupy vinegar-like product. It contains large amounts of acetic acid, as well as many other acids produced over time by the bacteria and yeasts. This situation usually occurs when a kombucha brew is not bottled in a timely manner. Fortunately it can still be useful! It is possible to use it as you would regular vinegar (e.g. in salads, marinades, etc.), and it also makes an excellent addition to your next kombucha brew (see #5 under “Ingredients of a Kombucha Brew”).

Bottling Tips:
1. Be sure to avoid bottling any tan to brown-colored strands of yeast. Look very carefully as you slowly pour the kombucha into the bottle. Spent (dead or near-dead) yeast appears tan to brown and will typically sink to the bottom of a vessel. Agitating the kombucha during the bottling process may stir up some of the undesirable yeasts, so be very meticulous and look very carefully as you pour the kombucha into bottles.
2. Viable yeast appears white to off-white and is typically in very small (and difficult-to-see) strands anywhere from 1mm to 5mm. Yeast at this stage is very desirable and will result in vigorous carbonation following the secondary fermentation process. This step (and the above step) is probably the most difficult to master. It takes a bit of practice and a very meticulous approach. The main idea is: get rid of the old dead yeast and keep only the young hungry ones!
3. Leave about one inch of headspace in the bottles (don’t fill them up to the top). Air in the bottles helps, since most of the fermentation is aerobic.

Perpetuating the SCOBY and Helping Others
Your SCOBY will eventually produce more and more of itself, and your brews will not be able to effectively utilize all of it (nor will they need to). Fortunately, it typically forms in discrete layers anywhere from ¼ to 1 inch thick that can be easily removed and discarded or shared with others. Only one layer is required to successfully ferment a kombucha brew, (although the speed of fermentation and/or quality of the finished product may be improved with more SCOBY present in the fermenter). Therefore, I recommend selecting two or three to remain in each fermenter and then giving away the extras to friends! Don’t forget to include 16oz (or more) of kombucha or kombucha vinegar to help them kickstart their brew.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to Make Kombucha (part 1)

How to Make Kombucha (part 1)

By Michael T. Lagueux II, B.A., D.C.
Positive Edge Chiropractic

Kombucha has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason!  It's amazingly delicious, and has quite a few health benefits. It's essentially fermented tea, so all of the health benefits of tea are present (polyphenols, antioxidants, etc.), but the fermentation process by a variety of beneficial bacteria and yeasts results in the production of many other important substances. These include organic acids such as acetic acid and glucaric acid. It is these substances that may be responsible for the "detoxifying" properties of kombucha that many people talk about. Although there isn't much formal research on kombucha to go by, it has been consumed in various forms for thousands of years by many different cultures. We think it's great stuff, and even learned to brew our own. It makes a pretty easy and fun home project! Dr. Mike wrote a guide on how to make it, which we'll post here in two parts. Here's part one, which covers the basic process. Next will be part two, which includes some very useful tips for both the brewing and bottling processes. Ok, now onto the guide!

Guide to Making Kombucha (version 1.1, October 2011)
(Part 1 of 2)

Equipment needed:
A large metal pot with a lid
Wooden spoon or plastic spatula (anything but metal)
2 to 2.5 gallon glass container with lid
A funnel
A towel
Glass bottles with screw caps (enough to fit approx. 2 gallons)

Ingredients of a Kombucha brew:
2 gallons of distilled and/or purified water
16oz (2 cups) of organic evaporated cane juice
12 bags (24 grams) of green, white, or black tea
A healthy SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts)
16oz (or more) of unflavored Kombucha or Kombucha vinegar
Juices and/or fruit (of your choice) for the bottling stage (optional)

How to make a SCOBY:
1. Purchase a bottle of plain (unflavored) kombucha, pour it into a glass or plastic cup, and cover it with a towel. Place it in a dark place between 70 and 80 degrees F.
2. After 14 to 21 days, a whitish gelatinous layer (“biofilm”, or zoogleal mat) will form on the surface. This is microbial cellulose, produced primarily by the bacteria Gluconacetobacter xylinus, and is the matrix in which the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY) live. Microbial cellulose is a highly prized material and is used for a variety of diverse applications.
3. Remove the SCOBY before all of the liquid is absorbed/evaporates.

How to brew Kombucha:
1. Bring one gallon of water just to a boil, and turn off the heat.
2. Add the 12 tea bags and let them steep for 5-7 minutes (even more is fine). When you remove the tea bags, squeeze out the remaining liquid, but be careful not to break any of the tea bags.
3. Add the 2 cups of sugar and begin to gently stir. Make sure that all of the sugar has completely dissolved.
4. Cover the mixture of sugar and tea and allow it to cool to room temperature (no warmer than 80 degrees F). This is now a viable substrate for microbial growth! So be careful not to allow any foreign items, substances, or undesirable organisms any access to the vessel at this stage.
5. Pour the cooled mixture of sugar and tea into the glass container. Add the other gallon of water and briefly stir to achieve a homogeneous mixture, leaving 1 to 2 inches of space at the top of the vessel.
6. Next add the kombucha or kombucha vinegar and then the SCOBY. Place the SCOBY on top of the mixture, but don’t worry if it sinks down a bit (or even to the bottom). It will eventually float to the top, as kombucha fermentation occurs primarily aerobically and hence at the interface of the liquid and air.
7. Cover the container in a towel (to block out light and provide insulation), and store it in a dark place with a consistent temperature from 70 to 80 degrees F. Kombucha will ferment more slowly in colder temperatures, so if it gets too cold it will take a bit longer to finish.
8. After about two weeks the SCOBY will have fermented out most of the sugar in the mixture. Sample the mixture on days 10 and 12 and try to detect any sweetness. Finished Kombucha should have little to none! In addition, the kombucha will most likely be slightly carbonated at this stage. The flavor should be similar to an unflavored lambic, gueuze, or sour apple cider with some weird funk to it (if any of that description helps). Not to worry, you will get pretty good at tasting kombucha and knowing when it’s ready. The important thing is to recognize its extremely sour flavor, the lack of sugary sweetness, and the fairly “dry” cider-like finish.

How to bottle Kombucha:
The simplest way to bottle kombucha is to pour it into glass bottles and screw the cap on tight. Pretty obvious, I know! You can drink it right away, or you can allow it to continue fermenting in the bottle. Just place it in the same area that you store your kombucha fermenters. Refrigerate after five days so that the fermentation slows down. You can keep it for a month in the refrigerator, or maybe even more. But be careful of exploding bottles, it may eventually happen!

The other method of bottling is secondary fermentation or bottle conditioning, and is similar to the “m├ęthode champenoise” in making champagne and also to the bottle re-fermentation process used in many Belgian-style beers. In the case of kombucha, this involves adding an additional sugar source at the time of bottling such as more evaporated cane juice or various juices of your choosing. The amount of juice added should be somewhere within the range of 5-10% of the total volume of the bottle you are using in order to achieve the best results with this method. Remember that at the time of bottling, the kombucha brew should nearly be free of sugar. So adding more at bottling time (in whatever form you have decided upon) “wakes up” the bacteria and yeasts and allows them to undergo another round of fermentation within the bottle. Store the bottles at room temperature for up to five days, and then refrigerate them. This will dramatically slow down the fermentation process so as to prevent exploding bottles! And now, congratulations are in order, as you have discovered how to make one of the most delicious naturally carbonated beverages on the planet!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Welcome to our Blog!

Welcome from Dr. Michael Lagueux and Dr. Niccole O'Dell

Welcome to Positive Edge Chiropractic's Blog!  Our office is located in the beautiful Scripps Ranch neighborhood of San Diego.  Here you can read articles, learn more about Chiropractic, and learn more about us!  I thought that this first blog post would be a great place to include some videos about Chiropractic from a variety of different sources.  This sampling of videos is a great way to introduce yourself to some of the ideas in Chiropractic!

Dr. Wayne Dyer on Chiropractic

Chiropractic on the Dr. Oz Show

Consumer Reports on Chiropractic

Chiropractic and Neck Pain

Stay tuned for more updates from Dr. Michael Lagueux, D.C. and Dr. Niccole O'Dell, D.C. of Positive Edge Chiropractic!