What is Posture?

What is Posture?  This sounds like such a simple question, but so many people actually do not know how to simply state the definition of posture.  I was teaching a couple of classes last week during Wellness Week at Wayland Middle School, and Posture was the primary topic, aside from what is health, and what is chiropractic etc.  I was surprised, well…not really, at how many students in the one class could not give a good definition of what posture is.  Now, this may have also been some of the 8th graders being too cool for school just not wanting to participate, but none the less, it got me thinking.  When in the office the following day I started asking patients of all ages what the word posture means, and come to find out, many of them couldn’t answer the question much better than some of the 8th graders that week.  Hence, why I am writing this month about Posture, and next month as well (no surprises in June people, sorry)!

I cringe daily looking around at people and their postural habits, mostly bad habits that is.  I am also talking all ages here, not just the younger population that has become technologically challenged in regards to posture with the overstimulation of IPADS, SMART PHONES, and COMPUTERS.  Never mind the inability to have an actual conversation with another person face to face without one of these devices attached at their hip, or hands, but how about what it is doing their posture?

Okay, now that I have gotten that off my chest, I am sure you are all clenching at your seats wanting to know what Posture actually means…are you sitting down for this?  Well, maybe you should be standing instead, lol.  Drum roll please…straight out of the dictionary…Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down.  This isn’t rocket science folks, but sometimes the simplest definitions can be the hardest ones to grasp.  More importantly regarding the definition of Posture, it is important to maintain good posture for good health. So, the more important definition then Posture, is “Good Posture”.

Good Posture is the correct alignment of the body parts by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.  If we did not have posture and the muscles that control it, we would just fall down.  Usually, normal posture is a subconscious thing, and we do not even realize we are doing it, which is pretty cool actually.  When our postural muscles are working properly, they help prevent the forces of gravity from pushing us over, or too far forward, or too far backward.  Postural muscles also help us maintain our balance and posture during movement, not just sitting, standing, or lying down.  Good posture helps us to do all of these things and place the least amount of strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight bearing exercises.

Good or Correct Posture helps keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing abnormal wear and tear of joint surfaces, that guess what, result in ARTHRITIS over time!  For some (BUT NOT ALL) of those people and patients out there that cannot figure out why they have arthritic changes in their body and don’t remember ever doing anything to cause it, bingo! Correct Posture also reduces stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, hopefully minimizing injury to happen.  Correct Posture also allows the muscles to work more efficiently, helping to allow the body to use less energy, and prevent muscle fatigue.  This also helps to prevent muscle strain, overuse conditions, and even back and muscular pain.

For all of my more active patients out there and athletes, posture plays a VERY crucial role in how one moves during daily life and activities, performs or competes.  I bet you don’t see someone with the worst rounded middle and upper back, and rolled forward shoulders snatching (snatch, a very technical Olympic lift for those of you that do not know) more than someone with good posture that is of equal strength or capabilities.

This is a lot of information to take in that I have written in this article here.  I want all of you to really take the time to think about what I have written, and how does having better posture pertain to you and your life, and what you do.  Maybe it means having better posture so you are less likely to have pain as you get older.  That way you can spend more time with your kids playing in the backyard and playing sports with them.  Maybe you are training for a 5k, 10K, ½ marathon, marathon, triathlon, IronMan, or CrossFit competition, and good posture is absolutely a necessity for these types of things, during training, competing at your best, and preventing injury.

Next month I will be discussing how to know if you have good or bad posture, maintaining good posture, consequences of poor posture, correcting posture sitting, standing and lying down, and who can help you to have better postural habits.  So, stay tuned! If you have any questions in the meantime, contact me at, drv@performancehealthcenter.com, or your own chiropractor, massage therapist, or physical therapist for help or advice in regards to your postural habits.  Happy May everyone!



Slow Rise Bread, Easier to Digest

If you are like Millions of Americans that are avoiding eating bread for one reason or another, maybe after reading this blog you might give bread a second chance.  I think most people love bread in one form or another, yet the current media perception is that most people should not include it in their diet.  I personally ate tons of bread in the form of bagels, muffins, pasta, etc… growing up with no ill effects.  As I got older I started to notice that many forms of “bread” caused me to feel really bloated.  Many people develop gluten intolerance as they get older and that could be what my problem was.

In March,2017 I wrote a blog about including fermented food in your diet: http://www.performancehealthcenter.com/time-get-pickled/

Recently a good friend of mine suggested I try some “slow rise” bread.  He told me that it was much easier for him to digest.  I have now become a happy bread eater again. This time I’m sticking to bread that has been made the “old fashioned” way.  This “old way” actually allows the bread to ferment some, which for many people makes all the difference in the world as to how their body digests it.

This article below explains some of the health benefits of eating slow rise bread.


In the long slow fermentation that produces sourdough bread, important nutrients such as iron, zinc and magnesium, antioxidants, folic acid and other B vitamins become easier for our bodies to absorb. Diabetics should note that sourdough produces a lower surge in blood sugar than any other bread: in a 2008 study published in Acta Diabetologica, subjects with impaired glucose tolerance were fed either sourdough or ordinary bread: the sourdough bread produced a significantly lower glucose and insulin response. In the sourdough process, moreover, gluten is broken down and rendered virtually harmless. In one small Italian study, published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, in January 2011, coeliac patients fed sourdough bread for 60 days had no clinical complaints, and their biopsies showed no changes in the intestinal lining.

And what’s beyond doubt is that when people switch from supermarket to sourdough bread, they’re often delighted to find they can eat it without bloated belly discomfort. “We get people coming in who say ‘we can eat your bread without any problem unlike ordinary bread which just blows us up”, says Alastair Ferguson, of Brighton’s Real Patisserie, who sells his own sourdough all over the city.

You may ask why isn’t all bread made this way?  The answer is in the word “slow”, slow rise bread takes longer to make. In our fast-paced world… who has time to wait for bread to rise all night? That is where quick-acting yeast came in – oh yes, the big companies are always looking for short cuts. Mass production is more important to them than how your belly feels after eating their bread. They can make a lot more bread in the same amount of time, and sell it cheaper- since it is less labor intensive.

Personally, I think it is worth a few more pennies to eat something that I can digest more easily, and I also think it tastes better.  Where can you get some?  Well, there is a terrific bakery in West Concord Massachusetts called Nashoba Brook Bakery on the shores of the Nashoba Brook.  Don’t want to drive out there?  Well, Whole Foods in Framingham sells Nashoba Brook Bakery slow rise bread. Just look for it adjacent to the instore bakery.

Here is a link to Nashoba Brook Bakery’s web site:  http://slowrise.com/

Give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised at how good it tastes, and more importantly, how good you feel after eating it.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drthomascball@gmail.com


Do This and Live Longer!

When asked how long do you want to live, the answer should include not only a number but a statement on quality of life.  So how do we live longer with quality?  New data is being published monthly confirming that longevity is 25% genetic and 75% lifestyle.  Here’s a fact.  Sitting is killing us.  Computers were supposed to give us more leisure time, but instead we as a society are sitting more and spending more time at work and home in front of a computer.  Standing desks are becoming popular, but in my opinion only a little better than sitting.  We are meant to move.  Life is motion. Standing in 1 place for hours at a time is not much better than sitting for hours at a time.  I am more a fan of shaking it up. Sit for 20-30 minutes, get up and move/stretch, then stand for 20-30 minutes and then move/stretch again.

By now most everyone has heard the latest mantra, ”sitting is the new smoking”.  The good news is that there is now an antidote for sitting.  Its call exercise!  That’s right.  A new study, published in Lancet in September 2016 looked at the effects of mortality of people who sit 8 hours a day.  The bottom line, after looking at one million people, following them from 2-18 years, it take 1 hour of moderate exercise to negate 8 hours of sitting as it relates to mortality.  To quote the authors:  “High levels of moderate intensity physical activity (ie, about 60–75 min per day) seem to eliminate the increased risk of death associated with high sitting time.”

Do you run? Maybe you should.  A new study in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease from March 2017, concluded, “runners have a 25%-40% reduced risk of premature mortality and live approximately 3 years longer than non-runners”.  It doesn’t matter if you run slowly or sporadically and smoke, drink or are overweight. This study compared running to other exercises, including cycling and swimming, and no other exercise was comparable running for the impact on life span.

What’s the best type of exercise? Another new study from Cell Metabolism, March 2017, compared exercise types in 2 different age groups; younger than 30 and older than 64. They were broken into 4 groups: 1) vigorous weight lifting only; 2) high intensity interval training; 3) moderate biking for 30 minute alternating days with light weight lifting; 4) and of course a control group.

Of course all of the 3 groups who exercised showed improvement in fitness and blood regulation.  What they didn’t expect was how on a cellular level, the mitochondria of the High Intensity Interval Training group improved their ability to generate energy. Mitochondria are the power plants of our cells. Not only did the Mitochondria generate more energy, they were more of them and they were healthier than in every other group.  This benefit was larger in the greater than 64 age group.  The authors conclude that older people’s cells respond best to robust exercise.

What is the take away?  If you sit, you need to exercise to live a long healthy life.  If you have a full time job that requires sitting, you need to exercise 1 hour a day to negate the potentially detrimental effects of sitting on your body.  Running prolongs life, up to 3 years that of none-runners!  Any exercise is better than no exercise.  High Intensity Interval Training helps you energy cells work better and should be part of your exercise regime.  So the answer to the headline is to EXERCISE.  Exercise is the key factor to living longer and healthier!

Spring has finally sprung!  Now’s a great time to start exercising!  Start slow and build up your endurance and strength.  If you need advice on how to get started or if your body is physically fit to exercise, give us a call at 508-655-9008, or email me at: drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.comNaticN

Strengthen Your Brain With Exercise

Regular Exercise can strengthen your brain.  We all know regular exercise is great for our cardiovascular system, and that it will strengthen our muscles and even increase our bone density, but a lesser known benefit is that regular exercise can make you smarter and protect your brain from shrinkage as it ages.

Research has even revealed that exercise can increase neurogenesis, or the formation of new brain cells, in the brain’s hippocampus.

Research has time and time again shown that people who engage in healthy behaviors such as exercise and proper nutrition are less susceptible to the cognitive declines associated with the aging process.

One study published in 2013 looked at healthy behaviors in nearly 2,300 men over the course of thirty years. Researchers looked at the participants’ behaviors and cognitive abilities starting in middle age tracked their progress throughout old age.

The researchers found that men who practiced certain healthy behaviors were around 60 percent less likely to experience cognitive impairment and dementia as they aged. These healthy behaviors included not smoking, maintaining a healthy BMI, regularly exercising, consuming lots of vegetables and fruits and consuming a low to moderate amount of alcohol.

Here are 5 ways that exercise impacts your brain- (from the December 2016 Team HOTSHOT web site): http://www.teamhotshot.com/blog/5-ways-exercise-impacts-brain/

  • Exercise helps the brain learn and retain – In various human and animal studies, results show that exercise not only helps the brain retain information (i.e., support/improve memory), but also helps the brain acquire new information. While some variances in research findings exists, much of this discrepancy is attributed to the type and duration of exercise prescribed to the study participants.
  • Consistent exercise helps avoid dementia – There is still a great deal we do not know about dementia. However, scientists and doctors are confident in a few preventative measures. Chief among them is healthy living: eat right, don’t smoke, and exercise. Exercise has been shown to slow the effects and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. Even once these terrible diseases strike, exercise has been shown to slow the debilitating functional decline they bring about.
  • Exercise can help ease and prevent depression – Exercise has been shown effective in treating depression and, interestingly, seems to work in a dose-dependent manner much like anti-depressants. The more exercise, the greater the impact. While more research is needed, early studies also point to exercise as a mechanism to avoid the onset or development of depression.
  • Exercise mixed through your day helps concentration – Breaking up tasks such as working on a project or preparing a presentation with some aerobic-style exercise helps improve executive functions like tuning out distractions. Don’t worry, you don’t have to run a marathon over the course of your work day. Just 15-20 minutes of moderate engagement every few hours seems to make a measurable difference.
  • Reduce stress, improve life – While many people self-report a stress reduction after exercise, some scans seem to show an actual, physical shrinking in the amygdala—a part of the brain strongly implicated in processing stress, anxiety, and fear. As nice as stress-free living can be in general, it turns out less stress leads to living longer! That’s right, increased stress is strongly linked to increased occurrence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and memory loss.

If you want to build a better mind, start by working on your physical health first. Go for a walk, start incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet and try to give up any bad habits like tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption. Some of these might be more difficult than others, but your brain will thank you for years to come.

If you have any questions about this blog or about your health in general, please feel free to contact me at:  drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

Happy Marathon-ing Boston Runners!

It is that time of year!  Spring is in the air… Easter, Passover, April Vacation, and of course, the Boston Marathon are all too quickly approaching.  Woo-Hoo!!!

I wouldn’t be doing my job as a Chiropractor if I didn’t write something this month in regards to the marathon, and offering advice to my patients and friends how they can better take care of themselves during this exciting time of year.

In previous years I have chatted about how runners can be more proactive and take care better care of themselves leading up to the marathon. I want to switch gears and talk a little more about recovery and what runners can do “post-marathon” to help speed up their recovery and get back on the road to training afterwards.  There are so many words of advice, tips, recommendations etc., I am going to just focus on a couple of things that I find to be VERY true and that have worked for me in the past.

Usually the biggest or most commonly asked question by a runner is, “How long should I wait to run again after the marathon?”   Well this was one of the questions I did ask after my first marathon in 2008, it certainly wasn’t the first question I asked.  I am not sure about all of you, but I wasn’t sure I would run again after getting through all of that for the first time, and having no clue what I was doing, lol.  But, for all of those who are inquiring, general rule of thumb seems to be 1-2 weeks depending on how one feels.

Many articles say 5-7 days of rest post marathon, which I am totally fine with. BUT, those articles that people fail to read the entirety of, also state that after 5-7 days off, the next few weeks after that initial week should be taken lightly with training as the body is trying to recover.  Usually within 3-4 weeks a runner can return to regular training, or harder workouts, providing there are no subsequent injuries those runners is dealing with from before the marathon, or an injury resulting from the marathon.

Another hot topic, or should I say “cool” topic, are ice baths for recovery post marathon.  Most runners inquire about the effectiveness of ice baths and when or how long to soak in the tub of ice for.  The general idea in regards to this type of cryotherapy treatment is that the exposure to cold helps the body fight the micro trauma (tiny little tears) in the muscle fibers causing soreness by the repetitive exercise that just took place.  Constricting the blood vessels for a short period of time can help to flush toxins released by the body during the event, and intern, help to decrease or reduce inflammation, swelling, and breakdown of tissue in the body.

Some post-race and post-competition festivities have ice baths at the finish waiting for the competitors after they have cooled down a bit.  If that isn’t all that enticing to you, upon returning home or back to your hotel that day, and before you hop into the shower would be a good time to do so.  I recommend getting into the tub and filling it with cold water around you first (up to your waste), and then dumping the bags of ice into the water after you are submerged.  Or just hop in the tub in your race shorts, and sports bra ladies, and let someone else have the pleasure of dumping the ice in all around you.  It is best to stay submerged in the ice bath for about 10 minutes.  More time is not necessary, and I am sure no one will be jumping at the idea of soaking in a bath of ice any longer then they have to.

I really hope these tips helps you all in your road to recovery post Boston Marathon this year.  If you have any questions about post marathon recovery, please feel free and contact me at drv@performancehealthcenter.com.  And as always, I am a big fan of a post marathon chiropractic adjustment and ART to help realign your body, and a post-race massage within a few days’ post-marathon.  Happy Marathon-ing everyone, think positive thoughts to carry you through that day, and I will be there with you all in spirit!

New Study- Placebo as Good as Meds for Back Pain

Two important studies were published in February 2017 for the treatment of back pain.

The 1st was published on-line (e-publish ahead of print) in the Annals of Rheumatoid Disease.  The 2nd was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 

For years I have advised my patients that pain medicine mask symptoms and have side effects.  What I should have advised my patients is that they would have had a similar benefit if they took a placebo instead of medication.  The 1st study was a meta-analysis of 35 studies comparing NSAIDs to placebo for pain and disability from spinal pain.  The findings conclude that, “NSAIDs reduced pain and disability, but provided clinically unimportant effects over placebo”.   In addition, “NSAIDs were associated with a higher number of patients reporting gastrointestinal adverse effects in the short-term follow-up.”  This study also looked at other recent studies looking at the clinical value of paracetamol (Tylenol) and opioids for treating spinal pain.  The study conclusion states, “it is now clear that the three most widely used, and guideline-recommended medicines for spinal pain do not provide clinically important effects over placebo.”

The 2nd study updated the clinical practice guidelines for low back pain from the American College of Physicians (ACP).  It recommends spinal manipulation and other non-invasive non-drug therapies, including massage and acupuncture, as a first option for treating acute, subacute and chronic low back pain rather than medication!

So, how long will it take mainstream medicine to adapt these new ACP guidelines for treating low back pain?  How long will it take mainstream medicine to tell their patients that pain meds are as good as placebo for spinal pain?  In the 33 years I have been in practice it hasn’t happened yet, even with multiple valid studies documenting the benefits of chiropractic care in relieving pain and optimizing function.

The good news is that there are a handful of MDs who refer their patients to Performance Health Center.  Unfortunately this still tends to be the exception.  It still amazes me how many new patients tell me during their initial consultation that their MD said they would have to live with the pain.  Part of the problem is that MDs don’t learn about chiropractic health care, or other alternatives to drugs and surgery, during their training.  I know this first hand.  For 8 years, (4 in Vermont and 4 in Massachusetts), Family Practice Residents spent a one day rotation in my office.    I would always ask these residents three questions when I first met them:

1-In all you years in medical school and residency what did you learn                          about chiropractic health care?    Nothing

2-In all you years in medical school and residency what did you learn                          about the musculoskeletal system?   Very little

3-How many vertebrae are in the spine?   Only 1 resident in 8 years knew                     the answer is 24.

After spending one day observing me most of these residents were impressed on the variety of conditions chiropractors treat in our offices every day, and patient satisfaction with their care and results.  If every family practice and internal medicine resident could have the same experience there would be a lot less medicine prescribed for pain and less people suffering with spinal pain.

So what is the moral of this?  Next time your PCP prescribes pain meds for your spinal pain, you’d be better off popping a sugar pill, and making an appointment with your favorite chiropractor at Performance Health Center!  For more information about how to get out of pain without drugs or surgery please call 508-655-9008, or email me at drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com

Time to get “Pickled”

I happen to have a friend that I swim with 3 times a week that is an excellent Nutritionist.  She often gives nutritional tips to me and the other guys that swim in our lane.  One thing that she recently suggested was to “eat something fermented every day”.

Personally, I have started eating “Pickled Beets”, about one serving every day, and now my digestion has been noticeably better.  I was intrigued by this and I started to read about many of the other benefits of eating fermented foods. I wanted to share a few links that highlight many of the benefits of eating fermented foods on a regular basis.

This first link is to an article written by Dr. David Williams- he is a medical researcher, biochemist, and a Chiropractor.  Dr. David Williams has developed a reputation as one of the world’s leading authorities on natural healing.

A couple of the highlights of his article are how fermented foods balance the production of stomach acid, they help produce acetylcholine- which also aids in digestion, and they improve pancreatic function- which is beneficial to people with Diabetes.


This next article explains how eating fermented foods helps balance the bacteria in our digestive systems, and how they improve bowel health and improve our immunity.  Another bonus, fermented foods will also help you absorb more nutrients from the food you eat.


One more link for you to look at here was written by Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS.  He is a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people get healthy by using food as medicine.  He lists his 10 Healthiest Fermented Foods and Vegetables here:


Dr. David Williams says: “Modern Society is Losing Fermented Foods”.  Unfortunately, over the past century many probiotic foods have fallen from favor due to changes in the way we now preserve foods, particularly vegetables.

“When fresh vegetables weren’t as readily available throughout the year, they were often preserved through fermentation. Nowadays, thanks to improved transportation and storage, we can buy various vegetables all year around; and when it comes to preserving vegetables, freezing and canning have become the methods of choice. These techniques are convenient and help retain vitamin content, but they provide little benefit in terms of digestive health compared to fermentation.”

Dr. Williams top fermented foods: Homemade Sauerkraut; Fermented Veggies; Fermented Soy Products; and Kefir.

So, do your gut a favor and try adding some fermented foods to your diet.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com


Don’t Let Your Kids Become a CDC Statistic!

The numbers are staggering.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

  • High school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries and 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year.
  • More than 3.5 million kids under age 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year.
  • Children ages 5 to 14 account for nearly 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals. On average the rate and severity of injury increases with a child’s age.
  • Overuse injuries are responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle and high school students
  • According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.

Spring sports will be starting soon for your kids.  Don’t let them become a CDC statistic.  Prior to participating in sports your children should have a functional evaluation.  How is their range of motion? How is their posture? Are all the joints in their spine and extremities moving correctly?  How is their muscle tone and balance?  How quick is the muscle activation response time?  These are all good indicators on the state of an athlete’s functional health.  A good thing about being young is that if is a problem they usually respond quickly to chiropractic care.

If you missed the pre-season evaluation or you have a child who is still side-lined and suffering from a sports related injury, do not give up. It is never too late.

In December I meet a young teenage athlete who was not able to participate in sports because of lingering back pain for over a year and a half.  He injured himself in a baseball game where he was the short stop.  He fell over an opponent and twisted as he landed.  He had not been able to participate in sports since this injury.  During the consult, his mother said to me, “I just want a diagnosis so I know what is wrong.”  She had taken her son to multiple physicians without a concrete diagnosis.  He had a course of PT without lasting benefit.  I did my assessment and found dysfunction, or stuck joints, in his low back, muscle guarding and sciatic nerve entrapment.  His mom was relieved on knowing there was something wrong. She was even happier when I was able to provide a mechanical solution to her son’s mechanical problem.  The great news is that he able to swing a bat and throw a baseball again without pain!  He is looking forward to baseball tryouts in a few weeks.

Not only do we assess athlete’s pre-season function and get our patient’s out of pain and back to sports, the most important service we provide is called Performance Care. The goal of Performance Care is to optimize mechanical function and catch little issues before they become serious ones.  All the chiropractors at Performance Health Center get pleasure knowing that we pay a small role in our patient’s success!

Two of our teenage athletes have recently made major accomplishments in their sports:

  • Matt Gastaldo of Natick High School won his weight class at the Division 2 state wrestling meet last month.

I encourage all athletes to have regular chiropractic care during their sports season.  Race cars need more maintenance than street cars, and athletes are like race cars. If there is an injury, as long as there is no blood or guts, the faster they get checked and treated with functional chiropractic treatment, the faster the recovery, the faster they get back to sports and the least chance of lasting injury.

There is often a long term detriment from participating in youth sports. It amazes me how many adults I meet who trace their pain complaints back to high school sports.  If they had the benefit of a sports minded chiropractor when they were participating in youth sports they might not have ended up in chronic pain.

If you have any questions on what is involved in a pre-sports functional examination, want to optimize your performance, or are side-lined because of injury please call us at 508-655-9008, or email me at drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com


Dynamic Stretching, the “Pre-workout”

If you look up Wikipedia’s definition of dynamic stretching, this is what comes up, “Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching beneficial in sports utilizing momentum from form, and the momentum from static-active stretching strength, in an effort to propel the muscle into an extended range of motion not exceeding one’s static passive stretching ability”.

Performing dynamic stretches in a “pre-workout” or warmup are a series of active stretches that move the muscles through their range of motion, helps to improve range of motion surrounding the joints, helps to elevate core body temperature, and stimulate the nervous system.

Dynamic stretching primes the muscle to be ready to contract and relax, just as they would need to be ready to function during a sprint, run or jumping motion etc.  Being dynamic stretching is an active movement, it helps to prevent over-stretching, which can also fatigue the muscles.  Fatiguing the muscles prior to a workout can provoke injury or unfavorable symptoms to the area.  That is one of the main reasons coaching have gotten away from prescribing static stretching before a workout.  In fact, many coaches suggest athletes do a dynamic warm up every day to help keep muscles limber and ready to move at all times.

Dynamic stretching also helps to mentally prepare the athlete before the workout or competition.  Static stretching can be more relaxing, and while there is definitely a place for it, static stretching can almost trick one’s body into relaxation mode and make it more difficult to transition to “competitor” or “beast mode”.

Dynamic stretches target major muscle groups when warming up.  For example, when running, dynamic stretches target hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors and calves to help prime these areas for movement.  Usually a couple of minutes of light jogging is recommended first to get the blood flowing before getting into a 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching.  Walking butt kicks (heel to butt), knee hugs (walking knee the chest), walking toe touches, walking lunges with an overhead reach, glute bridges, heel and toe walks, are just a handful of great dynamic stretches to get one warmed up and the muscle groups prepared for the intensity of the workout that follows.   It really is something so easy to work into a warm up, and would most likely replace a more static routine one is doing, so it would not add much time on to one’s routine either.  Some of you reading this may find that you are already doing some type of dynamic stretching prior to a workout without even knowing it!

Should anyone reading this have any questions in regarding dynamic stretching and incorporating this into their pre-workout routine, please feel free to contact me at: drv@performanacehealthcenter.com




You Got Some Nerve!

The truth is you have a lot of nerve!

  • There are more nerves in your body than stars in the Milky Way.
  • The human brain alone consists of about 100 billion neurons. If all these neurons were lined up it would for a 600 mile long line.
  • The nervous system transmits impulses at 100 meters per second, or 224 miles per hour
  • There are 43 different pairs of nerve which connect the nervous system to every part of your body. 12 pairs exit in your brain and 31 pairs are connected to your spinal cord..

The longest nerve in the body is the sciatic nerve.  It is made up of nerve roots from 5 levels of your low back and sacrum (L4-S3) and ends at the tip of your toes.  The sciatic nerve is about the size of your thumb as it passes through your buttocks.  The sciatic nerve travels in the spaces between the large muscles in your leg (often with the arteries and veins).  Sciatica is the term used when the sciatic nerve gets irritated and causes pain that radiates down the leg.  We treat sciatica successfully every day in our office.

The sciatic nerve can get entrapped anywhere from where the nerves exit the spine to the toes.  When a nerve loses its ability to glide, or move, within it pathway the function of the nerve can be corrupted.  There are areas where the sciatic nerve is more frequently entrapped.  One is the tarsal tunnel.  You’ve heard of carpal tunnel. The tarsal tunnel is in the foot, just below and behind the inside of your ankle bone (or medial malleolus).  Another common entrapment site is the piriformis muscle (one of the deep muscles of your buttocks).

There are functional diagnostic tests to determine if and where the sciatic nerve is entrapped.  Active Release Techniques® (or ART®) has specific protocols to release entrapped nerves.  There are about 35+ ART® certified providers in Massachusetts and only 10+ ART® Nerve Entrapment certified providers, of which 3 practice at Performance Health Center. It amazes me on how many of the patients we meet have been living in pain, sometimes for years with sciatic nerve entrapment.  Having an entrapped sciatic nerve can manifest in many ways, not only leg pain. Since nerve entrapments are a functional condition it requires a functional solution and ART® provides one.

Recently I saw a patient who had bilateral foot pain for 3 years, initially caused by wearing bad running shoes too long.  Over the 3 years before I meet her, she was labeled with having many different pain syndromes from multiple medical providers. She even had nerve release surgery on both her tarsal tunnels.  The day I met her, she gave me her detailed history and I performed an exam with included sciatic nerve entrapment screening.  I uncovered poor motion of the joints of her low back and sciatic nerve entrapment.  The function test of the sciatic nerve was so obvious she understood and felt the tension as I performed the test maneuver.  When I explained to her what I thought was the problem, that her sciatic nerve was entrapped at the tarsal tunnel, and told her I thought I could help her, she teared up. She told me that of all the doctors she had seen over the years, I gave her the most thorough exam, explained her problem in a way she could understand it and gave her hope.

The good news is that after 8 treatments she is doing much better.  The pain level is significantly reduced. She can walk without pain. She is not running yet, but will be within the next 2 months. She had a functional problem caused by faulty biomechanics of her spine and sciatic nerve pathway.  Our functional treatment approach includes manipulation of her low back (where the nerves that make up the sciatic nerve exits the spine), ART ® on the muscles of the LB and leg, plus sciatic nerve entrapment ART® protocols, and Kinesio® Taping to minimize the tension on the sciatic nerve at the tarsal tunnel between treatments.  It is not possible to correct 3+ years of faulty motor patterns in the body overnight, but just like braces on teeth, if we continue to put a demand on the body, it will change.

Getting our patients out of pain is usually the easy part of treatment.  The next and most important phase is the rehabilitation, or re-education to optimize the body’s function.  Of course our patients have responsibilities too.  They need to improve the ergonomics at work and play. They receive stretches and strengthening exercises when appropriate, and are an active participant in their treatment.

If you or anyone you know is sick and tired of being sick and tired, and think they have done everything to get better.  Remind them if they have not had the benefit of ART®, they have not done everything!  As always, after the initial examination, if we do not think we can help, we will make the appropriate referral.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at: drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com