Got Enough Snow Yet???

Has your back been aching after an already long winter, and it’s only the beginning of February? Did you ever stop to think that you might be doing it wrong?  Shoveling, that is.  And, if you are not using a snow blower, like many of us are not, me included, you basically have a couple choices when it comes to shoveling snow…Shoveling after every few inches of snow fall, or waiting until the storm ends, and then remove the snow in layers, are the pretty obvious choices I would say.  If shoveling snow after you have waited for it all to accumulate, the please remove only as much snow as you are comfortable lifting and moving at a time.

It is also recommended that you clear your driveway in two stages if shoveling.  First, you should push the snow to the edges of the driveway with a versatile snow shovel (there are various types of snow shovels if you didn’t know, and this is one that is good for throwing, lifting and pushing), then shovel what’s left in the way out of the way.  The more you can push the snow instead of actually lift and shovel the snow, the better! One tip, if you have an uneven pavement, an all plastic snow shovel without a steel edge would be better and less likely to catch and possibly “jar” your wrist, elbow, shoulder, or back.

Even if you have been dealing with shoveling snow on and off your whole life, the basic idea is to work smarter, not harder – avoid unnecessary work!  Clear a path on your way to your car, that way you avoid packing down the snow along the way, and packed snow is much tougher to shovel.  We all know that!  Just look at the last storm we had that packed down a lot of heavy and wet snow, ugh L

Don’t bother too much with the snow close and around your car at first.  Turn your car on to defrost and melt the snow on it, while you start shoveling elsewhere.  It is usually just easier to clear the snow close and around your car later after you have cleared off what is left on your car as well.  To be more efficient, it is better to remove that snow once towards the end as a final touch up.  Remember, every additional scoop you make is extra strain on your body!  If you are in good shape and aiming for this to be a work out, awesome, just please move carefully as well (the same rules generally apply), otherwise one should be trying to conserve movement.

Don’t worry too much about shoveling the snow where your driveway meets the road right away.  As we all know, the plows go by and always fill that area with more snow, lucky us!  If I were you, I would wait until the end to shovel that part, or when the plows have finished, or at least gone by once depending on the size of the storm.  When tackling this part of the driveway, be sure to do it in stages, as the snow will be much heavier to shovel.

Try and have a plan of attack before going out to shovel snow.  It may even be best to break up shoveling into smaller sections and rest in between if needed.  Like stated before, try and clear your driveway in stages, rather than all at once.  Try not to create huge piles of snow while shoveling either, it becomes harder to lift and throw the snow, and can put more pressure on your spine and back.  Another tip as well, make sure you know where your walkways or pathways are, and do not shovel more snow into those areas.  You will in turn have to shovel that snow, plus the snow already there.  There is NO need to move that snow twice!  Our backs are not meant for this kind of work.


It is still a good possibility that even following all of this advice and the tips, you could end up with a “bad back” a day or two after shoveling.  That is why you always hear, “Lift with your legs!”.  You want to avoid at all cost putting added stress on your low back, let your legs do the work.  For example, bend your knees to lower yourself to pick up the shovel off the ground, and same goes for accessing the snow.  DO NOT bend your back to reach the snow. After scooping up a shovel full of snow, use your legs to raise yourself back up.  When you are going to stand back up as well with the snow on the shovel, do not have your arms stretched out away from your body, your back will be doing much of the work that way, and in an odd and vulnerable position.  Keep the load of snow close to your body, as it will help to keep stress off your low back.  And one other thing, and I promise to be done talking about shoveling snow (how depressing), ALWAYS move your upper body and upper body together when turning to throw the snow.  NEVER twist or rotate with your upper body only, that is a recipe for a herniated disc, or a very back low back strain.  Okay, I am done ranting on, for now anyway…

Performance Health Center always sends out an email reminder to all of our patients and friends before a snow storm to help remind you all how to perform snow removal safely with a shovel.  It’s because we care, and would rather see you in our office for your monthly maintenance or wellness visit, not because you threw your back out shoveling! If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of this information, be sure to email one of the docs at PHC, or talk to us at your next office visit.  Happy shoveling you guys, and only two more months of winter, but who’s counting?  I sure am!

Tips to Relieve Back Pain

Your first step should be to seek out professional help.  Whether you see your PCP, a Physical Therapist, an Orthopedic Physician, or a Chiropractic Physician, start by finding a professional trained to diagnose and treat back pain not only with .  There are a multitude of factors that can cause back pain, and getting the proper diagnosis is the best place to start.  If you are looking for a non-invasive non-pharmacologic option, Chiropractic has shown in many studies to be statistically the best choice.


“Patients with chronic low-back pain treated by chiropractors showed greater improvement and satisfaction at one month than patients treated by family physicians. Satisfaction scores were higher for chiropractic patients. A higher proportion of chiropractic patients (56 percent vs. 13 percent) reported that their low-back pain was better or much better, whereas nearly one-third of medical patients reported their low-back pain was worse or much worse.”       

Nyiendo et al (2000), Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics


Keep moving.  Many PCP’s and Orthopedic Physicians recommend bed rest, but this can often make things worse.  We say every day to our patients, “Life is motion”.  We are designed to move each and every day.  Many of our patients tell us the prolonged sitting or standing they do is often their biggest contributor to their chronic back pain.  Let pain be your guide, any movement or motion that does not make your condition worse will usually help it get better sooner.  We find many times the cuase of the back pain are fixated vertebrae- that is they are not moving properly. These “fixations” can be caused by a multitude of factors, i.e. physical or emotional stress, some sort of trauma, poor posture, or even a poor diet can contribute to these vertebral “fixations”, which we refer to as “subluxations”.  Chiropractors are the only specialists that are trained specifically to locate and correct these vertebral subluxations.

If your chronic pain is related to emotional or work-related stress, try some relaxation techniques to help reduce muscle tension.  If your job or lifestyle requires lots of physical stress, make sure to use good posture and be sure to take stretch breaks often.

Exercise regularly- this helps in many ways: gets your spine moving; reduces stress; increases blood flow; and helps strengthen the muscles that support your spine.  What exercises are best for your back?  Well that may be different for each of us, but first find something you can currently do without pain, and make sure it is something you enjoy as you will be much more likely to stick with it.  My people find Yoga and/or swimming to help their chronic back pain, but as I mentioned earlier find what works best for you.  Make sure to warm up properly: including some foam rolling, then be sure to maintain good posture throughout your exercise, and be sure to stretch when you are done.

Get enough rest.  Make sure you have a good mattress to sleep on, and beware of your sleeping “posture” as well.  Avoid sleeping on your stomach as that can cause the neck and head to twist and put stress on your spine.  If you sleep on your back consider putting a pillow under your knees, and if you sleep on your side consider putting a pillow between your knees.

These are just a few more “tips” to help you improve your back pain.  If you have any questions about this Blog or about your health in general, please feel free to contact me at:




Why Suffer with Low Back Pain?

I hope you have already read “A Second Chance in Life” (below in body of this blog).  It is truly a remarkable testimonial and the doctors at Performance Health Center are overjoyed at Patsy’s remarkable recovery after using crutches for so many years.

As remarkable as Patsy’s response was to chiropractic are, on a daily basis we  are helping people who are suffering with disabling pain syndromes and getting them out of pain and back to enjoying their lives

Low back pain (LBP) is the number one cause of disability in the United States and in the developed world.  It is the number 2 reason why people visit their Primary Care Physician (PCPs) after the common cold.  Unless you or a loved one is suffering from LBP, you can’t imagine how LBP can effects your life.   Everything from getting a good night’s sleep, to getting dressed, to sitting and driving, to working (whether your sit, or do physical labor) is effected, and that doesn’t include the emotional stress it puts on the whole family.

Here is the true story of a typical LBP patient who walks (and sometimes crawls ) into our office almost every day.  A 55 year old woman told her story to me 2 weeks ago.  She had 1 episode of LBP prior to this one years ago.  Then in April she started to feel LBP.  There was no trauma involved.  Quickly the pain started to radiate down her to her left foot.  She made an appointment with her PCP who told her “maybe you have arthritis and your going to have to live with it,” and she was right.  Up to presenting at my office she has lived on meds, did a round of PT and had 2 cortisone shots with no long term relief.

X-rays and an MRI had shown a bulging disc.


She was frustrated and did not want to continue living in pain.  I did my examination and the first thing I noticed was that she had a McKenzie right pelvic shift, which means her body was in a compensating position and that if she looked down her belly button had shifted to the far right. Basically she was crooked.  I also found that there were no “hot” signs of a disc as the cause of her pain.  In fact  MRI studies have shown that if you take an MRI of people without LBP, two-thirds (2/3) will have herniated discs and other findings, yet they have no pain.

The problem with MRIs and even X-Rays is that they are like taking pictures of a car in a parking lot.  An MRI is like putting your body through a preverbal meat slicer.  It shows everything.  Going back to the car analogy, an MRI would how what the paint job looks like, if there were any dings, dents or scratches, you could see the wear of the tires, you could even see all the hoses and connections.  You could make some obvious diagnostic findings like broken hoses, etc, but until you actually start the car and drive it you don’t know how it functions.

This 55 year old woman had no signs of disc injury as the cause of her pain.  Classic finding of a “hot” disc include pain coughing or sneezing.  There is usually immediately raising the leg straight when on the back, or straightening the knee while sitting.  To sum it up, there were no positive neurological signs to explain her pain, or in medical jargon we would say her finding were unremarkable.

What I did find was poor range of motion, muscle spasm, joints of her lower back not moving and an entrapped sciatic nerve, which are all functional findings  After my exam she told me no one to date had put her through such a thorough examination.  I told her that she most likely was in the right place, but since she did not respond well to other therapies to date, we would start with a trial of care.

Her findings were all functional, or movement faults in her body.  There are 24 vertebrae in the spine, but there are 134 joints.  My job is to find the joints that are not moving and move them with manipulation or chiropractic adjustments.  The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body.  It exits your spine in the low back region from 5 levels.  By the time it goes through your butt (more specifically under the piriformis muscle) it is about the size of your thumb.  The nerve branches, but all the major branches go through the channels between the muscles groups, (along with arteries and veins).  Active Release Techniques® (ART) has protocols to diagnose and free these nerve entrapments.  There are only about 20 chiropractors in the state who are certified in ART Nerve Entrapment Protocols

She agreed to a trial of chiropractic care to include adjustments, ART, Kinesio Taping® and McKenzie Shift Exercises to do at home.  After her third office visit, she reported that she was able to drive again with minimal LBP and sciatica, she was able to “get out of bed without a struggle” and there was no tingling in her toes. I told her that was a great result from her first 3 treatment.   She asked me, just like Patsy did, why no other tramadol medical provider recommended chiropractic treatment for her LBP which has dominated her life for almost a third of the year.  I did not have a good answer for her, except to say her PCP probably never learned how to refer to chiropractors in medical school and through residency.

I know this as a fact.  For 8 years (4 in Vermont and 4 in Massachusetts), I had Family Practice Residents do rotations in my office.  I asked these residents 3 questions when I first meet them. 1- in all your years of medical school and residency what did you learn about chiropractic health care? The answer was nothing! ; 2- In all your years of medical school and residency what did you learn about the musculoskeletal system?  The answer was uniformly not much; and 3- How many vertebrae are in the spine?  In 8 years only one resident was able to quickly state the correct answer which is 24.  Then they spent a day with me and learned how chiropractors diagnose and treat patients.

There are several PCPs in the Metrowest area that do refer their patients to me, and they often tell me how good I make them look!  For those who have been helped with chiropractic care you have a responsibility to tell others and as importantly tell your PCP that you are seeing, or have seen a chiropractor, and how much it has helped.

There are no chiropractic TV series yet and the drug companies are not advertising for chiropractors.  The chiropractic profession has grown and thrived for 120 years because we help people.  We get fast, results safely using for the most part hands-on-therapy only!  The research findings are readily available with a Google search.  All your PCP has to do is read the literature on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of chiropractic care by prescribing Soma medicine.

You can see I am both fascinated and frustrated.  If someone has a functional problem it is fascinating how fast they can respond with chiropractic care which is a functional approach to health.  It is frustrating that so many of my patients have to suffer so long before they find our office.  Please help me to help others by sharing this Blog with your PCP , and your family and friends.  If you or any of your family and friends have any questions about their health, they can call, or email their questions and concerns before they make an appointment at:


July 25, 2015

A letter of testimony, “a second chance at life”

Everyone suffers pain once in a while, but 16 years ago I went from a normal above average health triathlon runner to barely being able to walk with severe pain, in a matter of six short months after suffering a severe stomach virus.

After months of tests, it appeared that I had acquired an illness that affects my musculoskeletal, tendons, ligaments with chronic inflammation caused by an autoimmune disease that progresses into arthritis in my joints.  There is no known cure.  And treatment via medication is only to slow the progression.  Eventually I was prescribed arm crutches and a wheelchair to help on the worst days.  There is no medication for the chronic pain except ibuprofen.  Traditional chiropractic and massage therapy were my only methods to manage my pain.  I found myself going 3-4 times a week just to stay sane from the pain. And eventually the ibuprofen caused an ulcer, my previous pain management course was ineffective.

Then I found Dr. Weiss and Dr. Ball from Performance Health Center in Natick, MA.  I came to try the ART therapy. I came in on my crutches and tightened slouch from years of illness progression.  And I left straight up and crutch-less on the first visit. I was amazed at the results. Of course my illness is chronic and everyday attacks the muscles, ligaments and tendons so it’s a constant work in progress for my body. But after 14 years of debilitating pain and long term muscle dysfunction to have the full elimination of the sciatica nerve pain down my leg be totally gone, eliminate chronic shoulder tendonitis, elbow and knee tendonitis – completely gone! And to eliminate my arm crutch usage for around my house and short trips to the store etc. – priceless!

My quality of life has improved significantly – my pain levels have been dramatically reduced as long as I receive routine ART therapy treatments from Dr. Weiss and Dr. Ball.

What is frustrating, is that not one of my 9 routine doctors ever suggested ART therapy to me earlier in life. I’ve learned from 16 years experience in the medical world – you are responsible for your own long term pain relief – and I’ve finally found it!  I’ve referred several friends to this practice for long term isolated pain issues and they all were amazed how it eliminated the pain issue.

Like I said, thanks to Dr. Ball and Dr. Weiss I have a second chance at a real life.

For those that have muscle, ligament, tendon or joint pain – you’re a fool not to try ART therapy at Performance Health Center.  It is sustainable treatment and works. I’ve had almost every body area worked head to toe and it worked for every one of the issues. Simply amazing! One simple visit – and you will know the difference immediately!  Make the call it’s the real Soma deal

This is one of the greatest blessings I received in life! Thank you Dr. Ball and Dr. Weiss!

Yours truly,

Patsy M.