For most of the past 100 years, the mainstream medical approach to health was to wait until someone was ill before treating them. This is not surprising. After all, it would seem odd to be treated if you are well, don’t you think?
However, over the past 3 or so decades, an alternative health movement emerged in the western world. A curious notion known as “preventative” approaches to caring for your body emerged. Interestingly, this alternative – or preventative — movement had been around in the eastern world for centuries and was even the western world’s traditional healing style prior to the “come in when you’re sick” approach it has today.
What is Alternative Healthcare?
Quite simply it is anything that is not exactly like the “get sick first” approach of the emergency room. If the current western model is an ambulance at the bottom of the hill, alternative healthcare is a fence at the top. Why let someone get sick in the first place? We don’t line the bottom of a cliff with ambulances do we? So why take this approach with any other aspect of health?
We tell people not to smoke or eat unhealthy foods because we understand the value of not waiting until emphesyma or heart disease drives people to the emergency room? We are beginning to awaken to the notion of seeking maximum health instead of flirting with disaster or just “getting by.” Most people are unhappy living pay cheque to pay cheque. So why treat your health any differently?
How Can I Treat My Body with Alternative Healthcare?
My patients are well aware of my love for alternative — or preventative — healthcare. I consistently attempt to put my patients in a place where they do not simply come to get treatment when they are in pain. The goal of my practice is to place them in a state of well being. This is done by implementing the following strategies:
1. STOP hurting yourself! Most patients hurt themselves without knowing it. They are lifting wrong or sitting incorrectly throughout their work day and damaging their spines. Educating them on how not to hurt themselves is priority number one!
2. Get STRONG! Corrective exercises will make your body more resilient and increase your pain threshold. Every single one of my patients is given a home therapy and home exercise program to make them stronger for life.
3. Stay on top! Don’t wait until you are in pain to get treated. Periodic treatments that include soft tissue work, stretching and joint mobilization (or manipulation) are the maintenance care of the body. We apply this to all of our important investments. We periodically run virus scans to protect our computers, we get our expensive bicycles tuned up and our oil changed for our vehicles. Do the same for the single most important machine you own: your body!
I greatly encourage all of my patients to apply an alternative approach to their health. Get strong, get well, and stay that way. You don’t ever have to visit the “dark side” of health if you don’t want to.
What to do about headaches?
Last October I had the privilege of teaching a headache management and recovery class at UVic.
It came as a surprise to my students that most headaches fall into the category of tension type headaches. Yet the American Headache Association and the World Health Organization state that nearly 80% of headache sufferers do not have migraines, but headaches that classify as tension type.
Make no mistake, the pain for these types of headaches can be debilitating. In some cases more so than migraines.
The good news is, that with modifications to diet, exercise and lifestyle, all tension type headaches should technically be curable.
It has been my experience that if patients who have tension headaches diligently follow my instructions, they can recover from even years of debilitating headaches.
A patient of mine had suffered for over 12 years and was cured due to following our protocol.
Her testimony is on our Dr Parenteau channel (click below, a must see).
How do I know if I have a tension type headache?
Here is a side by side comparison of typical tension headaches vs migraines:
“Okay, I suffer tension headaches, now what?”
First, you’ll need to incorporate a neck exercise program. The following is called the “2 minute neck roll,” and helps patients attempt to rehab their tension headaches without having to come into the clinic and do an exercise rehabilitation program. Here it is:
A. Neck flexors:
– Lay on floor
– Tuck chin into neck and lift head off floor approx. 1/2 inch only
B. Scalene muscles:
– Roll onto your right side (on right shoulder).
– Keep head/neck perfectly straight, don’t let it slouch towards the ground or bend towards ceiling.
Hold 30 seconds
once this becomes too easy (3-5 weeks later), go to phase 2 =
In Phase 2, you bend the neck so that the top ear is moving toward top shoulder.
You then hold for a “one” count and return to start position.
= 12 reps
Phase 3 = Once phase 2 becomes too easy, you will perform phase 3. The difference being that once you have bent your ear toward your shoulder, you will add a “shoulder check” (look over your shoulder) before returning to neutral start position.
Once returned to starting position, repeat.
10 repititions (remember, to start, don’t do repetitions as described above, just hold head for 30 seconds)
D. Scalene muscles: exact same as “scalene muscle” exercise B, except on opposite side.
For the first 2 weeks, expect nausea and even headache symptoms during and after the exercise.
Unless the pain is severe or lasts more than 30 minutes beyond the exercises, persist for at least 2 weeks (7 sessions) before quitting.
Typically, tension headache sufferers have very poor neck core muscles and feel worse for the first few workouts.
If the above neck roll helps, you will want to graduate to a more advanced neck exercise program within a couple of months of starting the program. Come in to see us and we will evaluate you and prescribe a more advanced regimen (including upper body exercises).
If you are sitting at a desk most of the day, stress plus bad posture is most likely the key trigger of your tension headaches.
By properly orienting your spine while seated, the stress will be removed from the neck area and greatly alleviate the frequency and intensity of your flare ups.
Then, make sure have a daily intake of the following:
WHERE?: capsules (50 g)
AND/OR natural foods:
WHY?: decrease vasospasm, increase serotonin
C. Magnesium (citrate)
**take separate time than Calcium or else Calcium used up to help body absorb magnesium.
WHY?: helps sleep, decrease vasospasm, good for menstrual HAs
D. Vitamin D
WHY?: helps absorb calcium, natural anti-inflammatory
SLEEP & STRESS MANAGEMENT:
Sleeping on your back or side with a contour pillow is the best case scenario for tension type headache sufferers.
We recommend using the therapeutica line of products.
Their website is therapeutica.com and before you order their product, the site will walk you through the proper measuring procedures to make sure you get a custom fit pillow.
Regarding stress management, there are a myriad of ways to accomplish this. And it would be too great a task for one newsletter to attempt to tackle such a fundamental issue that is very customized to individual lives.
However, I recommend the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend.
It focuses on the art of saying “no.” In my experience, the inability to say “no” to families, friends, co-workers and even employers is one of the greatest barriers to clearing time for your health and re-enforcing self esteem.
I know of no other single strategy that can do so much for stress reduction and lifestyle modification.
“Help! I’ve followed all of the above but I still have headaches”
Home care is great, but if it fails, you simply need a short course of manual therapy.
Visit my headache section (click below) to see how we approach headache patients who need extra help in fighting their tension headaches. And in my experience, even people who suffer true migraines get relief from their headaches through lifestyle modification and manual therapy.
Best of luck!!