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.
Slumping our shoulders forward is easy to do when standing or sitting for long periods. Unfortunately, most headache and neck problems are created and worsened by prolonged bad posture.
As you can see in the figure below, the farther forward one holds their head, the more weight the neck muscles have to support. Sooner or later, these muscles get injured from the strain.
If you stand for prolonged periods of time, a two step “self posture check” is all you need to greatly reduce the strain on your neck.
Another way of looking at it is:
For those of you who find themselves sitting at a desk during the work day, this simple 3 step checklist will alleviate low back and neck pressure.
More than 50% of my work is done with people who have suffered a whiplash.
The approach we use is the one recommended by the 2008 Australian National Health and Medical Research Council.
This research group reviewed the world wide body of peer reviewed journal articles on whiplash treatments to determine what was the most effective course of action.
Not surprisingly, they echoed the same findings that most other major research councils have produced in the past 20 or so years:
1. exercise rehabilitation
The council found that a program focusing on strengthening the neck, upper body and core was the bed rock of whiplash treatments. Which is exactly what our clinic does first and foremost with our patients.
2. early return to work and recreation
Unless the whiplash is severe, patients should be encouraged to slowly and safely begin some their pre-accident lifestyle before all symptoms of whiplash are gone. Again, this is our method of operating with our whiplash patients. We want them to “test drive” their necks and bodies before we are done with our treatment regimen. This ensures they do not slip into a hyper-victimized mindset and allows them to get better faster.
3. Manual therapy
This represents any combination of massage, stretching and joint mobilization/manipulation. Essentially, anything “hands on” that has been proven to be effective. Often, patients need a customized program of manual therapy. In other words, not all pegs fit in the same holes. Some get all of the above, while some get two or less of the above. All depending on what seems to benefit them.
Our clinic keeps up on all major research in the areas of our expertise. And we are proud to deliver cutting edge, evidence based treatments to get our patients through the difficulties of a whiplash as smoothly and quickly as possible.