Instep Dance Magazine Articles
Reprints of monthly column as first appearing in Instep Dance Magazine.
Back Pain - Part 4: Correcting Poor Posture with Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP)
By Rick Allen, DC
"Better health leads to better dancing."
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? When it comes to posture and the function of the spine, I'm betting that structure dictates function. That is, the structure of the spine, with its intricate set of vertebral joints, disks, ligaments and muscles arranged in proper spinal curves, will dictate proper function. Improper structure prevents proper function.
As mentioned last month, the consequences of poor posture range from discomfort to incapacitating disability: bone spurs, intervertebral disc damage and fibrotic scar tissue. Connective tissues undergo plastic changes that can become permanent. It is important to correct improper spinal curves and poor posture! So let's look at the proven methods of correction that are working for my patients and me.
Can I Take the Easy Way?
Obviously, simply sit up straight and stand tall! "Sure," you say, "I wish it were that easy." While that admonition is a necessary part of correcting poor posture and improper spinal curves, and may be enough for a child without any structural problems who is willing to do as he or she is told, most of us will require much stronger methods. That certainly has been the case for me!
Yes, doctor, heal thyself! That proved impossible. My spine has a slight scoliosis - a curve to the right probably caused by my 3 mm right short leg - and a noticeable forward head posture (FHP) with a tendency to turn slightly to the right - probably from 25+ years of sitting in class taking notes and studying. As for many of you, the FHP resulted in a stiff neck and back as my body tried to hold my head up by muscular strength rather than allowing it to sit properly balanced on top of the spinal column. This often resulted in headaches! And, worst of all, it affected my dancing! I looked like I was headed to the races, with my chin poked forward. My dance instructors told me to tuck my butt and stand up straight! I tried! But it just didn't feel natural. I would revert to the FHP posture that felt comfortable for me.
I've had loads of general chiropractic care to relieve the symptoms caused by improper structure. In reality, all the massage and general chiropractic adjustment that I have had in the 15 years since entering chiropractic college and then going into practice had not really made any structural change.
Taking the Way that Works!
Luckily, this past year I met another chiropractor who introduced me to Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP). It is especially useful in correcting distorted postures, the most common of which is Forward Head Posture (FHP). CBP is a chiropractic technique developed by Donald D. Harrison, M.S., D.C., Ph.D. It incorporates "mirror image" chiropractic adjusting, cervical extension traction, and rehabilitative exercise matched to the needs of each patient. It is kind of like chiropractic orthodontics for the spine.
So now I am a patient! I am currently receiving twice weekly adjustments using the CBP mirror image techniques (explained below) and am applying traction each day with a Regainer Traction unit (see photo) to help restore the proper curve of my neck and position of my head. (I can hear you now, "Finally, he's getting his head screwed on right!") I'll fill you in on my progress! In the mean time, here is a before and after comparison cervical x-ray of one of my patients, Matthew Miller, who agreed to show his success:
Matthew Miller - Severe, Persistent Headaches Corrected with Chiropractic BioPhysics. Before treatment, Matthew Miller's neck had a reversal of the normal curve (left). Follow up x-rays of his neck after ten weeks of care show a dramatic improvement of the curve - close to ideal correction (right). Matthew continues daily exercises at home and CBP treatments 2x/month at my office to maintain gains he has made. He continues to be headache free.
CBP works. It is best combined with soft tissue techniques, such as massage and myofascial release, and active rehabilitation techniques, such as McKenzie exercise protocols. I have added these services offered to help my patients correct poor posture. These corrections take time (typically 3 to 12 months), special training (for instance, the chiropractic biophysics and rehabilitation techniques that I've described above) and special equipment (such as the special chiropractic drop table and traction devices).
Beside the articles in this series, other articles directly about posture are:
- December 1998: Psoas - Hidden Influence on Posture
- September 1997: Better Posture…Better Health…Better Dancing
- June 1996: The Graceful Illusion.
You are invited to watch a half-hour video of good and bad posture on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida by Paul St. John, LMT. It is a real eye-opener. Please call if you would like to watch it at my clinic.
Next article: I'll give you suggestions for improving posture from my dance instructor, Michelle Uttke. I'll also be looking to give you an update on correcting posture - mine and my patients - in a future issue.
Dr. Rick Allen is a chiropractor, massage therapist and dance student who splits his time between Portland, Oregon and Trout Lake Washington. Dr. Rick welcomes your questions and suggestions for future articles. However, he cannot make specific diagnoses or treatment recommendations unless you visit him in person. He can be reached by phone at 503-257-1324 in Portland, 509-395-0024 in Trout Lake, or toll free at 1-888-247-3248, email or on the World Wide Web: www.CascadeWellnessClinic.com
DISCLAIMER: The information included in this website is meant to encourage thinking concerning choices of care for and insight pertaining to possible causes of various problems. It is not a prescription for or diagnosis of any disease or condition. Suggestions are based on the assumption by the writer that a thorough examination was done previously and the reader is under care by a healthcare professional. This information is not a substitute for a live doctor.
© Dr. Rick Allen
Cascade Wellness Clinic