Monday, June 11, 2018

The Effects of Chiropractic Care on Sports Performance: Mind Over Body

Dr. Ryan Durand


                During my years as a professional athlete, I always wondered why I had a superstition about getting chiropractic care before an event.  I never kept tabs or logs on being adjusted and how I performed in a successive game, but I always felt incomplete without doing so.  I do know that getting adjusted was of great importance to me and once my career in the NFL was over I became a chiropractor.  In my curiosity as a student and new graduating doctor I wanted to find out what it was that made my body crave adjustments before competition.


                My search for answers to how chiropractic effects sports performance led me to the book “The Reality Check” written by Dr. Heidi Haavik whom is a chiropractor and neuroscientist. Like myself, Dr. Haavik was curious about what effects the chiropractic adjustment had on the body.  Going even further, what effects do the chiropractic adjustments have on the brain. The brain, which is the master controller of the entire body, dictates everything you do including the muscles and the coordination of these muscles’ movement.    


                When it comes to sports performance, all movements are coordinated by the brain.  The higher learning center of the brain (cortex) learns new movement patterns and creates reflexive movement patterns (‘muscle memory’) in the cerebellum.  Communication to the tissues in the body (like muscle) occurs through the spinal cord.  The spinal cord is a super highway for nerve communication from the brain to the body which is housed within the spine. The primary function of the spine is movement and protection of the spinal cord.  When the spine is not able to move properly, the ability of the brain to sense its environment is inhibited and higher cognitive demands like coordination of movement are inhibited.  That is the short version of why we are interested in treating the spine.


                Dr. Havvik makes a beautiful analogy to help explain how decreased spinal movement effects the ability of the brain to control the body.  Imagine you have lived in a house all your life and at the end of a long hallway is your circuit breaker.  One night the power goes out and having lived in that house all your life, you are easily able to walk down that long hall in the pitch black and reset the circuits.  How would you fare if your child put a toy bicycle in the hall without you knowing?  Would you make it to the circuit box without tripping?  Eventually you would make it and turn on the power back on, but not without the high probability of tripping over the unknown obstacle. This is the analogy Dr. Haavik used to describe how a spinal fixation can be like a toy bike that the brain trips over because it cannot see down the hallway and assumes that nothing is blocking the path (1).


The brain is always analyzing data about our environment.  It utilizes our five senses and the proprioceptors found throughout our body (mainly in muscles) and makes determinations based upon this information concerning our body’s current state.  There are very small paraspinal muscles located around the spine that are known to be loaded with proprioceptors.  These receptors are providing constant data to the brain about our body’s position.  The spine is like the rudder of the brain; it allows the brain to sense where the body is in space.  A portion of the proprioceptors located in the muscles are called spindle cells which detect muscular stretch; Dr. Havvik refers to them as “The eyes of the brain” (1). When an area of the spine is immobile, the muscle spindles found within those local paraspinal muscles are not able to communicate to the brain.  The brain is blind to the spatial orientation in that area of the spine. Instead of shutting down, the brain will fill in the missing information the same way the brain does for our visual blind spot. Every person has a blind spot in their vision where the optic nerve enters the eye.  We do not notice this blind spot because the brain fills in the missing visual information from input of the other eye and using assumptions based upon the environment. This can not be prevented but spinal fixation and immobility can. When there is fixation in the spine the brain is unable to receive 100% accurate data.  Also, these spinal paraspinal muscles contain many pain sensors and can get triggered when there is spinal fixation (1).


The research in this book also points to how chiropractic care can positively affect the strength of muscular contractions, improve balance, prevent injury, reduce pain, etc (2-5).  I recommend those who are curious about this topic to check out “The Reality Check” by Dr. Heidi Haavik.  People that experience chiropractic care know that it works and experience ‘miracles’ every day.  There is still so much for the medical community to discover about how the brain works and how chiropractic care can affect the nervous system.  Research is still being conducted as we speak and hopefully more light can be shed on how chiropractic care can allow the brain to function optimally pushing the body to perform at peak levels.



1)      Haavik, Heidi. The Reality Check. Haavik Research: 2014


2)      Hawk, Pfefer, et. Al, “Feasibility Study of Short-term Effects of Chiropractic Care In Older Adults with Impaired Balance.” Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. Dec 2007; 6(4):121-131.


3)      Hillermann, Gomes et. Al, “A Pilot Study Comparing the Effects of spinal Manipulative Therapy with Those of Extra-spinal Manipulative Therapy on Quadriceps Muscle Strength.” Journal of Manipulative Phisological Therapeutics. Feb 2006;30(23):2614-2620.


4)      Qaseem, Amir, et. Al, “Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians.”  Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Apr 2017.



5)      Suter, McMorland, et. Al, “Decrease in Quadriceps Imbibition After Sacroiliac Joint Manipulation in Patients With Anterior Knee Pain.”  Journal or manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 1999; 22(3): 149-153.






Friday, April 27, 2018


The Essentials of Essential Oils
By Ryan Durand, DC
     Most have heard about essential oils and their potential health benefits.  Today, they play an important part in the trend towards a healthier lifestyle and are utilized for many purposes in achieving this end.  In the past, essential oils were used for food preparation, perfume and bathing, and antibacterial agents and medicine.  Many of the ’fathers’ of modern day medicine utilized essential oils in their care of their patients.  Both Hypocrites and Galen utilized various combinations of essential oils in treatment of their Roman and Greek people.  Roman soldiers would even carry a tincture of myrrh into battle with them in the event of receiving a wound.  At that time, modern medicine did not exist.  There were no tablets or creams available to be prescribed. There are even references in the Bible to the use of essential oils with frankincense and myrrh being possibly the most famous being given by the wise men to Mary mother of Jesus.
Ancient versus modern medicine
      Modern medicine is the derivative of a natural source (plant, micro- organism, etc.) concentrated down from its original source into a tablet or pill.  Much time, energy, and resources are used to create the medicine of today and the discovery of these drugs have shaped our modern world. There can be no argument that the advent of such drugs has led to an increase in life expectancy and a decrease in disease.  Research has shown that Essential oils can be as effective in treating common place ailments today.  Tea tree oil is shown to be as effective as common place acne medications, antibacterial to MRSA and other ’super bugs’, and for several rashes and dermatitis type skin conditions.  Sandalwood oil is used for skin cancer prevention. Peppermint oil is effective in decreasing irritable bowel syndrome.  Aromatherapy can reduce anxiety and pain.  Thyme reduces inflammation.  Lavender is used for inflammation, anxiety and insomnia reduction. There are many more examples of the effects of these botanicals on common place ailments but, the fact remains that these are the purest forms of these substances.  Drugs take the component that is found to be most effective and concentrates it into a tablet.  Who is to say that some of the lesser impactful components of that plant were not just as vital in promoting the healing effects of the primary ingredient?  With so many known side effects to drugs, maybe, the balance is now out of whack due to most impactful ingredient not being kept in order.  Time will tell.  Whenever research compares an essential oil to the drug counterpart for a specific ailment most often, the drug is quicker to act but also has higher side effect occurrence compared to the essential oil.  This point should be made that essential oils too, have side effects associated with them and proper use and recommendations from a doctor should always be maintained.
What now?
      It is always recommended that one should consult their doctor before they make any medical changes.  Never stop taking medications prescribed to them without their doctor’s consent. Essential oils can be an excellent alternative to prescription drugs.  in some cases, for more common place ailments, essential oils can be used in place of OTC drugs.  Many oils can be used as a topical agent, ingested, and/or diffused in the air as mist.  However, some can only be used one way and should never be ingested, for example.  It is important to consult your doctor before use and follow the oil instructions. The nature of their natural composition makes risk of side effects low and, in many cases, negligible but, care must still be taken.  The key to usage of essential oil is education and purity. Many companies put out a decent product. In my experience, Young Living and doTerra are two of the higher quality brands with reputations of having the highest quality and standards for purity second to none. Many less expensive brands dilute their oils or add in additives for increasing shelf life, lowering cost, etc.  If an oil truly is 100% pure, it will last many years providing it remains pure and is not corrupted.  This would be another benefit to buying products more on the expensive side.
     In summary medicine is a vital component to our health system.  Essential oils have been used for centuries and possibly before the written word as medicine.  They can be utilized to treat common place ailments in a more natural way.  Care should be taken to only take oils as they are recommended. Quality is vital to the effectiveness of the oil with purity being of utmost importance.
Al-Shuneigat, J., Cox, S. D., & Markham, J. L. (2005). Effects of a topical essential oil-containing formulation on biofilm-forming coagulase-negative staphylococci. Letters in Applied Microbiology, 41(1), 52-55.
 Bassett, I. B., Pannowitz, D. L., & Barnetson, R. S. (1990). A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Med J Aust, 153(8), 455-458.
Brady, A., Loughlin, R., Gilpin, D., Kearney, P., & Tunney, M. (2006). In vitro activity of tea-tree oil against clinical skin isolates of meticillin-resistant and -sensitive staphylococcus aureus and coagulase-negative staphylococci growing planktonically and as biofilms. Journal of Medical Microbiology, 55(Pt 10), 1375-1380.
Burt, S. A. (2003). Antibacterial activity of selected plant essential oils against Escherichia coli O157:H7. Letters in Applied Microbiology 36, 162-7.
Caelli, M., Porteous, J., Carlson, C. F., Heller, R., & Riley, T. V. (2001). Tea tree oil as an alternative topical decolonization agent for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. The International Journal of Aromatherapy, 11(2). [Originally published in The Journal of Hospital Infection (2000), 46, 236-237.]