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Benefits of Chiropractic for Kids: Babies to Young Athletes

Benefits of Chiropractic for Kids: Babies to Young Athletes
By: Dr. Meagan McGowan

Children are some of our most frequent visitors at Core Therapies, however we are often asked by adults “why would a child need to be adjusted?” 

It is often thought that Chiropractic care is used solely to help relieve pain or injury.  It can certainly help with that, however getting adjusted helps restore and improve the balance of the many intricate systems within the body.  The human body, whether big or small, is intricately designed with communication highways, check and balance systems, reflexes and in the presence of stress learned compensation patterns.  

A Doctor of Chiropractic who specializes in treating children can identify a child’s stress or imbalance when they cannot verbalize how they are feeling.  Let’s go through a couple of examples!

Babies – A baby may present irritable, unsettled, or seemingly uncomfortable in a given position, either on their back or stomach.  A baby may even, innately, writhe their head back and forth.  When this presents to us in the office, oftentimes the baby has tension or a fixation in the neck (cervical spine), preventing them from settling in comfortably in certain postures. Now a baby cannot tell you they have a sore or stiff neck, so they may settle into a position with a head tilt away from discomfort (most noticeable when sleeping, or in carseat), they may have trouble latching on a specific side because of their restriction, they may present with poor digestion or motility in their belly, ear infections due to poor drainage within the ear canal, etc.  Causes are vast, some of which include, fixed posture in utero, interventions at birth, oral ties like upper lip or tongue ties or teething.  Chiropractic can help relieve the tension, restore movement to the restricted joints, all by applying very light manual vibration or soft tissue massage.  

Toddlers & Young Children – Many times toddlers present in the office because parents are concerned about how they’re moving, why they aren’t sleeping, constipation, energy level (too high or too low), immune system stress, and the occasional bump or bruise.  However the child presents, we look at the whole child, meaning, a parent may provide a history with the focus on one of the above, but as mentioned, their little body is a network of systems. If one area is affected, other areas will show imbalance or measures of compensation.  Sometimes children this age can help explain how they feel, and deciphering or decoding the noises they use, to do so, can take a degree in itself!!…However, when they experience relief and they smile, settle, melt into your table, or pop up without a second thought, the body has restored its balance and all systems go!

The Active Child or Young Athlete – Kids are on the move and there is no shortage of opportunity or activity to sign up for.  Some kids need to decompress from their schedule alone!  Add in the demand of performance on their young body, whether they are subject to repetitive practice or physical stress from a contact sport, rest and recovery efforts are necessary.  Even though kids seem to bounce back faster, every little microtrauma leaves a mark on their body’s overall blueprint.  Repetitive stress at any age can lead to breakdown or injury.  Receiving regular manual therapy, whether that be adjustments or soft tissue work, not only identifies signs of overuse/disuse, but can aid in injury prevention long term.  Recommended active care exercises continue recovery outside of the treatment room, like foot drills for the sprained ankle, core exercises for the weak low back, or rotational exercises for the sports that favor a dominant side.

Chiropractic care for children goes far beyond the stereotype of back pain and supports development at every stage. Those who specialize in treating children understand the intricate check and balance systems of the body and the speed at which the body matures.  Identifying and treating small stressors in these growing bodies can help children grow with the most optimal health! 

To schedule an appointment with a provider who is certified through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) with extensive training and experience, please call our office at 973-240-7251

Dr. Meagan McGowan, Dr. Sonia Marques, and Dr. Katie Gleisner is certified through the ICPA.

Tendon Health

Tendon Health
By: Dr. Matt McGowan, D.C

As I reflect on my journey back from a ruptured bicep tendon over the last 4 months, I felt it imperative to pass along important information regarding tendon health. My injury was 100% due to overuse. “Overuse is often synonymous with terms like ‘Chronic Degeneration or  Repetitive Stress’.” Over time if we continually use a joint in the same repeated patterns under any load, we can be causing a long term negative effect on our tendons integrity at that joint.  A person can be very active, and in relatively good health and have unknown problems brewing at their tendons. Statistically, males in their 40’s-50’s tend to be subject to tendon failures the most, but it can honestly happen to anyone who repeatedly loads their tendons.  

So what does it mean to cause repetitive stress on a joint?  It can be a multitude of scenarios; an example can be someone who works with their hands often, a mason lifting and cutting stones over and over again. It can be the pickleball newbie that is so excited about the game that they play 4 times a week for several hours at a clip. It can be the person who has been doing the same exercise routine in the gym for the last 30 years with little to no variation. Any of these scenarios can demonstrate how simple activities that we take for granted can be causing a long term overload on the tendon.  

The hardest part about these injuries is that there are often no warning signs. I never had any pain in my bicep, it never felt tight. In fact most people who rupture their Achilles tendon, never have any warning sign until it pops. The good news is that there are ways we can alter our training to help avoid these tendon issues and ruptures. The most challenging part is staying self aware of our activities and loading patterns and being self accountable to make ourselves do the preventative work. This is where I failed myself. I did not respect the amount of load I was putting on my biceps on a daily basis. If I had taken certain steps in how I train, this may have been avoided.

What I feel are the most three most effective ways to avoid major tendon failure are:

  1. Proper nutrition. Avoid any foods that have an inflammatory effect on your body. Try to limit cheat meals and highly processed foods.
  2. Vary your activity as much as you can control it. Obviously if your job is working on a factory line, you cannot change this, but if you are a runner who loves to jog on a treadmill 5-6 times a week and you never change from that, then adding in other forms of exercises in replacement on 1-2 days can go a long way. 
  3. The most important thing you can do is include eccentric loaded exercises to your routine. The eccentric phase of the exercise is commonly known as the negative phase. The most simple way to explain a negative phase is the phase in which you return the weight back to its starting point. It is when the muscle is elongating. For example with my bicep, normally when people lift weights for biceps there is a smooth cadence of 1-2 seconds pulling up, and often 1 second going down. The key for tendon health is loading the muscle on the way down in a slow and controlled manner.  

A great start for anyone who feels that they may find themselves undergoing repetitive load or stress should take the following steps:

  1. Figure out what joint/tendons may be under repeated stress.
  2. Figure out what exercise can be done to load that tendon directly.
  3. Perform 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions of that exercise with following cadence:

2 second concentric phase (shortening phase)/ 5-7 second eccentric

(lengthening phase)

Not every exercise of every workout has to be done in this manner, but adding this in every few weeks is very important to preventing tendon breakdown. If you feel like you may be exposing yourself to tendon overload but do not know where to start or what exercises to do, come in and get it evaluated and we can certainly help you out.