Why I would never trust a regular chiropractor to work with my dog…

Why I would never trust a regular chiropractor to work with my dog…

I never adjusted my dog out of concern that his anatomy is different than mine and yours.  I recently completed the first of five modules in a veterinary chiropractic course and let me tell you I made the right decision by not adjusting him. 

Should You Sit On An Exercise Ball?

The trend of swapping your office chair for an exercise ball seems to be fading a bit.  However, many patients still ask me if it is beneficial to sit on an exercise ball rather than a chair.  The exercise ball is an unstable surface that in theory should lead to increased trunk movement which aids in the nutrition of your muscles and vertebral discs and increases the activity of your core musculature.  There are other proposed benefits as well, but let’s find out if they outweigh the negative side effects.

A 2009 study published in the journal Applied Ergonomics, researchers compared an adjustable office chair with armrests to an exercise ball while the participants did a one hour typing task.  The chair and the ball were fit to the subject’s body size so when sitting their knee angle was 90 degrees.  As hypothesized by the authors they found 33% more global trunk motion when sitting on the exercise ball (not found to be significant).  They also found the average rate of change of lumbar EMG and amplitude of lumbar spine muscles to be 66% and 38% higher when on the ball.  Although increased spinal movement and muscle activation are good for spine health, they also increase forces on the spine, which can have detrimental effects on the intervertebral discs.  To test this, the authors looked at the compressive forces on the spine and found that spinal shrinkage was significantly greater when sitting on an exercise ball than the office chair.  Another implication of increased muscle activity is that it can lead to muscle fatigue which can increase your susceptibility of low back injury. 

Another study by McGill published in 2006 in Applied Biomechanics, looked at pressure distribution.  Comparing an exercise ball, an office chair, and a stool they found that the surface contact area was significantly greater with the exercise ball.  The increased contact area actually increases the level of discomfort when sitting on the ball.  This is because the soft tissue is now absorbing the pressure of sitting, when it should be on the boney part of your butt! 

In conclusion, although there seem to be benefits of sitting on an exercise ball, the benefits are outweighed by the significant negative effects to your spine.  For this reason use a traditional office chair at work or utilize an exercise ball for short periods at a time to limit the shrinkage of your spine! 

 

Stay healthy my friends, 

Dr. Adam 

If Your Dog is Fat, You Are Not Getting Enough Exercise

By this time next year I should be certified in veterinary chiropractic.  It's a year long course for both chiropractors and veterinarians. I'm excited to work with house pets like dogs, but I'm also excited at the opportunity to work with larger farm animals like horses.  

In light of my excitement and my love for animals I thought I would produce this post.  Enjoy!

The health benefits of having a dog are obvious.  Mentally they make you laugh and give you unconditional love when you are only gone for 30 minutes, they make it seem like you have been gone for 30 days.  But first I’m going to touch on the physical health benefits. Whether it is play, walking or jogging, you are forced to get off the couch and move.   Many studies have shown that owning a dog can help to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.  Increasing regular exercise, such as leisure walking can help to decrease the risk of certain cardiovascular conditions.  One study showed that pet owners have lower systolic blood pressure which is the driving force of the contracting heart, than non-pet owners.  Another study showed lower plasma cholesterol levels, as well as triglyceride levels in pet owners.   It is even reported that dogs may show adverse behaviour if their Type 1 diabetic owners are having hypoglycemic episodes which could help their owner avoid an adverse health event.   Finally, pet owners who suffered a heart attack had higher 1 year survival rates than their non-pet owning counterparts.   

More intriguing perhaps than the cardiovascular benefits are the psychological benefits of owning a pet.  Most pet owners do not get a pet to reduce sedentary behaviours but rather to have companionship and an improved quality of life.  In a study that followed just under 1000 participant for one year, it was found that pet owners had fewer doctor contacts than their counterparts without pets.  It has also been reported that certain populations of people that own pets suffer less from depression.  

The authors of one article proposed a theory of how pet companionship can improve cardiovascular health, by reducing emotional stress.  Increased emotional stress leads to a barrage of negative effects on the body.  This is caused by increased sympathetic nervous system function.  We developed this over thousands of years when we had to worry about Saber Tooth Tigers.  If you turned a corner and met up with a tiger you would instinctually fight back or run away (fight or flight).  Nowadays the Saber Tooth Tiger comes in the form of commuting, work deadlines, family stressors etc.  Short durations of this type of emotional stress is good because it can help us get away from the Tiger.  However, when long lasting, this type of stress can lead to chronic disease.  Among other things like exercise, owning a pet can psychologically decrease or limit stressful sympathetic activity.  This decreases potential endothelial dysfunction, chance of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death, as well as high blood pressure through decreased kidney activity. 

If you train with your pet make sure that they are getting adequate rest and recovery. And for the same reasons that you should be taking care of your health by visiting a chiropractor, you should also be taking your dog to an animal chiropractor. 

If you would like a great recommendation for an animal chiropractor check out my friend’s page here. 

Until next time, stay healthy my friends!