March 1, 2011 [Volume 5, Issue 5]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Three Cheers for Chiropractic
Car Seat Safety: Keeping Kids Safe?
Keys to Whole-Body Health

Three Cheers for Chiropractic

In a 2009 report, the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury (NCCSI) Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C., declared cheerleading the "most dangerous female sport in the United States" based on injury data they obtained from 1982-2008 that showed approximately two-thirds of severe school sports injuries over the past 25 years were from cheerleading.

But while injuries have made cheerleading the most dangerous sport for young American women, experts say that the risk and severity of injury can be kept to a minimum with chiropractic care. Chiropractors identify injuries early and properly manage them before they progress to something more serious. With cheerleading calling for ever-higher degrees of athleticism, chiropractors say they are able to provide a unique understanding of the rigorous training and physical toll that the sport has on the body, unlike any other type of physician.

"Doctors of chiropractic are the only healthcare professionals who specialize in the process of correcting spinal misalignments with adjustments," said Dr. Steve Goninan, a chiropractor at Integrity Chiropractic in Georgia. "These adjustments re-energize the nervous system, reduce biomechanical stress, optimize the athlete's agility without the athlete having to overcome the side effects of drugs or irreversible surgeries.

Dr. Enrico Esposito, a chiropractor who has treated various cheerleaders in Alabama, said it is the younger cheerleaders who tend to suffer from repetitive motion injuries like patellar tendonitis, ankle sprains, stress fractures, hip strains, and inflammation around the hips. There are also low-back injuries that can become chronic without proper care. But chiropractic care for younger cheerleaders can help reduce the risk of even more serious injuries in the future, he said.

For many cheerleaders who go on to professional teams, chiropractic care becomes even more critical to maintain healthy joints and a spine, said Dr. Jay Greenstein, chiropractor for the Washington Redskins cheerleaders.

"What's interesting about cheerleaders is that they are true athletes; they endure a tremendous amount of physical stress," he said. "They practice hard, there is a lot of demands on them when it comes to performance and they are doing chronic repetitive motions that put significant strain on their bodies, so they are perfect candidates for chiropractic care."

If a cheerleader does end up getting hurt, he said, with chiropractic care there are always plenty of solutions. "The goal is to decrease pain that can be done naturally through chiropractic care and also improving overall function, which also is a huge component of what chiropractors do," he said.

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Car Seat Safety: Keeping Kids Safe?

Are you using the proper car seat for your child and is it correctly installed? And what about other factors such as vehicle type, seat location (front or back), etc.? Here are a few things to know about car seat safety so you can keep your children as safe as possible anytime you hit the open road.

1. What Seat for What Age? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends the following guidelines be followed when deciding how your child should be restrained for their safety whenever riding in a motor vehicle. Keep in mind that these are the minimum guidelines, and that it's also important to consider the guidelines for the particular car seat you purchase that will dictate the type of restraint your child requires:

Infants (birth to at least 1 year of age or weighing at least 20 pounds) are required to be restrained in a rear-facing convertible seat.
Toddlers (over 1 year of age and weighing 20-40 pounds) need a forward-facing convertible seat.
Young children (ages 4-8 years, unless at least 4' 8" tall and weighing more than 40 pounds) need a seat belt-positioning booster seat in a forward-facing seat position.
The child can sit without a booster seat (shoulder/lap belt only) when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at around age 8 or when they are at least 4'9" tall).
Children ages 12 and younger should ride in the backseat at all times.

2. Child Injuries: Some You See, Some You Don't. It's important to realize that even a child in a safety seat can be injured. They're may not be thrown around the car or into the back of the seat in front of them, but they can still suffer from the impact. Their body is held to the car by the restraint, but their head and arms can easily be thrown forward, which may cause mild to severe damage to their spine and nervous system.

3. Proper Installation. Despite all the best intentions, there is no perfect car seat, safety seat or child restraint system because they all require installation. That's where the human factor (and human error) comes in. The NHTSA reports that more than 80 percent of all car seats are improperly installed; when properly installed, they significantly reduce the risk of childhood mortality compared to a child riding completely unrestrained.

If you're concerned about whether you've installed your child's seat correctly, even after following the manufacturer's directions, visit the NHTSA Web site, click on the Child Passenger Safety icon and then click on the Fitting/Inspection Station link. You can also call  866-SEAT-CHECK or visit to find a seat-inspection facility near you.

4. Have Your Children Checked. If you and your child have recently been involved in a motor-vehicle collision (particularly one that didn't require a trip to the emergency room), contact your chiropractor to schedule a brief examination. It is better to have your child checked and find out that there is nothing wrong than to assume they are fine and find out later that there was trauma done to their still-developing spine or other areas of the body that could have lasting consequences down the road. Talk to your chiropractor for more information.

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Keys to Whole-Body Health

Take a moment to look at your body. Quickly glance at your arms, hands, hips, legs and feet. Do you realize that you have approximately 640 muscles that are responsible for moving the 206 bones in your body? How do you get these muscles to move those bones? It has to do with the way the spinal cord and the nerves send information out to the body. It might surprise you to know that many common ailments that we experience, like headaches, lower back pain and shoulder pain, can have links to the muscles, bones and spinal nerves.

The spine is made up of 29 vertebrae that are divided up by specific regions of the body: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacrum. Think of the spine as a protective housing for your spinal cord that lives in the center of the vertebrae. At every level of the spine, nerves branch off of the spinal cord, move past the vertebrae and outward to supply the different parts of the body.

Furthermore, as the nerves branch off from the spine, certain ones move out farther and farther, going all the way to the hands and feet. While a nerve is traveling, it must repeatedly pass by or around different bones. It stands to reason that the position of the bones is important. If the bones are not in correct position, or "out of alignment," the nerves will be compromised.

An easy way to remember how the body works is that the vertebrae, spinal cord and nerves affect everything from your toes all the way up to your nose. As an example, migraines and other headaches can be caused when the spinal vertebrae in the neck region are misaligned. This causes pressure on the nerves as they branch off of the spinal cord and move through the vertebrae out to the muscles of the neck and head. This compromised nerve flow also affects the circulation of blood to and from the area. All of these factors play an important role in headaches.

If our vertebrae are in good, proper alignment over time, then the spinal cord and nerves function without any interference. The simple idea of keeping the spine lined up as much as possible will keep our body healthy.

Regular chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, exercise and a nutritious diet are all important facets of good spinal health. The key here is to realize that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Regular practices of spinal health will not only keep you feeling great, but also will help protect you in the future from many problems that could arise, including neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, tennis / golfer's elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, hip pain, sciatica, knee pain, and ankle and foot pain. Your chiropractor can tell you more about the importance of the spine and its connection to whole-body health.

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The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. MPA Media is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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