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Act Like a Baby and Get Stronger

It's pretty amazing, if you've ever stopped to think about it, that a human baby can go from lying helplessly when born to crawling, standing and walking within the span of about 15 months without ever being taught.

Imagine what that rapid progression would mean to an adult! The medical/rehabilitation profession studying the development of human movement has identified milestones in the baby's first year that represent ideal posture and stabilization. More importantly, we can use these milestone positions to not only rehab movement dysfunction, but enhance performance!

At the core of these findings is the Integrated Spinal Stabilization System or ISSS which is made up of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, abdominal muscles and short stabilizers of the spine. They work together to increase pressure in the abdomen which creates better congruency at joint surfaces and balances the back extensors for an elongated and upright posture. Using the ISSS while practicing milestone movements from a baby's development integrate the entire movement system and will trigger familiar pathways in your brain that helped you learn how to walk when you were a baby.

At Nelson Chiropractic and Pilates Center, DNS is the foundation of our rehabilitation program. Everyone can benefit from practicing functional movement. Physical therapy is for everyone! From relieving pain to enhancing performance, we are here to help! If you have any questions or would like to learn how to improve your function, please give us a call to set up an appointment with our doctor of physical therapy! 856-767-8800

Check out this progression called the Czech Get Up. It's a variation of the Turkish Get Up using the principles of developmental kinesiology and Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS).

Click here to watch a video of The Czech Get Up

Slow Down to Heal

We treat a lot of athletes at Nelson Chiropractic & Pilates Center. The last thing we want to do is to have an athlete stop all activity. Unfortunately, sometimes, based on the issue, there aren’t many options and an athlete needs to withdraw from all painful activity. Before getting to that point, however, we recommend that an athlete slows down to heal.

If you have shoulder pain related to overhead motion, it’s best to avoid activity that irritates it.  Therefore, lifting weights overhead is probably not a good idea. Doing pullups could also further irritate your condition. Following this logic, snatches are probably not the best idea either. If you continue doing these activities, you will prolong your recovery or even make the problem worse. In either case, you will be out of action for a longer period of time.

I previously worked with a triathlete that had a possible stress fracture in her foot, a warning sign that she was overtraining.  She didn’t want to slow down and eventually the injury turned into a full blown stress fracture. Instead of modifying her workout, she continued cycling at full intensity with her boot on. As a result, she developed a stress fracture in her other foot! Instead of being sidelined for 8 weeks. She was out of action for 18 months! Lesson learned!

If you have an injury, aside from complete withdrawal from an activity, what can you do to stay in the game? The answer is simple. You can regress to progress. Find an exercise or movement that you can perform that is similar to your activity but puts less stress on the area and causes no pain or compensation. We call this working within your neural edge. For example, if heavy squats cause back pain, squat with less weight. If using less weight still causes pain, squat without weight. If squatting without weight causes pain, you need to regress even more.

To determine if you are within your neural edge, you need to be able to maintain your intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) throughout the movement. If you cannot, you are working outside of your capacity. If you are unsure what IAP is, you are most likely working outside of your capacity! A person/athlete needs to be able to breathe, stabilize, and move without load (weight) before considering adding load. If you can’t crawl, how can you walk, let alone perform heavy squats?

Time and time again, I see athletes with shoulder, neck, or back pain who continue to lift weight overhead, yet they cannot maintain their IAP in an overhead position even without weight. These patients need to regress to progress. While we don’t like telling people to stop performing an activity, it is usually vital to their care that they initially withdraw from the offending activities. Our goal is to help them get back “in the game”, as quickly as possible.

We work with many excellent coaches and trainers in South Jersey. They are well skilled in regressing their athletes. If you have an issue related to a specific movement, please talk to your coach/trainer about regressing that activity. At Nelson Chiropractic & Pilates Center every patient treatment plan is based on the ability to breathe, stabilize, and move better.  While our focus is usually getting you out of pain, it is also to teach you to become aware of IAP and how to apply this concept in your daily activities, exercise, and sports.

At Nelson Chiropractic & Pilates Center we have four sports chiropractors and a physical therapist who are trained in multiple techniques to help you achieve your goals. Our unique blend of chiropractic adjustments, Active Release Technique (ART), Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS), NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT), Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex (P-DTR), Restorative Breathing, rehabilitative exercises, and more will help you get back in the game! Remember, it’s better to slow down to heal then to crash and burn.


Eric Nelson, DC DACBSP

The Evolution of the Stress Response

Flashback 200,000 years to an ancestor of modern man, living as a hunter-gatherer in a world where the threat of becoming prey was a legitimate concern. Just as he had done a hundred times before, he sat near the watering hole, enjoying some of the berries he had recently picked. All of a sudden, he heard a rustle in the brush nearby and looked over to see the unmistakable form of a saber-toothed tiger about to pounce. In order to live to tell the tale, he would have to be able to rapidly switch from a state of “resting and digesting” to one of “fighting or fleeing.” The bodily functions necessary to survive such an encounter, including increased heart rate and breathing, increased blood pressure, increased blood to muscles, and adrenaline release, would kick into high gear to improve chances of escaping death.  Bodily functions that were not immediately essential, such as digestion, repair and growth, learning and memory, and reproduction would be put on the back burner. Once the threat was over, he’d revert back to the “rest and digest” state, where he’d remain until the next threat appeared, which may be days or weeks or even months from that moment. The better his nervous system was as initiating this switch, the greater the likelihood of him surviving to pass along his genes to future generations. Hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection reinforced this.

Fast-forward to today, modern humans live in an environment completely different from the one we evolved in. What does that mean? It means that our genetic makeup is not necessarily suited to our modern lifestyle. Instead of spending the majority of our life in a “rest and digest” state as our ancestors did, we are constantly experiencing low level stressors that shift us into “fight or flight.” True, most of us do not have to fear becoming prey but milder threats such as work demands and deadlines, bills, constant rushing, non-stop emails, and strained relationships create the same response in our body as a saber-toothed tiger ready to pounce. Our blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate increase. Digestion, learning and memory, repair and growth, and reproductive function, which aren’t essential for fighting or fleeing, decrease. Although these changes in physiology are essential to survive a rare saber-toothed tiger attack, they become detrimental to our health if we never shift back out of this state. A prolonged increase in blood pressure and heart rate puts stress on the cardiovascular system, leading to atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke. An extended decrease in digestive enzyme production and gut motility leads to heartburn, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. Altered blood flow to the reproductive organs can result in infertility, erectile dysfunction, and a host of other gynecological issues. In fact, many of the leading causes of death in this country can be linked to the effects of constant low-level stress.

So the question becomes how do you know if constant low-level stress is making you sick? And, if so, how do you fix it? To answer the first question, look through the following list and see how many of chronic “fight or flight” symptoms you have:

q  Heartburn q  Belly Fat q  High Blood Pressure q  Infertility
q  Constipation q  Anxiety q  Atherosclerosis q  Impotence
q  Insomnia q  Fatigue q  High Cholesterol q  Insulin Resistance
q  Impaired cognition q  Depression q  IBS q  Heart Disease


If you have at least one (if not many) of the above symptoms, constant low level stress could be the cause. One of the most effective ways to counteract this is to take control of your breathing, yes, your breathing. The rate and depth of your breath has a profound impact on your brain’s perception of stress. A few minutes a day of conscious breathing can shift your body out of “fight or flight” and into “rest and digest.” The impact this can have on your physical, emotional, and mental health can not be overstated. Here at Nelson Chiropractic and Pilates Center, we recognize that proper breathing is the first and most important step towards wellness. If you’d like to learn more, please check out our website or contact us at 856-767-8800.


Kelli Velez, DC CCSP

Take a Breath to Stabilize!

Happy April! It's time to shake this winter off and take a deep breath!  But before you do, let's take a moment to make sure you're creating the best possible chance to make that breath really work in your best interest. 

Because breathing is a necessity in life and happens automatically without us giving it any thought, it would be logical to assume that our body is looking out for our best interests to make the breathing process as efficient as possible.   Unfortunately, this is not the case. Believe it or not, out of all the possible faulty movement patterns in humans, breathing is number one! For such a life-sustaining process to be faulty in most people is shocking! But it gets worse!

Not only is breathing the critical process by which our cells, muscles, organs, brain, etc. receive oxygen to live and function properly, breathing also directly controls posture and spinal stabilization. That’s right, the diaphragm or breathing muscle, acts as a postural stabilizer in the trunk to keep you from developing spinal stabilization issues like back pain, muscle imbalances, osteoarthritis, rotator cuff and hip problems and the list goes on and on.

Without proper spinal stability strategies, recurrence of low back pain is basically guaranteed. According to the great neurologist from the Prague School of Rehabilitation and father of manual medicine, Karel Lewit, “If breathing is not normalized, no other movement can be.” How many of us are dedicated to improving our form in exercise and daily activities, but have never given our breath pattern a thought? What are we doing? It is impossible to truly correct a movement issue whether in a squat pattern or Olympic lift, sitting without back aches or climbing stairs pain free, if the diaphragm is not working properly. It is up to us to become aware of any faulty breathing patterns, fix them in multiple positions and most importantly in the ones that are causing us pain and dysfunction, then rebury these new, improved patterns back into the subconscious.

Let’s start with understanding the basics in breathing function. The diaphragm muscle which attaches to the inner surface of the ribs, lumbar spine vertebra and converges at the central tendon, creates inspiration when it contracts and pulls the central tendon downward. Because the central tendon is attached to the tissue surrounding the lungs, a vacuum is created in the chest which pulls air into the lungs. When we breath out, the diaphragm relaxes, releasing the central tendon and allowing the lungs to deflate.

In addition, as the diaphragm goes down with every deep breath in, the abdominal muscles contract slightly in response to an increase in pressure inside the abdominal cavity. The pelvic floor also activates to support the abdominal and pelvic organs and maintain continence. The spine then stiffens through activation of the spinal stabilizing muscles. This mechanism of sustaining abdominal pressure provides a stable base of support for all movement from the upper to lower body in postural control, daily activities and sports.

How can we check that we are breathing in the most efficient way possible? First, feel the muscles in your back that run up and down along your spine. If they are reminiscent of 2 vertical sausages, chances are you have a faulty breathing pattern! Place your fingers into the soft spot on your lower belly and see if you feel the pressure build up with each inhale. Try to breathe down into your lower belly until you do, and then maintain it on the exhale. Mastering the ability to pressurize the abdomen with breathing is the key to healthy movement and a necessity to correcting any neuromusculoskeletal issue for good!

All of our care plans revolve around creating the most efficient breathing possible in our patients. If you have any questions, please come in for a visit and we can help get you on the right path to having every breath you take work to your advantage!

-          Dr. Kerri Nelson, DC, CCSP

Training In All 3 Planes of Motion

As we break into the new year, many people have made promises and goals about getting their bodies in better shape. The goals are often focused on weight loss or better output in the gym. Oftentimes, it includes some combination of the two. The reality of sticking with those promises and reaching those goals can be complicated. Some combination of factors including motivation, discipline, healthy eating, and exercising can get you most of the way there. However, one of the important and often overlooked factors in reaching your health and fitness goals is the ability to stay injury-free.

All the best intentions in the world can be derailed if you're sidelined by a sore back or tweaky shoulder. Many people fail to realize that staying injury-free is, for the most part, within their control. Injury prevention is actually a skill that can be refined and trained. In today's post, I want to take a look at one of the more important aspects of avoiding injury: training in all three planes of motion.

If we examine the most common modes of exercise, one thing stands out to the interested observer: they all occur in the sagittal plane. In other words, the exercises and movements consist mainly of flexion and extension, or some combination of moving frontwards and backwards. Running, biking, CrossFit, weightlifting, and powerlifting mostly consist of sagittal plane motion- and rarely include any focused training in the frontal and transverse planes.

This isn't a full indictment on these exercise regimens, because the orientation of a large majority our joints (toes, ankles, fingers, elbows, knees, even spine, etc) are designed with flexion and extension as the main type of movement. But our muscles, fascia, daily lives, and sports are designed in a three dimensional capacity that isn't limited to the sagittal plane. Movement occurs simultaneously in all three planes of motion, and we must be ready and willing to respond to a rapidly changing environment.

We can improve our ability to respond to such constant change by learning to incorporate exercises that target movement in the frontal and transverse planes. Those exercises can help to stabilize the core, while increasing mobility in the hips and thoracic spine. Additionally, by integrating increased balance to our musculature, we help to make our bodies stronger, healthier and more resistant to injury.

If you are interested in learning more, please come join us for one of our FREE workshops, "Training in all Three Planes of Motion: How to avoid injury while improving at your sport." Both Dr. Kelli and I will be presenting at CrossFit Vae Victis on January 30th at 11:30am and at CrossFit DT1 at 9am on January 31st.

Please call 856-767-8800 to register for the free program.

Dr. David Velez

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