What is Chiropractic, and What do Chiropractors do?

Chiropractic is a system of healthcare concerned with the relationship between the structure (primarily the spine) and function (primarily coordinated by the nervous system) of your body and how that relationship affects your health.

Your entire body is under the control of your nervous system.  When your structure (spinal and extremity joints) is not working properly due to slight misalignments and areas of restriction (subluxation), you may experience less than optimal function (health).  Subluxation can impair the body’s ability to adapt to its environment and can lead to impaired patterns of movement and abnormal wear and tear on joint surfaces.  Subluxation can also cause alteration in the normal transmission of information through the nervous system from the brain to the body and back again.

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Chiropractors – or Doctors of Chiropractic – utilize a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that relies on the chiropractic adjustment as the main form of treatment rather than drugs or surgery.  The chiropractic adjustment is a specific force applied in a precise direction to a joint that is not moving properly through its normal range of motion.  That’s what we as chiropractors call subluxation.  Another way to think about this type of joint restriction is to think about a door.  In order to be a properly functioning door, the door must be able to open fully, swing through the full arc of movement, and close fully.  If the door is stuck in an open position, stuck in a closed position, or will only move about 15 degrees somewhere in the middle… it’s not a fully functioning door, is it?  Neither is a joint that can’t go through its full range of motion.

Subluxation and tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as the improper lifting of a heavy object – or through repetitive chronic stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position for a long time or general poor postural habits.  If anyone has worked long hours in front of a computer without taking a break, you know what I mean.  In either case, the injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function.  Adjustment of the affected joint and tissues restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing the tissues to heal.

The body has the innate power to heal itself if properly cared for and allowed to function without interference. The ability of this innate healing power depends on your body being properly supplied with appropriate levels and types of exercise, nutrition and rest as well as the removal of subluxations and other irritations from your system (such as foods, beverages and personal care products that you don’t tolerate well).

The chiropractic adjustment is most commonly delivered using the hands of the chiropractor, but may occasionally be performed using the assistance of instruments. There are many techniques available to fit the needs of the individual patient, including low and no force techniques if indicated.

 

What kind of training and certifications do

chiropractors have?

Doctors of Chiropractic must meet rigorous educational standards to ensure that they are well trained to serve as primary care providers.  The degree a Doctor of Chiropractic earns is a DC degree, much like a Doctor of Osteopathy earns a DO degree or a Medical Doctor earns an MD degree.  To be granted admission at a chiropractic school, you must have completed the prerequisite undergraduate coursework including Anatomy and Physiology courses, General and Organic chemistry, Physics, Biomechanics and Kinesiology.  Often, there are other additional undergraduate requirements such as communications, writing and psychology.  Once admitted to chiropractic school the rigorous curriculum entails more than 4,300 hours of lecture, lab and clinic time.  If you are interested in more information regarding the specific educational requirements to become a chiropractor, please visit the curriculum overview and outline sections on the Northwestern Health Science University website.

In addition to meeting the educational requirements of the particular school a chiropractor attends, she must then pass five National Board examinations before being considered eligible for licensure.  Yearly continuing education requirements must be met by the Doctor of Chiropractic to maintain licensure for the remainder of her years in active practice.  There are additional areas of training for chiropractors to pursue that offer certification and diplomate status including (but not limited to) pediatrics, neurology, and nutrition.

 

Do I need a referral from a Medical Doctor to seek chiropractic treatment?

No.  In the state of Minnesota, chiropractors are classified as primary care providers and as such are portal of entry health care providers.  Doctors of Chiropractic have broad diagnostic skills and will refer you to other types of health care practitioners if your history and exam findings suggest you need additional care or co-management.

 

Does Getting Adjusted Hurt?

Chiropractic adjustment rarely causes discomfort. However, patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (similar to some forms of exercise) that usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours.  Applying ice to the area of soreness can help minimize discomfort (using a barrier to protect the skin, of course).  Typically the more the patient can relax and receive the adjustment, the less likely that patient will experience soreness.  If you feel yourself beginning to tense up before being adjusted, your chiropractor may give you a breathing pattern to follow or have you wiggle your toes to help you relax.

 

How long is a typical office visit?

The length of time a chiropractic office visit takes can vary greatly from practitioner to practitioner.  At my practice, Back In Body at Spark Wellness, the first visit is typically about an hour in length. You will have a thorough history taken, an exam performed that includes orthopedic and neurological screening tests as well as ranges of motion and a hands on examination of your spine and any other areas of complaint.  If there is a need for imaging, x-rays will be referred out.  The findings of the exam will be discussed with you and baring any concerning exam results you will receive some muscle work and your first chiropractic adjustment at the clinic during that first visit.

Typical visits after the initial intake will vary based on your unique presentation and goals.  Visit increments are available in 15 minute intervals and include muscle work, adjustments, lifestyle recommendations and reassessments of exam findings occasionally to note progress.

 

Is Chiropractic Care Safe?

Chiropractic care has an excellent safety record.  One of the easiest ways to examine the relative risk of chiropractic treatment is to compare malpractice insurance rates of chiropractors to other health care professionals. Chiropractors’ malpractice premiums are a small fraction of most medical doctors’ premiums.  For more information on the safety and efficacy of chiropractic, check out the American Chiropractic Associations webpage.

 

Can I adjust myself?

No. Since a chiropractic adjustment is a specific force, applied in a specific direction to a specific joint, it is next to impossible to adjust yourself correctly and accurately. It is possible to turn, bend or twist in certain ways to create a “popping” sound that sometimes accompanies a chiropractic adjustment. Unfortunately, this type of joint manipulation is usually counterproductive, often making an already unstable section of the spine even more unstable.  Self adjusting and adjusting by untrained friends and relatives can also be dangerous. Adjusting the spine is best left to the professionals!  Even your Doctor of Chiropractic must seek out the care of a colleague to be adjusted because she cannot adjust herself.

 

I heard if you go to a chiropractor you have to keep

coming back forever… is that true?

You are the President and CEO of your health… no one else is.  You only have to utilize chiropractic care as long as you want to experience the benefit of it.  Your chiropractor may suggest a treatment plan for you based on your presentation that will give you the best results, but you are free to choose when and if you want to continue care.

Chiropractic care is like “orthodontics for the spine”. Clinically, repeated chiropractic adjustments re-train the vertebrae, muscles, and ligaments to their proper alignment and range of mobility. Just as the amount of time required for braces to achieve correction depends on the condition of your teeth and mouth structure, the time required for proper spinal alignment to occur depends on the condition of your spine, your job duties, hobbies, posture, and many other lifestyle factors.

You are free to choose to utilize care as often as you like, but it is unreasonable to expect that the issue that brings you in (and has been potentially years in the making) will be resolved by one visit.  This is like thinking that seeing the dentist once will provide you with good oral health for the rest of your life – or that working out once will provide you with the sustained level of fitness that you desire.

To quote Madonna, we live in a material world… and as such our bodies are subject to the same maintenance needs as all material things if we desire to function at our best for the longest amount of time possible.  You maintain your car to ensure its best function for as long as possible… and you can buy another car.  You can never buy another body.

In order to obtain the best long term results, it is important to follow the treatment plan that your chiropractor develops just for you.  This may involve “front loading” with more frequent visits at first, then tapering the frequency of care off.  Throughout your treatment plan your Doctor of Chiropractic will perform periodic re-evaluations and outcome assessments to measure your progress.

 

Is chiropractic care addictive?

It is possible to get used to feeling more balanced, less stressed, and more energetic as a result of regular chiropractic care.  Under chiropractic care, you may develop enhanced body awareness so that you may be able to feel when your alignment has been compromised before you begin to feel pain.  This makes it possible to avoid the pain – flare-up cycle that may require more frequent treatments at first to bring you back to your baseline.  You may find that while chiropractic is not addictive, good health is.

Is a good work-out the same as getting adjusted?

No. Exercise is an important part of good health, but without normal function of your spine and other joints, a physical workout merely puts additional wear and tear on the improperly functioning joints.

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Can a person who has had back surgery see a

chiropractor?

Yes. As with any patient, your history and exam will dictate the appropriate methods of treatment to be used or if there are any areas of your spine that perhaps should not be adjusted.  It’s an unfortunate fact that up to half of those who had spinal surgery discover a return of their original symptoms months or years later.  They then face the prospect of additional surgery.  Chiropractic may help prevent repeated back surgeries. If chiropractic care is initially utilized, back surgery can possibly be avoided in the first place.

 

Is it OK to see a chiropractor if I’m pregnant?

Not only is it “okay” to see a chiropractor if you are pregnant… it is a very important time to see a chiropractor.  There is no other time in your life that your body undergoes such dramatic biomechanical changes in so short of a time period.  These rapid changes as well as the presence of the hormones relaxin and elastin make pregnancy a very important time for you to be checked for subluxation.  You may find that chiropractic adjustments improve the way you feel during pregnancy and may make your birthing time shorter and easier for you and your baby due to maintaining optimal pelvic position and function.  As always, adjusting methods are adapted to your specific presentation.  For more information on chiropractic care during pregnancy, as well as chiropractic care for children, check out the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association website.

 

Does chiropractic “work” for all types of health

problems?

Of course not!  No one type of therapeutic intervention has it all… however, chiropractic care is very helpful when dealing with a wide variety of health problems from the more typical neuromusculoskeletal complaints to other issues not necessarily considered “back” problems.  With a normal nerve supply the body’s natural healing capacity can function at its best and provide help for a variety of health problems.

Chiropractors will readily refer you to the appropriate health care provider if chiropractic care is not suitable for your particular condition, or more commonly when your condition warrants co-management with other members of your health care team.  It is up to you to discover what combination of therapies and activities keep you feeling your best!

Take Care,

Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT

The Body is a Temple – Let’s Treat it Like a Gift from God

The theme of “no pain no gain”, “beauty is pain” and many other (in my opinion) misguided lines of thought run rampant in American/western culture.  We often ignore the messages from our body and attempt to trick the body to comply with the dictates of the mind.  This can lead to several types of problems, as the body is actually a soft animal and not a machine (although the way we use our joints can be beneficially approached by thinking that way… more on that in another post).  The body has it’s own way of knowing and is an equal partner to the mind when balanced in a healthy organism.  I am a fan of healthy physical challenge, so I’m not suggesting that we all remove any elements of challenge and growth from life.  I do believe that many times, the ratio of challenging practices to restorative practices in a person’s life are not as harmoniously balanced to promote health as they could be, skewing more heavily toward challenging, (and if not given proper counter balance) depleting activities.

My inspiration to share these ways to slow down and make space to show your self how much you care came from a recent home cleaning session.  After cleaning out the hall/linen closet near my bathroom, I found a hand written note with this sequence of self care rituals that I had written after attending an ayurveda workshop.  I decided that I would type it up, laminate it and post it on the inside of the bathroom closet door for ease of access.  Why stop there?  If I can use this practice as a regular reminder to shower myself with love and appreciation then other people might enjoy adopting some of this practice, too!

Much of this list could be considered variations on the Ayurvedic practice of dinacharya, or daily self care rituals.  While this list is pretty long for most of us to practice in entirety on a daily basis (I know I would have to start waking up much earlier to make this all happen every day… and that’s not super likely as I do love me some sleep), it is simple enough to choose a few elements that do feel manageable each day.  Another favorite indulgence of mine is to pick a day (weekend, day off, etc) and block off a large chunk of the morning with the intention of a full and relaxing few hours dedicated to lovingly caring for my physical body.

Today I want to share some of these restorative and nourishing practices that we can all start to make time for today.  Making time is really just about honoring something as a priority.  If you have time to watch TV or engage with social media, you have time for healthy self care habits.  This list is no way comprehensive.  There are infinite ways to honor and love the body.  I believe the most important part of this practice (and any practice for that matter) is intention.  You can begin to incorporate and intentional approach to the self care morning ritual that you are already doing… for example, acknowledging that you are brushing your teeth with loving care to keep your mouth and your self healthy… because you love yourself and you enjoy honoring your body with the feeling of a clean and well cared for mouth.  By simply operating from a place of love and awareness rather than rushing mindlessly through some sort of check list, you have changed the nature of something that you are already doing to a much more powerful and meaningful practice.  This doesn’t cost anything, take any more time or require any special equipment.

Wake gently (early) – No loud, blaring alarms here.  Soothing music or light could be some pleasant choices.

Offer some prayer/intention of gratitude for this day before even getting out of bed.

Let out/feed dogs (this is my list, so feel free to add your own variations like this here… the ritual “feeding of the dogs” isn’t one that I’ve encountered in any study of Ayurveda yet, but it’s a must in my personal routine).

Prepare the sacred space of the bathroom – clean up any clutter, light a candle or any other way you like to make a space feel special.

Drink water – traditionally room temperature water that has been sitting in a copper cup over night… I opt for warm water heated in my tea kettle… sometimes with lemon squeezed into it, sometimes plain.

Rinse eyes with eyewash of choice (there are some specific Ayurvedic blends available for this… most days I just use a sterile saline solution) and practice eye movement exercises.

Wash face/rinse mouth.

Go to the bathroom.

Scrape tongue (you can buy a tongue scraper specifically for this purpose, or use an inverted spoon… just be sure to rinse and wash the spoon after).

Floss/Brush teeth.

Oil pulling.

Dry brush the body.

Use Neti pot (available online and for your convenience at Spark Wellness retail shop) to irrigate sinuses.

Shower.

Self massage (abyhanga) with edible (non-rancid) oil (coconut is my preferences) to body and face.

Drop of same oil as above into nostrils/ears.

Apply hydrosols or essential oils as desired so you’re feelin fresh!

Gently dry off.

Physical practice (yoga/asana, dance, walk, Pilates, any other movement you like)

Intentional breathing exercises (pranayama). Check out this cool book and this cool book for some ideas, or book a session with me to start developing your own breathing practice!

Meditation

Breakfast!

Do you have any questions about what you see here?  Do you practice any of these self care activities as part of your body care routine already?  What are you excited to try?  Please keep the conversation going in the comment section!

For more information about dinacharya and the spiritual practice of honoring the body/mind/spirit through physical self care rituals, check out The Daily Routine by Vasant Lad or even better, seek out the services of an Ayurvedic practitioner near you for specific lifestyle suggestions for you and your unique make up.  If you live in the Twin Cities, I would be happy to give you some specific recommendations for practitioners in the area.

Be Well and Have Fun,

Dr. Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT

 

 

The Eating of the Green!

With St. Patrick’s day approaching, I thought I would use this opportunity to pretend to be your mom and remind you to eat your greens!  😉  One good way to make sure that you are getting more vegetables into your life is to be sure to eat at least a serving at every meal.  The meal where most of us can stand to pump up the volume (of veggies) is at breakfast.  If you plan enough time in the morning and prep your greens ahead (wash, chop, etc), it is a quick and easy option to saute up some greens (kale, chard, spinach, mustard, you name it!) to go with your eggs.  At my house, we start the day off with at least one serving of veggies and it makes me feel like some sort of veggie superhero.

Since St. Patrick’s day is a holiday and a reason to celebrate, I have another suggestion for a green treat that doesn’t involve gross food dyes.  I am a strong advocate for keeping perspective around desserts and treats.  Enjoying a treat every once in a while is part of enjoying the sensory experiences life has to offer.  When treats are shared with friends and family, they are even sweeter!  Treats every once in a while are great and fun, but treats all the time… lets just call it what it is… a crappy diet.  When we do decide to have treats, we can make them the best choice they can be by avoiding things that will just make us feel nasty later. So without further preachy ado…

Here’s a grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free (and artificial dye free!) sweet treat idea for you to enjoy this St. Patricks day!  I promise you they taste better than they look… I’m an eater, not a pastry chef.

Mint Brownies

Mint Chocolate Brownies

Brownies –

Ingredients:

1/4 c coconut flour

3/4 c cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs

3/4 c maple syrup or honey

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 c butter or coconut oil (melted)

Preheat oven to 350*.  Mix coconut flour, cocoa powder and salt.  Add eggs, maple syrup or honey, vanilla and mix again.  Add butter or coconut oil and mix again until smooth and incorporated.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Re-mix.  This can all be done easily in a food processor, using a hand mixer or simply by hand.

Pour brownie mixture into an 8 in square pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Ovens will vary.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before slicing.  Allow brownies to sit for a few hours before covering or adding mint filling.  Brownies can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator and then add the mint filling the following day.  That worked out very well for me.

Mint Filling –

Ingredients:

1/2 c melted coconut butter

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp mint extract

a few drops of mint flavored chlorophyll concentrate (to reach desired green color – use caution… this stuff can really stain!) *you will be able to find this in the health and beauty section of most co-ops and the supplement section of some grocers.

2-4 tsp water only if needed to reach desired consistency

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the melted coconut butter, honey, vanilla extract and mint extract.  Continue mixing until smooth.  Add water only as needed.  Once the desired consistency of the mixture has been reached (about a frosting type consistency), switch things up to mixing by hand BECAUSE THE CHLOROPHYLL WILL STAIN THE HECK OUT OF ANY SURFACE and you don’t want to accidentally whip some up onto your walls, clothes, etc.  You get the idea.  So… carefully add in a few drops of chlorophyll and stir by hand until you reach the desired shade of green.

Take out your brownies and if you haven’t already, cut them into bite sized pieces.  Then cut those pieces in half so that there is a top and a bottom half.  Spread the mint filling/frosting layer on the bottom halves, then cover with the top halves.  Store in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer if you are going to have the ability to resist their minty siren song for longer than that 😉

If you make these, please comment and let me know how you like them.  They remind me of Andes mints or thin mint cookies.  More specifically, these took me back to a mint brownie recipe a friend of my grandmother used to make.  Now I can enjoy them without all the things that make me feel like ick!  I love ick-less food nostalgia opportunities and I hope you will love these cute little brownies, too!

Take Care and Have Fun,

Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT

Motion is Life! Move It or Lose It! – or – One of the many reasons chiropractic is so important!

If you are reading this blog, chances are you already know the importance of movement in your own life.  That is one of the reasons why we all do what we do, right?  Yoga, Pilates, Running, CrossFit, Biking, Dancing, you name it… it’s all good!SAM_1028

When we’re talking about spinal movement, it’s important to talk about whether we mean movement of the whole spine in total (global motion) or the motion taking place at each spinal joint (segmental motion).  Both global and segmental spinal motions can include flexion (folding forward), extension (bending backward), lateral flexion (bending to the side) and rotation (turning) or a combination of these four motions, like extension + lateral flexion.

Often times, and in ideal conditions, global and segmental motions are one and the same (you flex your neck, dropping your chin to your chest and each of the vertebrae in your neck moves in flexion in the amount that it is supposed to… different segmental levels of the spine have different degrees of each range that are appropriate depending on their job, but that’s a discussion for another day).

Unfortunately, there are times when our joints become subluxated – or lose their ability to move through their full range of motion.  How a joint becomes subluxated is definitely enough information to discuss in its own post, so I will save that for another time as well.  For now, one way to think about a subluxation is to picture the specific joint in question as a door.  In order to be a fully functioning door, a door needs to be able to completely open, completely close, and to gently glide through the entire range between open and closed.  A “subluxated door” could look like a door that is closed, but won’t open… a door that is fully open and won’t close… or a door that is stuck in any range in between.  Now we can talk about what happens when you have a joint that won’t move through its complete ranges of motion on a segmental level and what the consequences for that loss of motion can be.

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Intervertebral Discs (IVDs) are the gel-like shock absorbing pads between the bodies of most of our vertebrae (I say “most” rather than “all” because as with all things in life, there are some exceptions and some segments don’t have discs between them).  IVDs require movement during waking (upright) hours to maintain proper hydration.  As we move, fluid is drawn into our discs in a process called imbibition, helping the discs to remain the squishy little shock absorbers that they are born to be.  If we don’t move (especially for long periods of time… think sitting at a desk 8 hours/day), as we age our discs can become dry, inflexible and brittle, losing their lovely (and important) shock absorbing capacity.  The overall takeaway message here is that decreased motion and decreased axial loading result in disc degeneration, and sadly, IVD degeneration begins as early as the second decade of life.  This has huge implications for the amount of inactivity faced daily by kids, with their physical structure still developing.1

When a joint is not moving through its full range of motion, we still move our bodies through the same global ranges (golf swing, forward fold, swan dive, kettle bell swing, etc).  So where, then, is the body compensating for this segmental loss of motion?  At the joints above and below the fixed joint!  When one motion segment (set of joints at a particular spinal level) is not able to move to its fullest capacity we don’t stop moving and we expect to be able to reach the same ranges… so the joints above and below the level of subluxation/fixation become “sloppy” or hypermobile to compensate for the stuck spot.  These joints above and below become less stable and more prone to injury and the accompanying sensations of pain and discomfort as a result of having to pick up the slack again and again for their subluxated neighbor.2,3  It’s easy to see why professional athletes and people who really value the long term function of their bodies utilize chiropractic care to keep all their joints moving (people like Tiger Woods, Jerry Rice, Mary Lou Retton, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky to name a few…  even Kim Kardashian gets it – although we’ll get to talking about the “believe in” portion of her comment at some point on the blog).

The big take away message here is that fixation/subluxation at one motion segment can lead to degeneration of the IVD at that joint and hypermobility/destabilization at the joints above and below the fixed motion segment.  This is why getting a good workout is not the same as getting adjusted… it is also why nothing is really the same as getting adjusted.  SO, this is why the wonderful work I do is important… not just for back/neck pain or after a car accident or for “old people” (whatever that means… older than who?)… but for everyone and anyone with a spine, who wants to age well and maintain function in their joints.

Chiropractors like me are uniquely trained to assess, detect and restore motion to individual joint segments in a controlled and specific way.  There are many different techniques available and your preference in how you receive your chiropractic adjustment is unique and valid.  From very light and gentle to more dynamic approaches, there is a style and a chiropractor for every person who would like to find one.  I am committed to working with you to find your preference and to help get you moving again – both segmentally and globally.  If you think I might be the right chiropractor for you, feel free to schedule an appointment with me online by clicking here, contact me via email at marthadesantedc@gmail.com, or call me at 612.321.6913.

Be Well and Take Care!

Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT

 

1Twomey L & Taylor JR. (1990).  Structural and mechanical disc changes with age.  J Manual Med, 5, 58-61.

2Kotani, Yoshihisa MD; Cunningham, Bryan W. MS; Cappuccino, Andrew MD; Kaneda, Kiyoshi MD; McAfee, Paul C MD (15 March 1998).  The Effects of Spinal Fixation and Destabilization on the Biomechanical and Histologic Properties of Spinal Ligaments: An In Vivo Study.  Spine, 23, 6, 672-682.

3Chou, Wen-Ying; Hsu, Chien-Jen; Chang, Wei-Ning; Wong, Chi-Yin.  Adjacent segment degeneration after lumbar spinal posterolateral fusion with instrumentation in elderly patients.  Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, 122, 1, 39-43.

True Confessions…

Yesterday something occurred to me. I was speaking with a friend who was surprised to hear that I was experiencing back pain, and that I was going to see my chiropractor. I am a chiropractor… and a yoga and Pilates instructor. Apparently, I ought to feel healthy and fit all the time. Here’s the catch. As all chiropractors know, you can’t adjust yourself.

Heart-Hands-58521_396x233I have run into similar reactions of surprise after sharing something with friends about an area of my life where I needed help to feel my best (physical, emotional, mental or spiritual). I actually had one girlfriend tell me she was surprised because she “thought I had the perfect life.” I’m still not sure what that means.

I took it to mean that I (like many people) am only comfortable sharing the “Yay!” moments with those around me… that I am much less comfortable candidly sharing what is hard for me , or instances when I need help.

How many people can relate to allowing some physical pain to become unbearable, thinking that you would just tough through it… until you finally broke down and got that much needed bodywork that made you feel better? Why do we let things become that acute and awful? This also plays out in the psycho/social/emotional areas of our lives. Perhaps if we were more comfortable seeking help at the first sign of trouble, issues would not build up and require as much of an intensive intervention.

Marianne Williamson is often quoted as saying “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.

In the past I have read this to mean that we should all feel empowered to go out and lead the lives we have imagined for ourselves in our wildest dreams. Live BIG! SHINE!

While I still get that feeling from reading this quote, more recently I have wondered about the implications of the final sentence. It’s not about living “the perfect life”… it’s about each of us living our own most authentic life. Sometimes it can be messy and hard to figure out how our most authentic life looks/feels/is… and sometimes we need help along the journey. Ditching fear and un-sticking the places where you feel stuck (again this works in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual realms) is a big job.

There is something very liberating in realizing that asking for help with this big job is okay…that you don’t have to “keep it together” all the time or “be perfect” or do it all alone. Maybe sharing our areas where we need help and not so carefully guarding our “work in progress” part of own personal growth process (including what we utilize for help and support along the journey) is just as important as sharing our strong, happy and shiny parts of ourselves.

Most people’s lives look much more put together from the outside. Perhaps sharing a bit of your own vulnerability with another will give them the courage to realize that there is nothing wrong with them and that there is nothing wrong with asking for help in whatever area of life they feel the need for it. Allow your presence to liberate others. You may provide them with the opportunity to move more fully into their own authentic life of their dreams.

I am happy to say that I utilize the services of many wonderful healers to keep me balanced in all aspects of my life. I love the things that chiropractic care, acupuncture, homeopathy, functional neurology, massages of all kinds, energy work, yoga, Pilates and art and movement therapy have done (and continue to do) for me. I am proud to say that I am a work in progress and that I am becoming more comfortable seeking help when I need it.

I encourage you to explore what blend of healing, life affirming activities and therapies will provide you with the support you need to live your most authentic life.
<3  Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT

As the Twig is Bent, So Grows the Tree

The idiomatic phrase “as the twig is bent, so grows the tree…” fits beautifully in the context of understanding why chiropractic care is important for children.  Children experience physical, chemical and emotional stressors (just as adults do) and this can contribute to the development of the vertebral subluxation complex (possible combination of altered joint and nerve function, pain may be present).  From the birth process to learning how to walk and falling on their bottom many times per day to falls from trees and off of bikes, an active child’s life is full of opportunities for physical trauma.  If you have even seen an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos, you have a great visual list of potential reasons children could benefit from chiropractic care.  While children are very resilient and can often “walk it off” when mild bumps and falls happen, if the underlying structural component is not addressed their body is merely compensating and developing a maladaptive pattern that the body will only cover for so long before symptoms begin to develop.  Injuries sustained as children often present as symptomatic areas of degeneration or “wear and tear” in a person’s twenties, which is commonly when a person chooses to seek chiropractic care for the first time.

A common misconception is that chiropractic care for children looks the same as chiropractic care for adults.  All of the techniques used are modified for the child’s specific stage of development and comfort.  I am so happy to provide gentle, specific chiropractic care to little ones to help prevent their bodies from getting used to these poorly functioning joint segments and maladaptive compensatory patterns so that they have the best chance of not keeping these imbalances and misalignments as they age.  While it would be silly to bring your child in to the chiropractor after every minor bump or fall (you might as well just move into the chiro office while they learn to walk), some key times to have your child’s spine checked by a chiropractor match up well with some major developmental milestones.  Important times to be checked would be shortly after birth (stress to bones of skull, neck and possibly pelvis), after learning to hold his/her head up (stress to neck), after learning how to roll over (stress to transitional area between mid and low back), after learning how to sit independently (stress to low back and pelvis), after learning how to walk (stress to low back and pelvis), or after any falls or injuries where your child acts like it might have been significant (things to watch for include not resuming play immediately, reacting differently than normal, continuing to mention discomfort).  At a minimum, it is prudent to have your child’s spine checked by a chiropractor at about 6 month to 1 year intervals (similarly to how you would take them in for a dental check-up).  The longer a child lives with (and adapts to) the vertebral subluxation complex, the harder it will be to release that pattern… this is why periodic checks are important despite the fact that your three year old will most likely not hobble over to you and say “Mommy, my back just went out”.

Every person (including a child) experiences the richness of his/her life experiences through his/her nervous system, which is housed by the protective structures of the skull and spinal cord.  There is an intimate relationship between structure and function in the human organism and the relationship between the skull and spinal cord with the nervous system components it protects is no exception.  The changes to the nervous system cannot be predicted based on how the structure is altered (enough research does not presently exist to say “this issue will produce more activity here or less here), however any change from a neutral/typical form can be expected to produce a change in function.  The changes that occur at the site of vertebral subluxation complex are many and the effect cannot be described simply as “a bone out of place puts pressure on a nerve”, because more often the situation is more subtle and complex than all that.  The most compelling reason to provide chiropractic care for children is due to this relationship between form and function.  The goal of a chiropractor working with kids it to allow them to grow and develop to their fullest capabilities without any interference to their nervous systems and how they perceive and interact with their world!

Besides being well versed in the detection and correction of vertebral subluxation complex, a chiropractor trained by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association in working with the pediatric population can be a great resource for identifying the best options for baby carrying/wearing devices that support baby throughout development, general family health and wellness lifestyle information and other structural concerns such as appropriate backpack fit and style.   For more information about chiropractic for kids, please check out the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association webpage.

Chiro Baby

 

If you would like to talk with me about if chiropractic care might be helpful for a little one in your life, please contact me by checking out the options listed under the CONTACT menu bar.

Take Care,

Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT

 

The Yoga of Feeling

Oriah Mountain Dreamer Quote

This past weekend (summer 2012) I had the awesome pleasure of going to the first (soon to be annual) Bhakti Fest Midwest.  It was a truly heart opening experience, as all in attendance practiced yoga, learned at workshops and experienced ecstatic chanting and dancing fun through kirtan.  Whoo- hoo!!  What a hot, sweaty, shiny liberating good time!  For those of you not familiar with kirtan, it is the devotional practice of chanting the many names of the Divine and experiencing the love and divinity that always surrounds you in abundance when you dare to open your eyes and heart.

I say dare because it can be so very scary to live life with an open heart.  If you are open to feeling and experiencing everything this life has to offer, there is a chance you will get hurt… and we all will sooner or later.  Intense sensation is part of the human experience.

This weekend shook some things up in me and reminded me that yoga is so much more than the “blissed-out” sensation that can sometimes accompany the practice.  Yoga is a tool for all the times in your life.  Being a yogi/yogini does not mean that you must constantly maintain a state of serenity and detachment… this is not realistic for a long term state while operating as a householder in the wide world.

Being a yogi/yogini simply means that you allow your higher consciousness to bear witness to all of your experiences.  Yoga teaches you tools to observe what shows up in your life on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels without passing judgement.  Yoga lets you breathe into those observations and sit with whatever you find, rather than defaulting to whatever knee-jerk reaction patterns that may have held you in the past.

I have noticed for a while that before I teach a class I feel the need to put on the yoga teacher persona, the calm, chill act.  While I am at many times both calm and chill, at many others I am goofy, silly, happy and very enthusiastically fired-up about shit that I love.  Sometimes I say words like “shit,” too.

I have been fighting this battle with “vanilla” for as long as I can remember… the need to make myself more bland and palatable so as to be more widely accepted and to not offend.  While there is nothing wrong with vanilla (if that is your natural resonance), there is something that feels very wrong with continually trying to hide or erase anything that might make me seem odd or quirky… it feels like I’m squashing my own fun.  I’m so done with that.  My fun wants out… and it wants yours to come out, too.

I’m not really sure what flavor of ice cream I am, but I am becoming more sure every day that it isn’t vanilla.  As long as it’s not pralines and somethin (think Wayne’s World) I’m okay with whatever flavor continues to develop as I let my fun emerge.  It is my intention to let my heart shine in all it’s beautiful, vulnerable glory… to give myself permission to be weird and silly and as long as I’m not hurting anyone, to not take it personally if “me doing me” doesn’t work for everyone.

This realization has allowed me to be more real with students in the classes that I teach and with the practice members in my chiropractic practice.  My husband Paul recently participated in a yoga class that I was teaching and remarked that it felt the most authentic that my teaching had in a long time.  My heart is full and grateful for the reminder that Bhakti Fest provided by once again breaking it open through the gifts of yoga and joyful song and dance.

Until next time… breathe and keep it real  😉

Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT

Spring 2014 workshops

The following workshops are being offered by me, Martha DeSante, Doctor of Chiropractic and Kripalu Certified Yoga Teacher at the Spark Wellness Yoga Studio during the Spring 2014 season

Wednesday, January 15th 7:30-9pm
BREATH OF FRESH AIR – practical application of the anatomy and physiology of breathing

I know, I know, you are breathing right now.  What more is there to learn about breathing?  Lots!  Come learn about how the way you breathe can make a big impact on your health and quality of life!  Refine your understanding of how you breathe and the interrelationship of breath with posture, energy, injury prevention and stress levels.  Learn some new techniques that you can practice any place or time to enhance your vitality and pump up your AWESOME!! Come ready to explore new ways of relating to your breath and body.

*perfect for those new to intentional breathing or for those looking to refine their understanding of breathing with the whole body.

Wednesday, February 12th 7:30-9pm
DESK RESCUE

Are you an office warrior?  Do long hours spent working at a desk have you feeling old, stiff and funky?  Learn ways to prevent and reverse the many poor postural habits that desk work promotes including baby t-rex (Mr. Burns) posture, neck, shoulder, hip and back pain, core deconditioning, poor quality breathing and low energy.  This workshop will include simple step-by-step skills to improve your working posture, tips to set boundaries and take breaks, stretches and movements that can easily be done in an office setting as well as ways to turn back on muscles that can begin to “shut off” after too much sitting.  Come ready to experiment with postural exercises designed to undo that nasty sitting posture.

Wednesday, February 26th 7:30-9pm
SOLE TO SOUL
– Anatomy, Movement and Self-care

In this workshop you will learn step-by-step skills to lovingly care for your body and prevent injuries from the ground up.  Focusing on our physical and energetic connection to “grounded-ness”, we will explore the anatomy and movement of the feet and ankles, as well as stretches, exercises and self-care rituals to connect with this hard working part of our bodies.  Learn helpful tips and tricks to keep the feet youthful and prevent/improve conditions such as bunions and plantar fasciitis. Come with clean socks/feet as we will be spending time doing some self massage as well J

Wednesday, March 5th 7:30-9pm
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
– re-framing our relationship with food

In this workshop we will talk about the impact of eating habits and food choices on blood sugar and how that can dramatically impact our overall health.  From shakiness and headaches to diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease, blood sugar instability can hurt us and damage our bodies, our relationships with others and our lives.  The amazing news is that blood sugar stability is a factor that we can control!  Different concepts regarding food will be presented and ways to eat to balance blood sugar, reduce inflammation and manage stress will be introduced.  Learn to balance your blood sugar and never be *hangry again!

*hungry + angry = hangry

Wednesday, March 26th 7:30-9pm
BACK CARE BASICS
– the essentials for a healthy, happy back!

Whether you currently live with back pain or want to learn how to prevent it, this workshop is for you.  Come learn about the essential components of back health.  Some of the topics to be discussed will include specific movements of the spine, developing postural support muscles, how sitting impacts the back, what lifestyle choices can help or hurt your back and what modalities are available to help prevent and relieve back pain. Come ready to experiment with postural exercises to see what works for you to develop a home based self-care practice.

If you are interested in reserving your spot now for any of these workshops (which I recommend since space is limited), please call or text me (612.321.6913), FB message me, email me (marthadesantedc@gmail.com) or visit the Spark Wellness website.

Take Care,

Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT

What is Back in Body, and why does it matter?

Martha DeSante, Back in Body, Blog Post

My name is Martha DeSante. My life purpose is to help people reconnect with their bodies and learn to inhabit them with love and joy. I help people heal from the wounds of denying themselves priority, pleasure and play. I love to assist people as they reclaim their power as the CEO of their health and wellness using the tools of the awesome chiropractic adjustment, muscle work (hands-on, Graston/Gua Sha), nutritional support, personally prescribed yoga, Pilates, and postural exercises, breath and awareness. What better way to honor the body than learning how to provide self care, and being open to experiencing healing with skillful, loving bodywork?

I created Back In Body as a wake-up call to help us remember that our bodies are sacred gifts.  Our mission is to support those who hear this call and know that the radical path of self-love is for them.  From a place of self-love and acceptance, we can experience a true sense of love and connection with others.

Back In Body and its mission are vitally important.  I have recognized a desperately sad and pervasive belief that our bodies are not good enough, not something to be celebrated, treasured and enjoyed.  Too often, bodies are seen as objects… and we can even begin to distance ourselves from living life in our bodies in the first person.  We stop living life for our own experience and worry more about others experience of our own physicality.  We begin to see our body as an object for the approval or consumption of others.  We punish it, berate it, deny it.  We compare it and take all of the wonderful things that it can do for granted.  We subject our bodies to abuse and neglect through our own choices.

We identify with our minds and distance ourselves from this beautiful living animal that we are.  Once this perceived split occurs, the mind often begins to take on a position of more prominent influence.  Slowly but surely, any connection with or compassion for the spirit and particularly for the body begins to disappear.  The forgetting of the sacred nature of the body begins and the messages that come from the body’s innate wisdom are no longer heeded.

The mind can be a great servant, but a terrible master.   Unfortunately, many times the roles become reversed and the mind acts as master and subjugates the body.  If not properly trained, the mind can be a truly brutal and punishing master, causing a person to treat the body poorly, through the avenues of both abuse and neglect.  The mind has tremendous potential to be either our worst and most destructive enemy or our most beautifully powerful ally… the outcome all depends on how we train it!

Learning to rebuild a loving and caring relationship with my own body is a big part of my personal path to healing and wholeness.  Utilizing an approach of learning to love the self through the physical body has had profound effects for me, and many others.  This process is simple, but simple rarely equates with easy.  Maintaining a positive relationship with yourself, all body-mind-spirit of you, isn’t a one time thing… or a “well, I’m glad I finally achieved that so I can be done with it now” kind of thing.  It’s also not going to be all sunshine and farts!  It’s the same as with any relationship that you want to keep alive and healthy.  Ongoing attention and intention must be developed in this relationship… regular communication and authentic, meaningful connection must occur moving forward from this day, when you choose to begin this journey of love to the end of your time in this glorious physical form.

If the pain and trauma you are carrying and your own personal story of life experiences feels overwhelmingly heavy, take heart!  Just as this harmful attitude and approach to the physical body can be developed, it can also be undone!  My own personal way to healing is through learning to live in, love, celebrate and cherish my body and to forgive my mind, transforming her into my closest ally and best friend.  Through learning to respect my whole self, I began to feel reconnected with my spirit again!  I am happy to share what I have learned through this process with you.

This work doesn’t have to be done in large and insurmountable steps.  More often it is the budding awareness that allows us to find new and simple ways to be kinder and softer with our selves.  To love ourselves more.  To learn to revel in the joy of being in and BEING a human body!

I can’t promise that it will always be easy, but it will transform your life in ways that at first may seem hard to imagine.  Greater love and acceptance of self and others, less stress and anxiety and greater enjoyment of sensory experiences can all grow from developing a caring and respectful relationship with the body.

I invite you to explore my new website, check out my current service offerings and to please “like” the Back in Body Facebook page and/or sign up for the e-newsletter if this mission feels aligned with your values.  Liking the Facebook page and signing up for the e-newsletter will allow you to find out about new workshops, products and services as they become available, as well as free inspirational videos and blog posts about exquisite self care.  Future topics will include themes about posture and movement, nourishing food choices, developing the mind as an ally, breath and meditation, and restorative and health promoting practices.  Thank you for taking the time to read this!  Please share this and any other blog posts with your friends and family through social media if you feel like they would appreciate the Back in Body message.

<3 Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT

 

For some other self love and radical self acceptance resources:

The Body Is Not An Apology

Body Image Movement

Infinite Mind Hypnosis and Coaching

Spark Wellness