by Alan Ruskin
Los Angeles DC helps patients assume control of their own rehabilitation.
More than 20 years ago, Jeff Tucker, DC, DACRB, left the practice he had shared with two other chiropractors for one reason: “I really wanted to do rehab,” he says. His colleagues didn’t share his singular enthusiasm, so he moved on and eventually established a multidisciplinary practice in Los Angeles with two medical doctors—one a specialist in pain management and the other a general practitioner with a background in acupuncture. “I found both doctors through the rehab community,” Tucker says with satisfaction.
While pain relief is the initial focus of Tucker’s practice, he also guides his patients toward optimum health by helping them assume control of their own rehabilitation. This includes teaching his patients how to use various exercises and therapeutic tools to achieve this goal.
Kicking Off with a Comprehensive Analysis
Tucker uses a variety of approaches, beginning with his own powers of observation. “My eyes are my best tool,” he says. “My examination begins as soon as I see the patient. I note their posture, watch their movement patterns.” From the patient’s health history and assessment forms, Tucker builds the foundation of his structural analysis. “The visual and postural analysis helps to evaluate the quality of their movements, more so than traditional tests that just evaluate strength.”
Next, Tucker performs an array of body-composition analyses, such as body mass index (BMI), intracellular and extracellular water, and basal metabolic rate. He uses the Biodynamics bio-impedance analyzer to help devise the kind of strength or weight-loss program that is right for the patient, and considers this phase crucial because “losing body fat and increasing muscle mass is a big part of the rehab process.”
Putting Out the Pain
Before implementing any BMI-changing program, however, Tucker must first ensure that the patient is out of pain. Calling upon his years of experience, he determines which modality will help the patient meet this goal. This may include one or more modalities, such as the recently developed technology known as Sound Assisted Soft-Tissue Mobilization (SASTM).
SASTM uses specialized instruments made from ceramic polymer, which resonate to create sound waves that are magnified as they pass through the instrument, detecting irregularities as the tool is pressed against tissue. (A lotion is used so the instrument can glide smoothly over the body.) Once the instrument has located adhesions and fascial restrictions, the doctor can treat the affected area with the pressure he applies to the instrument, which induces micro trauma to the affected area, producing a controlled inflammatory response. This in turn causes the reabsorption of fibrosis and scar tissue to facilitate healing.
SASTM is based on the ancient Chinese healing tradition of Gua Sha, which involves palpation and cutaneous stimulation to remove blood stagnation and promote normal circulation and metabolic processes. SASTM was introduced in the early 2000s by David Graston, a pioneer in the instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization industry. The procedure is designed to reduce pain and restore function to many soft tissue injuries. “It breaks down myofascial restriction and scar tissue,” Tucker says, “allowing me to follow up with stretching and strengthening exercises. Graston developed it to aid in his recovery from carpal tunnel and a serious water-skiing injury to his knee.” Tucker believes this treatment is highly effective, and it is one of his first choices for injury and pain.
Another therapy that Tucker uses on roughly half of his patients is a Class IV High Power Warm Laser. The laser, Tucker says, stimulates cell growth and metabolism; accelerates wound healing; and results in a dramatic reduction of inflammation, fibrous scar tissue formation, and pain. “The high-power laser is more effective than its predecessor—the low level, or cold, laser—because it delivers considerably more healing photonic energy at a much greater depth of penetration, thus accelerating the healing process,” Tucker says. “Another interesting note is, because of the warmth, the patient can actually feel the laser’s healing properties at work, which contributes to greater effectiveness. The idea is to get the person out of pain as quickly as possible, and the high-power laser’s ability to alleviate pain makes it a valuable tool in my rehab armament.”
Tucker also uses standard modalities such as the Chattanooga ultrasound and Dynatron interferential electrotherapy, both of which are widely used adjuncts to mobilization and manipulation treatments. Additionally, Tucker’s use of specialty tables plays a significant role in his patients’ treatment. He believes that his Leander flexion-distraction table is invaluable in providing gentle traction and repetitive motion, and that his Repex tables for extension are particularly effective for disk patients.
Building Bodies Through Fitness and Rehab
Rounding out Tucker’s therapeutic collection are foam rolls, the Swiss Ball (aka the Gym Ball or the Big Ball), free weights, and most especially, the relatively new Gymstick (www.GymstickLA.com).
A simple, dense foam roll, 3 feet long and 6 inches wide, that clients lie on with their own body weight, is an important component of achieving and maintaining healthy, full range of motion around the joints. “By putting pressure on tender areas along the muscle tissue, the golgi tendon organs help trigger the relaxation of the muscle spindles, which helps to dissipate adhesions, increase blood flow and enhance overall movement,” Tucker says. “When used in self-massage the roll can have a positive effect on cellular viscosity, changing the fluid properties of tissues to help prevent the drying out and stiffness that are typical symptoms of aging. “It’s a wonderful modality,” continues Tucker, who teaches his patients how to use the rolls for maximum benefit.
Free weight and Kettlebell programs are also high on the list, along with the Swiss Ball. Tucker prefers free weights over stationary machines because, “Where in real life do you sit down and push weights other than in the gym?” He recommends their regular use for building strength and stamina. He also makes use of the Swiss (Big) Ball, which is excellent for developing balance and core strength.
But the real star of Tucker’s rehab program is the up-and-coming Gymstick, which he believes “is going to be one of the best home exercise devices for rehabilitation or small group exercise classes.” Developed in Finland, the Gymstick is regarded as a total body fitness tool that produces speedy results in cardiovascular, muscular, and endurance training.
The Gymstick uses an exercise stick and resistance bands. The bands are attached to each end of the stick, with loops on the other end of the bands that go under the feet. There are hundreds of exercises working out every aspect of strength, flexibility and balance, including replicating free weight exercises such as squats, curls, and presses. The device comes in five strength levels and colors, to suit any user, regardless of age or fitness level. Resistance can also be raised or lowered within each level. The Gymstick provides resistance training for both Type I (slow-twitch) and Type II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers, and it is very efficient in reducing body fat (at a rate of up to 700 calories per hour!).
An Ideal Approach
Tucker’s ultimate rehab and fitness regimen encompasses the use of SASTM and other modalities such as warm laser and ultrasound for pain relief, low-load body exercises such as bridges and quadruped maneuvers, and then whole-body stabilization exercises, including squats and lunges. Once this is accomplished, Tucker moves on to free weights and the Gymstick which, along with diet and nutritional counseling, puts the patient on the road to optimal, self-sustaining strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health and endurance.
As Tucker puts it, “Many of my patients want to know, ‘What am I going to be like 20 years from now?’ ” It’s a good question, and Tucker’s goal is to provide a good answer.
Alan Ruskin is staff writer for Chiropractic Products. For more information, please contact linkEmail(‘aruskin’);firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metabolism and the Benefits of Interval Training
by Jeffrey H. Tucker, DC, DACRB
In the previous article, I introduced you to Sheldon, who has been diagnosed with a pre-insertional tear of the Achilles tendon. Sheldon is now out of acute pain and has to start his exercise training in preparation for playing basketball in the upcoming Maccabi Games.
Eliminate Conventional Aerobics
What led Sheldon to an ankle injury was his personal choice in preparation for the games. He started spending about an hour on the treadmill three days per week and then played basketball another three times per week. He did not properly stretch or warm up prior to his activities. The probable mechanism of injury to his ankle was repetitive stress and faulty movement patterns. Sheldon’s diagnosis was a pre-insertional tear in the Achilles tendon. Initially, walking and running were painful. However, he could ride a stationary bike.
One of the first changes I make to a cardio program is to have my clients eliminate conventional aerobics. For example, if a client is spending 60 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical machine, I recommend they spend that hour of time performing: 10 minutes on the foam roll; 10 minutes isolated stretching; 20-25 minutes doing a combination of body-weight exercises, resistance exercises and/or lifting free weights; and 15-20 minutes of cardio training, especially using interval training techniques.
The foam roll is used as an inhibitory technique to release tension and/or decrease activity of overactive neuro-myofascial tissues in the body. After using the foam roll, clients are instructed to participate in static stretching of muscles to increase the extensibility, length and range of motion of neuromyofascial tissues in the body.
The next phase of the workout is muscle-activation techniques, often performing body-weight exercises. These exercises are used to increase intramuscular coordination and strength. Squats, lunges, push-ups and step-ups are examples of dynamic movements. When I train my clients to lift free weights, I want them to lift heavy weights. When I teach free-weight training, I recommend creating circuits of five exercises, performing six repetitions of each exercise and then performing the circuit three times. The sixth rep of each set should be difficult to complete if you are using the correct amount of weight.
In three separate half-hour, in-office sessions, (once per week for three weeks) I can teach my clients approximately 15 different resistance, body-weight and/or free-weight exercises. At the end of the three sessions, they have learned and practiced enough to perform a 15-minute, 30-minute or 45-minute whole-body, customized workout routine. The amount of time they work out and spend on the home program depends on the number of sets they perform. They can adjust this to their own schedule.
If clients are not ready to lift free weights, I use a fitness tool that combines a stick and exercise bands into one effective workout. You can do hundreds of different exercises and combination movements to improve strength and flexibility. Every Tuesday and Friday morning, I teach a small-group exercise class. My experience has shown that resistance-band or resistance-bar exercises can be performed for one-minute intervals and then changed to the next exercise for the next minute. This routine can be continued for 20-45 minutes. This provides a great cardio, strength and flexibility workout.
Teach Interval Training
Sheldon needed to get cardio fit and “court ready” for the basketball tournament. The best choice of training for his cardio is interval training. Interval training is broadly defined as alternating brief periods of very high-speed or high-intensity work, followed by periods of rest or very low activity. Simply put, interval training is based around the concept of “Go fast, then go slow, then repeat.” You can perform interval training routines on pretty much any machine you want, such as a treadmill, bike or elliptical machine, and it can apply to almost any sport (swimming, cycling, running).
In interval training, high heart rates during work periods and low heart rates during recovery follow each other. This not only results in increased cardiovascular strengthening, but also increases the energy expended per minute, increasing thermogenesis and thus resulting in increased fat loss. Just remember, the concept of interval training is to go fast and then go slow.
If you are dealing with an unfit client, I don’t recommend they run to get fit. They need to start a walking routine first. Once they are fit, they can run. Typically when a person decides to start an exercise program, they usually think of walking as the major form of exercise. Walking is an ideal place to start. How do you apply interval training? If you’re in good shape, you might incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular brisk walks.
In my home gym, I have an elliptical machine for my interval training. For example, I warm up at a speed of 5.5 for five minutes and then perform short, fast (speed of 8-10) bursts for 30-60 seconds. I slow down for a minute or two and then repeat the fast burst again. This is performed for 15-20 minutes. If you’re less fit, you might alternate leisurely walking with periods of faster walking. For example, if you’re walking outdoors, you could walk faster between certain landmarks.
Have you ever noticed when people continue to do the same walk, day in and day out, and do not add periods of short bursts to increase metabolic activity to improve their fitness level, they simply stay at the same weight, BMI and body composition? If clients are just beginning an exercise routine, I also suggest they include bicycling in their routine. Since bicycling allows for maximum metabolic disturbance with minimal muscular disruption, metabolic rate and exercise activity efficiency easily can be increased. To apply interval training to cycling, you could pedal all out for 60 seconds and then ride at a slower pace while you catch your breath for the next two to four minutes. Try to keep the bursts of speed at around 90 percent to 100 percent of maximum effort.
An example of an interval routine for runners is to sprint for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, repeat four to eight times; or sprint 15 seconds, rest 5 seconds, repeat four to six times.
The Benefits of Interval Training
Major increase in fat loss. In a study done by Tremblay, et al., two groups were assigned different training regimens.1 Group A performed regular moderate intensity cardio (like jogging or bicycling) for 20 weeks and Group B performed interval training routines for 15 weeks. The results of each group were recorded. Group B lost nine times more fat than Group A in five weeks less time.1
Increased lactic acid threshold. Lactic acid threshold indicates how fast your body can remove the lactic acid in your muscles. When your body can remove lactic acid more efficiently, you can work the muscles at a higher intensity for a longer period of time before they become fatigued.
Shorter workouts. If you crank up your exercise intensity using interval training, you can work out in less time and accomplish more compared to performing steady-state cardio. It appears interval training burns more fat than regular moderate-intensity cardio. The rationale is that recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels can require several minutes for light exercise and several hours for hard intervals. This phenomenon is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Intense exercise of a significant duration may cause EPOC or afterburn. This means extra calories are burned after an intense exercise bout. This indirect expenditure of energy has been shown to last from 30 minutes to many hours post-exercise.
Don’t forget that the training effect increases faster with increased intensity than with increased duration. A long-duration, low-intensity workout will not necessarily result in a high training effect, while a short, high-intensity workout may produce a high value. You need to develop an aerobic base in your fitness clients, but you must progress to intervals if you want real results in both fitness and fat loss. The bottom line is: The higher the intensity, the more calories will be expended. The more energy expended per minute, the more efficient your exercise time will be for fat loss. By the way, Sheldon’s team went on to win the men’s basketball championship.
- Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism, July1994;43(7):814-8.