This is from our winter newsletter.
The effects of trauma can persist long after the provoking incident, both for the sufferer and their families. I've always wondered how the body "stores" memories of trauma as patients have had both emotional responses when part of their body releases.
So, I've been thinking how trauma is a whole-body event, and have started reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk. I also recently attended a seminar that touched on the issue. I never knew that humans and most large mammals respond to threats in this order:
1) When we are first threatened, we turn to social engagement, for example, calling out for help, talking to a loved one or seeking support from our friends. We signal our distress and get others to come to our aid with our facial expressions or change in tone of voice.
2) If no one comes to help, we go into primitive fight or flight - beat off our attacker or run away. Our sympathetic nervous system takes over, it raises our heartbeat, diverts resources from our digestive system to our muscles.
3) If all fails, we go into freeze or shutdown to conserve energy. When this dorsal vagal system is activated, our metabolism shuts down, our heart rate plunges and we can even stop breathing. We may disassociate from the moment and our bodies, the effects of which last beyond the traumatic event.
Trauma sufferers can be "stuck" in (2) or (3) and unable to go back to a normal functioning of their nervous system. In addition, researchers are discovering that trauma can change the firing in the brain permanently, so some midline and frontal sections don't turn on but the fear centre is always on red alert. This explains why when sufferers experience a flashback or trigger, they lose their sense of the present and feel the trauma happening again as if it was fresh.
There are many methods to help sufferers deal with trauma, one interesting idea is the body needs to complete the stress response in a safe environment. My personal experience with this came while receiving a treatment for lower back pain. I felt my leg tense up, and I immediately recalled being in the surf and bracing against a big wave. My body obviously remembered the strain (even though I forgot it) and needed to finish what it was doing at that time of the injury before my nervous system could reset.
Why do some people suffer from trauma more so than others? While we don't know for sure, our mindset and interpretation of the traumatic event seem to make a difference, as well as our resources. People with a sense of life's purpose, who have better physical capability and social support usually recover better.
If reading this has caused any distress, you can call Lifeline at 13 11 14.
I will be donating $10 from every patient seen in June to First Nation Bedtime Stories, because stories show us who we are. For the week of June 17-21, you get a video story every night. Money raised goes towards recording more video stories from First Nations elders. Wanna chip in extra? Sure can! Head to the link to contribute or start your own page.
I attended a seminar last month cheekily called "Run like you stole it", all about running mechanics and how to avoid injury (and less so about pulling off successful bank jobs). While not all of us aspire to be runners, here are 5 tips I took away that will help with any activity.
Tip 1: Get the diagnosis right
It is hard to know, if you have a spot in your foot that hurts when you do X, what the problem is but that's my job to figure it out, not yours or Dr Google. A good rule of thumb is - if you can't put weight on it and it's swollen up to twice its size, go to the hospital to get some scans. Achilles tendonopathy, heel pain, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, shin splints, patella femoral pain, ITB syndrome are the most common running injuries (not in order).
Tip 2: The leg is a giant spring
Surprise surprise, even though the lower limb has proportionately more muscle than the upper limb, these muscles work together with tendons to store energy when your foot meets the ground, and release it to help your foot leave the ground. Tendons like the achilles and TFL can get injured when they lose this springlike quality in themselves and also when the surrounding musculature cannot absorb the impact going into the body. One of easiest ways to reduce the jarring is to walk or run softly. Instantly, you are activating your core and being mindful of how you land, instead of stomping.
Tip 3: Intrinsic foot strength is not just for dancers
Flat or high arches - we used to think that we are stuck with them for life but the foot is a lot more adaptable. Don't throw out your orthotics just yet though, we want comfort and stability until the feet are stronger. Here is a simple exercise called foot doming if you want to strengthen your arches. You need to keep 4 points of contact on the ground - on either side of the mid foot and heel as shown - and shorten your foot and lift the highest point of the arch. Start sitting, then progress to standing, and one-legged.
Tip 4: Skills before volume, volume before intensity
If you are looking to improve in your activity or start a new one, give your body time to adapt to the movement patterns. Break the movement down, strengthen individual muscles, then practice the whole action at a slow to moderate pace, before gearing up to the pace you would like to be at. If your goal is to win a medal at some level of competition, you should have a coach to design your training program to push you out of your comfort zone.
Read more: Why "easy" days and "hard days" make a difference to your training
Tip 5: Shoes don't make a big difference
There are so many running shoes out there, which one should you pick? The most comfortable, is the answer. Studies have found there is no link between foot type, shoes and risk of injury. Overall, lighter shoes are better and if your feet feel supported in them, then you won't be overworking your leg muscles. Barefoot or minimalist shoes are better for strengthening your intrinsic foot muscles but you need a good 6 months to train your feet to get used to them.
I swear it was New Year's Eve, closed my eyes for a nap and it's more than halfway through February already! This year is going to go in a blur, pretty much like this amusement ride...
I've given the website a bit of a dusting over, hopefully you'll find the information you need, always happy to take on suggestions.
I'm going for a runner's workshop next week, and am looking forward to sharing what I've learnt.
My last day of appointments before Christmas is Saturday morning Dec 22.
I have appointments available all day Sat Dec 29th, Wed Jan 2nd & morning of Sat Jan
I will be taking a break in Singapore from Wed Jan 23rd to Sat Feb 9th. I will be back
at work Wed Feb 13th.
I am away for a course with Dr Jealous next Thursday in Ashland, Oregon. I will be back treating on Saturday Dec 9.
Looking further ahead, I will be working until Dec 22, having a week off for Christmas and back in the first week of January 2019. More details to come...
I was in Singapore recently to study visceral osteopathy, something I've been interested in since uni but never had the time to explore. A lot of the traditional knowledge on visceral technique has been accumulated and further refined by French osteopath JP Barral, with some impressive results. You can watch a video of him here.
The course was also well-timed so that I could hang out with family and friends for two weeks after. Most of the great eating took place then... to avoid any embarrassing sounds while in class!
My first available appointment in Thornbury is from Wednesday July 25 and in Seddon from Friday July 20. Email me if you would like to be on the waitlist for an earlier appointment.
Starting July, I will no longer be working every Monday.
I've been working a 6-day week this year and it's time to take my own advice to find a better work-life balance. I will be increasing my Wednesday hours, and will still have occasional Monday mornings for existing patients.
The best way to check my availability is through the online booking system or call 0415 281 241 during office hours. If it's me you're looking for, I respond the fastest to an email, and I do check my SMS messages periodically.
HOURS FROM JULY
Wednesdays: 830am - 4pm
Saturdays: 230pm - 430pm
I understand that my new times may not suit everyone, if you require a practitioner that is a little closer or a little more available, please let me know so I can help you find someone that will understand your needs.
The clinic will be closed from Good Friday (30.3.18) to Easter Monday (2.4.18). I wish all of you a joyous time and best of luck hunting down those chocolate eggs!
From April 15 my hours are
- Alternate Mondays 930am to 3pm
- Wednesdays 930am to 4pm
- Saturdays 2- 430pm
I am going to take an alternate Monday off because my family says I get too grumpy without any time off. I'll try to do this so that it coincides with public holidays. If you have any concerns about this, please email me so we can work out something.