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Gym balls are great exercise for Chiropractic patients.

Posted Oct 19 2009 10:04pm

My Chiropractic patients are the typical middle-aged Americans that don’t want to slow down so I give them gym ball exercises. According to the Wall Street Journal, their desire to “keep going” has resulted in a 16 percent growth of the orthopedic industry, with knee replacement surgeries doubling in the 38-56 year old set from 1996-2001. New procedures such as cartilage cell transplants, arthroscopic procedures and artificial knees, hips and discs contribute to a growing $14 billion industry.

This demographic group also has a growing interest in fitness and wellness and gets involved in programs ranging  from gym ball exercise programs, yoga and Pilates to meditation and massage. The Baby-Boomer demand to keep moving has also given rise to a number of different providers offering various treatments. Your choices include Pharmaceutical companies which sell drugs, orthopedic surgeons sell increasingly high-tech surgery, with faster recovery times, retailers which sell products such as beds, chairs, shoes and sports gear, all ergonomically engineered for comfort and wellness, physical therapists initially sell one-on-one passive care, followed up with exercise and lifestyle advice and we chiropractors provide spinal adjustments/manipulation, along with support procedures and health counseling.

The best results occur through combination care. Active care by itself is effective. Randomized clinical trials have shown better outcomes and less disability for people with neck and back problems who receive exercise therapy than for those who don’t. Passive therapy is also good, but some passive therapy is better than other types. Studies show that manipulative therapy, in which the ligaments of the joint are stressed (as in a chiropractic adjustment) demonstrate better outcomes that passive therapies that stress primarily muscles, without sufficient force and /or velocity to affect the joint function.

When you combine active and passive therapies, you see real results. The combination gives better subjective improvement as well as better objective improvement when measured by the ability to accurately know when the head is straight and level. An easy active therapy involves a Swiss exercise ball. These large, inexpensive but sturdy inflatable balls are available at any sporting goods or health products store, as well as online. This ball provides excellent active care because it forces the body to balance as it exercises on a labile surface. This exercise creates a high demand on the motor control system, which changes both the level of muscle activity and the way that the muscles interact to stabilize the body.

An exercise and posture awareness program that uses the ball to promote symmetry and improved balance is excellent for rehabilitation and injury prevention as well as to improve athletic form and performance. Working with your chiropractor, a specialized program can be developed specifically for you. Starting with range of motion exercises and progressing to more involved balance and co-ordination requires a free and mobile spine so call your chiropractor to be evaluated.

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