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Stress, Posture, and Gait

Posted Oct 22 2011 1:18pm

A holistic look at the causes of our aches and pains…

People seeking relief from aches and pains often are not aware of how imbalance in their posture and gait (walk) contributes to pain and fatigue. At the same time, more people are seeking ways to exercise that reduce stress and improves balance without damaging the body.

Stress includes both physical problems from improper exercise, traumatic injury, sprains, strains or simply degradation due to the aging process; as well as anxiety, worry and tension that manifests in physical symptoms. This can lead to improper gait, a condition that makes exercise and even simple movements inefficient, and increases risks for further injury.

One of the many ways mental stress can lead to physical symptoms is through what is called neurological switching, also known as general adaptation syndrome. When faced with a perceived threat, the body responds automatically with a surge of adrenalin, increased heartbeat and breathing. People who deal with stress over long periods of time may get stuck in this fight or flight mechanism without even knowing it. This can lead to problems with gait and posture which can compound other symptoms.

When the human body is healthy, there is a systematic rhythm to a person’s gait. The opposing arm swings naturally forward when a step is taken by either the right or left foot. This involuntary movement is controlled by an autonomic nervous system with the entire body operating as a unified muscle mass in a tension/relaxation cycle.

When normal gait is interrupted by stress, the autonomic nervous system causes the body to develop involuntary movement patterns during walking. This results in an asynchronous gait, which produces torquing of one side of the body vis-à-vis the opposing side.

Greatly accelerated wear and tear on the body and poor posture, the result of involuntary compensation for pain or stress, is manifested in unequal muscle length and tensile strength throughout the muscular skeletal system. The abnormal torquing, and the multiple compensations a person substitutes for her/his normal rhythmic gait, adversely affects joints, spinal flexibility and overall health. Even easy exercises and movements can be exhausting. But when we correct gait problems, patients see immediate results.

To help patients correct improper gait, I developed the Chi Rope, a set of exercise handles that combine sound, weight, magnetism and vibration to enhance the body’s homeostasis (balance). The system can be used with or without an interconnected jump rope for walking, jumping rope or in conjunction with a daily regimen of movements. Patients use them while doing Pilates, yoga and running.

Most people are looking for relief from specific symptoms when they visit a chiropractor. In functional health, we look for global, holistic methods to address the underlying cause of patients' symptoms. It is a whole new way of looking at health.

Correcting improper gait is a key to restoring homeostasis – balance and proper movement. By bringing the body back into balance, it can better handle stress and function properly with increased energy, vitality and efficiency.

Dr. John's Tips for Safe Exercise

Pilates and Yoga are among safer exercises. Neither one will correct gait problems, but they both involve controlled movement and resistance that does not tend to tear up the body like weight training or running.

Don't over-train. Many people work out too often and too hard and don't allow their bodies to recover. Before starting a new exercise routine, take your pulse for seven days every morning to determine your resting (baseline) pulse. If, after starting a new exercise routine, you find your morning pulse is five beats above your baseline pulse, take the day off. That's a sign you are overtraining.

Be aware of symptoms of imbalance. Abnormal aches, problems sleeping, mood changes and craving sweets are all signs that may indicate problems with gait and balance. To learn more, visit Dr. Lombardozzi's website at .

About the Author: Dr. John L. Lombardozzi is an expert in functional health and inventor of The Chi Rope, a patented exercise device to help improve balance and energy and correct uneven gait associated with pain, stress and fatigue. A lifelong athlete and inventor, Dr. Lombardozzi studied yoga, Pilates and martial arts while building custom motorcycles. Following a back injury, he became a chiropractic physician specializing in kinesiology and biomechanical movement. Dr. Lombardozzi earned a degree from Life Chiropractic College and has practiced chiropractic medicine for 14 years. For more information, visit .

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