Archive for the 'piriformis syndrome' Category

The Marathon Runner as Couch Potato

posted by Drax @ 9:09 AM
November 21, 2013
I know I have to stop doing this, but this was such a good article.  If you go back over the blog, you’ll see several posts I’ve writtin about how bad sitting is.  And here is the NYTimes agreeing with me!!    
We’ve made things so convenient for ourselves that we have this kind of oximoron, the Couch Potatoe who runs marathons.  Not that running marathons is that good for you, but it is usually associated with a much greater level of fitness than somebody whose hobby is watching television and eating cheetos.

The Marathon Runner as Couch Potato

Phil Roeder/Getty
Phys Ed

Gretchen Reynolds on the science of fitness.

Someone can train for a marathon and simultaneously qualify as a couch potato, recent research shows, raising provocative questions about how sedentary most of us really are.

The amount of time that most of us spend sitting has increased substantially in recent decades, especially as computers and deskbound activities have come to dominate the workplace. According to one telling recent study, the average American sits for at least eight hours a day.

Such prolonged sedentariness may have health consequences, additional research shows. A study of almost 2,000 older adults published in August, for instance, found that those who spent the most hours seated every day had a greater risk of high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, a poor cholesterol profile and body-wide inflammation than those who sat the least, no matter how much either group exercised (which, generally, was not much).

So, too, a stark numerical 2012 analysis of lifestyle, health and death statistics from a large group of Australian adults concluded that every hour that someone spent watching television — a widely accepted marker of sitting time — after the age of 25 reduced his or her life span by almost 22 minutes. More broadly, in this analysis, watching television for six hours or more per day shaved almost five years from a typical adult’s life span, compared with someone who did not watch TV. Life span was shortened even if someone met the standard medical recommendation of exercising moderately for 30 minutes or so on most days of the week.

But many highly active people, including those completing their preparations for Sunday’s upcoming New York City Marathon, probably feel immune from such concerns. After all, it seems reasonable enough to assume that multiple hours spent training must lessen the number of hours spent plopped in a chair.

Until recently, however, no studies had specifically examined whether people who are extremely active are, on the whole, also truly not sedentary.

So scientists affiliated with the School of Public Health at the University of Texas at Austin recently set out to fill that research gap. They began by contacting runners who had signed up for the local Austin marathon or half-marathon. More than 200 of the race entrants, male and female, agreed to participate.

The Texas researchers asked these volunteers to complete a questionnaire that precisely parsed how they spent their time each day. “We didn’t want to look only at certain measures” of sitting time, such as television viewing, said Geoffrey Whitfield, who devised the study as a doctoral student at the University of Texas.

Instead, the questionnaire asked about work, commuting, and telephone habits, as well as time spent watching television or playing computer games. It also asked the volunteers to enumerate how many hours they spent training each day and their anticipated race pace.

As expected, the runners, training as they were for a marathon or half-marathon, reported spending considerable time sweating. On average, they exercised vigorously for nearly seven hours per week, “which far exceeds the standard exercise recommendation,” said Dr. Whitfield, who is now an Epidemiological Intelligence Service Officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

But those hours of exercise do not seem to have reduced sedentary time. On an average workday, the runners reported sitting for more than 10 hours at the office and at home, easily topping the national average. (Almost all of the participants were employed; a few were students.) On non-workdays, the runners spent about eight hours inactive.

The researchers found no correlation between running pace or training volume and sedentary time; fast runners and slow runners both sat equally often, as did those who were putting in the most or the fewest hours each week training.

In effect, the data showed that “time spent exercising does not supplant time spent sitting,” said Harold Kohl, a professor of epidemiology and kinesiology at the University of Texas and senior author of the study. “It seems that people can be simultaneously very active and very sedentary.”

The study does not necessarily intimate, however, that being a marathon runner and couch potato is in any particular way harmful, Dr. Kohl pointed out. He and his colleagues did not measure the runners’ health, he said, only their lifestyle. “It is impossible to say” based on their data, whether heavy training would ameliorate any undesirable effects of sitting or whether such effects even would occur in the supremely fit.

Still, the findings are a cautionary reminder that many of us, including the most physically active, may be more sedentary than we imagine. “The fact is that exercise, even at very high doses, does not occupy much time in most people’s days,” said Dr. Whitfield, who himself used to train for triathlons. And while the science about the health impacts of prolonged sitting may still be incomplete, he said, “it’s pretty safe to say that it would a good idea for most of us to spend more of our time up and moving.”


I was at a conference a few weeks ago where getting older and moving was discussed.  The biggest problem people have as they age is a big decrease in movement and the ability to move.  Marathons and Triathalons are not for everybody, but even getting up and walking every day will lengthen your life.  It only has to be a 20 minute walk, but it will make a world of difference.

Chiropractic helps people get and stay mobile by normalizing and optimizing  joint function.  Since we are ALL aging, regular chiropractic care is always a good idea – starting when you’re little.




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Why Runners Don’t Get Knee Arthritis

posted by Drax @ 14:51 PM
October 3, 2013

woman runner jogger running

Why Runners Don’t Get Knee Arthritis

I found this article in the New York Times and thought I’d pass it along because it shows a couple of really cool things. First of all, we do amazing science in Canada. Secondly, chiropractors have been saying for ages that proper movement doesn’t cause arthritis, it actually protects you from it and that is essentially what this article is saying.

So, if you like to run and your knees haven’t been injured – keep on going. If you have injured your knees in the past, know that running will probably cause you problems. But we know for sure that exercise is ALWAYS good for you.

If you are unfit then starting a new exercise regimen it can hurt at the beginning, but that can be because you started too hard, or your body just needs some time to get used to moving again. The thing to remember is that there is a difference between hurt and harm. Something can hurt a bit and be perfectly fine and safe to do without causing any harm. If something is harmful, you’ll usually know it because the pain doesn’t subside over time.

September 25, 2013 article in the New York Times


One of the most entrenched beliefs about running, at least among nonrunners, is that it causes arthritis and ruins knees. But a nifty new study finds that this idea is a myth and distance running is unlikely to contribute to the development of arthritis, precisely and paradoxically because it involves so much running.

It’s easy to understand, of course, why running is thought to harm the knee joint, since with every stride, ballistic forces move through a runner’s knee. Common sense would suggest that repeatedly applying such loads to a joint should eventually degrade its protective cartilage, leading to arthritis.

But many of the available, long-term studies of runners show that, as long as knees are healthy to start with, running does not substantially increase the risk of developing arthritis, even if someone jogs into middle age and beyond. An impressively large cross-sectional study of almost 75,000 runners published in July, for instance, found “no evidence that running increases the risk of osteoarthritis, including participation in marathons.” The runners in the study, in fact, had less overall risk of developing arthritis than people who were less active.

But how running can combine high impacts with a low risk for arthritis has been mysterious. So for a new study helpfully entitled, “Why Don’t Most Runners Get Knee Osteoarthritis?” researchers at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and other institutions looked more closely at what happens, biomechanically, when we run and how those actions compare with walking.

Walking is widely considered a low-impact activity, unlikely to contribute much to the onset or progression of knee arthritis. Many physicians recommend walking for their older patients, in order to mitigate weight gain and stave off creaky knees.

But before the new study, which was published last week in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, scientists had not directly compared the loads applied to people’s knees during running and walking over a given distance.

To do so now, the researchers first recruited 14 healthy adult recreational runners, half of them women, with no history of knee problems. They then taped reflective markers to the volunteers’ arms and legs for motion capture purposes, and asked them to remove their shoes and walk five times at a comfortable pace along a runway approximately 50 feet long. The volunteers likewise ran along the same course five times at about their usual training pace.

The runway was equipped with specialized motion-capture cameras and pads that measured the forces generated when each volunteer struck the ground.

The researchers used the data gathered from the runway to determine how much force the men and women created while walking and running, as well as how often that force occurred and for how long.

It turned out, to no one’s surprise, that running produced pounding. In general, the volunteers hit the ground with about eight times their body weight while running, which was about three times as much force as during walking.

But they struck the ground less often while running, for the simple reason that their strides were longer. As a result, they required fewer steps to cover the same distance when running versus walking.

The runners also experienced any pounding for a shorter period of time than when they walked, because their foot was in contact with the ground more briefly with each stride.

The net result of these differences, the researchers found, was that the amount of force moving through a volunteer’s knees over any given distance was equivalent, whether they ran or walked. A runner generated more pounding with each stride, but took fewer strides than a walker, so over the course of, say, a mile, the overall load on the knees was about the same.

This finding provides a persuasive biomechanical explanation for why so few runners develop knee arthritis, said Ross Miller, now an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland, who led the study. Measured over a particular distance, “running and walking are essentially indistinguishable,” in terms of the wear and tear they may inflict on knees.

In fact, Dr. Miller said, the study’s results intimate that running potentially could be beneficial against arthritis.

There’s some evidence” from earlier studies “that cartilage likes cyclical loading,” he said, meaning activity in which force is applied to the joint, removed and then applied again. In animal studies, such cyclical loading prompts cartilage cells to divide and replenish the tissue, he said, while noncyclical loading, or the continued application of force, with little on-and-off pulsation, can overload the cartilage, and cause more cells to die than are replaced.

But that’s speculation,” Dr. Miller said. His study was not designed to examine whether running could actually prevent arthritis but only why it does not more frequently cause it.

The results also are not an endorsement of running for knee health, he said. Runners frequently succumb to knee injuries unrelated to arthritis, he said, and his study does not address or explain that situation. One such ailment is patellofemoral pain syndrome, which is often called “runner’s knee.”

But for those of us who are — or hope to be — still hitting the pavement and trails in our twilight years, the results are soothing. “It does seem to be a myth,” Dr. Miller said, that our knees necessarily will wear out if we continue to run.

Dr. Dorothea McCallum, Abbotsford orthotics custom provider uses the advanced Footmaxx computer system to analyze your gait.  Custom orthotics are manufactured to correct your particular walking patterns.  Not based solely on the shape of your dysfunctional foot, Footmaxx orthotics actually correct over-pronation and other gait irregularities. Wearing Footmaxx orthotics and can lead to healthier, functional feet.  Plus, no more foot pain!  Visit McCallum Chiropractic for a gait analysis.





Dr. Dorothea McCallum is located in Abbotsford at


Ventura Chiropractic


101-32920 Ventura Avenue


Abbotsford, B.C.







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posted by Drax @ 13:41 PM
September 20, 2012

What is Sciatica?

 The sciatic nerve is made of up five nerve roots that exit from your lower back, join in your pelvis and then continue to your thigh, knee, ankle and finally your foot.  Your two sciatic nerves (running the length of each leg) are the longest and largest nerves in your body.

Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve roots are inflamed, irritated, stretched or pinched.  Inflammation of this nerve can cause extreme pain.


The pain can affect an or all of the regions that the sciatic nerve travels so your lower back, hips, legs, and/or feet can be affected.  The pain is different depending on where the nerve irritation occurs.  One of more of the following sensations may occur:


  • pain in the buttocks and/or leg that is worse when sitting
  • burning or tingling down the leg
  • weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg
  • a constant pain in the buttocks
  • a shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up


Sciatica is a common symptom of spinal dysfunction. It can be very painful and left untreated sciatica may get worse.


How do you get Sciatica?


Sciatica is commonly associated with a herniated or bulging disc.  Your spinal discs provide a cushion between each of your vertebrae.  If this cushion “bulges” it may come in contact with your sciatic nerve and cause nerve irritation.

If you’ve suffered an accident, the reason for your sciatica may be obvious, however, it can also result from a series of small “injuries” or cumulative damage.  Poor posture, excessive weight, lack of muscle tone or other physical, chemical or emotional stresses can all lead to an unhealthy spine and sciatica.


Simple movement such as lifting or bending ay trigger a sciatic episode but generally there are underlying problems if sciatica is triggered easily.


How can Chiropractic Help?


Proper treatment of any condition, involves treating the cause and not just the symptoms.  Chiropractors are uniquely trained to diagnose and treat your sciatica.


They will review your complete health history and perform a thorough physical examination to pin-point any physical problems.  Your care may include adjustments, exercises and corrections to your posture, behaviour and lifestyle.  Our goal is to correct or improve spinal alignment and mobility to allow your body to heal and relieve nerve irritation.


Many patients are prescribed bed rest or pain killers for sciatica.  Prolonged bed rest has been found to be ineffective and may actually aggravate your condition.  Pain killers may provide relief from your pain but do not deal with the cause of the problem.  Chiropractic care offers save, effective treatment for sciatica without the use of drugs or surgery.


Chiropractic care focuses on maximizing the body’s incredible potential for self-healing by detecting, correcting and preventing interferences in your nervous system. It may include spinal adjustments, stretches, exercises or other healthy lifestyle recommendations.

This is the best piriformis/sciatica stretch going.  Lie on your back and bend both of your legs at the knees, cross one ankle over your other knee, and pull your bottom leg up.  If you can’t reach with your hands, use a towel and pull on that.  Hold this pose for 30 seconds and remember to BREATH while you are holding.  Switch legs.  Do your sore leg first, not sore leg next and sore leg again for best results.

Chiropractic can change your life!

References available on request.

Dr. McCallum’s office is located upstairs in the Bay SevenOaks,32900 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford, BC.  Call 604-864-8232 to book an appointment.  We love helping people regain and maintain their good health.


In the Abbotsford chiropractic office of Dr. Dorothea McCallum, you’ll enjoy expert care that goes beyond sore backs and headaches.


Our office (inside the Bay) can be viewed on our CanPages site:

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posted by Drax @ 14:51 PM
June 14, 2012

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I’m not a golfer. But… my Dad is a great golfer. He’s 82 and he’s golfing his age. One of the reasons he became such a great golfer is because when he was young he practiced ALL the time – the 10,000 hour rule. He looks at the game is a great intellectual and physical challenge. He’s also very competitive – with others – but especially with himself.


Another reason my Dad was and still is a great golfer is because my Mom wasn’t worried about being a golf widow – she looked at it as great way to keep her husband out of her hair, fit and in spending money! My Dad only likes to play when there’s money involved!


How do you stay fit and hitting your age at 82? I think there are a couple of other reasons besides a good early beginning, an understanding wife and genetics – (1) he’s always gotten chiropractic care (being the son of a chiropractor probably helped there) and (2) he practices his swing every day – rain, shine, snow, winter, summer, spring or fall, my Dad is swinging a club. He makes sure he has somewhere in the house (near a TV) with high enough ceilings that he can practice his swing at every ad. (My Dad’s second favorite activity is watching golf on TV).

From a chiropractic point of view here’s why these two points are important:


Practicing your swing keeps your spine flexible and your nervous system programmed. Like any kind of learning, practice keeps the nerve pathways that carry the information transmitting smoothly and efficiently. It’s why concert pianists practice every day, even though they know exactly what they are doing. It’s why airline pilots have regular training sessions even if they’ve been flying for 20 years. It’s why chiropractors go to training seminars every year to keep current.


Even better than just swinging the way you hit the ball, practice swinging the other way too. If you are a right handed golfer, practice swinging like a lefty, and vice-versa. Practicing your swing takes your spinal vertebrae through their ranges of motion and keeps the joints flexible and the cartilage on the joint surfaces lubricated and nourished.

A flexible back is one of the most important things you need to maintain in order to achieve a great and accurate swing. In upcoming posts I’m going to talk about the advantage of a short back swing. I know, I know, I don’t golf – what do I know about it? However, I am a chiropractor and I understand mechanical advantage and how the body works regarding torque and power, so you’ll just have to wait and see what I have to say about it!


In the meantime, though, all golfers need to see a chiropractor. Chiropractic helps maintain accurate, fluid, coordinated movement throughout the spine. This kind of movement helps you swing with accuracy and power for longer shots and with precision in your short game. Regular chiropractic care means a better functioning nervous system so your muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints “talk” to each other with better understanding and your score drops. Plus, you’re less likely to injure yourself because you’re better coordinated.


Come into the office for an evaluation and see how chiropractic care can improve your golf score and make the game more fun. Who knows? Maybe you can increase your spending money too!

In the Abbotsford chiropractic office of Dr. Dorothea McCallum, you’ll enjoy expert care that goes beyond sore backs and headaches.


Our office (inside the Bay) can be viewed on our CanPages site:

Dr. McCallum’s office is located upstairs in the Bay SevenOaks,32900 South Fraser Way,Abbotsford,BC. Call 604-864-8232 to book an appointment. We love helping people regain and maintain their good health.

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posted by Drax @ 11:18 AM
May 10, 2012






Piriformis Syndrome


“Pain in the butt” is not an uncommon description made by patients that are suffering from Piriformis Syndrome.




You feel a deep aching right in the middle of your butt cheek that sometimes refers down your leg.  The piriformis muscle originates on the bottom of the sacrum – the large triangular bone at the bottom of the spine and attaches on the greater trochanter of femur, or the outside of the leg just below the hip.  Because the piriformis muscle has an intimate relationship (no, not that kind!) with the sciatic nerve which can pass over the top, through the middle of or a combination of these patterns, any tension in the muscle will irritate the sciatic nerve and be felt in distant locations – like your thigh, knee, etc, or running down the leg like a deep ache.  In fact, piriformis syndrome is often diagnosed as “sciatica” as if the nerve is to blame.


The piriformis muscle has a number of functions, the main one being pelvic stability.  Along with the psoas muscle, which originates just below the diaphragm and runs along the spine attaching on each spinal vertebra from L1 down and ending on the lesser trochanter of femur on the inside of the leg just below the hip in the groin area, the piriformis helps keep the pelvis level and stable so you can balance and move.


If for some reason the pelvis is torqued or twisted, then these two muscles will try to straighten things out and one side will often become tighter than the other.  This can actually make the twisting worse and is why everyone needs a chiropractor.  Once distortion starts, you can’t correct it yourself. This pelvic distortion most often occurs because of postural habits – you like to stand on one leg and hang on your pelvis – you all do it!  Doing this isn’t evil, but we always have a favorite side, so we spend more time on one leg than the other and that’s where the problem occurs.  Your body is smart and quickly learns that this is what you do and adapts to it to make it more efficient, so this one sided habit becomes even more ingrained!  The other things we do are cross our legs when we are sitting, men put their wallets in their back pockets, and we drive cars where we usually only use one leg on the pedals.


Prolonged postures like these shorten the piriformis on one side and can cause rotation through the hip and excessive pronation in the foot on that side.  These are the kinds of mechanical alterations in the spine that eventually lead to arthritic changes in the spine, hips, knees, ankles and contribute to developing flat feet.


Generally, piriformis syndrome doesn’t require invasive treatment.  Of course, prevention is always best – learn how to do things as symetrically as possible – don’t cross your legs, put your wallet in your front pocket, stand on both your legs, visit your chiropractor regularly for straightening up – it’s really the only kind of prevention there is.  Here are some exercises that will help.


Another thing to consider is getting orthotics.  The correction that custom orthotics provide help to “untwist” the pelvis and take pressure off the knees and hips.  What works best, however, it to see your chiropractor, get yourself straightened out as much as possible and then get custom corrective orthotics to support your correction.


If you do this, your back, your hips, your knees and your feet will all thank you and keep you going for years longer.


Visit the office for an evaluation.  Contact the office for more information about the evaluation procedure and costs and visit our website at .

Dr. Dorothea McCallum, Abbotsford orthotics custom provider uses the advanced Footmaxx computer system to analyze your gait.  Custom orthotics are manufactured to correct your particular walking patterns.  Not based solely on the shape of your dysfunctional foot, Footmaxx orthotics actually correct over-pronation and other gait irregularities. Wearing Footmaxx orthotics and can lead to healthier, functional feet.  Plus, no more foot pain!  Visit McCallum Chiropractic for a gait analysis.


The BC Chiropractic Association has put together some chiropractic information on youtube.  Go here to see a complete list of interesting information regarding chiropractic from a reliable source:

Dr. McCallum’s office is located upstairs in the Bay SevenOaks,32900 South Fraser Way,Abbotsford,BC.  Call 604-864-8232 to book an appointment.  We love helping people regain and maintain their good health.

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