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Chiropractic is recognized as one of the safest therapies you can use to treat joint pain, back and neck pain, headaches, and other conditions. Because no type of healthcare therapy is completely free of potential side effects, however, some adverse effects may occur. Many patients feel relief immediately following a chiropractic spinal adjustment, but some experience mild aching or soreness in the spinal joints or muscles. This feeling is similar to muscle soreness after exercise. If this occurs, it is usually within the first few hours post-treatment and for most patients (74%) does not last longer than 24 hours after the treatment. An ice pack often reduces the symptoms of this more quickly. Spinal adjustments pose few serious risks, although rare complications include the possibility of a herniated disk or compression of the nerves in the lower spinal column. Some headaches and neck pains can be treated through cervical manipulation, which are also known as neck adjustments. These treatments improve joint mobility in the neck, restore the normal range of motion, and reduce muscle spasm to relieve pressure and tension. Neck manipulation is known to be a safe procedure, but some patients may experience side effects for a few days after treatment. These side effects include headache, fatigue, or continuing pain.
At the extreme end of risks associated with cervical manipulation, there have been reports that have associated it with a certain kind of stroke: vertebrobasilar artery (VBA) stroke. The best evidence indicates that the incidence of such injuries associated with neck adjustments is extremely rare – about 1 case in 5.85 million manipulations. To put this risk into perspective, this type of injury usually occurs spontaneously, or it happens as a result of everyday activities such as looking up to watch fireworks, turning your head while driving or having your hair washed in a hair salon.
Chiropractic adjustments are safe when performed by licensed professionals trained and to deliver chiropractic care. When you visit your chiropractor, you should be very specific about your symptoms, and about any concerns you feel about any risks. This will help the doctor to offer the safest and most effective treatment for you. Depending on your condition and the specific problems being treated, the chiropractor can sometimes forego manipulation, and instead can recommend a treatment regimen of joint mobilization, therapeutic exercise, soft-tissue techniques, or other therapies.
Resources: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/chiropractic/ http://www.acatoday.org http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chiropractic-adjustment/MY01107/DSECTION=risks http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/chiropractic/reactions-following-a-chiropractic-adjustment
Water is the elixir of life, but do we get enough of it? Many people think that substituting sodas, coffee and juice for water is enough to keep us hydrated and healthy, but nothing can beat the original and the best – water. Our bodies are made up of 43-75% water, and it’s an essential component of our health. The wide range in percentages comes from measuring different populations ranging from newborns (~75%) to obese people (~45%), with normal adult hydration at about 57-60%. We can survive a month without food, but we’ll die after a week without water. The body is able to absorb many nutrients and salts better thanks to water’s ability to transport these nutrients and oxygen to our body’s cells and organs. Detoxifying is vitally important to our health, since it cleans our bodies of impurities. The best way to excrete these impurities is through urine and sweat – both of which depend on our water intake. Upping your water intake may help to reduce the risk of kidney stone formation. The kidneys filter our waste products through the blood and out via urination. If the concentration of salt in our urine is high, and our water content low, this increases the risk of kidney stone formation. By drinking more water, this concentration of salts is reduced. We are at risk of sunstroke if our bodies become dehydrated. When we sweat, this cools our body down.
If dehydrated, the body cannot sweat and overheats, which can damage the body’s internal organs. If you suffer from high blood pressure, maybe it’s your water intake that is the problem. When our bodies excrete and lose more than the optimal amount of liquid, our blood vessels constrict, which can cause our blood pressure to increase. If blood pressure is increased by a deficiency in water, this may also increase the risk of heart disease. Because the constricted blood vessels cause an increase in blood pressure, the heart works harder to compensate for the reduced volume of blood. Lower blood pressure and greater consumption of water help lower stress on the heart. What’s more, drinking more water can help you stay younger looking. Drinking a lot of water helps keep the skin clean and fresh-looking by removing impurities through sweating. Water also helps to keep the skin hydrated, which means younger looking skin – sagging and wrinkled skin is usually a sign of dehydration. Drinking water also cuts hunger pangs and acts as a good filler. Water has zero calories, so consider trading in your sugary drinks and juices to help control your weight. If increasing your water intake seems like a chore, why not add lemon or mint to your bottle to make it taste better? Eat more fruits rich in water such as watermelon, and try to drink water more regularly over the course of the day. Having a glass of water or water bottle near you during the day has been shown to increase water consumption without effort.
References Used  http://www.jbc.org/content/203/1/359.full.pdf Accessed October 2011  http://thetaoofgoodhealth.com/10-health-reasons-why-you-should-drink-more-water-4/ Accessed October 2011  http://www.uihealthcare.com/topics/generalhealth/ghea5288.html Accessed 2011
Migraine sufferers have to endure a pain that is recurring, severe and can last up to 72 hours. Warning signs such as an “aura”, which is a type of visual disturbance, and nausea, sometimes accompany migraines. Many sufferers find that conventional medicine and prescription drugs offer little relief from their condition, and many are turning to alternatives methods of treatment in order to manage the pain. One such alternative is chiropractic treatment. A holistic approach to pain relief, chiropractic treatment focuses on aiding numerous health issues through massage, spinal manipulation and adjustment of the body’s soft tissues and joints, predominantly in the back. But is it effective against migraines?
In February 2000, a study published by Dr. Tuchin et al.  cited the possible benefits of chiropractic treatment in alleviating or easing both the pain and frequency of recurring migraines. The study used a sample of 127 migraine patients, all of whom suffered from at least one migraine per month; this sample was divided into two groups – one control group who received inactive treatment, while the other group received chiropractic treatment, focusing on aligning and treating specific areas of vertebral swelling and misalignment. The study concluded that those who received chiropractic treatment experienced subsequent improvement in the duration of the study, showing reduced pain and frequency of their migraines within two months of treatment. The latter group also reported a decline in the need of migraine medications. Further results from the same study found that one in five sufferers from the chiropractic treatment group had a 90% reduction of migraine frequency, while 50% found significant improvement in the severity of their migraines. Recent studies conducted by R. Bryans et al. published in 2011 , concluded that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, were found to improve both cerviocogenic headaches as well as migraines.
A systematic literature search on controlled clinical trials on the topic of migraines and headaches involving chiropractic treatment, published through August 2009, was conducted using a selection of medical and alternative therapy databases. Research found that chiropractic treatments such as spinal manipulation and massage could significantly help patients who suffer from chronic or episodic migraines, whereas sufferers of tension-type headaches did not respond to such treatment. While using alternative methods of treatment such as chiropractic care can help sufferers to gain more control over their migraines, it should be treated as another form of support or extra help, instead of completely overlooking conventional medical care.
 P.J. Tuchin, H. Pollard, R. Bonello, A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for Migraine. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Feb. 2000: Vol. 23, No. 2, pp91-95. R. Bryans et al., J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011 Jun;34(5):274-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008.
Functional medicine is an individualized, holistic approach to healthcare based on prevention and identification of the underlying causes of disease, rather than on symptoms. Functional medicine is based on the following principles:
• Every patient has a unique biochemical profile. While we all share certain biochemical processes, there are significant individual variations in our metabolic functioning due to genetics and environment.
• The focus is on patient care rather than disease care.
• There is a web of interconnections between physiological factors. Our biological systems function more like a network than like individual, autonomous processes. We now know that every organ and system can affect every other organ and system in the network, so the whole person needs to be treated rather than only the diseased part.
• Good health is more than the absence of disease. Conventional medicine compartmentalizes the body into specialties, such as cardiology, rheumatology, dermatology, and digestive disorders.
Functional medicine sees the body as an integrated system rather than a collection of independent organs. The approach uses principles of systems biology, which involve analyzing how all components of human biology interact with each other and with the environment. Imbalances in environmental inputs and physiological processes can cause the signs and symptoms of disease. Environmental inputs include diet, exercise, air quality, water quality, and trauma. Physiological processes include cell-cell communication, transformation of food into energy; cell, organ and system replication, repair and maintenance; elimination of waste; defenses, transport and circulation. Malfunctions in these systems can affect all other systems in the body, and may cause imbalances in hormonal function, cell replication, immune response, inflammatory response, digestion, and structural integrity.
Practitioners of functional medicine focus on the core imbalances that underlie medical conditions. Their goal is to intervene at multiple levels in order to restore balance, manage complex chronic disease, and return patients to good health. Most medical conditions are complex and don’t necessarily fall into simple, easy-to-treat categories. For example, digestive disorders often involve inflammation, immune response, digestive system function, psychological issues, and energy transformation issues. Each practitioner uses the patient’s unique physiological, mental, and emotional story as the basis for diagnosing illness.
A comprehensive and individualized treatment approach is then devised to improve the patient’s physiological function and environmental inputs, rather than focusing simply on symptom relief. Treatment may include typical medical approaches such as genetics, endocrinology, gastroenterology, psychology and immunology, as well as non-mainstream treatments and drugs such as homeopathy, orthomolecular medicine and detoxification. Rather than simply diagnose a condition and prescribe a pill for symptom relief, a functional medicine specialist will search for the root cause of disease and provide a multi-pronged approach to restoring balance and, ultimately, good patient health.
Do you know the difference between high glycemic foods and low glycemic foods? If you’ve ever felt light-headed or shaky (and very hungry) a few hours after eating certain foods, then you’ve experienced the “roller-coaster ride” of high glycemic foods. You’ve probably noticed that all foods don’t have this effect on you, and those that don’t are most likely low glycemic foods. The Glycemic Index or GI is a scale that ranks high-carbohydrate foods according to how much they raise your blood glucose levels after eating. The GI ranges from 0 to 100. Foods with a high GI are digested quickly and cause a significant spike in our blood sugar levels. This increase in blood sugar causes a corresponding increase in insulin to bring those sugar levels back down. Low glycemic foods have less of an impact on your body because they are digested and absorbed more slowly, so you need less insulin to control your blood sugar levels. When sugar and insulin aren’t spiking, you won’t get that light-headed or weak feeling. You just feel normal. There are many more advantages to choosing a low glycemic diet.
Low glycemic foods are beneficial to our health because controlling blood sugar and insulin levels is one of the keys to reducing our risk of heart disease and diabetes. Low GI diets are also useful for controlling our appetite and aiding in weight loss. When our blood sugar levels are maintained relatively stable, our bodies perform better. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health demonstrated that high GI diets are strongly linked to an increase in the risk of Type II diabetes and heart disease. The World Health Organization recommends that people in developed countries eat as many low-GI foods as possible, to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. A hundred years ago, our foods simply took longer to digest. They came straight from the farm to our table, in its natural state, containing the original fiber and other natural components they were grown with. Modern food processing practices have stripped our food of many of its natural properties, making it easy to package and store, and extremely quick to digest. And the faster we digest the food, the quicker we get hungry again. This is the “roller coaster” that happens when we consume too many high GI foods.
High glycemic index foods may give you a burst of energy, but this is followed by a “crash” as the insulin takes the blood sugar back down and you feel hungry again. To make things worse, these insulin spikes turn all that excess blood sugar into fat, which is usually stored right around the abdomen. On the other hand, when we consume low glycemic foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, the rise in blood sugar is slower and more sustained over time. That means you feel fuller longer and are less tempted to eat again so soon. Our energy levels are maintained throughout the day, which not only provides health benefits but also makes us feel better, because we’re not on that up and down cycle from morning to night. If you would like to increase your consumption of low glycemic foods, here are some suggestions.
Eat less of the following:
• Avoid sugary snacks, especially those made with refined sugar. Not only are they high GI foods, they are mostly empty calories.
• Many salad dressings are very high GI foods. • While potatoes are nutritious, especially with their skins intact, they are also very high GI foods.
Eat more of the following:
• Fruits and vegetables in their natural state, preferably organic. Many commercially grown fruits and vegetables have a higher sugar content than organic. Commercially grown foods also have added chemicals and pesticides.
• Eat foods with lots of fiber, which tends to lower the glycemic index of everything you eat.
• Choose breakfast cereals with whole grain barley, bran, and oats. Interestingly, the cooking method can affect the GI rating of a food. For example, boiled potatoes are rated an 81 on the glycemic index, while baked potatoes rate as 119 and mashed potatoes 104.
However, rather than obsess about individual GI food ratings, remember that the most important goal is to have a low glycemic diet overall. Eating the occasional high GI food is OK, especially if you also eat a low glycemic food along with it. Try to focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet including a wide variety of whole, natural, and fresh foods. By doing so, you won’t even have to consult the GI scale, because you’ll be eating a relatively low glycemic diet and gaining all the benefits described here.
The answer to this question is not a simple one as many people tend to associate any type of neck pain with having whiplash. The first thing is to find out is whether or not you have whiplash. Is it Whiplash or a Pain in the Neck? Whiplash is defined as an injury to the neck, by moving the head forward and then backward in a rapid fashion that places strain on the neck muscles and ligaments. Whiplash is most common when the victim has been rear-ended, or hit from behind by another vehicle but can result from physical abuse (such as shaken baby syndrome) or contact sports.
The symptoms of whiplash vary and are not limited to –
• Restricted joint movement in spine or limbs
• Displacement of spinal discs, also known as a herniation, which causes sharp pain down one or both arms; It also can create small tears in spinal tissue and damage the nervous system, which is followed by numbness, tingling and muscle weakness
• Chronic pain in the neck area
• Cognitive dysfunction that may include difficulty concentrating When to See a Physician If you have unrelated neck pain that persists for a period of time or you experience the following: • A shooting pain through one or both arms
• Tingling or numb feeling in one or both arms or hands
• Inability to touch chin to your chest You may want to see a chiropractor or other medical professional as they can diagnose an underlying problem. If you are not having any of the symptoms or find it goes away after changing positions, it may just be the result of poor posture.
The Severity of Whiplash For some, neck pain resulting from an accident can be treated with ice and a light brace. Other times, it may disappear on its own or a person may find themselves feeling:
• Pain in their jaw
• Significant damage to ligaments, discs, nerves or joints
• Difficulty swallowing
• Irritability or unable to concentrate
If any of these symptoms persist, they should see a chiropractor so that x-ray as well as other tests may be performed to determine if there is an underlying problem. Seeing the Chiropractor The primary objective of the chiropractor is to use gentle manipulations that treat the spine and discs so that they are aligned properly. These manipulations are also designed to reduce muscle spasms and rebuild muscle strength with the aid of physical therapy. The chiropractor will first focus on reducing inflammation and check the neck, mid and low back. From there, the range of motion, disc injuries and muscle spasms will be examined. Other factors that will be noted are walking, posture and spinal alignment. A comprehensive exam provides an understanding of the individuals’ body mechanics. X-rays and /or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be taken along with the patient medical history to determine whether they can be treated. Some cases of whiplash may only require ice and heat therapy to reduce inflammation and relax the muscles, respectively. Non-medicinal treatment may include acupuncture, massage or Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
If you or someone you know may have experienced any or all of symptom described, then you may want to share this information with them or give our office a call to make an appointment (406) 728-1250.
References Mayo Clinic Diseases and Conditions homepage (2011) Retrieved August 30, 2011; from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/whiplash/DS01037 Mayo Clinic Diseases and Conditions homepage (2011) Retrieved August 30, 2011; from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/neck-pain/DS00542 American Chiropractic Association Patient Health and Wellness Tips (2011) Retrieved August 30, 2011; from http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3131
With summer at an end, the leaves are turning brown and falling, cluttering up your yard and garden – so it’s only natural you’ll want to get the rake out. However, as with all physical tasks about the house and garden, it is very important you take the necessary precautions against accident and injury. Fall yard work, leaf raking and other outdoor maintenance activities carry numerous risks such as: upper and lower back strain, neck strain and shoulder pain. Just like with sports, if your body isn’t prepared for physical activity this can increase your chances of injury. You can avoid straining yourself by taking simple precautions, such as: doing warm ups, stretches and maintaining good posture.
Athletes are able to reduce the risk of strain and injury by doing warm ups. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends 10-15 minutes of stretching exercises: from trunk rotations, side-bends and knee-to-chest pulls. When these are also combined with a short walk, which helps to stimulate circulation, and with additional stretches at the end, this prepares the body for manual labor associated with raking and yard work. While raking your garden or yard, good posture can also prevent back problems – make sure you keep your back straight and your head up. Use common sense while working: lift with your legs and bend with your knees, taking care you don’t strain your back while picking up bundles of leaves and grass. If you’re likely to carry heavy items, hold them close to your body to help prevent back strain. In order to take the pressure off your back, rake using the “scissors” stance: put your right foot forward and the left one back, then reverse after a few minutes. When using a lawn mower, try to use your body weight to move it as opposed to your arms and back.
It is vitally important to take breaks. Pace yourself, and whenever your body feels tired take a respite – this is particularly important if the weather is hot, so drink lots of water and wear sun-protection such as a hat, sun block and protective glasses. Investing in extra protective gear, such as gloves to prevent blisters, a mask if you’re prone to allergies and protective eyewear, can make life easier while taking on outdoor chores. Ergonomic tools with extra padding, larger or curved handles are less strenuous to use over a long-time period. Changing tasks regularly helps to prevent repetitive strain injury of certain muscle groups – change positions, or simply move onto another task for a short period of time before returning to the previous one. Make plans for your gardening tasks; make sure they’re realistic and unlikely to cause strain or exhaust you too much. If you’re unaccustomed to physical labor, chances are you will feel sore and stiff the next day – in this case, use ice to soothe the discomfort, but if there is no improvement in your aches and pains, then see a chiropractor.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), named from the carpal bones in the wrist that form a tunnel around the nerve leading to the hand, is an injury usually caused by repetitive and forceful movements that result in swelling around the tendons and pinching of the median nerve, causing painful tingling, lack of muscle strength and control in the hand, and pain shooting from the hand up to the shoulder. CTS is a risk to most workers, such as those who work on the computer and also store and assembly line workers, who receive micro-traumas to their hands and wrists on a daily basis due to awkward positioning, forceful and repetitive movements, and stressful activity.
[1,2] The usual treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can extend to heavy medication and surgery, however there are alternative methods of treatment that can alleviate the symptoms and effects arising from CTS.
Chiropractic treatment for CTS has been studied against conventional non-surgical medical treatment by Davis et al.  and was found to be effective. This offers an alternative to sufferers who are intolerant to ibuprofen, or those who simply wish to avoid treating with medication. The median nerve in the wrist, which when trapped causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, connects to the spinal cord through the openings in the bones in the areas around the lower neck. If these bones in the spinal cord lose their ordinary position or motion, this can cause problems in the wrists or fingers. Through chiropractic treatment, these bones can be reset to the correct position and can help to treat CTS.
If Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is detected early, then surgery can be avoided, and chiropractic treatment is the leading method of non-surgical treatment. Chiropractic treatment usually involves various methods , with a combination of rest, ice, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation, including:
• By chiropractic manipulation therapy of the elbow and upper spine, where the joint’s soft tissue undergoes manipulation ;
• Nutritional supplements in the diet such as B6, a vitamin that has had long-term promotion in its treatment of CTS;
• Electro-acupuncture treatment; bracing, a technique that has had extensive success, by limiting extension and flexion in the hand, and with compression on the median nerve may encourage recovery and ease the swelling in the tendons;
• Exercises for the wrist and hand designed to encourage recovery;
• Reassessing the ergonomics of the work place to minimize stress the best way as possible.
Recent studies, such as that by J. Burke et al (2007), concluded that using manual therapy intervention such as soft tissue mobilization (STM) has been found to help improve the signs and symptoms of CTS, with improvements to nerve conduction latencies, wrist strength and motion. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can become a serious health problem, and if left too long may require surgery. If it’s caught early, then chiropractic treatment is an effective, drug-free method to ease the symptoms and pains caused by CTS, and provide long-term relief from CTS.
References  P.T. Davis et al., J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1998 (Jun);21 (5): 317-326 (1998)  R.Valente and H. Gibson, J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1994;17(4):246–9 (1994)  R. Perez de Leon & S. Auyong, J Chiropr Med. 2002 Spring; 1(2): 75–78. (2002)  P.T. Davis and J.R. Hulbert, J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1998;21(5):356–62 (1998)  J. Burke et al., J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2007 Jan;30(1):50-61. (2007)
You’ve probably heard that trans fats are bad for you. You may even be looking for them on product labels. But what about all the foods that don’t have nutrition labels on them, such as French fries or doughnuts? When it comes to these foods, trans fats may be hiding in plain sight. That’s why it is important for you to have a basic understanding of where you are most likely to encounter them. By knowing a little more about trans fats, you can make more informed food choices. Trans fats, also known as trans fatty acids, come from the hydrogenation of polyunsaturated oils and are used in place of healthier oils in many foods. Say what?
Unless you majored in chemistry, that probably makes zero sense to you, so allow me to explain. Naturally occurring vegetable oils – such as canola, sunflower, or corn oil – don’t contain any trans fats. People have to intentionally create trans fats. So if we know they are bad for our health, why do we do it? There are several reasons – all of which serve the needs of the food industry, not individuals.
• Increase the shelf life of products
• Make vegetable oils more suitable for repeat use in deep fryers
• Decrease product refrigeration requirements
• Are less expensive than butter or lard Have you ever noticed that butter is stocked in the refrigerated section of grocery stores, but packaged baked goods like muffins aren’t? Yet the muffins still resist spoiling.
Why? It’s because the kinds of pure vegetable oils and butter we cook with at home are often substituted with trans fats when foods are prepared on a commercial scale. The trans fats come from adding hydrogen atoms (partially hydrogenating) to unsaturated fats. This process raises the melting point of the fat – so that it will be more solid at room temperature and won’t require refrigeration to hold its shape. Up until 2006, food manufacturers were not required to list trans fats on product labels. Now the FDA requires food manufacturers to list the presence of trans fats. And although the FDA did not set any limits on the amounts of trans fats that are allowed to be present in our foods, they did say that it should be “as low as possible.
Experts believe that there are nearly 50,000 products on the market that contain trans fatty acids. While the term “trans fats” might not specifically appear on the nutrition label, you will see terms such as shortening and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. The closer to the top of the nutrition label these trans fats appear, the higher the percentage that are present. Consumer health groups have begun to pressure food manufacturers to remove trans fats from their products altogether. Some have gone so far as to file law suits demanding that a particular product be removed from the shelves unless trans fats are eliminated from the ingredients. While that battle is fought at the highest levels, individuals can take control of their own health by recognizing the types of food likely to contain high levels of trans fat. Stay on the lookout for trans fats in fried foods, in unrefrigerated baked goods and in snack foods such as cookies and crackers.
Bibliography Dietary Fats Explained MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved 9 5, 2011, from MedlinePlus Health Information from the National Library of Medicine: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000104.htm Trans fat. (n.d.). Retrieved 9 5, 2011, from Wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_fat Trans fat definition Cholesterol Information Produced by Doctors For Patients Experiencing High Cholesterol Levels. (n.d.). Retrieved 9 5, 2011, from MedTerms.com: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11091
The question of whether repeated headers in the game of soccer have a long-term impact on the brain or cognitive function is a raging debate among experts with no clear answer one way or another. An LA Times article on the subject makes this clear in its opening line…”Like a loose ball in a kids’ game, argument over the safety of heading in soccer has parents, coaches and scientists scrambling all over.” The one place where there is solid agreement is that proper form is the key to preventing injury. Even if your child plays in a league where heading isn’t allowed, kids will emulate in the backyard what they see the top soccer players doing on TV. Take a moment to learn the basics of proper form so you can double check what you, your child and your child’s coach are doing. Here are a few dos and don’ts to look for: Do strike the ball with the head. Don’t allow the ball to hit you in the head.
The main thing to remember is that the player should actively ‘strike the ball with the head’ rather than allowing the ball to ‘hit them in the head’. It is very hard to learn the skill of intentionally hitting a flying object with your head! The player needs to be active and purposeful in heading the ball, not passive. Do keep your eyes open and locked on the ball. Don’t close your eyes when heading a soccer ball. The most common mistake that young players make is closing their eyes. Instead, keep the eyes open and locked on the part of the ball you want to head. Do use the whole body to generate your power. Don’t try to use your neck muscles. Another mistake is believing that the power in a soccer header comes from the neck muscles. It doesn’t. In a traditional header, the power comes from the upper body. The back is arched in preparation for the header and the torso is trust forward to contact the ball. All the while, the chin is tucked toward the chest. This stabilizes the neck. In a diving header, the neck position is locked and stabilized and the entire body is propelled forward to contact the ball.
The power comes from the jump and gravity, not the neck. Do use a ball that is age-appropriate. Don’t use a wet ball for practice. Soccer balls come in different sizes for a reason. When practicing headers, make sure you are using the right size ball for your age and not a ball that is too large and heavy. Also, as a soccer ball gets wet, the weight increases by 20% or more, so for practice, choose a dry ball. As we stated at the beginning of the article, the debate about whether heading a soccer ball is safe for children (and adults) rages on. What we do know for sure is that kids will do it with or without proper instruction and that proper technique is the key to injury prevention. As adults, our job is to provide the proper instruction to keep our kids safe playing ‘the beautiful game’.
Bibliography Dreyfuss, I. (2001, May 20). Experts Face Off About Soccer Heading. LA Times. Institute for Sports Medicine Heading the Soccer Ball. (n.d.). Retrieved 9 9, 2011, from Children’s Memorial Hospital Chicago, IL: http://www.childrensmemorial.org/depts/sportsmedicine/heading-soccer-ball.aspx Kirkendall, D., & Garrett, W. E. (2001). Heading in Soccer: Integral Skill or Grounds for Cognitive Dysfunction? Journal of Athletic Training, 36(3), 328-333. Soccer Training Heading the Ball. (n.d.). Retrieved 9 9, 2011, from ExpertFootball.com: http://expertfootball.com/training/heading.php