ICT Muscle & Joint Clinic Blog

Our blog is dedicated to providing helpful information to our customers in the areas of health, nutrition, rehabilitation, and chiropractic care.
Dr. Keith Sparks

What Causes Pain to the Body: Understanding Pain Handout

What Causes Pain to the Body: Understanding Pain Handout

WHAT CAUSES PAIN TO THE BODY?

There are two, main mechanical (movement-based) pain causes: inflammation and tight soft tissue(s). The medical term for tight soft tissue is ischemia. Soft tissue is everything besides bone (ie hard tissue). The third category, highlighted in our overall overview of pain, is directed to the nerves – specifically the peripheral nerves. These are the nerves outside of your spine.

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Dr. Keith Sparks

Understanding Pain Handout: An Overview

Understanding Pain Handout: An Overview

Pain is not always simple. It is easy to understand if we roll an ankle or break a bone what is causing the pain. However, pain is not always a cause and effect event. Pain can come from many different sources and may be simultaneously with other sources at the same time (as shown below). Individuals with multiple sources of pain are often dragged through the healthcare system with little results or given complicated diagnoses such as Fibromyalgia or Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome.

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Dr. Keith Sparks

Pain's Traffic Light Handout

Pain's Traffic Light Handout

Navigating through pain can be frustrating. This traffic light handout’s goal is to help you understand WHEN to perform your exercises based on your pain symptoms.

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Dr. Keith Sparks

Relaxation: Diaphragm Breathing Handout

Relaxation: Diaphragm Breathing Handout

BREATHING AND PAIN

When we have pain or become stressed we can develop a rapid or shallow breathing pattern. This breathing pattern can increase tension in the neck, chest, and shoulders. Overtime, this increased tension can lead to trigger point formations which can produce specific pain patterns.

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Dr. Keith Sparks

Nerve Pain Handout

Nerve Pain Handout

WHAT IS NERVE PAIN?

Nerve pain is typically thought of as radiating pain down the arms or legs with diagnosis such as Sciatica. This pain occurs via the peripheral nerves. Your peripheral nerves connect your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. These nerves connect your brain and body to express danger. Anywhere along the path of these nerves a negative stimulus can cause symptoms.

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Dr. Keith Sparks

Stages of Healing Handout

Stages of Healing Handout

There are three stages of healing following an injury: inflammatory, proliferative, and remodel. Each phase of healing may take different amounts of time depending on the extent of the injury and tissue(s) injured. Recognizing which phase of healing you may be in is important for a speedy recovery. Be sure to ask your chiropractor about which phase of healing you are in during your journey to recovery.

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Dr. Keith Sparks

Inflammatory Pain Handout

Inflammatory Pain Handout

WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?

After an injury, or flare-up of an existing issue, the body produces inflammation. Symptoms of inflammation may include: pain, swelling, redness, increased temperature, and loss of movement. When inflammation sets in, it usually is felt as an increase in 3 points on a 10-point scale, which lasts longer than a day. Once inflammation sets in, the body starts to heal. Pain is your body’s response to inflammation. Pain bring awareness to an area of the body to decrease the odds of re-injury during the early phase of healing.

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Dr. Keith Sparks

How to Program Stretches at Home: Part 2

How to Program Stretches at Home: Part 2

The whole moto of this approach is “too much of a good thing can be bad.” With each example, in Part 1, the person started to experience a decline in feeling better when performing more reps or more amount of time spent in a specific stretch. Let’s explain why.

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Dr. Keith Sparks

The 7 Most Important Things to Know for Self-Treating Movement Pain

The 7 Most Important Things to Know for Self-Treating Movement Pain

When it comes to self-treatment, there is a plethora of information on the internet. How do you navigate it accordingly? Stretch this, activate that, feel here and not there – you can quickly be standing on your head feeling more lost then when you started. We have put together a “cheat sheet” on what we find are the most important CONCEPTS when trying to self-treat at home. By focusing your efforts on concepts or principles, it will help weed out 95% of unneeded information on the web.

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Dr. Keith Sparks

Foam Rolling Friday: Glute Medius & Minimus

Foam Rolling Friday: Glute Medius & Minimus

Improper hip motion is oftentimes a culprit to low back pain and knee pain. Interestingly, the area where we experience pain is regularly not the source of pain. When the glute medius and glute minimus become problematic they can refer pain down the leg (mimicking a disc herniation), and to the SI joint. These muscles become dysfunctional due to lack of use. Stating this, you would think working on activating these muscles alone would be sufficient, but recent research indicates that combining soft tissue therapy with rehab/exercise training, adds greater benefit then either alone.¹

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Dr. Keith Sparks

Foam Rolling Friday: The Calves

Foam Rolling Friday: The Calves

Stop whatever you’re doing right now and take a second to feel your calves. Sit in a chair and cross one leg over the other. To do this correctly your calf muscles have to be on slack. Take your fingers and roll across your calf toward your shin. I can almost guarantee every single one of you will feel tension in the inside or outside of the calf, if performed correctly. If you throw your leg on a foam roller and try to foam roll your calf with the shin facing the ceiling, you will feel almost nothing and dismiss the idea that foam rolling your calves can be beneficial for you. You need to foam roll where the tension is present. If you skip this step I politely, and with all my love and sincerity, tell you that you're most likely missing out on huge benefits. End rant. Yes, I know that was a pointless rant but I do feel better getting it off my chest.  
 
The Functional Anatomy  
 
When talking about the function of the calf muscles, it helps to separate them into two categories: Calf muscles that cross the knee and calf muscles that don’t cross the knee. Both categories will cross the ankle so don’t worry about that. Also, we could get fancy and name every single muscle at play here, but this is a short blog, not a textbook.  
 
There are two main calf muscles that people think of when discussing the calves: the big meaty cannon, called the gastrocnemius (aka gastroc) and the wider, deeper, soleus muscle.  The gastroc crosses the knee, while the deeper soleus muscle does not. However, both join together to form the achilles tendon. Whenever you experience achilles tendonitis, there is a disturbance in how these muscles are firing and holding tension compared to one another. A third sensory muscle lays in between these muscles called the Plantaris. It's main role is to perform as a relay sensor to help control how the soleus and gastroc fire in relation to each other. 
 
The gastroc’s and soleus’s main roles are to create and maintain relative isometric tension in the muscles so the achilles tendon can lengthen throughout the gait cycle. Isometric tension means the muscles fire only to maintain position, they will not shorten and they will not lengthen. There are calf muscles that activate by pushing the foot and toes into the ground, however, these 2 muscles primarily hold position and length to allow the achilles tendon to stretch and return energy back into the gait cycle. 
 
   
The Why  
 
The why is roughly always the same: To get out of pain and improve performance. Keep it simple. Foam rolling the calves can have huge benefits in relieving foot pain, calf pain, achilles tendinitis, knee pain, and even low back pain. This area of the body tends to hold a lot of tension and is often ignored in regards to tissue health. When trigger points and fascial adhesions are present, performance can hinder everyone from desk jockeys, runners, Crossfit athletes, figure skaters, to the weekend warrior.  
 
For me, my why is to not become a couch potato looking back in 5 years asking myself how I got here. The deeper, and harder questions are: What do you want out of your life and what are you going to do to achieve that life? Foam rolling might be an answer, it might not be. That's for you to decide and you alone, not me, or anyone else. Being honest with yourself in who you are and what you want out of life are always the hardest things to truly identify. I believe you can do this. Find what you want and execute.  
Move HEALTHY.               Feel HEALTHY.              Live HEALTHY.