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As part of my practice I regularly treat children using acupuncture and other methods from the toolbox of Chinese medicine. I have treated babies from a year old through to teenagers for a whole range of problems and illnesses. Things like colic and digestive problems, and recurrent coughs and colds are fairly common things to come across.

Most of the time parents will think of  acupuncture for their child because they have had it themselves in the past and wondered if it can work for their children.

kids-acupuncture

Acupuncture definitely has an image problem when parents are looking for a health solution. Small children and needles are definitely a counter intuitive mix! Luckily there are a few other tools that can be brought to bare and I tend to only use needles if the problem is very chronic or the child is okay with it.

The Japanese developed a whole style of treatments called Shonishin that do not use needles, which I studied with one of Europes foremost practitioners` few years ago.

The Japanese realised that childrens energy changes very quickly.  Think of how a child can get very ill very quickly, have  massive fever or vomiting and then be up and running around the next day. So they are very yang in energy and their channel system is still developing all the time. The Japanese applied the less is more idea to treating children and getting the right dose of treatment correct.

Shonishin treatments consist of using  small tools to activate the energy in different ways. Rubbing, tapping and pressing gently on different points and channels is often enough to bring about a change in a condition. Small balls can be left on in place with plasters to further the effect and needles can be used if the problem is very severe or chronic.

I am often amazed at what shonishin can do, a few minutes treatment on a baby can bring relief from colic and allow everyone to sleep well! It is definitely something more people should know about!

Written by Jeremy Marshall

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With the kids back at school and sanity returning to many of my patients lives I figure this is an optimal time to attempt to get you interested in a good exercise routine to counter poor posture. This will be especially beneficial for all those office workers or anyone spending a lot of time in front of a computer but to be honest, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from this exercise. Also, the great thing about the Brugger exercise, IT ONLY TAKES 10 T0 15 SECONDS.

This seems to be the posture of our age:

How not to sit.

How not to sit.

I’ve talked about it before; the head is carried in front of the body, the shoulders are rounded forward (and possibly worn as earrings). This posture also known as Upper Crossed Syndrome. It usually accompanies upper back (thoracic) pain/stiffness, neck pain/stiffness, cervicogenic headaches and many times, low back (lumbar) pain. This posture also affects your breathing, encouraging excessive use of accessary breathing muscles (that should only be used under times of physical stress) of the neck and shoulders instead of using your diaphragm.  I have previously written a whole blog on this condition, complete with exercise videos on how to counter it to which I have recently added further videos. So please feel free to follow this link to read the updated version.

Now let’s get on with the ‘how to’ of this exercise:

You can do this exercise either seated or standing. I think it is easier at first to do it seated. Your posture before you start the Brugger is of upmost importance so check out the video in case my written instructions are not clear enough:

Seated

  • Sit perched towards the edge of your seat; this will naturally place your lower back into a curve (lumbar lordosis) with your butt sticking out a little. As you do this your breastbone (sternum) will naturally lift up.
  • Separate your legs to 45 degrees each side with your feet turned out slightly and in line with your knees
  • Your shoulders are relaxed and down with your chin tucked in, making the back of your neck longer – imagine a piece of string is attached to the top of your head and someone is lifting you up.
  • Fully straighten (extend) both elbows. Make sure you keep your shoulders down and imagine your shoulder blades [scapula] are pushing together and down into a V.
  • Turn your thumbs out (externally rotate), palms up.
  • Separate your fingers.
  • Hold for 10 – 15 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times per hour.

Standing

  • Stand with legs slightly apart; feet in line with hips.
  • Find a neutral pelvic position; you can do this by finding the centre between the extreme of tilting your butt out and then tucking your tail under. As you do this your breastbone (sternum) will naturally lift up.
  • Your shoulders are relaxed and down with your chin in making the back of your neck longer – imagine a piece of string is attached to the top of your head and someone is lifting up.
  • Fully straighten (extend) both elbows. Make sure you keep your shoulders down and imagine your shoulder blades [scapula] are pushing together and down into a V.
  • Turn your thumbs out (externally rotate), palms up.
  • Separate your fingers.
  • Hold for 10 – 15 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times per hour.

For those of you that like it – the science bit!

This clever exercise was developed by a Swiss Neurologist, Alois Brugger MD and the ‘science bit’ is throughout Janda’s work, who first named Upper and Lower Cross Syndromes.

This exercise is clever because it’s not your usual straight stretch or strengthening exercise; it works neurologically and does both in a way that is complementary to the way your body is wired to work.

Our bodies are neurologically much stronger in all of our flexor muscles. This is displayed perfectly if we look at a person with a neurological disorder, e.g. cerebral palsy; their body naturally has increased tension (hypertension) in the flexor muscles, also known as the spastic posture. This demonstrates our natural prosperity to an Upper Cross Posture.

Now muscles work in groups. When one group is working then the opposing group are unable to work (inhibited).  An easy example to visualise of this is when you place food in your mouth. To do this you flex your fingers, wrist muscles, bicep muscles and pecs., all flexors. However, to be able to do this you have to inhibit your finger extensors, wrist extensors, triceps, rhomboids etc. This is called reciprocal inhibition. If you were unable to do this you would be unable to feed yourself.

The Brugger exercise works on the principal of reciprocal inhibition. When doing this exercise you are activating all your extensor muscles and therefore inhibiting all of your (usually hyper activated) flexor muscles. Clever or what?

Take a Brugger Break

If you are a patient of mine, you have probably heard me say the following; regardless of what chair you have at work, one of the best things you can do to counter back/neck pain from sitting in front of a computer is to stand up, walk around your chair and sit down again and to do this every 20 to 30 minutes. Please add the Brugger exercise to this healthy habit. It only takes 10 – 15 seconds and will reduce tension, improve breathing and improve posture. The best way to remember to do this is to put a reminder/alarm on your computer.

Written by Anne French

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