This article was written by Premier Neuro Therapy co-owner, Zach Michael.
A few weeks ago, I started working with a client that has multiple sclerosis (MS). Despite living with MS, she is one of the most positive, hard working clients I have had the pleasure to work with at Premier.
In conjuction with her Neuro Therapy sessions, we have talked a lot about how she can optimize her diet to give her body what it needs to decrease the symptoms associated with MS, like fatigue, muscle spasms, loss of balance, and pain.
While I am no expert in the area, the client had already read a book by Dr. Terry Wahls who was able to drastically turn around her MS journey by eating a special diet. Because I wanted to help in way I could (and was curious about Dr. Wahls' approach), I decided to give the book a read.
What I found out is that following the rules of this diet can not only help those living with MS, but optimize everyone's health and drastically reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases.
For those of you that don't know, multiple sclerosis is diagnosed when an overactive immune system starts to attack the nervous system. It leaves lesions in the spinal cord and brain, which can cause neuro communication issues throughout the body.
But this same "overactive immune system" can cause different issues from person to person. In one person, it may attack the nervous system, meaning you have MS. In another, it may attack the cardiovascular system, putting you at risk for heart disease.
Note; Other dieseases linked to an overactive immmune system include: allergies, Alzheimer's, ALS, anemia, arthritis, asthma, autism, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes types 1 & 2, fibromyalgia, common intestinal disorderes, kidney failure, lupus, pain, pancreatitis, and psoriasis and eczema, just to name a few.
In general, the immune system is responsible for generating an inflammatory response when it senses a threat. It's a great thing to have when we need it. However, if it becomes overactive, it can generate chronic inflammation, which can lead to the host of diseases listed above.
When the immune system is overactive and the inflammation becomes chronic, reactive free radicals of the inflammatory process start to destroy the healthy tissue around it.
So what is Dr. Wahls' "miracle"diet for dealing with the symptoms of an overactive immune system (in her case, multiple sclerosis)?
And how can this apply to optimizing our everyday health, even if we aren't living with MS?
It all comes down to one basic principle:
Limit the number of things you ingest that trigger an inflammatory response. If you limit the number of times you "trigger" your overactive immune system, you will lower the risk for developing a chronic disease.
Dr. Wahl's suggestions (slightly simplified) for doing so include:
For a more detailed breakdown, you can head here. The article at the link below does a great job providing a detailed breakdown of the book and diet.
When you boil down chronic diseases (and chronic pain) to this one basic principle involving the inflammatory response, health becomes so much more simple.
And it makes you realize how much more in control you really are over your health!
You are 100% in control over what goes in your mouth. Even if you are exercising regularly to burn the residual calories, there's other ways your diet can adversely affect your health, and we all need to start being more conscious of it.
Start thinking about how you can optimize your diet NOW to decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases over time.
At Premier, we see a fair amount of clients after catastrophic knee events. Whether it is an ACL tear, MCL strain, dislocation, or total knee replacement, the body responds in a very simlar way.
When most people think about these types of events and what happens to the body afterwards, they often describe physiological symptomss like inflammation, weakness, stiffness, and pain.
But what is it that triggers these events?
It's the nervous system.
As soon as the nervous system senses that something is "not right" with the knee, it responds by putting the knee in lockdown mode.
In lockdown mode, the nervous system shuts down neurological communication to the muscles of the quad (even more specifically the vastus medialis and vastus lasteralis). It refuses to use these muscles, because it fears using the muscles will put too much stress on the knee.
And without proper use of the quads, the knee feels extremely stiff and the leg can feel weak.
This is a beneficial response for the body, at first. It ensures that you will not continue to participate in activities that can put the integrity of the knee at risk.
But what about when it's safe to start using the knee again? Does the brain automatically turn the neurological communication back on to these muscles?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. And it's one of the major challenges of recovering from a catastrophic knee event.
Even when it's safe to start using the knee, the brain has latched on to the idea that the brain needs to be protected. It continues to lockdown the quadriceps muscle, which actually delays your recovery and puts you at a higher risk for re-injury.
In order to addreses this problem at Premier, we combine direct current electrical stimulation of the quadriceps with active range of motion exerecises. By doing so, we re-train the nervous system to relax the quadriceps, which promotes a more efficient recovery and quickly decreases symptoms like pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
If you, a friend, or family member are dealing with the after effects of a catastrophic knee event (whether it's been 1 day or 1000 days), make sure you ask your therapy team what they're doing to address this problem - it is the number one reason recovery from these events doesn't always go as well as planned.
This week’s post highlights a success story from one of our clients, Liz.
We met Liz at an open house at Reflex Functional Fitness, and found out she had been dealing with a string of repetitive foot and ankle injuries.
Not only were the injuries affecting her ability to go for runs and work out (and feel confident doing it), but they were also causing her hips, back, and even neck to feel tight.
After learning more about Liz’s history at the open house, we scanned her leg, foot, and ankle for any Neuro communication issues that could be contributing to her repeat injuries and muscle tightness.
During the scan, we identified an area around her big toe that seemed to be the driver for her problems. Liz was surprised – she used to have pain in that exact spot, but she thought the issue had gone away.
It turned out that while the pain went away, the issue hadn’t, and it was causing a host of problems for the rest of her foot, ankle, hips, back, and even neck.
Within 2 weeks of Neuro Therapy, Liz was back to running 2-3 miles without pain. Within 4 weeks, she was ready to sign up for her first half marathon since 2013.
Watch the video below to hear more from Liz on her Premier Neuro Therapy story.
If you're wondering if Neuro Therapy can help solve your biggest problem, schedule a time to talk to a member of our team by clicking this link:
This week's blog post was written by Leah Zinnert, Clinical Director of Neuro Therapy. I think she did a really great job with it - hope you enjoy!
I was working with a client the other morning, and the session started like any other at Premier - with a conversation. After a longer than usual discussion about his recent concerns, we got to talking deeper about his frustrations surrounding what had started to feel like a lifetime of pain.
In the midst of this conversation I asked him “How would you feel if you didn’t have pain?”
His answer gave me chills... and maybe some of you can relate.
“Terrified,” he responded, “the world would be too big.”
I then asked him to envision a typical day if he woke up and no longer had his pain. He told me he would have to re-evaluate almost every action and activity.
As long as he can remember, even back to college, he has had some form of pain.
He bounced around between medical professionals, who gave him an array of diagnoses or suggested that if he just did this "one thing" the pain would go away (sound familiar?...)
Eventually, it got to the point where he underwent complex surgeries on bilateral shoulders in an attempt to alleviate the painful sensations down his arms.
Unfortunately, the surgeries were met with little success.
What was interesting to me is that because he had been in pain for such a long time, it had become something that he described as being able to fall back on. He could use it as a way out of certain situations, almost like a crutch.
So much so that he was fearful of the pain going away. Could this thought process be what is keeping his body from letting go of the pain?
Let's break this down a little further...
The traditional biomedical health care model focuses on purely biological factors and excludes psychological, environmental, and social influences.
In this model, pain has nothing to do with how you think about it (which we know is incorrect).
For certain people, especially those who receive a wide variety of diagnoses and are repeatedly told their bodies are "damaged", this traditional model can wreak havoc, and often times leads to and endless cycle of frustration and failed attempts at a solution.
Simply put - this traditional model leaves people suffering from chronic pain feeling lost, hopeless, and fearful.
The conversation highlighted above raised my awareness to the idea that everyone sees life (and pain) through a different lens.
Therefore, it's important to have an awareness of how all aspects of health (some of them highlighted above as biological, psychological, and sociological) impact pain.
In this client's case, there were clear psychological factors affecting his pain.
Healthcare needs to be patient-centered, holistic, and focused on individualized clinical reasoning and communication.
Your health professional must take in not only what is being said, but how, and when, and in what environment. They must take the time needed to listen to you and hear what you are saying.
I bet there are so many people reading this that can relate to my client’s response about being fearful of being pain-free, and have felt unheard by provider's in the past.
Your healthcare professionals are doing you a disservice if they do not strive to better understand the individuality of your situation AND help you to let go of those fears surrounding it.
We hear it all the time… “I have X every few days, but that’s pretty normal. I just take a Y and it goes away within a few hours.”
Insert any of the following for X:
Headaches, back pain, tightness, numbness, digestive problems, heart burn, anxiety attacks, fatigue/lack of energy, bouts of depression, etc…
And the following for Y:
Aleve, Advil, Tylenol, Tums, Xanax, Coffee, Red Bull, Testosterone, etc…
And this is very normal in modern living.... but should it be?
Isn’t the idea that we have to take medication to manage symptoms on a regular basis just giving in to mediocre health?
I have no issues with medication in general, provided all other avenues have been pursued.
There’s a time and place for them, but I don’t believe they should be regularly used to manage minor symptoms until all lifestyle factors have been optimized.
Keep in mind that medications are altering the chemistries in your body and come with a host of side effects. You may never actually “feel” any of these side effects, but they may be altering your long term health outcomes.
It’s important that before turning to regular does of medication, we consider alternatives.
Before turning to medication, we need to stop and ask ourselves:
Most times, optimizing lifestyle factors comes down to the “boring” things we already know about:
If you’re dealing with any of the problems listed above, here’s a few quick pieces of advice on each of them.
My challenge to you is to pick one and start working towards optimizing it to your needs.
It’s time to stop settling for mediocre health!
Ideal nutrition varies from person to person. What causes an inflammatory reaction in your body may not be the same foods that cause an inflammatory reaction in another person’s body.
If you suffer with chronic health problems (even minor ones), consult a registered dietician or functional medicine specialist. Ask them how they can help to identify the foods that cause inflammatory reactions (and your symptoms) in your body. If they don’t have a good answer, call another person.
If you’re already active and exercising regularly, think critically about what activities and movements seem to make you feel worse versus better. If you can identify these, you don’t need to cut them out, but should modify them and try to determine which part of the movement is causing symptoms.
If you’re not already active, start with something as simple as walking 10 min/day a build from there.
An adult should target sleeping 7-9 hours per night. At a bare minimum, you need 6 hours of sleep/night. If you’re unable to sleep, try seeing a sleep coach or undergoing a sleep study in order to optimize your life for a good night’s sleep.
Try to drink between half to all of your body weight in ounces of water each day. For instance, if you’re 150 lbs, you should target 75-150 oz of water.
If you constantly feel stressed out (and don’t enjoy being stressed), optimize your lifestyle for less of it. I know this easier said than done, but remember this is all about NOT accepting mediocre health.
If you don't know where to start, consult a mental health coach or psychologist - no, this doesn't meant you're crazy!
Yes, genetics do play a role in our health, and no, there isn’t much you can do about them.
However, in large part, genetics only predispose us to certain health conditions – they do not guarantee those conditions.
If you work to optimize all other aspects of your lifestyle (and find someone who can help you account for your genetics), you will have a lower likelihood of getting the worst of your genetic predispositions.
Ladies and gentleman, it is time. Time to stop settling for mediocre health, time to stop “managing” our everyday symptoms or making excuses for them.
What can you start doing today in one of the areas above to optimize your health?
This week, Zach, Leah, and I started wearing a device called the “Biostrap.” If you’ve ever heard of or worn a FitBit, it’s a very similar piece of equipment.
The most data collected by the Biostrap (and reason we’re most excited about it) is Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
When most people hear this term, their minds’ immediately jump to traditional Heart Rate. However, HRV is measuring something completely different than heart rate.
Rather than measure the average times your heart beats in a minute, HRV measures the average time between heart beats.
For instance, let’s say your heart beats 3 times. The time between beats 1 and 2 is 980 milliseconds, and the time between beats 2 and 3 is 1050 milliseconds. Your HRV for those 3 beats would be 70 milliseconds (the difference between 1050 and 980 milliseconds).
So why is this important, and how does it relate to the nervous system?
Heart rate Variability is lower when the sympathetic nervous system is activated. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the sympathetic nervous system is our “fight or flight” state, and it’s great to have…
But only when we need it.
If your body spends too much time in a sympathetic dominant state, it can be a sign of poor health or future poor health.
Thus, heart rate variability is a great way to monitor where you sit on that spectrum from day to day.
Things that might decrease your heart rate variability include:
If your HRV decreases for a day or two, that’s ok – it’s just a sign that you need to start thinking about how you can help your body to promote a state of recovery and relaxation.
For example, if your HRV decreases after an intense cardio circuit, your body probably needs a day off of exercise to recover. It’s also possible you aren’t optimizing your nutrition for the intensity of those types of workouts.
As another example, a night of moderate drinking will significantly decrease your HRV. Once you see how much it plummets, you may think twice about ordering that extra round ;-)
If your HRV is persistently lower than what’s normal for your age and sex, you’ll need to take a hard look at the stresses in your life, whether they are physical, social, or work related, and ways you can manage them.
Zach, Leah, and I have already gained significant insight to our health through tracking HRV data – if you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend checking out this great article at:
and more information about the Biostrap here:
It’s the New Year, which means it’s time for reflection on all of your successes of 2018 (don’t forget this part!) and setting resolutions for 2019.
If you’ve struggled to succeed with New Year’s Resolutions in the past, it could be because they aren’t SMART (no, that’s not an attack on your intelligence).
SMART is a goal setting methodology I recommend using to set yourself up for success heading in to 2019.
And if you can spell the word SMART, you’ll be able to remember exactly how to do it. It’s a simple 5 step process that uses each letter in the word.
In order to increase your chances of following through with this year’s resolutions, your goals should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Make sure your resolution is specific. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight in 2019,” define how much weight you want to lose. Instead of saying, “I want to save more money in 2019,” determine just how much money you want to save.
In order to determine whether or not your resolution is successful, it must be measurable. In the examples given above, you would use a scale to measure your weight or the amount in your bank account on the first of each month to measure saving money. If you want to learn a new skill or hobby, define how much time you’ll spend doing it (For ex: 1 hour/week) and plan to keep track along the way!
Attainable and Realistic:
This is where a lot of people veer way off track – make sure your goals are attainable and realistic. Heck, if anything, make your goal underwhelming.
Just think how much more likely you are to start towards that goal if it is “I want to lose 5 lbs,” rather than “I want to lose 50 lbs.” 50 lbs may seem like a mountain that you could never envision climbing (and thus never take the first step), but 5 lbs is realistic enough that you can start to envision success before you start. Who knows, once you hit the first, realistic goal, you may be having so much fun that you strive for more.
Last, but not least, make your goals timely. Define your timeline as much as possible. If you’re hoping to save an extra $5,000 by the end of the year, what benchmarks can you set up along the way? Will you try to save $416.67/month or be able to save more some months than others? Map out your path, so you can change direction if you veer off course throughout the year!
Now that you know what makes a ‘SMART’ resolution, let’s take a look at a few examples:
“In 2019, I will go on two trips to another country. One will be in the summer and the other will be in the winter. I will plan both of these trips and reserve all transportation and lodging by March 31, 2019.”
Grow Your Business:
“By the end of 2019, my businesses revenue will be 20% greater than 2018 totals. In order to reach this goal, I will hire 1 new employee, dedicate 20% more to my marketing budget, and call 3 prospective clients/day. I will track monthly revenue on the 5th of each month to make sure I am on track.
“I will lose 1 lb/week from January 2019 – June 2019 by working out with my personal trainer on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and following my dietitian’s meal plan. I will weigh in every Sunday morning at 9:00 AM to track progress.”
Saving money for retirement:
“I will save $1000/month for retirement in 2019 by following the budget I put together with my financial advisor.. On the 1st of each month, I will review my income and expenses for the previous month to ensure I am on track to meet this goal.”
What do you think? Have you already set your resolutions?
Can you refine the resolution to set yourself up for success in 2019 by making it SMART?
Let me know how you do by commenting below or emailing me at email@example.com.
This week's post was writtien by Premier Neuro Therapy co-owner, Zach Michael.
It’s the holiday season and one of the season’s traditional songs inspired this week’s post.
“Joy To The World”
But just what is “joy” and how can we bring it to the world? Is it just another word for happiness?
Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston explains the difference in her book “The Gifts of Imperfection.”
“People were quick to point out the difference between happiness and joy as the difference between a human emotion that’s connected to a circumstances and a spiritual way of engaging with the world that’s connected to practicing gratitude.”
In other words, happiness is something we experience when good things happen to us.
Joy is a state of being.
So how can we bring Joy To The World? It starts by experiencing the state of joy. When you experience joy, you can be the best version of yourself, and truly bring this state of being to the world.
Here’s 5 ways you can start cultivating a lifestyle of joy today
1. What are three things that made you happy today?
This is a question we ask every client before every session, and you’d be surprised at how hard it is to answer.
By dedicating a few minutes each day towards answering this question, you’ll start to reinforce pathways in the brain that seek gratitude. You’ll develop an attitude of gratitude, and once you do, you’ll be well on your way to a state of joy.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others
The social media world makes it way too easy to compare ourselves to others. But social media is only a reflection of the best 5% of everyone’s lives. Meanwhile, the other 95% of everyone’s life is just as full of ups, downs, twists, turns, and even mundaneness as yours.
The challenge here is to have confidence in your own efforts. Constantly reinforce the self-belief that you are doing the best you can. If you don’t believe you’re doing the best you can, be honest with yourself and start doing it!
3. Write a thank you note
When’s the last time you sat down to send a hand written thank you note? Writing a note will allow you to reflect on and re-experience a time when someone went out of their way to do something positive for your life.
When you reflect and relive these experiences, your brain will be constantly on the look out for more opportunities to be grateful.
Plus, you’ll also make the receiver’s day when they open the note!
4 Spend time with joyous people
As one of my favorite podcast hosts John Lee Dumas (and I’m sure many before him) says:
“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
Plain and simple – your attitude will be influenced by the people you spend with. If you want to develop a joyous state of being (and bring Joy To The World), make sure you’re spending time with joyous people.
On the flip side, evaluate the people you’re spending the most time with. Do they uplift you or bring you down?
5. Know who you are
At the end of the day, at the center of joy, is knowing who you are. What is your mission? What are you trying to achieve? What are your values? How are you impacting others?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to stay focused and feel less of an urge to compare yourself to others.
Always strive to be the highest version of yourself, and you will bring Joy To The World.
The exercises your physical therapist recommended can be a great help to shoulder pain. However, if the nervous system isn’t functioning correctly, there’s a possibility they might not be providing the benefit you were hoping for.
There’s 3 different reasons your nervous system could be interfering with your physical therapy exercises:
1. The muscles in the shoulder and arm are stuck in a shortened, protective state.
When an injury occurs or pain starts to develop, the nervous system immediately begins to place muscles around the shoulder in what we call a protective state.
In the protected state, the muscles are limited to a much smaller range of motion, making them feel tight (and sometimes sore).
You may notice as you go through your physical therapy exercises that your range of motion feels very limited, or that you’re unable to hold your shoulder in the position that’s recommended for the exercise.
These are both indications that the muscles around the shoulder are stuck in a shortened, protective state, preventing your physical therapy exercises from giving you the most benefit.
2. You’ve learned compensation patterns that keep the correct muscles from working during the exercises.
Think back to when you first injured your shoulder or started to experience pain. Did you immediately start using the affected arm a little differently?
Maybe you started rotating your body a little more when reaching for objects, or pulling your neck down to your shoulder when reaching overhead.
These adjustments to your normal movement patterns are what we call compensation patterns.
Because your body believes a certain movement may be painful, it learns different ways to accomplish the same tasks.
Let’s take one of the most classic physical therapy exercises: external rotation with a resistance band and see how compensations might affect the exercise (Video below).
This exercise is often prescribed to help strengthen the rotator cuff – however, it’s rarely performed properly.
The rotator cuff muscles are so weak that the body learns more efficient ways to perform the movement.
If the wrist bends, elbow comes away from the body, or shoulder sits forward during the exercise (all compensation patterns), you will not get the intended benefit of the exercise.
3. Your nervous system is sympathetic dominant.
The nervous system constantly shifts on a spectrum between the sympathetic and parasympathetic state.
The sympathetic state is more commonly known as our “fight or flight” response, which can be extremely beneficial in overcoming challenging situations.
The parasympathetic state is commonly known as our “rest and digest” state, which is where our body does its most efficient repair and healing.
When your nervous system fails to properly process stressors (whether they are related to work, relationships, exercise, nutrition, sleep, or a number of other factors), it can become what we call “sympathetic dominant.”
When the nervous system is sympathetic dominant, it spends less time in the parasympathetic state, meaning it will not heal optimally (no matter how often you do your physical therapy exercises).
So what does all this mean?
If you want your physical therapy exercises to be effective, I highly recommend qualified supervision while performing the movements. Your physical therapist should be able to instruct you on how to perform the movements properly AND common ways they are done improperly.
If you feel your forearm fatiguing during an exercise that’s supposed to be strengthening your shoulder, you’re probably doing it incorrectly, and need to communicate that with your therapist.
If you believe you might have trouble processing stressors, ask your physical therapist for techniques on how to do so or if they can connect you with another professional with expertise in this area.
At Premier, we use a number of techniques to overcome all 3 of these obstacle and optimize the recovery proceess.. Neuro Therapy helps to identify muscles that are in the protected state, fix compensation patterns, and re-train the nervous system to repair the shoulder efficiently.
Click the link below to apply for a chance to experience Neuro Therapy for free:
A member of our team will review your application and determine if you qualify for a free Neuro Therapy Discovery Session. If additional information is required, we will reach out within 1 buiness day after receving the application.
The word “stress” tends to carry a negative stigma. In fact, many of our clients’ have mentioned that their stress levels elevate just at the mention of the word.
Over the last couple of decades, our society has become pretty well educated on the long term effects of stress.
It’s been linked to negative health outcomes like:
Just to name a few.
Such education over the last decade has led to the aforementioned negative “stigma” around stress.
But what if that negative stigma is actually increasing your likelihood of poor health outcomes?
A study in 2012 challenged this point by asking the question “Does the perception that stress affects health matter?”
The study concluded:
“Individuals who perceived that stress affects their health and reported a large amount of stress had an increased risk of premature death.”
It goes on to estimate that, over the 8 years of the survey, 182,000, people died prematurely in the US due to their negative perception of stress.
So what can we do with this information?
The first thing we need to do is understand why the stress response exists in the body.
The stress response evolved as a way for humans to “rise to the occasion” for big moments.
In other words, stress exists to HELP us, NOT hurt us.
When we understand this, we can start to identify stress as a POSITIVE thing in our life.
When we identify stress as a positive thing, we can harness it’s power and use it to tackle the challenges in front of us. And when we tackle the challenges in front of us, we feel good about what we’ve accomplished. And when we feel good about what we’ve accomplished, the stress response is short lived.
The problem with stress exists when we perceive it as a negative. When we perceive stress as a negative, we do one of three things that encourage the stress response to become ongoing.
If you’re dealing with stress in any of these 3 ways, you need to find a way to view stress as a POSITIVE in your life, or it will have a negative affect on your health.
A few of the tools from previous posts (here and here) will help you to control your stress, tackle the challenges in front of you, and take the time to recognize your accomplishments.
About the Author
Evan Lewis is a nationwide leader in Neuro Therapy and founded the Baltimore area's only specialist Neuro Therapy facility.
Download now: 7 Quick & Easy Tips To Reduce Back Pain (without painkillers,, injections, or seeing the doctor)!