Monday, September 26, 2016

Five Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Dr. Brown

1. Dr. Brown’s first chiropractic adjustment was given by the first licensed black chiropractor in Texas.

While trying to figure out what career I wanted to pursue, I toured Texas Chiropractic College and was introduced to an historic figure right away, Dr. Romanuel Washington. A great man with a great story about how he got into chiropractic and a message that expressed the significance of the chiropractic profession.

I received my first chiropractic adjustment that day by that great man and the moment I felt the first realignment of the vertebrae in my body, I was a student of chiropractic and always will be.

2. Dr. Brown enjoys poetry. 

Written, spoken, or in song I’m just a fan of poetry. I used to write poems back in grade school and placed in the Parish fair a couple of times. I think it’s amazing how some people have that gift of play on words that can inspire and touch so many.

3. Dr. Brown is a huge New Orleans Saints fan. 

I, just like most Louisianans, grew up loving our professional football team. The Saints were our only professional team for a while so win or lose that was all we had. I bleed black and gold. My high school colors were black and gold, my college school colors were….black and gold.

In high school football we practiced in pants that were donated to us by the Saints. There was an extra sense of honor and pride just to wear the fleur de lis logo. Since living in Houston for the past eight years, I’ve grown some affection for the Astros, Texans, and Rockets. I’ll root for them and wish them the best but the seasonings and spices of the New Orleans flavor flows through my veins and the thirst to shout “Who Dat” always wins.

4. Dr. Brown was an athlete. 

I would consider myself good in all the sports I played, maybe not great but everyone has an opinion. I played Little League Baseball on a team that ranked 4th in the state of Louisiana. I played high school football as a wide receiver and considered a Division 1 prospect by Louisiana Football Magazine.

I played two years of baseball and one year of track and field where I was an All-District winner and All-Regional participant in 4x100m, 4x200m, and 110m high hurdles races.

5. Dr. Brown likes movies. 

Watching movies has long been a favorite past time activity. I used to consider myself a movie buff until I had a kid, which ended my movie theater days (for now). Since, Redbox has been my best friend. I like all types of movies, I’m a fan of a good story!

I would choose action/adventure as my favorite genre but not for the action alone, if the story isn’t great I won’t watch. Second favorite would be comedies. I wouldn’t consider these my top but a couple of my favorites include Star Wars (all 7), Bad Boys 2, Dark Knight Rises, 300, Love and Basketball, Inside Out, and Despicable Me just to name a few.

 Dr. Bryen Brown is a chiropractor in Houston, TX and a graduate of Texas Chiropractic College. For more information visit His bio page is located here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Do You Foam Roll?

As you begin your chiropractic care, treatment in the office is obviously extremely important.  The chiropractic adjustment is the most important part of your care, and that can only be performed by your chiropractor.  However, your chiropractic can not correct everything on their own.  As you progress through your care plan, your doctor will likely begin to recommend at home exercises to help get you better as fast as possible.

Your chiropractor may also include a few different tools for you to use at home to help with your progress.  This post is designed to help you understand how these tools work and how they help you get the results that you are looking for.

Foam Rollers and Lacrosse Balls

The muscles of our bodies are connected by a tissue known as fascia.  This fascia helps stabilize and attach our muscles to one another.  When fascia becomes tight, it can form trigger points, more commonly known as muscle “knots.”  These trigger points are usually tender and can cause muscular pain.  Foam rollers and lacrosse balls are used to help smooth out fascia and muscle, thus removing the trigger point and relieving pain.

Foam rollers are firm cylinders that can vary in length.  By rolling over the trigger point using the foam roller, the muscles and fascia are stretched out and the trigger point is released, which can greatly improve pain levels.  The key to using a foam roller is finding the area that is painful to roll over, and then spending 30-60 seconds in that area.

Foam rollers are particularly useful in areas such as the gluts, hamstrings and upper back.  For patients with lower back pain, I usually recommend foam rolling the gluts and hamstrings, because these muscles are almost always tight in these patients.  If a patient spends a lot of time sitting at work, I will recommend foam rolling the upper back.  This can help relieve the tension caused by sitting with poor posture.

Lacrosse balls work in the same way as foam rollers, except they are smaller and can be more precise.  If you are unfamiliar with a lacrosse ball, think of it as a really hard tennis ball.  Lacrosse balls can be beneficial for trigger points in the upper trapezius, what people usually refer to as the top of their shoulder, or in the scapula region, between the shoulder blades.  Some people find that it is easier to begin with a tennis ball in these areas before moving to a firmer lacrosse ball.

The Neck Wedge

Another tool that I use in my office is the neck wedge.  One of the most common issues I find on x-rays of a patient’s neck is the loss of the normal cervical curve.  When looking at a normal neck on x-ray, you should see a reverse C shaped curve.  On most x-rays I see, this curve is either reduced, completely straight, or reversed into a C shape.  This loss of curvature can lead to neck pain.  The neck wedge is designed to help naturally rebuild this curve, thus helping relieve neck pain.

When beginning to use the neck wedge, I recommend that patients spend about 5 minutes a day on the wedge.  As the wedge becomes more comfortable, they should add a minute every few days until they reach 15 minutes per day.  If a neck wedge is not available, a bath towel can be rolled into a cylinder and used in place of the wedge.  In my experience, patients who use the neck wedge as recommended, not only notice decreased neck pain, but also notice improvements in their posture.

By incorporating a foam roller, lacrosse ball or neck wedge, you can greatly impact your chiropractic care.  Before using any of these tools, make sure you discuss them with your doctor.  They can also give you more precise instruction, and make sure that you are using them properly.

Dr. Kevin Wafer is a chiropractor in Houston, TX and a graduate of Texas Chiropractic College. For more information visit His bio page is located here.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Are You Stretching The Right Way?

In general, we have to reevaluate how we use stretching.
The traditional static stretch, where one isolates pulls on a muscle into an end range of motion and holds it there for a period of time, has its place, but it’s usually in last place. It’s not that stretching is bad, rather traditional stretching is rarely the best choice.

Why? Several studies have shown that traditional static stretching does not improve flexibility. Tight Hamstrings? There is a good chance that your abdominals, glutes, and adductors aren’t doing their job of stabilizing your core.

When you go to bend over and touch your toes, the tiny sensory organs in our muscles give warning signals to our central nervous system saying, “These muscles aren’t doing their job!

If we keep bending, things are going to get damaged. 

Somebody stop this from happening!” Enter the hamstrings. They get tight because they have to do the work of all the other muscles that aren’t showing up to work today! They are trying to keep us from hurting ourselves. So if you are stretching without strengthening and waking up the surrounding musculature, you’re forcing a potential injury.

“So don’t stretch? Ever?”

No. You absolutely should stretch but when you do, you should make sure your core is engaged, and that you are contracting the antagonistic muscles (the opposite muscles of the muscle you are stretching). This will help reinforce stability which will allow those tiny receptors to relax and allow for more motion.

Another great mobilization is banded distractions. A banded distraction uses a thick resistance band to help activate the antagonist muscle (the opposite muscle that is not doing its job in the postural tug of war) and it also inhibits the overactive muscle that is pulling to much.

In addition to this, it can help to reposition the a bone in a joint socket that may not be fitting movements (such as a lunge during the banded hip stretch.) The banded hip stretch and the banded shoulder capsule stretch from Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett are terrific options.

You must always strive to provide stability to a stretch, otherwise the stretch is not nearly as effective. 

One of the best ways to improve stability is to challenge unstable muscles at a low intensity (below 50% of your 1 rep max) over anywhere from 2-3 minutes. Tempo should be slow, with static holds at the most challenging position will help facilitate correct muscle activation, which leads to stability. Something as simple as a glute bridge, for example, to help re-activate sleepy hip muscles and give over-worked hamstrings a break.

For someone with weak and tight hamstrings and a glute muscles that won’t turn on, try the dowel rod deadlift. The client is instructed to engage the core muscles and squeeze their glutes. Using the dowel rod to make sure their spine maintains proper position, they are instructed to go lower to the lowest position they can handle while maintaining perfect form.

The client is then instructed to hold position for 4-10 seconds. This does two things: one, it provides a stretch to the hamstrings while also putting them into a functional position, and two, keeping the glutes and the abdominals activated. It also allows the body to become more mobile because the body knows now it is supported and secure. Ta-da! You’ve just stabilized your body and increased mobility at the same time.

In conclusion, we need to balance stability with mobility. 

Focus on making your posture both static and dynamic. If it’s not, try to determine what is impeding your posture. If you free up tight muscles, make sure you have a game plan to engage the other muscles needed to stabilize.

Know that your stability and mobility needs are going to fluctuate depending upon the demands you place on your body. This is a constantly evolving game you will play with your body, so make sure you take inventory with your workouts.  

Dr. Brandon Siegmund is a chiropractor in Houston, TX and a graduate of Texas Chiropractic College. For more information visit His bio page is located here.

Monday, September 5, 2016

How Educated is Your Chiropractor?

I am often asked by patients, and those unfamiliar with chiropractic, how long it takes to become a chiropractor. They are usually shocked when I tell them that it take three and a half years of chiropractic school after an undergraduate degree. Most usually think that its a few weekend classes or a year of school at the most. I’m writing this blog post so that the public can better understand exactly how long it takes to become a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic.

Year 1

After obtaining an undergraduate degree, students begin their first year of chiropractic school with three semesters of health science courses. The first year courses in chiropractic school are very similar to the first year classes in medical school. These health science courses include human anatomy, including cadaver dissection, neuro and spinal anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology and multiple pathology courses. In addition to these classes, students also take multiple human biomechanics and physiology courses, courses teaching how to take a proper history, as well as their first adjusting class.

Year 2

In the second year of chiropractic school, classes transition from basic science courses to a more clinical emphasis. These classes include, physical examination and multiple orthopedic and radiology courses. In addition, classes in dermatology, pediatrics, geriatrics, neurology, psychology and an introduction to pharmacology. During this year, a number of courses involve spinal and extremity adjusting technique.

Year 3

The third year in chiropractic school begins with a semester interning in the student clinic. During this time, students treat fellow students who are beginning their chiropractic education. For the final year of chiropractic school, students treat the public in an outpatient clinic. Under the supervision of a licensed chiropractor, interns must treat a minimum of 250 patients.

In addition to these adjustments, interns must also perform at least 20 physical therapy/rehabilitation treatments. As an intern, they also must complete a radiology rotation where they take and interpret x-rays with a licensed radiologist. In addition to interning, students complete their course work with classes in emergency procedures, ethics, case management, and physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Becoming Board Certified

Throughout chiropractic school, students are required to take and pass a number of national board exams. The first three parts of the exams are broken into thirteen tests that cover almost every subject taught in chiropractic school.

The final part is a practical exam that covers radiology, orthopedics, history taking, neurology and adjusting. In addition to each of these national board exams, a chiropractor must also pass a state board exam for the state they wish to practice in. These exams vary from state to state.

Dr. Kevin Wafer is a chiropractor in Houston, TX and a graduate of Texas Chiropractic College. For more information visit His bio page is located here.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Do You Need To ROMWOD?

Most of our patients face the same struggles; they are in front of a screen (or screens) all day long and do little to no exercise. If they’re lucky, they’ll get a chance to walk around the block a few times each week when Houston is no longer blazing hot when they get home from work.

They don’t exercise because they lack time, energy, or they just hurt. They want to feel better and they want to exercise, but, you know, stuff gets in the way. It’s no secret that they need to stretch, but they just don’t do it.

Where should you start?

Prior to joining Crossfit, I took a look at the exercise I was doing (running) and whether or not that was going to meet my physical health goals. It wasn’t. I determined that I needed to run, lift weights, and do yoga. This would give me the best of all worlds, improving cardiovascular health, increasing strength, and improving range of motion.

I instead joined Crossfit and found we did all of that, which was a huge relief on my schedule. However, while Crossfit does cover all three of these areas, there were still a couple of issues.

1. It wasn’t enough.

Huh? That stuff’s intense, how could it not be enough? Just like any exercise program, the exercises aren’t just trying to improve your strength and fitness, they have to counteract and work against all you’ve done (or not done) with your exercise programs in the past and deal with what you do all day.
I still spend too much time in front of a computer, and my range of motion has suffered because of it. While it has improved a ton, I still have work to do and that meant I was going to have to do some work on my own outside of class.

2. Too many of my patients won’t do it.

They don’t have time for walking around the block, and the intensity of this type of exercise can be intimidating (even though I don’t think it needs to be). I keep recommending that patients give Crossfit a try or that they find other well-rounded activities to do. You guys need to move more! It will help!


Then my coach recommended ROMWOD. I checked it out, but didn’t think it was for me upon first glance. Not that I didn’t think it would be helpful, I just didn’t want “one more thing” to add to my stuff. “I can figure this out on my own,” I thought. But I didn’t do it. From my experience, I’m terrible when working out on my own. A group class or guided program significantly increases my chance of success.

I saw that they had a 7-Day Free Trial and (eventually) decided to sign up. I even waited until things were slow around the house (i.e. My sons went away to camp for a week) to start my program.

I was determined to get all 7 days out of my free trial to determine if it would work for me. Was this something I could recommend to my patients?

The first day, I did the 20-minute program and was mildly shocked at how my hip range of motion was still very limited. It took me six months in Crossfit to be able to do a squat, and I thought I was improving… but I clearly still have more work to do.

The next day, I noticed that my legs felt more “awake.” That’s the best way I can describe it. Usually, I wake up and my legs are a bit stiff. Okay, a lot stiff. Then, once I get moving they’re fine. After my first ROMWOD, I noticed that I woke up with the “awake” feeling in my legs. This feeling normally requires 15 minutes or so of serious “warming up” before I can achieve it.

It’s now been 3 weeks and I’ve missed only a couple of days. 

The improvement to my hips in particular has been the most noticeable. You may not realize how much you need better hip range of motion until you get it back. Simple activities are easier and it’s taken a big load off of lower back. ROMWOD has also revealed other areas in my hips and shoulders that needed help. I can tell that my overall range of motion is improving.

Best of all, I just feel better. Most patients yawn at the thought of “better range of motion” but will get excited at the idea of feeling better. More energy, less pain, and just the “I feel like getting out of bed today” feeling is highly sought after.


So why am I telling you this?

You should definitely check out ROMWOD ( for yourself and see if it’s something you can fit into your schedule. The workouts are typically around 20 minutes, but they feel shorter than that. There are nights that I just have to suck it up and get it done, but I’ve not regretted doing so.

While all areas of exercise are important (cardio, weights, range of motion), I believe that for my patients, range of motion should be the priority. I think it will drive all the other areas and will give you the fastest response that you’re on the right track.

When you feel better, I won’t need to remind you to go exercise. You’ll just want to go do it. Once you start doing exercise more consistently, you’ll see more benefits and want to do more. You might even like it!

But we both know you’re not going to exercise if you don’t feel good doing it.

So if you have to pick, start working on your range of motion. That’s what’s going to keep you mobile as you get older. That’s what’s going to allow you to pick something up from the ground or reach for something overhead.

You have to keep yourself mobile and, unfortunately, your daily activities are most likely not going to help you with that unless you make it work that way. You cannot get more fit and healthy by sitting in a long drive to work, sitting in front of a computer all day and then occasionally hopping on the treadmill.

Houston’s very hot right now and other than hunting down Pokemon, most patients aren’t heading outside with any regularity. Doing cardio is good for you, sure, but it takes awhile to notice a change. Lifting weights to keep you strong is essential, but again, results take awhile to notice.

I would be very surprised if you told me you didn’t feel better at the end of your 7-day trial of ROMWOD if you actually do it every day. Do you need to ROMWOD? I’m betting you do. Take a look and let me know how it works for you.

Dr. Philip Cordova is a chiropractor in Houston, TX and a 1997 graduate of Parker College of Chiropractic. For more information visit His bio page is located here.