Backs and Packs and Facts

books-484766_1920aThe school year has started. Yesterday, my daughter brought her backpack to me and said, “Feel how heavy this is.” For her body weight, it felt about right. The recommended limit for backpacks is 10 to 15% of a child’s body weight. I said, “That’s good, I think you can manage that just fine.” “That’s just my folders and notebooks.”

Today, my daughter is supposed to receive and probably bring home her 6th grade textbooks. In addition to all of the “required” notebooks and folders, even one decent sized textbook is going to put her over the limit, never mind 6 of them!

As a parent and a chiropractor, how do I solve this dilemma? I don’t want her to get injured. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 14,000 children are seen by doctors for backpack injuries and 5,000 of those are ER visits. I see kids with backpack related issues and injuries. Based on what I see in my practice, I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers represented significant under-reporting and were actually much higher!

While solutions like digital textbooks and cloud-based access are still not being implemented widely, there are a few DIY things that you can do to protect your child. Good suggestions can be found here .

Unfortunately, even these measures do not solve the fundamental issue of too much weight in the packs. Paying attention to how the weight is carried is helpful and necessary to reduce risk, but it ignores the structure responsible for actually carrying the weight. Let me ask you this. Is your child active? Do they run and play and engage in activities of physical development? Have they fallen or run in to another child or been jerked around, even when it was fun? Did they ride a roller coaster, or get pulled behind a boat this summer?

If the answer is yes, then they may actually have a structural/functional issue in their spine. It may not show up during normal activities, but when you add another 20 or 40% of their body weight, that stress alone may reveal, aggravate, or even cause additional injury to a structural and functional spinal problem called vertebral subluxation.
If the answer is no, then your child may be even more at risk for injury due to under-developed strength and balance. Until they develop these aspects, making sure that they are not growing into injuries is a smart move.
Regardless, they need to be in prime shape to try and manage that much additional weight. As a chiropractor, I can’t think of a profession more qualified to help in this regard. Do not dismiss complaints of pain or discomfort as “normal”. Schedule an appointment to have your child assessed for spinal subluxation that may not be readily apparent.

As a parent, I know you want to give your child the best start to the new school year. I also know that this time of year puts more demands on your budget. From now until the end of September, I have a special offer. I will give your child a special spinal screening to check for evidence of vertebral subluxation for a special price of $50. PLUS, if you bring in the child’s loaded backpack, I will include a backpack fitting at no charge. These will be available on Saturdays from 11am until I’m done.Backpack Fitting

I’ll be checking my daughter regularly, just like I’ve done her entire life. Depending on what I see in the days and weeks ahead, I may be making more inquiries with the intention of keeping her safe and hopefully all the children safer.


Preparing For War

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.

                                                   -Sun Tsu, The Art of War


Disclaimer: The conflict in the Middle East is serious business. This post is in no way an attempt to compare or capitalize on that engagement. This post is a metaphor about the very personal challenges we can expect to see in the coming months.

Later this year, my family will be enjoying an active Halloween celebration. After that, we will probably travel with three small children to Tuscaloosa or Wetumpka for Thanksgiving, making a few extra stops to visit along the way. And once that’s done, preparations for Christmas will begin with shopping and travel (or hosting) times with loved ones. All along there will be sugary sweets, rich food, long travel times, disrupted schedules, strange beds, very little rest, and lots and lots of stress.

Maybe this sounds a bit familiar. You may travel farther or host bigger. Or perhaps you struggle with being alone. Maybe your loved ones are not getting along, which can add to your own anxiety.

Here in Alabama, we can also add nearly every Saturday in between to the list. We tend to get worked up over some college boys in ridiculous outfits trying to steal a $10 torpedo-shaped ball from another equally silly looking group. Part of this ritual includes sausage, chicken wings, cheez curlz. And of course, smack talk. Roll Tide/War Eagle.

Fall is football season, holiday season, and flu season. It’s no wonder that people struggle with their health throughout. Every year I see people start dropping like flies the week after Halloween (and the requisite sugar overload). As people get sick, they tend to turn to any and every thing they can to try to maintain some semblance of function in the midst of so much activity. To make matters worse, even if you follow the strategy revealed in this article, the sheer volume of people in your environment that are actively sick and contagious will further tax your ability to resist.

It is a war you prepare for. The battle is for your health and happiness. Fighting this war will, and I emphasize, WILL, sap your strength and ability to resist. It is not hopeless though. You have the luxury of time right now to prepare for this war, to store up reserves, and give yourself every advantage to resist, bounce back, and most importantly enjoy the festivities of life!

Here is the strategy: your immune system is a defensive system. It must be well prepared if you expect it to perform well. How do you prepare an immune system?

Do the things you would ordinarily do to bounce back from an illness. I trust you have found strategies that work for you. This can be as simple as mindful eating. When we get colds, we profit from nutrient rich foods, like chicken soup. Healthy or sick, we benefit when we ensure adequate rest and hydration. Another huge component is an attitude of hope and faith. Individually, each of these strategies will help. Together these components synergize to even greater effect.

Tying these strategies all together is the ability of your body to receive, process, and assimilate their yield effectively. All of this happens through and by the nervous system. Interference at this level (via vertebral subluxation) will handicap all of your other efforts, even if you aren’t aware of it at the time. The structural and functional relationships between the central nervous system and the spine are well established. You cannot experience optimum performance at any endeavor, including immunity and resistance with vertebral subluxation affecting your master control system. For those who want the best opportunity to survive, thrive, and enjoy this upcoming season, a chiropractic check-up is in order.


Let me touch on the flu shot for a moment. Whether you choose to get one or you choose to decline, the strategy above will benefit you. The flu shot, if it’s to be effective, relies on a healthy immune system. If you are like me, and choose to forego the shot, you will also be relying on a healthy immune system.

My hope is that everyone spends this the time between now and Halloween making sure that you’ve done all you can do to ensure a healthy, happy holiday season and set yourself up to step into the new year on a high note. Does it seem a little early to be thinking that far ahead?

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.

Be the victorious General. Be Your Best!


Knee Pain May Not Be a Knee Problem… Yet.

knee xray A lot of athletes and especially runners can be plagued by knee pain. It may start by hurting after exertion. Then that gets worse. Then it hurts during exertion and by the time most folks are motivated to do something about it, significant damage has been done. Now you have a knee problem. But what caused it?


The knee is a relatively simple joint consisting of four joint surfaces moving back and forth with body weight. The bending of the knee acts as a secondary shock absorber during walking and running. The strike and roll of the 52 joint surfaces in the foot is primary one. If the primary shock absorber fails, the secondary must compensate. Compensation largely stops at the knee. Because your knee picks up the slack, your foot is less likely to hurt, which hides its role in the problem.


inner knee muscle positionAbove the knee, are the hip and the spine. The spine alone has 174 joint surfaces. These stabilize to the pelvis. The pelvis uses four (4) muscles on each leg to stabilize across the knee. Here you can see the position of the three inside muscles, effectively using the small knee joint as a torque anchor. The fourth is on the outside of the leg. The knee potentially under stress from below, and also from above.


I use the relative number of joint surfaces to highlight the complexity of the structures involved. Logically, you’d expect the structure with the larger number of moving parts to have the higher likelihood of trouble.  The spine has 174, the foot 54, and the knee 4. The fact is, your knee can’t function optimally with stress coming from above and/or below.


The logical conclusion to all of this is that if you are active and you have knee pain before, during, or after activity, you need to find out why. What you discover may change your life.

Interdependence biomechanical neurological

Note: This article is purposely targeted at forward running and the degenerative changes leading to knee replacement; it addresses the knee from that perspective. Thus, the motion of the knee and the parts are over-simplified to illustrate concepts. Lateral running is more complex, but the concepts illustrated here also apply.

Dr. Robert Johns is a chiropractor serving the greater Birmingham area from his office in Mt. Laurel, AL.

2013 Subluxation Outreach Campaign

You may have noticed, we are participating in the 2013 Subluxation Outreach Campaign. For the past 5 months we have been diligent about providing information relative to that campaign. Why?

Subluxation rational

  • Subluxation is widespread: of 1000 babies examined, 80% were found to be subluxated at birth.
  • Subluxation is stress: physical, emotional, and chemical stresses lead to subluxation.
  • Subluxation is often disguised: because it acts at the level of the central nervous system, it can manifest as dysfunction resulting in virtually any condition or symptom.
  • Subluxation is quiet: only 10% of nerve fibers carry the pain sensation; 90% don’t hurt when disturbed.
  • Subluxation is serious: because the central nervous system controls basic functions, genetic expression, healing, development, and regulation, the impact of subluxation extends from the beginning of life to the moment of death and potentially across generations.
  • Subluxation is simple to address: a safe, effective, scientific, and conservative method exists to find and correct subluxation.
  • Subluxation is special: like cavities have dentists, subluxation has chiropractors.

In ten years of practice and over 100,000 adjustments performed, I have seen back and neck pain resolve, asthma resolve, chronic ear infections resolve, colicky and fussy babies comforted, auto-immune disorders go into remission, skin conditions improve, pregnancies happen in those with troubled fertility, pregnancies sustained to full term, mothers comforted during pregnancy, breech babies turn, migraines resolve, behavioral issues improve, and so much more.

Function good idea

All of this happened through the specific chiropractic correction of vertebral subluxation.

Studies are now emerging that show those who are under chiropractic care spend less than half on medications and hospitals than those who are not.

Why focus on education? Because it occurred to me that you might want to achieve a higher state of health for you and your family while saving money in the process.

Optimizing Your Genetic Ability

Genetic PotentialIn 1975, Ronald Pero, Ph.D., chief of cancer prevention research at New York’s Preventive Medical Institute and Professor of Medicine in Environmental Health at New York University, began developing scientifically valid ways to estimate individual susceptibility to various chronic diseases. Pero and his colleagues found strong evidence linking immune system responsiveness and the absence of certain DNA repair enzymes to disease susceptibility and limited lifespan. At the same time, he followed his fascination with the relationships between certain hormones and carcinogenic agents. The nervous system is responsible for regulating hormone balance, so it is necessarily involved in cancer susceptibility.restoring the balance

This reasoning led Pero to investigate chiropractic as a means to affect the risk of immune system breakdown and disease. A small group of individuals who had received chiropractic care for a period exceeding 2 years were studied. All chiropractic patients studied were labeled ‘genetically normal’ and showed no genetic reasons for increased susceptibility to disease.

In addition, the long-term chiropractic group demonstrated a 200% greater immune competence than those not receiving chiropractic care and 400% greater immune competence than those with cancer or other serious diseases. Surprisingly, this improved immune competence was uniform across age groups, not declining with age. He concluded that “chiropractic may optimize whatever genetic abilities you may have.”Neurobiology

STOP. Some of you may be reading this and wonder how we got from the back pain relief that chiropractors are famous for and all of this genetics and hormones and immunity stuff. While it is true that Chiropractic is well established as an effective means of addressing back pain, what most people do not realize is that those results barely scratch the surface of what people are experiencing in Chiropractic offices all across America.

The human body is self-healing and self-regulating. At our very best, chiropractors act to honor and restore this Law of Life by adjusting the spine to correct vertebral subluxation. Subluxation interferes with the restoration of the maintenance of health by interrupting active organization at the level of communication through the nervous system.maximizing human potential

We must face a stark reality. “Health Care is going to change from treatment-based to prevention-based discipline,” says William Haseltine, Chairman of Human Genome Science.

This means that we are going to have to recognize that our reliance on crisis-based strategies is too little, too late. Western medicine is too often helpless in resolving the high number of chronic and disabling conditions including cancer, various syndromes and other instances of poor health. We treat disease as an entity that must be choked with toxins or cut and burned away in the hope that our body will survive the assault. Certainly battles have been won, but the war is being lost.

Short-term strategies will have to give way to long-term strategies that are congruent and free of contradiction. The nervous system is the conduit of environmental comprehension and change. The endocrine system, controlled by the nervous system, functions to activate or deactivate genes based on environmental factors and response. The genes contain the parameters through which adaptation can occur. All of this happens in an ongoing process we call life.

Chiropractic has been at the forefront of this idea long before birth became an automatic emergency med   ical procedure, long before antibiotic abuse had created the very thing it set out to destroy, and long before “a pill for every ill” meant that 1 in 2 adults in the US is on a prescription along with 1 in 4 children. Give your body a fighting chance to heal and thrive. Make the most out of your genetic potential and seek to truly be your best.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Subluxation

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) has become one of the most significant health problems affecting people in the workplace in recent years. It was first described nearly a half a century ago. Following that description, for forty years it was relatively rare to be diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In the past ten years, however, the incidence of CTS has been growing rapidly.
Carpal Tunnel surgery

  • According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, CTS is the second most frequently reported occupational injury and an estimated one-half of the work force may be affected by the year 2015, according to the National Safety Council.
  • A typical case of CTS can cost $10,000 and a surgery can run as much as $30,000.
  • CTS alone represents billions of dollars lost by companies as a result of treatment costs, missed work time and decreased productivity.
  • CTS is responsible or 30-40% of worker’s compensation claims filed and ranks first on the list of disability claims nationally.

Carpal tunnel posture ROMShort version: the more intense the pain of the carpal tunnel syndrome, the stiffer the neck motion was when tilting the head away from the painful wrist. This suggests a clear correlation between the neck and carpal tunnel.

Carpal Tunnel cervical

“Cervical neuritis” is the medical way of saying the nerves in the neck are irritated, exactly the same as the result of being impinged during subluxation.Carpal Tunnel cervical double crush

Double crush phenomena sounds an awful lot like subluxation.

Carpal surgery fail

At this point, it should be clearer why surgery fails as an intervention for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Athlete violin posture

Don’t think CTS and overuse injuries only happen to desk jockeys. Poor posture and ergonomics can impair in virtually any situation where movements are repeated. Hair stylists, musicians, nurses, athletes, and magicians are all at risk.

Getting checked for vertebral subluxation is so easy. It’s simple, and even better, it’s completely safe and non-invasive. Subluxation can cause so many problems for so many people in so many ways, and getting checked for vertebral subluxation is a no-brainer.

Get more info or schedule a screening for yourself or a loved one at (205)437-8837 or

My Head Is Killing Me – Part 2

The first installment of this series, My Head is Killing Me, centered around observations and the structural portions of forward head carriage and osteoporosis. Now we’ll dig into the science and function of the elements involved in the causes of these changes. The keys are physical bone remodeling, chemical calcium exchange, and nervous system stress.

Physical Stress and Bone Remodeling

Wolff’s Law states that healthy bones are being constantly reshaped in response to the physical stresses they are subjected to. Osteoblasts are special cells within the hardened substance of bone that produce the basic structure of bone. Osteoclasts, on the other hand, are responsible for destroying (resorbing) bone. Thastronaute less physical and mechanical stress your bones have placed upon them, the faster resorption happens. This leads to weaker bones. This is why space-induced osteoporosis happens. In the absence of earth’s atmosphere, astronauts can lose up to 2% of their bone mass per month. It is also a huge problem for those who have forward head carriage, as this multiplies the stress of carrying the weight of the head.

Osteoclasts, the destroyers, are created from a particular type of white blood cell. Thus, they are not only involved with this bone remodeling, but in the immune system as well. If you read your prescription inserts carefully, osteoporosis medications will often have immune system suppressing characteristics named in their side effects. This is important because it shows how intricately the immune system is tied into other various systems and functions of the body.

Chemical Stress

Several common substances have an adverse effect on bone health. Millions of people take corticosteroids for conditions such as asthma, arthritis, shoulder and back pain, lupus, and inflammatory diseases. Research clearly shows that corticosteriod use is a contributing factor to osteoporosis.

Other common sources of chemical stress that affect bone health:

  • The risk of spinal osteoporosis with vertebral fractures is significantly greater among people who drink alcoholic beverages than among those who do not, according to the American Journal of Medicine.
  • Beverages such as coffee, tea and certain colas increase the loss of calcium in the urine.
  • Cigarette smoke affects the liver by causing it to convert estrogen into a compound in women that is different from the normal estrogen used in the bone formation process.

Nervous System Stress

Dorland’s Medical Text states, “An intact nervous system will lead to optimum functioning of the human body.” The nervous system controls the endocrine glands, which secrete hormones into the bloodstream to regulate body chemistry. This naturally includes the process of bone remodeling. “The key to stopping osteoporosis lies in balanced body chemistry and a delicate balance of minerals in order to maintain a calcium homeostasis in the blood,” states Dr. Nancy Appleton, writer of Healthy Bones: What You Should Know About Osteoporosis.

The nervous system is vulnerable to interference at its protecting structure — the spinal column. The spinal vertebrae are susceptible to certain stresses and forces which can jar them from their proper position. These minor misalignments of the spine are called “vertebral subluxations.” The presence of vertebral subluxations can often be detected by examination of a person’s posture. There is ample research which shows the relationship between poor posture and numerous health conditions such as osteoporosis.

“The beginning of the disease process starts with postural distortion.” -Dr. Hans Seyle, Nobel Laureate

The science of Chiropractic is founded on the premise that an optimum spine and a proper nerve supply are essential in controlling and regulating bodily function.

Chiropractic care is an excellent approach to preventing osteoporosis and other health conditions. Chiropractors are experts in spinal structure and body mechanics. Chiropractic adjustments are aimed at maintaining sound structure of the body by correcting spinal and postural distortions and preventing functional and structural health problems. Doctors of Chiropractic detect and correct vertebral subluxations by physically adjusting the spine. This restores the nervous system to an optimum level of function, which maximizes the body’s inherent healing ability.


  • Posture and normal physiology are interrelated.
  • Posture affects and moderates every physiological function from breathing to hormonal production.
  • Abnormal posture is evident in patients with chronic and stress-related illnesses.
  • Homeostasis and nervous system function are ultimately connected with posture.
  • Despite the considerable evidence that posture affects physiology and function, the significant influence of posture on health is not addressed by most physicians.

(from the American Journal of Pain Management)