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Questions about Acupuncture

Monday, February 20th, 2017

I am often asked questions about acupuncture. To get you the best and most accurate answers to your questions about acupuncture, I turned to Ashley Robillard at Firefly Acupuncture. Ashley is an acupuncturist right here in Plymouth and I have seen her myself.

Here is what she had to say about acupuncture:

There are a couple of questions that come up frequently when I tell people I am an acupuncturist. Often times people know that acupuncture is a natural therapy that includes needles. And they typically know somebody who has tried it, but has never met an acupuncturist before. So naturally, they are curious about a few things.

“Oh is that when you stab people with needles!? I hate needles!”

Agh! I do not want people associating a stabbing with what I do! Acupuncture needles are very fine, flexible, sterile and disposable. Each needle is used only one time and barely felt with insertion. Once the needles are inserted, the patient will rest for about 30 minutes and many times are sound asleep when I return to the room.

“I know somebody who had acupuncture for headaches, do you treat headaches?”

Yes! But there is so much more than just treating a headache (or back pain, or stomach pains, or joint pain). Why do you have this pain? What is the underlying cause? I will treat the symptom of the moment to give relief, but I will also ask many questions to get to the root of the problem. Then I will tailor the treatment specifically to you. We will go through your daily routine to notice triggers, look at your diet and find patterns that could be contributing to your pain. I will place needles in specific points that either tonify the deficiencies in your system or reduce the stagnation, or many times both! It is all about balance.

Many people think acupuncture is only about pain relief. But it is so much more than that. It is about bringing your system back into balance. Life is hard and exhausting and many of us do not stop to take care of ourselves, or to just breathe. Yes acupuncture helps with pain, but it also helps create a more restful sleep pattern, it helps balance mood swings and boost metabolism. When all systems in the body are regulated, the pain will decrease significantly.

“Do you like what you do?”

I can’t even explain how happy my job makes me. I absolutely love working one on one with people, hearing their stories and finding a way to make their life better. To see a patient walk out of the office relaxed and pain free when it was a struggle to walk in. To ask about a lifelong symptom and have the patient realize that it is no longer a concern. To have a woman struggling for months or years with fertility tell me she is pregnant. I am so thankful to be part of each journey.

If you have concerns that you would like to address with Ashley, she is right here in Plymouth. She also does acupuncture facials. I’ll let her explain that one to you herself. You can reach her at Ashley Robillard, L.Ac. Firefly Acupuncture 763-300-1399

Know your farmer, know your food!

Friday, February 10th, 2017

One little known fact about me; I was a vegetarian for six years. It wasn’t a health kick, I simply read a book about food that grossed me out. The book was called, Diet for a New America, written by the Baskin Robbins heir, John Robbins. He walked away from his family’s food empire and inheritance because he didn’t like how the animals were processed and raised. Specifically, he was disgusted by the hormones and drugs used in dairy production.

Many years later, I am back to eating meat. I am now incredibly picky about the source of my meat. I will happily spend an extra few dollars a month to insure that Mad Scientist practices aren’t used on my food and that the animal isn’t tormented while it is living. I was recently turned on to Hilltop Pastures Family Farm. Last summer, I would drive down to the midtown farmers market just to stock my freezer. Last month, as I was running low on meat that I had purchased at the fall farmers market, I realized they delivered twice a month to the Ridgedale Target. How nice to not have to leave the Plymouth or Minnetonka area! What I like about Hilltop Pastures Farm is knowing the animals that I eat were humanely treated and humanely butchered. They were raised with regular farming practices that I grew up with, not within disgusting factory farms.

Humanely Raised

I asked Sarah, the farmer, how her animals are raised and this is how she answered:

“We are a truly small-scale family farm where all of our animals are raised sustainably and organically. All of our animals are raised in the open air, sunshine, and on grass. Farming practices such as these utilize the natural symbiotic relationships between the different species. On our pasture-based farm, cattle, lambs, and goats (ruminant animals) are solely grass-fed and finished. They receive no grain at all. Our chickens, laying hens, turkeys, and pigs are also raised on pasture in addition to receiving a non-GMO grain. This is because they are a non-ruminant animal. Our animals receive no antibiotics or growth hormones, ever! We offer genuine, true farming practices that heal the land and soil and keep our animals and family healthy. We use organic principles when raising all of our animals. The multi species farming practices that we use versus single species is good for the land and the animals. All animals move around on the farm so that they are always receiving fresh grass and its wonderful nutrients. Our animals don’t just have access to the grass, they are on the grass, always. All the animals follow the cows on the farm. The hens are the last to follow so they can scratch at the manure piles. That break up the larva cycle sanitizing the pasture. The hens love the fresh grass and bugs that they find out there.”

Is it just labeling?
As a consumer, one of my big concerns when shopping for groceries is whether I am paying more for pretty advertising, or am I paying for sound farming practices? Finding Hilltop Pastures Farms solved this for me. Since I know my farmer, I know that the money isn’t spent on packaging. It doesn’t have fancy graphics, and it doesn’t have buzzwords. When I asked Sarah about this, she had a lot to say about advertising and farming practices of the fancy big box groceries.

“Our mission statement is: Know Your Farmer Know Your Food. I know in this day and age, life is chaotic and busy. We look for the most efficient ways to get things done. We definitely shouldn’t do that with our health. I know it takes time to research and find good food, but it is so worth it! We aren’t a factory farm pushing out animals every day to keep up with the profit margins. We are small scale. Animals are raised with care and attention. They are allowed to grow at the rate needed for their health and well-being. We are face to face marketing with our customers. We truly feel that you need to know who is growing your food in order to know for sure that it is raised right.

Our mantra is that as consumers we shouldn’t just put our faith in a label! A label on a fancy package in the grocery store doesn’t necessarily mean that the source of that meat was truly being raised in a healthy pasture based system! Eggs and chickens are often “labeled” as free-range, organic, cage-free, vegetarian or any of the other buzz words. The reality is that the chickens are often raised in massive barns with only a small access door to a little area outside that hasn’t seen a blade of grass in years! Chickens eat bugs! They love them! So they are not naturally vegetarians… Beef labeled as Grass-fed is often raised in large feed lots that finish the animals on grain or other high gaining rations. The animal is only exposed to pasture for a few months of its life so it’s allowed to be “labeled” as grass-fed. You get the point, labels are deceptive. The big boys in the food industry are seeing the food revolution happening. They don’t want to give up any of their profits. They are buying organic companies and heavily influencing labeling and production models. Bottom line is if you really want to know how your food was raised you must KNOW YOUR FARMER.”

If you are interested in ordering meat from Hilltop Pastures Family Farms, check out their website Hill I love their brats and bacon. Let them know I sent you.

Pilates is the perfect exercise for your back

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Why is Pilates the perfect exercise for your back? It is an exercise system specifically designed to strengthen your deep internal stabilizers, especially your spine. After years of working out at thebig gym, I’ve seen all types of dangerous exercises performed on the main floor to “strengthen” someone’s back or neck. I have all I can do to not walk up to them with a business card since they are going to need me at some point.

The scariest things I see are individuals with poor posture performing weight training exercises. If it’s at the gym, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. Individuals pulling their leg to their head in an attempt to “stretch” their hamstrings; and people who complain in my office about back pain but never change their exercise routine – still doing yoga and weights but never feeling better… Even worse, all the money spent at Orthopedic and PT clinics when learning how to use your body correctly is the key. It’s PreHab – Not Rehab. There are better ways.

I highly recommend Deb Dodge at The Pilates Advantage in Medina, MN. I have been referring her clients for quite some time and she and her competent staff are great at developing strengthening programs that work for each person. Her instructors are Pilates Method Alliance certified and this is important in the Pilates field of exercise.

Pilates isn’t going to make you sweat like crazy or build your cardio endurance. It is going to build the muscles that keep your body safe as it moves. While I don’t feel like I have earned a big cheeseburger after my workout, I do feel like it is the most important hour I spend each week. When I leave it as if all my joints have been lubricated.

Again, if you are looking for a knowledgeable, helpful and convenient Pilates studio, call Pilates Advantage. They will get you on the right track for feeling good!

Neck Stretches

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Make sure to do these on both sides.

Make sure to do these on both sides.

These neck stretches are great if you sit at a desk a lot or work on a computer. Make sure to do the side stretches on both sides. Call me if you have any questions. Click here for neck stretches

Why is pain shooting down my leg from my back

Monday, May 16th, 2016

When patients come to my office with a lower back injury, they want to know, “Why is pain shooting down my leg from my back?” There are often multiple reasons this can happen and to treat a person with back and leg pain, you need to properly diagnose the problem.

The most common reason the pain or numbness or even tingling will be shooting down your leg from your back is that you are having a disc problem in your lower back. Disc problems such as, disc bulges, inflamed discs due to injury, disc herniations, disc extrusions are all very painful. The good news is that research shows that after twelve months, patient outcomes are basically the statistically the same whether the patient has conservative care such as chiropractic manipulative therapy (chiropractic adjustments) or surgery. The bad news is that regardless of what option you pick for yourself, it can take a long time to heal. If you have a disc problem, it as usually a long time coming. Typically you would have weak muscles and inflexibility for a long time that went without stretching or strengthening and also poor movement patterns in your spine involving your vertebrae that placed extra stress on joints that weren’t designed to take it.

You can also have tight muscles that compress or entrap nerves. This can happen with your piriformis, hip flexors such as your psoas muscle and even your hamstrings. As muscles start to bunch up and the muscle fibers adhere together forming scar tissue it then starts to wrap up the nerve fibers and create additional compression on your nerves. A good chiropractor should be able to adequately diagnosis what is pinching on your nerve and causing you pain.

If you are having an episode of this, get an ice pack out of the freezer and call us. We will be able to diagnose your problem correctly. Do not heat your injury or you will get even more inflamed. Please remember when you visit your chiropractor to have realistic expectations. Any back problem that is extending into your leg, is not going to go away over night. You will need regular and frequent care to feel better for the long term.

Pain while traveling

Monday, May 16th, 2016

If you have ever flown in an airplane, you have had pain while traveling. Mental and physical pain, probably. I am currently writing this from the seat of the most uncomfortable airplane seat ever built and experiencing pain while traveling first hand from my least favorite airline, United.

Traveling is painful now. The leg room has shrunk, to compensate for this, they have taken all the cushion out of the seat that would typically absorb shock before it transmits into your spine from the molded plastic. If you can sit on your jacket or find a merciful flight attendant that will give you a blanket, that is your best bet for a quick fix.

I have become a big fan of aisle seats on airplanes. Even though I am relatively short, they simply give you more room to stretch out. They also let you get up more frequently to stretch out and walk around without the dirty looks of the poor sleeping person sitting next to you.

For long haul flights, the C-shaped neck pillows are invaluable. I find it nearly impossible to sleep on a plane without it. They simply allow your head to rest. If you get stuck in a window seat, they are great for cramming up against the window so you aren’t getting the window shade jabbed into your head.

Since airports usually involve long walks with luggage trailing behind you, remember to pause before yanking it out of the car and think before you lift as well as switch it from side to side so you don’t end up with one sided pain that could be prevented. I am a big fan of packing light, it will definitely cut down on the luggage injuries!

If you have recently returned from vacation or business travels an your back is sore and you don’t know what to do, call our Plymouth chiropractic office. We are here to help.

Pain with Weather Changes

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Have you ever wondered why you have pain with weather changes?  Maybe you have been feeling good lately but with today’s cold snap, you are stiff and sore all over.  This isn’t going to be a ground breaking discovery but its easy to miss.  If you’ve been shivering and freezing over the last 24 hours and your neck and back are starting to hurt, think about your posture.  Are you hunched over trying to warm yourself up from the cold weather outside?  Is your neck poking forward with your shoulders up around your ears?  Pay attention next time you are sitting at your desk shivering away or walking through a cold parking lot.


What is the best way to avoid this?  Cover up the areas where the most heat loss occurs, your head and neck.  From what my hair dresser tells me, stocking caps indoors are all the rage this year.  Not sure if I will be signing up on that one yet but I can definitely get behind scarves and turtle necks to keep me warm.


Think about the posture you have when it is cold outside and you are walking through the parking lot to get to your car and trying to stay warm.  It’s horrible.  If you think about what your body is trying to do, you are basically trying to make yourself smaller so you have less areas of your uncovered skin exposed to the elements.  Multiply that over three months of cold and it is easy to see why winter weather causes pain for people that tend to run cold.  Be cognizant of your posture and realize that these posture changes will become new habits if you do it often enough.  So, remember what your mother said and just bundle up.  Simple as that.


On top of that, cold muscles tend to be short muscles.  Especially in the winter, once you get somewhere warm, it is important to stretch more.  Stretching cold muscles isn’t such a good idea since muscles are easy to injure when they are cold.

In conclusion, to avoid pain with weather changes, have good posture, wear more clothes and stretch.  Quite simple actually, right?

Chiropractic or Massage

Friday, August 21st, 2015

I am frequently asked by patients whether I think chiropractic or massage would be the best choice for them.  The answer is usually a combination.


Your muscles attach to your bones and whether or not they are tight and contracted is controlled by nerves.  If bones don’t move, the muscles will have no reason to lengthen.  Considering that, when faced with the question “should I do chiropractic or massage” the answer would clearly be to have a chiropractic adjustment.  If you are under regular chiropractic care and your vertebrae are moving as they should, massage will be a great addition.


How do you know if your bones are moving properly?  Is the motion in your neck restricted when you look at the ceiling?  Can you comfortably sit up with good posture at your desk or do you feel yourself falling forward as the day goes on?  When you try to look at your blind spot while driving, do you have to rely on your mirrors because your neck is too stiff?  When you turn your neck do your shoulders turn with it?  When moving your shoulder blades back and down, can you do it comfortably or are your shoulders typically lifted up next to your ears?  If you answered yes to  any of these questions, your problem is stemming from an issue with your skeleton and chiropractic would be the best choice for you.


Sometimes a back or neck pain is more often related to nerves.  Do you ever have tingling in your finger tips or feet?  Do you have referred pain down an arm or leg?  Do you worry when you bend over if your back will give out or you won’t be able to stand up?  Are your fingers or toes numb?  All of these things point toward an issue with your nerves and your problem needs chiropractic attention.


Massage is a wonderful thing.  It stimulates healing, blood flow, just the simple act of someone touching you is relaxing.  Is it a cure for back problems?  I don’t think so.  Typically the reason your muscles are too contracted is much deeper and more complex than a simple muscle issue.  It often relates to poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle where you are spending too much time in a seated position during the day and then not getting enough exercise when you are done with work.


When faced with the choice of chiropractic or massage, try chiropractic first to get your spine moving better on a more consistent basis and then supplement that work with massage.  They both work very well together.  On top of both of these, make sure you are following a regular exercise and activity program.

IT Band Pain While Running

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

When it comes to IT Band pain while running, I have a lot of tips for you. First, the IT Band starts in your pelvis along your iliac crest. There it is called your Tensor Fascia Latte. It is very common to end up with big knots along that area and also lower in the side of your leg that cause the IT Band to contract and shorten. When the IT Band contracts and shortens, you often feel hip pain, lower back pain and most often, knee pain.

As a chiropractor, I recommend three different things. First, get your spinal alignment checked by a chiropractor. If your spine and pelvis don’t move properly it will cause altered movement patterns that result in muscle imbalances. This will increase the likelihood of IT Band syndrome developing.

Secondly, make sure your core is very strong. All the usual core strength recommendations: planks, side planks, crunches, these are all important. Make sure you do them on a regular basis. If you are a runner, notice while you are running that your core is contracted, solid and strong. Make sure your hips are waggling to the sides too much or unequally to one side or another.

Third, make friends with your foam roller. Lie on your side, find a knot, relax into the knot. If this hurts, you are doing it right. For your IT band syndrome to feel better, you must break up those knots. I would recommend spending 10 minutes on your foam roller every single day.

Fourth, visit my friend Jan at Gear West in Long Lake and get a shoe evaluation done. There are so many shoes out there designed to make running fun and more comfortable. Buying the proper shoes and avoiding pain for the next several days after running is worth any price.

Frozen Shoulder

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Frozen Shoulder is a frequent problem that I see in my chiropractic office. Often times, the problem began with an injury to the person’s rotator cuff and they stop moving it because it hurts. They didn’t get the treatment they needed or simply didn’t do their physical therapy exercises as they were recommended. Now their shoulder joint is frozen and can’t be moved through its range of motion. It is literally frozen in place.

Diagnosing this condition becomes quite obvious when a patient talks to me because as they show me their ranges of motion, they simply don’t have any movement. (or it is greatly reduced)

The following is a brief list of things you can do to help yourself.

First, if you have a rotator cuff injury and you see a chiropractor or physical therapist, follow their recommendations. Can physical therapy flare up your body for awhile? Of course it can. If you experience a flare up from doing your physical therapy exercises, the good news is that your therapist properly identified the muscles that are weakened or injured. If you flare up, communicate with your doctor or pt. They can’t adjust your exercises if you don’t help them understand your pain. They also won’t know if what they are giving you is working if you won’t do them and won’t try to work through your discomfort.

Secondly, in my chiropractic office, our treatment is literally breaking up the adhesions between the muscles with intense muscle work. Does it hurt? Yes. Does it feel better after we have had enough sessions to free up the joint and loosen up the muscles? Yes. You will have to deal with pain during the session and the bruising feeling afterwards to gain the benefits. It goes without saying, to live an active and healthy life, it is helpful to have two working arms. Any pain to restore the function of a shoulder is worth it. I also do shoulder adjustments on my patients with frozen shoulder to restore the normal motion of the head of the humerus (the long bone of the arm) in the socket of the shoulder.

Thirdly, shoulder problems almost always have spinal involvement. If a patient has shoulder problems there is almost always neck or upper back involvement. While a patient will benefit from shoulder treatment, to resolve the issue, they also need to have proper spinal biomechanics restored. When a patient has a rotator cuff injury or frozen shoulder, they tend to use their neck and back to fling their arm up to reach things. They rarely notice they do it but it becomes obvious when I make them stand still and not move their neck while they lift their arm. Chiropractic spinal adjustments to restore the proper motion of segments of the spine are critical to long term improvement of the shoulder problem.

My last comment: If you have a shoulder problem whether frozen shoulder or rotator cuff injury, heat is not the answer. While it can be quite de-motivating to put an ice pack on when it is chilly out, that is what takes out inflammation. Heat creates more. It will make your shoulder pain worse.

As always, for help with your shoulder, call our office. We have helped many people over the last 15 years feel better with these conditions.

Attention Chiropractors

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