19 Sep Q & A – Dr Susan Strevens on Chiropractic
Why did you become a chiropractor?
‘Why did you become a chiropractor’ is the number one question I am asked when people first find out what I do. The best way for me to answer that question is to share my chiropractic story.
As a child I was plagued by debilitating tension headaches, to the point where I found myself taking several painkillers a day just to dull the pain. After months of seeing multiple doctors and specialists, no one could find anything “medically” wrong with me and this is something I would have to manage on a day-day basis with medication. Although disappointing, this was something I had accepted as a child not knowing any better.
Growing up in New Zealand, like most children I was involved in many sports including; gymnastics, swimming and dance. Through my gymnastics I learnt that I was unable to do certain routines as well as others, and was told by a coach that my spine wasn’t as straight as it should be, I learnt later that I had a scoliosis.
It wasn’t until I was 18, when I was first introduced to chiropractic through a spinal screening. What drew my attention first was their ability to help with posture and improve the alignment of your spine. After starting a course of care I found that my flexibility and strength improved. But what amazed me most was that the tension in my neck started to improve, along with my headaches. My chiropractor helped me understand the different triggers that can contribute to tension in the head and neck, and the importance of proper movement in the cervical spine.
Chiropractic has had a huge impact on my health, and since then I have never looked back.
You have taken a specific interest in pediatric chiropractic and are currently doing post graduate study in this area. What is it about chiropractic for infants that makes you so passionate about this area of healthcare?
When I started down the road with paediatrics I was like most chiropractors. I learnt a little about paediatrics in school and wanted to see families in practices. The thing that intrigues me most about children is their ability to recover so quickly and the speed at which they grow and learn.
In my first year of practice as I started seeing more children, I had a few special cases that made me realize I didn’t know everything I needed to know about the paediatric population.
Initially I was seeing kids who were considered completely healthy with knocked knees, poor coordination/motor skills all of which responded well to chiropractic adjustments. Then over the years there were more difficult cases where children were oversensitive to gentle touch and any neurological stimulation. As a chiropractor I felt limited because I couldn’t adjust them, their nervous systems were too sensitive. This made me really want to dive in to paediatrics.
Through my current studies I have gained a better understanding in Developmental Neurobiology and how chiropractic can bridge the gap between Crisis Care and Optimal Function in children.
You see chiropractic as an essential component of good health care, can you briefly explain why spinal health plays such an important role in health?
When the spine is well aligned the body can process information accurately, function at a higher level, self-heal and self-regulate with greater ease.
Chiropractic spinal adjustments improve the health and function of the spine and nervous system (brain and spinal cord) by removing any interference resulting in clearer communication between your brain and body and the environment.
Similar to having an MOT on your car, it is important to have your spine checked regularly.
Spinal pain effects over half the modern adult population. In your experience what is the most common lifestyle habit that contributes to spinal pain and what advice would you give people to keep their spines healthy?
As Chiropractors we know that movement directly affects your neurology. However with increasing work demands and long commutes we often see many patients in the clinic with back pain associated with a sedentary lifestyle
Exercise is a vital component in the health of our spine. Studies have found that exercises such as running, brisk walking can help to keep the bones strong. Exercising regularly improves posture, balance and maintains muscle tone. Yoga and Pilates are both great at helping you maintain flexibility in your spine as well as strengthening your core.
Did you know that exercise benefits every part of the body including the mind! Exercise decreases stress hormones in the body such as cortisol and increases endorphins – our natural feel good hormone. Along with Endorphins it also stimulates the release of adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals work together to improve your energy levels, boost your mood and are known to decrease pain receptors in the body.
Being physically active can be easier than you think, especially if you make it a part of your daily routine.