Expert: What I Know About … Posture
Photography by Paul Swanson
WHO: Dr. Melissa Gallant AGE: 28 JOB: Chiropractor
EXPERIENCE: When Dr. Melissa Gallant started her summer job at Whitemud Crossing Chiropractors in May 2008, she’d never even been to a chiropractor before. Gallant was in her third year of a nutrition program at the University of Alberta with her sights set on becoming a registered dietitian.
“As I worked there and learned about chiropractic, and saw how much it changed patients’ lives, I decided that was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Gallant says.
Schooling can be intense for a chiropractor, with a minimum of seven years of training and a year-long internship. Once Gallant had met her prerequisites at the U of A, she moved to Dallas for a comprehensive chiropractic program. From there, she went to Ecatepec de Moreles, Mexico, for three months of her internship. She also earned a bachelor of science degree in nutrition along the way.
“Learning to adjust for the first time was one of the things that scared me the most,” she confesses. “It takes a lot of practice and encouragement from fellow classmates.”
Coming back home to Edmonton to practise was Gallant’s first choice.
“I enjoy helping people,” Gallant says. “Hearing how chiropractic can return people to their lives, doing what they love to do – whether it be a sport or activity, gardening or simply being able to pick up their grandkids with no pain. It makes it all worth it.”
“Chiropractic focuses on how the body works as a whole. We experience our lives through our nervous system, so chiropractors look to ensure this system works the best it can. Chiropractors assess the biomechanical function as controlled by the neurological system. When the body isn’t working well, we perform specific chiropractic adjustments. This optimizes how the body can function and adapt to the world around us.
“The most common complaints I tend to see are lower back pain and/or neck and shoulder pain. The biggest cause of low back pain, as well as neck and shoulder pain, tends to be an imbalance between a person’s capacity for stress and strain and the stress we put on ourselves with sitting, lifting, stress and much more.
“There are so many things out there that, unfortunately, encourage poor posture. From computers to cellphones to sitting on a couch or carrying a backpack – they all force us to sit in a forward-flexed position. This weakens our core muscles, causing problems in the whole spine, from pelvis to head, and affects how the whole body moves and functions.
“We are meant to be up and moving around; that’s how our body works best, both physically and physiologically.
“The best advice would be to get up and move around as frequently as possible. Take a walk to the printer or search down a drink of water. You can even do stretches for hips and shoulders. Also, look at the ergonomics of your desk – making sure your chair, keyboard, mouse and monitor are all set up to your height.
“There are a lot of chiropractic techniques. In school, I studied nine different techniques, plus I have taken seminars on several more, and there are still plenty more out there.
“Each patient is a little different; what works for some may not necessarily work for others. On a first visit, I take time to get to know the patient, get a full medical history and perform an exam to see which technique would best fit the patient.
“Remember that (bad posture) is a habit, and like any other habit, it takes time, commitment and patience to change.”