Health, Wellness and Fitness expo

Today I took my family to the local Health, Wellness and Fitness expo. I’m always looking for easy, cheap, outdoor activities to entertain Miss 5 on the weekends. This excursion had the dual purpose of enticing my skeptical mind by using the word “Wellness” in the title of the event.

I was most pleased with the number of local sporting clubs that were set up with display tents and demonstrations. I picked up some flyers on dance classes at the local community center, while Miss 5 and Ryanoxide played putt putt golf and talked to the guys at the Cricket Australia tent. Ambulance Victoria had some representatives there doing some community outreach, which I think is immensely important. Even the city council band was playing in the background. All round it was a great exhibition of local health and fitness groups and organisations.

And then there was the wellness.

As a skeptic, the term “wellness” usually sets off little alarm bells for me. It is a word that gets hijacked by alternative medicine a fair bit. It usually refers to a balanced and healthy lifestyle, and being generally happy within yourself. It has become a real buzz word, because its definition is so broad.

Reflexology tent. If only it didn't cost a dollar a minute to put my feet up! Ahhhhh

Reflexology tent. If only it didn’t cost a dollar a minute to put my feet up! Ahhhhh

I walked by the reflexology tents, full of relaxed looking ladies getting a five minute foot massage. Then I saw the chiropractic tents. There were two today and I approached them both. I am an ex-chiropractic assistant(C.A.). After seeing the light of scientific reason I have become a keen skeptic and realise just how little scientific support some aspects of chiropractic appear to have. Knowing full well what was probably in store for me, I agreed to a ‘Free Spinal Check’ at the first stall. Always the quiet reminder in the back of my consciousness told me that as a skeptic it is vital to keep your mind open to the possibility of new evidence. After-all, I’d believed in it all once and had changed my world-view when I discovered how wrong I was.
“Who knows?” I thought to myself, “This could be the guy who brings me back on side.”

He wasn’t.

There I was, standing feet shoulder width apart and rolling my head all the way forward, all the way back, and finally to “what I felt was normal”. A posture examination I had done with patients multiple times daily as a C.A. and had been a part of my own postural examination while in chiropractic care. While I was performing this routine, the incredibly enthusiastic chiropractor asked what I did for a living. I mentioned my online studies. It did not surprise me to hear that I had ’rounded in shoulders’ and ‘a forward head posture’. Of course, chiropractic could help with that and could even assist me with my studies because better posture leads to better exam results. He even claimed that stress was not caused by adrenaline, but by nerve and brain impulses to the adrenal glands becoming muddled up by blockages in the spine. Although he didn’t use the word “subluxation”, I know that this is the unproven ailment created by a misalignment of our vertebrata. According to good chiropractic wellness marketing, we all have them. Including babies.

Cute and happy baby. Who doesn't want a baby like this? And holding a toy spine, could you get any more delicious?

Cute and happy baby. Who doesn’t want a baby like this? And holding a toy spine, could you get any more delicious?

“whoa! hold on there. Babies?” you say. Yes, babies. This practice sees plenty of them. As did mine when I was a patient and C.A.
“But isn’t that a little risky?” you ask. Yes, it is. Last September huge news broke when a baby suffered a broken neck after a chiropractic visit.. More about that here, here and here.

But this doesn’t stop chiropractors from sneaking into wards to adjust neonates and other patients. After-all, chiropractors feel that the work they do is so vital to people’s overall wellness, that they should be primary healthcare providers.

But I digress. My discussion about chiropractic practice with this lovely gentleman did not reach the point of serious infant harm, or sneaking in to hospitals. My concerns about risk were brushed off with the usual ‘it’s gentle and safer than taking an aspirin’ line.

None of this was news to me. I had heard it all escape from my very own lips.

At the second chiropractic tent I got to speak to the C.A. and wife of the chiropractor. Their center was focused on families. It was located in a multi-modality wellness center owned by their daughter, a second daughter also worked as a C.A. The kind and caring C.A. proudly told me that her grandchildren were first adjusted at only 5hrs old and 1hr old. This is the only way to ensure optimal health. The sooner they caught them the better.
I did not get a free check from these guys. But they did point out that I carry my bag on one shoulder, so my shoulders are likely to be tilted. They also asked me about how much time I spent at a computer, then suggested that my forward head posture (which hadn’t been checked by these guys, just assumed) was probably causing me head aches. I was honest and said I don’t really suffer from headaches very much at all. I was told that I would definitely suffer in the future unless I got my spine under control.

Even the son-in-law is involved in this family practice. He plays for Melbourne Victory, I'm told, and gets regular adjustments to maintain his prime soccer playing abilities.

Even the son-in-law is involved in this family practice. He plays for Melbourne Victory, I’m told, and gets regular adjustments to maintain his prime soccer playing abilities.

What I take away from this experience:

*Nothing has changed since I was a believer. Subluxation theory and wellness practice are in full swing.
*I was thrilled not to come across any anti-vaccination material.
*I was thrilled there were no testimonial, as these breach the AHPA advertising codes.
* I was concerned by the pressure put upon me so quickly to get Miss 5 into care, and by their excitement to have so many infants in care. (Just as we did in the practice I worked at. First year of life was free, for our patients).
* Miss 5 and Ryanoxide are taking up golf.

UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention by Reasonable Hank that Chiropractor number one from my adventure yesterday works for an anti-vaccination practice. When I wrote this post yesterday I was careful not to name names, because as far as I could see from their advertising and demonstrations they were not doing anything that was in breach of AHPA codes.

However, the spread of anti-vaccination material is something I take very seriously. So I have decided it is important to share my new findings. Anti-vaccination and Anti-medicine sentiment runs strong through Chiropractic culture. Unfortunately many of the beliefs of vaccine refusers and anti-vaccination advocates simply don’t stand up when tested scientifically.

Vaccinations save lives. Anti-vaxers put the health of themselves, their children and their community at risk.

But enough of that for now, this is about the chiropractors I met yeterday. Now, I want to be very clear. This blog from Reasonable Hank showing an anti-vaccine chiropractor at Point Cook Chiropractic is a co-worker of the enthusiastic gentleman who performed my posture examination yesterday. That being said, the blog linked above contains some worrying screen-shots from the facebook page of the Point Cook Chiropractic Health and Wellness center which he was a representative of yesterday at the expo.

Concerning indeed.

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