I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Russell Cohn (no relation) of Holistic Health TV. Here is the video, followed by a transcript of our discussion:
Russell: Welcome. I’m your host, Russell Cone on holistic health TV, where we feature the healers and practitioners offering safe and effective methods for achieving vibrant health and overcoming those moments of dis-ease. Today, we have with us a Stanford graduate, Dr. Stefan Cohen, chiropractor in Albany, California, who’s going to speak to us about those big, overhand motions in the shoulder that are typical in tennis, swimming, volleyball, and even the pitching motion. Welcome, Dr. Cohen.
Dr. Cohen: Thanks, Russell, happy to be here!
Russell: Great, you know, I know chiropractic, I often think of that as being associated with adjusting he subluxations, or the misalignments of the sub segments in the spine. Is that true?
Dr. Cohen: That is true, that’s also what I call traditional chiropractic, and there’s a segment of my field that’s beyond that, and it’s really look at more of a dynamic model of the body, so the basic tenant is correct, but the nervous system controls the body, but then we move onto how the other system play in as well.
Russell: I see. Well, can you tell us a little bit about how you help people with shoulder injuries, or what’s going on in the shoulder when people are experiencing a limited range of motion, or pain in the shoulder?
Dr. Cohen: Okay, that’s a loaded question, Russell, because it could be a lot of different things. Sometimes, people will come to me and I have a patient right now who’s a professional baseball player with an injured shoulder, and I suspect that it’s from years and years and years of lugging around an acoustic base, and what he’s doing ergonomically, but it could also be other components of what’s going on in his life as well, I have people come in whoa re athletes who also have shoulder issues, and then I have people who are really sedentary, who sit at a computer all day or may be, you know, in their 70s or 80 and not working. You know, so it really goes a whole range in terms of people who have shoulder issues and what the underlying issues may be.
Russell: I see. And, I know when we talked before the interview that you said you had experience with many different modalities, and so, I’m wondering if there are so many different ways that the shoulder pain and limited range of motion can occur, can you speak to the different modalities that you apply to maybe discover what’s going on and help a variety of different people?
Dr. Cohen: Absolutely. So, again, going back to traditional chiropractic, in my training it would’ve been to look at the alignment of the shoulder and maybe the neck where the nerves come by the shoulder, so that’s the first place I’d look, but then after that, there’s a lot of muscles that move the shoulder, your listeners have probably heard of rotator cuff muscles, there are four major rotator cuff muscles that move the shoulder this way, they move the shoulder that way, up and down, in and out, and so they need to be functioning properly, and if there’s an imbalance in those and other muscles also, they get involved too, and now you’ve got a whole mess of imbalanced muscles, so one of the techniques I use is kinesiology, and what I do is called orthopedic muscle testing, where I’m actually isolating individual muscles, much like when you go to a gym to isolate, you know, a triceps, or bicep, or deltoid, you know, all of these different movements we have. It’s the same thing, instead of lifting weights, we’re just isolating a muscle, and the muscle should lock, physiologically lock, much like you know, I think of those ropes those climbers use that have these locking mechanisms, and if they don’t they slip, and that’s what I call a strain, which means if I isolate it, it can’t hold. The person might be able to use their arm fine, but what’s happening is every time they fire that muscle, it starts to tear, and it starts to have inflammation, and other muscles start to get recruited so that it doesn’t get worse. So, I‘m doing that, okay? Then, I’m trained and certified in a bunch of other techniques that help me work with those muscles, one that’s called ART that I have written on my shirt, that is used a lot of times in sports, which stands for ‘Active Release Technique,’ and it’s a pin an stretch type of technique where we are trained, basically, there are about 500 protocols we have to learn and each one is different, so we learn how to stretch a certain muscle, hold it, and then the person actively stretches it, and that helps release those adhesions. So, I also use a tool, it looks- this is one of them, so it’s actually a stainless steel tool, and if you think of the covering over a muscle, it’s called fascia, and fascia, I take this piece of paper and I just crumple it up, think of it as a sheath around a muscle, and if it’s crumpled like this, that’s the fascia memory, that’s where the muscles going to want to go, so what I can do is clearly iron it out, until it’s no longer holding that memory pattern, and then that helps too. I use Rocktape, which is a type of kinesiology tape, which is this adhesive, elastic tape that’s made to mimic skin, it’s used a lot in sports, and I use it on, pretty much, everybody that needs it, and it allows the muscle to have more correct motion, because it supports the fascia as well. I also use a technique called neuro-emotional technique, that- we’re shifting gears here, I’m actually now looking at the underlying memory in the fascia, fascia is like a big jumpsuit that we wear that’s where we store our body’s memories and our emotional memories, and physiologically, that’s where, sometimes, we need to go to release that, by utilizing this technique, which also involves the gradient system, in Chinese medicine, where we related motions from that, so I try to keep it simple, but sometimes we need to go there just to relieve something that’s just not working well together with all the other techniques. So, as you see, it can get pretty complicated, but with, you know, 15 years of experience as a chiropractor, and 25 years now of experience as using other modalities, we can usually get to what the missing link is pretty quickly.
Russell: Well, that is quite an impressive and diverse toolbox you have, you really come at the problem from so many different directions, I assume depending on what’s appropriate and you are able to focus and really go after the issue. I don’t see how this much chance that I can hang around with you approaching it from so many different angles, it’s beautiful. While you were speaking, I remembered that you told me that you were also an accomplished musician, that you studied at the Berklee school of music in Boston, and I know you won an award for the best corporate band up here with the Clif Bar band and the rock and roll hall of fame. First of all, tell us a little bit about that, but tell us how your music background even applies to the work you do with patients.
Dr. Cohen: Well, you want me to start with that one! So, I was the onsite chiropractor at Clif Bar corporate for years, ad through that, I met Eric Erickson, who’s the owner of Cliff Bar, who’s also a great trumpet player, and over the years, we ended up starting a 10-piece funk rock, soul band, mostly Clif Bar employees, and our first year out was 2011, 2012, somebody reported us and submitted a tape, and flew us out all the way to Cleveland, and we won the national title. So, you know, it’s just the fact that you do what you love, the door’s open, you know, that was just a lot of fun, and that’s really what I love to do outside of what I’m doing here. And then, you have to repeat the other question- oh how do I, okay. So, as a musician, I look at the body very biomechanically, as a saxophonist, I know that I do certain things repetitively in terms of how I hold my body, my shoulders and my finger and forearms are doing, I work with violinists, French horn players, acoustic bass players, drummers, conga players, piano players, anybody who has their own particular patterns. Much the same way, I approach my iron man athletes, my swimmers and my other triathletes; volleyball players that I work with, you name it. Every sport, baseball players, has repetition, and sports are not natural, so every repetition that we do brings up patterns of imbalance, and then you have your computer jockeys too, and they have their repetition as well, which is called mousing. You know, or now we have the thumb issues coming up and wrist issues, and neck issues of texting, so our modern day society brings all sorts of opportunities to get hurt, and what we’re tying to do here is optimize your ability to live fully and in our modern society, and minimize getting hurt as well.
Russell: Beautiful, beautiful. Good job, I know that was a bit of a curve ball for you. And, could you give our viewers, maybe, a couple of quack tips on what people could do on their own to reduce inflammation, and maybe ease those joint pains that sometimes come up just from overexertion?
Dr. Cohen: Sure. Without knowing more about a particular case, certain areas to lok into are what do you do with yourself all day? What are your patterns? Look at those patterns, when in the day do those pains hurt more? If it’s in the morning, it might be that you need to look at how you’re sleeping, or that if you need a pillow, if you’re a side-sleeper, you need a pillow that’s not too low that’s in the bed, or that it’s not too high that allows your neck to be biometrical, or, you may need to look at a different kind of mattress. It could be anything, you know, again like I said, if you’re always doing thing, take a moment and stretch your neck, and look around, look up and look down, some people automatically go to pain killers, you know, the problem with that is it’s unscrewing the light bulb in an old fashioned car dashboard. You know, it’s just taking away the pain receptor that’s there for a reason; inflammation is there for a reason, to a certain degree, until it becomes chronic. So, you know, listen to your body, it’s trying to tell you something, what can you do to change it? It could also be dietary, that’s a whole other ball of wax, but there are certain pro-inflammatory foods, as well, that tend to bring up, and there are anti-inflammatory foods that you can look at as well, what did I miss? Ergonomics, if you ice, don’t over-ice, those are one of the misconceptions, people think that more is better in this country, and you know, basically the bigger the body part, the more ice, but if it’s a big guy with a big back, you might ice up to 20 minutes. If it’s a petite female and it’s an elbow, you might ice for five minutes. So, you don’t want to over-do it, or you’re actually going to make a rebound inflammatory response.
Russell: Interesting, interesting, I didn’t know that about icing.
Dr. Cohen: Another thing is heat, people tend to use dry heat a lot, like plugging in a heating pad, that can inflame further, so I intend to use moist heat, whether it’s a shower head or Jacuzzi or something like that, or even a hot water bottle, old-fashioned style with a moist wrap around it. Those tend to work a little bit better, in my opinion.
Russell: Great, great. Thanks so much for that, yeah. So, if people would like to know how to get in touch with you, I will have your phone number up on the video for people that want to call you, but could you tell us a little bit about the process of starting to work with you, how people can determine if what they’re suffering with is something that you can help them with?
Dr. Cohen: Sure. First of all, I always encourage people to do their homework, look at our website, look at our testimonials, (inaudible) online and we currently have, but will be changing that, but also Yelp, which will be staying there. See what other people say, you know, I prefer people to come in educated about what they’re looking for and who they’re looking for, because I can help them better. Once they’ve decided to come in, you know, you can call us or email us, again, currently, we can currently get online with Jenny Book and schedule, otherwise, you can just call or email. Expect an hour, wear loose clothing so that we can move you around and get to those body parts easier, and I use an hour for the first visit, because I really want to be comprehensive and get a proper history and look back, step back and see, in your case, what are some of the underlying factors that might be causing this. I don’t want to just look at your shoulder because I may be missing something that may be a lot of other people have missed, and you know, I don’t want to be the next person who misses it.
Russell: Beautiful. Great, yeah, you mentioned your yelps and I did check you out online and you have an amazing number of 5-star Yelps, I don’t think I’ve seen a practitioner with so many beautiful Yelp reviews as you do, so congratulations. I know from our interview today that you really are a very thoughtful and complete doctor, in that you look at every aspect, and I especially appreciated how you even have a technique at how to look at the emotional aspect of our health, so thanks for the great work that you do!
Dr. Cohen: Thank you, Russell. It was a pleasure.
Russell: Alright, thank you again, Dr. Stephan Cohen, his office is in Albany, California, and if you are suffering with anything that might be related to something a chiropractor might be able to assist you with, he can be a great person to check with. Thanks again, Dr. Cohen and we look forward to seeing you again here on Holistic Health TV.