Training Without Injury

I recently conducted a running clinic for a group of athletes who had approached me asking a number questions such as, “How do I stay injury free?” “How do I get faster?” “How should I run hills?” How often should I train?” “How often should I run fast?”, etc. These are all valid questions with very different answers, rooted in the same basic principles.

The focal point of the answers to all of these questions is rooted in a two basic concepts: Fitness and biomechanics—these are not mutually exclusive. It’s important to understand that when we talk about fitness we are talking about two types of fitness: aerobic and neuromuscular. When we talk about biomechanics, we need to understand these are rooted in neuromuscular fitness and adaptation. By practicing proper movement and mechanics we can gain neuromuscular fitness, just as by repeating poor movement patterns engrains poor mechanics which leads to a poor level of neuromuscular fitness.

Neuromuscular fitness is a process that has four stages or parts: activation, mobility, stabilization, and load. In order to create proper movement patterns (good mechanics) and long-term sustainability a muscle/group and/or kinetic chain must be properly activated. It’s only then that it can be properly mobilized and become stable, at which point it is in a position to receive and move “load.” The body is an amazingly adaptive mechanism that will usually find a way to complete the task at hand. As an example, if we are asking our body to bench press a large amount of weight (resistance), or to run a given distance at an elevated pace we are not trained for, the above process doesn’t necessarily have to be engaged and operational for the body to find a way to get it done. However, without the four step process (above) being properly developed we will often see a result in the form of injury, or very poor neuromuscular adaptation that leads to problems down the line. Further, many sports injuries are compensatory and are the result of the host trying to “muscle through” said task, causing an injury in a part of the body that one would think is not even related to the initial problem or mechanical breakdown.

Many runners continue to run through injury and nagging aches and can get away with it, provided their mechanics are sound and have not been compromised. If they have, it’s only a matter of time before the tail starts wagging the dog and something is going to give. This is the injury train that plagues so many athletes who insist on “muscling through” workouts for the instant reward of “getting their sweat on” or the need to feel accomplished at the risk of sacrificing the big picture.

A good portion of my work revolves around damage control and working with athletes to remain injury free, and if injury does occur, to return from injury safely and in a healthy manner keeping the bigger picture in mind. Often times, this means sacrificing short term objectives for long-term goals. It’s a trade off I encourage. Most people begin their quest for fitness because they want to be “healthy.” But, when it comes down to it, they are sacrificing their long-term health for a short-term reward without even realizing it.




Don’t let Sciatica Ruin Summer

The condition known as Sciatica is one of the most common conditions that we treat at Align Healing Center.  Some of the typical symptoms of Sciatica are sharp pain in the low back and/or buttocks accompanied by numbness, tingling, aching or burning down the back of the leg. In severe circumstances, weakness in the leg may also be seen.

The Sciatic Nerve is large and travels down the back of the leg to the foot. The nerve is buried deep within the muscles of the buttock and leg making it difficult to treat with common physical therapy methods. The Sciatic Nerve is composed of several smaller nerves and originates from the low back. It passes under the piriformis muscle (underneath the main buttock muscles) on its way down the leg. Irritation of the Sciatic Nerve at any point along its path is commonly known as Sciatica.

Understanding Sciatica

Let’s talk about nerves for a moment. Nerves are the electrical wiring of the human body. They carry the signals that allow us to move, feel, digest, detoxify, respond to our environment, and so much more. Plain and simple, if the nerves do not work the body will not work. That being said, it is important to understand that unlike other tissues, the primary blood supply to nerve tissue is actually located WITHIN the nerve itself.  So, if a nerve becomes impinged or compromised, so does the blood supply to the nerve. Without proper blood supply, the nerve does not receive the energy and nutrition that are needed for the nerve to heal itself. Over time neural impingement leads to a painful chronic condition called Neuropathy. The definition of neuropathy is a disease or injury affecting nerve cells. The common symptoms of Neuropathy include sharp pain, burning, muscular weakness, numbness or tingling either at the site of the nerve injury or wherever the nerve travels. The condition known as Sciatica is a form of Neuropathy that specifically affects the Sciatic Nerve.

What can I do to relieve my Sciatica without drugs or surgery?

Since 1999 Align Healing Center has been offering many different modalities to heal Sciatica.  We have found that a combination of Class IV laser therapy and spinal decompression offer outstanding results in healing stubborn Sciatica.  Class IV Laser Therapy allows the practitioner to stimulate healing within the damaged tissue by delivering the necessary energy directly to the injured area. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces pain and inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms and stiffness.  In addition to laser therapy we implement spinal decompression to restore spinal disc health. Decompression works by gently stretching the spine, creating a vacuum effect which can restore disc height and even reduce the severity of bulging disc conditions associated with chronic pain and neurological symptoms.

We have found laser and decompression therapy to be most beneficial for patients with pinched nerves, arthritis, herniated discs, and degenerative disc disease. This unique combination of non-invasive therapy offers a chance for realizing a permanent cure. The treatment is finite and typically lasts for about a month. This eliminates the long-term care commitment forced upon patients by other symptomatic sciatica treatments.  With proper care and rehabilitation of your spine and nervous system you can be back to your healthy self quickly!

Dr. Niele Maimone, DC of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA has been active in natural health & wellness since 1999. For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit

Prevention is Better than Treatment

The medical industry wants you sick.  There is no profit in healthy people.  Time after time, in my holistic practice, I see so many patients that are having their symptoms treated with medications, many times with side effects that have created or enhanced the symptoms that brought them to my office in the first place.  To make matters worse, the cost of this treatment can be into the thousands of dollars, sometimes doing damage that cannot be reversed.

One factor that qualifies me to help these patients as well as to write this article is that I have been through this malpractice myself, not just by the medical profession, but by my own malpractice of poor diet and reliance on the medical profession to correct my self abuse.  

In my first book, WHY? The Question that Could Save Your Life, I emphasize the importance of being proactive in your healthcare, studying how to achieve optimal health on your own.  Never take a prescription without checking it out online.  Is there an alternative? Could I change my diet and lifestyle to correct this condition?

I did just that and it changed my life to such an incredible extent that I will never go back.  No more arthritis, psoriasis, indigestion, headaches or allergies—and I experience the energy I had as a kid! 

Let’s take a look at the cause of the gradual breakdown of our bodies as we age and even when we were young.  God created a wonderful creature in the human animal, capable of defending itself against diseases that now destroy us, so we invent drugs which further pollute our bodies.

The natural immune system is phenomenal but very delicate. Our cells are like a city. They require delivery of food, energy, water, bacteria and communication as well as a disposal system that takes away all pollution.  Our internal ecosystem is not designed to be overloaded with pollution that did not exist during the millions of years of our evolution.  That system also requires nutrients that are no longer in our food, especially processed and fast food.  To add insult to injury, we add stress which produces fight or flight hormones that further mess up digestion and elimination processes.

We all think that modern conveniences are so wonderful, and some of them are.  Every step we take away from our evolution has its problems.  Refrigeration prevents the fermentation of veggies which previously kept us supplied with our flora and many nutrients that contribute to our health.  One of these nutrients is SOD (super oxide dismutase), an antioxidant that is 3500 times stronger than Vitamin C, as well as being an anti-inflammatory and an anti-aging agent.

I find there are endless lessons to learn from antiquity.  Chapter IV of my next book is entitled Learning from Antiquity. There is so much knowledge to be found from ancient history that is being overlooked, and in the process we are losing this valuable resource.   

For more information or comments, please contact me:



Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine is a new medical buzz term and is a very useful and exciting option in pain management therapy. Two of the most common regenerative treatments are Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections and Stem Cell (SC) injections. Essentially, these injections harness the body’s ability to heal itself, in a very condensed form, by directing the blood’s healing factors towards injured and arthritic tissues. The procedures involve drawing a patient’s blood (or bone marrow) and then using a centrifuge machine to isolate and concentrate the healing elements (PRP and SC) that can be then reinjected into the target areas of the body that are painful.

Regenerative medicine therapy is successful for many types of pain including muscle tears and strains, partial ligament and tendon tears (shoulder rotator cuff injuries especially), osteoarthritis of the knees and hips, sacroiliac and spinal facet arthritis, as well as most other joints. Oftentimes, chronic pain is the result of reduced blood flow to the area of injury such that the crucial elements in the blood for healing are not able to access the area to repair the injury.

The Platelet Rich Plasma or Stem cell product that is re-injected has both an anti-inflammatory effect and a healing and tissue renewal effect. Whole blood, or blood with all of its components, contains plasma (55%), red blood cells (45%) and white blood cells and platelets (1%). Plasma contains clotting factors, antibodies, protein, glucose and vitamins and minerals and is the main fluid that the other components are suspended in. Red blood cells carry oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the tissues and organs. White blood cells destroy bacteria and produce antibodies against viruses and bacteria. Platelets are responsible for blood clotting by sticking together along with the clotting factors in the plasma to form a “patch” along the blood vessel. When injury and bleeding occur, platelets also release growth factors into the injured areas to help facilitate the repair process and tissue regeneration.

There are over 40 kinds of growth factors that are released by the platelets, activated depending on what type of tissue needs to be healed. Growth factors can stimulate injured tissues in the body to grow and repair themselves, including bone, cartilage, connective tissue, muscle, and blood vessels.
Stem cells can grow and mature into any type of tissue that the body might need to repair an injury. When platelets release their growth factors, the stem cells are “called” in from the bone marrow like a rescue brigade to start regenerating and replacing the damaged bone, muscle, cartilage, etc. Stem cells are located in the bone marrow and are readily accessible. They can be harvested from large bones, such as the iliac crest (hip bone), with a minimally invasive procedure. When concentrated stem cells are injected into an area of damage, the effect is similar to having a transplant because they grow into new tissue altogether.

The effects of both PRP and SC injections on pain relief and tissue regeneration take about three to four weeks to complete. Generally, people see a gradual improvement in pain and function starting at one week that progresses over a month. The injections can be repeated for maximum effect at 4 or 5 week intervals for persistent pain. A maximum of three injections is used as the endpoint of therapy after which further improvement is not likely.

Prior to the having the injections, all medications that block platelet activity need to be discontinued for one to two weeks. These include aspirin and aspirin-containing products, and anti-inflammatories such as prednisone, ibuprofen, naproxen and the like. There are other medications that can be substituted for those if needed for pain relief in the interim that will not interfere with the platelet activity. Platelets and stem cells will remain viable and active for up to four weeks after injected so it is important not to take medication that will block their activity during the healing phase as well.

Regenerative medicine is quickly gaining acceptance as a valuable and highly effective treatment in Pain Management. I have been performing PRP and SC injections in my office for the past two years and the success rates have been exceptional. The risk of the treatment itself is minimal and because PRP and SC are autologous products (from your own body) they are completely safe and free from potential drug reaction side effects unlike other kinds of injections.