Movement is life. It facilitates health and longevity. Like many fifteen year olds, Dr. Lars Gunnar was playing high school football when he injured his back and got to the point where he couldn’t play or move much anymore. He took the traditional allopathic path where he saw orthos and neuros, physical therapists, personal trainers, and even a couple of chiropractors, but nothing seemed to help. By sheer luck, he ended up in an office of a Gonstead chiropractic specialist who took him through the whole process and got him running and lifting within a day. Dr. Gunnar shares his very inspiring story on how he got into chiropractic and how he is able to help others to heal.
Dr. Lars Gunnar is a Gonstead Chiropractor out of Pasadena, California. If you don’t know what Gonstead Chiropractic is, it’s another form of chiropractic. It’s very specific and it gets great results. Dr. Lars is extremely good at what he does and he’s doing some great work in the Pasadena area. Dr. Lars is also a wealth of knowledge on nutrition. He practices yoga. He’s a very well-balanced guy and doctor and it’s an honor to have him on the podcast. He also too has a very inspiring story on how he got into chiropractic and how he is able to help others. Please welcome, Dr. Lars Gunnar.
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The Gonstead Chiropractic’s Technique To Cultivate Healing with Dr. Lars Gunnar
On the podcast, we have Dr. Lars Gunnar. He is a Gonstead Chiropractor in Pasadena, California. Dr. Lars, honored to have you on. How are you doing?
I’m doing well. Thank you for having me.
I haven’t seen you since the day we graduated. You’re doing well over there. How’s everything been going?
It’s been going well. It’s been quite the journey to see get people well. It’s exciting to see what you can do when you take your time and you listen to people and you give them good healthcare.
You’ve always been extremely passionate about the chiropractic profession. I always saw you working hard in school. Where does that drive come from? Do you have a chiropractic story that you started with?
When I was fifteen years old, I was playing high school football at the time and I injured my back. It got to the point where I couldn’t play anymore.
Was it a collision or was it just something that you were running and it happened?
I think it was a collision, but it might’ve been wear and tear. It could’ve been lifting too heavy too early.
It wasn’t just one thing that had happened. It took place over time?
Yeah, it was one of those. By the time I stumbled down that road, it was a lot of pain, a lot of changing my lifestyle. I took the traditional allopathic path. I saw the orthos and neuros, the PT, even saw some personal trainers trying to work on core musculature, working on imbalances, and nothing seemed to help. I even saw a couple of chiropractors what we know is the general chiropractic. I’m sure they helped quite a bit, but by sheer luck I ended up in an office, where the chiropractor specialized in the Gonstead system. It took me through the whole process and adjusted me one time. It was an L5 and I was up and running and lifting within a day.
How long were you going through that injury for? Was it season ending?
I still tried to play, but it was about a nine-month progression between initial I’m able to play to finally getting the care that I needed. When you’re fifteen, girls, you’re playing football, you’re going to class, you’re trying to be with your buddies and when you’re hurt as a kid, it doesn’t make sense.
You mentioned the type of chiropractic you do, Gonstead Chiropractic, and I’m sure a lot of people have seen the Gonstead video of that one American kid that went over to Australia. What was that doctor’s name?
Dr. Ian Rossborough. He’s in Australia.
That is a little window into what Gonstead Chiropractic is. The video went viral. It’s got a couple of million views, so you can check that out on YouTube. Lars, what is Gonstead Chiropractic and how is it different than your standard chiropractic?
A Gonstead Chiropractic is a form of chiropractic that was developed by a guy named Clarence Gonstead back in the ‘50s. He took the principle of specificity and he wanted to apply it to the whole spine. He created a method of analyzing the spine with as many objective factors as we could. He used x-rays, thermography, motion palpation, static palpation, visualization, looking at the symptoms, how they correlate to the nervous system, whether it’s your sympathetic, your fight or flight or rest and digest. How can we make the greatest effect to the human body while doing the least to allow the environment to cultivate healing? It’s being specific in how we find a bone, contact a bone and move that one and see how the body can heal. He was fascinated with spinal mechanics and wanted to know exactly what would happen when he did certain things.
At that time, the main chiropractic that they taught was HIO, which was Hole-in-One, mainly upper cervical. Then they taught a rudimentary version of diversified, which was using meric system, which was a vertebrae to an organ and find the high side and hammered in. You see a scoliosis, try to hammer it straight. If you see a lateral deviation, hammer it straight. He found he wasn’t getting the results that he wanted and so he thought that there could be a better way. Then he developed this method and that is something that has carried on and been further developed. I’ve been very fortunate to still be a student of it and to be taking this on and learning it myself because you see some pretty amazing things.
After you got adjusted, you continued to play football. You were a pretty high-level football player at one point. You played in college?
I played a brief stint in college and then realized that I wasn’t tall enough for that. I still remained very active. I ended up coaching football for awhile. I did martial arts for a long time. I got into bodybuilding scene. I have stayed very active and now I’m very much into yoga and strength training and optimizing health through movement, making sure that we integrate whole movements and stay young.
How do you incorporate yoga or stretching and all that into your Gonstead practice?
I’m working with a couple of different people. I’m affiliated with a couple of different yoga studios. My main thing is I educate. We’re doctors, we’re teachers. It’s to empower people, not just be the crutch during an illness. I practice specific chiropractic and then I will teach people like, “These are the types of motions that we want to integrate back in your spine because you’ve lost them and now you’re not able to bend, lift, twists, shoulder raise above the head.” We want to be able to incorporate in yoga, for the most part, is all encompassing because it integrates full movement and control that nothing else does.
The response rate when you go to a yoga studio and you talk about true chiropractic and what it does, those people, they already get it. Mind, body, spirit; they get everything. If you can incorporate a specific chiropractic in yoga, the body thrives because you’re attacking it from every angle.
Chiropractors have been doing it for over a hundred years and yoga has been doing it for thousands of years and we’re now proving it to the Western medicine model that movement is life. It facilitates health and longevity. If we can incorporate that along with anything else you want to do, nutrition, sleeping, stress management, all of it blends together perfectly.
Dr. Lars, can you describe briefly what imbibition is and why it’s so important, especially to the lower part of our spine, how our discs get our nutrients because a lot of people don’t know that the disc don’t have a direct blood supply.
One of the best things to be is to back track and to talk about what happens during a spinal injury. A spinal injury, I’m sure you’ve heard this, “I slipped a disc.” That’s a misnomer. Discs do not slip. A vertebra will slip off the disk. Millimeters of change, but when that vertebra slips backward, that’s the primary direction it’s going to misalign as far as the low back. When it slips backward, it changes the pivot point. Now, we’re going to have swelling. We’re going to have protection guarding muscle spasm. Muscle spasms don’t just spasm to spasm, they spasm to protect you. Since now we’ve lost that foundation and that disc is swollen, we’ve lost the ability to get nutrition in and out of the disc efficiently and that’s imbibition.
We don’t have direct blood supply to the disc, but when we move, movement facilitates pushing in and pushing out the good and the bad. When we lose that imbibition, when we have a spinal injury that has lost its foundation, slipped backward, we are going to have an infiltration of fluid, infiltration of inflammatory mediators. If we leave it long enough, pH change and your body will start attacking it like an infection. Same thing with shoulder injuries. Same thing with elbow injuries. We change fluid dynamics long enough, your body is going to attack it twofold, threefold, fourfold. It depends on what extent your body is dealing with other barrages of things. I’m sure you’re seeing it now. We’re dealing with a pretty sick population. They’re not just biomechanically messed up, they’re biochemically messed up.
It’s getting people in our office, but most people are sitting down, commuting, then working at a desk jobs sitting down all day. Those discs are drying out like sponges. There’s no movement from a lot of the general population all day, day in and day out.
What’s amazing is our bodies are so capable to compensate for so long that spinal injuries don’t even have to cause pain. They can cause other symptoms. They can cause GI distress, constipation. Inflammatory mediators, wherever it wants to attack so people don’t even notice or even think about their back. They’re driving and sitting and I’m seeing an influx now of like, “I need a standing desk.” That’s not the answer either. Standing long enough is just as bad as sitting all day. We need movement. It’s changing, the micro changes. We’ve lost that body awareness because we’re so tuned into this high-stress life. We need to get up when you take care of the kids. We need to go to work. We need to work nine hours because we’ve got to make all the money that we need to pay for the house that we’re living in. If we don’t have health, we don’t have anything, and it’s gone.
We have both been in practice for a little over a year now and I’m sure you’ve seen some amazing cases in your office. Anything come to mind? Every case is amazing. It’s all good stuff, but anything that sticks out in your mind?
It was the first month I was in practice. I was subbing for another Gonstead doctor. She went out of town for a mission trip. The last day she was here, she got a new patient. She was eight and a half months pregnant. She was crossing the street and then she was hit by a car. This happened on a Saturday and she came in on a Monday. That was the last day that that doctor was going to be here, and I was going to be covering her for the next three weeks. This woman was hit by a car, her husband watched it, traumatic, but ever since then, she had really bad back pain.
She went to the ER directly after she had the baby checked on. The baby was still fine, but the baby wasn’t moving very much, and she was very active before that. They said the heartbeat was there. She was fine, no wrapping of the fetal cord or anything, but she came into here and they had done X-rays at that point at the hospital. We used those to analyze what was going on. There was a ton of torsion in the pelvis, whether that happened from the accident or had happened before. Either way, the accident had presented some form of trauma, but until that point, she had been normal stages coming into labor and everything stopped. The baby stopped moving. You can tell that there was a big traumatic event that occurred.
When you alter the pelvis mechanics and when you alter the pelvis neurology, I’m sure you’ve seen it, you’re going to get a bunch of symptoms that sometimes don’t make sense to a back issue. They’re completely correlated. We did the whole thing and we found that her sacrum, we called it a PR Sacrum, Posterior Right Sacrum, being super pregnant would put her on a Gonstead specific, upper cervical, we use this knee-chest table. We put her on that to relax and I adjusted her sacrum. We sent her home. She came back the next day because when you’re dealing with acute care, you want to see them maybe a couple of days in a row. You’re doing the right thing and you’re getting the results that you want. She came back the next day, her back pain was better. The baby still wasn’t moving. Mom was still very fatigued. There are no signs of going into labor at that point either.
I ended up adjusting the L5, the very next one. You set the sacrum underneath it and then L5 needed that foundation, so it expressed itself. We put it on top. Her low back pain, which she had radicular pain to the foot, which is nerve pain to the foot, that cleared up within about an hour. Then we got a call about three hours later that she went into labor. I’m not saying that I caused the labor. I’m not saying chiropractic is the reason she had the baby, but there was something going on with her back.
There was some interference and it was cleared out and she went into labor.
In my mind, that could have been a stressful environment. You take just enough stress out of it, then the body’s like, “We need to get this baby out here, so we can start letting baby heal and mom heal.” We always do that in the office whenever we have pregnant moms here, we always say, “Your baby’s going to get a great medical checkup when he’s first born, but make sure have him come in and have a chiropractic check-up.” She brought the baby in and the baby’s totally fine, laughing, moving around and the reflexes were there. Some great results out of that. It was very eye opening how powerful just one or two adjustments could be.
A lot of people don’t know that you can bring your infant or a baby to the chiropractor. I don’t know if they think it’s too early or what, but that is the best time to do it. We get these people that are 70, 80 years old in the office that have never been checked. Imagine being checked from day one, making sure your nervous system is thriving from day one. That’s the way to create a healthy person and healthier society.
Imagine what the world would be if everyone had a stronger immune system, stronger GI system. Maybe we wouldn’t have as many autoimmune issues or as many people with migraines, headaches, these debilitating things that are in the millions now. The opioid crisis might be a little bit less. We have to make a presupposition that these would all be true, but we’ve seen the results from just chiropractic, what it does.
Lars, why do you think it’s so important to be specific while doing chiropractic and what does that even mean, specificity?
Specificity within chiropractic, we can describe it as the right bone, the right way. The right bone, what segment, what portion of the nervous system. If you have a migraine and that migraine is stemming from a T1 nerve that is lighting up your sympathetic nervous system causing one-sided contraction affecting your vision, am I going to change that if I’m on T2 or T3 or T4?The spine is one organ so they all influence each other. How can I have the greatest effect on the spine and nervous system by being on that bone? The right bone, the right way, how is it positioned?
You could be on the right bone and hit it the wrong way and you could even make it worse. You got to be putting it in the right direction as well.
This assumption that like, “I’m just popping things to pop things. It feels stuck, let me un-stuck it,” is completely unscientific. You can make this scientific and repeatable. The right bone, the right way at the right time. Sometimes people do better. Extremely degenerated discs adjust better in the morning. Why? Because when they sleep all night, that disk fills up a little bit, so we get a little bit more joint space. Very acute cases with very swollen discs, they do better in the evening time because they’ve walked around all day and imbibition has happened and they pushed out some of that inflammation, so it helps them. It’s not as uncomfortable for them to get the adjustment and it helps me to deliver a more comfortable, less jarring adjustment. It’s not a violent adjustment, but it is a deep adjustment.
It’s very specific and the intent to place that thing back on that disc, and then you can get even further, the right part of the nervous system. Do I want to affect the parasympathetic? Am I going to be working upper cervical or sacrum ilium? Am I going to be working sympathetic? Am I trying to affect a chemistry issue? How long do I wait for that? These are all the things that we take the protocol and education is big. People are very quick to go to the medical doctor when they’re like, “I have a cough.” Over prescription of antibiotics in that and we get a cough and we run there, but if we got a cough and then we knew how to manage it chiropractically or manage it with essential oils and nutrition, reducing dairy, sugar, oregano oil is doing oil pulling, all that stuff, people wouldn’t need sick time off, at least not much.
You mentioned another interesting thing. I’ve been hearing some good things about the oregano oil. What is going on there because I’ve never tried it? When would you use oregano oil? What’s it good for?
I haven’t read the study, so I don’t know if I want to quote it, but I took a seminar a while back. It was based on sports injury management and extremity issues. We spent about 15% of our time talking about essential oils. He was showing us pre and post MRIs of him rebuilding joint structures with certain essential oils, adjusting specifically and the right nutrition. Certain injuries are more restricting than another and the progression and the age and all that plays into a factor, but he started talking about oregano oil. A study came out of for tea tree oil and oregano oil.
MRSA, Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus, infections, they are the only ones that we don’t know what to deal with. When people get them, they’re super germs, we can’t touch them. There’s a research on how to get the data for it. They use tea tree oil to wipe out the biofilm around it and then oregano oil killed MRSA. The biofilm is what makes it protective against antibiotics, so it doesn’t penetrate them. It has a casing around it and the oregano was able to kill it itself and then it becomes airborne at that point. MRSA is in the air because it’s normally nosocomial through the nose. It can help with other people around being infected too. They found this out with those two.
Oregano is a very spicy oil, so I wouldn’t advise swallowing it or drinking, but whenever people had any form of respiratory issue, the flu, common cold, I tell people to rub it on their feet because it’s a high absorption point, but don’t put it on your hands. It’ll give you like jalapeño hands if you do. Rub it on their feet. They rub their feet together and I have noticed that people would get considerably well quicker. I also had people do oil pulling. They grab coconut oil and then they do a tablespoon of coconut oil, drops in the oregano oil, swish it around for about ten to twenty minutes. I tell them to watch a show on Netflix, swish around slow, it’s not like mouthwash, and then spit it out, otherwise that will make you sick, and then go from there. I’ve found that it cuts that time down pretty severely for rhinitis and anything like that.
Coconut oil is a magic oil. It’s antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory. It’s so good for your hair, your skin, everything. You can take a tablespoon a day and drastically decrease systemic inflammation, right?
Yeah. On top of that, it’s a medium chain triglyceride, so it is something that is going to facilitate energy throughout the day. It’s going to help everything, especially if we’re trying to go for that ketogenic lifestyle that is gaining a lot of trend.
You’re pretty into the ketogenic diet. It’s definitely a tough ride in the beginning to get into ketosis, but once you’re there, it’s got amazing benefits, right?
Yeah. Between time restricted eating and ketosis, you increase longevity and you increase hormonal expression. You help with people’s sleep. It’s the magic pill. It’s very much so the way the nutrition should be. It got so far deviated from the adoption of this overly palatable sweet society that we have now. Everyone thinks everything should be over the top sugary when we’ve lost our palette for bitter and we should be somewhere in between. If we can adopt this high-fat lifestyle, keep the sugar on the low, people are going to live longer, we’re going to have less Alzheimer’s, less dementia. They’re calling Alzheimer’s type three diabetes now.
What’s going on with that?
With prolonged elevated blood sugar, it starts to affect the brain and it’s mystery that dementia and Alzheimer’s have expression about 20 to 30 years prior with some pretty obscure symptoms. What I believe streamlines that, there’s the genetic component as well, but genetics only load the gun. We pull the trigger with what we can do, in how we methylate them or not. Prolonged high blood sugar over time messes up our brain. It knows how to run on glucose and that’s what we’re taught. The brain runs efficiently on glucose. It runs even more efficiently on ketone. It’s a matter of getting it there. A lot of people have tried the ketogenic diet and then they got a little repelled from it because they called it the keto flu, or they say they’re lethargic.
What’s also happening is the people that typically do the dramatic change, they are like, “I’m going to start working out. I’m going to start keto. I’m going to take away all the sugar. I’m going to take away the coffee.” I’m like, “Do you have the keto flu?” Sugar has the effect on the brain the same as cocaine does. If you withdraw that and then you put in all these other new hard things to adopt, you’re going to feel like crap. It doesn’t make sense. Moderation and committing one thing at a time, but having a clear end game of, “I want to do a ketogenic diet. I want to start doing time restricted eating. I want to start doing whatever it is,” it’s a series of decisions to get there, not just one decision, one day. Some people can do that with iron willpower, but willpower wanes away as we get more fatigued. If we could make a series of decisions that benefit us over time, you’re going to find success with it and get the benefits from it.
Lars, if you can give somebody some advice that’s in the health rut, a lot of pain, just not feeling good in general, what would you recommend for this person? Specific chiropractic adjustments, change the diet up?
Always start with the spine. When dis-ease is there, even with lack of symptoms, always start with the spine. We don’t want to have proper brain to body, body to brain communication, there’s no point. Healthy spine, a good diet, whether that’s a ketogenetic diet, a Paleo diet or something more geared toward your genes. I know nutrigenomics is getting pretty big right now. Sleep well, get the eight hours. We do know that 10 PM to 2 AM is the prime time, we want to sleep before then and after then, getting to bed at a good time.
Thinking well, a lot of people like to override the mental aspect of living. A lot of people don’t know how to interpret mental exhaustion, which tease itself up just how kids get mentally exhausted. They throw tantrums, adults do the same thing. Acknowledging self-talk, being positive in your own mind is going to be huge. Spiritual well-being, whether that is a universal belief or chakras or God or whatever that is. It’s more of a purpose and a philosophy of yourself. What do you want to give the world? That’s what I intuitively take it on as. We want a healthy spine, healthy food, sleep well, think well, spirit well, and move well. Yoga, weightlifting, sports, whatever it needs to be.
Dr. Lars, where are you located? Where can people find you on social media?
I am in Pasadena in California. My Instagram is @VitalFormChiro. Our website, you can find us from there at VitalFormChiropractic.com. Also, if you’re not in Pasadena, California or in the Southern California area and you do want to find a specific chiropractor, Gonstead.com, Gonstead.com/Seminars. Both are going to give you the directory to the closest one to you that have experienced that training. Also, there’s a ton of Gonstead doctors overseas, Australia, Japan, and Europe. You’ve just got to look over there.
Dr. Lars, if you could leave the audience with one piece of advice that you’ve taken with you over the years, what would it be?
Never stop learning, whether it’s about yourself or your career or relationships or anything. Always be a student. You’re never a master of your craft. Always appreciate someone else’s experience in it.
You can learn something from everyone either with it’s what to do or what not to do, so always keep that open mind.
We learn from our mistakes and our mentors’ mistakes. Learning from our mentors’ mistakes is a little bit less painful, whether you’re a writer or another chiropractor, another lawyer, businessman, whoever you’re trying to emulate. Learn from them, soak it up, and that way, you can stand on their shoulders and not be rebuilding the wheel.
Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, find somebody that’s doing it the way you would think it should be done and then make it your own. That’s a beautiful formula for success. Dr. Lars, thank you so much for coming on. I appreciate it and I look forward to talking to you soon.
Thank you, Kevin.