So you’ve probably been wondering, where does chiropractic fit into all of this “Stay Younger, Longer” talk? Well, don’t you worry, that’s what we’ll be covering in this episode.
There are a couple of ways in which chiropractic can keep your body working much better, for much longer. Increased motion, increased neurological function, and decreased stress levels are the main three.
Since we just talked about stress last time, let’s start with that. Remember our discussion on how stress kills? We went over how the body doesn’t distinguish between types of stress; emotional, physical, or chemical… it’s all just stress to the body. And the end result is the same: the diminished ability of the body to repair itself and fight off disease.
Well, guess what? Your body is under physical stress right now.
SERIOUSLY- YOU’RE STRESSED
It’s unavoidable. Our modern lifestyles require us to subject our physical structures to stresses they weren’t really designed to take. By that I mean, repetitive stress, typically occupational in nature.
In the caveman days, most of us didn’t do the same thing all day, every day. We walked around looking for stuff to eat, we chased after animals and hit them with a stick, but we didn’t stay in the same spot for very long. Now, most of us sit at the same desk, in the same position, doing the same thing, all day long, day in, day out. And it goes on for years.
Now, something as mild as prolonged sitting or typing at a keyboard may not seem like a big deal at first glance. But it’s not the intensity that’s the problem. It’s that it never goes away.
Try this out. Stick your arm straight out to the side. Hold it there. No big deal, right?
Keep it there. Keep going. Keeeeeeep going. Sooner or later, that arm is going to feel heavy. And eventually, you’ll have to drop it.
Even mild stress, given enough time or repetition, will wear your body down. Sometimes, it’s not a big deal, because either we don’t encounter stress like that or if we do, we have enough time once it ends to repair the minor damage caused by it.
But if we face that repetitive stress again, the very next day, some residual damage may linger from the time before. And if we face that stress again the day after that, even more, residual damage- minor though it may be will continue to build up and build up, until it finally causes some real trouble.
Your spine takes the brunt of this repetitive stress, usually. Prolonged sitting, prolonged standing… so many of us are stuck in the same posture all day long. Rather than spreading the stress out over the entire spine, we focus it on the same areas over and over… is it any wonder why there’s so much neck pain and back pain in this country?
And as that stress starts to build up… you guessed it. The body starts to slide into that stress response state, where it can’t repair itself as well, the immune function goes down, and life just doesn’t go well in general.
Chiropractic care does a pretty good job of clearing out that stress on the joints of your spine, and getting your body back into the rest and repair mode that it needs to stay in. In fact, one preliminary study out of the University of Connecticut showed an increase in immune function for those getting chiropractic adjustments.
YOU’VE GOT SOME NERVE
There’s more. Chiropractic care got its start on the basis of its effect on the neurology of the human body. Early chiropractic theory focused on the effects of misalignment of the individual vertebra on the nerves leaving the spinal cord at that location. By reducing the misalignment, they reasoned, proper nerve function could be restored and the body could return to full vitality.
It’s an idea rooted in basic biology. “Structure determines function” is the mantra of modern biology, and what that translates to for us is, that if the structure (your vertebral column) is compromised, the function (the nervous system housed within the vertebral column) will be compromised as well.
We see it all of the time, in conditions where patients have radiating pain- that’s pain or numbness that travels down the arm or leg. It’s very common to see a patient with a problem in their neck also complain of, say, a numb patch on the inside of the arm. This may sound odd until you trace the course of that nerve back to the neck and see that it originated right where the neck problem is. Once the chiropractic issue in the neck is resolved, the radiating pain goes away as well.
Consider this. If that process can occur in the nerves that go into the arm or leg, why can’t it also occur in the nerves which travel from the spine to the organs? There wouldn’t necessarily be pain associated with this, but as you can imagine, a reduction in the function of those nerves would create a serious problem. The classic chiropractic term for this is “subluxation”- a problem with the vertebra causing a reduction of function in the spinal nerves at that level- and it’s an important part of why chiropractors strongly endorse getting your spine checked periodically to clear these conditions out.
MOVE IT OR LOSE IT
Objects that are at rest, tend to stay at rest, and the same goes for people. Put another way, “use it or lose it” quickly translates into “move it or lose it” for the body.
Your body is designed to move. Motion is one of the cornerstones of life, and any doctor knows, those that who stay sedentary too long are at risk of losing at least a portion of their mobility… permanently.
This doesn’t just operate on a global, full-body basis. It also holds true for individual joints; that is, if a joint becomes immobilized or the range of motion is reduced for an extended length of time, the joint itself starts to break down and degenerate.
It’s an accelerating process, with joints that are fixed or “fixated” becoming progressively more “stuck”. The proper range of motion of the joint in question becomes more and more reduced, and the longer that situation persists, the more permanent that state becomes. Adhesions, scar tissue, and even bony spurs can rob your body of mobility bit by bit until you find you can barely move at all.
The best way to fix it is to prevent it. Regular chiropractic care can keep the joints free of restriction and keep you flexible and mobile in the long term.
Thanks for reading our “Stay Younger, Longer” program. Proper diet, exercise, sleep, reduced stress, and chiropractic care, all work together and enhance each other to keep your body as young as possible, as long as possible. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have on your next visit. See you soon!