The health of your spine and nervous system is the single most important factor in determining your overall health and longevity. While this seems obvious to most people, it might surprise some. To understand why let’s talk about the purpose of the spinal column. The spinal column is made of 24 moveable bones called vertebra. They sit on top of the sacrum, which is located in between the 2 halves of the pelvis. At the top of your neck, the spinal column supports the skull. Your spinal column serves 2 main functions: 1.) to hold you in an upright position while allowing you to move and bend and 2.) to protect the fragile spinal cord and nerve roots.
The spinal cord and brain comprise what is called the Central Nervous System. Think of this as your master computer. It runs everything. Every single cell, gland, organ, and tissue in your body receive constant messages from the brain, down the spinal cord, and then out through the spinal nerves which exit in between every vertebra. The brain tells every cell exactly what to do to keep you at your healthiest. Not one single cell functions on its own.
One of the attributes that make humans unique and amazing is our ability to walk upright and accomplish a myriad of complex movements. This depends on a strong, flexible spinal column. This incredible ability we have also made us susceptible to a problem. Our spinal bones can subluxate (misalign) as a result of physical, mental or toxic trauma. We do have the ability to auto-correct many of these small, daily subluxations- in fact, we do so 100’s of times a day. But sometimes the level of trauma gets too high. It might be an impact or fall, but more commonly, it will be repetitive trauma, sitting too long, or being exposed to ongoing, unrelenting mental or emotional stress. It could be a difficult job, a sick family member, a troubled relationship or sleep deprivation. We commonly see toxic loads from food additives, chemicals, drugs, and alcohol. These too cause subluxations. It’s like overloading a circuit in your house and you blow a fuse.
The most common subluxations we see have been there a long time. They may be silent for months or years until enough damage has been done they begin causing pain. Or, there is an exacerbating event or “straw that breaks the camel’s back”. Many people report a minor activity like bending over to tie their shoe, or taking out the trash. This routine daily activity seems to “trip” the breaker for no known reason. The problem (subluxation) has actually been there a long time, silently causing damage. Then . . . . . . BAM! Pain, spasm, inflammation, loss of mobility. It seems that it has just started, but in reality, it has usually been coming on overtime. I see this all the time on x-rays and x-rays don’t lie. It can take 15-20 years to develop spine degeneration (narrowed discs and bone spurs). Generally, subluxations are only painful 1/3 of the time and usually after they have been there a long time. Think of it as a dental cavity. When you go to the dentist and are told that you have a cavity, you wouldn’t dream of waiting until it became painful to take care of it. And if you wait until it hurts, there will be tooth and nerve damage leading to painful and expensive care. This is how many of our grandparents dealt with their teeth. They simply waited until they had a toothache, and then had the “bad” tooth pulled. By the time they were old, they had a set of false teeth. I remember this with my own grandparents. My grandfather would retrieve his false teeth out of his pocket so he could eat. This is an absurd way to deal with your teeth. We know better now. With good preventive care, we can expect to keep most of our teeth our entire lives.
While dental care is really important, it pales in comparison to the importance of a healthy spine and nervous system. You can lead a long, healthy life with no teeth, but that is not true of a decaying spine. You will not stay healthy with a spine which is subluxated long-term. It will decay prematurely and cause a profound loss of function and increased pain. You can replace a tooth, but you cannot replace your spine. We now know that our spines also need to be maintained for life. That’s why it’s important to check babies for subluxation from birth, or as soon thereafter as possible. We want to remove any interference to optimal nerve flow which will cause health problems.
Subluxations damage your body in countless ways, even before pain begins. Subluxations cause constant abnormal, “glitchy” signaling to your brain. It’s like talking on a cell phone with bad reception. If you only hear every 4th word, you really don’t understand what is being said. Glands and organs simply can’t do their job. Subluxations cause a huge imbalance in your autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls all of your bodily functions not under your conscious control (think of the word “automatic”). A subluxation causes your body to be in a state of sympathetic dominance. This means “fight or flight” for men, and in women, it also causes “tend and befriend” behaviors. While this might sound ok for women, in reality, it is a stressed state and it shunts the blood flow and nerve flow to skeletal muscles, heart, and brain. There is only so much blood to go around, and the internal glands and organs are deprived of vital nutrients for optimum repair and function. These organs then suffer in many ways.
People who receive regular chiropractic care are without a doubt some of the healthiest people on the planet. Research shows that they take less drugs, report higher levels of activity, have less visits to medical doctors and hospitals, and overall report significant improvement in their overall quality of life.
Over my 30+ years in practice, it has been such a privilege to see the miracles that occur with those that choose the chiropractic lifestyle. This isn’t theory, it’s proven science. If you want optimal health, you want your nervous system working at its best. The better your nervous system works, the better you adapt to stress, strain, sitting, toxins, and all the other challenges of life. It’s as simple as that.
Key points to know about your spine:
1. Subluxations cause your spine to degenerate 8 times faster. Optimal spine = optimal health
2. Subluxations are only painful 1/3 of the time. Don’t wait, subluxations get worse over time.
3. Only 10 % of your nervous system feels pain. 90 % is the functioning of your Autonomic Nervous System.
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