Thinking About True Health

What is health?

Many people think that health is simply “feeling good and looking good.” But true health is more than just the absence of disease. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, health is “the condition of being sound in body, mind and spirit.” The World Health Organization states that health is a “state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing,” not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. True health is the full expression of life! This is the chiropractic perspective.

Your body is built to experience true health. Your body is smart. It has an intelligence inside of it that has helped it to grow from two cells into the amazing, complex, dynamic being that you are today! These two cells have created a body complete with a very sophisticated nerve system that stretches for miles, and stores over 100 trillion bits of information. Your nervous system contains100 billion neurons that can send impulses at lightning speed to every cell, tissue, organ and system in your body.

Why, then, does our body sometimes not work the way we want it to? Why do we experience aches and pains, digestive problems, high blood pressure, depression, or other health challenges? Something is interfering with the body’s natural ability to function, self regulate and mend. This interference is usually caused by stresses and strains that accumulate on our spine on a daily basis, and over time. Examples of these stressors are:

Physical: sitting, bad sleep position, weak muscles, falls, injuries, repetitive strain.
Chemical : medications, environmental, and food chemicals
Mental/Emotional: daily tension that affects our physiology by triggering chemical reactions and creating changes in our physiology.

To be alive is to be under stress. It is impossible to avoid stress. It is not the stress, but how our bodies respond to stress that matters most in our overall health. Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and practicing deep breathing are all ways to help your body adapt to stress. However, your spine, through which your nervous system controls your body’s ability to function and heal, is vital in your ability to adapt. Maintaining a healthy spine – or correcting a less-than-healthy spine — will help you adapt more quickly and be less susceptible to life’s stresses.

Adding regular chiropractic adjustments to your healthy lifestyle will take the pressure off your spine, allow your nervous system to function more effectively, and help you to experience the meaning of true health.

Is Your Laptop Making You Lean?

Often when we do spinal exams on new patients, we find that their heads are leaning forward in front of their bodies. Your head weighs about 11 lbs, similar to the weight of a bowling ball. Imagine trying to walk around all day carrying a bowling ball about six inches in front of you. This would take a lot more effort than carrying the bowling ball right next to your body.

Forward Head Syndrome was commonly seen in older people. However, with the widespread use of laptop computers, extended sitting, handheld video games and smart phones, we are seeing more and more patients who are beginning to show symptoms at much younger ages. Forward Head Syndrome effects much more than just posture. Dr Rene Caillet, a Medical doctor at The University of Southern California, wrote about the following effects of Forward Head Syndrome in his book, “Rejuvenation Strategy.” You might be surprised to learn how many bodily functions are affected:

1. Incorrect head positioning leads to improper spinal function.

2. The head in forward posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine.

3. Forward head posture results in loss of vital lung capacity. In fact, lung capacity is depleted by as much as 30 percent. Loss of lung capacity leads to heart and blood vascular problems.

4. The entire gastrointestinal system is affected, particularly the large intestine. Loss of good bowel peristaltic function and evacuation is a common condition that comes with forward head posture and loss of spinal lordotic curves.

5. Forward head posture causes an increase in discomfort and pain. Freedom of motion in the first four cervical vertebrae is a major source of stimuli that causes production of endorphins in production many otherwise non-painful sensations are experienced as pain.

6. Forward head posture causes loss of healthy spine-body motion. The entire body becomes rigid as the range of motion lessens. Soon, one becomes hunched.
Forward Head Syndrome can be prevented and corrected by using technology properly and in moderation, getting regular chiropractic adjustments, and doing a simple exercise to help maintain your natural cervical (neck) curve.

Use a desktop computer at a proper height as much as possible. Laptops should be reserved for occasional offsite use if possible. If you use a laptop as your primary computer, shop around for a good laptop base that props it up on a table, so the screen is closer to eye height and your head and neck can remain upright. Do not use a laptop on your lap. No matter what kind of computer you use, get up and stretch at least once every hour.

Limit the amount of time spent playing with handheld video games. This is especially important for young children whose spines are still developing! Also be conscious of the time spent using your smart phone to browse the web or text. Think about how often you are looking down while engaging in these activities.

Try this simple exercise to help restore the natural curve of your neck:
Lay on your back and put a rolled up towel beneath your neck. In the beginning of doing this exercise, use a hand towel rolled up to the size of a lemon. Rest your head back over the towel and allow it to rest there for up to five minutes. Over time you can increase the thickness of the towel and the length of time you hold the position. This exercise is most effective when done consistently over a period of a year.

If you or one of your loved ones clearly has a forward leaning head, get adjusted soon. Adjustments and a simple accompanying exercise can create a tremendous change in your spine and overall health and wellbeing!