3 Core Essentials to Good Health
After I meet with a new patient for the first time and discuss what brought them into my office, I do a thorough review of their problem, their past medical history, their lifestyle, and their overall health goals. I want my patients to understand that health is not given, it's earned. Their problems are not my problems. Their problem is THEIR problem and my job is to help fix their problem. However, make no mistake about it, I can't do it without them participating in the process.
Although genetics and luck can play a factor in health, the overwhelming majority of your health is determined by HOW you live your life and the choices you make. My goal with everyone when they become a patient is to give them what they want, which is usually symptomatic relief, but show them what they COULD have, which is a much better quality of life when they are functioning well. One requires more work than the other.
Once I'm done with their consultation, I bring them over to a poster that I have framed on my exam room wall. It's pictured above and it's called "The 3 Core Essentials to Good Spinal Health". Here is why these 3 core essentials are so important to living a life without pain, and a life with the ability to move well without limitations. If you want to live a long, high-quality life, there is one thing you MUST do well, move well!
1. Alignment- Nature craves symmetry. Anything structural that bears weight such as a building, bridge, or automobile needs proper alignment. If things are not in alignment, then the weight is distributed differently through that object, and the parts that bear more weight wear out quicker. Think of a car that is out of alignment because you hit a big pothole a few months ago. How do the tires wear eventually? Unevenly correct? This is because the alignment is off and the weight of the car is now being distributed unevenly. The part of the tire tread that is now bearing more weight wears quicker. We as humans don't have tires but we do have weight-bearing parts such as the joints in our spine. Our hips and knees are major weight-bearing joints as well. We have discs made of cartilage in our spine and cartilage in our hips, knees, and shoulders that wear out. These are how people get "herniated discs" or a "torn meniscus in the knee". We have muscles and tendons that rub and create friction when joints are out of alignment. This can wear out tendons and cause tears, like rotator cuff tears in the shoulder. Misalignments in the spine, called Subluxations, are something that I see way too often in people's spines. This is particularly bad because these misalignments can cause irritation to spinal nerves that exit out through the spine and go to other areas of the body. Subluxations cause changes in the tone of the nerves and nerves fire differently when their tone changes. We can see when our teeth are out of alignment and we know how to fix them, braces. However, how do we know when our spine, pelvis, hips, knees, feet, shoulders are out of alignment? The best way to find out is to get checked by a competent Chiropractor who can evaluate you for these changes in alignment using things like postural screening, range of motion testing, and X-ray analysis.
2. Core Stability- To have good alignment you must have good stability. One of my favorite saying when it comes to good stability in the body is "you can't fire a cannon from a rowboat". Think about it? A cannon is big and has a lot of power, the rowboat doesn't have good stability so the cannon will destroy the rowboat if it's fired. This is no different in the human body. Most people have a rowboat for a core, not a battleship, which is what you want to fire a cannon from. We have weak and tight cores because we sit too much, don't do enough core strengthening and mobility exercises. We don't value core stability so we don't put time into improving it. One of the best books I ever read 20 years ago was "Core Performance" by Mark Verstegen. It totally changed my perspective on how important our core stability is. If you want to live a long life, have good posture and move well. If you want to have good posture and move well, have good alignment and core stability. They say that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" and this may be true but as far as I'm concerned, "working on your core every day keeps the grim reaper away".
3. Spinal Compression- It's not just spinal compression, it's all joint compression. The parts of our body that take the biggest beating from too much weight and compression are the joints of the spine, hip, and knee. Think about how many hips and knees are being replaced these days because they are just plain worn out, bone on bone. How many spinal surgeries are taking place to remove or repair discs or remove arthritis that is causing pressure on nerves? Our joints were never designed to carry 20, 30, 40, 50+ more pounds. We are overloading our spines and our joints because we are overweight as a society. 50 years ago, 10% of the American population was obese and now it's well over 35% who are obese. If you want your son or daughter to go into a good career, have them become an orthopedic surgeon because as our population gets bigger and older, more people will need joint replacement surgery. Do you want to do your health and your joints a favor? Give them a break and lose some weight. Your BMI should never be above 30 which puts you into the "obese" category. We may all carry a little extra weight from time to time but the alarms and red flags should go off once your BMI goes above 30.
I hope this information helps you to feel better, function better and live life better! The greatest revenge in life is a life well-lived. To live well, we must MOVE well and to move well, we must have good alignment, a good core, and take the stress off our spine and weight-bearing joints! The 3 core essentials.