Posture and Other Body Alignments
Don't sit like that, sit up right." Mom was right but it was always do as I say not do as I do. I mean . . . Mom, Dad, and most other grown-ups in my family sat with their butt back in the seat but with that shoulder forward humped-over look . . . you know what I'm talking about. It seems most kids go from slouch sitting to growing up into humped over sitting.
Did you ever hear, "Look, you're walking like a little old man or little old lady?" (I'm sure you didn't hear it from a little old man). The picture that comes to mind is a feeble, dependent, fragile human being that could easily get knocked down with a mild breeze. Am I fair with that visualization? And what do you think would probably happen to that elder if he or she and their walker were knocked down? (Hypothesizing) More likely than not, they will stay down till help or assistance arrives, praying the hip isn't fractured; prayers not answered. Sound familiar? Getting back to the point; I, for one, hope with a lifetime of good posture techniques that I can avoid walking with a cane and a hump.
My wife left me a note to remind me that the bed linen was in the wash and other sheets had to be put on before I could retire for the night. As I was upholstering the bottom sheet on the mattress, I noticed the not so subtle crater in the middle of the bed. Upon further inspection, I learned that the springs and support in the crater were not as firm or resilient as the rest of the bed. I'm sure, sleeping in that hole was not helping me keep proper body alignment and was responsible for a rough nights sleep on more than one occasion. Well . . . I haven't got around to getting a new mattress yet but I managed to shore up my side of the bed with a board between the mattress and the box-spring. It is definitely an improvement.
I probably learned a few good habits from the military, "posturally" speaking. Although the ideal military posture of standing at attention or sitting upright might be slightly or somewhat exaggerated, I know that their ideals instilled in me over the years have helped me to stand taller, sit straighter, and walk with a proud gait. Not a bad notion to practice -- to be proud posture.
The worst place for me to practice proper posture and or body alignment is in the car driving. It doesn't matter what kind of car or truck I drive; anything over 20 to 30 minutes gets down right uncomfortable. I tried every trick in the book. The rolled up towel behind the small of the back, the big bead seat insert, all positions of the driver's seat; all futile. The only thing that works for me is to get out and stretch, walk around and assume some other body positions for a while.
Being a lone, or lonely commuter -- I'm forced into the unnatural steering seat . . . . It's like being on a daily regular schedule of impaired circulation and misalignments . . . . multiply that by years and years and I'm sure a lot of unexplained pain, maladies, or ailments will and do manifest themselves. A better driving seat has yet to be invented. Maybe a vibrating type or an automatic alternating pressure type on a timer? Or . . . . . maybe this discomfort of sitting for any length of time is just a reminder from above to let us know that our own legs are to be our primary means of conveyance.
Pain or Suffering
Is there such a thing as pain-free life? Since I was a little boy, I suffered both physically and mentally. I stumbled through life blindly, making many bad choices and wrong decisions that hurt me mentally. I lost loves and experienced rejection that left me devastated and emotionally scarred. I've committed physical atrocities such as poor body mechanics, improper lifting techniques, over training, and dangerous explosive movements leaving my body in a constant state of healing. And I didn't care and nobody could tell me anything. Was I full of p___ and vinegar? . . . . Maybe. . . . . definitely the space between my ears was. I'm ready to listen now, learn, and quite possibly stop, lessen, or prevent any new pain from being a part of me.
The reality -- the road to long life, good health, and well-being is paved with many bumps. If you want these moments, you will get many bruises and have to suffer to get there. As far as setting realistic goals -- the aging process will let you know when your body starts to exceed normal limits. Your body is like a wall of hieroglyphics; for you to understand what it is telling you, you need to recognize the signs. Unless your livelihood depends on a fierce competition, there's no need to test your outer limits -- physically that is. Come to think of it -- I've seen some neighbors in fierce competition to get the grass cut or the sidewalk cleared of snow first; and all with no training.
It's too bad that we have to get hurt first before we seek out the magic of chiropractic. Our bodies have no choice but to breakdown letting us know it was over trained, improperly worked, and stressed outside of its capacity. I know, all too well, the agony and debilitating pain of bad knees, sore shoulders, and the weak lower back. My knees and shoulders were rehabilitated through extra scheduled rest periods and proper exercise to correct muscle imbalances.
. . . . . . Unless your livelihood depends on a fierce competition,
there's no need to test your outer limits --
A muscle imbalance is an accident waiting to happen. Repetitive movements in physical labor and semi-physical labor professions are a big factor in this condition. When a muscle is stronger than its opposing muscle (a muscle that causes opposite movement, push-pull), eventually the full on one side of a joint is too much for the structure to remain stabilized. Once a joint is unstable, it is susceptible to sprains and strains when put under stress or a demanding load. Usually pain or soreness will rear its ugly head. A lot of people accept this as normal. If no measures are taken to correct the cause, a chronic condition is presented and people learn to live with it. Pain killers are consumed more often than not, some prescribed and some not.
Not often do you hear a doctor or surgeon recommend exercise as an option to correct carpal tunnel syndrome because of a possible muscle imbalance. After surgery, physical therapy is usually protocol. That seems backward to me . . . I think the physical therapist should be the first on the list. Why wait?! Wrap some rubber bands, loosely, around your finger tips and open your hand repeatedly to exercise those extensors on occasion - once or twice a week would be fine.
Lower Back Blues
When the doctor told me I would have to live with a paralyzed foot, endure radiating pain and numbness, and walk with a foot slap. I sought a second opinion. The neurosurgeon at the V.A. pricked every square inch of my most private areas with a pin and said there was nothing wrong with me. Well . . . . . the hospital thought he was a neuro-specialist. I became frustrated. A nurse I knew has been walking with the same foot slap for years. It seems the medical community couldn't help her either and she accepted it. Not me! I was quite young - in my 30's. Knowing a few things and educating myself further, I set out to rehabilitate myself.
To make a long story even longer . . . . I hung by my hands from an overhead bar for as long as I could daily; to stretch the spine, giving the suspected herniated disc room to heal while simultaneously trying to make the mind/muscle connection. In time I regained almost all feeling and use of my foot. Had I gone to a chiropractor at the outset, I might have been spared months of mental anguish and physical pain. The suspect cause of my misfortune was a combination of overwork, dehydration, micro-trauma accumulation, spinal misalignment and one straw too many.
A leap in time (10 years later and not so long ago); grunting and sweating in my basement, I had no business handling those real heavy barbell weights. I was older, but still too anxious. Biting off more than I could chew, I hurt my lower back again. It wasn't until the next morning that the full extent would be realized; breathing was painful. I heard wonderful things about chiropractic, so a phone call was made and the rest is history.
Not only am I fully mended but far more educated from the lost art of patient teaching (and I thought I knew it all) and more aware of the immense importance of proper spinal alignment. Let's give you a historical perspective of how it all began.
In the late 1800's, a man by the name of Daniel David Palmer was doing research on how the body is a conduit of energy. He theorized that the brain sends electrical messages through the nerves of the body, and that when blockages occurred to this energy supply, the body would be in a state of disharmony. If this lack of electrical communication lasted long enough, then a state of "dis-ease" would occur where the human body would break down and not function as well as it could.
A breakthrough in his research came in September of 1895. A man by the name of Harvey Lillard was cleaning a grocery store and he felt a "crack" in his neck and he lost his hearing. He came to D.D. Palmer and asked to be examined. On the side of Mr. Lilliard's neck Dr. Palmer found a lump. He asked Harvey to lie down, and he gently pushed his neck, a popping sound occurred, the lump was gone and Harvey got up and said, "I could hear Dr. Palmer, I could hear again!"
This historical perspective is given because from his research, D.D. Palmer began the healing art, science, and philosophy of chiropractic and his son, B.J. Palmer, developed it and taught it to others. He invented the x-ray machine which was a vital tool in locating the blockage in the body that interfered with the vital electrical signals that allowed the body to carry on its unimaginable functions. He called the blockages "subluxations" which were vertebra in the spine that misalign and cause nerve irritation. They went on to develop "chiropractic" which means "the practice of using your hands" to correct these misalignments, or subluxations. He had a vitalistic philosophy that simply stated if the spinal column could be free of all subluxations, then there would be better electrical supply and the body would perform better.
Think of the ramifications of such a theory! If you could keep the electrical flow from brain to spinal column to nerves to every body cell open and strong, then every cell would be stronger and overall the human body would have its best chance to stay healthy and prevent "dis-ease" in the body. So the foods we ate would be better digested, the vitamins we took would be better assimilated, the immune system would be more activated so our defensive systems would be stronger; and overall, every aspect of our body would be improved. Think of it, nerves go to every cell, organ and system would function better.
In over 100 years, the chiropractic industry has flourished. It is now the #1 drugless healing profession in the world. In America, where people are tired of just taking pills to cover up their pains, they are looking for answers as to what is the cause of their problem. Even with managed health care, Washington economists are seeing more people visit alternative medicine practitioners and pay out of their own pockets rather than just go to where their insurance company tells them to go. In fact, more people see chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists than their own traditional doctors. There is a "paradigm shift" occurring in the country which we talked about in our first chapter and chiropractic is spearheading the ideas of a natural lifestyle.
Yet, many misconceptions exist in our society today as to what a chiropractor does. Many medical doctors now refer patients to chiropractors, but for low back pain usually. Medical doctors and the general public associate a chiropractor as being a back specialist. It's an understandable misconception, because the back is where the spine is located. So a chiropractor focuses his postgraduate studies to become a master of the spine. Early on in the evolution of chiropractic, many people referred to chiropractors as "back crackers" or "bone crunchers." Although growing numbers of people see chiropractors, many people are afraid to go because they perceive it must hurt to have your back "cracked" or adjusted. Let's dispel some myths.
There are at least 62 known and nationally approved techniques or styles in which a chiropractor can adjust your spine. Some people who prefer to feel the physical release of tension as their back is adjusted, like to hear the sound of their vertebra move a little. So they should seek chiropractors who use those, more physical techniques. So the consumer should be aware that if they want a very gentle style where there is no "cracking" sounds emitted upon an adjustment, all they simply need to do is pick up the Yellow Pages and call to ask each office what style the chiropractor uses. There should be no fear of going to a chiropractor. There should be a fear of not going to a chiropractor and allowing your body to be slowly drained of its life-giving energy.
When I was 17 years old, I loved soccer. I would practice with the team and then come home and play until dark in my backyard. I played against older players and I dreamed of making the Olympic soccer team. Then one day, as I rose above the crowd and headed a corner kick into the corner of the net, I landed hard on my left heel and I felt a sharp pain in my back. I immediately fell into a puddle and I felt tingling and pain in my legs. As my buddies thought at first I was joking, they soon realized my pain was severe. Then my quest to regain my health began.
I first saw an osteopath, whose pills, heating pad and back brace only made me uncomfortable. Then, I saw doctors, physical therapists and a neurosurgeon whose exercises made my pain worse, whose medication burned my stomach, and whose eventual advice was "you have a herniated disc, get surgery and give up sports." I remember trying to run with my back all taped up in our district championship soccer game and I could barely kick the ball. I had to sit out and I cried as I saw my team lose 1-0 and my dreams were fading away. I thought I had exhausted all my options, yet I was confused by all the different opinions; I didn't want surgery and yet my pains grew worse.
Then, my Dad advised that I go to a chiropractor. My first response was "if those quacks crack my back, I will get worse." I guess that was the understanding that I had from what I heard through the grapevine. I later found out it was a misunderstanding and that is why I could relate to people today when they tell me they "don't believe in chiropractors." I found a gentle chiropractor, who showed me, on an x-ray, how a misaligned lumbar vertebra in my back was pinching against my disc and nerve going into my leg. He wanted to adjust it and he said it would take months to years for the adjacent soft-tissue damage and disc and nerves to heal. I was at the end of my rope. I had no other viable options so I stuck with his program.
You see, I share this personal story because I believe it reflects a lot of people's situations. I was scared because of what I "thought" chiropractors would do. They were my last hope. My back healed over a three-year period and now, 25 years later, I am as active as ever and I thank God I never accepted the medical advice to have back surgery. In fact, I was so excited about getting my life back that I became a chiropractor so I could give other people their dreams and their lives back. It has been a blast for 18 years now.
In my television shows, radio shows, and publications, I see how so many people have a need to go to a chiropractor, but they are either afraid or they don't know that their problem could be helped by a chiropractor. Remember the early paragraphs of this chapter, a better nerve supply will help every cell of the body to heal. So people will as me "can you help my headaches, my asthma, my heartburn, my sciatica?" Let me be clear. A chiropractor cures nothing. A chiropractor locates a subluxation, gently corrects it and allows the improved nerve energy to help the body to heal. There is an inborn, an Innate Intelligence in the body that knows how to heal the body. All it needs is no interference.
So, can a better functioning body heal headaches, backaches, allergies . . . ? YES! All the time? No! You must realize that we have limitations. Our age, our injury, our overall health or lack of it will determine just how well your results will be at the chiropractic office. But, I say this as sincerely as I can. If you have any health problem that is not responding to your present care, go see a chiropractor today.
What a joy it is to see someone who was in a car accident years ago. Doctors did MRI's, CAT Scans and a bunch of tests on this woman's head, yet they couldn't find out why she was light-headed, tired, and had headaches since the motor vehicle accident. After seeing seven different doctors (which is the national average before people finally go to a chiropractor) she came to my office. I took x-rays and showed her how subluxations in her neck were causing her problems. In a breath of relief she said "Why didn't the other doctors find my problem? They took x-rays." Most medical doctors to this day don't know how damaging a spinal subluxation is to the system. They really just aren't trained to locate or correct subluxations. Chiropractors can't do what orthopedic doctors can do. We are each trained for a specific area.
. . . . . . A chiropractor locates a subluxation, gently corrects it and allows the
improved nerve energy to help the body to heal. There is an inborn,
an Innate Intelligence in the body that knows how to heal the body.
The average doctor in a hospital will look for three things on an x-ray for a patient who is complaining of neck or back pain. If there are no fractures, cancerous growths, or severe degenerative arthritic problems, the patient is told "your x-ray is fine. Take this muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory medication and call if it doesn't get better." The patient leaves the hospital shaking their head saying "How could the x-ray be normal? I know I have pain and it's not my imagination. And how will these pills fix my pain? I don't just want the symptoms masked, I want the cause corrected." This brings us to another big myth.
For years, people spread the notion that you don't have to do anything if you have a back problem. That if you just "leave it alone"; it will gradually go away. This idea stemmed from a study years ago which showed that 86% of people never came back to their medical doctor after their initial visit for back pain. So, the researchers concluded that if they didn't come back, that the problem must have been resolved. But, how totally wrong they were. Current data now shows that the reason 86% of the people did not go back to their medical doctor is because they did not get any help and they felt the care did nothing for them! So the researchers decided to see where did the people go. Eighty percent of them went to a chiropractor and they were ecstatic with their results.
A mechanical misalignment in a spine which strains muscles, damages nerves, ligaments and weakens tendons will very rarely "correct itself." The Innate Intelligence of the body will do the best it can to remedy the problem, but very often, it needs some help. That is where a gentle, knowledgeable chiropractor can make a small adjustment and allow the body to do its miracle. You see. The chiropractor doesn't do any healing. He or she opens the power supply and the awesome body which was endowed with an ability to heal itself, can then do its magic.
You may be thinking, "Why don't medical doctors see how serious those vertebral subluxations are?" Many do. In fact, in many medical colleges in their curriculum, are courses to give the young medical students some understanding of the seriousness of the spine. Shame on the doctor who scolds his or her patient for seeing a chiropractor. I'm amazed when I have helped a patient after years of battling with a problem and their doctor calls me in anger. The patient is better, the cause was found and corrected. Shouldn't a humble servant who strives to help the patient be happy that the patient is better? Maybe some doctors only want their patients to get better by their hands. It is unfathomable to some doctors that they cannot help a patient. That is why many patients with health problems that are not going away are told that "all of the tests are negative, your pain must be in your mind. I want you to see a psychiatrist."
. . . . . . The chiropractor doesn't do any healing.
He or she opens the power supply and the awesome body which
was endowed with an ability to heal itself, can then do its magic.
Let me be clear. There is a need for second opinions and psychology is a helpful science, but specifically, I make reference here to mechanical back pain that has unlimited ramifications in the body, of reaping havoc on the body mentally, physically and socially. This patient doesn't need Ritalin as a child to calm them down, Prozac or Valium as an adult to change their moods. Many times they need a healthier nerve supply where the body chemistry is improved and the patient regains their health.
Oh, I know you may be saying, "this all makes sense but I must be honest with you. I heard of some horror stories about people going to chiropractors." I know you have. I have also. This is what I have seen.
First of all, every profession has a small percentage within its ranks who may not be up to par. That is why you must take responsibility for your own health and do your homework and find out which chiropractor in your community will best fit your needs. Maybe you need a structural adjustment, maybe you need a gentle meningeal adjustment, or a postural-biophysics one. There is much I can go into that this chapter will not allow me to.
Secondly, in the complex human body where there are many factors to consider, making an adjustment into the spine is a delicate matter. Realistically, there are times when mistakes will be made, as in any profession.
I have found the above two scenarios occur far and few, yet this third episode occurs more often. Some people complain that "I felt worse after I saw the chiropractor and it took me years to overcome that fear before I came to you." In this instance, I have seen this exact situation. A patient has a weakness in their spine from childhood injuries. They sleep on their stomach and they have had three car accidents over the last twenty years. Then they just bend over to do some gardening and "all of a sudden" they have sharp pain in their lower back which radiates into their leg and toes. They think, since the pain just started, the problem just started. Since the pain is only there for one to two weeks, all they want is one quick adjustment and they will be on their way. The chiropractor knows better.
He or she has been educated to know that spinal weaknesses gradually cause tissue damage for years with only intermittent "achy" feelings to the patient. The patient dismisses such bodily signals of pain and blames them on older age, arthritis or that last episode of over physical exertion. Yet, spinal damage gradually continues. Then when one more explicit action occurs to cause intolerable pain to the patient, the chiropractor knows that the pain is the tip of the iceberg. Usually an educational process is needed by the chiropractor to help the patient understand that their recent sharp pains are the result of the last thirty years of spinal ignorance. In our office, we give educational classes weekly, pamphlets, videos and books to educate the patient. But, here's where the problem exists.
Some chiropractors don't put forth the effort to educate their patients because it is a hard and gradual process. Sometimes, even with a good effort, the patient just wants a quick fix and they will not open their mind for such an educational process to occur. In these instances, some chiropractors, I feel, make the mistake of trying too hard to help the patient on that first visit. The patient wants quick relief, the pain is severe, so the chiropractor wants to give some fast help, so they push a little harder than usual or twist a little further. The result is a "horror story" where the patient never goes back but tells all his or her friends how the chiropractor made them worse. In all reality, the doctor-patient relationship from either or both ends, failed to make the proper connection.
So, instead of the horror stories you hear about chiropractors, if there were better communication so that the patient allows the chiropractor to stay gentle and make gradual progress, you would hear a lot more success stories.
Yet even with the above three explanations, where I want to hide nothing in this chapter, national polls still reveal that 90% of their patients are happy with their chiropractic experience. The patients feel the chiropractor has a more caring personality and listens to their problems better than their medical doctor. Ninety percent are happy! That is amazing. So again, there are many horror stories of pain that patients have suffered with for years by not seeing a chiropractor. If you have been told "there's nothing wrong with you," or "all of your tests are negative," then remember, only a chiropractor is trained to locate your spinal subluxation which will cause health problems throughout your body.
You know what is really exciting, if you take this way of thinking one step further. I rejoice every day in my busy office when we help to resolve a health problem that has been sapping the body's energies for years. Then that patient says, "can I keep coming to get spinal check-ups so that I can stay healthy?" That excites me. Then I know they really understand the principle of chiropractic. Don't use an adjustment as a pill where you wait until you have a problem and then seek a fast and temporary remedy. If you keep the body well with your diet, your attitude, your nerve supply, your daily exercise program, then you can prevent many problems from ever occurring.
You see, most medical doctors are trained to memorize a group of symptoms, give it a name like bronchitis and then treat the "dis-eased" body with this or that pill. What a giant leap it is to live a life with a bunch of little tiny habits to keep the body as fit as you can and having a faith and a knowledge that the inborn wisdom within us can heal our body better than any institution, any job, and new "miracle" drug.
Again, I must clarify my intentions. Once our body has been abused by neglect, alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet, and the list can go on, then we need emergency care at times. America, as we said in the first chapter does a great job with crisis care, but what we should strive for is a great, preventive care program. Then our national healthcare costs would come way down. Think of it. What if your health insurance at your job paid for twelve adjustments per year at the chiropractor's office, paid for you to join a gym, reimbursed you for your more natural foods and vitamins, for your water filter, your
yoga. . . . ? We would have a healthier nation and with less extreme surgeries and rehabilitation programs, we would save a bundle.
Remember, we are living longer in America, but if you compare us to other countries who live a more natural life style, they have less heart disease, less strokes and less cancer than we do. That brings us back to the theme of this book. Let's have a teachable spirit and accept wise counsel now so we can gain our health back and enjoy a long and productive life. Here, I want you to quiet your soul and listen to my heart.
What we're really saying is that if you truly respect your body for the temple of the living God which it really is, then you will strive daily to nurture it. You will do whatever it takes to stay healthy. If your "insurance HMO" doesn't cover certain choices you make, who cares, you have a disciplined mind and you have budgeted so that you have made it a priority to keep your health first.
. . . . . . What we're really saying is that if you truly respect your body
for the temple of the living God which it really is,
then you will strive daily to nurture it.
I see one patient who smokes, goes to the movies weekly and says to me, "what you say makes sense, but I can't afford to see a chiropractor if my insurance doesn't cover it." So, I hug them and go to the next room and I see someone who has gained control of their life and says, "it is exciting to sleep well, eat well, exercise daily and now with a better nerve supply, I feel better at everything I do." I recognize the fact that I cannot change every per's passion to live LIFE fully, so I will give love to those who absorb it the best.
Chiropractic is, at its worst, the best remedy for any neck or back pain that you are experiencing. A misaligned vertebra from the birth process, poor daily habits, or traumatic single injuries are left undetected for years by the hospital specialists. Only a chiropractor can locate and correct this misalignment to turn on the body's natural healing capabilities. At it best understanding, chiropractic is an awesome way to give each individual their best potential physically, mentally and socially.
So you may have some questions now. Let me try to get into your mind and answer them. So who should go to a chiropractor? Anyone who has a spine and a nervous system who has a chance of misaligning it. That would mean everyone? Yes, that is how I feel. How soon should you go? The younger the better. We check many infants; how many young toddlers sleep on their stomach (which twists their neck out of alignment) or bump their head as they try to walk. Indeed, even the National Safety Council states that "90% of children, before the age of two, have had severe blunt injuries to their head from accidents within the home." How often should I see a chiropractor if I am healthy or once I am well? This is unique to each person.
I have seen, if you are mild-mannered and live a healthy life style, those patients come in once or twice a year. If you have a more stressed job and have had more injuries in your past, then they come in once a month. For how long -- for life! I'm being very open at this point. I will exercise, eat fruits and vegetables, and do my good health habits all my life. So if I have understood the concept that chiropractic is not just to give me a good back so that I can keep active, but mainly a better nerve supply so all my cells work in better harmony, then I would want myself and my entire family to see a chiropractor routinely, forever.
I could go on indefinitely on this topic, but it is awesome to see someone slowly transformed from an attitude of "if it ain't broken, it don't need fixin" to where "I feel great, and I want to invest in myself to stay the best I can be.
You see, when someone is living with less pain, they have more energy to be a better parent, to be more productive on their job, to have a sense of "ease" or harmony in their life, so this person makes a healthier contribution to their community. Now you magnify this person to a family, or to a thousand families, and the entire community is altered for the better.
If every chiropractor and "patient" has this vision, then collectively, the world is improved. Gradually, even our genetic potential can be improved and we as a family of human beings may, one day, learn to live in peace with each other. Yes, that is what I feel chiropractors do in their offices -- they slowly are creating a healthy group of informed soldiers who can go out and make the world a more beautiful place.
Yet, it all starts one person at a time. That leads us into our next chapter. As we near the sunset of this book, hopefully, by now the reader has at least mentally agreed that these ideas in this book can change their life. How does on get started? How does one get motivated to make gradual changes in their life? Well, such topics are not easy to address and we will need an entire chapter to do so. Are you with us? Let's move on. A great life awaits us!
A Labor of Love by. . .