As a scientist, I don’t believe in a magic pill to turn back time. I do believe, however, in positive lifestyle choices that promote positive regeneration of cells so your body can look and feel healthier, stronger and happier than before. What we call “lifestyle choices” should really be re-named as “meeting the body’s requirements for survival, healing, growth and thriving.” There are things we obviously don’t need, such as junk food, video games, pollution, artificial tanners, etc. And then there are a host of things that we think we can’t do without, even if it also causes harm. This can include cell phones, social media, microwave popcorn, medication, pesticides, and owning a car and driving everywhere. There’s a third group of choices, which are the basic necessities for health, including oxygen, clean water, nutritious foods, movement/exercise and rest. Unbeknownst to many, or often overlooked, is a final group of conditions that take you from merely surviving to thriving in life. This include emotional support, social connectivity (in real life), love, joy, and chiropractic.
Chiropractic??? Isn’t that just to relieve back pain? And an expensive way compared to Tylenol, Advil or Roboxacet?
As a chiropractor, I’m here to tell you that chiropractic’s purpose is not to relieve back pain. Chiropractic’s purpose is to re-align the body structures (like the spine) to restore normal function (like mobility, strength, sensitivity and organ function) and nervous system integrity. The pain relief is a side-effect of chiropractic. Other side effects can include stronger core muscles, easier breathing, less tingling down the arms, better coordination, more relaxed state of mind, easier digestion, getting over a cold, or better memory.
In a detailed chiropractic examination, including x-rays, we can see if a patient is experiencing premature aging. In an era where you hear about 90 year-olds running marathons, 100 year-olds with clear minds, 80 year-olds running multiple businesses, 77 year-olds downhill skiing in Whistler and church groups of 70 year-olds doing the Grouse Grind weekly, how can you say that it’s all downhill once you turn 40, 35 or 30?
What are the signs of premature aging? Loss of flexibility, especially if accompanied by stiffness and pain. Calcification of cartilage in the ribs. Hardening of the arteries in the abdomen or pelvis. Bone spurs (“Degenerative Disc Disease”) from arthritis at the spinal bones. Slow digestion in the form of excess gas in the intestines (this can occur even in babies!!), chronic muscle spasms, loss of supple joint mobility, chronic swelling. In our office we have seen spines of 30 year-olds with degeneration and calcification which should belong in a 70 year-old. And we’ve seen 65 year-olds with better posture and flexibility than some 20 year-olds. Age alone is NOT a determinant of health, vitality, mental function, strength, resilience, humour, friendliness or worthiness.
Can premature aging be reversed? YES! You can reverse premature aging! What role does chiropractic play, if any? Chiropractic can play a huge role, if you are willing to participate in a meaningful way.
First, you’ll need to identify what areas of your health need help. This will be uncovered with a detailed case history and examination. The case history, ideally, would extend all the way back to your birth, which often includes physical trauma. Emotional hurts and predilections can begin prenatally, or be a part of your childhood home. Chemical stresses and toxins can occur anytime in life, including prenatally. Little “bumps and bruises” (and big ones, like falling down the stairs or divorce of parents) accumulate over time. Even if kids seem to brush it off, they can be thrown off-kilter and can become more and more off-balance as the stresses and traumas accumulate. The physical exam can uncover which areas were injured or are compromised. Knowledge and experience will tell the chiropractor what problems or symptoms can arise from the location of the injury. The patient’s current stress level (physical, mental, emotional or chemical load), however, determines what the patient actually feels, in terms of discomfort or reduced capability.
This means, if you’re a couch potato, you wouldn’t know that your reflexes are slow, your muscles are weak, your memory is having difficulty, or your circulation is poor. It takes stress to test your limits and abilities. This is why you’re most likely to get sick (manifestation of a sluggish immune system) when you’ve been cramming for final exams or an important deadline is coming up. Similarly, after decades of competitive sports (and injuries), your body breaks down after a seemingly small car accident.
The physical examination quantifies your body’s current state. Posture is a measure of both what you do (normal usage of postural muscles), what you can do (if you straighten up to give a good impression), plus what is comfortable or not comfortable to you (restrictions to straightening up). “Normal” ranges of motion vary between body types and activity levels. I would expect more flexibility in children, gymnasts and yogis than in sedentary people. It’s important to note imbalances in range of motion. It can be related to one-sided activities (racquet sports, for example), but can have far reaching effects, like preventing a baby from nursing on one breast and the mom weaning her baby prematurely, or overuse injuries.
Thorough chiropractic assessments also look at the nerves, muscles and joints along the spine. We assess for subtle (and not-so-subtle) pinching, irritation and hypersensitivity of the nerves, muscle spasms or weaknesses, joint restrictions and soft tissue tenderness or swelling. We also assess other areas of the body as the need arises. No matter what your age, you can have your nerves, muscles and joints relaxed and comfortable, or irritated, swollen, knotted, inflamed and restricted.
They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. X-rays tell us a lot about a patient’s state of health. Proper chiropractic spinal x-rays are taken upright (as opposed to lying down) in order to see the alignment of the spine in relation to gravity. Ideally, MRI’s would also be done upright, as disc herniations can “disappear” once a person lies down and takes pressure off of them. X-rays can also show long-term effects of poor alignment even if the patient has been pain-free for decades. Degeneration (in the form of spurs) is even sped up by the chronic stress that can numb your awareness of bodily needs and conditions. Poor alignment in the spine of a young person can predict what possible problems that person will develop in the future, should they continue along the same path. Detailed measurements in crucial areas, such as the top of the neck, can make a huge impact towards relieving mechanical stress in that area with very specific chiropractic adjustments, like the Atlas Orthogonal Technique. Since this area of the spine directly impacts brain function, most organ systems, hormones and sensory modulation, it plays an enormous role in whole body function and how you feel.
Many people say, “but I feel okay”. What is “okay” to you? Medical doctors say it’s “okay” for babies to have only one bowel movement every 2 weeks, but many babies and adults get uncomfortable if they don’t poop every day or two. Some people are “okay” with never being able to run a 5k. For others, that’s barely a warm-up. Some people are “okay” with being sluggish, irritable, unmotivated and living in their parents’ basements. Others start each day excited to take on ever greater challenges. Some parents see a “C” is on their child’s report card and are fine with it. Others expect all “A’s” from their child. Some want to eat two Big Macs daily because “who would want to spend their days in a wheel chair, getting old? I’d rather die quickly of a heart attack at 60”. Others see retirement as the beginning of a new, exciting phase of life, to enjoy hobbies, travelling, family and maybe starting a new business.
How do you want to live the rest of your life? Will it take a health crisis for you to stop your day-to-day routine and evaluate if you like the path you’re on? Are your kids headed towards a mediocre life or are they getting the best chances to succeed? Are you willing to rebuild the foundation (spine, and nervous system integrity) or will you busy yourself with add-ons (medications, supplements, tutoring, music lessons, cosmetic surgery, retail therapy)? Modern Western society prefers a disposable consumer-based lifestyle. Nothing is meant to last. Products are made with “planned obsolescence” in mind, to break down quickly so you need to buy more. Our bodies weren’t designed that way. We are meant to constantly renew ourselves and live healthily, even to 100 years old, but that requires taking care of our bodies. Chiropractic care to restore nervous system function and spinal alignment, as a part of the wellness lifestyle, is key to helping people undo the stresses of modern life so that you can kiss the term “over the hill” goodbye.
Do you know someone who is serious about attaining amazing health for themselves and their family? Have them visit our website to help them get started. Baseline Health Assessments are FREE for babies and kids, because we believe in giving kids the best opportunity to succeed in life! Is it too late if you’re an adult? No, but it does take more time and effort the older and more complicated the case. That is why we take the time to get to know all our patients first.