This Daily Sprout is all about stability and loading of the spine. What? “Stability and loading” you might ask, what is that? Obviously stability is exactly as it sounds, how stable your spine is. Loading however, refers to how stable it is under load, or under stress.
If you have ever carried an awkward item yourself… a piece of furniture perhaps, or a heavy landscape item, large suitcase hanging from one side of your body… you should understand that stability is put into question when you are not balanced, or carrying a symmetrical load. Thus, the greater the underlying stability of your spine, the more resilient you will be to injury. This is different than “strength” mind you. But strength comes into question of course, as strength is one component of stability.
The other components lie in both the nervous system, as far as proprioception and neurological tone. The first is how well your brain controls and organizes the position of your joints, the second is how well your brain can organize muscles to contract to oppose forces. The last component, is simply alignment. Also a function of your brain and spinal cord working together to control muscular tone, but this is much more effective when the spine is straight from front to back, and curved in three 43 degree curves from the side.
The X-Ray below is an athlete’s lumbar spine. A man who is very strong, and can perform high intensity exercise very fast and continuously without much rest ever needed. He is fit.
This x-ray was taken at the start of care. He had never been adjusted before in his life, and he was completely unaware of this curvature (this x-ray is straight on, thus should be a straight spine, and he is looking away from us, so left on the left, right on the right). The measure says 10 degrees, which demonstrates the angle created by the tilt on L2 (lower one) compared with T12 (upper one). It is only over three bones, so a very short distance involved.
Now, picture placing a load, on the left side of this person’s body. Have him hold a suitcase that weighs 50 pounds with his left arm only. The resulting force will further bend the spine towards the left. Causing collapse of the disc on that side, and protrusion of that disc towards the right.
If we loaded the spine straight down, with a barbell across the shoulders for example. The even load would still cause displacement of the spine towards the left. Not as much, but the total acceptable load by the nervous system would be less, than if the spine were straight. Meaning – I could carry more weight without concern if I were straight. What does this mean to you? Less risk of injury, and the ability to do more work.
In the second image, we see the spine is straighter. This is after approximately 4 months of care. It isn’t perfect, but it is better. The acceptable load will have increased, and the ability to simply do more work has gone up. Thus, he is more functional, and more resilient to injury.
I had another young athlete as a patient a few years back who had some positive changes in his spine. He competed in the fitness world, and was very successful shortly after he began getting regular adjustments. These examples are a great way to see how the very subtle changes in the nervous system, and spinal position, can create lasting improved function and health.
Get corrected, stay the course, be wise for your future!
Be Well an Be Blessed! – Dr. E