THE SPINAL COLUMN
ALPHA CHIROPRACTIC NEWSLETTER
Name the 10 wealthiest people in the world.
Name the last 10 Heisman Trophy winners.
Name the last 10 winners of the Miss America contest.
Name 8 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
How about the last 10 Academy Award winners for best picture, or the last decades worth of World Series winners?
How did you do? I didn't do too well either. With the exception of trivia hounds, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday too well.
Surprising how quickly we forget, isn't it? And what I've mentioned above are no second-rate achievements. These are the best in their fields. But the applause dies, awards tarnish, achievements are forgotten, accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here's another quiz. See how you do with this one:
Think of 3 people you enjoy spending time with.
Name 10 people who have taught you something worthwhile.
Name 5 friends that have helped you in a difficult time.
List a few teachers who have aided your journey through school.
Name half-a-dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.
Easier? It was for me, too. The lesson? The people who make the difference are not always the ones with the credentials, but the ones with the concern.
Just over fifty years ago, B.J. Palmer, the developer of chiropractic, said, "We never know how far reaching something we may think say or do, today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow." Some thought we may think, some word we may say, some act we may do, today, may actually radiate, vitalize and actuate millions tomorrow. A little kindness, the right tidbit of information at the right time, a subtle gesture of leadership at a critical juncture, can make a big difference in someone's life, which could snowball to major impact - and you may never know in advance. So, do as much good as possible, refer people to a chiropractor - and be one of those answers to the second quiz.
When it comes to a health care professional addressing the health care needs of a person, there are essentially two approaches. The first and most common is intervention care. In this approach, the doctor or health care professional intervenes in the function of the body. That intervention may be as minimal as giving over-the-counter medication or as drastic as major surgery. The assumption on the part of the one who is intervening is that his professional expertise has given them the ability and the right to determine what is best for the body.
There are, no doubt, occasions when intervention is necessary. First-aid measures save lives that would otherwise be lost. However, there are other situations when the need for intervention is not so clearly demonstrated. In these situations, the health care practitioner may or may not be doing more harm than good. In still other situations, intervention is clearly NOT called for.
Whenever there is intervention, harm is done to the body, even if it is only taking an aspirin for a headache that will be gone after a good night's sleep. All medications, even those necessary to save lives, or to keep someone alive, harm the body. It is essential that you weigh the risks versus the benefits before taking any drug. For example, taking a drug to save a life today, knowing it will cause cancer in five years may be a risk worth taking. However, taking a drug for a minor conditions like a headache or cold symptoms and risking kidney and liver failure, or gastrointestinal bleeding is NOT worth it.
You can see that intervention may be dangerous, that it takes great knowledge (perhaps more than any human being has), often is an educated guess and is always accompanied by an uncertain outcome to some degree. It is imperative that you know all the risks and benefits before subscribing to this type of care.
A second approach is non-intervention. It involves doing something FOR the body rather than TO the body. Its objective is to remove an obstacle or interference to the proper function of the organism. With this approach, the practitioner does not determine what the body needs, how much or in what quantity. He/she only determines what the body does NOT need and seeks to remove that interference. The desire is not to add anything to the body nor to take away anything that it was designed to have.
Practitioners of non-intervening approaches believe that the less that is done to the body, the better off it is. They acknowledge that on occasions it may be necessary to intervene, to do something to the body, but that is not their objective.
Chiropractic is a non-intervening profession. The chiropractor recognizes that vertebral subluxation interferes with the function of the nerve system and as such, causes a lack within the body-that of proper nerve flow. He does not intervene in the function of the body. He does not try to increase or decrease its function. He does not try to add anything or take anything away. His sole objective is to introduce a slight force, which the body can use to correct its own subluxation.
In this day when there is so much intervention, so many people trying to run the body, trying to supersede nature, trying to alter physical function to conform to their idea as to what it should be, it is nice to know that there is at least one profession that wants to do nothing more than remove interference to the perfect expression of the body's inborn wisdom.
The question is often raised, "if the body is as great and wonderful as we say, why does it subluxate?" The body does have a tremendous ability to withstand the forces that subluxate the spine, but it does have limitations. It can withstand the force of stepping off a curb, but a fall off the back porch will probably subluxate it. A subluxation occurs because an outside force (an external, invasive force) overcomes the resistance (internal forces) of the body.
There are forces that we are subjected to every day, forces that our body is perfectly capable of handling. Every step of walking jolts the spine, but the body can easily absorb that force. Sitting down, putting our head on the pillow at night, bending over to tie our shoes, all subject the spine to a force and all, under normal circumstances, are easily adapted to by the body. The body contracts certain muscles during these activities that stabilize the vertebrae, preventing them from becoming subluxated. This action occurs innately, without any thought on our part. However, there are certain forces that can overcome it no matter how well the body adapts. That our muscles have limitations is not a difficult concept to understand. Certain objects are just too heavy to lift. That is a limitation of muscles.
Perhaps the very first external force that created a subluxation in you was during your own birth. Even a natural, uncomplicated delivery creates stress upon the child's spine (not to mention the mother's). Deliveries in which the mother is not prepared, not in the best position to deliver, or in which the doctor pulls and twists the baby's head and neck can result in subluxation of the spine. A lengthy labor will stress the infant's entire body, including the spine. A newborn's muscles are not strong enough to handle these forces. Current research shows around 80% of children receive their first subluxation(s) during the birth process. The subluxation(s) that occur may remain until and unless a chiropractor corrects them. It most definitely will remain until another force is introduced to the spine in such a way as to set that bone in motion toward the correct position. Most often the hands of a chiropractor are the most specific and effective method. Although it is conceivable that a fall down a flight of steps could "adjust" the bone back into its proper position, it is more likely that a vertebra would be subluxated in such a fall. It is sad to think of the millions of babies that are subluxated and never get to a chiropractor or at least do not get to one until it is too late and permanent damage to the nerve system and the tissues it supplies has occurred and the health level has been reduced to a level from which it will never rise.
If the young child is not subluxated at birth, surely he or she will be subluxated as they are handled by everybody, passed from relative to relative. When they are learning to stand and walk, they may fall countless times a day, constantly introducing forces into their small spines. They fall out of bed, off the couch, off their bicycles, while roller-skating, running and playing. Now they are even playing contact sports like football as early as seven years old. The amazing thing is that a child has any vertebrae in place by the time they are ten. They are constantly subjected to external invasive forces, which is why every child should have the spine checked regularly from birth onward. By adjusting the spine the child's body has greater capacity to seal off the "holes" (in the bucket analogy) associated with environmental stress. That is why children under chiropractic care often seem to bounce back faster from illness than adults and other children. The body's ability to raise its health level is naturally better in children and enhanced by chiropractic adjustments.
Forces that Subluxate
The forces that subluxate the spine fall into three general categories.
1. Physical. These are the most easily understood, but least common. Automobile accidents, sports injuries, falls (especially children learning to walk), and other traumas can easily cause subluxations. The force of these traumas will overcome the stabilizing work of muscles, ligaments and the natural tendency for the spine to remain in its proper position. What are not as easily recognized but probably more common are the minimal or microforces that the body is subjected to every day. These physical forces, which often go unnoticed, will, under certain circumstances, cause one or more of the vertebrae of the spine to subluxate. Sitting at an architect's drawing board all day or awkwardly filling cavities in a dental office creates subliminal or imperceptible forces. Sitting at a computer terminal, holding the phone between the shoulder and the chin, bending over an automobile engine, or sitting in a cab or truck all day are other examples. Most occupations today involve one or two repetitive activities. These can lead to vertebral subluxation if the body does not have the capacity to adapt. Some sports such as tennis, golf, racquetball and other "one-armed" activities as well as other common, every day occurrences (crossing your legs the same way, carrying your purse on the same shoulder) can have the same effect.
2. Chemical. As a cause of invasive forces, chemicals are not so easily understood. The chemicals (poisons) that we put into our body affect every tissue and cell in our body including our nerve system and our muscles. Certain poisons directly affect the nerve system and others directly affect muscles. But all of them have some affect upon these systems. There is a principle that applies here. A principle true in the visible realm is also true in the non-visible realm. If a brick is dropped into a bucket of water, the level of the water rises in direct proportion to the mass of the brick. Archimedes is said to have discovered this principle in his bathtub. The principle is no less true if the brick is dropped into Lake Erie, although we cannot see the rise in the level of the lake. Now, if chemicals such as preservatives, pesticides and hormones are taken into the body in large quantities, they will do damage. It follows then, that if they are taken into the body in small quantities, they will do some damage even though not immediately perceived or noticed. The damaging effects of these chemicals may be cumulative, that is, they may build up. While it is true that the body has the ability to eliminate some of the poisons, the body is limited in that ability and damage may still occur. Reflex mechanisms in the nerve system can cause muscles to contract and lead to subluxation. Direct chemical influence on a muscle can cause it to contract and can lead to a subluxation. Lactic acid is a chemical produced in the body by muscle activity. If not removed, it can cause the contraction of muscles that we call cramps. If this happens to muscles surrounding the vertebrae, subluxations can occur. Chemical causes of subluxations need to be researched more, yet they are already recognized as much more common than physical causes.
3. Emotional. This factor, which is the most common cause of subluxations, has become a very important one in recent times. Everyone talks about stress and the toll it takes on the human body. Emotions do create a stress upon the body, which is manifested in tightness in the muscles and can result in subluxation. Subtle daily stresses create havoc with our nerve system. Some people are in a constant state of stress that fire off their sympathetic nerve system (the fight-or-flight response).
Each of the above three types of external forces can cause subluxation. In each category we can easily list thousands of causes. Most people tell me that these stresses are very common and a part of their daily lives. They just happen all the time and you just can't avoid them. By the way, if you could avoid them, you let me know, we'll write a book together, sell it and become billionaires. So the idea of things that cause subluxations probably happen to people every day. So realize that if these things that can cause subluxations occur on a daily basis, it is a compromise to get your spine checked only weekly. In a perfect world you would get your spine checked daily.
The real danger is that together these causes have a cumulative effect upon the body and cause subluxations without the individual realizing that they are factors in decreasing their health. For example, an individual who may ordinarily adapt to sitting at a desk for eight hours may become subluxated because he has filled his body with chemicals and poisons in the form of coffee, alcohol and poor foods which he has consumed because he has been under great emotional stress. The combination of all of these causes the spine to subluxate. The individual really has not done anything significantly different but the cumulative effect of these external forces has caused vertebral subluxation. These types of subluxations are the real danger to the health of an individual because he is unaware of their occurrence and unaware of the toll they are taking upon his health.
The subluxation that occurs as a result of a fall on an icy sidewalk, which is accompanied by pain, is a good one (if we can call a subluxation good). The person knows he has injured himself and seeks care. Hopefully, he has learned enough about chiropractic to conclude that, in addition to the bumps or bruises and injury that may require medical attention, he may have subluxated himself. He goes to the chiropractor to have his spine checked.
Subluxations caused by work, poisons, and emotions may not be accompanied by any outward symptoms. These subluxations, however, are just as real and just as harmful to the person. The cause of the subluxation is not the issue. When it occurs, the body is deprived of its full compliment of mental impulses and works at less than its fullest potential. This is why the chiropractor is anxious to regularly check every patient. There are no alarms, red lights or warning systems to tell you that subluxations that have caused no noticeable symptoms have occurred. Yet they are just as bad as the ones associated with severe trauma.
Why Can't the Body Correct Its Own Subluxations?
Another question asked is "Why doesn't the body correct these subluxations?" The majority of the time the body does correct its own subluxations. The muscles of the body very often do pull the vertebra back into place, taking the pressure off the nerves. But there are times when the muscles are not able to accomplish this task. If they are weak, full of toxins, or if the subluxation is depriving them of sufficient mental impulses (energy) to correct the subluxation, it will not happen.
The body is limited, even in its ability to correct its own vertebral subluxations. Since we cannot tell if we have them, we cannot know when or if our body is able to correct them. If a subluxation occurs, then an outside force, the hands of a chiropractor, is only reliable method to correct the subluxation.
The key to preventing subluxation is very simple. It is just doing those things necessary to lead a healthy life. The most important thing you can do to help prevent subluxations is to get checked and adjusted regularly. Being under chiropractic care will give you a better functioning nerve system, better functioning muscles, a better functioning body that can better adapt to stresses that can cause subluxations. Eating properly, exercising regularly, avoiding poisons and stress and generally leading a common sense life are also a huge plus.
The more health conscious one is, the less the spine will tend to subluxate. None of us is perfect in our lifestyles. We will go out and overeat or eat the wrong things. When that occurs you just get back into the program of natural living. Circumstances in life do affect our ability to lead a healthy life, however, they should only act as infrequent and short interruptions. Going away on vacation may disrupt our exercise schedule. But once we return, we should pick up where we left off. Social engagements or work may cause us to lose sleep one or two nights. But we should get back to our normal routine after these brief interruptions.
If there is something in your regular day-to-day schedule that prevents you from doing those activities that will keep you healthy, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate your life and your lifestyle. Only in doing these activities and doing them consistently will the body work at a high enough level to withstand the day-to-day external forces that cause vertebral subluxations.
But, as noted above, we are not perfect and we must realize that every time our life deviates from what is normal for us, an abnormal situation occurs and this gives rise to vertebral subluxations. Failing to get the proper rest will reflect itself in vertebral subluxations. Getting "back into the program" may begin to raise your health level with regard to those components, but it will not correct the vertebral subluxations any more than getting back up after a fall will correct the subluxation that the fall caused.
Subluxations remain because the body does not have the wherewithal to correct them. There is interference in the nerve system and the muscles directed by that nerve system cannot adjust the subluxation. Because of this, chiropractic spinal checks are needed regularly. The body has nutritional reserves so that if your diet is lacking for a day or two, the health level does not drop to the point of having signs and symptoms of disease, provided that all the other health factors are continually contributing to your health level. Similarly, if you miss a day or two of exercise, your body can handle it, provided that the other areas are still contributing to your health level. The same is true for rest.
But while the health level may not drop to a level of disease, the body's ability to maintain itself free of subluxation is seriously impaired and there is no margin for error or safety valve with regard to the human spine. Any stress (physical, chemical, emotional) or a lack of performing health-maintaining measures takes it toll on the spine. It will often result in vertebral subluxation. That is why it is so necessary to have the spine checked on a regular basis.
Getting back to good eating habits, getting back to exercise and getting back to good rest habits will enable you to replenish your health after "falling off the health wagon." But there is nothing the individual can do to restore spinal integrity except go to his or her chiropractor. If we led "perfect lives," we probably would not subluxate. But we don't, and whenever we slip either physically, chemically, emotionally or in maintaining health-promoting measures we will subluxate and we will need to be adjusted.
Throughout the course of history many universal laws have been uncovered: the law of gravity, the law of aerodynamics, the laws of electricity, physics, and chemistry, to name a few. Some 100 years ago the human law of life was uncovered. The law states that matter cannot move without energy and that as energy enters matter, matter expands and contracts depending upon which part of the energy wave permeates it. This is readily observed in all human tissues and functions. From chewing to swallowing, from breathing to digestion, from bowel movement to urination, there is a constant expansion and contraction of tissues.
The law also states that life energy flows from above down and inside out. As long as there is a free flow of life energy, there is a normal rate of expansion/contraction, which leads to free life expression and wellness. When the life energy flow is altered, the rate of expansion/contraction is also altered. This is commonly referred to as "hypo-" or "hyper-" function whether that abnormal function is physical, mental or emotional. (Hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, hypertension, hypotension, etc.) The common approach is to treat the condition from the outside in by attempting to bring hypo up or hyper down, without ever knowing what ideal is in that specific individual. This may suppress symptoms but it does not and cannot restore the law of life.
The law of life can only be restored by correcting the basic fundamental underlying cause of interference to the flow of life: a nerve system in which tone has been altered by vertebral subluxations caused by physical, chemical or emotional overload.
As the nerve system is cleared, perception of reality becomes brighter, adaptation to the environment facilitated, and recovery from stress normalized. Wellness, the natural normal state of being, returns.
The essence of life lies within, waiting to be freed so as to align the individual with the wave of life. The clearing out of the nerve system is a process that brings the individual into growth, transformation, and development from the inside out. The inherent drive of life is always toward more and greater expression. When life within is freed, our armor melts from the inside out and we are able to express the totality of ourselves.
This is a journey available to everyone willing to go beyond the limitation of his or her established beliefs and conceptions about Chiropractic.
Mention that you're a chiropractor and most people think you are a bone cruncher or ask about their back or neck problem. There is something more profound that is being lost in what chiropractic is about. It's not so much about your back; it's about your life.
The association between bones and chiropractors is understandable. Most people think about chiropractic as being just about the backbone because that is what chiropractors work on. The chiropractor is affecting the most vital system in the body, the nerve system, because the most important parts of it lie within the spine. Across this system travels the intelligent and organizing information that animates and makes us alive. The nerve system is an under appreciated part of the body. It runs, controls and regulates everything in the entire human existence. It's not something you can readily see, touch or feel. It gets lost on the health radar. People easily talk about their cholesterol levels or heart angiograms. The heart is obviously an important organ but what controls how well it works? The nerve system. What would happen if the nerve supply was cut to the heart? Or interfered with? Did you know there are non-invasive ways of checking the function of the nervous system?
The spine offers the clearest window into the nerve system. By improving how well your spine works, you maximize the quality of the life-giving information that travels across it. Your entire being is improved by having a healthy spine. A great side effect of having your spine adjusted is that symptoms and diseases usually goes away. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
So what is Chiropractic's Big Idea? A healthy spine means a healthy nerve system. This allows a more complete expression of the intelligence in your body. You are more connected to the intangible spark of life that was there at the earliest stage of conception and stays with you throughout your life. It enables your body to do what it was designed to do better - heal, regulate and organize itself. A healthy spine means a healthier you at every level, improving mental, physical, spiritual, immune and emotional performance.
The next time you are at your chiropractor, consider the implications of the Big Idea. See yourself as a well-orchestrated symphony of trillions of cells beautifully conducted by your nerve system. And remember to remember, that it's about your life!
The chiropractic philosophy is a very simple idea. There is nothing difficult in comprehending the idea that there is a principle of life within living organisms that runs them, that this principle uses the nervous system and that consequently every person in the world is better off with a good nerve supply. It is not exactly rocket science. I have never met a person with average intelligence and who understood the English language that could not intellectually grasp the chiropractic philosophy.
But while the philosophy is easy to understand, accepting it is much more difficult. It is our nature to want to place our will over that of the "Wisdom of the Universe". We are not satisfied with "letting nature take its course." We want to help it. It is an ego thing. It really doesn't matter whether it is a medical doctor who wants to do major surgery or a patient who wants to put ice on a sore muscle. This is saying, "I know more than the innate intelligence of the body, it needs my help." We want to take control so we can take the credit. Letting the innate intelligence run our body brings no glory to us. You see, innate intelligence is not us. Any honor or credit for what happens when that principle is expressed goes to the principle itself or to the "One" who created it.
We are not that principle or that "One". We are, in fact, our educated intelligence and often the educated cannot accept the fact that in the scheme of universal things, it plays a small part. Even in the running of the body in which it resides, it plays a minor role and that at best is to listen to and follow the dictates of the body's own intelligence.
We must realize that as a philosophy chiropractic can be universally understood. But being universally accepted necessitates an act of the educated intelligence in acknowledging its inadequacy in running the universe in general and the human body in particular. That is far more difficult and it will be the one thing that keeps the world from accepting our philosophy.
Accepting the philosophy is a major exercise in humility!
Unfortunately, that character quality is missing in too many members of the human race, of all strata of society. It exists in the teacher, the policeman, the laborer, the office worker and the garbage man. This is not an essay of pessimism, but one of reality. For there are also those people out there, in all walks of life who acknowledge their limitations, and acknowledge a Power and a principle greater than their own educated minds. There are millions of them. Our goal should be to identify them, reach them with our message, and make sure they at least are adjusted regularly.