The last thing you want your spine to do
By Dr Brian Blower, DC
Nov 6, 2013 - 11:51:46 PM
Recently as I approached my offices one mid day, I noticed an older gentleman patiently sitting outside our clinic waiting for the medical doctor to arrive back from his lunch. I greeted him cheerily, and asked him, “Are you all right?”which is a usual form of greeting to casually say hello here in The Bahamas. He replied that he would be more 'all right' if he were a lot younger than his years. To his remark I used my own flippant retort and said, “You may be feeling only as young as you are supple.”
Being loose like the young with their multiple bony joints and structures freely moving through a healthy range of motion, (ROM) feels great. But the truth is that same free movement of the body parts is a “must have” to be healthy.
Most visits to the doctor are because of not feeling well; we go to his office hoping to get some light shone on the problem. We go to get ourselves feeling better again. So we go and then take the course of his treatment in our desire to get to feel improved later. And at the same time we go to get assurance, to feel safe within ourselves for having the doctor tell us we aren’t dying at rapid speed. We will 'recover soon' are soothing words that do a lot to quell the stress of the unknown. Our visit helps change our own worst thoughts, our “stinkin thinkin.”
As I unlocked the door to the clinic I invited the old fellow inside, into the air conditioned offices where he could get some time out from the great and perfect Bahamian heat of summer. On my invitation he then began to rock back and forth on the bench of his seat and after a few runs at things he was able to get his old frame up again. I immediately noticed his cough and wheezy breath, then saw his stooped over chest, and could only imagine the tragic loss of his youthful mobile and supple spine over the years. I then thought of how he might have been better positioned to take on the aging process healthily if he had preserved the normal movements of the walls of the chest when he either took in or expelled his breath.
We all know, so very well, that the first thing done at birth is baby takes in a great lungful of air. Only after that do we wail, and we all know that we have to keep the breath activity going; we must keep breathing in and out, till we expire. We eventually and inevitably will one day let out our last breath, and our individual unique length of life is measured between those two phenomenon; successful breathing in and then out again marks our lifetime. During the time in between our first and last breath, we eat.
Think like this with me, the human rib cage reflects an assembly of structures that make up our chest wall and form the base of the neck. For many reasons the chest structures are the most important pieces of anatomy we own. The structures making up the chest include twelve segments of the spine called thoracic vertebrae. Each of these twelve spinal bones of the thorax is charged with moving against its neighbors both above and below. The motion then allows ongoing freedom as needed for the passage of nerves from either side of the spine. A must do for nerves is to escape unmolested from the spinal cord; nerves lead out to touch and then communicate messages to and from the organs and muscles to the brain. This connection by nerves through the spine to the organs, muscles and brain is necessary so the many pieces can work into a harmonious orchestration of function allowing our organs to continually feed us while we draw in and out our breath.
We need to breathe constantly; there is no reprieve from doing this inhaling and exhaling, not even for a few minutes, night or day. So our gear, our anatomy, has evolved uniquely to allow continual breathing. As well as drawing our breath in and out, our chest must suspend in an upright posture many of the organs of digestion as well as the heart and lungs above. The heart and lungs must continually work alongside the constantly moving chest and they must not be disturbed when in an upright or a recumbent position.
Now let’s add a bit more anatomy to close up the chest. With our spine of twelve vertebrae acting like the shaft of an umbrella our chest rises and expands, then drops to close with every breath. In order to do this expansion and contraction, over and over again, from the womb to our tomb, we are segmented in nature. Our chest is a collection of many pieces. Attaching to the twelve vertebrae and assisting in the tenting of the diaphragm, and acting like the dome forming spokes of an umbrella, are the ribs. Twenty four ribs in number, men and women have the same amount. Each rib is paired and then attached to either side of one of the twelve vertebrae of the thorax, the chest spine.
In order to allow the movements necessary to breathe in and out like a set of bellows the chest parts must also be constantly moving structures. The movement of the ribs is accomplished by the mobility of their joints. And down the back of the rib cage, along the spinal to rib junctions and from one vertebra to another there are over one hundred and fifty movable joints in the chest and its thoracic spine alone.
About half of all of the joints within a human body are within the chest, the thorax, our mid back. It is no accident that the highest concentrations of these joints are here assisting breath.
Now back to the older gentleman and his ongoing loss of chest expansion and contracture, and back to his not feeling well.
I didn’t ask our friend about his perceived need to visit the doctor. Rather I took a few minutes and queried him about his usual activities. How active was he? Did he golf or have other hobbies which required movement of his old frame. Not surprisingly he was quite sedentary and expressed his wish to perhaps walk more or heaven forbid take up his racquet and play a bit of tennis again. Probably tennis was not going to happen was my thinking, but I encouraged him to keep up his wishing and for him to get out for at least a neighborhood stroll once or twice a day whenever possible. I did not attempt to get him into my chiropractic office and then have me mobilize the hundreds of joints in his chest or hands and feet. I would gladly help him if permitted and he would respond well and feel better too.
But really, all of you out there reading this, isn’t it a better idea to start chiropractic care earlier? Is it not better to get him to bring in his grand children so that they don’t end up like him?
About the author:
Dr. Brian Blower has been a licensed
chiropractor for over 40 years
practicing Applied Kinesiology and has been in private practice on
Grand Bahama Island for the past
15 years. He is a founding member of Applied Kinesiology Canada and was
educated at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. He is a founding
member of the Bahamas Association of Chiropractic. He has treated
many celebrities and also specializes in sports medicine. He can be
reached at 242-351-5424/ 727-2454. You
can also find Dr. Blower on Facebook HERE
Feel free to contact Dr. Blower with any of your questions or comments at BodyByBlower@yahoo.com
Read other articles by Dr. Blower
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