I’m lucky enough to live near a wooded area that has some old fruit trees growing wild. I recently lumbered through the brush and spent an hour or so picking what I could reach. That brought me back to being a kid when I loved climbing trees. As I twisted around grasping for that, always just out of reach, fruit, I was acutely aware that my body and my spine felt differently at age 48 than when I was a kid. Time does march on for all of
And yet it is times like this when I’m glad that I make it a point to get adjusted to keep my spine moving as normally as possible. I would hate to think of how I would feel if I had never been adjusted.
We all probably know someone who looks and acts 10 years older than they actually are. And we may know others who look and move about like they are 10 years younger than their true age. This is the difference between a person’s chronological age: their age according to the calendar – and their biological age: their age based on how the tissues of their body are functioning.
The science of anti-aging is based on keeping the body functioning well as possible for as long as possible. Essentially, keeping the body as biologically young as possible even as the chronological age keeps advancing.
I want to focus on joint motion as a critical aspect of anti-aging. I suppose you could make an analogy to that of a car. A car will last longer if you keep it maintained and tuned up. I once had a car that went for 240,000 miles. It had good genes, it was a Honda Accord. But I also maintained it well. I had a friend who had a Toyota Corolla that was beaten and tattered at 60,000. He did drive it hard, but he never maintained it. So yes, trauma to the spine will cause damage, but if that damage is addressed the spine will last longer.
A few years back, I had a 30 year old patient who came in for injuries from an auto accident he had just had. When I x-rayed his neck I was shocked to see severe degeneration throughout his neck. It looked like the cervical spine of an 80 year old man! Since it takes years for trauma to a spine to result in degeneration, I knew this had to have come from a much earlier injury. He said that when he was 8 years old he had fallen and hit the floor head first from the top of a bunk bed. His neck had bothered him off and on since then. Obviously that injury had resulted in the joints becoming fixated, or in chiropractic terminology, subluxated. With that lack of motion, lubricating fluid
did not circulate through the joints or nutrients properly move in and out of
the discs. Like the mechanical parts of my friend’s Corolla, the joints wore out more quickly. As I have so often in the past, I wish I could have gotten to him right after the trauma occurred. I’m sure as an 8 year old he was treated for a concussion. Then his resilient 8 year old body healed things as best as it could. I suspect in a day or two he was clamoring to go out and play. But the body tends to heal with scar tissue which is less flexible than regular tissue. So the subluxations in the joints resulted in those joints literally aging prematurely.
On more subtle levels, subluxations age us in other ways as well. On the simplest level, if our joints ache we will tend to exercise less or even move about a bit less during the course of the day. But, perhaps most importantly, vertebrae that do not move properly affect the entire nervous system of the body. The brain controls the entire body. It does so by sending messages down to the body via the spinal cord then out through the nerves that
pass between the vertebrae of the spine. By the same token, messages also come from the body through those spinal nerves and give the brain feedback about what is going on in the body. If the joints do not move properly, they will tend to cause nerve interference which,
like static in a phone line, will compromise the messages from the brain to the body and back again. As a result the body will not function at its optimum. Thus, in a very real sense, a spinal adjustment is not only a tune up for the spine but for the entire body as well.
At its most basic, during an adjustment, a chiropractor such as myself is finding which joints are most fixated (subluxated) and mobilizing those joints – breaking up scar tissue and adhesions to restore normal motion and alignment as much as possible. As my patients know, I use the ProAdjuster/Ultralign instrument to carefully analyze which bones are the most fixated and then use the instrument to specifically mobilize those segments.
I plan to be an 80 year old guy picking fruit. Hopefully someone will look at me and wonder who is that 60 year old picking fruit. Meanwhile I won’t feel a year over 50.