Ok, here we are with our final (maybe) input to the “I still don’t completely get it but I feel better when I go” Chiropractic Trilogy. Today we’re going to talk about why having the effects of chronic stressors on your body is a bad thing, and how you can minimize/eliminate them. Read on for some therapeutic wisdom, mobile friends!
So the stress response is bad. But it’s also appropriate in the right situation. It’s the chronic stress response that is bad, or more accurately the many lifestyle choices that lead to it. Your body’s response to stress is NOT pathogenic (disease-causing), the environment causing the stress is. There is neuroplasticity (your brain actually changes) to being chronically exposed to the stress response (like the pain sensitization I mentioned in an earlier post). To restore your bodies (and its’ joints) ability to move and inhibit that stress response, you need chiropractic care (and a solid exercise program). Being adjusted regularly is an integral part of maintaining a healthy spine and it will actually create neuroplasticity in the other direction (possibly why young Autistic, ADD, or ADHD patients report improvements in their conditions – less stress means less stress hormones means more concentration). The ultimate goal for care in my office is to remove the stress of joint motion restriction on your body. With your spine moving properly we can move on to addressing the other sources of stress in your life, like poor diet, physical inactivity, and mental/emotional stress.
When we look at the literature, it’s the removal of all these stressors that result in the largest range in disease resolution. Chiropractors report patients not just getting better from neck and back pain, but improving their headaches, digestion (colic, IBS, indigestion), breathing (asthma, COPD, emphysema), allergies, sleep, sexual function, mental stress levels, etc. The same goes when you research fish oil, stress relief techniques, the removal of gluten from the diet, and exercise. This is because these interventions are good for EVERYONE. If someone doesn’t exercise, and then they start exercising, do they get healthier? How about making the choice to eat higher quality foods? De-stress from work/whatever else stresses you out? We get better from a wide range of illnesses with these interventions because they’re either providing a required “nutrient” to express health (like proper movement in the spine), or removing a “toxin” that is preventing health (like gluten). If you had a sick moose (that didn’t want to trample you to death) in your care, would you feed it some “cutting edge” diet based on the “latest research” or would you just research what wild, healthy moose eat and feed it that? Would you design an exercise program for the moose to isolate muscular inefficiencies, or would you encourage the moose to move and act like healthy, wild moose do?
For the most part many of us know what we’re doing wrong. We know the intense stress levels of work aren’t healthy for us. We know eating 5 Tim Hortons chocolate chip cookies (or 5 fries) is a bad idea. We know avoiding exercise and living with poor posture/movement patterns is a bad thing. We do need to be reminded to make these changes though. To write it out in numbered fashion, so that you can jot it down and put it on your fridge:
- Eat foods that we were designed to eat: Meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds (and a variety of spices/seasonings) – Mix it up and find meals you love.
- Follow an intelligent exercise program. I recommend The Sudbury School of Fitness but there are a good number of other programs and gyms that provide excellent coaching as well.
- Sleep well (a cool/cold, pitch black room for 8-9 hours per night) and reduce stress levels (at work and at home – simplify your life)
- See a Chiropractor and other movement specialists (physiotherapy, athletic therapy, acupuncturists, massage therapy, etc.) and get adjusted/worked on with some regularity (for most this will be between once a week and once a month)
If you’re a patient of mine at the gym, then Alex and Rachael already have you on the right track as far as exercising (and probably eating) properly goes. Keep up the good work, get adjusted, work out hard/smart, eat well and you’ll achieve greater levels of health every day.
Dr. Adam Ball
p.s. Please share my website with friends and family and connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re in the Mississauga/Oakville/Surrounding areas, come check out the gym and let’s get you healthier!