You thought I was going to say “in heaven”. Tricked you. Onto the post!
You (probably) need to be seeing a chiropractor. There are very few situations where your posture is (near) perfect, and your spine is moving properly in its full range of motion. Full, appropriate range of motion is important. Very important. Time to delve into a little neurology.
So, in a typical joint (including its capsule and associated structures) there are numerous different types of mechanoreceptors (types of nerves). Some of these nerves are responsible for sensing movement and proprioception (knowing where your body is in space), while others are responsible for the experience of pain (1). There is, of course, some overlap between their function. For example, some of the proprioceptive mechanoreceptors will result in pain if you’re outside of the appropriate range of motion for that joint (1). Another indication that APPROPRIATE joint motion is crucial. Too much motion can be a problem too, but we’ll tackle that a little later.
So here’s the deal. If a joint isn’t moving properly it results in altered biomechanics. The altered biomechanics are acknowledged by the brain and it protects the area by tensing muscles, relaxing others, and breaking down cells and building others in response to the stress put on it (usually in the form of scar tissue). These newly broken cells lead to inflammation and the firing of those pain-sensitive mechanoreceptors. So now we have tight, painful muscles, inappropriate joint mechanics and scar tissue being laid down (2). Not good. Enter chiropractic.
I have nothing bad to say about massage therapy or physical therapy. They are fantastically helpful professions and modalities and they do amazing work. We DO however, need to address the joint dysfunction. I like to use the analogy of a fire. When putting out a fire, you spray the base of the fire, not the drapes, ceiling or wallpaper. So if we want to prevent the pain, altered motion and tight muscles from recurring , we need to address the joint motion AS WELL as the effects it has on the muscles and the effects the muscles have on it. Once proper motion has been returned to the joint, the cycle is broken. It would be nice if this could happen in one shot, but like all things that make your health considerably better (exercise, proper nutrition), proper joint motion is a lifelong endeavor. The good thing is that with some diligence, you and your bodies joints will learn to move properly with very little outside input (chiropractic). However if it is left to go unchecked, the cycle of dysfunction is allowed to continue and worsen.
The message that optimal joint function sends to the brain can have profound effects on health (3). The varied effects that appropriate joint motion and its effect on the nervous system has on your health is the reason why there is such a wide variety of anecdotal evidence and case studies showing the benefit of chiropractic with problems to which it is not classically associated. Ideally, it’d have very little effect, meaning you’re already moving well and haven’t deteriorated into dysfunction, but that tends to be the exception versus the rule. So let’s work to make it the rule and optimize the input your joints are sending to your brain! See a chiropractor, workout and supplement it all with some glorious massage (who DOESN’T want a massage, right?).
If you’d like me to contact me to make an appointment or ask a question, drop me an email here: Adam.Ball.DC(at)gmail.com Replace the (at) with @. I made it that way because I already get enough “Cialis for super cheap!” emails as it is.
1. MacLean, R.F. (1994) Mechanoreceptor endings in human cervical facet joints. The Iowa Orthopedic Journal. Volume 13, pp. 149-154. Accessed on 09/22/2010 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2328986/pdf/iowaorthj00021-0151.pdf
2. Chaitow, L. & DeLany, J. (2008) Clinical Application of Neuromuscular Techniques: The upper body. Elsevier. Philadelphia, PA.
3. Srbely, J. (2010) Chiropractic Science: A Neurophysiologic Paradigm. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. 54(3)