When it comes to dealing with the spine and its health, most people find themselves trapped in fear and misconceptions. They’re scared by terms like degenerative disc disease, protruding discs, kyphosis and scoliosis.
They’re also confused by a term like injury prevention and aren’t sure what it really means. They are guided to do some exercises, but discouraged to do others. They are told that some of the discomfort they feel is due to the aging process. They are told to take anti-inflammatory and pain killers and to limit their movement until the discomfort subsides. And if they’ve actually suffered a spinal injury, they feel that they’ve been sentenced to a long and hard recovery and sometimes to a lifetime of pain.
There are a lot of different books, articles and conflicting research reports in the media; and at the end of the day they are left feeling confused and helpless.
The key to a healthy spine lies as much in the way we think about it as in what we do about it. In Western culture, we forget that the spine isn’t an isolated structure but a key part of the whole body. We all know that a chain can only be as strong as its weakest link, so if our spine is weak, our body will be weak—and vice-versa.
Let’s consider a few points:The health and well-being of the whole body is reflected in the health of the spine. For example, good functioning of the digestive system will ensure proper nutrients for the entire body (including the vertebrae, the spinal cord and all the other structures attached to it).
- The state of day to day and long term hydration or dehydration will affect the spine. If we are dehydrated, the connective tissue in the body will be less mobile and will restrict the good functioning of all the organs, as well as create mobility and flexibility issues.
- The hormonal changes that we are subjected to when we are under stress create changes in the quality of our tissues. The body responds to our levels of stress or well-being by producing hormones that will increase or decrease the stress on the body.
- The belief system that we have chosen for ourselves works at deep levels in our bodies every single day. For example, if we believe that we are growing old and that there is nothing to do about it, then there is nothing that will truly ease our discomfort. If we believe that growing old does not need to create discomfort and loss of strength and mobility, then we will maintain our youthful appearance and attitude.
How, then, can we keep our spines supple, mobile and healthy?
For example, we need to understand that living stressful lives will affect our health in general, and this will affect the health of every single structure in the body, including the spine.
We need to drink more water in order to keep our tissues supple and mobile.
Moreover, when we talk about Whole Body Health, we are talking about the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of who we are. Each of these components can either help the healing process or create discomfort.
Returning to a youthful spine is a process that requires us to think holistically and remember what ancient traditions of health teach us.
Letting go of an isolated way of thinking about our spines is the first, necessary step.