Regular Chiropractic Care and Your Mechanical Advantage
Vigorous exercises such as hiking, running, and walking pose challenges to numerous physiological systems including the cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal systems. By progressively increasing mechanical loads on weight-bearing structures (including the lumbar spinal vertebra, pelvis, thigh bones, shin bones, and ankle bones), these exercises also engage metabolic pathways involved in production of new bone. Regular chiropractic care helps ensure that your body effectively meets the various physiological demands imposed by our exercise activities.
In order for all our internal systems to work at peak capacity and efficiency, our organs, tissues, and cells must receive and transmit timely information from and to our body’s master system, the nerve system. But spinal misalignments may irritate spinal nerves, causing nerve interference and disrupting the free flow of signals across critical neurological networks. Such disruptions may lead to pain, interfere with our ability to exercise effectively, and interfere with our ability to gain the numerous benefits of exercise. By detecting and correcting such spinal misalignments, regular chiropractic care helps our bodies function at optimal levels and gain the most from the valuable time we’re spending on our exercise activities. As a result, regular chiropractic care contributes substantially to our long-term health and well-being.
The seasons change and so do we. Superficially, it may not appear as if we’re undergoing perpetual metamorphosis, but we are. Just as trees replace their leaves and birds shed their feathers, we too change dramatically. But our modifications and upgrades take place beneath the surface. Unlike leaves that turn and fall with colder weather, our alterations are hidden from view and we generally take these parallel life cycles for granted.
We may categorize our physiology in terms of systems, organs, tissues, and cells. Systems include cardiorespiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, endocrine, lymphatic, and reproductive mechanisms. Corresponding organs include the heart and lungs, stomach and intestines, bones and muscles, the liver, pancreas, and thyroid and pituitary glands. Each organ is comprised of tissues and tissues are composed of cells. Although not an exact comparison, we could consider that a leaf is a cell of a tree. In that case, we could say that our cells are analogous to leaves.
Our cells perform complex functions, depending on the nature of their specialization.1,2 Cells have inputs in the form of nutrients and oxygen and outputs in the form of useful work (energy), as well as specific biomolecules they have manufactured and the waste products of such metabolism.
Cells wear out over time and must be replaced for the living organism to survive. Such replacement takes place continuously, a systematic process that itself requires substantial planning, signaling, and resources. For example, human red blood cells live for approximately 120 days. Thus, your entire supply of oxygen-carrying red blood cells is replaced every four months. Cells lining the stomach have a lifespan of about five days. Cells lining the alveoli of the lungs have a lifespan of approximately one week.
The coordination necessary for these life-and-death activities is the responsibility of the nerve system, the body’s master system.3 The nerve system provides instructions for the proper functioning of all the cells in your body and processes information received from these cells. The massive complexity of the nerve system requires timely and accurate transmission of all signaling. Regular chiropractic care helps ensure that your nerve system gets the job done. As a result, regular chiropractic care helps ensure that the critical processes of the cellular life cycle are performed appropriately, and helps ensure our ongoing long-term health and well-being.
As autumn’s outdoor temperatures begin to moderate, many of us look forward to opportunities for vigorous cardiorespiratory activities that we put aside in the heat of the summer. It’s much easier to hike in the spring and fall, even in the peak afternoon hours, because the sun’s intensity is less harsh.
Hiking is tremendous fun and is a wonderful form of vigorous exercise for the entire family, including the youngest through the oldest.1 Hiking combines both cardiorespiratory and strength training activities, which train not only your heart and lungs but also the large muscle groups of your legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and the gastrocnemius/soleus muscles of your calves. However, hiking is not like other forms of exercise. As you cannot really do a hike gradually, it’s important to have acquired a good level of fitness before you begin to hike. Also, hikers need to be prepared and take along specific supplies. When you hike, it’s best to expect the unexpected, and certain basic supplies are critically necessary.
In terms of fitness preparation, beginning hikers should be able to walk four miles at a brisk pace.2 This will allow you to hike a two-mile trail at a modest incline, covering a total of four miles out and back. Doing such a hike a few times will then provide the preparation needed for increasing your hiking distance. Hiking preparation also includes strength training. In a comprehensive strength training program, you train all major muscle groups once a week. This is done by performing “split routines” such as training chest and back, shoulders and arms, and legs on separate days. Your comprehensive strength training program works synergistically with your cardiorespiratory exercise. Doing one form of exercise benefits the other activity and the result is substantial improvement in your fitness levels. The overall result is that you are appropriately prepared to hike.
Regarding supplies, every hiker needs a backpack. Your backpack will contain a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, a two-liter water bottle, some trail mix and protein bars, a GPS-capable phone, a map and compass (as low-tech backups to your phone’s GPS), and a lightweight rain slicker or waterproof poncho. Each of these items is necessary for a safe and enjoyable hike. You don’t want to run out of water or snacks. You don’t want to get sunburnt or rained on. And you certainly don’t want to get lost. By Murphy’s Law, the supply that you neglect or forget to bring, is the one you will need on that hike. The best policy is to always be prepared.
With appropriate preparation, hiking will provide you and your family years of enjoyment of the natural world and will enhance your health and well-being for years to come.