The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing. —Stephen Covey, author
“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”
Becoming pain-free is the goal of almost every patient that comes in to see this chiropractor Little Falls MN. That’s the goal. We know what doesn’t do it—drugs, surgery, and falling prey to pain myths. We know what the purpose of pain is, and how it develops in the back and neck. Now, it’s time to leverage that knowledge and take the next step. In order to do so, however, you must understand one main thing.
Some things in this life are simply true. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. You reap what you sow. One plus one equals two. See, it doesn’t matter if you believe they’re true or not, they simply are. They are as undeniable as they are unstoppable. Like if you don’t believe in gravity, and then jump off a building, you’re still going to fall.
With what I’m about to share with you as a chiropractor Little Falls MN, this is the case. There is a “truth” about back and neck pain, and if you take away only one thing from this entire book, it should be this: in order for your back and neck to be as pain-free as possible, they have to be as healthy as possible.
As Pain Free As Possible = As Healthy As Possible
But before we talk about what it means for the back and neck to be “As Healthy as Possible,” we must first know what health is. In a dictionary, you will find that health is defined as, “The state of an organism when it functions optimally without evidence of disease.” The key words are “optimally” and “functions.” When something functions optimally, it means it’s working at 100 percent. For the spine, it’s the state in which the nerves, muscles, and joints are working as good as they possibly can be. The Vicious Cycle robs you of that and relentlessly pulls your spine away from peak performance—away from being healthy—and closer to pain.
Then: As Healthy As Possible = Optimal Function
Now, one system in the body is responsible for making sure every other system in the body is functioning optimally: The Nervous System. It supervises and coordinates the activity of every cell, tissue, and organ at breakneck speed and with astounding precision. Its complexity is mind boggling, and its architecture is awe-inspiring. One of my wise professors when I was studying to be a chiropractor Little Falls MN would say, “The human nervous system is the apex of creation in the known universe” and I agree. If you think about it, you probably agree as well.
Despite its grandeur, the setup of the nervous system is very simple. The brain sends messages down the spinal cord and out through the nerves, telling whatever is on the end of that nerve—heart, lungs, stomach, or muscle—how to function optimally. How well the body is able to function is really dependent on the messages the brain sends. This means that in order for the body to function optimally, the output of the brain also has to be optimal.
Optimal Function = Optimal Brain Output
But how does the brain know what to do? For instance, if you’re walking up a flight of stairs, how does the brain know to send messages to the heart to beat faster and to the lungs to breathe deeper? How does the brain know to regulate your blood sugar? How does it know to get your skin to sweat when you’re hot? The answer is that the body tells the brain what’s happening to it, once again, through the nerves, and then the brain interprets that information and responds accordingly.
Then, in order for the brain to control the body really well (optimal output), it must receive really good and complete information from the body. So,
Optimal Output = Optimal Input
I know I’m getting a little technical as a chiropractor Little Falls MN, but stick with me here. Like I said, this is the most important concept of this book.
In some systems in the body, this input/output happens automatically; meaning, we have no conscious control over it. Take the immune system. You cannot consciously tell your immune system to start fighting bacteria or viruses. It just does it. Nerves detect the invaders, alert the brain, and then the brain triggers an immune response. The digestive system is another example. You cannot, right now, by the force of willpower, make your stomach produce more acid—no way. Only once food enters the stomach, and the nerves detect it, does acid start getting released to break down the food. It’s the same with the cardiovascular system as well as the skin system. If you get a paper cut, no matter how hard you think and stare at your bleeding finger, it’s not going to heal any faster. All of the systems of the body run on autopilot, but the neuromusculoskeletal system is an exception.
It almost goes without saying that you have at least some control over your body. You can lift your arm, close your eyelids, hold your breath, and bend to pick up things. But just because we initiate the action by willing it, doesn’t mean we really control it. Here’s what I, your chiropractor Little Falls MN, mean.
The mechanisms that go into planning and executing a movement are far more complex than the brain simply issuing a command and the nerves executing it.
For example, suppose that you go to pick up a glass of water that you think is cool and refreshing, but is actually boiling hot. As soon as you touch the glass, you immediately pull your hand back, by reflex, without thinking about it.
But suppose that next your child tries to grab this glass, which you already know is hot. In this case, because your child’s safety is so important to you, you can consciously overcome the reflex to pull your hand away. Instead, using your voluntary muscle control, you grab the glass yourself and put it where your child can’t reach it.
Lastly, if someone tells you that the glass is made of fine crystal and not ordinary glass, you will probably handle it more carefully. In other words, your brain will take this information into account and adapt your method of grasping the glass accordingly.
All of these facts demonstrate that the execution of a movement is not simply a matter of the brain’s sending a “Go!” command through the nerves but is rather the result of a highly elaborate construct. Moreover, the remarkable adaptability of movement demonstrates the involvement of powerful mechanisms. (1)
Yes, we do have some say in how we move, but the majority of motions themselves—the speed, force, timing, coordination, etc., —are on autopilot. The part of the brain that controls this is called the cerebellum, we understand that unless you are a chiropractor Little Falls MN or a doctor you probably don’t care about there. It’s located at the base of your skull, and is impressively chock-full of nerves that’s sole purpose is to make sure you’re moving optimally.
Following what we’ve already discussed, in order for your brain to ensure that your back and neck are functioning optimally, it needs as much information about your spine as possible. Like how the joints are positioned, how they’re moving, how fast they’re moving, and how much stress is on them because of that movement.
Now, in the last section we covered the type of nerves that do this. Do you remember? Mechanoreceptors. Your brain needs as much Mechanoreception as possible in order to ensure your back and neck are functioning optimally.
But what about the nociceptors? You know, the “bad guys” of the entire Vicious Cycle? For the intents and purposes of this chapter, nociception should really be considered as “no-mechanoreception.” Meaning that if nociceptors are firing, the mechanoreceptors are not. Then, if the mechanoreceptors aren’t firing, the brain becomes disconnected from knowing what the joints are doing. Nociception is bad input.
For the back and neck, optimal input is when mechanoreception is maximized and nociception is minimized.**
Optimal Input = Maximal Mechanoreception and Minimal Nociception
The next question then is: how do you do this? How do you ensure that your brain is getting optimal input for optimal output? This is where it gets exciting for you and this chiropractor Little Falls MN. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments—the things that hold joints together—are full of mechanoreceptors. They’re not only responsible for controlling a joint’s movement, but also for containing it within its normal limits. Joints must move as fully as possible, and at the same time, not exceed their normal limits which is why you should learn proper methods from a chiropractor Little Falls MN (i.e., no Buckling Points) —that’s how you get optimal input to the brain (your cerebellum to be precise).
Maximal Mechanoreception and Minimal Nociception =Joints Moving As Good As Possible
But it doesn’t end there. In order for joints to move as good as possible, they must have two things: 1) Optimal alignment and 2) Balance between the two muscle groups.
Joints Moving As Good As Possible = Optimal Alignment + Muscle Balance
That’s the bottom line. If you can keep your spine in good alignment when you sit, lift, bend, sleep, stand, or whatever, and keep the deep Stabilizers balanced with the superficial Movers, your spine will be as healthy as possible, making it as pain-free as possible. **For the other spinal geeks and chiropractor Little Falls MN out there reading this, I do not mean absolutely no nociception. Some, I imagine, is good for us, like red wine. But also like red wine, too much will cause problems.
This line of logic stripped to its barest elements looks like this:
This is what The Solution does. It doesn’t simply operate within this framework—it maximizes it. Which is why, as you’re about to find out, it is the most effective way to rid the back and neck pain. By the way, guess what doesn’t operate within this framework, or at best, leverages it incompletely? Standard medical care, pain management clinics, and the vast majority of physical medicine. As a healthcare field, we have failed to keep the main thing the main thing. Many other things—technological advances, money, and political power, to name a few—have replaced the main thing: getting and keeping people healthy. This is why people are suffering from so much pain. It’s time for a better approach to pain. It’s time for a better answer: The Solution, so ask a chiropractor Little Falls MN.