An MRI scan of a spineLife Compresses your spine

This is true and intuitive. But what are the influencers of this process and how can you mitigate this process?

First, let’s describe the process again, in brief. It starts with the physical and chemical processes that affect your 23 spinal discs. As kids, we interact in a physical way with this world. This interaction imposes various forces upon our discs and all the tissues of our spine. The discs have multiple functions including acting as cushions between our 24 vertebral bones. The physical forces cause small tearing injuries to our discs, which are not always painful or perceptible. Keep in mind that the discs are made up of tough ligament tissue. These micro-injuries, i.e. tears of the spinal discs, accumulate at various rates in different people, and the rate depends upon several factors.

These factors include: our muscle strength, which is protective; our thoughtfulness in our activities and postures; our nutritional status which affects our repair capacity; our sleep status, a time for repair; how clumsy we are in our daily movements; our natural ligament laxity- some people are more stretchy than others, which potentiates disc trauma; gross traumas in our lifetimes, such as car accidents, sports, falls; our obesity status, which contributes to chronic, excessive loads and clumsiness and bad postures.

As discs accumulate these injuries, which we call this degeneration, they lose their water content, I.e. become dehydrated, and they progressively collapse like a water ballon losing water. Then they don’t function as well as cushions. That, in turn, means there is more pressure on your boney vertebrae, and they begin to deform and enlarge in response to increased physical stress. This extra pressure on the joints of the bones, makes them deform and painful. And the enlarging bones encroach on the holes that exist for the nerves and/or spinal cord. The degenerating discs can also bulge out, or herniate out, and pinch the adjacent nerves or spinal cord.

Enough about the process. What to do? First I’ll address treatment, then prevention. For treatment, when the pain requires, do spinal decompression treatment to partially reverse the compressive cause of your painful episode.

For prevention, we have the usual recommendations, but I’ll elaborate on two. The usual has to include getting enough sleep, eating whole foods, regular exercise, and getting outdoors for the sun and infrared benefits.

My elaboration will be on food and exercise. As for foods, they should be whole and real, i.e. not processed much. And it’s my judgment, because there is no consensus on much about nutrition, that you should get plenty of the nutrient-dense, animal-based foods in your diet. Plants have some unique and valuable nutrients, but I think there is a present, faddish trend to lionize them over animal foods. Animal foods gave our species large brains and smaller guts, so animal foods are certainly appropriate for our species.

As for exercise, in brief, all exercise is beneficial because of the contraction of skeletal muscle. And the benefits are proportional to the amount of skeletal muscle you contract, through how much range of motion you contract them, and with what intensity you contract them. So it is logical to conclude that the best exercise is that which uses more muscles, through a greater range of motion, with greater intensity. And the practical application of these principles makes weight training the superior exercise.

As for this conception of “cardiac” exercise, I think it’s a largely unfounded idea. It is a vestige of Dr. Cooper’s personal preference. He’s a historic figure you may not know of. He coined the aerobics term. Anyway, the heart muscle exists to serve the skeletal muscles’ demands. The skeletal muscles don’t exist to exercise the heart muscle. So choosing the best exercise for your skeletal muscles will properly exercise your heart muscle. And you don’t have to select inferior exercises to exercise your heart muscle. That just makes no sense.

Until next time, do healthy.