The Zen Corner

Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic


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Get Ahead of the Curve!

An arch is the strongest structure in nature.

That is why most primal structures such as big bridges and buildings are built with curves and arcs.   Curvature in the spine helps the spine in many ways. First, the curvature helps absorb the impact from walking/running and evenly distributes the weight of the body. Second, the curvature helps the body withstand the constant physical stress that is produced by gravity. Third, loss of curvature will cause abnormal stress to the spine, making it vulnerable to damage and cause loss of function. For us to be ahead of the curve in life is to have good spinal curvature!

Before we dive in to how the curvature is necessary for your spine, we need to make sure which curve we are addressing. We are addressing the curvature that develops from birth to adulthood. In the womb, for a period of time following birth, a baby’s spine is shaped like the letter C. This curve is termed a primary curve, which is called the Kyphotic. During the time the baby is learning to lift his head and eventually walk, muscles develop. As muscular strength and ability is gained, the baby’s activity will shift body weight to the spine. Gradually, secondary curves develop in the cervical and lumbar regions; these curvature are called lordotic curves. These curves will continue to develop until growing stops. The curvature structure can be seen from lateral full spine radiological film, and there is a method of measuring to determine the normality of the curvature.

These curvatures in your spine withstand constant bombardment of stresses that are caused by normal activitiesin your daily life. As your body undergoes physical activites such as: sports, exercise, and recreation there is stress produced to the spine. The infrastructure of the spine upholds the body to withstand stress and keep the organs in place. This is also reflected in cathedrals which have many arcs/curvatures strategically placed to  prevent it from collapsing and withstand the test of time.

Other than applying stress from physical activity, there is another natural force that will constantly cause stress on your spine. That is Gravity!! The only way to counter the effects of gravity is to have proper curvature in your spine. The S shape curvature of the spine counteracts the effects of gravity like a spring, and sustains its structure. Do you see a waiter holding a tray? They hold it to support the weight, but bend the elbow like a curvature for support. It is the same thing with the curvature in your spine in the neck. A 10-15 pound skull needs a structure in the neck that can hold its weight and going against gravity. Most people complain about having tightness in their neck. It is usually due to loss of curvature.

When you lose curvature, the spine then is not able to withstand the stress from gravity on your body’s mass. This will result in structural failure of the spine in the long run. Loss of curvature will cause increased pressure load on the discs, increase muscular strain to support the inefficient skeletal structure, and cause nerve damage from alteration of the spinal structure. When this continues on for a long term, it will make it vulnerable to additional physical stress.  Things such as car accidents, slips, and falls can easily cause damage to the spinal structure.  The disc structure that was giving cushion to the spine can be damaged slowly and wither away from the increased stress due to poor integrity of the spinal structure. When the disc withers away, then the nerves will be compressed, increase pain, and eventually the disk will lose its function.  When time goes by, the degeneration process accelerates and your damaged spinal structure becomes permanent. Your body will be conditioned with that problem all your life.  

When the spinal structure has its curvature, it is able to withstand the physical stresses, the weight of your body, and is less vulnerable to damage to the spine. When your spine has its curves, you are ahead of the curve!! You are able to function 100%, withstand the test of time, and experience life instead of living life. You will be able to play tennis in your later years, play with your grand kids, or simply being able to walk to the bathroom. To be ahead of your curve, you simply need to make sure you have them or keep them!

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