May You Live Until 120
There is an ancient Hebrew blessing, “May you live until 120”. I have to admit, as I reached another ‘mile-stone’ birthday this year, the significance of these simple words crystallized a bit more for me . Yes, I want longevity for my family, my patients and myself because there’s always soooo much more we all want to see and accomplish; but I don’t want just quantity, I demand quality too. As 50 becomes the new 40 (heck why not the new 30!), I’m being asked by my patients what chiropractic’s role is in keeping us feeling and behaving young right into old age.
To understand why 120 might seem unrealistic we need to figure out what might be keeping us from it. From a purely ‘engineering’ standpoint, science says we might truly be built to run for 100+ years. But we don’t treat ourselves to ideal conditions, and thus struggle to get there. Many of us do more regular maintenance on our cars than we do on ourselves. Our mechanics check that all moving parts are in proper alignment to prevent wear-and-tear and premature aging -when was the last time you had an expert on bio-mechanics do the same for your body? We give our machines proper fuel that’s customized precisely to the ratio of ingredients required for optimal performance and yet give our bodies food chosen for convenience, cost or comfort rather than for nutritional value (or we skip fueling ourselves at all because we’re too busy to stop for a proper meal). We’ve all experienced what happens to a motor when it’s left too long without movement – parts seize. Moving parts need lubrication, be they animate or inanimate. We have built-in ‘motor oil’ between all of our moving parts called synovial fluid, but it only gets spread around when our joints are in motion.
A good mechanic – as in this instance I’m claiming a Chiropractor is – looks at the cause of breakdown as well as the result. Chiropractic looks at three causative stresses – trauma, toxins and thought. Trauma can occur on macro or micro levels. We all acknowledge the damage of collisions and sports injuries, etc. but many of my patients forget about repetitive stress, sleeping postures or bad ergonomics. To return to a car analogy, think of what happens when you bump a curb or drive through a pot-hole. No immediate damage might be perceived, but the alignment shifts just a little bit. And driving many miles on that bad alignment causes premature wear to all the moving parts that are slightly askew. Months down the road you notice a squeal that shouldn’t be there – parallel to the ache that ‘appears’ out of nowhere and gets worse, which my patients often seek my help to relieve. Toxins were already discussed – the less than adequate food we put in our bodies, the less than clean air that we breath, and the other-than-water we drink. The contribution of thoughts to better or worse health is an emerging field of understanding – and a topic big enough for a whole separate post. Suffice it to say that our thoughts are a bath that we are immersed in 24/7 and may very well be the largest contributor to our feelings of wellbeing (or not) on a moment to moment basis.