Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DAY 23 - Can You Crack Your Back?

Seems simple enough, but not only is there depth to this question, but understanding what’s behind it could save your health.

So, the question is, can you turn, arch, stretch, or extend your back and have it “crack”?

That “cracking” or popping is technically called cavitation, and occurs when joints are moved slightly beyond their normal range, creating a partial vacuum inside the joint. Collapsing gas bubbles in the joint vacuum create the “cracking” sound.

A large percentage of young people can “crack” their own backs. As people age, they tend to become stiffer, and they usually lose the ability to “crack” their backs. Given that young people are statistically healthier than older people, it could make one wonder if “crackability” is a sign of health, or associated with health. Turns out, it is.

Becoming stiff is not solely a result of aging. While there are many factors that influence flexibility, I have focused on four factors in my chiropractic practice to clearly and quickly demonstrate to patients that how they live, profoundly affects the mobility of their bodies. The four factors are: allergy to dairy products, magnesium, stretching, and spinal adjusting (also called manipulation).

One of the most common allergic effects of dairy products is the tightening of muscles and general stiffening of the body. By removing all dairy from the diet for 1-2 weeks, most people find that their muscles are more relaxed and their joints more supple.

Most Americans are deficient in the mineral, magnesium. One of many effects of magnesium in the human body is to allow muscles to fully relax. Supplemental magnesium (I use magnesium glycinate) usually results in muscular relaxation and greater joint mobility.

We all know that if we don’t use it, we lose it. But when it comes to using and keeping our flexibility through daily stretching, it’s just not happening in our culture. However, after thirty minutes a day of stretching for a few days most people find themselves more limber.

Spinal adjustments mobilize joints and clear neurologic patterns that maintain excessive muscle tightness and joint stiffness. Results are often instantaneous.

Each one of these four factors can independently increase flexibility and suppleness. In combinations or as a complete set they are even more powerful.

Since I began practice in 1983, many of my new patients between the ages of 30 and 70 have reported to me that in years gone by they could “crack” their backs, but they had gradually lost the ability to do so. A large number of these same patients, upon applying any one, or a combination of the four factors, regained the ability to “crack” their backs. This restored “crackability” is always accompanied by healthier and more relaxed muscle tone, and greater joint mobility.

Can you “crack” your back?

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