Use it Or Lose it

William M. Thomas, D.C.
Dr. T

Recently, I was cleaning out an area of my backyard that I don't go to very often. Some very aggressive morning glories essentially overtook the side of my house. I started to move the through the flowers only to realize that the morning glories have vines that intertwined themselves throughout various things that I had stored on the side of my house. What appeared to be a simple job was not as simple as it looked. I had to cut, move and pull out complex structures of vines that were very strong and relatively immobilized the side of my house making it essentially unusable.

Why would I tell you this story? It's very similar to what happens in your body. I follow the, "use it or lose it philosophy". If we had been on the side of the house, and actually used it, those vines would not have been able to make the area as unusable as it was.

Our bodies tend to maintain and fine tune what is used and neglect what isn't used. Neglect tends to cause our bodies stiffen up, maximize what is being used, and minimize what isn't. If you understand the, "use it or lose it philosophy", if you don't utilize what you have, it will slowly weaken and become unusable or become stiff and tight. This is usually what happens with age, but also with disuse. This is why I have some 90 year old patients who still exercise and get chiropractic care because they understand that principle. Their friends and even brothers and sisters who are younger than them, do not have as much mobility because they decided some time ago to not use it, and they lost it.

Full range of motion allows a body to optimize its ability to utilize all of its muscles and distribute the physical stress that is placed upon it. This is where chiropractic and physical therapy also have a significant difference. Chiropractic focuses on function and physical therapy usually focuses on weakness, which may be a component of function, but only partially.

Exercise is utilizing what range of motion and function you have, and by doing so, telling your brain and body that those muscles that are being utilized will likely be needed again. If those muscles and structures don't get that signal to your body and brain, the body tends to "let it go".

Just like an area that is unused, where weeds, morning glories, spider webs, etc. tend to form, our bodies do something very similar to areas that don't get attention. Adhesions, fibrotic tissue, muscle weaknesses, muscle imbalances and other cumulative forces may slowly and insidiously end up with a gradual onset problem. Those types of problems may show up slowly and are sometimes ignored until they become worse, or sometimes they accumulate until a structure fails, usually with an injury, sometimes significant, sometimes imperceptibly, causing degeneration.

Chiropractic care helps us use everything more optimally, which allows our bodies to maintain themselves better. Exercise tends to reinforce those signals, which is why chiropractic as well as exercise is recommended to be healthy. Both combined help us to "use it or lose it" as optimally as possible.

I have more detailed information about injuries and how to prevent them on my website. I also have another e-mail newsletter you can subscribe to on my site for free as well.

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