In chiropractic we are taught that the subluxation (a joint stuck slightly out of place or just plain stuck) can cause interference to the vital communication that takes place via the nervous system. My patients have heard that one before. And as chiropractors we pride ourselves on being able to remove that subluxation and thereby removing the interference. But rarely do chiropractors try to address the cause of those subluxations. We know about the causes, yet do not talk about them because we either do not have enough time or the patient (i.e. you, me, everybody) does not want to deal with it and is satisfied with just getting adjusted. To solve those issues I am laying out the sources of these subluxations and will give you a few tips on how to avoid or mitigate each one.
First, what are the causes of subluxations? They are the three Ts: Traumas, Toxins, and Thoughts. Most of you I imagine are familiar with the first one, because after all, subluxations are physical and traumas are physical so, duh. But I bet you never thought that toxins or our thoughts can lead to subluxations. Let's look at them one at a time...
When we hear the word trauma we think car accident, or breaking a bone, or cutting oneself on a thorn. Those are all traumas, yes. And they all can lead to subluxations. There is another form of trauma that also leads to subluxations that is much more difficult to trace or to connect the dots to; that form is microtrauma. This is something that builds up over weeks, months, years, and decades. A perfect example of this is the person (it could be you) who limps in, hunched over, in pain after simply bending over to put on a sock, or pick up a pencil. I've seen it way too many times. Do you think that you got injured only because you put on a sock or picked up a pencil? Or does it make more sense that this final action broke the last thread? It took a long time for the tissue to break down enough to give up. This is an extreme case where more than subluxations were involved, but it points to the power of microtrauma. We don't know it's happening because we are unaware that we have been moving wrong, or in a way unnatural to humans. It's not your fault. We are intelligent creatures and we come up with ways to make life easier for us. In the process, we stop moving the way we evolved to move. This didn't start with you and me. It started hundreds of years ago. It was from wearing unnaturally shaped shoes, building machines that need to be operated while being in only one position, from sitting in chairs and not on the ground or squatting, from toilets. These all lead to restrictions in human movement, and an overuse of small muscle groups. Over time, these create subluxations, and the subluxations contribute to tissue damage, and vice versa. In order to fix this problem, we need to correct the subluxations and the movements.
These are the first of the unseen culprits of subluxations. Toxins in the body lead to tissue damage, which leads to faulty movement, and to subluxation. But what toxins are we talking about? The big culprits we all know about; pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals such as lead and mercury. And there are so many that are hidden from us. There are toxins in the air, toxins in our clothes, in our furniture, in our water, fumes from gasoline and air fresheners, and there are even toxins created in our bodies from viruses. Toxins put a strain on our immune system. It tries to remove the toxins and keep us healthy, and in the process can become overloaded because of the onslaught of toxins we are unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) exposed to. There is a saying, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” In order to reduce subluxations from toxins, the first step is to fix what you can control...eat cleaner and more consciously, and eliminate toxins in your house that you can. And get fresh air in nature whenever you can. Getting adjusted and removing the subluxations is another powerful way to help the body detox. So again, it works both ways. Reducing toxic exposure reduces subluxations, and reducing subluxations reduces the effects of the toxins.
Our final T. Have you ever noticed tight shoulders and traps after a stressful day? Or maybe your heart rate increased while thinking about the big sales pitch you have tomorrow. Even better, how about a sense of calm because you were daydreaming about your upcoming vacation? Our thoughts have a profound effect on our physical body. Every thought, every emotion, is manifested in the body. Normally this is not a problem. In fact, thoughts and emotions are natural, healthy, and a part of being human. They are beautiful. However, when we do not process these thoughts and emotions they get stored in the body; either in muscle tissue as tension, or in our organs. As these thoughts and emotions build up in the memory banks, eventually something has to give when there is no more room. Thoughts also create patterns, like the raised, tight shoulders mentioned earlier. If we get stressed often and raising our shoulders is the product, then over time that pattern ingrains itself and becomes the microtrauma from earlier. Stressful thoughts can also increase the release of adrenaline, which, if not properly utilized and eliminated, can cause restrictions in tissues and lead to subluxations. Stored emotions is one of the reasons many people have emotional outbursts after being adjusted. I've had people laugh, cry, scream immediately after an adjustment. It's a release of the emotional tension and emotional memory. So how do we reduce the subluxation occurrence from thoughts? The first thing to recognize is that the thoughts we have are not ours and they do not mean anything about the type of person we are. Good people can have mean thoughts, and mean people can have pleasant thoughts. Thoughts and emotions are like sights and sounds; we cannot control what we see and hear (unless we close our eyes or plug our ears, which we can learn to do with the mind through meditation), and we cannot control what we think. Thoughts come into our heads, and it is thoughts that cause suffering. Once we make that connection we can easily process the thoughts without stress or without causing a negative emotion. So the same pattern emerges; reduce the negative emotions brought about by the meaning we give our thoughts and we reduce the subluxations, and by removing the subluxations we can better handle the negative emotions that come our way.
There you have it. The three Ts: Trauma, Toxins, and Thoughts. Control what you can, let go of what you can't control, and start moving intelligently, eating thoughtfully, and pay heed only to the thoughts that serve you.