Alignment And The Human Body
How do alignment and the human body relate to each other?
I often hear chiropractors saying that my ‘alignment’ is really important with respect to the state of my health and well-being. But, what does it mean to have good ‘alignment’? And, how important could it be, really?
Think about alignment as it refers to a physical system (like an engine – a machine with moving parts). Wherever two moving parts in the machine come together to form a joint, alignment is critical for three important reasons: functionality, longevity and energy conservation.
Alignment is part of the body’s innate design! Depending upon its intended purpose, a joint is designed to move in a number of different direc-tions (i.e. a hinge joint, or a ball-and-socket joint). Alignment helps to insure the proper balance of stability and mobility. When the alignment of the two connecting parts is ideal, the joint will function as it was originally intended.
When the connecting parts are out of alignment, natural movements are restricted. Different parts of the joint make contact with each other, creating friction and resistance. Not only can this affect functionality, but it also leads to abnormal wear and tear, which is the subject of our next main point – longevity.
If a joint is not aligned properly, the friction caused by misalignment results in abnormal wear and tear – causing the lifespan of the joint to shorten. Think of the body: the knee joint functions as a simple hinge, with movement in two directions – flexion and extension. If there is misalignment coming from above or below the knee, this can lead to excessive friction and heat in the knee itself (inflammation), which can lead to early degeneration (osteoarthritis). Ouch!
With proper alignment, a joint functions with the greatest ease. Less friction between the moving parts means less energy is needed to move those parts. In a car, this equates to better gas mileage. In the body, better alignment means less energy is required for simple movements, leaving more energy for other vital functions, like digestion, circulation, fighting flues and viruses, etc.!
Alignment is so vital to the health and wellness of the entire body, that an entire profession has been created to safeguard this essential characteristic!
Chiropractors have been detecting and correcting misalignment in the human frame for over a hundred years – your chiropractor is an alignment specialist!
We have mentioned how important alignment is for every joint in the body; however, the chiropractor’s main focus is on the alignment of your SPINE. Why is that you might ask?
Because the spine (comprising 24 vertebrae plus the sacrum and coccyx) creates a hollow tube in which the spinal cord - a sensitive collection of nerve tissue - can be found. The peripheral nerves originate from the spinal cord, and then branch out to all other areas of the body. The spinal cord plus all peripheral nerves function collectively as the communication network that allows the brain to monitor and regulate the entire body – via electronic signals. If the spine is not aligned properly, this can disrupt this important messaging network of nerves and nerve impulses, leading to dysregulation and disease in any area of the body!
Focal areas of misalignment, dysfunction and/or irritation in the spine are called vertebral subluxations. The detection and correction of vertebral subluxations is the chiropractor’s main purpose. Using the chiropractic adjustment – a highly specific, skilled procedure – your chiropractor reduces the vertebral subluxations found in your spine to restore a more natural, normal alignment.
But how do we know spinal alignment is important?
As early as 1921, medical scientists were revealing the importance of the spine. In a landmark study conducted by Dr. Henry Winsor, he showed that ‘minor curvatures of the spine’ (subluxations) were directly associated with organ disease in 50 human cadavers. Out of 139 diseased organs found in the dissections, 128 of these cases directly correlated to abnormal minor curvatures of the spine in the exact location of the sympathetic nerve supply to that organ! And, for the 9 other diseased organs, minor curvatures of the spine affected the adjacent segments, in areas where nerve filaments could still exit the spine to supply those organs. Dr. Winsor concluded that there was nearly a 100% correlation between minor curvatures of the spine (vertebral subluxations) and diseased organ tissue!
Need more proof than that?