F & F: The Spine
This month I am taking on the most complex structure there is next to the brain in our bodies.
This structure supports the central “highway” of communication from brain to body, it consists of 33 small bones and is the single most important set of bones and joints for us to do anything from moving around in bed, to sitting, to standing, to walking/jogging/running, to jumping to be doing any kind of movement that we can imagine. Break one of these bones and you might never walk or use your arms again (depending on where you break it).
As you might have guessed from the title this month in F&F I am taking on the spine. This is, like I said one of the most complex and important structures that we have in our bodies. Next year I will go into further detail about it but for now I just want to clear the air about some misconceptions that we have in the fitness industry about it.
Let’s start with some facts about this wonderful structure.
The spine has approximately 120 muscles and 220 ligaments that attach to it. This is hugely important in the sense that all motor function is propelled (wrong word I know) from the spine. Your brain requires a movement to be completed and sends the signal through the spinal cord to the nerve endings in the muscle and contracting the muscle accordingly to generate that movement/task. Which leads us to:
The spine and the spinal cord are two separate entities. I know there are some people out there that think that they are the same thing. Let me explain. The spine itself is a set of 33 bones stacked on top of each other making a pillar, the spinal cord is a bunch of nerves that starts in the brain that is covered in a membrane. The spinal cord is “threaded” in the middle of the spine and (depending on the location of the nerve function) through the vertebrae transverse process that leads to the muscle.
The spine has over 100 different joints which allows us extreme ranges of motion and gives us the ability to move in those ranges of motion. The best part is we can teach our bodies to also create power through these ranges. Just like Micheal Phelps can. By the way, he is not double jointed, he does not two sets of joints everywhere in his body, he can get into a greater range of motion and generate power through that range. So yes this can be trained on a regular person.
OK so now let’s look at three fictional facts that has been blown out of proportion.
Fictional Fact #1: Let’s start off with debunking Fact #3 and the statement that Mr. Phelps is “double jointed”. Yeah. Well. No. He is not. He does not have two sets of spines, that he can utilize and get greater ranges of motions. He just has one just like everyone else. The difference is that Micheal Phelps can attain greater ranges of motion and generate power through those ranges. Be faster through the water than almost everybody. So, this can be trained with anybody.
Fictional Fact #2: You can “stretch” the spine by hanging upside down using gravity boots. Please do not try this! This is extremely dangerous, and you may die! If you use gravity boots understand that we are not meant to be upside down for too long our veins are (by design) constructed to push blood back to the heart by one-way valves that go against gravity, our arteries are designed to push blood from the heart to our muscles and organs while we are standing on our own two feet not our hands. The definition of a stretch is to pull two points away from each other, if you do this to your spine you may never walk again, and that would be a good day.
Fictional Fact #3: Low back pain is because of something is not right with the lumbar spine (low back) so we need to do surgery to fix it. Not necessarily. Yes, if there is a major degenerative issue that has to come down to surgery then yes go see a surgeon, however, most low back problems are because of other factors, such as hip misalignment, shoulder griddle misalignment, lower leg (knee to ankle) splicing. These factors will pull muscles in different directions causing some muscles to work harder than others and discomfort will end up in the spine which, as stated above, is the main structure that keeps us upright.
With all this no as clear as mud we (Vio Fitness) look at you structurally, and see what is going on at a structural level and when we do this it gives us an idea of where to focus our attention when we do this it gives us the ability to correct any muscular imbalances that may exist and through a meticulous range or motion and integrity stress test we correct the spine “problem”. This way when we get you on the gym floor your spine can support the stressors we ask it to and you get an awesome workout with no pain in return.