There are many benefits to seeing a chiropractor even if you are not feeling any pain. Chiropractors can adjust the spine to improve the nerve system. When the nerve system is optimized it can more effectively run and regulate the entire body and all its functions.
How can chiropractic care help improve overall body function for the whole family?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That’s a great question. When we talk about body function, I love that selection of words that you use there because that’s what chiropractic is. It’s about improving function. People think it’s just about alignment or if they have a misaligned vertebrae or what we call a subluxation where the vertebrae is out of place and it’s pinching or irritating the nerve that all it does is cause pain. But we know a lot more about the nerve system and we know that it doesn’t just sense pain and move muscle, that’s about 10% of what your nerve system does. The other 90% of your nerve system runs and regulates your body. Our nerve system is just a communication center and messages flow from the brain down through the spinal cord, out through the delicate spinal nerves and connect up with the entire body, not just the muscles. They don’t just sense pain, but they control your heart, lungs, kidney, spleen, and intestines. It monitors all your systems and makes sure that they’re in balance.
So, it’s really important to understand that when you have pressure or irritation on a nerve, it not only can cause pain or discomfort, but it can also affect how the body functions because your nerve system controls every function in your body innately. We don’t have to think about it. We don’t have to think about digesting our food, breaking down the proteins and getting those proteins into the liver so the liver can make liver enzymes so I can break down this fat and then use those fatty acids to make cholesterol, which I need in my body. All these different things are all neuro-regulated. So, by improving the function of the nerve system, you can improve the overall function of the body dramatically because when you have interference and you rob the body of its natural nerve energy, you have very limited function.
We always talk about the blatant example of a quad or a paraplegic, but when you have that much pressure on the nerve system, the quality of life goes down significantly. Their bodies can’t function on their own. They have to prop up quadriplegics using antivirals and antibiotics for the rest of their lives because they know when the nerve system isn’t communicating properly or there’s pressure or damage to it that the immune system isn’t going to work because the nerve system tells the immune system what to do.
So making sure the nerve system, that master system is optimized and running like a DSL or a T1 line is going to improve the overall body of function in the whole family, not just mom, not just dad, but also the kids because we all have a nerve system doing the same thing. We’re not pain doctors, we’re not just for back pain or neck pain. Again, if you use chiropractic for your back aches and neck aches, you’re only getting 10% of what we have to offer because 90% of the nerve system has nothing to do with sensing pain and moving muscle, it’s about neuro-regulation, restoration and making sure the body keeps regenerating and that’s all done by your nerve system and that amazing information that flows from the brain to the body.
In what ways can a chiropractor help improve posture?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That’s a really good question. Chiropractors, a lot of people will come to us and we work with scoliosis cases and we work on the people who lose the curves in their neck because we’re getting this thing called tech neck, where everyone is constantly on their phones and on their computers and their head is tipped forward and down. I look at my nieces and nephews who are growing up with cell phones. I’m quite a bit older. I didn’t have a cell phone probably till I was 30. But these kids have these phones and they’re in that head-down-forward posture and the curves in their neck are not developing. I’m taking x-rays of people in their twenties and they have a completely straight cervical curve, and those curves are there for stability.
So by working with a chiropractor, we can correct the alignment, improve some of the curves, and if there are scoliosis or lateral curvatures, we can break up the fixations that hold those in place, improve motion and flexibility. That’s really important because when we have these curves or scoliosis in the spine or altered postures, those are going to change the way the sensory motor input goes in and out of the spine and through the nerve system. So, it’s so important to work with proper posture and chiropractic will break up the fixations that are holding things in these abnormal positions and improve posture. It’s not a cure for scoliosis. I’m not going to reduce a 22-degree scoliosis and make it stick straight, but we can improve the function, we can improve the motor capabilities and we can improve nerve function by making sure that those curves are minimized, and all the segments in those curves are moving to the best of their ability.
Please explain how chiropractic care can improve range of motion and flexibility.
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That’s a good question. So we go back to the primary thing that chiropractors look at are those vertebral subluxations, and that’s when the vertebrae get misaligned, they get fixed or stuck in that position and then they’re pinching and irritating the nerves. When the irritated nerves send these extra impulses down the axon, a lot of times the muscles are going to tighten up. Well, if the muscles are tight, we’re going to lose range of motion, we’re going to lose flexibility. If the bones aren’t lined up properly and they’re fixed or stuck in abnormal positions, they can’t move through their complete range of motion either so if each segment loses only five or 10% of its motion and we have seven segments in the cervical spine, well, then we could be functioning at a 70% loss of motion.
By making the corrective adjustments, it allows the bones to move more completely through their range of motion, gets the irritation off the nerves, which will relax the muscles. All those things will contribute to greater range of motion and better flexibility. We all know that better flexibility and more pliable muscles actually result in injury prevention because the more flexible you are, the less tearing and stress goes into the spine when we have these little slips and falls and a more flexible spine and muscular system will actually make the body less vulnerable to injuries.
Why should someone see a chiropractor after being involved in an auto accident, even if they are not experiencing any pain?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, I guess the best thing I would say to that it is that you don’t know what you don’t know. And the only way that you can really tell if your spine is subluxated or misaligned is to see a chiropractor and get checked because there’s no light going to come on on your forehead that says, tilt, I’m out of alignment or I’m subluxated. So having a professional examine you and determine if there are misalignments or subluxations is important.
The thing that’s important to understand here, and I’ve alluded to this fact many times, that really only 10% of your nerve system is dedicated to sensing pain and moving muscle. So, you can have subluxation putting pressure on a nerve, but it might not be affecting the pain component. It could be affecting the nerve transmission and the body’s ability to run and regulate itself because information goes two ways through those nerves. It goes from the body and the organs up to the brain and then information goes from the brain to the body and organs to tell it what to do.
If we have misalignments putting pressure on the nerves and it’s not affecting the pain component, you might not have pain. You can have subluxations and misalignment without having pain and people wait till there’s enough pain or discomfort before they ever get checked. That’s like waiting for the engine to seize before you change the oil. You want to change the oil at regular intervals and you want to get checked at regular intervals. You never know because trauma is probably the number one reason that bone subluxate or misalign.
So, even if it seems like it was a minor accident and you have no pain or discomfort, you should still get checked. When you go to the dentist and he finds a little soft spot in your teeth, he’s not like, “Well, gee, that’s not hurting. Let’s just leave it alone.” They fill it and take care of it right then and there. Rather, it’s easier to take care of a small problem than to wait for it to become a big one.
That’s why you should get checked whether you have pain or not and whether you’re in an auto accident or not, because just sitting at your desk, stress, tension and poor postures, those can cause misalignments and subluxations as well.
How is chiropractic care beneficial for people who are under a lot of stress but don’t necessarily feel any pain?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Good question there. So, let’s talk about stress. Stress in the body comes from that fight or flight response. And we’ve all studied that in Psychology 101, if I’m walking on the streets of New York City and all of a sudden there’s a kid with a knife and he wants my cell phone and wallet, the first thing that happens is I feel this amazing tingling in my spine, my visual acuity, all the blood rushes to my extremities, I secrete some adrenaline, I’m all hopped up. So now I’m fully adrenalized. The other stress hormone is cortisol, and our bodies are cranking that out when we’re under stress. Adrenaline and cortisol do two things. One, it makes our bodies tight, and it amps up our visual acuity and our pain sensitivity.
Cortisol does two really interesting things. Number one, cortisol stops insulin from doing its job. So it keeps the sugar in the bloodstream because your body and your brain and your nerve system thinks you’re in fight or flight, that you’re in imminent danger and you’re going to have to run or fight or do something like that so it keeps all the muscles fired up, it keeps the sugar in the body because that’s what the brain and body runs on is sugar. So, it needs those things.
The other thing that cortisol does is it shuts off the immune system because the immune system is a very metabolically expensive system to run. It uses a lot of energy. If you’re in a fight or flight and you think you’re going to have to fight or run away, your body’s not going to waste any time or energy on trying to heal or fix anything in that moment. And that’s why people under long-term stress are sick all the time because they’re constantly putting out adrenaline and cortisol.
This whole idea that stress is just tight muscles is ridiculous because it’s so much more than that. It affects your body in very different ways. It affects the visceral organs, it affects every other system in the body because if you’re constantly pumping out those stress hormones, the body chemistry is different, and the neuro-regulation is different. So, it’s very beneficial for people who are under a lot of stress. I can’t make the stress go away, but I can certainly help them deal with those physical manifestations.
The other thing that’s great is when you’re under a lot of stress, if you can exercise and burn up all the cortisol and the adrenaline in the body, you’re going to get better results and you’re going to feel better. That’s why exercise and movement is so important as well. It’s one of the most important things that we have because stress, tension, poor posture, all those things are something that everyone experiences at their desk or working from home. It doesn’t matter. I find very few people are immune to stress and its negative effects on the body and the nerve system.
To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit www.ChiropractorMidtown.com or call (212) 977-7094 to schedule an appointment.