The Spine. Your Axis.

Humans tend to put a lot on store by their brains. And their muscles. But what’s in between them is equally important.
The spine and it’s contents.
Everything revolves around the spine. Literally and figuratively. It is the communications superhighway of the body and the mind. There are also several centers where information processing, compilation and decision making are done. Both within the spinal cord (nervous tissue inside the spine) and various plexuses outside the bony spine.

The optimisation of this information processing is crucial for peak performance. Physical, mental, emotional.

The information is sent through (both ways). It is modified and relayed upstairs and downstairs. Networks within and between organs and organ systems also use the spinal cord and the nerve plexuses around the spine as relay modes, amplifiers, dampers and processors which add their own bits to the Symphony that is a well functioning nervous system

It isn’t just a superhighway. It is a whole system of pathways that contain long range, medium range and short range routes. There are feedback loops, positive and negative

The more information is available, the better decisions the body can make about maintaining an optimal internal environment.
The better control the network has on the flow of information, the easier it is going to be, to reject information that is irrelevant.
The more aware the network is, about the information flow, the better it can take decisions about what is relevant and what isn’t.

I’m going on and on about how complex this system is, because I’m in awe. So bear with me please.

The flow of information depends on the movement and flow of the spine and the tissues around it. The very same complexity that lets the nervous system and the bony spine do things that would be impossible for an artificial system, also makes it vulnerable to disruption.

Relative movement between the spinal cord, the nerves, nerve roots, nerve plexuses and the structural tissues of the bony spine, the intervertebral discs, the soft tissues adjacent to the spine will all affect the information processing.

This movement occurs all the time. Your body moves even when you appear to be still. Breath causes it to move. The cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal canal flows. Lymphatic circulation and blood circulation keeps things moving even during breath holds. There is constant motion. And considering how small the forces are, which create these movements, it is easy for these flows to be interrupted, diverted or slowed down.

Lots of factors that dominate modern life are exceptionally good at disrupting the function of this network.
1. Constant sitting in chairs
2. Poor use of the diaphragm
3. Lack of variability in movement patterns
4. Deficiency of range of movement in key parts of the musculoskeletal system
5. Poor core strength and control
6. Excessive shoe use
7. Poor posture
8. Chronic maladaptive stress
9. Poor hydration status
10. Poor nutrition

Vulnerability of this network would mean rapid decline and death, if it wasn’t under constant maintenance.

Can you recall the last time you did any maintenance work on your spine? Most of you haven’t. You’ve taken this maintenance work for granted, and it will occur even if you do so. You’re doing it all the time, this maintenance work. And it will work well toll the point that it decides it’s had enough. The decline will be slow, and imperceptible. One fine day, you wake up and you’re sick. It didn’t happen overnight. It happened with decades of uncaring abuse.

Automatic maintenance happens by moving, by breathing, by lying down at night. By eating well and drinking sufficient water. It’s been happening even without you bothering about it. That’s why you take it for granted.

Proficiency at this automatic maintenance, can be enhanced by mindful practice of movement, breathing and lifestyle in general. You can boost it’s capabilities with a little time and commitment

This lengthy preamble is to build up the stage to talk about purposeful maintenance of a healthy spine. That will be in the next post.

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