Chiropractic Q&A, Part 1
I recently sat down with our chiropractor, Dr. Tyler Molstre, and got his take on a few of my health questions. Check out his answers below!
What is your chiropractic philosophy?
My philosophy is that the body was created to heal itself from the inside out. We all shave. We have all cut ourselves shaving. Why is it we didn’t bleed to death when that happened? Because our body heals it. We didn’t have to think about healing it. We didn’t have to take Vitamin K (clotting factor). We didn’t have to apply ointments or drugs…our body heals itself. That applies to cuts as well as illness and disease.
In order to understand this, we must look at how the body works. Every cell in your body takes information from the brain and nervous system. Your heart can’t beat, your stomach can’t break down food, your liver can’t detoxify the blood and your legs can’t walk if your brain doesn’t instruct them on how to do it. Most people believe that health comes from exercise and eating properly. While I agree that these can contribute to your overall well-being, they don’t create health. Of all the nations in the world, we have some of the highest rates of premature death and disease here in the United States. Out of 40 industrialized nations, we are currently ranked 37th...incredibly low. Ironically, however, we also have more fitness facilities, organic foods, vitamins/supplements, medications, medical doctors and medical technology. If these things created health, we’d be one of the healthiest nations in the world. We’ve missed the boat.
If we were to look, instead, to the nervous system, things could be different. We all know that 40-something man who worked out every day, ate perfectly, was incredibly fit, and somehow died of heart disease or cancer. These things don’t, rather, can’t give you better health if your nervous system isn’t functioning properly.
So, to sum it up, my philosophy is that the body heals itself when the nervous system is working properly. If it’s not, we are just spinning our wheels, attempting to find health and never arriving there. Chiropractors are the only doctors who help to improve the function of the nervous system.
Why is posture so important?
Posture is the window into your health. Most people think that posture has nothing to do with health. In 2004, there was a study performed by Kado, et al. (Kado, et al., Hyperkyphotic Posture Predicts Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Men and Women: A Prospective Study, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2004 52 (10) 1662) that pointed out that poor posture causes premature death. A hyperkyphotic posture is a “slumped” or “rounded shoulders” posture. This posture showed to be a significant predictor of mortality due to atherosclerosis (high blood pressure), restrictive pulmonary disease and other pulmonary disease and remained a significant predictor of increased all-cause mortality.
Allow me to put it in clear language. When you slouch, you force the bones of the spine (vertebrae) into an abnormal weight-bearing position. This abnormal position causes irritation and eventually damage to the nerves that come out of the spine at the levels of the neck and shoulders. Medical research has found that these nerves control your heart and lungs. When these nerves can no longer send information to the heart and lungs as to how to function properly, they stop functioning normally. This lack of normal function leads to the diseases mentioned earlier.
Look at children who are just learning how to sit. Every single one of them sit with erect posture. That is, until they look around at the members of their family or others around them who don’t sit erectly. They learn from them that “Oh...this is how it’s done," and the slouched posture begins. It’s not inherited, it’s learned. If we can “unlearn” good posture, certainly we can “re-learn” good posture!
What is the ideal position in which to sleep?
I get this question a lot! There really isn’t a “right” way to sleep, but there certainly is a wrong way! The wrong way is to sleep on your stomach. Imagine sitting through a six-hour seminar or a long meeting, and throughout the entire seminar or meeting, your head is turned all the way to one side. Your neck would hurt like crazy! But we don’t think about it when we sleep 6-8 hours each night!
If there is a “proper” way to sleep, it would be on your back or side. If you sleep on your back, it’s very important that your head isn’t propped up on a large pillow, or any pillow for that matter. I have found that a lot of my patients were sold or purchased the contoured pillows that are supposed to support your neck and head in an ergonomically safe way. The problem with this is that your head is supposed to be directly over the shoulders, whether you are sitting, standing or sleeping. That means that your head should be resting on the mattress. Even a pillow that is thin will push your head forward into a “head forward” posture. I always recommend using a travel pillow to my patients who sleep on their back. Yes, those horseshoe-shaped pillows that you can purchase at every airport in the world! They work very well!
If you sleep on your side, the important thing to note is the position of your knees. They should be on top of each other. Some people choose to put a pillow between their knees to support their hips. This is a good practice, but not absolutely necessary unless you have wide hips.
Again, you should look at the neck pillow you use. If the pillow is too large and “cocks” your head up, it’s causing damage. If it’s too small, and your head is “tilting” downward, it’s causing damage. Your head should be perpendicular to your shoulders at all times.
Thanks, Tyler! Looks like I'm gonna need a new pillow!
P.S. Mention Words of Williams at True Life Wellness in November and receive your first visit for $25 ($250 value).