"Between Effort and Surrender is where Strength Resides"
• Injury or degeneration, the role of nutrition
Some of the most common conditions causing back pain are:
Subluxation, where the vertebra is out of place or fixated, stuck in a position (possibly out of place).
Muscular spasms, trigger points, fascial adhesions and a whole assortment of spinal muscle conditions that contribute to back pain. It is helpful to recognize that many of these muscles are on the anterior of the spine or in the pelvic region as well.
Other more acute conditions include:
Spondylosis, narrowing of the space between two or more vertebrae with the formation of boney protrusions (calcium deposits, spurs)
Spondylolisthesis, the slipping forward of a vertebrae with potential nerve pinching and radiating pain.
Ankylosing spondylitis, an auto immune disease with degeneration and inflammation of the spinal vertebra or sacroiliac joint causing pain and eventual fusion.
Lumbar facet syndrome, facet joint capsulitis or synovitis which is characterized by continuous extension of the lumbar spine, hardening of the facet joint capsule and chronic low back pain. Generally a deep aching pain, not usually moving past the knee, with relief from heat due to increased circulation and oxygenation.
Disc disorders, characterized by continuous flexion of the lumbar spine and chronic low-back pain. - generally with radiating pain, usually moving past the knee with relief from cold/ice due to the reduction of swelling and inflammation.
And in other parts of the skeleton:
Primary and secondary adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder (frozen shoulder and variations);
Carpal tunnel syndrome of the wrist;
The list goes on, pick a bone or joint. How many things go wrong with the knee for instance?
Granted if you take a fall or are in an auto accident one or more of the above can occur, but if these conditions happen over a long period of time, is it old age? If you wake up with a new pain, did you just sleep wrong? What is the true cause or at least the contributing factors to these conditions? Why do some people get overuse or repetitive stress injuries and not others? Take for instance the three ‘spondees’ mentioned above, could the narrowing of the disk be related to poor nutrition? Could the spurs be a reaction to acidic irritation? Could the instability be a breaking down of connective tissue due to the lack of raw materials and could the autoimmune problem be the bodies’ defenses reacting to toxins or bacteria from a toxic or acidic environment? For structure to be healthy the soft tissues must be able to adhere to each other. With vitamin C deficiency alone, tissues will start breaking down. The first sign of scurvy is bleeding gums. If that condition is coupled with mineral and/or vitamin D deficiency, the bones will break down. The now weakened tissues, whether it is gums to teeth or tendons to bones cannot adhere to each other and will certainly break down with physical strain.
There was an article in a runners magazine that said they finally realized that heal spurs were related to poor dietary habits. I met a man over 80 years old at a raw food, juice fasting facility that still carried his golf bag for 18 holes and walked an average of 8 miles a day. He told me that every time he experienced a new symptom, whether it be arthritic pain, indigestion, whatever it was, he knew to start a cleanse. At eighty he was a living example of responsibility to ones’ own health. He was very different from the typical brainwashed victim of pharmaceutical propaganda, who upon experiencing these same type symptoms, thinks he must be deficient in pain killers or some other drug. I was so amazed when I saw a drug for restless leg syndrome. If you are an endurance athlete and have hit what seems to be an insurmountable plateau, consider alkalizing your body and healing your blood cells with food medicine. This could easily increase the red blood cells ability to transport oxygen to muscles that will support greater endurance.
Athletes, yogis, laborers and people in general are all prone to some kind of pain. Some discontinue the activity they suspect is causing the problem. If you are a serious athlete or depend on the income from your job, that is not the option of choice. Even if you are a sedentary person, thinking that inactivity is the source of your physical demise, consider the yogis who have no asana practice except to sit in meditation with the only exercise being breathing (pranayama), that lived long healthy lives.
For most of modern history the medical establishment has maintained the theory that lymphatic circulation was stimulated by muscle contraction. The idea was that muscle contraction, especially in the legs, propelled lymph fluids along vessels lined with one way valves. These one way valves would not allow the fluid to back track, like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. More recent studies show that the breath is the true propellant of lymph fluid, something that yogis always knew. In addition, yogis practiced many different types of internal cleansing. They also knew, as do many medical researchers, that keeping the internal environment clean is an important key to optimal health. There is more to this and it has to do with nutrition. The internal environment, i.e. blood, lymph, intra and extra cellular fluids must be nourished and maintain a balanced pH. It is good to exercise daily but not of absolute necessity providing one consistently breathes deep and eats healthily. Remember, there are subtle but profound nutrients in air and sunlight often referred to as prana and chi.
Weston Price, a dentist in the early 1900s found ten areas in the world where people lived that hadn’t been tainted by industrial foods, medicines and unhealthy creature comforts. These non-brushing, non-flossing people did not have the level of tooth decay that the industrialized nations had. It seems that their soft tissue, teeth and gums were stronger not just because of what they ate but because of what they didn’t eat. I read a study done with rats in three categories. Group #1 ate commercial boxed cereal, group #2 ate the cereal with water and group #3 ate the cereal box and water. Group 3 lived the longest. Boxed cereals in health food stores are possibly even worse. The exception would be whole grain (not extruded grains or flours) and sprouted grain cereals.
If we want our skeletal components and the rest of our body to last a long time, to be relatively pain free and to get stronger with use, we need to consider the nutritive or destructive value of our food and nutrition. We need to consider the physiological prospects of a highly acidic body as compared to a highly alkalized body. We need to know if our digestive tract is breaking down food, assimilating our nutrients, and eliminating our waste efficiently.
When considering dietary and lifestyle change, cost comes to mind. What is affordable? A lot of folks think that affordable means,’ my insurance covers it.’ This may be for some what they think is the only alternative but for the very responsible person looking at the big picture, insurance doesn’t cover the really smart methods of healing and yes, organic does cost more. Try to buy only fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes and see what a bag of groceries cost you. Compare that with the cost of packaged foods, meats, beer, wine, chips, pretzels, and sodas. You will be very surprised at how cheap it is to eat what grows. If you have seen the Future of Food, an incredible movie/documentary, you have definitely been reminded that your dollar is the biggest vote you have to give in co-creating a healthy long life for you and the children that will inherit this planet. Don’t you want to vote for what works, don’t you want to be the hundredth monkey, the deciding factor in creating a sustainable body and earth?
So I don’t leave you with just questions, here are some suggestions:
Essential fatty acids: omega 3s are helpful in the production of the body’s anti-inflammatory chemicals, the fluid in our joint capsules, hormones like insulin, testosterone and adrenaline. They are necessary for healthy nerve fibers and brain tissue and are partly responsible for the resiliency of our intra-vertebral discs and strong bone and cartilage. We do need a balance of omega 6s and 9s which are easy to keep in balance with a diet that includes nuts and seeds.
We can get the omega 3s from flax, hemp, algae, eggs from grass fed chickens and fish and other necessary fats from nuts, seeds and coconut. If you are a vegan and are deficient in end use omega 3’s, it is possible that your system has trouble converting these EFAs to their usable form, DHA and EPA. In this case I invite you to suspend your belief system for a short while and try sardines (packed in water or olive oil), krill oil or cod liver oil and make sure it is molecularly distilled, not processed with heat, and has a high vitamin content. See if you notice the difference. Check out my personal favorites.
Minerals are extremely important as a component of your soft tissue but are equally important as enzyme activators. Zinc is responsible for the activation of over 100 different enzymes that are known. You could be getting enough calcium and magnesium but if you are deficient in boron or manganese, musculo- skeletal problems could arise. I will have to make my recommendation about brands later as all nutritional supplements are not the same and do not have the same bio-availability (assimilation into your body).
Protein is important, more for some than others depending on their metabolic type. Some people do well on dairy (if you want to argue the point talk to Krishna, I am not available), raw is the only dairy that is edible; in fact commercial dairy products are poison. If you are going to eat pasteurized milk products, make sure they are organic and cultured like a kefir or a yogurt. High quality whey powder from grass fed cows, rich in lactoferrin, immunoglobulins and glutathione precursors works for me. Make sure your whey protein is not the byproduct of the cheese industry. Another great source of protein is hemp. There are other good products I will write about them elsewhere.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a must and organic is my choice, which when eaten as green smoothies ensure the greatest amount of nutrition available, by far. Juicing would be the next best option. These two options are especially important when the digestion is compromised from poor health.
I am not against cooked food, but a lot of nutrition and all the enzymes are generally lost in cooking. I like soups, medicine soups with lots of herbs and spices, maybe a bit of miso added to each individual bowl. The raw food movement is great and teaching people a lot, but not always practical. Hard to get all the raw foods in the winter without making a huge carbon foot print but definitely possible. It’s good to consider Mother Earth, not just our bodies. The Essenes knew to hold their hands palms down (there is a powerful sub-chakra in the middle of our palms) over their food and pray something like,’ Holy Mother Father bless this food with strength and health building properties that in turn we can utilize to heal our bodies and others as well as the earth you have given to sustain us.’. This can be especially beneficial when eating at a restaurant. Often time the energy of the food handlers is not so great and the food itself is low quality, couple that with the use of microwave ovens and you could be eating the inedible. This might be a stretch for some but much of that negative energy can be transmuted with this technique/prayer. Check out t Dr. Emoto’s work with water, accepting vibrational changes or experiments Christian organizations have done with the effect of prayer.
There are very accomplished osteopaths, physical therapists, spinal surgeons and chiropractors and then there are those who have sold out to the ineffective western medical model, so often misdiagnosing and inappropriately treating, utilizing insurance codes rather than sincerity and a growing body of knowledge. Not unlike the difference between inspired medical doctors/researchers combining alternative methods with cutting edge medical procedures and the drug pushing MDs doling out cesarean births, inspired only by their golfing appointments. Be selective about the person or team you enlist to help with any of your health concern. Know that you are ultimately responsible for the outcome.
To be continued…