Spring is finally here, which means beach season is just around the corner. Many gyms will see an uptick in members as people recall that it took longer than two weeks to get in shape the previous year. It seems like a cruel joke that our body wouldn’t just change instantly. After all, there are plenty of commercials on television that would have us believe we can look like Brad Pitt after five workouts and the right combination of supplements, nutrition, and gopher milk (is that the miracle product this year?). Unfortunately, your body takes time to respond to a routine. Since this is the case, it is important for us to get as much out of every workout as is humanly possible. Structural shifts of your spine can unfortunately derail this.
Normal Range For Alignment
There is a normal range for the alignment of your spine just like there is a normal range for blood pressure, vision, and heart rate. When your spine is within this normal range, everything that connects with your spine works optimally. This includes your muscles, joints, nervous system (electrical wiring of your body), and more. The spine is literally the foundation of your body that provides support and mobility for everything you do. What happens if there is an abnormal deviation of your spine from normal?
As an example, let’s discuss how Anterior Head Syndrome affects your workout. Anterior Head Syndrome is the abnormal deviation of your head beyond what is considered normal (pictured above). When a shift of the inner framework of your spine occurs, it changes the resting muscle length and angle for all of the muscles that attach from your head to the upper back, shoulder girdle, scapula and more. Why is this a problem? For one, a force-length relationship occurs with muscles. This principle states that there is an ideal resting muscle length, and when it shortens it affects the contraction strength. Therefore, any muscles shortened secondary to Anterior Head Syndrome are now weaker.
Affect of Anterior Head Syndrome
In addition, as your head moves forward of normal alignment it changes the resting angle of the muscles. Any muscles that use the angle as a mechanical advantage to complete their task are now affected. For example, if a muscle’s job is to raise the shoulder girdle up and down it will now be altered by the forward head position. Instead of the muscle fibers running vertically, they are now angled forward. When you contract these muscles the force will be split in multiple directions which weakens it. Think about it like a pulley. If a pulley is positioned directly above a weighted item and where it needs to go, you just pull the rope and the weight ends up where it needs to be. If instead the pulley is angled forward, pulling the rope will move the weight both up and forward. Changing the angle alters the function of the muscle.
Anterior Head Syndrome also affects your breathing. Breathing is a good thing when you work out (in case you didn’t know) because it brings oxygen to your muscles so they can replenish ATP for your workout. When your head is angled forward, the muscles of respiration don’t lift your rib cage as much as they should. When this occurs, there is less room for oxygen exchange with your lungs. Your body will take in less oxygen than it ideally can. This in turn means muscles may not have the oxygen they need to produce ATP – which is energy for your muscles. Without energy, you will not get the complete workout you are looking for.
There are many more ways that Structural Shifts of your spine affect your workout. Either way, it should be evident that you may not get the optimal results needed in time for beach season. Chiropractors that focus on Structural Correction are a good starting point to address these issues. You can always try gopher milk though. I’m sure Brad Pitt drinks it.