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  • Dr. Jenna Arts

The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Have you ever experienced extreme back pain after something really simple (putting on your shoes, picking up a dropped pen or standing up out of a chair)?

You were feeling just fine without any signs or symptoms that this was coming, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, your back “gives out” on you.

It’s a scenario I’ve heard many times before in the office. You are definitely not alone!

Consider this a classic clinical example of the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Camels in the desert

So, what caused this problem?

The simple answer is stress. Stress comes in many forms (physical, emotional, chemical) and is present in everyone’s life. When more stressors are there, especially after they’ve been building for a long time, something relatively small (like putting on your shoes) can trigger a cascade of negative effects.

Examples of stressors include things like:

  • Not getting enough sleep or incorrect sleep posture

  • Over-consuming caffeine

  • Poor posture at work (incorrect workstation, desk job, repetitive job requirements, long commute)

  • Overuse of phones, tablets or computers

  • Incorrect movement patterns (awkward movements like holding babies/kids, incorrect lifting or bending)

  • Long term use of poor footwear (high heels, flip flops or even shoes with a tight toe box and positive heel)

  • Relying on sugar or processed and inflammatory foods instead of nutrient dense ones

  • Chronic emotional stressors (bad relationships, worrying about money, stressful job, caring for an ill child or parent)

Most of us experience at least one of these stressors every single day. And the thing is, these stressors accumulate to the point where something as simple as standing up out of a chair can be that straw that breaks the camel’s back…sending you into an acute and painful spiral.

So what can you do to prevent this from happening?

Ensure that your spine is being checked and adjusted on a regular basis.

You see, when your spine isn’t moving properly 3 things happen in the body:

  1. Systemic inflammation increases

  2. Stress hormones are releases

  3. Your body resorts to a forward-flexed, hunched, “stressed out” posture (most of the time it’s gradually built up over time that you don’t even notice it’s there)

*These 3 things happen regardless as to whether pain is present or not.

Remember, your spine is the protective armor for your spinal cord, which is the communication “highway” between your brain and the rest of your body. So if your spine isn’t moving properly, it is interfering with the communication signals between your brain and your body.

So a dysfunctional spine affects how your brain controls the spine itself, but also how it controls the rest of your body too.

This is why patients often notice improvements after starting chiropractic care like less pain and better range of motion in a far removed body part from the spine (ankle, shoulder, hip, big toe.) That’s because by correcting your spine, your brain is better able to control the rest of your body parts too, allowing for more and better movement that is less harmful to all of the joints in your body.

So it was never the act of picking up a pen that caused this flare up. You likely had multiple daily stressors present in combination with a spine that wasn't communicating at 100% with your brain...and all it took was a slight deviation from perfect posture to cause this mess.

The good news is that the best way to prevent it from happening again is to minimize the amount of chronic daily stressors and (the easier part) ensure you're getting checked and adjusted regularly.

I hope you found this helpful. Make it a great week,

Dr. Jenna

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