Exercise and Spinal Health

There are various reasons why people get themselves involved in different forms of exercise. Some do it to get leaner and lose weight, reduce stress, socialize, get out in nature, and others do it to have fun. When doing any exercises, here are some considerations:

• Exercise is beneficial when done properly, consciously, and when all of the foundation muscles are utilized coherently. For example, imagine going to see an orchestra where the woodwind instruments decide not to play. The sound of the music wouldn’t be harmonic.

• The advice we are almost always given by some ‘expert’ in back pain is ‘exercise.’ The first question that you should ask yourself is: are you exercising in a stable or unstable environment? Would you drive your car if its alignment were off? You probably wouldn’t, because it would cause uneven tire wear and, ultimately, ball joint erosion.

• One should exercise to develop proper movement patterns to the point that every daily activity is a conscious movement pattern in which the body is actively engaged. For example, many years ago, I had the opportunity to watch the world’s top tennis player train at UCLA. When this particular character missed a shot, he would stop and visualize his mistake at least a dozen times in his head before proceeding back to his game. The people watching stated that this behavior was dramatic and excessive. But was it? Perhaps your exercise can be performed the same way. Strengthening your body with proper mechanics consciously over a long period of time may lead, ultimately, to the development of subconscious movement patterns in which the body is actively and consciously engaged.

• Exercise should ultimately require no volition on your part. Repetitive conscious movement patterns should ultimately lead to subconscious proper harmonic activities in everything that you do from walking the dog to sitting at a lecture.

• Exercise alone cannot undue bad posture. Even if people meet the current recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days each week, there may be significant adverse metabolic and health effects from prolonged sitting or complacent poor postures which dominate most people’s remaining ‘non-exercise’ waking hours.

-Lawrence Woods