Disclaimer: The following post is based purely on opinions deduced through experience. This blog post should not be taken as medical advisement, and all decisions for your healthcare needs should be discussed with your Chiropractor or Health Care Provider.
The study “Hyperkyphotic Posture and Poor Functional Ability in Older Community-Dwelling Men and Women: The Rancho Bernardo Study” published in Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences discusses how the loss of independence within the geriatric community is largely in part (no surprise) due to part of the populations inability to function properly on a physical level.
By assessing over 1570 older men and women who were previously diagnosed with a hyperkyphotic thoracic spine, all experiencing self-reported difficulty in bending, walking, and climbing, the study found that through a series of exams,
“Older persons with hyperkyphotic posture are more likely to have physical functional difficulties”.
The first question is, what is a ‘Hyperkyphotic’ spine?
From a side view, there are 3 normal and natural curves in the spine. The neck and the lower back curve in a shape of a backwards ‘C’. These are called Lordotic curves. The Thoracic spine, which is located in what many people know as the “chest cavity” that is home to the heart and lungs, curves in a forward “C” formation. This is what is known as a Kyphotic [kahy-foh-tik] curve. This consistent ‘S’ curvature of the spine is crucial in battling the gravitational forces we face every day as we walk run jump play and even sit.
The prefix ‘Hyper’ means ‘over, beyond, above or exceeding’. So, when you have a Hyperkyphotic spine, it means you have an exaggerated ‘C’ curve of the thoracic spine.
We were miraculously designed with properly angled curvatures in these areas to evenly distribute and adapt to the physical demands on us placed on us daily. When altered by the slightest degree, we re-position the distribution of the gravitational forces throughout our spine, which causes wear and tear on our bones and joints.
As our spine degenerates, it puts pressure on, and directly affects the nervous system. If your nervous system is not functioning properly, simply put, you cannot function properly.
So why is this important?
As the article stated, the presence of an over exaggerated curve of the thoracic spine, was highly correlated to the loss of independence in old age! Let’s face it, we have all said it. We dread the thought of getting older. Mainly because we do not want to become what we picture as feeble and incapable. Many of those we love, as they have gotten older, become increasingly depressed over their inability to live life the way they use too.
The physical incapability to function starts to degenerate mental fortitude as well.
Nobody wants this to happen.
What can be done?
Prevention is key! Unfortunately, old age will settle into everyone’s life. Just as well, old age will manifest differently for everyone.
Have you ever noticed, there is a large percent of the geriatric population that appear to be completely inept and unable to care for themselves, and then you miraculously have this one STAND OUT 90+ year old who can still climb mountains and run triathlons?
Why? What are they doing differently?
The one thing I do NOT want you to say is, “Good genes!” If it was all based on the fact that that one individuals genes are better than those of their age related peers, then only a handful of family names would ALL be living into their late 90s.
For example, Betty White is living a long and prosperous life. She is currently 95 years old. If it was due to good genes, then her mother, her father, her grandparents, and lines of generations before her would have all made it to 95 or older. Yet, her mother passed away at age 86 years. Likewise, her father passed away at 64 years old.
So, what is it then?
LIFESTYLE and PROPER SPINAL HYGIENE to PREVENT breakdown!
Betty White has been, clearly, "well taken care of”. Of course, in Hollywood, image is everything. She, like other celebrities, make it a point to maintain a healthy life-style. Some of them even get paid to work out.
So maybe we don’t all have the financial luxury Betty White and the rest of Hollywood has, but,
Why are we NOT putting our HEALTH FIRST?!
In fact, why is it that we are consistently perpetuating a culture that promotes spinal degeneration; which in part, leads to early degradation of our health, and consequently becoming the next incapable, dependent geriatric population?
We are all guilty of spending HOURS sitting in front of a screen. Be it a TV, a Computer, Tablet, mobile phone or the like. Maybe multiple gadgets at one time. Some of us do this DAILY.
“But it’s my job to sit at a computer”.
Yes, it is, and I am not putting you down for that. What I will challenge you on, is what are you choosing to do when you are NOT at work to counteract the negative affects of sitting for 8+ hours in a day in front of a screen?
Be honest, are you going home and spending another 2 to 4 or more hours sitting in front of another screen? Only this time, Sheldon is causing you to silently chuckle because of his lack of ability to decipher sarcasm from honesty, isn’t he?
How about your kids?
THEY SIT ALL DAY AT SCHOOL!
Currently, many school programs are even encouraging the use of a screen for “research”. School is no longer funding recess, or extra curricular activities and classes that promote movement, such as gym class. All of that money is now being used to fund more screens!
Then, when they come home, after hours of homework (which is possibly done on a screen) do they join you in front of another screen to laugh at how Penny, sometimes, just really doesn’t have a clue?
WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!
While we cannot change what happens at the institutions we work or learn at right away, we CAN change what we do at HOME.
We CAN focus on our spinal hygiene by implementing just 30 minutes of structured exercise DAILY into our lives. This stabilizes our core muscles.
We CAN see a Chiropractor, who specializes in the maintenance of our structural integrity, which, in turn allows our nervous system to continue to function properly.
WE CAN PREVENT a geriatric generation full of physically incapable, dependent, and depressed individuals. We CAN enjoy old age, and even look forward to it.
The future of your health is not determined by your genes, it's determined by your actions.
Kado, D., Huang, M., Barrett-Connor, E., & Greendale, G. (2005) Hyperkyphotic Posture and Poor Physical Functional Ability in Older Community-Dwelling Men and Women: The Rancho Bernardo Study. Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, 60(5), 633-637.