I coulda been a nerd
Back in high school I was a math whiz. I was excelling in advanced math classes at Princeton University at the ripe age of 14. If I had stayed with the plan, maybe by now I’d be the billionaire scion of a software company. Or a tenured professor somewhere.
But instead, in college, along with the graduate-level math classes I was taking, I also took African Dance. Once those drums started to play, and I experienced the joy of exploring the different rhythms of movement, nothing else mattered as much.
I got hooked on dance. But moreover, I got hooked on having a relationship with the physical body. And I discovered the power of a new type of knowledge – new to me, anyway — knowledge that grew from the inside out.
Even though I was good at it – really, really good, in fact — filling in the correct answer bubble on a multiple choice test suddenly didn’t seem very important. Instead, I became passionate about gaining awareness of my own limbs, spine, breath, and emotional expression.
Ultimately, that’s what led me to study chiropractic. I wanted to be a real doctor. A doctor who could help people tap into the most powerful healing forces available – the inner connection to the body and its potential. That’s the most effective way to improve health.
I soon discovered that the muscles and joints (and the ligaments, tendons and bones), were only a small piece of the action. Your brain is in charge of controlling and integrating your body.
So I also had to become expert in how the brain and nervous system operates.
That meant learning how individual nerve cells fire to control muscle actions. But it also meant understanding the larger principles of thought, emotion, motivation and metaphor that guide the whole human enterprise.
Chiropractic is only a small piece of it
The chiropractic treatment model, with its emphasis on personalized manual therapy, makes a tremendous contribution to improving the nation’s health.
But if a chiropractor is only using the methods he or she learned in chiropractic school, a lot of potent healing possibilities are being left unexplored.
I’ve studied yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, the Alexander method, Laban Movement Analysis, ballet, gyrotonics, and other methods of movement, alignment, and body awareness. I started studying these methods long before I even dreamed I’d be a chiropractor and, basically, I’ve never stopped learning.
These methods are based on developing your movement and postural awareness, and giving you the tools to guide your body towards health and full functioning.
I’ve also studied a range of connective tissue therapies: friction massage, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, Neurotactile therapy, and craniosacral harmonics.
These methods are effective means to release and balance the connective tissues and muscles, as well as the nerve signals they send back to the brain.
My extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology has helped me grasp the important principles common to all of these methods. And listening to thousands of patients over thirty years has helped me understand the particular ways individuals neglect their inner movement and body resources – and the pain and other problems that result.
As far as this study and experience has been able to carry me in my quest to help my patients, it’s still not enough. Because there’s an additional dimension of health that takes place in the environmental and social realm.
Your health doesn’t begin or end at your skin surface
The new scientific studies pouring out show the many aspects of our environment – both physical and social – that have a profound influence on health.
For instance, we know the significant role that pollutants play as contributors to cancer, neurological problems, and more. The quality and purity of the food we eat is also a major health factor.
These environmental factors – and others – are an important subject matter for this blog.
But our social environment – our family, friends, our social milieu as a whole, and the ways we interact with it – is another vital influence on health. It’s been proven.
So call the sister you haven’t spoken to lately, pet your cat, take a yoga class at the gym instead of following along at home on a DVD, go out of your way to thank the server behind the counter at your favorite coffee (or juice) bar, join your church choir. And e-mail your congressional representative to lobby for a better national health plan. Get involved. And, by the way, contribute to this blog.
Ron Lavine, D.C.