Stress, Movement & Anti-Fragility

“You are as old as your spine.” – Chinese proverb
If you are reading this, then by default you are spending most of your life in a technology-based society. There are obvious reasons this expression has survived and why it is particularly appropriate for us in the current zeitgeist.

Why is that so?

Technology makes our lives easier. Too easy. We no longer have to rely on the things our body was made to do – move. You see, your body inherently craves movement, just like it craves food, water, sex and arguably coffee. These days it’s convenient to eat all the time, because food is available all the time. Unfortunately, it’s available mostly as processed, refined, high sugar foods with loads of preservatives.

The effect is crystal clear: globally in 2016, 1 in 11 adults have diabetes. Diabetes is also known as insulin resistance. Too much sugar leads to insulin resistance, in a similar manner, too much inactivity leads to movement resistance. Simply put, if you’re a couch potato, your inner resistance to go for a jog is pretty high.

The body and its machinery is amazing! It thrives under stress. Its biology and evolutionary advantages have been designed around stresses. There is eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress). Walking every day is eustress to most, whereas interval training every day is an example of distress. Your body is meant to move and to interact with its surroundings – and most parts of your body is there to make you an efficient mover.

Now, what do you think is the reason we move? There are many theories, but an appealing one says that the more effectively you navigate your environment, the greater your survivability will be, which in turn makes it easier to pass on your genes.

How do you become an effective mover? You practice the movement you wish to improve, and you do it all the time. Your body craves movement because beneficial genes are switched on, which keeps it functioning well and makes you feel good. The major movements we were designed for are:
1. Continously moving at a relaxed pace
2. Occasional sprinting
3. Some heavy lifting
For the body to improve on these, it has to go through eustress. Nassim Taleb describes how we are dependent on stress in his book.
“Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
We are antifragile. All that means is: good stress make you stronger. Eustress makes you antifragile.

So then, we now know our body is this amazing, antifragile machine that adapts to most stresses… why do so many walk around with aches, pains or injuries?

Some say the stress has become distress. I say that’s not looking at the full picture.

Let’s say you decide to start running. Without prior preparation you train vigorously and aim to run 5 kms in less than 20 minutes. You are bound to get injured. Even if you cautiously aim for eustress and you challenge yourself gradually, pain will often appear.

“Injuries will happen in certain areas FOR SURE. It changes somewhat between all of us but it was always obvious to me one needs to understand WHICH are those areas of weakness and HOW to make them less fragile.”
– Ido Portal

Injuries will happen. Fine. But why? If you are applying safe challenges and safe eustress, why do you have these areas of weakness and injuries?

I’ll ask another question. What happens if your glutes, that are meant to do the grunt work of a squat, are loaded less? Other structures will have to take over – like your quads and adductors. They’re now doing what they were designed for PLUS whatever extra the glutes are not lifting. What kind of stress is that? Distress. Which typically means it’s only a matter of time before pain or injuries comes knocking.

Imagine your manager deciding to take a holiday without telling anyone, or your co-worker extends his lunch break indefinitely. Maybe your laptop stops working so now you need to write and post letters instead of sending email (probably better for you in the long run?). In all of these situations, the load you can handle is surpassed and becomes distress. Over time you will break down. It’s the same for muscles and most tissues in your body. Muscles are in most cases the good guy, trying to cover for the bones who are not doing their job. Which is why they are often stiff and sore.

Returning to the question at hand, if you are applying safe challenges and stress, why do you have these areas of weakness and injuries?
In most cases there is a structural problem that loads the body unevenly. As long as this is not addressed, the unevenly loaded tissue will be the chink in your armor.

In our office, our method of choice is Advanced Biostructural Correction (ABC™), which we have found to be the most consistent and reliable to fixing these chinks. ABC™ can be summarised as a hands-on therapy that aligns your bones so joints and muscles can do what they were meant for: make your body move freely, effectively and safely, so you can be your best antifragile self.

Lastly here is an updated chinese proverb:

‘You’re as old as your skeleton looks, moves and holds itself!’

 

Dr Micky Mikkelsen