There’s a concept being marketed within the strength and conditioning world that is starting permeate popular culture. The concept is the idea what being stronger makes you harder to kill as an organism.
The idea comes from a quote from renowned strength coach Mark Rippetoe who said:
“Strong people are harder to kill, and more useful in general”
It’s certainly not the most uplifting or inspirational quote I’ve ever posted, but I think it’s an idea that has great merit when we break the idea down.
The idea of “wellness” is polluted with imagery of people drinking green smoothies and frolicking in a field of dasies. But at it’s core, the idea of wellness is really about producing a fit organism who is most resiliant in the environment in which it exists. It’s about becoming an organism that is best able to resist things that can kill us.
Why does someone take vitamins and supplements? To prevent illness and become harder to kill.
Why does someone eat organic? To reduce toxicity and become harder to kill.
Why does someone exercise? To lose weight, feel sexier, reproduce, and become harder to kill.
With chiropractic commonly being thrown into the bucket of things that someone will do for wellness, we have to ask ourselves an important question. Is there something about the spine that can make ourselves “Harder to Kill”?
Survival Value and The Spine
Before the industrial and agricultural revolution an injury or weakness to the spine could be catastrophic to a human being.
We take it for granted now because we have social safety nets (Workman’s Comp, Personal Injury Protection, Short/Long Term Disability Insurance, Sick Leave, Etc) that can protect a person from losing their livlihood when they have an injury. But think about those times when you had your spine go bad on you. Here’s what likely happened:
- Any small movement could knock you down from pain
- Movements are slow and apprehensive
- Loss of power and strength for running, jumping, lifting, etc.
- Extended periods of bed rest
Anyone who’s had a significant back or neck injury will tell you that it’s impact on their quality of life is far worse than injuries to the shoulders, arms, legs, etc. When you lose function of one of your extremity, you can still count on normal function of the other extremities. When you lose function of things that are more central, you can lose greater function in the body as a whole.
Generally speaking, injuries to along the midline of the body will tend to affect you more than things that are further away.
Why Are Spine Injuries More Problematic?
Why is the spine so important to your survival value?
It has a lot to do with the way that the spine is connected to the rest of the body. The most important connection between the spine resides INSIDE the spine itself: the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. When the spine takes damage and affects the nerves, it doesn’t just affect the spine itself. It affects everything that that the nerve is connected.
That means an injury to the spine can affect the feet, arms, hands, legs, and toes. But it can also affect the colon, bladder, diaphragm, and more.
Your spine is also a part of the body that your brain will go out of it’s way to protect. Because your spine is so important, your body will take extensive measures to immobilize the body during injury. That’s one of the reasons why the body creates spasm and makes movement extremely painful. The immobilization forces you to shut down your body in order to give it time to heal and repair.
However, that creates a conundrum from a survival stand point.
If you were alive thousands of years ago and your spine took an injury, you just became easy food for lions, tigers, and bears. You also became a less effective part of the work community with nothing to save you.
In summary: damage to spine thousands of years ago made you much easier to kill.
Chiropractic and Becoming Harder to Kill
So if we know that problems in the spine can make you easier to kill aka less resiliant, then things that strengthen and protect your spine can make you harder to kill / more resiliant.
We can see some evidence of this beyond getting someone’s back pain to go away.
Why is that important? Because morphine and oxycontin can make your back pain go away, but if it doesn’t make you a stronger, more functional human being, then what’s the point?
Here are some small studies that suggest that chiropractic care may help make you a stronger/more resiliant human being.
Now are these high quality double blind studies? Can we say much for sure based on research data?
Definitely not. Not yet at least.
But years of practice experience, and seeing thousands of patients have tell me that patients of all ages, shapes, and athletic abilities develop a capacity to do more work, do better work, and suffer less injury by enhancing the health of the spine and nervous system.
These are just a sample of some of the studies that feature chiropractic and spine care something we do beyond the threat of pain. These studies talk about how chiropractic can have some small meaningful effects on performance, and those small effects can make a big difference on the athletic playing field.
Harder to Kill Means Moving Beyond Pain and Illness
The idea of being harder to kill goes back to the idea of building the best body you possibly can. It requires a different state of mind than someone who is going to wait for their body to break down before taking care of it.
Wealthy people don’t wait until they are broke before they start taking care of their finances. Healthy people don’t wait until they have pain and sickness before taking better care of their bodies.
People that are harder to kill decide that they are going to be proactive in prevention strategies, rather than reactive in symptom treatment. That’s a big reason why people continue to get Structural Chiropractic care even when they have stopped hurting. It’s why high level weight lifters and equestrians choose to get their spine checked before a big event.
There are lots of ways to make your body more difficult to kill. It’s up to you whether chiropractic will play a role in it.