Freedom of Motion in The Body Mind and Spirit
November's Open Thread
One of my goals in writing this publication has been to provide a voice to forgotten victims of medicine so I try to respond to all the messages I receive. However, as this publication has gotten larger, it’s become harder and harder for me to adequately do that (e.g., I normally don’t reply to emails). My current solution is to have a monthly open thread (where readers can ask whatever they want) and tie that into a brief and insightful topic.
In a recent series, I shared some of my thoughts on the back and neck pain industry—how sad it is that so many people are chronically afflicted by these conditions and how sad it is that safe and effective treatments for spinal pain have been sidelined so unsafe and ineffective treatments can stay in business.
Sadly this issue appears again and again in medicine (e.g., we all just saw how safe and effective treatments for COVID-19 were kept off the market so the pandemic profiteers could make a killing with bad drugs). This I believe is because the existing economic model incentives indefinitely providing mediocre “treatments” to patients rather than innovative ones which solve the issue (and thus eliminate future sales).
I have seen many different effective treatments for spinal pain throughout my lifetime, but at the core, my perspectives on the subject have been shaped by my belief that one of the most important things in life is freedom of the body, mind, and spirit.
For example, consider watching this one minute video from Skylab (a now decommissioned space station) and observing how it makes you feel.
One of the greatest tragedies in our modern world is the loss of freedom we have experienced in each of those aspects of our being, and I believe a wide range of consequences ripples out throughout the human system each time motion is lost in the body, mind and spirit. For example:
•A good case can be made that walking is the most effective exercise for health and longevity (e.g. because it drives fluid circulation in the body).
•A good case can be made that the primary cause of back pain is our sedentary lifestyles and the resulting loss of motion in the back. Conversely, one of the most impactful consequences of chronic spinal pain is the loss of motion it creates (since moving outside of a narrow range of motion creates pain).
•As we age, the body rigidifies and becomes more brittle, which results in significant pain, losing the basic mobility we need to function throughout the day, and becoming vulnerable to catastrophic injuries from falls. Conversely, with age, the mind also rigidifies and becomes less able to consider new ideas or questioning existing paradigms (and sadly also becomes prone to dementia), something which can sometimes be prevented or at least mitigated with the appropriate physical exercise (discussed below).
Note: I believe this ossification ultimately results from the kidneys gradually losing their ability to maintain the physiologic zeta potential of the body. A case can also be made that it results from too many parts of the body becoming trapped within the Cell Danger Response (which likewise is often one of the most important areas to focus on for maintaining longevity).
•One of the most common causes of unpleasant emotions (e.g., depression or anxiety) are prolonged periods of immobility (e.g., sitting all day)—which again I believe is due to the fluid stagnation inside the body. Conversely, exercise (movement) has consistently been shown to be a more effective treatment for those conditions than the existing psychiatric medications (which instead have a variety of severe side effects).
•Humans have an inherent need for creativity and freedom of expression, so as society becomes more censored and they lose the opportunity for that, the human soul withers and dies. My own belief is that much of the angst and closed-mindedness we see in the medical field is a reflection of my profession not allowing doctors the freedom to express what they believe and explore ideas or therapies that go against the prevailing narrative.
In my case, I’ve made it a point to:
•Prioritize remaining physically active and to do so in a way that fully engages the motion of my entire body. Beyond this having a positive effect on my health, it also has had a very positive effect on my mind and spirit.
•Structure my life so that I have more freedom to move with the spontaneity of life and do what I feel compelled to do in each moment.
Note: in a recent article, I discussed the how humans often become addicted to power. In my eyes, one of the strongest arguments against seeking power is that once you have it, it greatly traps and constrains what you can do as so much of your life becomes wrapped up in the obligations and expectations that power entails.
•Structure my medical practice so that I continually have opportunities to innovate and explore what might help a challenging illness.
So in the case of neck and back pain, my focus is always on what can be done to recover the full of motion of the spine as I feel regaining that motion is both profoundly beneficial to one’s quality of life and is often vital for resolving the existing pain. In turn my motivation for writing that series arose from the fact that I feel this is not focused upon within the spinal pain industry, and more importantly, that many of the existing treatments for back pain actually worsen spinal mobility.
Not too long ago I came across across this video of a wild gibbon annoying two tiger cubs (to make them leave its territory) and was astounded by just how agile the Gibbon was.
After a bit of looking, I found out that gibbons can swing through trees at 35 miles per hour and found numerous unbelievable videos of how they can fly through forest canopies with minimal effort while doing numerous feats that look almost impossible. Of the videos I came across, this was the one I was the most impressed by:
Note: the one thing I still have trouble understanding is how the gibbon’s hands can handle the kinetic friction caused by their swinging. Aften posting this, Jacek Hoffman solved the mystery—because of the unusual flexibility in their wrist joint, the entire swing occurs in the wrist whereas the hand holds a static position on the branch it hangs off of until it’s released.
When I saw the final video, I immediately began imagining what it would be like to be able to move like that. While we can’t (although I have seen movement arts that confer human beings an incredible amount of freedom of motion), it is possible to have that degree of freedom in the mind and spirit. A big part of why I write here is so that I can help share that freedom of motion with you.
Note: after writing, PimaCanyon pointed out this is also the experience many have with skiing (and a big part of what motivates people to do it). Since the area I live in is very flat, I do not have regular access to ski slopes, and this example hence did not occur to me.
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Given the importance of regaining motion, I reviewed a variety of therapeutic interventions I have repeatedly seen return motion to the spine in the previous article about treating neck and back pain. However, in that article, I focused on what other people can do for you, rather than the home exercises that return motion to the spine. Since there will likely be many questions about that on this open thread (e.g., how do you help regain motion within an elderly individual who has difficulty standing), what follows are the best approaches I have found for doing so.
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