What does it mean and why is it important?
Stability. What does that really mean? The human body is the most extraordinary thing. We're upright, not after a big night sometimes, but upright. And if we compared ourselves with a flag pole or a tall building, we would have an anchor into the ground and be super rigid so that we were stable. Now that would mean that you couldn't move. You would be rigid. Compare that to something that's flexible, it's usually not stable. And an example might be a suspension bridge, which is slightly terrifying because it sways and swings and ripples, and it's quite flexible but it has strength. It's definitely not stable.
The body has two opposite needs working simultaneously. We need stability of the structure, and then we need flexibility for movement. When everything is working ideally we can satisfy both needs well. We feel strong and balanced and steady and we can put on socks and scratch our back.
This allows you to do all the things you want to do. Look over your shoulder when you're merging in traffic and to talk to the person next to you. The body detests instability because it's risking injury to muscles and joints. It risks injury to your spinal cord or peripheral nerves. And that will end in tears and no movement. For this reason the body will do everything it can to stabilize a sloppy joint. The body hates this weakness that risks injury. An unstable building that has structural weakness would have yellow and black tape around it. It will be condemned or closed until repaired. There is a risk that it could fall down, injuring people either inside or outside.
When we look at the body through this lens of a building, we would say that the pelvis is the weight bearing centre of the body. If it is weak, then the whole body is compromised. The legs hinge off the pelvis at the hip joints. The leg muscles originate on the pelvis and finish above or below the knee. A weak, unstable pelvis will result in weak leg muscles. The body will reduce the power the leg muscles can generate. This will protect both the hip, knees and leg muscles. You will notice this when you walk up stairs. You find your legs heavy and the effort of climbing the stairs is much greater than your previous experience would suggest.
As you drive your foot into the step to propel the body up the steps, the pelvis will flex and the body won't like that. So the muscles that are trying to move you are also trying to brace you. When you turn up for an appointment you might say, "I feel really stiff. It feels like a muscle pain and strain". You are right - the muscles around the affected joint are tight and stiff. They are also often painful. The muscles in questions are trying to protect you from further injury. But it's not the problem. It's the result of the problem.
Levers in the Body
I want to look inside and find where the instability is and find a way to stabilize that sloppy area. So things begin to work properly, and the joints are lined up to within a millimetre of where they should work. The reason that the millimetres are important is that the joints of body are mostly second and third class levers. This means that they are very inefficient by design. Instead of having a long lever a long way from the fulcrum, our joints are very short levers with the muscles having a very inefficient short lever to work with to lift something a long way off. We really shouldn't work!
If you were paying attention during physics and geometry and algebra, you might remember what I'm talking about. But if you were staring out the window, a brief practical example will help you get the key info. You will know that if you want to use a lever to increase your strength you will be quite selective in what you look for and use. If you want to open a tin you will look for a long handle teaspoon. If you are going to use a screwdriver to open a tin of paint, you go for the longest screwdriver you can find. So you put the edge of it under the the lid and lever it to get the lid off the tin of paint. You don't go for a stumpy screwdriver that gives you no leverage.
So understand that the body is more like a stumpy screwdriver! So when you go to lift something at arm's length off a table, the workload at the back and shoulder muscles is just HUGE.
It is possible to calculate the work load of the muscles and joints. It is in the league of 20 fold the weight of the object that you are lifting! So stability is super important and joint range of motion allows us to do everyday things.
At Hands on Superhealth when we look at the body, we look for stability
Opposite needs of movement and stability needs to be met in some way. We can only create flexibility and subtle movement when we have stability. At Hands on Superhealth when we look at the body, we look for stability. We find instability and we understand where the sloppy, lax ligament or injured ligament is, we work to create stability by approximating the joints and stabilising the joint. We can do that with a combination of adjustments and exercises. Occasionally we will add an external support to support ligament healing. Over time the body will heal and the body will then stabilize itself. Ligament healing needs some load, but will be limited if it is overloaded.
How does this relate to overstimulation? When a joint is out of position and it's not working properly and it's getting too much movement a little nerve receptor is overstimulated. It will send all this extra information to your brain. The nerves are called proprioceptors and they tell your brain where you are on space. Smooth movement when an infant is vital for embedding this position sense in the cerebellum. We see this movement learning in the first few years of life. Hand-eye coordination becomes accurate. Gross movements such as walking are mastered by 2 years. For this reason joint position and movement is essential for optimal childhood growth and development. The body and brain will be limited in this feedback loop if accurate information was not laid down during infancy and childhood.
With this baseline information about how every joint in the body is constantly telling the brain about its position in space and load you can see how a joint that is out of position and painful will be sending a huge amount of extra information to the brain. The increase in proprioceptive feedback from the irritated joints means that you are now getting, let's say spam in the brain.
We all know what our email account looks like when the spam blocker is broken. The hundreds of extra and unwanted emails fill your inbox. The emails that you are looking for get lost in the sheer volume of junk messages. Often we delete the wanted messages in clearing out the unwanted junk. That is stressful in itself. Likewise your brain is getting too much information for your joints. You're getting lots of messages. It doesn't need or want, but are they're coming anyway? So your brain is overworked, receiving too much information from soppy joints, and it drives anxiety and depression.
These emotions can be viewed as cousins. They are related and have a similar sensation in the perception of your environment. We find in questionnaires that depression and anxiety along with stress are commonly high scores at the same time. The increase in nerve traffic from the spinal cord arrives in the mid brain causing overstimulation. The mid brain is also the emotional centre. So it is really important for your mental health and your overall health to have stability in the body because instability overstimulates the brain. Other sources of increased nervous system traffic is poor digestive function and poor hormonal balance.
What does our screening process show?
So what we find is that when we start new clients we take a very thorough, in depth investigation that will show us where their body is. The screening process is both objective and some subjective. A number of questionnaires allow the new client to tell us their story and experience in every aspect of their health.
We measure their metabolic function, their emotional balance and daily function. The objective tests of muscle tone and balance, inflammation, spine movement and heart rate variability give us another level of understanding of their health and function. What we see consistently is that as the body becomes more stable and the objective markers of muscle tone and movement improve so do the perceptions of the experience of living in the body. The DASS (depression anxiety and stress scores) all drop. This occurs consistently over many thousands of clients, so it is a reliable finding that supports the anatomical understanding of the relationship between overstimulation of the brain and the stability of the physical, biochemical and emotional body.
The net effect of these changes is that the individual becomes aware that the body is now comfortable and predictable to move and live in. The body becomes more supple. Movement is smoother and easier so that less energy is required for everyday living. When the muscles can devote themselves exclusively to moving rather than stabilising, the body immediately feels more relaxed. It is easy to see that a stable structure allows the muscles to generate more power and the joints to send only 1 set of messages to the brain. This will clear the head and make relaxation much easier.
Stability is critical. It's the key to good functioning in your body. The data and the experience of many also confirm that a structure works with ease in gravity will create ease. If you feel that you are finding difficulty in relaxing then an assessment will provide information about your underlying stability and level of brain and nervous system stimulation.