Decompression

Did you know that your spinal column's spongy intervertebral discs (IVDs) comprise 25% of this segmented structure's entire length? Did you know that an adult's spinal column is approximately 24-28 inches in length? A little quick math shows that the total height of your spinal discs is approximately between 6 and 7 inches. But most of us don't get to enjoy the maximum height, springiness, or shock-absorbing capabilities of our spinal IVDs.

Why is that? Another fact known to anatomy students is that IVDs begin losing their total water content at the early age of 2. If you're a young adult, that water-losing process has been going on for 20 years. If you're older, tack on a couple of decades. But this is a natural process. Whether we like it or not, our body parts are not built to last forever. They are designed to keep us healthy and fit for about 150 years (another little known fact). What's not natural is the sedentary lifestyle associated with living in an economy driven largely by the service sector.

Until very recently (75 years ago or so), most adults worked at jobs which required physical labor. Employment in agriculture and industry required actual work using one's body. Those jobs had a built-in exercise component, all day, every day. In contrast, 21st century jobs require a lot of sitting. For many jobs, workers are sitting all day, every day. When you're sitting or standing in an unchanging position, the relentless force of gravity bears down on your spine at a steady, never-changing rate of 32 ft/s2. The long-term result on one's spinal column is compression. Natural water-losing forces are unopposed and your spinal discs just keep getting thinner.

We need to reverse these trends. We need to find ways to pump our discs back up. We want to regain the health of our spinal discs, regain lost stature, and be able to stand up tall, achieving our full physiological height. We need to identify and engage in decompressive activities, activities that will restore fluids to our IVDs.

Fortunately, a highly decompressive set of activities is readily available and has been in use for thousands of years. Yoga is a system of exercises that provides a broad range of health benefits including spinal decompression.1,2,3 In fact, done correctly, all yoga exercises (known as postures, poses, and asanas) result in spinal lengthening. The key is to make the yoga posture active, constantly engaging, working, and lengthening your core muscles while you're doing the pose.

Regular yoga classes (even once a week may be sufficient) will lead to noticeable benefits, including a sense of being taller. The spinal decompression obtained through regular yoga practice will help increase your flexibility, balance, and coordination. Yoga can be done at home. The only equipment needed is a rubber mat. The long-term payoff is big, in more ways than one.

1Jeng CM, et al: Yoga and disc degenerative disease in cervical and lumbar spine: an MR imaging-based case control study. Eur J Spine 20(3):408-413, 2011
2Williams K, et al: Evaluation of the effectiveness and efficacy of Iyengar yoga therapy on chronic low back pain. Spine 34(19):2066-2076, 2009
3Goncalves LC, et al: Flexibility, functional autonomy and quality of life (QoL) in elderly yoga practitioners. Arch Gerontol Geriatr 53(2):158-162, 2011

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Testimonials

Reviews By Our Satisfied Patients

  • "In 2006, I was scheduled by a Cardiologist to have a Heart Catheterization. I had been having constriction and tightness in my chest, so I sought the opinion of Dr. Hicks. He showed me where my neck was subluxated and told me he was sure an adjustment would remedy my situation. He was right! I felt immediate relief and my symptoms have never returned."
    -Jeannine K.
  • "In May 2010 I had been hit in the head with a softball and had a concussion. Soon after I began having severe migranes and headaches. After two MRI studies, the medical doctor prescribed me Sumatriptan which is a painkiller. I suffered from the migranes for 14 months until I met Dr. Hicks. He gave me my first adjustment and my mom and Dr. Hicks noticed that the color in my face went from pale to pink immediately! My migranes have disappeared and I rarely even get a headache. Thank you Dr. Hicks!"
    -Brenna B. age 17, South Lyon
  • "My husband and I were apprehensive about seeing a Chiropractor but Dr. Hicks put us both at ease. The treatments we have received have helped both of us far beyond our expectations. Not only have the adjustments been beneficial but our eating habits and sleep patterns have greatly improved. Dr. Hicks listens to our concerns and keeps finding ways to improve our well being. Both Joanne and Dr. Hicks have made us feel a part of their family."
    -Elizabeth & A.J.
  • "I have had sinus problems for 25 years. It caused me to lose my voice every year and I love to sing at my church. I was also unable to smell or taste food for years. Now, with regular chiropractic care along with nutritional supplements, I have regained my sense of smell and taste. Also, I have not had to miss singing for my church on Sunday mornings thanks to Dr. Hicks!"
    -Barbra R.