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Gravity and Back Pain: An Introduction
How Does Gravity Affect My Body?
Have you ever noticed that your pants feel a little tighter around the waist at the end of the day? Have you ever adjusted your rear-view mirror up in the morning and then down at night? Did you realize that after the age of 20, you've been losing an average of 1/2" in height every twenty years? Do you suffer from varicose veins, swollen feet, or an aching back? If you can identify with these ailments, you are a victim of the inescapable, compressive force of gravity.
The results of gravity's constant downward pull on our faces, shoulders, backs, necks, chests, organs, legs, and feet are painfully obvious to most of us. Gravity does not relent or discriminate. From Olympic athletes to office workers, we all experience the toll of gravity.
Exercising will help keep you fit and trim - but exercise can be both beneficial and harmful to your body. How can that be? It's called compression fatigue; the more we run, the more weight we lift, the more our bodies pay the toll from gravity.
Where Can I See and Feel the Result of Gravity?
The spine consists of vertebrae and sponge-like discs. The downward force of gravity causes the discs to lose moisture throughout the day, resulting in a daily height loss of up to 1/2" - 3/4"! The moisture returns to the disc overnight, but not 100%. Over a lifetime, a person can permanently lose between 1/2" - 2" in height!
Body Shape Changes
Height loss not only effects the health of your back, it takes a toll on the rest of your body. As become shorter over time, your middle becomes wider. Think about a narrow column of clay: as you press down from the top, the middle grows because there's no place else for the clay to go! This not only impacts your body shape but also impacts your posture and your ability to move and perform simple daily activities.
As you age, your internal organs will begin to shift and succumb to the constant pull of gravity. Organ function becomes less efficient, and it's not uncommon to experience bladder, kidney and digestive problems due to prolapsed organs.
Height loss and a larger waistline inevitably result in lost flexibility. Perhaps the most vital part of maintaining an active lifestyle as you age is maintaining the ability to move.
If gravity can prevent water from flowing uphill, it can also prevent the blood in our bodies from freely flowing upward. Over time, gravity takes a toll on the circulatory system, which may cause varicose veins, decreased scalp circulation and swollen limbs. Poor circulation to the eyes, ears, skin, scalp and brain is one reason why our most valuable organs deteriorate over a lifetime.
What Can I Do About It?
Did you know astronauts grow two inches while in space? During weeks in orbit, astronauts' discs continue to absorb moisture. With no gravitational pull to squeeze moisture out, the discs remain plump, making them taller.
The good news is we do not have to remain idle while we watch our bodies surrender to gravity. Using a Teeter® is a way that we can temporarily reverse our body's position in gravity--a regular program of inversion can help to slow or reverse many of those harmful side effects.
The human body is wonderfully designed to be upside down. It's an activity that comes naturally to us in all stages of life:
- As fetuses, we all develop in the near-weightless environment of our mothers' wombs. During the last trimester, we actually turn upside-down to help with brain development.
As infants, we often slept bottoms-up! Keeping our heads lower than our hearts, we encouraged a proper supply of blood and oxygen to our brain.
- As children, we love to "escape from gravity" by riding the swings or hanging upside down on the monkey bars.
As adults, we prop our legs and feet on desks or stools to compensate for gravity's constant presence.
Since we naturally perform all of these activities to help us feel better, it is easy to be proactive and utilize gravity in our favor by learning how to incorporate inversion in our daily routine.