Has your life become Frog Soup?
Dr. Gregg C. Anderson
I hope you are having a great autumn. It's certainly a beautiful time of seasonal change and color in this City of Trees. What's always fascinated me is how gradual the seasons change. Sometimes it takes that abrupt one-hour time change when we "fall back" to standard time in October for me to realize it's not summer anymore. As a Sacramento chiropractor who likes outdoor recreation, I really miss that hour late in the day. One of the highlights of my summer was teeing off just before 6:00 p.m. one evening in June and still getting 18 holes of golf in. Okay, it was a bit dark on 18, but I did finish out with a bogey!
Like the gradual change of the seasons, the declining changes in our health, strength, flexibility and overall function are often so slow that they're hardly noticeable as we age. Sometimes we only notice the change when it happens fast in the form of a health crisis, such as a literal "fall back."
More often than not however, health slips slowly away over many years, function is lost and you become gradually disabled. What's interesting is how much healthy function you can lose, particularly in the joints of your body, without any pain or symptoms at all.
I grew up in the very smoggy San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles, back in the good OLE' days of leaded fuel and gas guzzlers. During the hot school year months, we often had "sigalerts" which meant the air was so bad, they made us stay in our classrooms during recess and physical education. I learned an interesting tale when I was in Junior High that is worth sharing. Our science teacher told us that we should take a lesson from the frogs of the world.
What he shared is that if you take a frog and toss him into a pot of very hot water, he would quickly figure out that it was dangerous and he would leap out as fast as he could. On the other hand, if you placed him in tepid water and slowly heated him up, he wouldn't notice the slow change, and would end up "frog soup." Dead frog! He related the frog to us growing up in the smog soup. We rarely had fresh air, so we hacked and gagged our days away and just considered it normal.
The bad news is in. The loss of healthy joint functioning is becoming much too "normal" and too many of you are ending up frog soup. According to the results of a study published this year in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the top causes of disability in adults in the United States are arthritis, spine and back problems. In this study of over 53,000 adults, those with disabilities reported difficulty with normal activities of daily living (ADL's), selected functional activities like climbing a flight of stairs, walking 3 city blocks, lifting/carrying 10 pounds, or limitation in the ability to work around the house or at a job or business. Lastly, the study found that the age-specific prevalence rate of disability was highest among those older that 65.
The good news is there is a solution. The first step is to not think like a frog, continue to slowly decline, and consider it normal or inevitable. Restoring joint function is the key to long term pain relief and prevention of disability. Function means range of motion, flexibility, strength, stability, and coordination.
Chiropractic adjustments and specific exercises have been proven to improve and maintain all areas of function. Chiropractors are trained to identify joints that are not functioning well. We use controlled forces called adjustments when there are restrictions around joints that the body is unable to overcome itself.
One component of function that you may be able to assess right now on yourself is active range of motion. For example, you should be able to bend your neck 40 degrees to the right and left and turn your head 80 degrees each way. How is yours? Do you have to turn your whole body in your car seat to see if it's safe to change lanes in your car? Perhaps you use the "blink, honk and just go" method and hope the other drivers yield. Let's hope not! Based on what I see every day, it's possible that your active range of motion is one of those areas of function that have slowly slipped away. If so, you now know that it is very possible and even probable that with a good individualized chiropractic care plan, that you could be moving around with much more grace and less pain in the near future.
Don't let your health and function slowly turn your life into "frog soup." I hope this will be the month that you make the choice to team up with a good doctor of chiropractic, and start doing all you can to improve and maintain your good health and function. Have a great month.
Copyright Gregg C. Anderson, DC 2002
Sacramento Chiropractor / Has Your Life Become Frog Soup?