5 Spokes in your Wheel of Health
James Staciwa here with another episode of Transitions Chiropractic Newcastle’s blog on the 5 Spokes in your Wheel of Health. These 5 spokes or pillars are vital to how well your wheel will roll and each is just as important as the other. In no particular order, these spokes are:
- The brain body connection
- Fuelling your engine
- Rest and recovery
As I have mentioned, each one of the spokes is hugely important to the longevity, the fluidity and the speed of your wheel. Your wheel will run ok if only three of four of these spokes are working well, but your wheel will certainly roll smoother if all 5 spokes in your Wheel of Health are taken care of. Just ask the guys at CFN who lent me this awesome 3 Spoke wheel, getting the whole thing firing together is essential for optimal performance. Similar to a piece of the puzzle. If you are missing even just one piece, the finished product won’t look nearly as good.
The Brain Body Connection
Your brain is the principal controller and governor of all actions within your body. Every single thought, movement & body action is controlled by the brain and is sent out via our information super highway or nervous system. As a Chiropractor, it is my goal to act as traffic controller along this super highway. I want to make sure that there are no accidents, blockages or even delays and if possible remove these obstacles so the traffic can flow freely.
We do this by performing an adjustment. Looking for a misaligned vertebrae or part of the body that isn’t working as smoothly as it should, adjusting it and restoring the flow so that the brain can communicate with the body again and movement or function can come back to normal. You might not necessarily be in pain, but you may be aware that you are struggling to fire your gluts or that your stomach seems constantly upset. Either way there may be something interfering with your stomach and or your gluts that is inhibiting their ability to fire.
At Transitions Chiropractic Newcastle, we specialise in maximising power output and energy flow throughout your body. We want to optimise your brain body connection to make you as malleable and resilient as possible so that you can truly live a life without limits.
Movement is one of our key genetic components. This isn’t anything new, you know it, I know it, even toddlers know it. We all know that we should move however, sometimes we aren’t exactly sure of the benefits or even the best ways to move.
Movement links our entire body together. Think back to your early years as a toddler and also to our anecstoral history. Whether it is the evolutionary link that got us down from trees as bipedal beasts at the top of the food chain or growing from a baby, through infancy to adulthood. Movement has a lot to do with our advancement. It doesn’t matter how you look at it, but your body has always been designed to move!
You are built with 24 interlocking vertebrae throughout your spine which attach to each other and serve as the attachment points for the hips, legs, ribs, shoulder blades, arms and your head. This whole complex is supported by a network of muscles whose primary design is to hold us upright.
This lego like complex played a key role in our bipedal evolution and our evolution through childhood. Our biggest period of brain development occurred when we became upright and this is still the case today. Being upright fires your extensor muscles, ie your gluts, quads and back and it is these muscles that have the biggest and most direct link to brain development (direct cerebellar input).
As a father of two young kids it is really obvious that the more a child moves the more they can learn. From a foetal position to tummy time, rolling, crawling, pulling themselves up, walking and running. In each case there is always a learning milestone attached with a movement milestone.
As adults we can still apply these same principles. So to maximise your body’s and brain’s benefits from exercise, look for exercise that you can do upright, that uses your left and right side of your body; if all else fails mimic a child.
The more time out of the chair the better. The taller you can stand, the more your extensor muscles will fire which mean better posture and brain activation. Walking, running and swimming are all great extensor muscle activities and like with the wheel of health, even though cycling is sitting you’ll still get huge bang for your buck.
If you have the option of adding crossing over movements, rolling or crawling, even better. These lateral movements really help to stabilise the body and keep your wheel of health strong in multiple directions. This type of movement stimulates all sorts of brain activity including: balance, coordination, enhancing memory and helping to clear “brain fog.”
If all else fails…. just move. Some people believe in an exact ratio of play, aerobic exercise, lifting heavy and sprinting. For your 5 Spokes in your wheel of health all you need is momentum. So move today to help your wheel roll smoother and further tomorrow.
Headspace or mindset is a much maligned topic of health and our Wheel of Health. For me, Headspace is the spoke that I have the most trouble with. As a result for the past 3 months, I have been practicing the attitude of gratitude by writing in my gratitude journal daily. Even with this I still only realised after about 10 weeks that not only did I need to write it down, I then also needed to carry that attitude and focus on the positive throughout the day.
The basic rule of thumb is that it takes 5 pieces of positive information to outweigh one negative action or thought. This is why it is so important to focus on the positive as clearly it is so easy to end up in a negative mindset.
A positive mindset can change pretty well everything. Some people may call this a placebo effect however, it is not called the placebo nothing….. Something positive can and certainly will happen through positive thinking. Your ability to stay in a rest and digest phase is enhanced, you can avoid the high stress fight or flight situations. This in turn can result in holding your adjustments better, improved digestion of food, decreased stress hormones and inflammation and even improved sleep.
Your own personal Self-image definitely forms a key spoke in your wheel of health.
How do you think about you? Are you happy with your health, exercise and diet? Does work and home satisfy and fulfil your wants & needs?
Importantly, do you trust in yourself or are you always second guessing? Do you like or are you sticking to your “one word” for the year and doing your best to create your own happy place?
Be positive in your own self-image & beliefs and trust yourself. This limits the seeds of self-doubt. Your mind is the most fertile field around and the greatest thing is you chose what you want to plant in this field, seeds of failure or seeds of success. As George Bernard Shaw said “those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
Fuelling your engine!!!
The fuel that you choose for your engine is critical. Like any vehicle, to fuel your wheel going for premium will always equal better performance. Yes, your wheel will still roll on fumes and rubbish, but your body and your wheel has so much more potential if you fuel it the right way.
Your food and fuel really does help to support your body from the inside out. A low inflammatory diet, one high in veggies and fruit and low in processed, simple carbohydrates, affects your body’s response to stress and inflammation. It supports a healthy nervous system and provides the energy needed for every day function and optimal performance.
I do not believe that one diet fits all but the JERF (Just Eat Real Food) concept sums it up really well. If your grandparents could eat it, or it grows in nature (not genetically modified) chances are it is good for you.
A lot of restaurants base a meal around the pasta, bread or fries. Instead, try basing a meal around protein, fat and micronutrients. Proteins and fats are essential for hormone production and long lasting energy. They fuel body repairing ability and they are a lot less inflammatory than processed sugars and carbs.
Hormones like human growth hormone, testosterone, dopamine and progesterone are all produced principally by proteins and essential fats. These key hormones are responsible for relaxing, repairing and growing stronger!!!
The less processed your fuel, the cleaner your engine will stay and the more quality your body will absorb. The higher the quality of fuel, the better your engine will run. So in 2017, choose quality over quantity and fuel your engine with premium.
Rest is the 5th spoke in your wheel of health. Sometimes life can get so chaotic with work and family commitments. Even keeping on top of the other 4 spokes can be quite time consuming however, the one constant that we all need is rest.
It is an absolute key requirement to your own health if you want to get the most out your body it will absolutely need rest. Ideally somewhere between 7-8 hours a night is a great place to start. Minimising exposure to artificial light and getting away from technology goes along way to helping your body switch off.
Sleep and rest do some wonderful things! Sleep actually increases your metabolism and is when more hormones like human growth hormone are synthesised. Virtually all cellular repair and growth hormones are produced when we are asleep, especially in the pre midnight hours. Pre midnight hours of sleep actually count two to one- as such they have double the benefit when it comes to body repair and growth.
Is there an optimal sleeping position? The best way for you to sleep is one that means you are waking up rested and feel ready to get after the day. Do not overthink what you are doing when you are subconscious, ideally just let yourself switch off.
A few tips for those having trouble sleeping include:
- Adequate sunlight or vitamin D throughout the day.
- Expose your eyes to direct sunlight this stimulates your pineal gland and helps to regulate the normal body circadian rhythms.
- Minimise the late night computer, phone and TV time as these artificial light sources disrupt those same circadian rhythms within the brain sending mixed messages to our body.
- Supplement with ZMA or magnesium can also help you sleep well.
- The ultimate hack to improve your sleep is to relax. Try meditation or if needed, go to bed with a small notepad and pen. If you have a thought flash or a moment of brilliance write it down then get back to the business of sleep. It is possibly the most important work meeting or event in your planner today!
- Enjoy your rest & sleep so that you can wake up fresh and get the most out of your day tomorrow!