Your musculoskeletal system is a complex framework made up of bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and other connective tissues that protect your organs, give your body its shape and allow you to move. In many ways, the health of this system is what defines your lifestyle choices as you move through various stages of life. Good musculoskeletal health allows you to be mobile and active, while poor health can limit your options.
Most of us already know that the “foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone’s connected to the shin bone, the shin bone’s connected to the knee bone, the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone, and the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone.” Thanks to the old spiritual song “Dem Bones,” we even have a catchy melody that goes along with this little anatomy lesson. And although the song’s anatomy lesson may not be entirely accurate, it illustrates two important ideas about good musculoskeletal health that are worth talking about—everything is connected and it starts from the ground up.
Everything is Connected
Researchers and clinicians sometimes refer to “the biomechanical chain”. The phrase might sound complicated, but the underlying concept is pretty simple. If one “link” in the chain is broken, it will likely affect other links in an adverse manner. The human body is brilliantly designed to compensate for these types of problems, but this compensation usually comes with a price as other parts of the body absorb additional or unusual stresses. For example, structural weakness, misalignment or asymmetries in the feet can trigger changes further up the body, particularly in the ankles, knees, hips, back and neck. There is a similar cause-and-effect relationship that can begin with just a single misaligned vertebra in the back. Resulting pain may cause the person to favor one leg over the other while walking, resulting in further distortion of the posture and greater misalignment, resulting in even more problems and pain.
Poor biomechanics can also lead to a range of musculoskeletal problems. When the body has to compensate for poor biomechanics, it has to work harder to produce the same effect. This leads to greater fatigue and pain. Even something as simple and seemingly low-stress as sitting at a computer desk can result in tension, stiffness and possible spasms in one or both arms when it’s done incorrectly.
It Starts from the Ground Up
Good musculoskeletal health is built from the ground up, starting with the feet. For years medical researchers and healthcare providers have recognized that problems there can cause posture changes that eventually trigger a variety of musculoskeletal issues in other parts of the body (particularly the ankle, knee, hip and back). Studies have also shown that even slight foot problems can negatively affect athletes’ performance and predispose them to a broad range of sports-related injuries. So even if your feet themselves don’t actually hurt, they could be contributing to other health problems that you’re experiencing.
Your Partner in Good Musculoskeletal Health
Doctors of chiropractic are experts at spotting structural problems in your musculoskeletal system and can advise you about the best options for treatment. Regular chiropractic adjustments and close attention to the health and well-being of your body’s musculoskeletal system can help keep your biomechanical chain in good working order. Depending on your situation, Dr. Ratio may also recommend foot orthotics to correct any abnormal or irregular walking pattern and promote proper alignment and balance from the ground up.
Remember—good health is a combination of many factors, including the small lifestyle choices you make every day as well as your approach to proactive healthcare. If you have any questions about either this article or your musculoskeletal health in general, please call or visit our office today. We are here to help!