Thursday, September 16th, 2010

iStock_000001822964SmallBy Dr. Shawn Dill

Whether you’re a world-class athlete or an average Joe, the downward push of gravity has an effect on you. Our bodies must fight the natural push of gravity as we sit, stand, walk and drive throughout the day. As a result, we feel that strain in our faces, shoulders, backs, necks, chests, legs and feet. As a result, over time we develop varicose veins, swollen feet and aching backs. After the age of 20, we lose an average of half an inch in height every 20 years!

How is this possible?

The force of gravity on the spine causes the sponge-like discs between the vertebrae to lose moisture and compress throughout the day. We reclaim that moisture overnight, but over a lifetime, this compression actually causes us to shrink in height. As the body decreases in size, our middles become wider. This can affect our ability to perform basic functions and move, and it also impacts our posture. With this change in height and a larger middle, it is also common to lose flexibility.

It is not only our external features that feel the effects of the gravitational pull. Our internal organs also shift and change due to the downward force on our bodies. Over time, this can result in less efficient organs and potential medical problems. The circulation system is also affected by gravity. Blood has to work hard to travel upward through our bodies. As the years go by, however, gravity can cause varicose veins and swollen limbs. Poor circulation to the eyes, ears, skin, scalp and brain may also result.

Sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it? No worries … all is not lost.

There are things you can do to help combat the inevitable force of gravity. As you age, it’s important to maintain a healthy regimen of exercise. In addition to your regular cardio and weight lifting routines, make sure you stretch frequently in order to keep your body supple and flexible.

At the end of the day, take the time to rest with your legs and feet propped up on a footrest in order to counteract potential swelling in the calves and ankles.

To compensate for the pull of gravity, we also recommend our clients utilize the Human Touch Zero Gravity Massage Chair (in fact, we use them in our office!). This particular chair is engineered to relieve the tension, stress, soreness and fatigue forced upon our bodies by the natural pull of gravity.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to ultimately combat the effects of gravity, but knowledge is power, and hopefully understanding what exactly you are up against will encourage you to stand just a little bit taller.

To contact Dr. Shawn Dill, please visit www.thespecific.com.

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