The spine is an unsung hero of the beauty world. I believe many of us intuitively understand this. Today’s standard of beauty is closely tied with a straight posture and a long properly curved neck. Have you ever seen a fashion model with bad posture and a forward head? There are some variables allowed in the fashion industry when it comes to facial features, body size, skin type, but the requirement for graceful posture is unwavering.
The spine is one of the first structures that form within a human fetus in the womb. The baby’s brain and spinal cord develop followed by all other organs and structures. The spine is important from the perspective of structural stability, but it also supports the proper functioning of the nervous system. This means the health of the spine impacts every aspect of our health, wellness, and inevitably our appearance. It is a critical component of longevity and quality of life at any age.
The spine of a young child is flexible and agile, but as we age it becomes rigid, compressed, and may develop various unhealthy curves. Most of us go about our lives with hunched backs, forward-leaning necks, and imbalanced hips, thinking that it’s normal. Instead, we focus our beauty routines on things that are only skin deep: moisturizing, exfoliating, SPF, etc. It is a widely accepted misconception that you can make a face look gorgeous independent of the condition of the body.
A healthy spine is a spine that functions optimally. It allows a person to move freely and live a life they want to live. A healthy spine allows for travel, hiking, lifting kids or grand-kids, carrying grocery bags, dancing, and getting things from under the couch without pain or strained muscles. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for a lot of people even at a relatively young age.
The issues with the spine are extremely common. Every day millions of people suffer from back and neck pain and associated effects in other parts of the body. Between 70-80% of all adults in the US will experience back pain during their lifetime according to a medical survey. Back pain is one of the most common reasons to see a doctor for US adults. But problems with the spine can start well before the pain begins and we finally decide to see a health practitioner.
Let’s look at the spine more closely. Our spine consist of three major parts:
- Spinal Column
- Spinal cord and nerves
- Soft tissue
The Spinal Column
The human body is built to maintain balance against the forces of gravity. Gravity is constant stress on the body. How well-positioned we are to withstand this stress has a profound impact on the rest of our body. Whenever postural misalignment happens, it leads to increased strain and overload of the body and we become more prone to further injury.
The human spinal column has 4 curves that allow for stability and conservation of muscular energy. The curves help to evenly distribute the stress introduced by the weight of the body and everyday movement across different muscle groups. This S-shaped curvature gives the spine its flexibility and allows it to act as a shock absorber for the body. These curves also allow the head to assume that graceful position over the pelvis.
- Cervical - neck curvature
- Thoracic - upper back curvature
- Lumbar - lower back curvature
- Sacral - tailbone curvature
Sadly, most adults have some degree of deviation from the proper S shape with kyphosis, lordosis, or scoliosis conditions of the spine. With these conditions, the body can become less balanced, the weight borne by individual joints and muscles becomes uneven. This creates structural and aesthetic asymmetry in the body.
The Spinal Cord
The spinal cord is a part of the central nervous system. The brain controls everything in our body through the spinal cord, which serves as a pathway of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. The brain and nervous system is a mechanism through which our bodies can heal and recover themselves. Any interference in the spine such as trauma, stress, muscle overload, a misplaced vertebra could lead to issues in many different areas. The proper spine alignment is necessary for the nervous system to work properly.
The Soft Tissue
The soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, fascia, etc.) are what keeps the spine stable and allows for movement. Even though in medical books all human muscles are studied separately, they are connected into one continuous and interdependent system by the myofascial net. Spasm in one part of the body will inevitably affect other parts of the body. This means when we strain our hamstring, for example, the myofascial net distributes this force across the whole system, not just in the area of injury.
Consequently, we can view our soft tissue as a sort of costume. When you push the shoulders up and the neck forward, the costume starts hanging down in the front. With bad posture, the muscles of the spine are pulled upwards and the chest is pulling downward due to this myofascial linkage. This also pulls the face down and contributes to the age-related changes in the face.
Manual Rejuvenation practice is rooted in the belief that our aesthetics are tightly coupled with health. That’s why the program begins with posture correcting exercises. Even if you are following a healthy lifestyle otherwise, performing spinal health exercises should be the foundation of your beauty routine.