cycling utah August 1999

Improve your performance and healing potential

By Dr. Michael Cerami

After checking your spinal system for stress as discussed in the previous Health article, you should have a basic idea if your spine is in balance.

Your performance in cycling can be affected by your spinal biomechanics and the amount of tension on the spinal cord.

Why does athletic performance have a direct relationship to your nerve system function? Every piece of information that travels to your brain and down your spinal cord helps the body adapt to its external environment.

The ability of your spinal cord to carry these vital messages about the muscles, glands and organs and the brain's ability to respond effectively to these messages can be improved through regular training and different types of riding.

But don't neglect the the central nervous system. Your body makes millions of chemical and electrical changes that affect health and performance every second.

How much pressure against the spinal cord would reduce its function?

Studies have shown that the weight of a nickel on a nerve call can reduce its transmission capacity by 50%. In an extreme case, such as an injury like that sustained by Christopher Reeves, the spinal cord can be severely damaged and profound effects are felt in other parts of the body.

Simply stated, any pressure or interference to the neuro-spinal system reduces the ability of your body to perform at its maximum. If you were injured in an accident, you may need medical attention or even surgery to repair and or replace tissue damaged beyond its normal limits to heal.

After the operation is over what are you depending on to complete the recovery process?

From the incision of surgery to bones knitting back together, you depend on your body's internal self-organizing wisdom to do a great job of putting things right. Consider the possibilities of helping the body do its job better.

Would you make a point to get more rest after an injury? How about reducing stress, mentally and physically? Maybe you would eat a little better, furnishing the body with better building blocks for repair. Would you eat more fruits and veggies and less pizza and French fries?

Do you think all this effort will make a difference in recovering to normal after 3 or 6 months? Did Lance Armstrong sit back during his illness and just wait to get better? I don't think so.

Don't underestimate what higher performance health could mean to you. Better flexibility means lowered resistance in the wind and more speed in triathlons and on the downhills. Better range of movement means improved leg motion and less fatigue in cycling and running and better arm rotation in swimming. Specific exercises can also stretch out the hamstrings and shoulders for more comfort while you're riding. And a fully functioning nervous system, free from the interference of subluxations (spinal malfunctions) will help by coordinating and regulating the function of every cell in your body.

The basics of your health program should include a neuro-spinal check-up once or twice a year. And regular chiropractic care can improve performance even more, as indicated in a 1991 study which showed a 17 percent increase in athletic performance for non-symptomatic athletes over a 12 week period.

Chiropractic programs vary depending on the individual and doctor, but a once per month tune-up can go a long way to helping you maintain high performance health.

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