The Human Spring
A unique approach to examining, treating, training and maintaining healthy mechanics
By Dr. James Stoxen DC
Chiropractic Economics Magazine
Issue #6 Apring 17, 2012
The Human Spring
An approach to examining, treating, training and maintaining healthy mechanics
There is a large gap beween what coaches recommend for elite-level athletes and what most doctors recommend.
for example: Many doctors will say that impacts are bad for you and that running is bad for your knees. They usually recommend cushioned shoes for such exercises.
Yet, when we want to develop the most injury-resistant body-a body that has quickness, speed, coordination and agility- we recommend plyometrics, which involve high-impact drills. So who is correct:
Misunderstanding human engineering
The current mechanical model being used for the study of biomechanics (the lever system) is not correct.
Assuming the human body ambulates, protects itself from impacts and recycles energy through a lever system is illogical and actually defies the laws of physics. A lever cannot protect an object from a lifetime minimum of 250,000,000 collisions with the earth. The body must be a spring mechanism.
The Spring Approach
When a spring mechanism is working correctly, it goes through what’s called elastic deformity upon impact.
The word “deformity” means a change in the shape of the human body. So when you walk or run, your spring mechanism deforms its physical shape just as when you press down on a spring. It loads and stores energy into the deformation process and releases the energy in returning back to its exact original shape.
This occurs when your spring deforms its physical shape. It loads and stores energy into the deformation process, but does not return back to its exact original shape.
That means its shape is permanently deformed and the structure of the spring is not functioning the way it was designed. Therefore, it cannot store as much force on the loading or impact, and it cannot recycle as much energy.
This turns into a permanent deformity, which can also be a herniated disc , arthritis, a bunion, or some kind of abnormal shape of the foot. This keeps the body from functioning to absorb the impact like it did before and prevents it from recycling the energy through the spring mechanism as well as it should. This is an explanation for chronic pain and chronic fatigue and the overall loss of human performance as we age.
All human spring mechanisms age somewhat. However, permanent deformities of the human spring can cause more-rapid aging of the human body.
Another law of physics related to springs is Hooke’s law. Hooke’s law of elasticity is an approximation that states that the extension of a spring is in direct proportion with the load applied to it.
It implies that the deeper you depress a compression spring or the more you can extend an extension spring, the more energy it will recycle and the more protection it will provide.
This simple law explains why a chiropractic adjustment often provides instand relief, more natural energy and improvement in the performance of sports and leisure activities, It’s because it releases the human spring.
Obesity, sedentary lifestyle and even active exercise with improper footwear can cause weakness (or overload) in the spring suspension system, plastic deformity and an inability to effectively recycle energy through the body.
More importantly, a weakened spring system cannot protect the body from the impact forces of millions of landings. That’s why it’s important to evaluate every patient for this if they have a chronic pain condition anywhere in the weight-bearing joints, especially in the back.
If you have abnormal mechanics in the right foot, you have 1.8 million abnormal motions on that side and 1.8 million on the other. That means there will be double the amount in the back.
When examining a patient, ask yourself these questions:
- Does the body spring off the ground or does it bang into the ground? Is it a springing landing?
- Does the foot project with the second toe pointing towards the target?
- Deos the heel, midfoot, or the forefoot strike first?
- Does the foot stay in the safe range between supination and pronation?
- Is there any twisting of the foot or lower limb on the toe off?
Next examine how the human spring mechanism reacts to increasingly greater forces of impacts, starting with simple standing to normal walking speeds, fast walking, jogging, running, and sprinting.
As the speed increases, the force of the impact is greater. Therefore, we are checking the integrity of the human spring support mechanism to be able to handle variable force landings.
The last thing to check is the endurance of the spring suspension system. How many impacts can it take before it fatigues and fails?
If might be beneficial to do a gait evaluation on every patient and an extensive (five-to-20-hour) deep-tissue massage on the patient’s feet and lower extremities to release the spring mechanism.
According to Hooke’s law, you can safely load greater impact forces into the body without plastic deformity.
Ask yourself this:
Does the lever model of the human body obey the laws of nature, physics and common sense, and better apply to the way the body interacts with the earth and gravity? If it doesn’t , then examination, treatment, training and preventive approaches should be reevaluated with the human spring model as the new metaphor.
Top athletes, coaches, and sports scientists are already training the body as a human spring. It’s about time the healthcare industry began to examine, treat and rehabilitate it like a human spring, too.