There are twelve of body systems: skeletal, muscular, nervous, integumentary (skin), circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, digestive, urinary, lymphatic, endocrine (hormones), and immune. Each of them is subject to stimulation-reaction-response.
Musculoskeletal dysfunction triggers (stimulates) a reaction and response in each of the eleven other systems. When the tape broadcasts the news that something is happening, it's not a warning as such-stimulus is initially regarded as neither good nor bad. But the news that important major muscle groups are not engaging needs to be known by all systems because, for starters, it's going to affect the metabolic process.
Does Posture affect metabolism?
One of the body's most complex biochemical operations, metabolism is the way the body provides fuel to its cells. Muscles play an important role in at least three ways. First, by creating heat from the friction of contracting and relaxing. The heat helps to essentially cook the food, oxygen, and water that we consume until they break down and recombine into substances that can be converted by the cells into usable energy. The more work the muscles do, the more fuel is available to the cells. And the reverse is true: the less work the muscles do, the less fuel for the cells.
The second metabolic role for the muscles is that of being a major metabolic consumer. Large, active muscles have many muscle cells to fuel. This appetite serves to create an expanded metabolic capacity in order to meet muscular demand. But the metabolic supply isn't exclusively used by the muscles, though. When we rest or sleep, our muscles are relatively (and temporarily) inactive, and the fuel that's not needed by the muscles is diverted to other tissue and organs.
That's why poor posture-slumping, misaligned dysfunctional posture-indicates a metabolic dysfunction. Notice that I didn't call it a symptom. Poor posture is actually a cause of metabolic dysfunction. Once the deep muscles-the ones closest to the bones and joints-disengage, the metabolism backs off because the body's monitoring system tells it there are fewer cellular mouths to feed and reduced means to do the feeding. The other eleven organ systems immediately lose.
The benefit of a revved up, efficient, fully functional metabolism. The energy they need to carry out basic functions is no longer as abundant. It puts a strain on every organ in the body and the roughly 75 trillion metabolically dependent individual cells.
Will My Posture Improve If I Lose Weight?
The third important metabolic role played by the muscles is this: reduced muscular engagement means reduced oxygen intake and distribution. Oxygen is the combustion agent that the metabolic process uses to refine the fuel (primarily glucose, amino acids, and enzymes) needed for the operation of the body's cells. Disengaged and dysfunctional major muscle groups mean that the primary vehicle for getting oxygen into and around the body isn't in optimal condition. But suppose circumstances require optimal metabolism. A sudden demand for physical exertion, the effects of stress, or severe illness all call for extra energy to support extra work from the body's organ systems. They depend on the support of a fully functional metabolic process. Since muscular action is involved with drawing oxygen into the lungs and assisting the heart and circulatory system in moving oxygenated blood throughout the body, the disengagement of major posture muscles hinders this work. As a result, fuel production is compromised, as is cell function.
Conceivably, the body could cope with the problem simply by doing less work with less metabolism. After all, our environment is not as rough-and-tumble as it once was. But one system in particular is working as hard as ever-maybe harder.
The immune system is like a network of fire stations scattered strategically throughout the body. The T-cells and various anti-bodies are the fire fighters, ready to deploy, when the alarm sounds, to battle invading viruses, toxins, and other conflagrations. An immune system undermined by an inefficient metabolism cannot respond as quickly or effectively. It just doesn't have enough available energy for aggressive fire fighting, as if many of the fire trucks are out of gas and their crews understaffed.
That's why we're seeing the rise of the new "epidemics" -diabetes, asthma, allergies, virulent but heretofore unknown strains of TB, some types of cancer, and the like. This alarming trend coincides with another epidemic-chronic back pain, headaches, bad hips, knee injuries, hurting wrists, and other musculoskeletal disorders.
I believe the link between this epidemic and the others is visible all around us. If millions of people do not have the strength to stand up straight, to hold their shoulders square and their heads high and level, and to move smoothly without stiffness or pain, how do we expect them to have the strength to fight off disease?
Without adequate musculoskeletal support for the metabolic process, they simply cannot. Around us, the very embodiment of health is crumbling.
I'm painting this gloomy picture not to spread pessimism but to inspire faith. We need to regain our faith in the strength of the human body. After all, it got us through two or three million years of BS-Before Suburbia. Rediscovering it can yield a cure for these epidemics.
By recognizing our strength and its source in muscle and bone, we can escape from the modern delusion that health comes only from experts and technology that soon will be crushingly expensive and beyond the reach of all but a few. Down that road lies misery and future epidemics, the horror of which we can't even begin to imagine.
All of us can afford the price of a genuine miracle cure. We were born with potentially strong, aligned bodies. We were therefore born rich... posture and metabolism.