Are You Sticking Your Neck Out?

Your desk chair, steering wheel, and smart phone are trying to kill you.

Did your mom nag you about your posture like mine did? Turns out she was right! Deviations from normal posture can and will impair normal, healthy function in your body. Here’s how:

The Architect of the human body may have shared the basic design with many other creatures, but in mankind, the structure turned upright. This freed those front legs to do other things like create masterpieces of engineering, or change the TV channel with the remote. Standing upright requires the spine to support the weight of everything above the hips, roughly half your body weight.

As adults, we don’t usually think too much about the balance of standing. It took a long time to get there, though. What takes some four-legged creatures just a few minutes to learn, typically takes a human one year to accomplish and several years more to master. The neurology of standing and moving upright is many times more complicated than being on all fours.

Situated at the very top of your body is your head. It has a specific center of gravity that is easy to see. From the front, the head should rest in the middle between the shoulders. From the side, the ear hole should be located directly above the middle of the shoulder.

The most significant and common deviation I see in practice, is the head moving forward of this position. It’s called Forward Head Posture (FHP). This posture is associated with arthritic spinal degeneration, a narrowing of the spinal cord canal which is called stenosis, disc herniation, loss of spinal curves, vertebral subluxation, headache, loss of range of motion, and other issues. Additionally, as the head moves forward, the leverage to cause damage increases.


These changes aren’t limited to the biomechanical. The main trunk of the brain-body connection, better known as the spinal cord, runs right through there. Postural distortions affect neurological function both directly and indirectly. When you disturb neurological function, you necessarily disturb the body’s ability to heal and regulate.

Any activity that juts the head forward encourages this posture. Desk posture, driving posture, mobile device posture, TV watching posture, even book reading posture encourages FHP. Very few activities specifically counteract it. Look around. How many people will you see today with FHP? All of them are at increased risk for accelerated wear and tear, premature aging, and a host of health complications.

Even if we could, simply eliminating FHP promoting activities wouldn’t reverse the damage. Activities including core-strengthening and flexibility are helpful in supporting proper posture and may help reduce some of the effects. The key to it all is a properly aligned and functioning spine. Nobody is better at helping you achieve that than your friendly neighborhood chiropractor.


Choice and Chance in the Land of Healthcare

For thousands of years, coughs, fevers, throwing up, and other disgusting symptomatic expressions have served as a stark warning of the presence of sickness. Unless you have specific training, signs like these evoke a visceral, stomach-turning response that is impossible to miss. For these thousands of years, infectious disease has been the number one threat against the individual. Infectious disease takes advantage of every other kind of hardship to break us down and destroy us.

To avoid that destruction, we have learned through these long generations to avoid any possible sign of sickness and to assume that the lack of symptoms means “no news is good news.” We have come to view sickness and disease as the result of an outside agent that steps in and robs us of our health. The proposition and subsequent discovery of micro-organisms solidified this idea firmly in the mind of those disposed toward rational, scientific thought.

In the early 20th century, this led us to seek to eradicate microbes by any means necessary. Antibiotics, a major medical advancement, showed tremendous promise as a capital weapon in our war on germs. This promise was relatively short lived though. We soon became aware that the very weapon we wielded with impunity against our foe was creating a new generation of germ that thwarted our every attempt to contain it. Instead of eradicating the foe, we were causing it to become only more dangerous and deadly.

Predictions as recently as 1955 painted a very rosy picture of the upcoming new millennium and beyond. Women would appear forever young. Man would live well into his 2nd century. Infectious diseases were to be eradicated. Cancer would be contained. The common cold a distant memory. And so on. Meanwhile, diseases that had previously been conquered are showing up as superbugs, including tuberculosis, staph and the latest, gonorrhea.

According to the CDC’s Top Ten Leading Causes of Death, the only infectious disease that still makes the top ten is the flu. Flu makes the list only when exaggerated and combined with pneumonia. Almost none of the diseases and conditions on the Top Ten list are likely to have early symptoms or to be infectious. Why do we use a healthcare strategy, based on the chance that we can use the presence of symptoms to protect us from the things that aren’t our primary threats? It is a systemic and cultural failure to adapt. In nature, failure to adapt is lethal.

What has become clear is that the primary threats facing American health are related more to choice than to chance. We choose to value a lifestyle and pace of living that require our bodies to be in top condition to keep up, while we choose to neglect or abuse our body at every turn.

Take another look at the diseases and conditions in the Leading Causes of Death and see if you don’t see a rampant pattern of abuse and neglect.   Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other problems related to chronic organ dysfunction of the lungs and kidneys. (Not to ignore suicide, which could be the poster child for abuse of the self.) We can’t legitimately claim that consequences of long-standing physical and emotional abuse happen by chance.

Why do we sit around and do stuff we know is harmful to our health? There are three main reasons:

  1. The consequences aren’t immediate and there’s no “one thing” we’re doing (or not doing) that is the cause of the problem. It’s just not that simple. The cause is cumulative, just like many other modern problems.
  2. The incentives to be healthy contradict cultural norms and values. Our culture values convenience, sensuality, and time efficiency. Natural, healthy foods, as an example, can be convenient, but that limits variety. Variety is one way we satisfy the sensuality value. They are also commonly less time efficient because you are left with ingredients requiring preparation instead of pre-packaged ready to eat items.
  3. A false sense of security when it comes to healthcare.guardrailWe tend to think of the healthcare system as a safety net, because in a way it is. It is a great system for helping someone avoid death in a crisis. But when the crisis arises from a long series of choices we make as individuals, it is limited in how it can help those who choose not to help themselves. It can no more protect you from the cliff than a good guardrail. It may give you a second chance, but it will eventually fail.

We have to realize that the steering wheel is in our hands and that with planning and action on our part, we can make a big difference in our own health outcomes. Right now, we’re #50 in the world. I know we can do better.

This is why the message of Chiropractic is so important. Health and healing come from within. You were made to be healthy. When you disturb normal function, you necessarily disturb the natural ability of the body to express health. Nowhere is this more true than in the nervous system. It is the master control system of the body. It is the part that gets disturbed through vertebral subluxation. That is why Chiropractic exists. That is why Chiropractic saves people money on their healthcare expenses. That is why you should make the choice to get checked and improve your chances.








Several years ago, a friend bought an old 1969 Oldsmobile 442 Convertible and wanted to have it restored. They are beautiful, powerful classic cars, and it would be a great joy ride. I happened to know a man who was a pretty good restoration guy, so I rode with my friend over to see what this man had to say.

car pre

After looking over the car and doing some quick math in his head, the restoration guy said he could get it in near showroom condition for about 15 thousand dollars. My friend, expecting something in the range of 2-3 thousand, started yelling at the man about being a rip-off and started giving me the stink eye.

Car post

But the restoration guy said, “Wait a minute. Do you know what you have here? In near showroom condition this car can fetch as much as $100,000. When he heard that, my friend couldn’t get his checkbook out fast enough.

Why am I telling this story about a car?

Nowadays, most folks throw temporary relief at problems and ignore the consequences until they can’t – just like a poorly maintained car will rust just sitting in a junkyard. It’s like no one told them that they are in possession of a masterwork. Your self-healing and self-regulating vehicle, when properly restored from the trials of the world has an AMAZING capacity to function. We depend on it to live here. Most of us are happy when it just gets us through the day. That’s not living; it’s settling for survival.

The truth is this: you can allow your body to continue to rust and just patch over it, or you can choose to work to restore and maintain the most unique and valuable thing on the planet.

At our office, we focus on the restoration of the master control system, because an intact nervous system will lead to optimum function of the human body.

Cake Auction 2014

Today’s blog is written by the lovely and talented Sasha Johns. She’s my wife and my kids’ Mom, as well as one of the regular bloggers at Middle Places. If you enjoy this, you should enjoy her other musings there. Thanks, Sasha!

For six years now Robert and I have been hosting a cake auction to benefit families experiencing some kind of traumatic loss. It started in 2009 when his employer’s brother lost one of his twin boys in a freak accident that racked up insurmountable medical bills. Unfortunately, it ended in the son’s tragic death. The next two years there were other families that experienced similar life-changing circumstances. These families just needed a little help and encouragement. One thing I learned from my grandmother, who was famous for her cakes, is that a pretty cake makes everyone smile.

Cake collage

When we moved in 2010, I drove back to Atlanta for what I thought would be one last cake auction. We had moved just two months before. A sweet family we knew had a daughter that became a victim to Guillain-Barré Syndrome. There was no insurance to cushion the blow from the medical bills. Up to that point I was happy to do the auctions, but felt frustrated that so little financial help had been gained from them. It seemed to be a Band-Aid on a gushing wound.

The week we moved back home to Birmingham, however, a young couple in our new church lost an infant daughter to SIDS. We didn’t meet them for many months. As fate would have it, our businesses ended up being right next door to each other.

In the aftermath of her daughter’s passing, Kristin reflected on how she could help others going through similar traumas. One of the most overwhelming parts of losing her daughter was planning the funeral. The expense was astronomical and unexpected. She wanted to make sure that if she could help another family avoid dealing with this part of loss, she would. From that reflection the Olivia Charles Foundation was born.

The Olivia Charles Foundation helps families with the funerals of their children among other things. When I first heard about Kristin’s idea, I knew I wanted to continue the cake auction here in Birmingham. All year, the Foundation was addressing what we had only been able to help with just once a year. They were doing the exact thing we had been already working toward, but were reaching more families.

This year the cake auction took on new meaning for our own family. We suffered the exact kind of loss we’d been led to help others cope with when Robert’s nephew went home to heaven 16 days after he was born. He’d been born with a heart defect that the doctors were unable to repair despite their best efforts.  Fortunately, our family had members with the resources to help Robert’s brother and his wife with the costs of laying Daniel’s body to rest. The Olivia Charles Foundation was there to offer the support anyway, and Kristin and Cannon have been so kind to our family in the process.

This year’s cake auction was already being planned when Daniel was born. The cakes were being coordinated the entire time he was in the hospital. Less than two weeks after his passing we held our 6th annual auction with renewed love for this event.

Setting up the cake auction this last week confirmed what my grandmother taught me. It’s very hard not to smile when you see so many pretty handmade cakes. Even more than their physical beauty and amazing taste, was the fact that so much love was put into each one of them. Even the ones that were bought and donated. People wanted to show their love and support for this cause, one that isn’t a pleasant one to think about. That is an amazing thing.

Thank you so much to the 20 men and women who provided the gorgeous cakes for our auction this year. Thank you to all the families that supported the event through purchasing the baked goods and making donations. It was a banner year this year for us as we finally broke the $1,000 ceiling with the auction. For the years going forward we will always do it, not only to honor the families we’ve been able to help in the past, but also to honor Olivia and our very own little Daniel.

US Boasts 51st Highest Life Expectancy

For falling to the 78th percentile, the US gets a:


It’s time to take a hard look at the “Health Report Card” of the US. According to the CIA World Factbook, the most recent data ranks the US behind 50 countries, including South Korea and Puerto Rico, in life expectancy. In 46 countries, including Kuwait and Croatia, mothers are more likely to survive birth. There are 50 countries, including Cuba and Guam, where babies are more likely to survive their first month.


2011’s Life Expectancy Estimates

We are the 18th fattest country in the world, twice the rate of Switzerland.

Alabama is the 47th healthiest state. When we compare just Alabama to the above charts, the results get even worse.

There is hope. Shortcuts like low-fat, trans-fat and artificial sweeteners are being exposed as frauds. We are, as a nation, realizing that good health is a direction and not a destination. Fads and cheats do more harm than good. To have a strong body, each part needs to be strong and all of those parts need to work well together.

Nutrition, exercise, and sleep are most affected by our daily decisions. There are apps and pen-and-paper charts that can give you a report into what you are really doing and how often.  Attitude is a crucial component, too. These things are all interdependent and synergistic, building on each other for better results. That’s good news.

To get the most out of efforts in these areas, it is vitally important that your body be able to function without interference. The part of your body that manages and coordinates all function is the nervous system. Most people are unaware that they live with nervous system interference, called vertebral subluxation.

Vertebral subluxation is “silent” the same way that hypertension and early cancer are. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get it specifically checked. The same is true for vertebral subluxation. Your chiropractor is specifically trained to check you.

Living with subluxation limits your potential to heal, to regulate and to thrive. In my practice, I’ve seen it result in agonizing headaches, chronic ear infections, and asthma, as well as body aches and pains. I’ve seen families who had trouble having kids, become fertile. Chronic conditions like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) respond and quality of life is improved without the nasty effects of toxic and dangerous drugs. When correction is applied, many of these conditions improve or resolve without any other treatments.

You were made to be healthy. No matter where you are today, you can move in that direction!

We’re Moving!

Johns Family Chiropractic is moving!On the 1st of February, we will be leaving Mt Laurel and serving out of a new space on Hwy 280 near Lee Branch. This is a big change for me as well as for you. I’ve been serving chiropractic out of the Mt Laurel office for 3 years, ever since my family returned to Birmingham in 2010.

The Mt Laurel community has been very supportive and I have enjoyed that you have been willing to share so much of yourselves with me. I’m happy to say that since I joined the the community, I’ve been delighted to see businesses such as the Johnsey’s at PharmSouth, The Red Shamrock, and Sabina’s bring their threads into the cloth of the town, not to mention many new residents in all of the nearby neighborhoods

This move is a great opportunity for our family to step forward into 2014.  I don’t see myself as leaving the community or swapping it out for another, I see it as expanding. So I’d like to thank everyone for their support, past, present and future.

How Do You Find the Joy in Christmas?


I’m giving myself (and my family) the gift of a less stressed Christmas by lightening my to-do list in the spirit of self-care and to focus on the real meaning and joy of Christmas:

1. No Christmas cards–whew! no attempting perfect photo of family or kids–yay!
2. No mass quantities of perfectly baked goodies and no staying up late to bake them. Ok, maybe a few family traditional faves just before Christmas!
3. Not overspending (see #1) and staying on budget for all gifts.
4. Avoid the holiday pounds creeping on by limiting the goodies around my kitchen all season and not skipping workouts. I’m way less stressed when I’m taking care of myself.
5. Giving to people in need (see #3, when I don’t overspend, I have $ that we can give)…this makes me happiest!

Carrie Lusk is the wife of a serious cyclist and mother to two full-throttle, youngsters. Of course, that only scratches the surface of one amazing lady who was gracious enough to share her list with everybody this week.