Not only has he set new records among U.S. astronauts for most time in space and longest continuous time in space… he literally stands two inches taller after his recent 340-day stint in zero gravity.
Of course, this was no surprise to the veteran astronaut.
While in space, there’s no gravity to create load-bearing weight on your spine. Without the everyday forces of compression which compact your spinal discs and pull every inch of your body toward the ground, the ligaments and muscles holding your spine erect relax, spinal discs reabsorb cushioning spinal fluid, and the spine gently elongates to its full natural length.
Now that Scott is back home on Earth he’ll gradually shrink back to “normal” size. But don’t feel too bad for him, we all go through the same process to a smaller extent every day.
Life as a Human Slinky
You can observe the same effect in yourself by measuring your height when you wake up in the morning, then again at night before bed. You’ll likely find you’ve shrunk one-half to three-quarter inches by the end of the day!
Or, simply notice how you seem to have to adjust your rearview mirror every morning and evening on the way to and from work. It’s all thanks to the subtle but persistent pull of gravity compressing your spine throughout the day.
As you sleep each night, about 75% of the compressive forces of gravity are removed from your spine. Stay in bed long enough, and your spine relaxes some and spinal discs absorb most of the fluid squeezed out during the day. One more good reason to get a good night’s sleep.
Of course, lying prone doesn’t remove all the compressive force of gravity. And over the course of a lifetime, the cumulative effects of spinal decompression will cause you to measure two or more inches shorter than your young adult height.
It’s almost like your spinal discs are jelly donuts and gravity is one giant boot slowly smooshing them into the ground. Eventually, the pressure becomes too great – or, thanks to uneven pressure from muscle imbalances, too unequal – and “suddenly” you experience back pain when the jelly-like core of your spinal disc can withstand no more and herniates through the wall of the disc.
Place the lightest pressure on one of those spinal nerves and you could be in for instant, sharp, severe back pain, sciatica and other unfelt yet damaging health effects. (Remember: your nervous system controls much more than pain… the proper function of every organ and muscle in your body requires an absence of external interference.)
How to Relieve YOUR Back Pain Without Suiting Up
Now imagine you have back pain… but could remove not 75% or even 90% of gravitational compression… but all 100% of it to remove the entire load off your spine. Just like astronauts in outer space. Do you think that might help your back pain?
You bet it would! And the best news of all is you can decompress your spine without ever suiting up for NASA’s space program.
There are specialized devices found in some doctor and chiropractor offices such as the DRX9000 which use traction to decompress your spine. They’re quite effective. But fairly expensive. A four- to six-week program could relieve the worst of your back pain but also set you back $4,000 or more.
And there’s the rub. Our bodies fight gravity every day. So it takes consistent use of spinal decompression to maintain the full benefit. Unless you’re a billionaire like Donald Trump, you might want a more affordable option to maintain your best spine health and keep you out of back pain.
Fortunately, there’s an older – but just as effective – method of spinal decompression, called inversion therapy. Almost like fighting fire with fire, by using an inversion table you let gravity do its own work of gently decompressing your spine for you.
By lying at a small incline of 25 degrees you can get near instant back pain relief. And a mere 60 degrees back removes the entire load of gravity from your spinal column. In a few minutes each day you can get the same back pain relief benefits – including restoration of height lost to spinal compression – as astronauts experience without ever leaving terra firma.
Best of all, no doctor’s appointment is ever needed. You can own your own high-end inversion table and enjoy using it every day for years to come for a tiny fraction of the cost of one series of DRX9000 treatments. Much less the cost of a ride to the International Space Station.
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