Published on March 16, 2016
Alcohol impairs the body’s natural healing response, and therefore it can be considered a drug. On a daily basis, we cause micro trauma to our tissues through repetitive strain and stress. Our bodies respond through a natural healing process, which is crucial for allowing our tissues to recover and regenerate. This process helps prevent us from getting neck and back pain by allowing the tissues of our spine to recover from the daily stresses of our activities. It has been shown through research that neck and back pain are occuring in 80% of the population. Our risk for developing pain increases when we abuse our bodies on repeated basis without proper nutrition, exercise and sleep. Alcohol has been shown to increase dehydration, weight gain, inhibit muscle firing contractions and cause poor quality sleep. All of which can be related to the pain that you are feeling.
Alcohol is considered to be empty calories, and empty calories do not contribute to a positive growth response in our body. Our bodies have to work hard to clear out the alcohol content, which cannot be appropriately metabolized. Since our attention is being focused on ridding itself of the alcohol, the attention cannot be spent on healing and tissue regeneration from life’s daily movements and tasks.
Throughout the day, the tissues in our neck and back are being compressed from sitting, repetitive movement and improper posture. As we have discussed many times before, exercise and movement are the key to preventing any pains we feel in our neck and low back. If our body is recovering from a night of drinking, then we will less likely to have the energy and desire to move efficiently the next day. Most often, after drinking, we feel lethargic and sick as a result of abusing our body, not sleeping well and being dehydrated. These are all symptoms of drinking alcohol, as a result of the body looking to excrete it.
Alcohol also slows down normal physiological reactions. When our muscles are not receiving the correct signals to contract and release, we lose spinal stability and mobility; two key components to moving well and pain free. Alcohol interferes and disrupts the normal communication pathways of our nervous system making it difficult to move with proper coordination and balance which can predispose us to a neck and back injury. As well, our ability to think clearly is impaired. All of this leads to our central nervous system being disrupted from functioning well and impairs the brains ability to fire correctly and coordinate proper spinal and limb movement.
At night, it is imperative for our brain to relax and achieve a deep sleep. Disruption of this pattern stops the brain from being able to relax and unwind. This increases our stress and prevents our tissues from recovering and regenerating thus again predisposing us to neck and back pain from the stress. The tissues do not have a chance to heal and decompress. Research has shown that alcohol prevents quality sleep from occurring. If we don’t get good sleep, then we will not have a positive hormonal response release, and pain will occur when we are not expecting it to.
Drinking too much on a single occasion can slow your body’s ability to function properly for up to 24 hours. So, as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, enjoy a pint or two but always remember to refuel your body with water, healthy nutrition and extra sleep!
Make sure you do your exercises that day, and plan ahead to fit in some light cardiovascular exercises the following day. This will help sweat off the extra calories and burn off the alcohol left in your system. All of this will also help boost your immune response which can be lowered from drinking.
Remember; alcohol is a drug and should not be abused. Treat it with caution and respect your body by not overdoing it.