Your General Adaptive Potential (GAP) is how much capacity you have to live your life. This means how fast you can run, how hard you can work, and how quick you can think. It’s your ability to produce, function, and be active, and for how long. For example, can you go on that bike ride or hike? Are you able to read that book? Do you remember what you learned last year? How about working the long hours needed for your job? How long can you keep doing all of these things?
The GAP changes from day to day, is determined by lifestyle, and to a lesser degree by genetics. It is played out by your nervous system, the system that senses the environment, processes that information, and then sends signals out to the various parts of the body.
You have a work presentation due in 1 week. In addition to working your normal remote 8 hours at home, you need another 3 hours each night to prepare for the sales presentation. Also, your car just had it’s exhaust system stolen and you need to get it into the shop. In addition, you have 3 young children and aging parents to look after. Their memory is failing, and the assisted living center is having a hard time managing them. To top things off, you are renting your house and the landlord says you have 30 days to get out. There’s a clause in the contract and he’s selling.
You’re going to be sleep deprived. You’re going to be stressed. Have you built up your GAP to handle this demand? Are you going to get sick? Is your back going to go out under the emotional and physical strain? Are you going to have a mental crisis? Or, do you have the capacity to push through? If your GAP is small, you will fall apart. If you GAP is big, you will sail through.
This is an extreme example, but we all have crises that pop up from time to time. Today the news is reporting record breaking numbers for mental health problems, especially among the young. How we shrink or expand our GAP, care for ourselves, and teach the next generation to do the same, is going to determine our overall health.
Culture is pushing us constantly to make poor health choices, and if we go with the flow our GAPs will shrink at an unnatural rate. But you can expand your GAP by making lifestyle choices though a common sense strategy,
Neurology: Take care of your brain and spinal cord, and all the nerves coming out. This is your natural IT system, the system that runs everything in your body. It integrates into your immune system, enables you to think clearly, hear, see, feel…sense the environmental accurately, and make instant and long-term adjustments. The nervous system coordinates all the other systems for harmony and balance. Poor spinal hygiene puts pressure and stress on the nervous system, decreasing neurologic capacity. Chiropractic’s main goal is to optimize neurologic capacity by restoring spinal hygiene. Get adjusted and stay in adjustment!
Nutrition: Fueling your body’s tissues with the ingredients necessary for natural repair function. Avoiding toxic foods and chemicals that interfere with the body’s ability to repair and function.
Endurance: Cardiovascular, muscular. Needed for a hard day at work, stuck bent over a bad computer set up, weeding in the yard for hours under a hot summer sun in the yard, or picking up and chasing little kids all day.
Strength: Essential for movement, posture, balance, and hormone regulation. Without strength, not only will the Olympian fail to win gold, but the grandparent will be confined to assisted living.
Structure: The spine is the container for the nervous system, the attachment points for all the muscles. Poor posture and spinal hygiene cause interference on the nervous system and the brain’s ability to control the body. If the structure is neglected, the strength, endurance, and neurological systems start to fall apart.
Dr. Robert Cummins is a 2nd generation chiropractor and the owner of Cummins Chiropractic in Bellevue, WA. He grew up in Washington and enjoys the best of Bellevue and the Pacific Northwest. Outside the office, Dr. Cummins follows the local rowing schedule, and enjoys hiking and trail running at Cougar Mountain with wife, Anna, and their daughters, Hope, Rose, Belle, Lucy, and Maria.