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Figuring Out Priorities, Systems, and the Path to Great Health: Part 3, Concepts

By Dr. Molly Casey

Systems and Priorities

Systems are a set of things working together as part of a mechanism or interconnected network.

While there are 11 major systems of the body, the five foundational systems are the nervous system, respiratory system, urinary system, gastrointestinal system, and circulatory systems.

Improving a system within the body relies on meeting the system’s basic needs through established priorities: brain/body communication, oxygen, water, and food.

When you are not seeing or feeling the results you want in and with your body, it is often because you are not focusing on the function of the system, its priorities, and the physical concepts that complement them.

Priorities Are Based on Importance

In order for the system of the body to function at its best and then for you to get it to do what you need (heal, improve performance, release weight, etc.), certain priorities must be met. More often than not -- and I’d say the majority of the time -- people are flat-out skipping these steps.

In order of importance, the basic priorities are optimal brain/body communication (chiropractic adjustments improve this), diaphragmatic breathing to take in more oxygen, proper water consumption daily, and proper amounts and quality of food.

Those are the basics. Now what? There are concepts that you can apply to any system -- nervous, immune, endocrine, and musculoskeletal -- as you look to improve the body’s performance and change the quality of your health.

If you want to promote an optimally functioning body, you have to build these physical concepts into your routine to gain the most from the process.

Concept 1: Flexibility

Flexibility is the quality of bending easily without breaking. When any system, including your body, has the basic priorities met, it automatically is more flexible than a system that does not have its basic priorities met. Your cells and body, as a whole, can function better and longer when there’s a strong foundation; even when certain stresses are added -- could be physical, chemical, mental/emotional, whatever -- the body can cope with it more easily and the tension won’t break it as quickly. It’s comparable to a skyscraper that is built to sway slightly in high winds.

When we apply this directly to the structure of the body, it’s about joint motion and proper muscle length and firing. Chiropractic adjustments restore joint range of motion and improve communication between the brain, joints, and muscles for best neural firing. Stretching and deep, manual muscle work assists in proper lengthening and functioning of the muscles. So, first and foremost, make sure your physical routines include regular adjustments, daily stretching, and consistent muscle work.

Concept 2: Stability

Stable refers to the ability of something to not be easily upset, disturbed, or overturned. The level of stability of a system comes from consistently supporting the basic functions in relationship to the body on physiological and physical levels through nervous system communication, oxygen, water and food. For each of us physically, that also includes consistently supporting basic processes for motion in major movements of the body. Because all movements within the body start at the core, consistent exercises that improve core stability will improve the overall stability of the body and all motions it makes.

In the practical application in our daily lives, after your flexibility routine that involves stretching, work on core stability before you look to do anything else.

Concept 3: Strength

Strength is the quality of something to withstand great pressure or force. Increasing strength based on this definition requires that it be solid and firm.. Strength training the body is an important part of an optimally healthy system because it increases the level of physical force/pressure we are able to withstand.

Because we are constantly under all different kinds of stress, if the body’s flexibility is regularly addressed and the stability work is consistently being performed, loading it with weights so it can handle more is a great idea for increasing bone density, improving performance and endurance, and changing body composition/releasing weight. But if flexibility and stability aren’t addressed first (and consistently), then the gains in strength will be less than optimal.

Concept 4: Power

Power with relation to the body is its ability to exert a force. Strength is the ability to withstand force over a longer period of time, but power is the ability to exert the force in a small period of time. Think about lifting 150 pounds over three sets of 10 repetitions (strength) versus a one-time burst to lift the 150 pounds (power.) The body requires both of these skills to function optimally.

To improve the body’s power it must first have certain baseline levels of strength. For example, you won’t be able to lift 150 pounds once if you don’t first have the strength to repeatedly lift 70 pounds. Power comes after the base of strength. Testing and improving the body’s power is an important part of improving its function and overall health. The better we are able to handle bursts of forces physically, the better we are able to handle and perform when very stressful, unforeseen events happen in life, such as a death or loss of job.


Optimally functioning systems require proper prioritization. Consistently supporting the highest priority functions will create a stronger system. You’ll then be able to direct the system (body) to create the changes and results you desire to see. You’ll also be amazed at how much less energy and effort is required to create the results you want, and it’s because the system works as it is intended. It’s like magic. It also can become fun.

So, the best way to support your body’s primary systems -- nervous, respiratory, urinary, digestive, and circulatory -- is to prioritize spinal health, proper breathing, hydration, and nutrition. To further expand the body’s excellence to perform optimally, work to make it flexible, stable, strong, and powerful.

If you’re struggling with your body, your health, or how you feel, go back to the basics. Work the system priorities and let your chiropractor help you along the way.

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