From the presence of vitamin D receptors in our cells and vitamin D factories in our epidermis, along with the central role vitamin D plays in calcium metabolism, immunity, and gene expression, it’s pretty clear that having adequate vitamin D is an essential component of being a healthy, successful homo sapien. And yet, many health practitioners suggest that vitamin D deficiency is one of the biggest nutrient deficiencies in modern society. The question, then, arises: What’s the best way to get enough vitamin D – via oral supplementation or sunlight?
To determine that, let’s examine a few common questions surrounding the various modes of intake.
If you’ve been following my series on joint mobility you’ll know that I’ve already covered how to improve and maintain joint mobility for the hips, thoracic spine, and ankles and wrists. Today and tomorrow I’ll be going over the shoulder. The shoulder is a tricky joint because it has to provide adequate stability while maintaining full mobility to prevent injury and maximize function and performance. If you look at yourself in the mirror and wave your arms around, you’ll see what I mean. If that doesn’t work, watch a swimmer, preferably one doing the IM, and watch the incredible range of motion in those shoulders. That’s what the human body is capable of.
Know what you’re looking for and you should be able to count ten different types of shoulder articulations. Ten! Contrast that with the hips (eight), the ankles (two), the wrists (four), or the spine (five), and the shoulder is clearly the most complicated joint with the greatest range of motion. Because “with great power comes great responsibility,” the shoulder is also perhaps the joint most vulnerable to injury. You can do a whole lot with a well-functioning shoulder joint, but you can also really mess yourself up and curtail your activity level for a long time if you get haphazard with its maintenance. Take it from a guy who messed his shoulder up more than once: shoulder health is absolutely required for an active, enriched life. And if you plan on attaining any sort of athletic competency on any level, you need good shoulders.
The largest organ on our body is the skin. Its protective layers guard our muscles, bones, internal organs, and ligaments, while its active function results in the most fundamental of our five senses – that of touch. For all our focus on maintaining optimal organ function through diet, exercise, and lifestyle, could it be that we’re neglecting the organ that figures most prominently in our daily, direct communion with the material world?
I know that it’s awfully easy for me to go several days without real, meaningful physical contact with another human when I’m on the road promoting the book or giving a talk. Oh, sure, there are handshakes and incidental shoulder brushes and maybe even the occasional fist bump, but it’s not the same. I miss my wife and kids. You can’t exactly hug total strangers (nor would you really want to) or even business associates. When I’m away from my family and close friends, I realize just how ubiquitous our self-made, imaginary personal bubbles have become. We all walk around with them. This world is getting more crowded every day, and yet we’re somehow able to maneuver through it without so much as touching a single person unless we’re crammed into a train or city street. And still, even in those situations, people are loathe to make contact with one another, even ocular, and we manage to avoid most of it.
How mobile are your wrists and ankles? They’re the primary hinges for our two major sets of extremities – hands and feet – and yet they often go neglected. They’re two of the most common sites of debilitating pain and acute injury, and yet people do little else to correct the problem than tightening the high tops, strapping on some constrictive sleeves, or avoiding activity altogether. All those “solutions” miss the point entirely, in my opinion. Rather than fix the root issue, they skirt it and apply expensive band aids. If you know anything about how I approach other issues of health and wellness, you can guess that I’m not satisfied with the band aid approach to wrist and ankle mobility. We can do a whole lot better than that.
Do your shoulders slump and round when you walk, sit, or stand?
Do you get lower back or neck pain when doing twisting or rotational movements?
Have you resigned yourself to living with that nagging rotator cuff pain that flares up during workouts and in bed?
If you answered “yes” to any of those (and most people will answer yes to at least one), you may have poor thoracic spine mobility. Even if you don’t notice any of the symptoms leaping out at you, it never hurts to get more mobility, especially in the thoracic spine. And establishing good habits by actively maintaining and training mobility, as opposed to being content with what you have (even if it’s not optimum), is always a good move. Scoff at the prospect of thoracic spine mobility all you want; you still gotta have it.
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