Change Your Back, Change Your Brain
Did you know a chiropractor can change your brain by adjusting your back?
It is true! In this post I am going to break down the brain and back connection and how the chiropractic adjustment comes into the picture.
How does the brain communicate with the body?
The most vital system of the body, the brain, relies on a fully functioning nervous system to operate the body effectively. The brain communicates with every cell in the body using nervous impulses—tiny, very weak electrical signals. With the use of nervous impulses, the brain accomplishes all of the tasks of life: Secretions of digestive juices, positional balance, blood sugar, muscle contraction, blood pressure, etc.
Can you believe that the brain is capable of lifting over 1000 pounds? It is true! The brain is capable of stimulating muscle spindle cells, recruiting muscles and sending message to utilize physical leverage to lift over 1000 pounds. However, the brain is not able to start a cascade of messages and movements that will allow for the body to move a fixated spinal segment on its own. The reason the brain cannot remove a spinal fixation is because of inertia—the body literally requires outside intervention to move the spinal segment that is stuck and out of proper alignment.
Inertia is a property of matter that explains how objects stay in an existing state of rest or motion, unless that state is changed by an external force. This need for an external force is where the chiropractic adjustment comes into the story; it helps the brain accomplish the “impossible” by allowing the body to overcome inertia! An adjustment moves a fixated spinal segment back into proper alignment.
How does the body communicate with the brain?
Just as the brain must effectively communicate with the body for smooth operation, the body also needs to communicate with the brain for optimal mental and physical function. The body story is different from the brain story; the body relies on mechanoreceptors to communicate with the brain. Imagine mechanoreceptors as the fingers of the nervous system. These sensory nerve endings are located just beneath the surface of the skin, tucked into various nooks within the spine, brain and organ systems.
Mechanoreceptors detect and respond to changes in pressure, tension, pain, and specific body position. Upon detection of change, a message is sent to the brain that explains how the body is doing and what the body is doing. Another interesting job of mechanoreceptors is that they assist in muscle memory. You know how the adage goes, “It’s like riding a bike, once you know how, you’ll never forget.” Knowing how to ride a bike and never forgetting, is all thanks to your groovy little mechanoreceptors!
Spinal injury and communication between the brain and body:
When there is injury to the spine, a chain of events directs a series of physical changes:
1.) Swelling and eventually scar tissue produces lack of motion between two vertebrae.
Injury to the spine, whether sudden or gradual, initially produces swelling that restricts motion between two vertebrae; over time, the body lays down scar tissue that locks the two vertebrae in place.
2.) The spinal segments that are locked in place cause loss of normal movement.
Due to its inertia, the body cannot overcome the loss of normal movement with its own muscle system. A chiropractic adjustment is the outside force is required to overcome the inertia and restore movement.
This stuck spot in the back, chiropractors refer to as a subluxation. Even more significant than the loss of mobility, this lack of movement between two vertebrae causes mechanoreceptors within the joint to quit communicating effectively with the brain.
How does a chiropractic adjustment help the body and brain communicate?
The purpose of an adjustment is to help the body heal itself. The purpose of a chiropractic adjustment is to unlock joints that are stuck in place. Once the stuck joints are unlocked, and inertia overcome, the spinal cord and nerve endings are activated once again and the mechanoreceptors are able to return to their capacity of sending adequate messages to the brain. Once the nervous system starts firing effectively again, the body can begin to heal.
In contrast, without unlocking the stuck spot in the spine, the nervous system remains in stagnation and will eventually stop sending messages about the “stuck spot” altogether. What I mean by this, is that the nervous system remains blinded to a problem in the spine, degenerative changes in the spine occur as muscles that are there to protect the spine remain shut off. Over a period of time a sore back turns into a stiff back and eventually a stiff back becomes one with disc degeneration.
This is how changing your back changes your brain:
A dynamic response to a chiropractic adjustment changes the back, motion returns, effective nervous system firing returns to sending messages to the brain. All at once, the brain gets word of the change in the back and when the brain perceives no problem in the back where there once was, the patient smiles and says, “Wow, that was it! I feel better!”
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