Understanding Your Nervous System
Chiropractic is typically associated with the alignment of bones in your spine, but did you know chiropractic adjustments have a very big impact on your nervous system?
Let's start at the beginning...
Your nervous system controls everything in your body by using neurons/nerves to send electrical signals between your brain and every cell in your body. It contains your brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) as well as all the nerves that leave your spinal cord and go out into your arms, legs, and to all of your organs (the peripheral nervous system).
The peripheral nervous system is further broken down into a somatic and autonomic nervous system. The somatic side is voluntary movements like moving your arms and hands, while the automatic side controls a long list of processes in your body without you thinking about it, such as making your heartbeat and regulating your blood pressure.
The autonomic nervous system is further broken down into the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.
Your sympathetic nervous system is your “fight or flight” mode at improving the senses you need in dangerous situations. The sympathetic nerves are located in your thoracic (mid back) and lumbar (low back) spine. When activated it can increase heart rate, inhibit digestion, and secrete adrenaline.
What happens if you get stuck in constant "flight" mode?
We experience problems like:
- Digestive Issues
- Chronic pain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Being hyper-aware of your surroundings
- Fear or panic
These bodily reactions are very important for dangerous situations you may unintentionally - or intentionally - find yourself in. Certain athletes can also find benefit by activating their sympathetic nervous system and decreasing the energy put towards bodily functions they do not need during activity.
The parasympathetic nervous system is your “rest and digest” mode and is great for recovering and living a calm, balanced life. The parasympathetic nerves are located in your cervical (neck) and sacral (pelvis) areas of the spine. When activated it can slow the heart rate, stimulate saliva, increase digestive activity, and relax your muscles. These bodily reactions are great for everyday living and help reduce the amount of work your body is doing, allowing for recovery and longevity.
What happens if we get stuck in the "freeze" mode?
We experience issues like:
- Low mood
- Poor digestion
- Chronic fatigue
- Low blood pressure
- Low immune functioning
Both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are very important to our survival. Our body’s should be able to easily go from sympathetic to parasympathetic and back again as needed, with most of our time being spent in the parasympathetic range so we get optimal function and longevity out of our body’s.
But what happens if it doesn't?
While in today’s modern world you aren’t being chased by lions on the regular (at least I hope not), many people are stuck in the sympathetic state by the means of financial hardships, relationship problems, work or school stress, and expectations we place on ourselves.
The good news is there are many ways you can activate your parasympathetic nervous system!
First, make sure you speak to your chiropractor about your concerns or if you've been feeling any of the above symptoms.
Chiropractic care helps unlock your body’s ability to transition between the parasympathetic and sympathetic states. At our office we use infrared thermal scans that can help identify if you are sympathetic or parasympathetic. When needed, we also utilize the Logan Basic Technique which has been proven to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
In addition to getting your regular adjustments try some of these things you can do at home:
- Walk in nature
- Cold water immersion
- Sunlight exposure
- Daily motion
- Get restful sleep
- Eat nourishing foods
Understanding your nervous system and how it works is so important! Try some of the above exercises and see how it improves your life!
For a more indepth read on your nervous system check out this resource.