The Nervous System
“Look well to the spine for the cause of disease.” – Hippocrates
While many people have heard of the nervous system, not quite as many know what this system does and is capable of. The nervous system is comprised of your brain, spinal cord, and all of the branches of nerves that come off of the spinal cord. The brain is the master control unit in the body. The spinal cord is the master highway to and from the brain. The brain is constantly getting input from various tissues within the body, through the spinal cord. When the brain “makes a decision” on what to do, the message is sent back through the body via the spinal cord.
The vast majority of the communication taking place within the body is done sub-consciously. When you start to eat, your body will constrict arteries to your muscles and dilate arteries to your organs. It does this to more efficiently process the demands placed on it. Your body is constantly regulating and handling demands placed on it, all while we are doing whatever it is we need to do for the day.
This sub-conscious part of our nervous system is called the autonomic nervous system. Within the autonomic system, you have two sub-divisions that need to coordinate efficiently. They are the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. You can think of the sympathetic system as “fight or flight”. Think about a time where you were either in danger, or in fear of being in danger. Your heart starts pumping, your eyes dilate, and your senses heighten… a survival technique. As opposed to that, you have the parasympathetic system which you can think of as “rest and digest”. When you take in a lot of food, you may have found yourself lethargic and tired. That’s your parasympathetic system kicking in….
We live in a world where we are constantly being stimulated. Such as by our handheld devices, looking at computer/ tv screens, driving… the list goes on. Over time, for people that are not handling life’s stresses, it can have an accumulation effect. We get stuck in a pattern of sympathetic dominance. We perceive our environment as constant stress signals, which inhibit our ability to “rest and digest”. What happens is we see these stressors that our body can’t handle show up in the spine. Have you ever been so stressed out that you get a headache, or your upper back gets really tight? What we do in our office is address the imbalance of the nervous system. In chiropractic, we call this imbalance or disruption in the system a subluxation. Chiropractors are trained to address the dysfunction, through the use of force, via a specific, directed adjustment.