Everyone knows what a Chiropractor does: you have whiplash injuries from a car accident, you go see the Chiropractor; stuck at a desk all day and feel like that balled-up bit of paper in your waste basket, it’s the Chiropractor who gets you (almost literally) straightened out. They make your back go ‘click’ and you feel like you’ve just shrugged off a heavy backpack, energised by a sudden feeling of lightness and vitality.
Is it all about the back?
But the truth is that there is more to Chiropractic than that satisfying feeling you get post ‘click’. What your Chiropractor is also doing by making adjustments to correct the alignment of your spine is helping your brain to function as it should. We use a few analogies to explain this at R&I (such as this one here) but what they all illustrate is how any misalignment in your spine can affect the surrounding nerves and thus the signals being sent to and from your brain. And it really goes without saying, but anything that is interrupting your brain’s day-to-day business is not a good thing!
In fact when the signals to our brain are disrupted in this way, it can actually alter the brains perception of its environment and how it then adapts to this can be contrary to what is actually required. It’s like blindfolding a fireman- he has no idea where to spray the water and invariably it goes in the wrong place. In the case of your brain, it responds by increasing what is called the ‘sympathetic tone’. This is when your brain is receiving information that you are under physical stress, so kicks into ‘flight or fight’ mode, releasing stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol into the body.
Of course this also happens when we are engaged in positive activities (such as exercise) and is no problem in the short term. However, if exposed to these chemicals for long periods, our bodies become exhausted and our immune system compromised as well as leading to digestive problems, blood pressure irregularities and fatigue amongst other things.
We are all exposed on a daily basis to a staggering amount of physical, emotional and chemical stress in the modern world; things which our bodies have not evolved to cope with and can lead to subluxation (a misaligned spine) and brain stress. The problem is that we aren’t always consciously aware that anything is wrong unless there is pain involved. But, just as we all know it is important to drink before we are thirsty in order to stay properly hydrated, so it is with seeing the chiropractor before we feel pain.
So, the next time you visit your Chiropractor, you can now imagine that with every satisfying click you can feel your brain getting a little extra boost as all those neural pathways are freed up. It won’t turn you into the next Einstein or Bill Gates, but it will certainly help you to stay healthy and live longer!