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Body Signals: Chiropractic Care and Stress

Let’s be honest, Life is Stressful. It is easy to find things to stress about with all that is going on today.

Job pressure, finances, health issues, relationship troubles, the media, and other environmental factors can weigh us down. All these stresses of life can lead to an unhealthy amount of chronic stress which can lead to a plethora of health issues and symptoms associated with them. Chiropractic care, however, can greatly reduce the negative effects that chronic stress can have on our health.

Chiropractors are experts on spinal and nervous system health. By making sure the spine is aligned and free of subluxations, a chiropractor greatly reduces nervous system interference, which makes it easier for our bodies to adapt to stress.

So, what is a subluxation? Well, a subluxation is a misaligned vertebra in the spine. This misalignment causes undue stress and irritation to the nervous system tissue (spinal cord and nerve roots), and this irritation leads to an unhealthy nervous system. The nervous system is the master system of the body, so for our bodies to adapt to stress and stay healthy we must have a healthy nervous system.

The nervous system oversees all coordination and functions of the body. Some we can consciously control, and others we have no control over. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the component that regulates all involuntary processes including heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, digestion, gland function etc. The ANS is mostly split into 2 divisions: sympathetic and parasympathetic.

  1. Activation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) leads to a state of elevated activity and attention called the “fight or flight” response. This process increases blood pressure and heart rate making our body available to respond to stressful stimuli.
  2. The parasympathetic nervous system promotes the “rest and digest processes: heart rate and blood pressure lower. The parasympathetic has a calming effect on our body.

There must be a healthy balance between both divisions of the ANS for our bodies to express optimal health and well-being. However, we live in an ever-increasing stressful society. Most people are sympathetic dominant; meaning they do not have enough parasympathetic activity.

Sympathetic dominance leads to the negative effects associated with chronic stress like cardiovascular disease and poor immune system function. Without proper parasympathetic activity acting as the sedative “brake” to our stress response, cortisol and epinephrine, the main stress chemicals in the body, are gradually leaked into the blood stream thus leaving the body revved up and on high alert. Persistent epinephrine can damage blood vessels, increase blood pressure and increase risk to heart attack and stroke. Elevated cortisol levels lead to a buildup of fat tissue and weight gain increasing the likelihood of obesity. So, where does chiropractic care come in?

Well, chiropractic care is aimed at creating a healthier nervous system with a proper balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic activity. The health of our nervous system is directly related to the health of your spine. By removing misalignments, called subluxations, in the spine, we can directly influence our nervous system in a positive manner and create a healthier balance between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. Chiropractic care has been shown to decrease the levels of cortisol, thus reducing the damaging effects that chronic stress has on our overall health.

If you are experiencing any of the body signals associated with chronic stress – fatigue, headaches, indigestion, poor immune function, pain – or know anyone who is, a chiropractor may be able to help. Do not let chronic stress damage your health and lead to a poor quality of life. We are here to help you heal from within. Reach out today, we are here for you.

 

References
The organization of the stress response, and its relevance to chiropractors: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1629015/

Understanding the stress response: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

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