Sympathetic Dominance and Chiropractic

The Stress Response

Life can be stressful. In fact, our bodies are designed for stress. When we experience alarm, our body activates the sympathetic branch of the nervous system to help us adapt. Nature, for the sake of our survival, has tilted our physiology to be able to enter into a state of fight-or-flight easily, and to remain there for as long as is necessary to solve the problem.

This highly intelligent response is not a problem. In fact it’s why we are alive. But our preponderance to remain in our stress response after the stress is gone can cause problems.

Many of us fall into chronic stress patterns as a result of our inability to counterbalance our nervous system’s preponderance toward sympathetic dominance.

The Value of Movement

In the time of our ancestors, stressors were always real-life dangers requiring

that we run from, or fight the source of our stress. Once it passed, we would convene back with our tribe, recount our experiences, and resolve ourselves to a balanced physiology.

“When we move, special receptors called proprioceptors send signals that activate the brain and downshift the nervous system from an elevated sympathetic fight-or-flight response back toward the resting parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) baseline.” –Satya Sardonicus, D.C. Pathways issue #58

Stressors today are not exactly as clear- cut as they were for our ancestors. Most don’t involve a situation of literal fighting or fleeing. Instead, they are often intellectual or emotional and can be repeatedly activated through the imagination while seated at work or lying down in bed. We rarely engage the built-in mechanism for down-regulation that comes from body movement.

Stress in today’s world can look like this.

Stress in today’s world can look like this.

The Value of Chiropractic

A chiropractic adjustment induces proprioceptive signalling to the brain, much the way body movement does, but it also clears nerve system pathways so that body movement will more effectively balance sympathetic activity. Furthermore, nerve system imbalances themselves activate the body’s stress physiology. With chiropractic you not only reduce stress, you build resilience so that future waves of stress can easily follow the design that nature intended.

By Pathways to Family Wellness Magazine. Issue #58

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