How does one go about having a healthy heart?
Do we even have any control over our hearts?
If you are getting your spine adjusted, especially your cervical spine (your neck), then you are doing something that promotes better heart health on a regular basis. That is true prevention. It is doing an action that stimulates the nervous system to perform heart functions as optimally as possible.
The Heart Rate Variability test (the third test in our CORE Score series of digital neurological assessments done here at Bergen Family Chiropractic) indicate how well your brain, nerves, and heart are adapting to stress.
When your spine is misaligned or when you spend excessive amounts of time looking down (“text/computer neck”), there is a stress response to the body which results in the release of catecholamine neurotransmitters that create the “fight or flight” body responses. These include an elevated heart rate, shutting down of organ function, and mobilization of blood and fuel to the extremities in order to run or fight. When there really is a saber toothed tiger to flee from, these are great body changes to have for the few minutes you need to escape or fight, but when it’s just an angry boss, a deadline, or being slumped over a glowing rectangular shaped device, these changes cause distress and eventual breakdown of the body.
What is a modern, computer-age person to do about this excessive stress response?
First and foremost, you want to have good spinal alignment and flexibility. This lessens the physical stress on the body and optimizes the nerve flow within the spinal cord that runs through the bones.
Secondly, you want to stimulate your nervous system in ways that promote the Parasympathetic nerves to be dominant. These are the nerves that are working hard to keep you alive and well while you are NOT being chased by the proverbial tiger.
The Parasympathetic nerves keep your immune system on guard, digest and process your food, work on making new, healthy cells to replace old, broken-down or imperfect ones, promote proper hormone production, and allow you to have higher cognitive thoughts. We want this part of the nervous system to be in tip-top shape.
Chiropractic adjustments of the upper cervical spine, especially, help to promote the Parasympathetic nerves to be most active. That, in turn, reduces the “fight or flight” reactions in the body and saves them for when they are REALLY needed, such as when you need to dodge an oncoming car or swim from a shark (oh, my! that just gave me the chills to even think about that!).
Adjustments of the sacrum (tailbone area) also can stimulate the Parasympathetic nerves. Exercises that promote spine mobility (neck range of motion stretches, walking, yoga, full body movements with weight lifting or swimming or tai chi, etc) activate multiple types of nerves that stimulate the brain, which in turn, drive further healing of the body.
Now, back to having a healthy heart… Lessening the time you are in “fake” or unnecessary and prolonged fight or flight response, and stimulating and maximizing the time you are in the healing parasympathetic nervous system is great for your heart. Heart rate variability scores increase, which is the proof that your nerves and heart and working together to adapt your body to whatever comes your way. THAT is good health.
Dr. Amy Mercovich, Chiropractor