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3 Benefits of Chiropractic That Aren't Pain-Related

Introduction


I feel like I need to mention this before we get started with this list, but there are so many more benefits of chiropractic than just the ones we have listed here. The realm of chiropractic care extends far beyond pain relief and I believe that it is an absolutely essential addition to any healthy lifestyle. Removing stress from the spine could be your body's gateway to optimal function! Now, without further adieu, let's get to some of the benefits of chiropractic!


Improved Range of Motion


A common complaint that I receive in my office is patients not being able to move their bodies a certain way -- whether it's not being able to turn their head to merge into traffic or reaching into a cupboard to grab a coffee mug. Joint restriction causes decreased ranges of motion and that is one of the target goals of chiropractic -- to reduce joint restriction.


Following adjustments, it is well-reported that there are increases in ranges of motion. Meade et al. showed a distinct improvement in straight leg raising and lumbar flexion following chiropractic adjustments and showed a greater improvement when compared to care provided by a hospital setting. (1) Vieira-Pellenz et al. found that individuals with degenerative lumbar disease had improvements in spinal ranges of motion and hip ranges of motion in straight leg raiser following chiropractic adjustments. (2)


But how does chiropractic accomplish these results? By restoring normal spinal biomechanics! Each adjustment is targeted to a region of the spine that is under mechanical stress. By removing this mechanical stress, normal range of motion is restored!


Improved Sleep


Sleep is something that not many people get enough of, in fact Americans get roughly 6.8 hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation is a growing problem across the globe, and it can lead to chronic health conditions if not addressed early enough -- heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and more. People are always looking for ways to improve their sleep and may be surprised to find that chiropractic can help bridge that gap!



In previous posts, we've discussed how chiropractic can be greatly effective in aiding the body's response to stress. Stress is a common culprit for poor sleep and sleep deprivation for people of all ages. By reducing stress from the nervous system, we are able to influence the "fight or flight" stress response. Getting the body out of sympathetic overactivity is crucial for regaining normal physiological functions! A study published in 2003 showed drastic improvements in the well-being of a 9-year old boy suffering from insomnia and other conditions following upper-cervical chiropractic care.


Sympathetic dysfunction can lay host to a variety of sleep disorders: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), insomnia, and narcolepsy. There are theories surrounding why sympathetic activity influences sleep and one of those theories is the Hyperarousal Theory of Insomnia -- the sympathetic response keeps the body in a heightened state of awareness, affecting various aspects of our sleep-wake cycles. By getting the body out of an overactive sympathetic response, one could presume that you could see improvements in your sleep!


Improved Immune System Function


There are two primary contributors to decreased immune system function -- stress and inflammation (heads up, you're going to be reading about stress A LOT in these posts). In previous posts, we've talked about the various categories of stress that exist: physical, mental, emotional, chemical, and so on and so forth. Stress plays a key role in the function of the autonomic nervous system -- namely its impacts on the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system releases pro-inflammatory markers as a response to stress. Without the counteraction of the parasympathetic nervous system releasing anti-inflammatory markers, this inflammation can spread body-wide and ravage the immune system. (7, 8)


Stress and inflammation work tandemly to help protect the body against acute stressors. Acute stress activates the sympathetic nervous system to release pro-inflammatory markers that help the body fight off infection! The problem is that chronic stress has the ability to overload the system with inflammation.


Chronic sympathetic nervous system activation = chronic pro-inflammatory marker release = chronic systemic inflammation = decreased immune function.

What our bodies need to be able to do is balance the activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. If the needle tips too far in one direction, the body will struggle. Our body's are beautifully designed to ward off danger and keep the body safe, but the fail-safe mechanisms of the body can also cause us problems!


Chiropractic functions to inhibit the overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Reducing sympathetic overload allows the body to fall back into a state of healing and recovery, allowing you to feel and function better!


Conclusion


We all know that chiropractic is beneficial for aches and pains, but there are so many more benefits that you are able to experience through consistent, structured chiropractic care. I base my life off of simplicity and by keeping the principles of chiropractic simple, we can understand the complexities of this profession a little easier!


Chiropractic aims to reduce stress from the spine and the nervous system. By reducing stress from the spine and nervous system, your body can fall into a balanced cycle of sympathetic/parasympathetic activity. If we swing into a more sympathetic-dominant state of activity, we see inflammation and stress responses drive the body into the ground.


Utilizing chiropractic is incredibly beneficial for your overall health and well-being, so find a chiropractor near you that has a neurological focus. It could end up being the best decision you make!


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