April is Stress Awareness Month and I thought it was best to talk about the effects stress can have on the brain and the health of your body. Most people have no problem understanding how physical stress, such as falling, lifting, or repeated motions, can cause damage to the spine or other joints in the body. Chemical and emotional stresses can have the same physical effect as well due to the neurological impact on the brain and nervous system.
How Stressing Your Brain Impacts Physical Healing
What most people don’t usually understand is how all of these stresses impact the function of the brain and interfere with the body’s ability to heal itself. The muscles and glands of the body are highly impacted by chemical factors. So yes, too much Starbucks or the wrong types of food can have a huge impact on the function of your spine and nervous system.
Today, more than ever, we are hearing about the effect that emotional stress can have on the body. People understand the link between emotional stress and ulcers, heart disease and headaches. Similarly, emotional stress can result in spinal misalignment (subluxation) along with the severe nerve impact those misalignments can have.
Any time there is an area of the spine no longer functioning correctly that is directly interfering with:
- brain function,
- cognitive function,
- balance and proprioception,
- brain to body communication.
This will lead to multiple health-related issues if not correctly addressed.
How Stress Affects The Spine
There are numerous mechanisms as to how stress pounds the spine, but research done at Ohio State University has recently shed some critical light on the subject.
A group of college students repeatedly lifted 25-pound boxes while a special measuring device calculated the pressure on the students’ spines. During the first half of the experiment, researchers offered words of encouragement to the participants while they were performing their tasks. In the second half of the experiment, the students were criticized, sort of like having your boss yelling at you while you are doing your job. While some of the students were not bothered at all, others, particularly introverted students who did not handle criticism well and who dislike repetitive work to start with, demonstrated an almost 27% increase in pressure on the spine.
A 27% increase in pressure on the spine is more than enough to cause Subluxation.
What this shows is that there is a body-mind interaction that manifests itself as pressure on the spine. ~William Marras, professor of industrial engineering at OSU
This is why you may be experiencing more pain or a flare-up at this time due to increased stress in your life.
Of course, if a person is already suffering from spinal alignment issues, then the spine is in a pre-weakened state so stress will have a far greater negative impact on someone’s health. The researchers were limiting their research to job-related pressure but they concluded that the same findings could occur “anywhere exertion and stress combine.”
What Kinds of Stressors Cause Spinal Alignment Issues?
That could be the pressure of athletic competition or even non-physical stressful situations like talking on the phone with the head tilted at an angle, sitting at a computer, or any kind of repetitive work while experiencing the pressures of your job.
Except for major physical traumas, almost all spinal issues occur as a result of a combination of physical, chemical, and emotional stresses upon the body. Clearly, if you are subluxation free, already living with your spine in line, you will be better able to adapt to all types of stress.
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Yet, in this stressful world, even the strongest spines will move out of a health position given certain circumstances. That is why it is important to make sure your spine is currently in its ideal state and if not, you are actively working to correct it. In our modern, stressful world most, if not all, people require some degree of spinal correction due to continued exposure to chemicals, stress, and physical trauma.
In Honor of Easter week, we will be offering discounted Health & Stress evaluations for all Friends & Family.