The neurology linking a mobile spine with exercise and health

The brain controls and regulates everything from coordination to mental state and immune function. To know how to respond effectively the brain needs a crystal clear picture of what is going both on the inside and outside of the body. Movement of the body provides: joint position, joint movement and joint loading feedback to the brain, this feedback is called joint proprioception.

Most of the joint proprioception never reaches our conscious awareness, instead it runs subconscious nerve patterns used to keep the body balanced and in a general state of wellbeing. In fact on average 3 000 000 000 000 bits of information reaches the brain every second and only 50 bits reach our conscious awareness. This unconscious “background noise” in the brain is very important for the running of the body. Without it the body would shut down and fall unconscious.

Joint proprioception creates the very foundation of this background noise. In effect movement recharges the battery of our brain. This is why it is harder to stay awake when you are lying still (unloading your joints). This is also one of the reasons why exercise makes you alert and increases your general health and wellbeing.  Movement increases proprioceptive feedback to the part of the brain called the Cerebellum. The Cerebellum regulates unconscious activities such as coordination of movement and balance, but it also sends information to coordinate other parts of the brain that are controlling stress hormone levels, cognition, learning, emotions, organ function and immune function. In short you can say that movement runs the cerebellum, the cerebellum runs the rest of the brain and the brain runs the body. This is why regular exercise has such a big impact on your overall health.

Interestingly 50% of all the joint proprioception that drives the cerebellum comes from spinal joints. Hence it is extra important to keep these joints mobile and free of restrictions to stay healthy. If a joint is misaligned or has movement restrictions the brain gets an abnormal or lacking picture of where the body is in space. A misaligned/restricted joint can cause negative stressful pain signal and decreases the positive affirmative movement signals and hence lower function of the Cerebellum. If this problem is not fixed it can lead to increased general physiological stress and localized muscle and joint degeneration and movement control errors resulting in decreased strength, decreased balance and coordination which in turn leads to increased risk of injury and degeneration.

Another role of movement feedback is to inhibit pain signals, a reduction in joint (esp. spinal) movement results in a decreased inhibition of the pain response and is associated with a chronic stress state in the body. So make sure the joints of your spine and body moves freely and then exercise regularly to reap the full health benefits of your available movement and joint proprioception. As a Chiropractor and Movement Therapist I would be happy to help you with theses objectives.

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