Sympathetic vs Parasympathetic functions of the nervous system:

Our nervous system has 2 interweaving sides: excitatory and vegetative. The excitatory side takes care of emergencies and the vegetative rest and regeneration.  When we are stuck in a chronic tension pattern from a past accident or incident or a prolonged period of unremitting stress our ability to heal ourselves is seriously impaired.   A new client came in for a free neuromuscular assessment/consultation.  She’d been such a hard driving producer that her whole nervous system collapsed into chronic fatigue and inability to heal.  The result was systemic infections that wouldn’t heal.  The antibiotics further destroyed her gut biome and compromised her ability to take nutrition out of her food.  She put on weight and had no energy for exercise.   The end point was extreme: bed ridden for 2 years, too weak to walk, with PTSD from all the attempted interventions. This sketch of her situation (many details have been left out) is a perfect description of the failure to thrive that is marked by a fixation in the sympathetic side of the nervous system.

What the Parasympathetic side of the Autonomic Nervous System does:

  • Meditation; enables you to reach states of at oneness.
  • Relaxation; the ability to calm the mind.
  • Digestion; secretion of enzymes and moving of the bowel
  • Restoration; the efficiency and priorities of our body’s cellular metabolism are directly affected by whether we are at ease or anxious
  • Sleep; the ability to access the deep sleep states of youth.
  • Cell regeneration; all the metabolic chemistry that is used in healing and making new tissue.

What the Sympathetic nervous system does:

  • Constricts blood vessels; raises blood pressure
  • Shortens breath and limits it to the chest muscles
  • Contracts pupils and produces focused “tunnel vision”
  • Reverts to reactive responses based on past experience
  • Inhibits higher brain functions (conceptual, integrative, problem solving and creativity)
  • Suppresses immune response
  • Disintegrates learned, refined movements and smooth muscle tone (colon)
  • Produces physical awkwardness resulting in loss of self esteem
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep or waking up still tired

Chronic Stress creates Sympathetic Hyper-arousal or Hyper-vigilance.  Muscles are tight constantly in an overall hypertension ready for the need to fight, flight or freeze; always “at the ready.”

Areas expressive of the “the startle reflex” such as the back of the neck and elevation of the shoulders, sub-occipitals, eyes, low back, calf muscles, psoas and iliacus maintain the most tension.

The end result:

  • Chronic tension and pain in muscles, especially those expressive of the startle reflex
  • High levels of stress hormones and tension over time create high fluid levels in the tissue.
  • Stiff, sore muscles, poor circulation, taut, pale and thick skin
  • High fluid levels produce poor cellular nutrition, sluggish energy metabolism, poor recovery time from activity, and cell wall fragility.

Brain Buttons are a tool that we use every day here at the Healus Neuro Rehab Center. Using Brain Buttons regularly will improve your ability to pay attention, increase your coordination, reduce your risk of physical injury, and mediate the impact of stress in your life. It is the single most effective tool we can recommend to clients with occasional but recurring pain patterns.

First, Jocelyn shares how we test Contralateral Coordination. Contralateral Coordination is the brain’s ability to coordinate motion across the midline of the body. When this ability is impaired by stress or trauma, we are unable to rotate the segments of our body (our low back, upper back, neck, and eyes) in both directions. She then demonstrates how to use Brain Buttons to restore communication between the two halves of the brain. This turns on bilateral (both sided) brain function and restores contralateral coordination.

You can do Brain Buttons at home! They are a great way to optimize your brain function in the morning, before a workout, before a test, or before speaking in public. Try for yourself to see how effective this simple tool really is!

Have you ever had a muscle spasm that came out of nowhere? Do you have any chronic pain patterns that show up worse when you are under a lot of stress? Most of us understand that stress causes dis-ease, but not many people understand how or why.

Muscular coordination depends on easy communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. We call this Contra-lateral coordination, because both hemispheres of the brain must be functioning and in communication for our bodies to coordinate movement bi-laterally (on both sides). Stress shuts this down this function.
This disconnect is one of our essential survival skills, it enables us to react quickly without thinking. However, prolonged stress, or the after effects of traumatic injuries can create a permanent condition of disconnection between the hemispheres of the brain. On a hormonal level, this results in an increase in adrenal activity, leading to chronic anxiety difficulty sleeping, and the feeling of being on edge and restless.

Adrenal hormones put us on our toes, and cause us to tense up a predictable group of muscles: the low back, back of the neck, calves, and our diaphragm. Adrenaline also affects our muscle tone and resilience. Muscles all over our body tense up: the tight ones get tighter, and the weak ones have spasms. This is what leads to the phenomena we call “My back went out.”
Coordination confusion resulting from a prolonged stress effect is the underlying problem with many physical conditions and symptoms that most bodywork modalities cannot resolve. Luckily, there are a few simple techniques that can resolve this complex coordination problem. Once this underlying “operating system” is corrected, the nervous system will allow the body to change, heal, and reorganize more quickly.

One technique that we use every day at the Healus Center is called “Brain Buttons.” This simple tool comes out of educational kineseology, and was developed to help students prepare their brains for learning in school. It also helps to correct the contra-lateral coordination system, and can correct a wide array of functional inhibitions in the body. Using Brain Buttons regularly will improve your ability to pay attention, increase your coordination, reduce your risk of physical injury, and mediate the impact of stress in your life. It is the single most effective tool we can recommend to clients with occasional but recurring pain patterns.
Brain Function Facilitation enables us to reconnect the communication between the hemispheres quickly. Clients feel better immediately, sometimes with an immediate cessation of muscular pain patterns. The best part is: You can do this for yourself! Click Here to learn how.

Mental clarity and physical coordination are intimately connected. If you have a chronic or acute physical condition, you can come in for a free 1/2 hour assessment and we will give you a copy of Brain Buttons and show you how to calm your nervous system so your body can heal. Stay tuned to the Healus Neuro Rehab Center blog for our next piece on the correct biomechanics of your low back and hips.

photo16Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to our attitude and energy level. Yet sleep in our older years tends to become elusive as our stress hormones are no longer mediated by the abundance of estrogen we had in younger years. When hormone levels fall, muscles harden, exacerbating migraines and tension.

 

Here are some natural ways to help you relax for deep sleep:

Hot baths before bed are notoriously effective in relaxing hypertension and regulating deep relaxation. Taken before bed, a bath can produce a relaxation effect within 20 minutes by dilating blood vessels and reducing blood pressure when cortisol levels wake you with worrisome or anxious thoughts.

Hold points on your governing meridian. Before going to sleep at night lie on your side and touch the spot at the very top of your head with one hand, and your tailbone with the other hand. Take slow, deep breaths, counting to four on the inhale, and four on the exhale. Imagine your breath filling your torso, and then sinking behind you, through your back and into the space behind you. You can also trace your mind up and down your spine, slowly, from top to bottom. This exercise helps to unwind tension, stress, and spinal trauma. With regular practice, you will definitely see the quality and quantity of your sleep improve.

Have a family member or friend hold your adrenal points. Two reflex points will release your adrenal stress before you go to sleep, enabling you to sleep more readily and more deeply. Once your partner finds the points, no pressure is needed. Just touching and holding those points will bring the system to equilibrium and put you to sleep.

The Adrenal Stress Points:treatment
The location of the first point is on our shoulder blade 1″ from the medial border nearest the spine, and 1″ down from the top edge of the bone. If you touch the blade with 2 to 3 fingers, you can’t miss it, as it will be tender to the touch upon pressure. The second point is halfway down the back of the hand, between the 3rd and 4th hand bones (ring and little finger). Hold the points for 1-3 minutes on each side of the body or until you feel pulsation under your fingertips.

With a little attention and regularity, these simple steps will have you sleeping through the night and awakening fully restored and rejuvenated!