A joint is where two bones meet and move. Soft tissue surrounds and attaches to the joint, for example: ligaments, tendons, fascia and muscle. Amongst all of this soft tissue are nerve endings that send your brain information. These signals about movement, position, temperature, vibration etc. travel from the nerve endings, along nerves to your spinal cord then up to your brain. Collectively we call this information proprioception and it is vital for your ability to move. Most of this information is being processed by your brain on a subconscious level and the quality of this information is important for your ability to balance and adequately coordinate your movement.
Most people probably never think about how they can bend and twist their whole spine yet individually each vertebral segment seems to move in the right way and when you’re not moving each vertebra holds its own position (think posture). When this system fails the joint and surrounding tissue is put under unnecessary loads and in the short term injuries occur and long term this leads to joint degeneration aka osteoarthritis.
Most of what we see in clinic goes something like this, “I just bent forward to put my shoe on and my back went” or “I was just brushing my hair and now I can’t move my neck”. These movements should be well within a normal person’s ability, so the question is, what’s happened to cause the injury? Simply put the neurological messages (proprioception) that control coordination aren’t doing their job. Proprioception is inadequate. The messages going from your joints and soft tissue are not sufficient and you have lost the ability to control and coordinate the small joints of your spine.
A basic movement without coordination results in damage to the joint and PAIN!!!
So how do we lose Proprioception?
1. 1. When we don’t move our ability to recognise movement is diminished. So, if you sit at a desk all day you are reducing your bodies proprioceptive output = decreased joint coordination.
2. 2. After an injury the soft tissue is damaged and so are the nerve endings so once again proprioception is lost, this makes you more likely to suffer a re-injury. And the cycle continues. Many people have re-occurring back pain because they dont properly manage their post injury recovery.
Any of you that have had an ankle sprain will know that the appropriate rehabilitation is balancing on a wobble board. Whilst most people think this is to strengthen the muscles of your ankle (which it will) the most important outcome from the wobble board training is an increase in proprioception. The aim is that the next time you step on uneven ground your nerve endings send the correct messages and the muscles will switch on and stabilize your ankle joint before the ligaments pull tight and tear.
Your joints in your spine are the same!!!
So how does chiropractic help?
The Chiropractic treatment restores movement and improves proprioception so the messages sent from the joint by the nerves to your brain can be used to coordinate and control movement. Chiropractors treat both spinal joints and any other joint in your body. Because your joints, muscles, soft tissue and nerves all work together to control how you move Chiropractic care is a great approach to managing injury, preventing injury and simply moving better. From the frail to the high performance athlete, we can all benefit from the improved performance of Chiropractic care.
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