Spine to brain….do you copy?
So my son asked me today, “what is parkour?” Now, did I tell him the truth and potentially unleash many years of me hiding behind cushions while he tries new stunts, or did I say, “it’s a type of desert, my dear”?
The good news, so far, is that I told him the truth and all we got after that was encouragement for his sister to do an assault course. Tame. So far.
It made me think though. I’ve been wanting to write some more about chiropractic in these blogs. I seem to have had an incessant desire to learn about nutrition with all that’s going on. But perhaps with the thought of getting back to adjusting spurring me on, I am back in the neurology books.
Here’s a little fascinating (big fascinating if you’re me) thing essential to those who do parkour which I joined the dots on last year. I’ll never be the same again. Maybe I’m a bit like that but here we go…
Spine to brain, do you copy?
Muscles have spindles in. Nerve fibres that communicate to the brain about what the muscle is doing, where it is in space and other information is gleamed like whether it is contracting for example and how fast.
The concentration of these muscle spindles is higher in some muscles than others. The ones that provide closer control have more. Here are a few examples:
- Gluts/hams = 2 spindles per gram of muscle tissue
- Finger = 16 spindles per gram of muscle tissue
- Upper spine = 242
242, I beg your pardon?!!!
Those tiny muscles in the top of the neck that sit between the top 2 vertebra and the skull?
The very same ones we used to debate the purpose of with their complicated long names and tiny size whilst carrying the head about?
The joke of the first vertebra being called the “Atlas” carrying the weight of the head on its shoulders, yet with a group of tiny muscles around it?
Seems the answer is yep, those ones.
Little is not insignificant, my grandma always used to convince me.
Such intense communication between the deep upper neck/base of skull muscles and the brain is there to provide essential position sense, all day every day in response to the one constant sense – gravity. Active both through smooth movements and during the responses needed to protect from injury during aberrant movements, and well, for things like parkour for sure, these nerve signals make sure we react both quickly and accurately. No parkour needed, a trip over a step will do for you and I. Or simply running and catching a ball. Or riding a bike. Fast responses protecting us. Don’t forget the minor adjustments they make all day to keep our head stable and let us move smoothly and accurately.
And then to boot, last year when studying the Neuro-Behavioural Development of Children, aside from many mind boggling things I learnt was the discussion that the feedback from the spindles in these tiny muscles are in fact considered to supersede the input of the semi-circular canals (inner ear apparatus) in bipeds- those who walk on 2 feet. Wow. Our balance systems are driven more by this area of the spine than the inner ear?
Kinda makes sense if you think about it. We create a lot more movement up there than those on all fours. At least as far as any 4-legged one I’ve encountered. This is reflected in the fact that some chiropractic techniques focus solely on upper neck function.
For me it’s the cranium to pelvis along with the cranial dura, that membrane that envelopes the brain and spinal cord and holds strong attachments in the skull, the upper neck and then the sacrum.
It all comes home to the fact that the better our spine functions, especially those upper neck vertebra, the better we we navigate physically through life. (Actually this then feeds our prefrontal cortex and influences many other functions, but I’ll save that for another day)
Choose from these for 5 minutes of your day today
1. If you want to say ‘no’ a lot and get sweaty palms, have a watch of this in your break. I dare you to get to the end. Parkour at it’s finest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIJ5m1_6E24
2. Read my blog on what to do to keep yourself moving if you are spending your day stuck behind a desk https://chiroandcranio.com/move-eat-think/
3. At the very least, chin in and long back of the neck, Step in the right direction to relieve your upper spine.
4. Have a think how well your neck is moving and wonder if you should get adjusted. No booking online available via the webpage at the mo, but drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add you to the list for when I’m back in the office post lockdown.