For most of us, it's the love we share with that special someone in our lives.
I raise this question about one of the strongest, most important muscles in the body-beating roughly 2.5 billion times and pumping nearly 300 million liters of blood in an average lifetime-because we depend on its function every day of our existence for everything from oxygen and hormone delivery to tissues, as well as the removal of waste from the body.
There is nothing glamorous about this organ, except for the fact that it operates every second of every minute of every day of every month of every year for our entire life without our conscious control. Wow! How is this possible, you might ask?
The answer is in your NERVOUS SYSTEM. A division of this system called the autonomic nervous system, or ANS, is responsible for every heart rhythm in your life. I find it easiest to think of this group of nerves as those that are responsible for "automatic" functions in the body (i.e. heart rhythm, breathing, digestion, etc.)
These nerves automatically adjust to every demand placed upon the body as perceived by the brain, and they are always functioning whether you are awake or not. Isn't it great that when we exercise, for example, the heart automatically accelerates, our respirations automatically increase and waste removal of toxins in the body accelerates as well? It's truly amazing.
As chiropractors, we are naturally very concerned about the function and integrity of this group of nerves. Why? Because the largest network of nerves that feed signals to the heart are found cased inside the spine at the base of the neck. Acute or repetitive stress on the body can irritate these nerves and thus distort the signals sent to the heart, causing it to function abnormally.
The nerves at the base of the neck are subjected to tremendous pressure and irritation anytime the head drifts forward off of the shoulders.
This usually occurs while driving, reading or using the computer (it's a good thing this article is short!).
Imagine how long you could hold a 10 lb. weight by your side versus holding it straight out in front of you. Holding the weight out in front of you for a long period of time is similar to the strain that your joints and nerves experience when your head drifts forward off the shoulders.
It's easy to see when someone is experiencing chronic stress to the nerves in that part of the spine if they exhibit what is known as a Dowager's Hump, or what many refer to as a "buffalo hump."
Medical studies show that this not only has a detrimental effect on heart function, but that it will decrease the lifespan of the individual by as much as 30 percent.
If there is someone you care about that spends a substantial amount of time driving, reading and using the computer, please have them checked by a chiropractor. Their life will have more vitality, longevity and happiness because of it.
Jason Epeneter is a family chiropractor at Premier Chiropractic in SeaTac and recently returned to his roots here in South King County after practicing for 6 years in San Diego.
He loves spending time with his wife, daughter and other family and is passionate about empowering others with information for a healthier life. He can be reached at 206-878-8888 or at email@example.com