Over a year ago, I started incorporating Heart Rate Velocity (HRV) testing as part of the initial examination that is conducted when someone starts care at the office. HRV is recorded and re-assessed at each progress examination. This is exciting because both I and the patient can see how their autonomic system is reorganizing and responding to the care that they are receiving at BodyMind Wellness Studio.
A proper functioning nervous system is critical to health and well-being as it responsible for the communication between the brain and the body. A healthy nervous system is one that has the ability to quickly respond and accommodate to the body’s immediate needs. The autonomic nervous system is made up of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, and optimal health is best achieved when these two systems are in balance.
In every moment of your life, depending on your body’s needs, either the fight-flight response or the rest-digest system will be active. When the sympathetic “fight-flight” system is triggered it prepares the body and mind to fight, freeze or flee by releasing hormones to increase heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and body tension. At the same time, non-essential processes like digestion, reproduction, cell growth and repair are put on hold to deal with the immediate stress. When the perceived threat has passed, the sympathetic system shuts off, the parasympathetic “rest-digest” system becomes active again and hormones are released to allow the body to rest, digest, grow, and repair.
Heart rate variability (HRV) is an indicator that both branches are functioning. Variability refers to your heart beat’s ability to shift throughout the day. Your heart rate is not meant to be constant all the time, it varies in accordance with your activity. You want a nervous system that has the flexibility to quickly move from rest-digest, to fight-flight when necessary, and back to rest-digest. Your parasympathetic nervous system is what keeps your nervous system in balance.
Our fight-flight response can be triggered by real immediate threats, like hearing a noise when walking alone in a dark alley, or watching a car crash happen in front of you. But other factors such as mental, chemical or physical stress can also lead to over-activation of the sympathetic branch and decreased activation of the parasympathetic branch. Indeed, in our modern age, stress plays a major role in the imbalance that can occur in the central nervous system. Imbalances in autonomic activity can lead to an elevated heart rate and lowered HRV, which is why I use an HRV test as part of my patient care.
Dr. Daniel Knowles conducted research on this topic, and published his report: Improvement in Heart Rate Variability in 46 Patients Undergoing Chiropractic with Network Spinal Analysis. “This study demonstrates that NSA care may be an effective method for people to improve their autonomic nervous system function through adjustment of vertebral subluxation, reorganizing spinal tension patterns and decreasing physiological stress.” As stated in the conclusion of this paper, and according to several healthcare experts present at the conference, this research will help many practitioners in the future on several areas of key importance. The study will not only add to the existing literature on the subject, but will ultimately play a major role in bringing many patients back to good health.
The brain and the body communicate via the nervous system located in the spinal cord. If the body is “stuck” in a defensive state as a result of a stress (be it physical, chemical or emotional), it can impact you both internally and externally. At BodyMind Wellness Studio, we focus on NeuroStructural Optimization to allow for optimal communication between the spinal cord and the brain. When the body is better able to interpret and adapt to their current circumstance, a greater sense of awareness is attained. The correct information is being relayed between the brain and the body so it doesn’t respond in defense (out of stress) unless there is an actual need.
Perhaps most importantly, the body is a given the opportunity to use its energy for growth, repair and creation. It is great that we have the ability to respond so quickly to danger in order to survive, but we must take the time to heal and replenish if we want to thrive.
“When the mind and the body work in accordance, the channel to your innermost self becomes clearer and more accessible.” – Dr. Julie Doobay
Copyright Dr. Julie Doobay 2019