From Practice to Perfection...or Dysfunction

Figure 1.

Figure 1.

We all know that a skill is learned through repetition, like riding a bike or learning a language, but have you ever wondered what learning actually looks like in the brain?

Firstly, we must understand what a neuron (nerve) is - a neuron is a single nerve cell that has dendrites, a cell body, an axon and an axon terminal (Figure 1). Information is passed from the brain to the body and vice versa via an electrical signal through the neuron itself.

You may have heard of the concept of “plasticity;” that is the brain’s ability to grow and learn from infancy into older age. Here the nerve cells create new connections with other nerve cells to create new pathways. The more you, for example, practice your Italian, the more that nerve pathway is strengthened. Like a muscle, the pathways actually become bigger and stronger! (Video 1).

Video 1. Real-time video of neural pathways being made!

So what happens when you practice something over and over again but it isn’t good for you? The same thing! For example, sitting with poor posture behind your desk for 8 hours a day or bending to lift a load incorrectly. What about smoking, drinking too much or eating food high in processed sugar and fats?

Your mind creates pathways in the brain and into the body which strengthens with each repetition and makes it very difficult to change movement patterns or stop that addictive behaviour.

So how do you weaken these neuronal pathways of the behaviours you want to modify or stop?

  1. Deprivation (going cold turkey) is one method. It starves that neuronal pathway which leads to wastage and eventually a loss of that connection.

  2. Self-modification - spending considerable time trying to alter your “in-grained” behaviour, which is also tiresome and stressful.

  3. Chiropractic - getting adjusted has been shown to change the way the brain works. It upregulates an area called the cortex which has shown to have an effect on self-control behaviours.

Of course Chiropractic isnt going to help you learn Italian after one adjustment, nor is it going to perfect your posture in a day, but it can assist the brain break pathological connections and reinforce innate, healthy connections. We are all created as self-regulating, self-healing organisms, but the stress, bumps and knocks of life can disrupt those perfect patterns and lead us down the path of dysregulation. Chiropractic helps to align your body back into a neutral alignment, which then allows your body to return to that original perfect healing state. Think more energy, less stress and anxiety, better sleep, stronger muslces and stronger will-power!

This is why I love Chiropractic and you will too! To learn more, click the button below.

Dr Alexandra