How Are You Standing Up?

How your brain perceives what is going on in your body is of vital importance to your well-being. To assess this in TBM we use neuromuscular reflexes to access the brain’s “bio-computer” which runs autonomic functions. One of the first things we establish when seeing your TBM practitioner is whether your brain perceives a stable structural platform. To maintain support your body integrates information from your inner ear (vestibular), eyes (visual), and multiple receptors within your muscles and joints (proprioception) to form a working “body map” and establish the relative position of your body within the environment (Shumway-Cook & Woollacott, 2007).

After integration of all this information your brain sends messages down the spinal cord to alter the force and contraction of the muscles that support your body. Impacts or injuries can alter the way your brain sends messages to control these muscles (Treleaven, 2008). An alteration in one area of the body can significantly affect how the whole body is controlled. Discrepancies in leg length not only shift weight distribution and posture, but have also been shown to affect the way the jaw functions (Maeda et al., 2011). Similarly jaw functioning can affect the way the body controls posture (Nobili & Adversi, 1996). Sometimes it can seem to be the Chicken or the egg!

The messages your brain sends to control posture are important for a number of reasons. Firstly people with low back pain or neck pain are known to control their posture differently (Huntley, Srbely, & Zettel, 2015; Ruhe, Fejer, & Walker, 2011). Interestingly this altered muscular control of the spine lasts beyond the resolution of symptoms in some individuals with recurrent low back pain (MacDonald, Moseley, & Hodges, 2009). Meaning that although the pain may have dissipated there are still changes in the way the brain is controlling the supporting muscles of the body. Some scientific authors are now proposing that altered messages sent from the brain may in fact be the precipitating factor, possibly causing certain types of back pain (Hodges, Cholewicki, & Van Dieën, 2013). These effects of altered muscular control and postural support may go far beyond just back pain. One Japanese study found that thoracic spinal motion, back muscle strength, balance and lumbar curvature where correlated with quality of life in otherwise healthy individuals (Imagama et al., 2011). Implying that the way your body holds itself up has an impact on the quality of life you lead.

So we’ll see you soon at Real Health to see how well your brain is controlling one of your core primary functions, holding you up! 

References: 

Hodges, P. W., Cholewicki, J., & Van Dieën, J. H. (2013). Spinal control: the rehabilitation of back pain : state of the art and science. New York: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. 

Huntley, A. H., Srbely, J. Z., & Zettel, J. L. (2015). Experimentally induced central sensitization in the cervical spine evokes postural stiffening strategies in healthy young adults. Gait Posture. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.01.017 

Imagama, S., Hasegawa, Y., Matsuyama, Y., Sakai, Y., Ito, Z., Hamajima, N., & Ishiguro, N. (2011). Influence of sagittal balance and physical ability associated with exercise on quality of life in middle-aged and elderly people. Archives Of Osteoporosis, 6(1-2), 13-20. doi:10.1007/s11657-011-0052-1 

MacDonald, D., Moseley, G. L., & Hodges, P. W. (2009). Why do some patients keep hurting their back? Evidence of ongoing back muscle dysfunction during remission from recurrent back pain. Pain, 142(3), 183-188. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2008.12.002