Spinal Mobility for Digestion and Circulation
When you see the title ‘Spinal Mobility for Digestion and Circulation,’ you may wonder what they have to do with one another.
Well, have you ever experienced pain or sensation in one part of the body only to find that another part of the body was causing it? Chances are, you have. Even if you don’t know it.
All of the different regions of our bodies are intimately connected to one degree or another. So it makes sense when one region is damaged, it will affect other systems of the body. This is especially true of the spine.
Spinal Problems and Digestion
The spine is loaded with nerves that communicate messages from the brain to every part of the body. It’s an information superhighway of sorts. So it makes sense if the conduit that delivers these messages is altered in some way, it will affect everything else down the line.
Take communication with the GI tract, for instance. For folks struggling with compressed or herniated disks, strained ligaments, or any number of other spinal injuries, it’s not unusual for them to have issues with digestion.
Of course, this depends on both the severity of the problem and where along the spine it occurs. But certain spinal cord industries can cause abdominal pain, constipation, a feeling of being full too quickly, difficulty in moving waste through the intestine, or even inability to control bowel movements.
In the case of herniated disks, people might also experience constipation or abdominal pain, as well as diarrhea, tenesmus (the sensation of needing to defecate when there is no stool),and excessive peristalsis (passage of food through the digestive system).
So why does this happen?
Nerves That Control Your Digestion
To give a gross oversimplification, there are two types of nerves that control the digestive system.
There are the extrinsic nerves that connect the digestive organs with the spinal cord and the brain. Their job into release chemicals that cause the digestive system muscles to relax or contract as needed.
Extrinsic nerves connect the digestive organs with the brain and spinal cord. They release chemicals that cause the muscles in the digestive system to contract or relax accordingly.
Then there are the nerves that are local to the intestinal tract. Known as the intrinsic nerves, they are activated when food stretches the intestinal walls. They control the production of digestive juices, as well as release substance that delay or speed up the food’s movement through the intestines.
The intrinsic nervous system functions independent of the extrinsic system. For example, the intestines can function without communication from the extrinsic nerves. But organs like the stomach and esophagus rely on input from extrinsic nerves. Thus, if the extrinsic nerve supply is cut off from the stomach, a patient may experience abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Circulation Affected by Spinal Issues
It’s not just digestion that’s affected by the condition of the spine.
Since the autonomic nervous system is regulated by signals sent down the spinal cord from the brain, it depends on a healthy spine to receive these signals. This is a little scary because it’s the autonomic nervous system that’s responsible for controlling involuntary functions like heart rate, blood pressure, and other circulatory functions.
When the brain can’t communicate with the cardiac nerves after a spinal cord injury, it can cause the heart beat to speed up or slow down. Furthermore, the reflexes that cause blood vessels to dilate or constrict may also be damaged. All of these impact how blood circulates (or doesn’t) throughout the body.
Keeping your spine healthy and robust will lessen the likelihood of injuries that could cause trouble for your digestive and circulatory systems.
Increasing Spinal Mobility for Digestion and Circulation with GYROKINESIS®
The more time we spend standing or, even worse, hunched over our devices, the more stress and strain we’re putting on our spines through compression. It’s vital to open up that space through a narrowing of the pelvis as well as an elongating of the spine.
This is the magic of GYROKINESIS®.
In case you’re unfamiliar, GYROKINESIS® is a slow and fluid exercise system that focuses on the seven natural movements of the spine – leaning forward, arching backward, bending left, bending right, twisting left, twisting right, and circling.
Furthermore, it’s a gentle practice that works the joints and muscles through undulating movements and corresponding breathing patterns.
Seated on low stools at the beginning of the practice, practitioners move through a series of curling, arching, twisting, bending, and spiraling movements. These are expanded over time to release the quadriceps, knee, hip, knee, hamstring, etc. But GYROKINESIS® also includes lying and standing positions.
The breath is an important component as it stimulates or calms the nervous system, opens up energy pathways, and oxygenates the blood. While it shares a similarity with yoga in this regard, it’s really more like dancing or swimming. The movements are intentionally fluid to flow without interruption.
GYROKINESIS® is so good for the spine. But the best part? It also feels REALLY good. How many exercise regimens can claim the same?
Want to Try GYROKINESIS® for Yourself?
Do you feel like you could benefit from more spinal mobility for digestion and circulation issues?
Even if you’re not dealing with such issues, increased spinal mobility is a crucial part of growing old gracefully. So don’t hesitate!
Contact us or just come on into our Pilates-base physical therapy studio in Southfield to try one of our GYROKINESIS® classes. Your spine with thank you later. A lot.