The Science Behind The Adjustment


A Mom said to us the other day, “I am so excited to get my kiddo under chiropractic care. The only barrier is my husband. He wants to know it how works”. 

So here it is. Get your thinking cap on. We are going full-on science nerds! 

We look directly at the brain and the neurospinal system and measure how it responds to and adapts to stress.

Stress signals in the nervous system are also know as nociceptive signals. When there is unresolved stress in the body, these nociceptive signals become a “habit” to the brain –  leading to sympathetic dominance or stress dominance (aka fight-or-flight mode).

The level of someone’s sympathetic dominance varies from individual to individual. We are all biolgically unique. Unless you are a twin, no one person shares that same genetic information as you. Therefore, our bodies and our brains do not all react the same exact way to stress signals. Some people handle them better, while others struggle to adapt. 

So how does an individual become sympathetic dominant? 

In chiropractic, we call it the 3Ts: thoughts, toxins and traumas.


Consistent repetitive negative thought cycles that cause the brain to be stressed and unable to default back into the parasympathetic or more relaxed response. The repetitive thoughts that signal the brain to become stressed then tell the hormonal system that the brain is stressed. This leads to the secretion of cortisol and other stress hormones that throw off other bodily functions. In return, the stress hormones then tell the brain that the body is stressed and the brain signals the stress hormones to continue. This cycle is repetitious. It is a positive feedback loop. It fuels itself. To make it stop, this vicious cycle needs to be broken with the proper proprioceptive (healthy & nourishing) input input into the brain. 


The numerous amounts of toxins in our environment ranging from the air we breath, the food we eat, the liquids that we drink, the pharmaceutical drugs that go into our body, the cleaning supplies we use in our every day life, the clothes we wear and the detergents we use to wash our clothes…and the list goes on. Some of these toxins stress out our body, which then stresses out our brain. Some of these toxins directly stress out our brain. Yes, we can minimize a lot of these toxins in our everyday life but some are unavoidable. They are going to stress out the body and the brain putting the brain into a stress response. We must better adapt to the toxins by consistently feeding our brain with optimal proprioception, or nourishment, or relaxed response input. 


Traumas can begin as early as in utero.  If a mother experiences physical or emotional trauma prior to conceiving a child – she can hold that trauma in her body and brain transferring it to the baby growing inside her. The baby’s brain and body develops for 9 months with that trauma. Mom’s brain directly influences baby’s brain to be ready for the outside world. If Mom’s brain and body tell baby’s brain and body that there are “saber tooth tigers” constantly running around in the outside world, then baby will be ready to constantly run from saber tooth tigers when they are born. Then, we get to the birth process. Some say the birth process is the most traumatic experience a human being will ever go through. With added birth interventions, a child starts life in a stress response as soon as they enter the world. Then, consider the babies who fall off a changing table, fall off the bed, get held incorrectly, or get bonked with toys from their toddler sibling. As that same baby learns to move, they have the added head bumps and the falls. That baby turns into a rough and tumble toddler and then onward into a kiddos who runs, jumps, plays, rides bikes / scooters / skateboards, and they go faster, harder and higher. Don’t forget about the all too common car accidents, the broken bones, and concussion injuries.

Thoughts, toxins and traumas build on one another to therefore put that baby, child, teenager or adult in sympathetic dominance constantly. 

How do we break the cycle? How do we balance the brain with more proprioceptive signals and less nociceptive signals?

First, we must address that fact that the 3Ts put the body into a protective posture, create tension and lead into a stress hormone cocktail within.

In return, joints in the body begin to experience dyskinesia, or lack of proper motion. As chiropractors, we focus on the spine because the joints in the spine give the brain 90% of all of it’s signals. When joints are not properly moving and experiencing dykinesia, they feed the brain with stress or nociceptive signals creating dysafferentation, or improper signals going to the brain. 

The dysafferenation creates dysautonomia in the brain, which means the subconscious brain that runs the body is not working properly. There is dysfunction within our autonomic nervous system or the nervous system that controls autonomic functions within our body – digesting food, breathing, beating our heart, growing cells within our skin, and so much more. 

When dysautonomia exists for an extended amount of time, our brain becomes sympathetic dominant or stress dominant. This means that our brain has built a habit and an addiction to the cycle of stress. Our brain and body was not designed to constantly be running from an invisible saber tooth tiger.

Stress dominance degrades the brain and body.

Sadly, sympathetic dominant brains are becoming the norm for our children and the world at large in 2020.

The good news…the brain is neuroplastic – which means it can heal and regain balance. The neural pathways can rewire to form new, healthy patterns.

The new patterns can become one of balance ultimately leading to our HIGHEST brain function of the autonomic nervous system, called the social vagus.

In this state, we are able to rest and digest with ease, we become more social, have deeper connection with ourselves and others, sympathize and empathize with others, eye contact becomes deep and easier, we are more creative, and we have more optimistic outlooks on life.

The brain-based chiropractic care we offer is focused on helping every baby, child, parent and family member reach their inborn potential to thrive.

Reach out to us anytime to learn more!

Posted in

Leave a Comment