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Movement Grows Your Brain - Our Top 5 Tips for a Vibrant Vagus Nerve

Chiropractor adjusting woman's backFollowing on from last week’s podcast with Dr Don MacDonald, we learnt that movement feeds our brain and can contribute to a calm nerve system. When we move our bodies in an upright manner, we fire input to the parts of the brain which are responsible for our sense of calm, our fight or flight response and our social capacity.

Regular and supportive movement are the building blocks for healthy and sequential development in adults and children alike.

Beginning a healthy movement practice from birth is something we are incredibly passionate about, as it forms the building blocks of overall brain development. Parents can support this by providing opportunities for things such as tummy time, or ball rocking when their baby is in a calm and happy state. We will often recommend these things in support of your family’s regular chiropractic tune-ups.

What we tend to find is that supportive and nourishing movement allows the brain to properly perceive its environment and regulate the body accordingly. This may look like a child who follows a sequential order of development from rolling, to sitting, to crawling and eventually cruising/walking.

In the classroom we see this play out as a child who is settled and able to learn, emotionally regulated, interacts well with others and is confident with handwriting or holding a pencil.

However, issues can arise as we grow up and tend to adopt many of the same postures for extended periods of time. For example looking down at a device, sitting at a desk or watching TV, hours spent in the car … all of these positions contribute to a slouched or protective posture. It is this posture which signals a fight or flight response to the brain, and we switch off the functions that bring about a happy and calm body.

Over-strained muscles, emotionally exhausted individuals, headaches, anxiety and poor immune systems are all common signs we see when the brain functions from this state.

Regular chiropractic adjustments allow the body to re-calibrate and function from a more balanced state. This is because proper movement in the spine dials down the nerve system, promoting a more restful, or balanced, state. We see this in practice as having valuable influence on the way an individual is able to regulate themselves, including muscle tone, concentration, digestion and stress levels.

Our Top 5 Tips for a Vibrant Vagus Nerve

In support of this, our top 5 tips below will encourage an open posture, engaged brain and healthy body. These are all excellent habits you can adopt alongside your family’s regular chiropractic tune-ups.

1 Allow time each day to spend on your tummy. Laying down when working on your laptop, reading a book, or even to stretch will all help stimulate the brain and takes us out of fight or flight, into a more restful and productive state.

2 Go one step further and lay over a swiss ball, trying to hold yourself up with arms and legs outstretched in a “Superman” pose. Stabilise children on the ball by supporting their hips and pelvis firmly with your hands.

3 Find a balance practice which challenges you – either a regular yoga class, or try standing with your feet together and closing your eyes. If balanced, open your eyes and take it a step further by walking along a straight line one foot in front of the other, toes touching heels.

4 Encourage your kids to spin around in circles, or find equipment at the playground which encourages spinning. Vestibular input (movement and balance) helps to wire up both sides of the brain and will support activities such as handwriting, concentration and learning.

5 Find a movement programme that supports your nervous system. Often when we are in a state of wind-up, or functioning from a predominantly stressed state we are better off engaging in movement that helps to calm our nervous system. Try balancing out any HIIT or gym classes with a walk along the beach, yoga practice or ocean swim.

To learn more, stay tuned for our Growing Healthy Kids video series by registering here.

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