Sympathetic Vs. Parasympathetic and Why They Matter
The central nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, and all of the nerves within our body. The autonomic nervous system is the part of the central nervous system that regulates involuntary body functions. Within the autonomic nervous system, we find the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which both control the same parts of the body and same general functions of the body, but with opposing effects.
Understanding what sympathetic and parasympathetic responses are is not vital to them happening—they are involuntary responses to various stimuli. However, when we understand what each part of our autonomic nervous system does and what it needs to function properly, we become well-informed practice members at Experience Family Chiropractic and can better explain why seeing a Cape Coral chiropractor is so beneficial.
The Sympathetic Nervous System: Fight or Flight Response
The fight or flight response is commonly known, but what may be lesser known is that this reaction to external stimuli is based completely on the sympathetic nervous system. When we are faced with a perceived threat of any kind, whether physical or emotional, our sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear and brings about automatic and involuntary responses, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, heightened awareness, elevated respiratory rate, and more sweating. The sympathetic nervous system also shuts down many parasympathetic responses in order to utilize more energy for the fight or flight response.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System: Rest and Digest
The parasympathetic nervous system affects the same body functions as the sympathetic nervous system, but in a completely different way. It works to slow down certain responses and bring about a state of calm to the body, allowing it to rest, relax, and repair itself. The primary function of the parasympathetic nervous system is to maintain long-term health and a healthy balance across all of the body’s functions. Parasympathetic responses include an increase of digestive enzymes, decreased heart rate, constriction of bronchial tubes in lungs, and more relaxed muscles.
Why Does This Matter?
Both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are vital to our health and survival. However, for our bodies to live with optimal health and proper function for as long as possible, there must be a balance between the two. If there is a miscommunication between your brain and the impulses that promote sympathetic responses, your body will be functioning in fight or flight mode far too often and for far too long, and this can have negative consequences on your overall health.
You want a healthy balance between the two parts of your autonomic nervous system, and that comes when your spinal cord and nerves are functioning properly. At Experience Family Chiropractic, Dr. Clark’s main focus is removing any nerve interference that could be getting in the way of proper sympathetic and parasympathetic responses through specific chiropractic care. This will allow your body to react appropriately and effectively to any stimuli and to ensure your body retains proper function and achieves optimal health, both short-term and long-term.
To learn more about your body’s nervous system or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Omar Clark and his team, contact Experience Family Chiropractic at 239-205-3700.
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Welch, A., Boone, R. “Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Responses to Specific Diversified Adjustments to Chiropractic Vertebral Subluxations of the Cervical and Thoracic Spine.” Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 2008 Sep; 7(3): 86-93. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686395/.