Joints are one of the most neurologically dense structures in the human body. They are littered with nerve endings with the sole purpose of detecting motion and sending this information to the brain. These specific types of nerves are called mechanoreceptors and are vital to our everyday function.
Can you walk without looking at your feet? Can you type without watching your fingers strike the keyboard? Can you operate the gas and brake pedal without having to look down to coordinate the movement? The answer to all of these questions is yes. This is due to the stimulation of mechanoreceptors in the joint. These mechanoreceptors are stimulated by motion and send this information to the brain to be interpreted. This is a special function in the body and is called PROPRIOCEPTION. PROPRIOCEPTION is a special sense that most people are unaware of. This sense (through the proper function of mechanoreceptors) allows us to know where our body parts are at any given time.
What if you were to lose the sense of PROPRIOCEPTION? Imagine not being able to know where your feet were without looking at them. The only way you would be able to walk is by constantly looking down at your feet. The second you look up, the ability to coordinate this movement would be lost and would result in a fall or trip.
Is it possible to lose the sense of PROPRIOCEPTION? A global loss of PROPRIOCEPTION is very unlikely. However, diminished PROPRIOCEPTION localized to specific joints is very common. These mechanoreceptors that signal the brain that motion is occurring are dependent on joint motion. In other word, a joint must be able to move to signal the brain that motion is occurring. If a joint is fixated or "stuck" you are unable to coordinate movement effectively. The solution to this problem is very simple, get that joint moving again!
It is for this very reason that all elite athletes utilize chiropractic care. Chiropractors focus on proper motion of the joints which in turn results in better coordination of movement. If you are Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, or Steph Curry, it is very important that you get the best quality of motion not only for peak performance, but for injury prevention as well.
"That sounds great, but I'm not an elite athlete. I have a desk job."
Chiropractic care is not just for athletes. Imagine this sense of PROPRIOCEPTION in the elderly population. Coordination of movement in the elderly is arguably more vital than it is in elite athletes (At least the stakes are higher). Falls are the leading cause of death in people age 65 and older. In 2014, injuries resulting from a fall cost the health care system $31 billion. And as this population increases, this number is expected to double to over $60 billion by the year 2020.
Chiropractors aim to keep joints mobile which significantly reduces the risk of a fall. When a joint is free to move, information floods the brain and increases the ability to coordinate movement.
In addition to this benefit, new research is emerging from a researcher named Norman Doidge. Norman Doide is the world's leading expert on neuroplasticity. His research found that when proprioceptive information floods the brain, it also stimulates the association pathways which leads to an increase in all senses. This means that a chiropractic adjustment causes better vision, hearing, and increased sensation of touch, taste, and smell. In other words, chiropractic allows you to perceive the world around you at a higher level.
And you thought chiropractors were for back pain...