One of my practice members, Sam was labelled a trouble maker and not given much hope at school, something quite typical in our school system. Sam was put onto medication and showed some signs of academic and behavioural improvement but, his self esteem began to wane. He came to the realisation that he was a ‘good boy’ with the pills, but a ‘bad boy’ without them.
Over the next few months of working with Sam, we began to see a transformation in this boy that astounded us. He managed to come off the medication and make remarkable changes in his outlook on life. All we did was work with him to address spinal misalignments and get him moving everyday.
Most of us have heard about the mind-body connection and know that what and how we think can influence our body. Proof of this is that Tibetan monks can raise their own body temperature to dry an icy cold blanket during a meditation ritual and Louis Pugh can slow his heart rate when doing polar swims without a wetsuit. Pretty impressive.
What many of aren’t aware of is the influence the body has on the mind. That’s right, the connection goes the other way too. This is especially evident when we look at ADHD, learning and sleep disorders, depression and anxiety.
Movement = Medicine
Time and again research shows that people with these kinds of challenges who move their body regularly, usually as part of some form of exercise, can literally rewire their brain, change their brain chemistry and improve their mental function. Movement acts like a vital nutrient, helping the brain function optimally. Dopamine, serotonin and all the other brain chemicals are suckers for the vital input that movement of your body creates for your brain. Research shows that they can’t help but move toward balance when you are active everyday.
In the Illinois school district in the US a number of trials have been conducted that test how movement benefits kids. Better fitness equals better attention and thus, better results. Similar tests have also shown reduced disciplinary problems and improved self esteem amongst the children who move everyday.
You can teach an old dog new tricks
It’s not only children who benefit. Tests have shown benefits for adults and the elderly too. Movement increases cognitive flexibility, creativity, memory and attention. It’s never too late to start and anyone who improves how much they move will benefit, no matter their age, no matter their fitness levels.
You spine, your lifeline
The information superhighway between your brain and your body is your spine. From the tip of your toe to your liver to your heart, every single message goes to your brain via your spine. These messages can be interfered with by subtle misalignments of the bones in your spine, depriving your brain of the vital input it needs from your body for balanced function.
Fully 90% of the function of your brain is influenced by movement of your spine, and when it is misaligned and stuck, your brain get less input and becomes imbalanced. Unfortunately you can’t feel these misalignments until they are very advanced, if you feel them at all. The vast majority of these twists in the spine that can choke the nerves go undetected from birth and affect us in a variety of ways, including attention, memory, concentration and emotional balance.
Chiropractors are specifically trained to assess the spine and to detect, analyse and correct these misalignments. By performing safe, gentle and specific ‘adjustments’ Chiropractors can realign the spine and restore proper communication between the body and the brain. Wellness Chiropractors are also able to guide you in making lifestyle choices that will help strengthen the body-brain connection through exercise, diet and stress management.
Apart from getting checked by a Chiropractor you can begin to incorporate movement into your life everyday. Not only is this vital for balanced brain function but is also a required nutrient for health. From the research it seems like there are two types of movements that are most helpful.
- 20-30 minute intense workouts running, walking, cycling, swimming, skipping, rowing and weight lifting circuits are good examples.
- Complex disciplines that require combinations of accuracy, agility, strength, speed, power Examples include martial arts, climbing, mountain biking, ball sports (mainly individual sports like tennis)
Movement everyday as a ritual and discipline helps to create structure for the mind. This is hugely important when controlling attention and focus is an issue.
Manage ADHD naturally
Dr Greg Venning will be sharing some natural approaches to dealing with ADHD on 27 March 2014 in Cape Town.
What about Sam?
When last I saw Sam, he was head boy of his high school and heading off to university to study physics. Movement everyday was still a part of his routine, he loved getting his regular adjustments, running every morning and lifting weights a few times a week. Not bad for a young man who was labelled as a trouble maker that would never amount to much.