Your nervous system is a complex thing. It is comprised of the brain, spinal cord and a vast array of motor and sensory nerves. One way to simplify this is to look at two “settings” which comprise two extremes of the human experience in Broomfield, Colorado.
1. The Sympathetic Nervous System
This is your “fight or flight” response. In primitive times, this was used to respond to a predator or hazardous situation. If you were living in a cave, and your home was suddenly invaded by a saber-toothed tiger, your adrenal glands would respond to the situation at hand by injecting your bloodstream with epinephrine, causing your respiration and heart rate to increase and priming your muscles to either fend off the attacker (your arms might reach for a weapon) or flee (your legs would engage to lift you from the ground and propel you out of the cave).
In modern times, this is simply our response to stress in Broomfield, Colorado.
You might be driving down the highway and get cut off by another driver, or perhaps your boss yells at you, and suddenly your adrenals perceive a threat. The physiological reaction is similar to what it was in primitive times; muscles tense and prepare for aciton. However, we can’t run away while in the car, since we are enclosed in it. And we certainly can’t club our boss into submission (I know this thought has occurred to you).
Generally the tension settles into the upper back, shoulders and neck as the shoulder girdle prepares for action. Over time, if this occurs on a regular basis and is not mitigated, this leads to chronic tension in that area. This of course leads to ischemia (squeezing the blood out of the muscles) and myofascial trigger points (points in the musculature that send pain elsewhere). This in turn leads to headaches and tension at the base of the skull. Sound familiar?
2. The Parasympathetic Nervous System
This is your “rest and digest” setting. In primitive times, this would be engaged after a long day hunting and dealing with threats. A family might return to their cave (or set up camp if they were nomadic) and relax by a warming fire. In modern times, we return to our homes and might put our feet up. This is our time to rest, perhaps share a meal, and above all BREATHE. Think about what happens at gatherings like this. What role does safe and appropriate touch play here? More about this later.Join the conversation on Facebook Join me on Twitter