Life has its scary moment. In a life or death situation the proper reaction may make the difference between, well, life or death. Fortunately, we are “hard-wired” to improve our chances of surviving dire emergencies with our “fight-or-flight” or “acute stress” response.
How does it work?
When we encounter danger we have two options: fight (confront the threat) or flight (avoid the threat). Within moments we can run faster, jump higher, hit harder, see better, hear more acutely, think faster and focus more intensely than we could only seconds earlier. Bodily functions not needed for struggle shut down: digestion stops (our mouth feels dry), sexual function stops, even our immune system is temporarily turned off. If necessary, excess waste is eliminated to make us light on our feet (and possibly dissuade an attacker!)
Additionally, our heart starts pumping two to three times its normal speed, sending nutrient-rich blood to the major muscles in our arms and legs. Tiny blood vessels under the surface of our skin close down so we sustain a surface wound and not bleed to death (this makes our skin turn pale and clammy). Sweating increases to cool our muscles and help them stay efficient, and our eyes dilate so we can see better.
After that terrific expenditure of energy, when the danger has passes, we must rest to restore our depleted reserves. But day-to-day human interactions are well…complicated. For most people stress becomes chronic – it doesn’t let up. For example, we can’t kill our spouse, our boss, the idiot in the truck who almost sideswiped us or the government. We usually can’t run away from them either (OK, maybe the idiot in the truck). But the point is that the danger is never completely over so we don’t get the rest we need and our reserves continue to deplete.
Living in a stress-filled body
Over time continuous, unresolved stress causes a buildup of stress hormones and we become aggressive, anxious, over-reactive, irritable and hyper vigilant. Eventually, a person in this state has less energy and a weakened immune system, and various stress-related disorders may develop such as heart disease, headache, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, allergies and premature aging, among others.
What can we do?
Turning to drugs (and surgery) to suppress stress symptoms generally means the body and mind continue to deteriorate while we are superficially feeling fine. Fortunately, an increasing number of people are turning toward the natural, drug-free non-surgical “alternative” approach. Alternative approaches seek to reduce stress levels and so strengthen and individual’s ability to handle stress. More people are turning to yoga, meditation, exercise, psychotherapy, nutrition, herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture, massage, shiatsu, craniosacral therapy and other natural approaches. What about chiropractic?
The structural panic pattern
Chiropractic has a unique approach to dealing with stress. Chiropractors using Koren Specific Technique (KST) can locate and correct structural changes in the body that are involved in the fight-or-flight response. We refer to this as the panic pattern.
What is the panic pattern?
The panic pattern is the structural component of the fight-or-flight response. It consists mainly of the following:
1. Your coccyx (tailbone) moves forward. The meninges that protect your brain and spinal cord are anchored at the coccyx. When the coccyx moves forward the meninges tighten over the brain and spinal cord, girding you for battle. This is seen when dogs tuck their tails between their legs as they run from danger. Similarly, your “tail” also goes anterior.
2. Your sternum (breastbone) moves superior. This provides better protection for your heart and lungs.
The locked panic pattern
After the danger is over, your body structure relaxes: your coccyx returns to its rightful place, releasing tension on the meningeal system, and your sternum falls. For some, however, the structural system remains locked in fight-or-flight (panic pattern) mode, indefinitely preventing your physiology from returning to normal.
Finding and correcting the panic pattern
Using KST protocols, we can quickly and easily analyze and correct or adjust your entire structural system, including the cranial bones. KST is also ideal for correcting the panic pattern.
What will I feel?
After the panic pattern is corrected people may feel an overall relaxation and take a deep satisfying breath. Sometimes an emotional release is felt. Patients may also notice more energy since their body is no longer locked up and energy is no longer being wasted.
Ó2010 Ted Koren, D.C. All rights reserved.