Orchestration of Your Spine,Your Nervous System and Your Life
by Donald Epstein, D.C.
After an hour of working in the garden, you try to straighten up, and find it difficult to do and a bit painful. But you know you are strong, work out regularly and consider yourself fit. You continue working anyway and attempt to dig out an old tree trunk. You do this while trying to work out your personal or professional problems in your mind. You silently hold your breath as you pull….. and an explosion of pain is set off in your back and body. Your spine twists to the side. You can’t stand straight, and can hardly negotiate walking.
Meanwhile a friend of yours who is receiving Network Care and Wellness Education is working in the garden next to you. She naturally moves her hips, sings, shake her shoulders and back, and stretches every few minutes. When she digs out another old tree trunk, she grunts and make sounds, next to you as she exerts herself. She breathes, hums and sings in the garden. She continues gardening for another two hours long after you have injured yourself. She may feel a bit sore from the exertion, but the gardening was good for her. You don’t think she is too fit, and she does not work out regularly. You are certainly stronger ?. What is the difference between both of you?
This literature will answer the following questions.
What could account for the difference in the health and functioning of the individuals in each of the above examples? What creates a healthy, flexible adaptable spine?What are the elements that conspire to work with our spine and against our spine?Why might one person injure his or her spine or nerves system communication network and recover within days or weeks, and another person having what appears to be the same degree of trauma have long lingering effects.What is the relationship of Spinal Cord Tension to the health and functioning of the spine?How can Network care and Wellness education help me develop the strategies to allow me to live more with the second , rather than be a victim of or fear the first scenario?How can this information help me to understand my present state of spinal and neural stability and integrity?How might life stress, my experience of my past, and my current perceptions influence my spine, its flexibility, health and healing?How can this information help me to understand how NSA can specifically help me, my spine and my life?
How the Spine Works
Gardening, Sports, and even walking technically are complex acts. They result from many instruments, and instrument sections of the orchestra doing both their own jobs, and the orchestration of the entire composition into a magnificent performance which moves you. Each instrument section , such as the woodwind, the string, the brass, etc (called subsystems) must work together. Not unlike a computer NETWORK each section must exchanging information, energy, and modifying its present state, use the past as history, not as destiny, and plan for the most effective next step for the future.
What you were feeling, where your attention was placed, how you stretched and even the sounds you made and when are part of this complex orchestration of a healthy spine, body, mind, emotion and a life. With optimum utilization of your internal hardware and software, your information systems enable to help you be in the moment, adjust your behavior, energy utilization, posture, emotions, attitude and effectively carry on gardening in a state of wellness.
But what would happen if the parts did not signal you to modify your posture, to stretch, to breathe effectively, to hum or sing, focused your intention instead on a stressful situation? Would the gardening been so beneficial or would it have been a recipe for real problems… pain, spasm, and injury?
What are the elements that create that optimum state?
The parts must function properly and the orchestra leader (nervous system) must conduct effectively. All the parts [instruments] look to the conductor to know how to modify the way they play their instruments, the timing, when to play, when to pause, the amplitude (volume) and when to be still. This is an analogy or the role of what is referred to as the Neural Control Sub system.
The Neural Control Subsystem is composed of the Brain, Spinal Cord, the nerves exiting the Spinal Cord, and the Meninges. The Meninges are the tissues, which protect the nerves of the brain and spinal cord, and sleeves of meninges protect the nerves as they continue from between the vertebra. They. Through these layered structures flows Cerebral Spinal Fluid, which provide for nourishment and filtration of toxins and waste from the brain and nerves, and carries chemicals, which are informational substances. It is important to know that the meninges actually attach the brain inside the skull and suspend the spinal cord in the vertebral column.
When tension is released from the Neural control system it is common for both a Respiration and Somatopsychic (body-mind) muscular wave to be propagated through the spine, helping release tension, re-organizing the spine from its previous state, and sharing information and energy with the spine and nervous system.
The Neural Control system receives messages from the Passive subsystem (vertebra, ligaments and discs) and sends instructions to the Active subsystem (spinal muscles and tendons) in order to move in an energy efficient way to maintain stability and integrity.
The Neural control system is also in communication with the Emotional Subsystem which shares information about the tension, vibration, oscillation and emotional content of the various parts of the spine and body.
The more ease and less irritation, tension and “noise” can exist in the Neural control subsystem, the more efficient it can be at coordinating the other subsystems which create and sustain spinal and neural integrity, and wellness. The health and well being of the Neural control subsystem is essential in NSA care. It must give information in present time, not be tied up in old information and outworn or outdated information from the past in order to do its job effectively. It must have a way of releasing its tension and creating movements and behaviors which will keep it free of tension and interferences in optimum function.
Your spinal cord actually moves, as does everything in your body.
Not only does your heart move through its pumping, and your lungs expand and contract, but every organ and tissue of the body has a rhythmic motion or dance. When the tissues are free of tension, they dance and communicate with electrochemical, and vibrational song. They dance, not unlike the bumblebee inside the hive, which dances and hums, communicating in the dark to the other bee’s information about where the sweetest nectar is to be found. [bumblebee dancing in hive]
YOUR SPINAL CORD CAN MOVE 2 OE 3 INCHES UP AND DOWN INSIDE THE VERTEBRAL COLUMN
When we bend forward the spinal cord may actually move 2 or 3 inches, and the spinal cord slides back to a more relaxed position when we assume a more natural and neutral posture.
AND IT IS ATTACHED INSIDE THE VERTEBRAE
Where does the spinal cord attach to the Vertebral Column?
The spinal cord attaches to the vertebrae at the bottom of the skull, and in the neck.
Since the spinal cord ends at the first or second lumbar segment, a “cauda equine” or horses tail of nerves continues downward through the lumbar (low back) vertebrae into a thin filament of nerves into the sacrum (base bone) and the coccyx (tailbone).
[picture of spinal cord and caudae equine and filum and attachment points]
Spinal cord Tension
TENSION CREATED BY THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE SPINAL CORD AND THE VERTEBRAE THROUGH WHICH IT TRAVELS IS A MAJOR FACTOR WHICH IS OFTEN OVERLOOKED
……….. “Tension is thus the pathologically significant force…Whether or not the tension leads to neurological deficit will depend on its magnitude and its duration of action.”
The body perceiving stressful circumstances, which require a conscious or automatic unconscious reaction of defense, sustains spinal cord tension. Most people, in our modern world live most of their lives in this state
WHAT CAN BE THE RESULT OF SPINAL CORD TENSION
……….. Excessive tension in the cord may produce measurable changes in motor [muscle activity], sensory[ sensation, pain] and autonomic[organ and body systems] function. These are accentuated whenever the cord is stretched, and may be reversed, and the symptoms relieved, if stretching can be eliminated and the affected tissues are kept relaxed.”
This means that the degree of muscle contraction/spasm, the degree of sensation (pain, or numbness) and function of the organs (heart, lungs, digestive, reproductive, urinary, hormonal systems, circulation, etc) are affected when the spinal cord is stretched.
In NSA Basic care we seek to help the spinal cord tension release so that there is the experience of a lessening of stretching of the spine, and greater spinal and body relaxation.
HOW IS THE SPINAL CORD TENSION CREATED AND SUSTAINED?
“At its cranial [top] extremity the spinal dura mater [meninges] is attached to the circumference of the foramen magnum [opening at the base of the occipital bone of the skull where the brain continues downward as the spinal cord], and at its caudal end it is anchored to the coccyx [tailbone] by the filum terminale [thin fibers attaching to the very bottom of the spine].
“When the trunk is fully flexed the dura [tough anchoring part of meninges] is under tension, as is also the cord, and stretching occurs. … by far the larger component of the tension is set up directly in the cord by virtue of its anchorage at its two extremities, namely the brain stem [at skull and neck] and the cauda equina [at lower spine]
“The magnitude of the tension in the cord depends firstly on the anatomical factor of body posture, which determines the relative lengths of the spinal canal and cord. “
The position of the head and neck in reference to the shoulders, and of the shoulders and hip to the spine are essential measurements of posture. When the head is positioned forward of the body and tipped to the side this causes a stretching of the spinal cord.
In Basic care we see to it that the brain can find the spinal cord tension and postural patterns and begin the process of connecting and releasing the tension. The brain and body through greater communication pathways and heightened efficiency in behavior can reassess posture and begin the process of self regulation of posture and the stress that we wear as “defense posture”
LACK OF SAFETY IN YOUR BODY AND IN LIFE CA– USES DEFENSE POSTURE WHICH “LOCKS IN” THE SPINAL CORD TENSION PATTERNS
Emotional and Mental Stress, or anything, which causes you to have to defend yourself, results in defense posture. This defense posture is associated with an elongation of the spinal cord, and a predisposition to looking outside oneself for references in life and limits one’s emotional range.
SPINAL CORD TENSION CAN BE RELIEVED
. ………………….. “I have found that many neurological disorders in which no mechanical component has ever been suspected do in fact have their origin in tension in the nervous tissue … By slackening the nervous tissue the tension is relieved and the conductivity and circulation are restored.”
NSA CARE ALLOWS YOU TO SELF REGULATE SPINAL CORD TENSION
In NSA Basic Care we focus on the body setting the spine into its own rhythmic motion which allows for a slackening of the spinal cord and nerves, as evidenced by a relaxation of the spinal tendons, and those of the extremities. We assess especially the tendons in the legs as an indirect measure of spinal cord tension. If you were to think of the spinal cord as a central cable and as the nerves as branches exiting along the way. And you then consider that these nerves are attached into the tissues of the body, including muscles. When the spinal cord is stretched, like a marionette puppet all the tissues and the tendons are placed under tension and stretched.
THERE ARE TWO DIRECTIONS OF SPINAL CORD TENSION, BOTH ARE ADDRESSED WITH NSA CARE
“The primary source of meningeal and neural tension is the lengthening of the spinal canal on forward and lateral flexion.
We assess the ankle tendon tension in the two directions that the spinal cord can be placed under tension, and that is flexion/extension (up/down) and lateral bending (side to side). Therefore your practitioner will assess for the relative tension at your ankle and the resistance to fluid motion in these two directions. This will provide indirect evidence of the degree of slacking of the spinal cord tension with each NSA entrainment contact. Information about this tension is categorized along with other findings and full spine palpation of the muscles, and vertebral tension and motion.
THE FIVE PHASES (PATTERN) OF SPINAL CORD TENSION
All spinal entrainment (Network adjustment) contacts are to help the brain better find the five basic spinal cord tension patterns, so that like a pull in a sweater, the fibers can be gently wiggled back to place, or like a trombone, the spinal cord need no longer be stuck within a specific range of its motion, but instead can slide up and down, back and forth allowing for a wider range of motion, emotion and adaptive strategies.
The total tension induced may well lead to neural dysfunction, and then the involved nerve-fibers in the cord or nerve-roots may be said to be over-stretched.
. The most significant consequence of over-stretching nerve-fibers is impairment of their conductivity.”
“The clinical implications of this principle are manifest particularly in cervical spinal cord disorders that have arisen as the result of acute or chronic damage to the tissue – ranging from sudden trauma to degenerative lesions.
WE ALL HAVE SPINAL CORD TENSION PATTERNS MODIFYING OR ADAPTABLITY, HEALTH, WELLNESS AND BEHAVIOR.
This may be any trauma from a difficult or “assisted” birth, to the
falls and impact of traumas in childhood, car accidents, or from
chronic spinal tension from anything, which produces defense posture.
The cervical part of the spinal canal normally undergoes greater changes of length during postural movements than do other regions, especially the thoracic.
Therefore any factor which will restrict the natural and effortless motion and flexibility of the cervical (neck) spine can have a significant impact on the movement of the spinal cord within the vertebral column, thereby establishing adverse spinal cord tension.
With NSA care, there are 5 Phases(PATTERNRS) and areas of intervention, four of these involve the neck spine in the vicinity of where the spinal cord attaches to the cervical (neck) vertebrae. The other involves the base of the spine, also a region of attachment of the continuation of the spinal cord.
In NSA care we seek to maximize the self regulated motion at each of these vertebral/spinal relationships, assisting in the release of tension, enhancement of motion, and the “working out” of impediments to full freedom in the neck and its relationship to the rest of the spine.
NECK TENSION IS AMPLIFIED AND TRANSMITTED TO THE LOWER SPINE
However, while tension is transmitted in both directions – to the brain stem and to the cauda equina – the pathological effects are manifested chiefly in the lower region.
This means that a small tension involving the cervical spine will have a larger and cumulative effect on the tension in the lower back. Although lower spinal tension will have an effect on creating neck tension, the influence of neck tension on the lower back is significantly higher.
CERVICAL TENSION PRODUCES 20-30 TIMES THE LOW BACK TENSION
To be precise, Dr. Brieg states that a neck lesion (problem) will produce 20 to 30 times the tension being redirected into the lower spine, than any direct pressure in the lower spine can cause itself.
Said differently, a spinal cord tension producing influence, such as a herniated disc, or an arthritic spur, or tumor in the lower spine will cause only 1/20 or 1/30 the tension in the lower back as a cervical spinal cord tension factor can produce.
WHEN IT FEELS YOU ARE BEING STRETCHED IN YOUR LIFE, YOU PROBABLY ARE.
Even when you feel life is squeezing you the effect is due to the difficulty with being stretched. The same is true of the nervous system communication Network.
…Even when the pathological lesion appears to be exerting an essentially compressive effect,[such as what is seen with a disc swelling or hernia ion, or an arthritic spur or tumor] the resulting deformation leads to a local increase in tension; it is the effects of this raised tension that appear to be of primary neurophysiological significance.”
Nerves and the spinal cord are more easily damaged by elongation or stretching than it is by squeezing. There has been a model in the medical profession that looks to nerve compression or squeezing in the area of symptoms as the cause or pain or disability. Their treatment plan is usually to separate the vertebrae to enlarge the functional opening from the nerve squeezed to transit.
Since nerve compression is not the cause, but rather nerve elongation, factors, which further stretch, or traction the nerves may actually contribute to further injury.
A way of thinking of this is when making a pizza. If you compress the dough, the effect is elongation into the shape of the pizza. Even when there is an actual compressive force, the effect is one of elongation.
Therefore in Network care we seek to help the body learn to self regulate spinal tension and elongation becoming aware of it before it reaches a level of pain. We also help develop strategies which allow for each of the regions in the vicinity of vertebal/spinal attachment points can serve as gateways for reassessment of tension, motion and integrity.
[picture of pizza man pressing down on the dough and an arrow showing elongation]
In Basic care we strive to help the brain be able to assess the tension and movement at each segmental level of the spinal cord. We help establish a new strategy that through naturally inspired movement and breathing along with the spine’s own rhythmic motion, you can learn to release the structural factors associated with spinal cord tension.
THROUGH CARE YOU WILL DEVELOP NEW SKILLS FOR SELF REGULATE AND REDUCE SPINAL TENSION AND MAINTINING GREATER SPINAL INTEGRITY AND WELLNESS.
You actually learn to move and breathe in ways that minimize tension, dissipate spinal and nerve tension and begin the strategy of spontaneous self correction and adjustment.
HARNESS YOUR TENSION, REDIRECT IT AND — USE IT AS FUEL FOR SPINAL AND LIFE TRANSFORMATION
Later in Intermediate Care, you will learn to harness the tension, temporarily, and redirect it as fuel to gain greater motion of each of the segments which are associated with spinal cord motion. And you will learn to establish new motions and capacities to transform your old spinal tension patterns, local regions of defense posture, into fuel for spinal transformation and transformation in wellness. It is common to feel your spine and life re aligning in the course of your Network session and between sessions.
JUST AS YOU LEARNED TO ORCHESTRATE YOUR DEFNESES, AND PLACE YOUR HEALING ON HOLD,
YOU CAN LEARN TO ORCHESTRATE YOUR SPINE AND LIFE TOWARDS NEW POSSIBLITIES FOR WELLNESS.
We strive to help each of the instrument sections of the orchestra (subsystems) develop the habit of being effectively heard and have the music orchestrated by the brain and spinal cord. By keeping up to date on necessary energy expenditures and allowing information to flow effectively through the neural highway with second to second updates, unexpected stresses to the spine and body can be negotiated in the most energy efficient way. This can help speed healing, promote spinal and general wellness, spinal well being, help prevent injury and disability, and provide you with new resources to deal with the shock, bumps, traumas and stresses not only to your spine, but also to your life.