Defense Posture & Stress Physiology

Every moment, our brain assesses the world around us and asks one question: “Am I Safe?” If at any moment the brain determines you are in danger, it sends out an alert to the body and the Fight-or-Flight Stress Response occurs. Mechanisms of survival are activated by the Brain Stem to prepare you to face the situation or run away/avoid or disconnect.

This response will occur during such times as traumatic birth, abuse, physical trauma, work-related stress, relationship issues, or overuse of drugs/medication. It occurs any time the brain determines “Danger!” All of this creates tension in the nervous system (brain and spinal cord) which then impacts the function of every organ and cell in your body.

Here is how your body responds during the STRESS RESPONSE:

  • Adrenalin is Released (provides more energy)
  • Blood Sugar Elevates (provides more energy)
  • Blood Pressure Rises (provides more oxygen to muscles)
  • Pulse Increases (provides more oxygen to muscles)
  • Muscles Tense (provides readiness for action)
  • Pupils Dilate (see more in less light)
  • Immunity, Digestion and Sexual Function diminish (These three functions use lots of energy and are not necessary for immediate survival)
  • Metabolism Slows Down

These are all appropriate responses for survival. However, once the danger is gone and the stress is over, these body functions should return to a state of balance and the body should move into a state of harmony.

If these stressful events remain unresolved, we may live in a constant state of fear, anger, resentment, etc., putting great stress on organs and effecting our mental/emotional state.

The emotional brain center, (Limbic System), then sends a message to the Brain Stem to maintain the Stress Response to keep us safe, just in case such a situation ever happens again. Over time, this develops into what is called Defense Posture, evidenced by such observation as: hunched shoulders, neck jutting forward, tightness in jaw, “sway” back, and pain.

If you look at the list of the body’s response in stress physiology, it is immediately apparent that long term, these are our most common chronic ailments:

Body’s Response in Stress PhysiologyCommon Chronic Conditions
Adrenalin is Released(provides more energy)Anxiety / Depression
Blood Sugar Elevates(provides more energy)Diabetes
Blood Pressure Rises(provides more oxygen to muscles)Hypertension
Pulse Increases(provides more oxygen to muscles)Cardiac Arrhythmia
Muscles Tense(provides readiness for action)Fibromyalgia, Neck and Back Pain, etc.
Pupils Dilate(see more in less light)Far-Vision
Immunity turns off(provides more oxygen to muscles)All immune related diseases
Digestion turns off(provides more oxygen to muscles)Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Indigestion, etc.
Sexual Function turns off(provides more oxygen to muscles)Impotency, Infertility

When the body and brain are locked in stress physiology and defense posture, we react as if the stress that caused it is still occurring, even though it may be decades in our past. In this state, health and healing are more difficult to access, and our quality of life and degree of wellness greatly diminishes. Not only does this affect us physically, it effects us emotionally and mentally as well.

Through the Levels of NS care, along with Somato Respiratory Integration (SRI) care, you can develop more advanced, appropriate responses to your life by turning the defense switch to “on” only when needed. When tension is released from the spinal cord (and nervous system) the physical structure of the spine can change, posture improves and full function can return to all body systems.

While not in defense, the body/mind can respond to its environment with greater ease, and employ those strategies which promote higher intelligence, growth, and healing.

If you have any questions about our services, please contact us today at (603) 357-5700.

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