Our Forgotten Sense
Think back to your time in Kindergarten. Do you remember learning about the five senses of our body? Taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound.
I vividly remember our lesson in kindergarten because we learned about the senses with the help of M&Ms:
Sight: We looked at the M&Ms, named the colors, counted them.
Touch: We felt them and they were smooth and hard.
Sound: We picked them up and dropped them on the table, hearing them "tap tap tap" as they landed.
Taste: Obviously the most fun to learn about because we got to eat chocolate. Do the red ones taste like the blue ones? (They did by the way.)
Smell: We smelled the M&Ms and found that there was very little scent. BUT then we plugged our nose and tasted them again…. my 5 year old self was shocked…. I could not taste the chocolate with my nose plugged! This sense experience is the reason I remember this lesson so vividly. I can't count the number of times I've plugged my nose in order to eat something I did not want to taste.
However, this lesson from Kindergarten was missing a sense, missing an ability our bodies have. There was something we didn’t talk about even though it is This missing sense is called proprioception.
Proprioception is your body’s ability to know where all of its parts are in space. That’s why you can clasp your hands with your eyes closed or even find the bathroom in the dark. Your body is aware of where it is in space. Proprioception is one way that your body communicates with your brain.
Your body has receptors called proprioceptors and mechanoreceptors that gather information about movement, position, and pressure. The information is sent through your nervous system from your body to your brain, specifically the cerebellum. The cerebellum has 80% of the neurons in your body (Norman Doidge, MD). So proprioception or "sensing movement," is such an important sense! As these signals travel to the brain, they pass and activate immune and internal organs.
That means that moving helps to keep your immune system and gut working properly! Movement is life!
Some factors that can decrease your body’s ability to sense itself (proprioception):
Lack of exercise
These factors can all lead to increased inflammation in the body. When inflammation remains in the body it can lead to fibrosis which is a thickening and scarring of tissue. This thickening and scarring leads to decreased movement and stiffness and that in turn will lead to decreased proprioception. Which is turn decreases activation of immune and internal organs. This makes you more susceptible to acquiring any of the factors that can decrease proprioception, and in turn, communication to the brain.
Sounds kind of bad, right?
The GOOD news is you can work to increase your body’s proprioception sense! One way to increase proprioception is chiropractic. Chiropractic adjustments specifically effect the mechanoreceptors in your body. That means that adjustments can directly increase the information sent along to your brain, and as it travels there is passes and activates your immune and visceral organs.
(Based on a lecture by Dan Murphy, DC, DABCO)