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How the simple things hurt your back?

Have you ever hurt yourself while doing something harmless like brushing your teeth? Have you ever wondered why you re-injure yourself more easily in an area you have previously hurt? For example, have you noticed how after you have sprained an ankle, you tend to sprain the same ankle over and over again?

The answer to this is because you are receiving suboptimal messages from your sensorimotor system. The initial pain that came with the injury may have gone away. But with each new injury and extended periods of time spent not moving, the sensorimotor system becomes less effective. The good news – it is reversible.

What is the sensorimotor system?

The sensorimotor system is the way by which the body maintains functional joint stability, that is, how your body keeps your joints stable during movement. When you hurt yourself, the ability of the sensorimotor system to maintain functional joint stability is compromised. This results in increased frequency of injury.

How does the sensorimotor system work?

Our brain constantly receives sensory information from all parts of the body. This includes information detailing where our joints are positioned in space. This ability to know where our body is in space without looking is termed proprioception. Close your eyes and see if you can touch your nose with your right index finger. Our brain utilises proprioceptive information along with other sensory information such as visual and sound inputs to control how we move. Components of the sensorimotor system include your muscles, ligaments, joints, cartilage and the nervous system which controls these structures. The effectiveness of this system is dependent on all these structures working together.

What happens to the sensorimotor system when we hurt ourselves?

When we hurt ourselves or we find ourselves spending extended periods of time being idle, decreased amounts of proprioceptive information are being relayed to the brain from the affected area/s. As a result, the brain does not receive all the necessary information it needs to construct a clear mental picture of where we are in space and how we can move. This incomplete picture means when we try to perform a movement there is an increased chance of injury or reinjury.

How does chiropractic treatment help?

An adjustment restores the relay of proprioceptive information to the brain through the stimulation of mechanoreceptors in your joints. This allows the brain to construct a clear mental picture of where we are in space and how we can move.

Exercises we provide you with will also help to stimulate under-utilised, dormant muscles resulting in an increase of proprioceptive information being relayed from the area/s being trained. Read our post on the importance of exercise to learn more about how exercise could help restore the function of the body.

With the sensorimotor system functioning as it should, you will be able to fully enjoy activities of your choice without fear of re-injury.

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