Heart Rate Variability

This animated video describes heart rate variability and research studies that show that Chiropractic Care can increase heart rate variability and help you to better respond to stress and your environment.

A transcript of the video follows.

Heart Rate Variability Video Transcript

Most people know that having a healthy heart rate is important. You don’t want your heart to beat too fast and you don’t want it to beat too slow. It should be just the right pace to provide your vital organs and muscles with just the right amount of blood and oxygen that you need to survive and thrive.

What many people don’t know though, is that the natural variation in someone’s heart rate is also important.

Your heart shouldn’t be at a constant steady rate all day. It should vary based on whether you are resting or exercising. Whether you are happy or angry, nervous or relaxed. Your brain is constantly detecting what is happening inside and outside of you, and one of the ways it responds to changes in your environment is by increasing or decreasing your heart rate.

Natural changes can be measured and called your heart rate variability. Heart rate variability’s controlled by your nervous system. Specifically, the part of your nervous system that controls your autonomic functions, like breathing and digesting the things that we don’t have to think about doing. The ones that just happen. Good heart rate variability is one that is high and is thought to indicate a healthy heart and body. One that is able to respond appropriately and adapt to the environment and the needs.

Sympathetic nervous system response

If you get into a fight or suddenly need to run really fast, your nervous system will quickly need to increase your heart rate so that it can pump enough blood to your muscles so you can run or fight. However, when you are sleeping or relaxed, you don’t want your heart to beat very fast as this is not a good thing for you. So your brain will perceive this and then decrease your heart rate in order for your nervous system to be able to increase or decrease your heart rate. Based on your needs, your brain needs to be able to properly sense what is going on in and around it.

We now know from a lot of neuroscience research studies that when segments of your spine are not moving properly (what some chiropractors call being subluxated). This changes the way your brain can sense what is going on in and around your body and the way your brain controls your body. Research has shown that when a chiropractor gently adjusts these subluxations, it helps your brain to more accurately perceive or see what’s going on in and around your body.

So when your chiropractor adjusts you, it might help you to be able to respond and adapt better to your environment and keep you balanced and healthy. This is why some chiropractors will measure your heart rate variability when you are under chiropractic care. So they can see how well you are responding to the chiropractic care and to see how you are currently adapting to your environment.

A group of researchers wanted to know more about chiropractic and heart rate variability.

So they got 96 different chiropractors to measure heart rate variability before and after a single adjustment session on some of their patients. For some of these patients, they measured their heart rate variability over the course of four weeks of chiropractic care.

Altogether 539 adults had their heart rate variability recorded before and after their adjustments. 111 had their heart rate variability measured across four weeks of chiropractic care. They found that in both of these groups, there was a significant improvement in their heart rate variability measurements. In the group that was assessed over four weeks, these improvements were sustained.

When we put this study together with other research that has been published about chiropractic care and heart rate variability, it suggests that chiropractic adjustments can influence heart rate variability. Very important, in the stressful, fast-paced life we often live these days. Chiropractic care appears to increase the healing and calming side of our autonomic nervous system although we do need more research on this area.

If you are interested in good health, and adaptability, and want to better respond to stress and your environment. Consider chiropractic care and make sure your spine is functioning as well as it can so you can operate at your optimal potential.

Video References

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  2. Haavik H, Murphy B. The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2012;22(5):768-76.
  3. Treleaven J. Sensorimotor disturbances in neck disorders affecting postural stability, head and eye movement control. Man Ther 2008;13(1):2-11.
  4. Haavik H, Murphy B. Subclinical neck pain and the effects of cervical manipulation on elbow joint position sense. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2011;34(2):88-97.
  5. Holt KR, Haavik H, Lee AC, et al. Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care to Improve Sensorimotor Function Associated With Falls Risk in Older People: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2016.
  6. Zhang J, Dean D, Nosco D, et al. Effect of Chiropractic Care on Heart Rate Variability and Pain in a Multisite Clinical Study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2006;29(4):267-74.
  7. Amoroso Borges BL, Bortolazzo GL, Neto HP. Effects of spinal manipulation and myofascial techniques on heart rate variability: A systematic review. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 2018;22(1):203-08.

© Haavik Research

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