By Dr. Meggie Smith
A few weeks ago The New Yorker magazine wrote an article on brain health and maintaining a healthy brain during aging. For the article, they profiled my good friends at the Chicago Center for Cognitive Wellness. As I have been sharing their good news, people have expressed an interest in how to keep your brain healthy. I’d encourage you to talk to Dr. Sherrie All and Dr. Jenifer Medina for the perspective of a neuropsychologist, but from a chiropractic perspective here are a few easy steps
1) If you are in pain, get adjusted! Did you know pain makes your brain shrink? You may have trouble focusing when you are in pain. But the problem is actually far greater than that. Studies have shown that people with pain, either short-term acute pain or long-term chronic pain, have decreased brain function. In one study, people with chronic back pain experienced a 5-11% loss of brain cells. Researchers are not exactly sure why this happens, but studies have shown repeatedly that pain causes measurable changes in your brain function and size. Don’t tough it out, get adjusted and get out of pain.
2) Even if you aren’t in pain, getting adjusted helps your brain communicate better. Many patients report increased ability to focus and concentrate as a result of getting adjusted. There are various neurological reasons for this, but the very basic explanation is that your spine is connected to your brain and stimulating your spine results in stimulating your brain.
3) Do Cross Crawl Exercises. Many of the studies that look at how pain causes decreasing brain size also show that exercise can help reverse those effects. Motion is incredibly important as a way to counteract brain degeneration. An especially good way to improve neurological functioning is with exercises that use one arm and the opposite leg at the same time. These “Cross Crawl” exercises can be modified for all levels of fitness and are great to get your neurons firing.
These are just a few things to try. If you are starting to feel a bit foggy or would like some additional exercises and tools to increase brain health, let me know. There are lots of other easy exercises you can do or if you would like to talk to a neuropsychologist about brain health, I highly recommend Dr. All and Dr. Medina at Chicago Center for Cognitive Wellness.