There has been a lot of discussion recently about the role of your ‘gut’ in not only digestion but in other daily decision making processes. Some have gone as far as to call it the ‘second brain’, highlighting it’s role in our aptly named ‘gut instincts’ and even mood!
What does this have to do with movement you may well ask? I believe that a beautifully moving organism moves well both inside and out, and bowel movements are no exception. But … the plot thickens, not only is there movement (hopefully) in our bowel, there is also a substantial link between our more general body movements and our bowel’s peristalsis!
The enteric nervous system (the nervous system that controls our gut) communicates with central nervous system via both the parasympathetic (vagus nerve) and the sympathetic (prevertebral ganglia). We now know however that even when the vagus nerve is cut the enteric nervous system continues to work, however if the prevertebral ganglia are interrupted, all bowel movement stops! Why is this so interesting? If I told you that the prevertbral ganglia reside in the thoracic spine, you might be a little more intrigued. Then if I told you if our thoracic spine anatomy and physiology is interrupted, so to can be the effectiveness of our bowel movements!
This means, in essence, that if our thoracic spine alignment is non-optimal it can have drastic effects on the peristalsis of our small intestine and colon. It may also speak to why those in the movement world often experience the effect that extension of the thoracic spine has on improving our mood … but that discussion is for another time. In the meantime look after your thoracic spine, for if you don’t, you might find that your spine is not the only thing that stops moving!