Rebecca Nicholas, principal chiropractor and owner of Back 2 Balance. In this blog she writes about the Vagus Nerve and what you can do help this most important nerve. 

 

 

Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve

 

What is the Vagus Nerve? 

 

The vagus nerve is so named because it “wanders” like a vagabond, sending out sensory fibres from your brainstem to your visceral organs. The vagus nerve, the tenth, and longest of the cranial nerves, controls your inner nerve centre—the parasympathetic nervous system. And it oversees a vast range of crucial functions (including the control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract), communicating motor and sensory impulses to every organ in your body. It’s ventral portion (the front of your body) extends from its origin in the brainstem through the neck and the thorax down to the abdomen. They are also talking about this portion of the vagus nerve being to do with social engagement.

Recent research has revealed that it may also be the missing link to treating chronic inflammation, and the beginning of an exciting new field of treatment for serious, incurable diseases. 

 

Some cool facts about the Vagus Nerve:

 

    1. Prevents inflammation.
    2. Helps you make memories.
    3. Helps you breathe.
    4. Controls your heart rate.
    5. Initiates relaxation after stress.
    6. Lets your gut ”talk” to your brain.

 

When most of the western population is permanently stuck in fight/flight it makes sense to stimulate and encourage our vagus nerve (front portion) to function more often than it is. In fact, my personal feeling is that right now, pandemic still in full swing a year later, more of us than ever need to reduce our sympathetic fight/flight system, and boost our parasympathetic system.

What is Stress?

What Stress does to our Bodies

SO what can you do to help improve or balance out these two systems? 

They are both very much important for normal functioning and adapting to our every changing environment. However, in this blog let’s talk how to improve the vagus nerve tone and activate it’s healing power.

 

  1. Gargling
  2. Breathing Exercises
  3. Singing
  4. Meditation and Quiet Time
  5. Suboccipital Release 
  6. Stretches including Traps and SCM 
  7. Frontal Cortex Stimulation e.g. overhead clap

See below some easy physical exercises you can do to help the Vagus nerve.

 

The Basic Exercise:

Interlocked fingers on skull towards the base of the skull, then look one way and then to the other.

 

 

 

 

 

The Half Salamander:

Head tilt, then look opposite way. You can do a modification of this by looking the same way with your eye to the head tilt.

half salamander

 

 

 

 

 

SCM stretch:

Cobra position, and then looking up and slightly to the side.

scm

 

 

 

 

 

Frontal cortex activation exercises-

Standing, perform an over head clap 

activation exercises

 

 

 

 

Standing, look up and over shoulder both sides.

up and over shoulders

 

 

 

 

We would love to know if you do any of these exercises, or if you have any other top tips for the vagus nerve. At Back 2 Balance we aim to help your body move towards optimum health in as many ways as possible. Reducing your cortisol and adrenaline, and calming the nervous system and body down is so important for your health.