Spine Movement, Exercise, and the Brain

New science is confirming that healthy movement patterns in our joints (specifically our spine) supercharges our brain activity, increases learning and development in children, and reduces stress hormones circulating through our bodies. John Ratey, MD, professor at Harvard Medical School and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, has shown research that proves exercise “turns on” our brains and conditions them for learning. For example, a landmark experiment was conducted by a Naperville, Illinois school where the administration turned the cafeteria into a fitness studio. During the experiment, students spent the first hour of the day exercising before learning in a classroom setting. As a result, test scores improved exponentially, ranking #1 in the world in math and science scores. Another school experienced an 83% drop in discipline problems because they “switched on” kids’ brains through exercise.

Dr. Roger Sperry, Noble Prize Winner, states that “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine.” When we exercise, all movements start with our core – which is our spine. Our brain tracks joint movement via mechanoreceptors. Mechanoreceptors sense joint motion and location. Because the majority of mechanoreceptors in our body are located in the spine, proper spinal alignment and motion is critical. This brain-body communication through mechanoreceptors acts like wind to a windmill and stimulates brain activity through healthy joint movement. Spinal alignment increases pediatric development, learning, and reduces sympathetic stress to the body’s systems. Therefore, lots of body movement promotes the rest and repair state that our bodies need on a daily basis. What this means for our kids is that the more fit a child is, the better they learn. Exercise improves brain function, optimizes its ability to learn, improves motivation, and helps regulate emotional patterns. On the other hand, spinal misalignment, poor joint movement patterns and back pain all increase the release of stress hormones and combat sleep, adrenal function, and concentration.