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Nervous System 101

Woman drinking water.

Something that’s great for your nervous system? Plenty of exercise and water!

The nervous system in your body is made up of two parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.

The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system. The spinal cord transmits sensory messages to the brain and motor messages from the brain. Sensory nerves carry messages from receptors to the brain. If you touch a hot stove, pain receptors tell your brain to move your hand. Motor nerves send signals from the brain to the muscles in the body. These nerves help us to do things, like walk, kick a ball or pick up an object.

The peripheral nervous system transports the messages between the central nervous system and the body. It consists of cranial and spinal nerves that carry messages to and from every cell in your body.

The Autonomic Nervous System

Part of the peripheral nervous system is called the autonomic nervous system. The actions of the autonomic nervous system are generally involuntary (automatic). It controls actions such as breathing, your heartbeat and digestion—things you don’t have to think about.

The autonomic nervous system is made up of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic system alerts the body when there is an emergency or danger. Like what happens when you push the accelerator pedal in your car, everything speeds up in what is called a “flight or fight” response. The parasympathetic system is like the brake pedal, returning your body to normal once the danger has passed.

Chiropractic care is designed to improve the integrity of the nervous system so that everything works the way it should. That is why it is important to have your spine checked at regular intervals.

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