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Autonomic Modulation and the Tensegral Array
Michael Thomas D.C.

(Note: this paper was published in the April 2013 newsletter for Quantum Spinal Mechanics)

We have done a fairly good job of explaining what goes on up to the point of the performance of the adjustment itself. We understand what happens afterwards fairly well too. It is the moment of the adjustment itself that has been a great mystery. What happens in that instant? How does the adjustive force cause the outcome we have empirically experienced? What actually happens during an adjustment?

The following is the beginnings of a tensegrally derived autonomic modulation theory for upper cervical chiropractic.

Distribution of vectored force by the adjustor translates the potential mass of the adjustor’s body into an incremental build-up of tension within the body of the adjustor that appears to match the magnitude and direction of resistance to optimal flow at the craniovertebral junction. This area of contact is a multifactorally important node where the tensegral forces fine-tune (minimize) themselves to the effects of gravity using the sensors in the cranial area for feedback. The accommodation of the sensors is however, from a practical perspective, secondary to the ongoing position of the pelvis with respect to gravity. In other words, these sensors at the cranial end of the organism can only adapt and compensate to a certain degree because they cannot by themselves, overcome the disequilibrium of a malpositioned pelvis with respect to gravity. (Big mass rules small mass). Once they have made all possible accommodation, the rest of the tonic musculature must release the optimal orthogonal strategy for stabilization and utilize whatever strategy is available to maintain upright status with respect to gravity. This is the origin of frontal and transverse obliquity in the pelvis as well as movement of the torso in the frontal and transverse planes.

Using directed incremental buildup of force is utilized by many chiropractic techniques in many areas of the body (generally as muscle focused therapies). Such introduction of force had long been observed to diminish the local muscle tension, releasing aberrant resistance throughout aspects of the whole myofascial envelope. The tension appears to be set by feedback between central pattern generators which make pragmatic decisions to moderate tension and protect the integrity of the tissues. This maintains as much local stability and function as possible. In an optimal, coherent organism, this pragmatic decision is also optimal for the stability and function of the entire organism. When there is a breakdown of the tensegral distribution of forces, a compartmentalization occurs in which sections optimize themselves and then work to coordinate with other sections, often creating a cantilevered balance of sections, decreasing overall efficiency but providing a diminished but engaged stability with respect to gravity. This sectional stability represents suboptimal solutions or ‘stability basins’┬áthat lie around the optimal answer of coherent verticality. These are the misalignment patterns we have identified in standing neutral position. These misalignment patterns are static representations of available strategies for organismic movement with respect to gravity given the currently available parameters. (We have not yet examined the resultant movement patterns.)

Addition of a properly delivered adjustive force into the array at the craniovertebral junction overcomes the pragmatic and diminished solution of sectionalization by introducing enough force to redirect the local flow at the craniovertebral junction and provide the area with enough energy to restore the optimal balance of force and resistance. It does so by first physically introducing a vectored force that unbinds the local buckling and increased resistance but also by restoring blood flow, cerebral spinal fluid flow and unwinding tissue tractionization which secondarily, although more importantly, modulates the autonomic nuclei in the brainstem. The unique positioning of all these elements at the craniovertebral junction fundamentally changes neurologic traffic and distribution of force in the myofascial envelope with respect to gravity (regaining tonic symmetry) through this remodulation of the autonomic nuclei-specifically the pontine and reticulospinal tracts- when referencing alignment with gravity. The proximity of other brainstem nuclei to these tracts may also explain the multisystemic effects long noted after corrective upper cervical adjustment. Restoration of optimal integration requires addition of properly designed energy to the organism in a form it can use. The incremental buildup of force in the adjustment allows a matching of resistance (resonant energy transfer) while the direction is a function of analysis of the specific misalignment factors.

In real time, the distribution of tensions and resistances are being calculated by the nervous system on an ongoing basis. Each pull by the adjustor potentially changes the system’s potential to respond to gravity, etc., and so kinesthetic feedback between the adjustor and patient’s own neurological calculations are critical. Accessing the pathways is Dr. Friedman’s current focus. It is doubtful that any one vectored force, calculated by 2-D analysis (analysis of one plane at a time) of the 3-D bony aspects of the craniovertebral junction will restore the entire organism to optimal function. Most misalignment patterns are complex in nature and require an unwinding in more than one plane.

At the demand of the scientific community, we continue to look for a ‘biomarker’ which will allow us to step onto the world stage for their evaluation. The very idea of a biomarker however, presupposes a mechanistic problem and solution. In a mechanism, a part may become defective. This part is replaced. The mechanism runs properly again. The Atlas Subluxation Complex Syndrome (ASC syndrome) seems to occur in a different way. It is analogous to the view through a telescope. When the lenses are properly focused on what one wishes to observe, the picture is crisp and clear. When the lenses become unfocused, the whole picture becomes blurry and less recognizable. Optical resolution and functional coherence may be seen in analogous ways. Coherence requires optimal communication. Alteration of blood flow, CSF flow and tractionization of neural tissues at the craniovertical junction diminishes coordinated communication through the organism. Restoration produces the coherence necessary for the system to optimally resolve.