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Postural Link from Neck Muscles to the Neurology of Breathing and Swallowing

…and how your heart beats

New brain studies continue to explain how a chiropractic adjustment can affect whiplash-induced problems like swallowing and dizziness, as well as being able to take a deep breath.

It’s pretty much agreed that sensory information from the upper neck is important for control of posture and eye position, as well as linked to the unconscious control of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Whiplash and conditions like cervical dystonia (chronic loss of control of the neck muscles) are often associated with swallowing and breathing issues, so the researchers at the University of Leeds looked at what was going on.

“Breathing is the most important motion,” Dr. Steven Weiniger

They found that stimulating a nerve in the upper neck (C2) changed the breathing pattern and even increased coronary perfusion pressure (During a heart attack, coronary perfusion pressure is one of the most important variables associated with the likelihood of return of spontaneous circulation – the restoration of a pulse.) Deep brain tracing of these nerves showed them to be proprioceptive, causing them to conclude:

“These results provide evidence of pathways linking upper cervical sensory afferents with CNS areas involved in autonomic and oromotor control,” and that, “disruption of these neuronal pathways could, therefore, explain the dysphagic and cardiorespiratory abnormalities which may accompany cervical dystonia and WAD.”

IN OTHER WORDS:  Upper neck problems can have a dramatic affect upon health.

CONJECTURE A:  Asymmetric neck motion can cause asymmetric proprioception, which can cause asymmetric autonomic stimulation.

CONJECTURE B: Promoting towards symmetry of intervertebral motion in the upper cervical spine with spinal manipulation really can affect swallowing, breathing and even how your heart beats. And retraining the pattern of that motion towards symmetry with StrongPosture® exercise may have even more far reaching health benefits.


Edwards IJ, Lall VK, Paton JF, Yanagawa Y, Szabo G, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J (5 Mar 2014). Neck muscle afferents influence oromotor and cardiorespiratory brainstem neural circuits. Brain Struct Funct. Retrieved from

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