The first cervical vertebra (C1 or atlas) is named after Atlas, the mythical Titan who held the earth on his shoulders. The atlas in your spine is a small ring of bone, which balances your skull, a round globe like the earth. Despite the discrepancy in size, as long as the relative positions of C1 and the occiput (the posterior-inferior bone in the skull) are appropriate, the skull balances well. There are many strong muscles that work to maintain an upright posture.
However, even small changes in position, which don’t affect a person’s perception of the weight of their head, can cause many large changes in the information that the nerves carry, and therefore changing the function of the body’s organs and tissues. The changes in position can cause a change in perception of the weight of the skull, especially as the head moves more forward (or anterior) to the shoulders. This happens with students and office workers who are looking down at a desk a lot. As the head moves forward, the back muscles have to tighten to keep the head upright. The weight isn’t balanced well, and the head gets heavier and heavier, causing the muscles to fatigue and stretch. This, of course, also affects the nerves’ communication with each other and therefore the function of the organs, tissues, hormones and glands.
Because there are so many proprioceptors (position sensors) in the upper cervical spine, changing the position of the atlas through a specific adjustment, will change the information that the proprioceptors receive, which will improve posture. Changes in occiput/atlas position will profoundly improve posture and body function. Utilizing NUCCA, the changes in position of the head, C1 and neck are compared and the relationship used to determine how the adjustment is performed. These are measured with specificity to determine 1/4 of a degree of difference. Every atlas adjustment is done precisely and each is different than another.
This is what makes this so much fun! This is a privilege, rather than a job.
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