Why is it so important to correct the position of the Atlas?
The brain communicates with the body via the central nervous system, which branches through the entire body via the opening at the base of the skull.
||1) Atlas vertebra
3) vertebral artery
4) spinal cord
5) spinal nerves
The Atlas is the most delicate point of the entire system. We also find this idea in Greek mythology: Atlas is the giant who is punished by having to carry the weight of the celestial sphere on his shoulders for eternity. As in the myth, the first cervical vertebra is known as the Atlas because it bears the weight of the whole head.
When there is a misalignment of the Atlas, the interactive communication between the brain and the rest of the body is disturbed, which can lead to a neurological deficit.
The anatomy of the spinal column is comparable to a precision mechanism: the slightest shift of the Atlas from its correct anatomical and physiological location can have negative repercussions on the entire musculoskeletal, postural, circulatory and parasympathetic nervous systems, as well as the body in general.
Such misalignment may be present from birth (even in the case of a delivery by Caesarean section) and may be worsened by traumas such as whiplash.
For a better grasp of the problem, it is important to understand the difference between static and dynamic conditions. When the body is in motion, there are dynamic changes in weight distribution, which may lead to a momentary compression of nerves and bloodstream. These stresses are purely temporary and unproblematic for the body, since it returns to a resting position sooner or later: the influences and compressions disappear.
On the other hand, a static load permanently bears on the skeleton. If this weight bearing is constantly unbalanced and one-sided, postural defects are the consequence. Ongoing pressure on nerves and bloodstream leads to a whole series of dysfunctions.
Misalignment of the Atlas and posture
When the spine is in balance, weights are distributed evenly between the two sides of the skeleton.
The head's considerable weight (as much as 5-6 kg), which should not be underestimated, is supported entirely by the Atlas.
A misaligned Atlas causes the cranium not to be perpendicular to the spine.
This produces a shift in the body's center of gravity and therefore an imbalance from head to toe, leading to musculoskeletal dysfunction. This causes a static false posture, in which one side of the body is more stressed than the other. This is also the reason why pain is generally concentrated on just one side.
This imbalance is measurable with the help of two scales, which can show a weight difference of up to 15 kg between one leg and the other.
Depending on the kind of Atlas misalignment, physiological lordosis or kyphosis of the spine may intensify sharply or disappear altogether.
The first vertebra has a great influence on the balance of the whole skeleton and is therefore directlyresponsible for an upright posture.
The consequences of the misaligned Atlas
Even if the cranium rests on a non-leveled Atlas, the eyes need to maintain alignment with the skyline*. As a consequence, the muscles and ligaments of the sub-occipital area are under permanent tension, in their constant attempt to compensate for the alignment of the head. The rest of the spine is curved accordingly. (*Try running with your head tilted sideways!)
This continuous stress leads to the body's center of gravity being shifted and to contractures, muscle spasms and pain, especially if the muscles are weak and untrained. This results in cervical problems, tension-related headaches, vertigo, stiff neck and restricted or painful head rotation.
In this condition advice from the doctor to train and strengthen the neck muscles may be of some benefit. It would be better still to get to the root of the problem, by removing the imbalance which caused the problem in the first place!
Effects on the Axis and other cervical vertebrae:
Depending on the type of misalignment of the Atlas, negative impacts may also arise in the alignment of the Axis (second cervical vertebra, or C2).
In fact, by adjusting the Atlas, the second vertebra is also freed from potential misplacement, as are the other cervical vertebrae, through a kind of "domino effect." Constantly blocked vertebrae, which require continuous adjustment by a chiropractor or osteopath, no longer need this kind of therapy after the ATLANTOtec® treatment.
The position of the Atlas influences the entire body
In a chain-reaction process, a misalignment of the Atlas may cause asymmetries of the entire skeleton, such as one shoulder being higher than the other with pain in the scapula, scoliosis, tilted pelvis with consequent danger of herniated discs (discopathy), pain in the back, hips, knees and
As long as postural defects exist, permanent muscular contractions develop which, as well as being painful, can cause other vertebrae in the column to become blocked (subluxations).
The resulting subluxations may create persistent compression on certain nerve roots. More and more frequently doctors use cortisone against those irritations, which is indeed a useful medicament, but which causes severe, well noted side effects in the long term.
Compression of certain nerves (leads to pins and needles) in arms and legs, while the pressure put on other nerves leads to malfunctions in the corresponding organs. This gives rise to a series of disturbances, even in apparently unrelated areas of the body.
Enlarged, hardened muscles as a result of constant tension compress lymphatic structures as well as the arteries and veins which run between these muscles. This leads to decreased blood flow and a build-up of metabolic waste products in the tissue. This condition causes a vicious circle, making the muscles even more rigid.
Certainly, there are other factors to be taken into account which can affect a symmetrical, upright posture of the body. However, misalignment of the Atlas can be absolutely decisive. Experience has shown that in many cases – after a simple correction of the Atlas – the skeleton consequently takes on a more correct and natural shape.
If one shoulder is higher than the other or the pelvis is tilted, complaints are inevitable, sooner or later.
Only a body with an ideal posture can remain vital and free from complaints in the long run.