What is Heart Rate Variability and How is it Useful?

Heart Rate VariabilityIf somebody was to mention Heart Rate Variability (HRV), to most people it would conjure up images of hospital care and heart monitors. However it actually is far more in line with chiropractic healthcare than the name would immediately suggest. HRV is designed as a test of the patient’s nervous system. The name has been derived from its historical use, dating back across various medical professions over nearly 50 years, and it is done to measure the activity of the autonomic nervous system. However, as all studies and research have always referred to it as HRV, the name has stuck, and as the saying goes, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it!

What does HRV Test?

A HRV test will illustrate the rates and rhythms of your resting heart beat pattern, which allows the chiropractor to analyse how your autonomic nervous system functions. They will be able to examine the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic nervous system’s primary role is to activate the fight-or-flight response, where the body goes into a state of heightened arousal in response to what is perceived to be a harmful event or a threat to its survival. The parasympathetic nervous system works in almost the opposite manner, helping the body to conserve energy by slowing down the heart rate.

How is HRV Used In Chiropractic Care?

The benefits of HRV testing come in as your chiropractor is able to provide an objective measure of the effects of your work together. Using HRV tests, they can clearly illustrate how you are adapting to the program provided for you. If your body is not adapting well, the sympathetic nervous system will be more active compared to the parasympathetic nervous system, as it believes you are in danger. With this information, your chiropractor can then work with you to tailor your treatment accordingly. Simply put, using HRV testing in your chiropractic care allows for the chiropractor to assess the neurological progress of the treatment in addition to the standard physiological progress as well.

Research suggests that chiropractic adjustments can have a significant effect on the dominance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems depending on which area of the spine they are made. This means that potentially, if you were not reacting well to the overall treatment and it was causing distress in your nervous system, an adjustment to your spine in the correct area could rebalance the neurological response and increase your body’s adaptability and receptiveness to the treatment.

Although promising, it should be noted that the HRV studies in the area of chiropractic care are limited. If this is something you are interested in then please call Bathurst Chiropractic on (02) 6331 1004 for more information or to schedule an appointment.


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