The simple story starts with the spinal column does not quite work the way doctors have imagined it works and then fills in as I have done below:
The first thing docs did not take into account was that if your bones were lined up the way they were supposed to be aligned, your body would stay upright with almost no effort of the muscles (if you don't believe that see someone who is competent at Advanced BioStructural Correction™ and you can experience it -- so you do not have to believe those before and after pictures on the first page of this web site).
Another thing they did not take into account and discover was the mechanical role of the MENINGES (ma nin gees) and the brain stem-spinal cord itself. The brain stem is the beginning of the spinal cord and is not a separate thing. It is just named separately because it is in the head. The meninges are a tough elastic fibered sheath covering the central nervous system – the spinal cord and brain.
You have probably heard of the meninges. They are the coverings of the brain and spinal cord and commonly mentioned in relation to infections called meningitis which means inflammation (hotness, swelling, and redness) of the meninges.
Meninge is Latin for covering. The coverings of the brain and spinal cord are called meninges (plural) because there are three layers.
The meninges attach firmly to the inside of the skull surrounding the brain. At the bottom of the skull where the brain stem turns into the spinal cord and the cord goes down the back of the spinal column, the meninges continue downward completely encircling the cord and finally attaching firmly only at the tail bone (coccyx).
The meninges do not attach firmly to the bones of the spinal column but are attached to the bones of the spinal column by elastic ligaments that are generally loose. They act like bungee cords and stretch when the spinal cord moves too far to one side. They act to keep spinal cord suspended in the canal behind the front part of the bones which make the spinal column (vertebrae, vert -a -bray).
Starting at the base of the skull the meninges have four thick bands of tissue (front back and on each side) that are thick and elastic like rubber bands.
These thick bands each act as a large rubber band would, pulling from the tailbone (bottom of the spinal column) to the head. When everything is in the correct place and you are upright, the spinal cord and meninges are slack. When you bend and everything is lined up correctly the spinal cord and the bands of the meninges pull just enough to keep the spinal column and your body stable. When you bend or get into extreme positions they are stretched and pull even more. If everything is aligned correctly in your spine the cord and meninges come back to a slack position again when you straighten and stand upright.
How much the vertebrae need to be out of place to cause difficulty and the direction of misalignment that cause difficulty are discussed elsewhere.
The main point is that the vertebrae get “stuck” out of position and the body cannot self-correct their position
However, if the bones in your spine get stuck out of position -- even slightly out of position -- then the spinal column cannot hold itself upright as it should. That causes an abnormal stretching of the cord and meninges to keep things together and upright. You can experience this now by tucking your shirt tightly into your pants or skirt in the back. Then bend your body forward or even sideways or into a twist. The pulling of the shirt in the back is the way the cord and meninges are pulled as your body goes forward due to the inability of the spine column to hold itself upright when vertebrae are misaligned.
A quick review: The bones of the spinal column hold the body upright with almost no muscular effort if they are correctly aligned. When you are upright and the vertebra (bones of the spinal column) are correctly aligned the spinal cord and meninges are in a slack state. When you bend or move off center the bones of the spinal column along with the skull and the meninges act as a single system to hold the body stable. When you return to center the vertebra again work to hold the body upright with little or no effort of the muscles and no stretch of the meninges or spinal cord.
When the bones of the spinal column are misaligned it results in an uneven stretching or pulling of the cord and meninges -- and maybe even some of the nerves coming off the spinal cord or brain stem. The alignment is off so it causes stretching and pulling of the brain stem and meninges up into the skull. Many people feel this as headaches or tightness around their head and eyes. Note in the picture above that the meninges go up into head and attach firmly to the inside of the skull. When they are stretched anywhere the tension is spread out over the entire spinal column-skull-meningeal system. What people feel depends on where the mechanical stress pulls the most.
People can also feel this as nerve pinching lower in the body. The reason this tension on the meninges, cord and brain stem is felt in different places and affects people differently is the difference in what bones they have out of place and in what combinations of pulling they have.