Chain Effect is an exclusive provider of the NuCalm experience in the triangle.
When Caroline and I first tinkered around with the idea of Chain Effect, we always wanted it to be a place of comprehensive wellness. We envisioned the physical therapy services would get people moving better and correct imbalances, the personal training would strengthen and fortify functional movement patterns, the nutrition counseling would provide a food as medicine approach, AND we would treat the brain like any other muscle through cognitive training and mindfulness techniques.
We recently took a major step forward in the last goal by investing in the NuCalm Experience. Before we discuss what exactly the NuCalm Experience is, we first want to discuss the problem it’s looking to solve.
We all know stress is a tricky thing. Without ample amounts of it, we don’t push ourselves to improve and grow. Our muscles need stress in order to gain strength, but we often don’t categorize this type of stress with the other stressors we experience in our life. Even if you were the biggest gym rat on the planet, you wouldn’t carry around a 40 lb. dumbbell with you at all times. And yet, often, we do just that with our emotional stress. This emotional stress is caused by a variety of factors, but to name a few:
1. Caring too much about what other people and society think about us.
This drives us to constantly check social media and “manage” our online image and reputation. It makes us fall into the “Keeping up with the Jones’” trap of buying things to attempt to improve our self-worth. It forces us to place unachievable expectations on our relationships and cause strain when they don’t resemble the fairy tales we see on TV, Instagram, and Facebook even though they are going through normal ups and downs.
2. Decreased attention span and lack of downtime or idle thoughts. We are addicted to our phones. Not because we like phones, but because the creators of the applications we love have designed them, so we feel compelled to interact with them whenever we have a spare moment. In a way, this is an extension of “1. Caring too much about what other people think…” but it differs because it affects us through a different mechanism. Every time we check our phone, we are releasing a tiny bit of dopamine into our brains. Dopamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter and why you have that little bit of joy wondering if you have any new emails or recent “likes”, or if there has been any breaking news in the world. This constant checking of our devices eliminates the time that your brain needs to relax and for your thoughts to wander, form new ideas, and foster creativity.
Mindfulness can also be thought of as mindlessness in that we need to let go of our thoughts and cares about them. It is truly thinking about nothing, especially our day to day thoughts. It is in this state that we are able to lower our stress levels and thus gain harmonic perspective about our problems.
3. Our autonomic nervous system is being hijacked.
Our autonomic nervous system is the control center in our body that operates mostly on the unconscious bodily functions such as digestion, respiratory rate, heart rate, pupillary response, sexual arousal, and urination. It is divided into two main branches conventionally thought to work in opposite conjunction with each other. These two branches are your sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic system is more widely known as your fight-or-flight system and this is where many of us reside far too often.
Think of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system as too ends of a spectrum. While these two systems complement each other, it is easier to think about them as providing opposite functions.
Sympathetic Nervous System: Corresponds with energy generation and diverts blood from other areas of the body to skeletal muscles, increases the amount of oxygen our lungs take in with each breath through bronchial dilation, dilates our pupils to increase far vision, increases heart rate and several other functions. Overall, this system prepares us for massive energy consumption as we attempt out run a predator or head into battle.
Parasympathetic Nervous System: Promotes a “rest and digest” state and diverts blood flow from skeletal muscles to the gastrointestinal tract, constricts bronchioles as less oxygen is needed, constricts pupils promoting closer vision, relaxes demand on the heart as less blood is needed throughout the body, increases secretion from the salivary glands, accelerates peristalsis (movement of food through the intestines) promoting digestion and increased absorption of nutrients, and a few other functions. Overall, this nervous system is responsible for your recovery needs of the body.
Side note: The parasympathetic branch is responsible for sexual arousal and the sympathetic branch is responsible for the orgasm. So, in this way they are very much complementary!
Both of these systems are of equal importance, but many people today live under a constant drip of stress and stimulation, which alters their ability to get into their parasympathetic state. If these two branches of the nervous system were on a spectrum, most people likely spend the majority of their time with the dial firmly pointed toward the sympathetic branch, meaning they are constantly priming their fight-or-flight response.
What I just described in scientific terms is the reason why people living in this constant state of fight-or-flight have trouble with weight loss, sleeping at night, and focusing on tasks requiring sustained complex thought. Living in this state also decreases sexual appetite and “getting in the mood.”
So, how do we move the dial back toward the middle, allowing ourselves to use each system when necessary and ultimately spending more time utilizing our parasympathetic branch? How do we reduce stress or compartmentalize it so we aren’t as affected viscerally by it? Also, how do we boost recovery of skeletal muscle, increase absorption of nutrients, and actually fall asleep when we put our heads on the pillow?
These are the questions we are trying to answer at Chain Effect. Combining postural relaxation through the use of our state of the art zero gravity recliner and NuCalm, we are offering a relaxation experience unlike any other.
The first time I heard about NuCalm was while reading Brandon Sneed’s book “Head in the Game: The Mental Engineering of the World’s Greatest Athletes.” In this book, Sneed goes on a journey of self-exploration trialing the most advanced technology used by athletes globally including professional golfers to NFL quarterbacks. During that journey is when he stumbled upon NuCalm and to this day, he claims it to be the one thing he continues to use on a regular basis.
The science behind NuCalm is robust. NuCalm is the only system patented and proven to shift the user into parasympathetic system dominance. As we mentioned above, this shift unlocks the body’s naturally restorative processes and shifts the brain’s wave patterns from stress-oriented Beta waves to Zen-like Alpha brain waves. NuCalm lowers your brain wave frequency to one associated with active recovery and holds you there, like a car idling.
What you are developing with your NuCalm training is control over your response to stress. Mindset and thought patterns affect the body in ways the scientific community is just scratching the surface of. Whether you are an elite athlete who is trying to develop the ability to get in the “zone” or “flow,” an executive under crushing deadlines, or a parent who is feeling overwhelmed by a lack of hours in the day, Chain Effect’s NuCalm training is a tool that can change everything.
You may be thinking that this sounds similar to meditating and why I can’t just meditate on my own. You are right in thinking NuCalm is similar to meditation and many of the same benefits NuCalm offers can be achieved through a daily meditation program. Meditating on your own eventually will be one of our goals for you as you develop this skill. However, slipping into a meditative mindset is just as much a skill as throwing a ball, driving a car, or exercising properly. The more you use NuCalm the easier it will be for you to find pockets of Zen throughout your day and more importantly control your response to stressful situations.
How do you know if NuCalm is right for you? Have you ever been guilty of bringing your baggage from work into your home and redirecting it negatively at your loved ones? Has your blood pressure instantly risen 30% when someone pulled out in front of you on your drive home? Or what about feeling so overwhelmed with a project that you can’t even begin to start breaking it down into the necessary steps to take action? These are all examples of a mind that is over-stimulated, over stressed, and existing in the sympathetic “fight-or-flight” dominant mindset. It can be a struggle to calm yourself down because it isn’t just your mind, but your entire body responding to the situation.
Studies have shown that athletes who are the best of the best come crunch time have an incredible ability to calm themselves down, retain perspective on the task, and operate in a more neutral autonomic state while their peers are crumbling in all-out sympathetic fight-or-flight overload. This is why NuCalm is used by professional sports teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, PGA, USTA, and a host of European Soccer Leagues with 41 teams and counting.
Mindfulness training and exercises aren’t just about managing the situation you are currently in. They are about arming you with the tools and priming the body, so you can respond accordingly to the unforeseen situations down the line.
by Taylor Pope, PT, DPT, FDNP, co-owner of Chain Effect
Chain Effect Physical Therapy & Performance Enhancement is an exclusive provider of the NuCalm experience in the triangle.