It’s Valentine’s Day and My Heart is All Aflutter

Okay, so it’s Posture Thursday and hoo boy, do I have an interesting little tale for today. And no, it has nothing to do with romance, this is a posture and exercise blog, for God’s sake. Valentine’s day being tomorrow is nothing more than an amusing coincidence.

Anyway, lately I’ve written about the effect of stress on my resting heart rate. But here’s another little problem I get from stress…

Stress gives me heart palpitations.

Seriously. I may be healthy as a horse and strong as an ox, (and almost as smart as either). I may have perfect cholesterol, triglycerides, etc., and a slow, steady heartbeat, but I have noticed little things as the years go by.

One is heart palpitations.

First time it happened was 2 years ago. Whenever I was sitting down, I couldn’t go more than a minute or two without my heart fluttering, or even skipping a beat. The only way to feel good was to exercise it up into my aerobic zone, wherein the palpitations would cease.

Now, I was in a stressful patch at work, and my back was all twisted up from…I don’t really know what, but it was all twisted up. So, I went for a deep tissue massage, and a chiropractic crunching.

The deep tissue work was interesting, let me tell you. Everything from my neck to my tailbone was bound and knotted up, and loosening it off was…mmm…uncomfortable. Okay, it hurt like hell. But afterward I sure felt a lot better.

Then I went to my Chiropractor and when I was laying on the table he asked, “Are you having heart palpitations?”

Now, I’m a bit (a lot) of a skeptic about most things, including Chiropractic care. I know my back feels better after it’s cracked into place, but the notion that crunching your spine into place is a cure-all for whatever ails you? Let’s say I was, and remain unconvinced. Having said that, he did predict the problem simply from feeling my spine.

Anyway, when I arrived at the Chiro office I had palpitations, but over the course of the first couple days after the adjustment, they slowly faded away.

Fast forward to this week. I’ve been regaling you with stories of the stress I’ve been under, and what I’ve been doing about it. Well, starting Monday and increasing in frequency all week, I’ve been having mild heart palpitations.

My back is a bit bound up, too, but not so badly as that time two years ago…my yoga and Pilates routines are keeping that in check, but still, I can feel it’s a little out of place, and I can’t stretch it back on my own.

“No problem,” I tells myself, I’ll just go get ke-chunked on the way to work. So I did.

And the palpitations are gone, and every time I’ve checked my heat rate (which has been mildly elevated all week) it’s been between 59 and 61.

So, what does this all have to do with posture? Two things.

First, when I’m hunched over, slouched into my chest, the palpitations are worse. I imagine it has to do with the extra chest cavity compression squeezing my heart and the nerves and circulatory system feeding it. When I would straighten up and take a deep breath, the palpitations would reduce.

Second, the years of exercises to fix my spine and posture have given me:

  • A healthier and more resilient back.
  • A better understanding of my back and it’s problems.
  • A more acute sense of what things ought to feel like.
  • The ability to diagnose (through “listening to my body” and the exercises) what is physically wrong.
  • Finally, the ability to poke around inside my own head to find underlying causes, like the recent life stresses, so I can address the causes along with the symptoms.

When I started this journey all those years ago, I was simply aiming to be a better example for my boys, so they’d have good posture, but I ended up achieving so much more.

You can too.