The first cervical vertebra, called the “atlas” or C1, plays a primary role in the alignment of the spine and body, maintaining musculoskeletal and fascial balance, and keeping you vertical against the forces of gravity and ground reaction.
Misalignment of the “atlas” might have a “domino” effect on the entire musculoskeletal and fascial, circulatory, and nervous systems, by creating imbalances and dysfunctions in various parts of the body. These malfunctions might turn, over time, into serious health issues: The body is no longer able to function the way it could and should in a state of homestasis. The quality of life can become seriously compromised, even though no clear-cut organic cause might be identified and diagnosed.
When C1 or “atlas”, the spine, and the skeleton are in balance, gravity and ground reaction forces, the forces each one of us compete against each day are distributed evenly between the two sides of the skeleton.
The head’s considerable weight (as much as 11-13 pounds), which should not be underestimated, is entirely supported by the “atlas.” A misaligned “atlas” causes the cranium not to be perpendicular to the spine and most importantly to ground reaction force affecting how your body finds its vertical position when sitting and standing. The “atlas”, therefore, has a great influence on the balance of your entire skeleton and is directly responsible for your upright and vertical posture.
Misalignment of the “atlas” causes a shift in your body’s center of gravity and a musculoskeletal and fascial imbalance from head to toe leading to musculoskeletal dysfunction. The misalignment of the “atlas” causes a static, false posture in which one side of the body is more stressed than the other. This is why your pain is generally concentrated on one side of your body.
Due to the shift in your body’s center of gravity, the stress to your skeletal structure causes muscle tension, spasms, and pain, especially if the muscles are weak and untrained. This results in cervical problems, tension related headaches, vertigo, stiff neck, restricted or painful head rotation, musculoskeletal issues involving the shoulder and pelvic girdles, hips, and extremities.
The misalignment of the “atlas” may have secondary effects on the “axis” or the second cervical vertebra as well the other neck vertebra. In fact, it also may affect the alignment of the thoracic and lumbosacral vertebra in a “domino effect.”
In this chain-reaction process, misalignment of the “atlas” may cause asymmetry of the entire, integrated skeleton, such as having one shoulder higher than the other or one side of the pelvic girdle being higher causing a leg length difference. In addition, it can cause scoliosis of the spine. Over time, these changes can lead to degeneration of the spine and joints. Think about it!