One of the downfalls of many health professionals is their inability to explain what it is exactly that they do. This leads to general confusion and misconceptions; Chiropractors and PTs’ in general tend be very bad at this! I find all too often that people do not get the care they need simply because they don’t understand.
Let’s start basic and ask the question what do chiropractors do? Any time someone asks me this question my most simple explanation is “we fix muscles and joints that do not work properly.” We accomplish this through manual therapy techniques such as myofascial release, stretching, corrective exercise, and other modalities. One of the more common techniques chiropractors tend to use is the “adjustment” (spinal manipulation.) There seems to be much confusion around the “adjustment” and how it works to help relieve pain, restore mobility, and improve performance.
Many of the problems I see and treat are a product of lifestyle (i.e. tight upper back from sitting at a desk all day), this usually later turns into a sports injury in the active population. Many of us have postural faults due to our sedentary lifestyles that later lead to injuries. Take your upper back for example, if you sit at a desk all day you likely have some degree of rounded shoulders. The rounding of your shoulders narrows the space necessary for your rotator cuff to pass through which can lead to impingement when doing shoulder presses, or playing tennis, basketball, etc.
While the problem may be the muscle, this posture has been learned by your body and is not always easily reversed. Rounded shoulders pull on the spine which locks the joints in your back. When the joints are locked no matter how much stretching or exercise is completed the problem is still going to be present because the joints are not allowing for the appropriate movement leading to a viscous cycle.
Enter “the adjustment”. The “adjustment” is a gentle, shallow, thrust that serves to restore normal joint motion and biomechanics. With joints now moving as they are suppose to we can address the entire picture more effectively, loosening and balance out both the muscles and joints. Current research has found that the spinal manipulation serves to reset the GTO (Golgi tendon organ) in our muscles similar to resetting the computer, allowing them to relax. Additionally, important, pain relieving bio-markers have been found post adjustment including oxytocin, and neurotensin, which serve to relax muscles and nerves allowing your body to heal!