A Yogi’s Chiropractic Conundrum: But I Feel Fine

By Dr. Molly Casey

Yoga Group Class

Yoga and chiropractic -- can they coexist? They can, if you wish. If you can only do one, I recommend the latter. The most common statement I get from yogis -- those who practice yoga regularly -- is this: “I do yoga, I don’t need chiropractic.” But the most common question I get: “Can I continue my yoga practice while getting adjusted?” Let’s address both questions so you have a better understanding of pairing the two.

“I Do Yoga, I Don’t Need Chiropractic”

Yoga and chiropractic have nothing to do with each other. You can participate in both, one or the other, or neither. In my experience with yogis, they frequently feel their spine moves well and they have no pain; therefore, they conclude there’s no need for chiropractic.

There are two main points that don’t support that line of thought. First, 89 percent of the nervous system does not transmit pain. Using pain, or lack thereof, as the indicator that your spine is healthy and functioning properly is a very poor idea; generally, they agree with my response. It’s not rocket science. As a society, we have been conditioned to think that if we have no pain there is no problem. That just isn’t the case.

Second, I explain that movement is categorized into two areas, segmental or global. Segmental motion refers to the motion in a joint, in this case, a spinal joint. Global range of motion refers to larger motions of multiple joints, such as flexion/extension of the lumbar spine. Segmental motion is much smaller than global range of motion. However, optimal global range of motion requires optimal segmental range of motion. In other words, to have full global range of motion -- to touch the floor in your forward bend in yoga class -- each lumbar joint must have proper and full motion. The issue becomes evident when we notice loss of global range of motion (now we can’t touch our toes); however, the loss of segmental motion is the root of the problem and it was compromised long before we could/would notice it. So, simply having good global range of motion does not mean segmental motion is full and sufficient; you may be on your way to not being able to touch your toes. A chiropractor can make that determination, and the chiropractic adjustment can improve segmental range of motion.

“Can I Continue Practicing Yoga While Getting Adjusted”

This is a great question, particularly because most chiropractors love when our patients want to keep moving. The answer is usually yes. However, it depends on injuries and the current state of the health of the spine. Rarely have I found myself telling someone “absolutely no yoga.” Sometimes, I recommend temporarily staying away from, or modifying, certain poses. Because regularly practicing such movement is so healthy, I often tell patients to keep it up.

More often than not, those who are open to yoga are open to caring for their health with a more holistic and positive approach. Chiropractic fits that bill, and can help extend the benefits of yoga. So yes, chiropractic and yoga can coexist -- if you wish. Your inner yogi will love you for it.

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