Stretching Doesn’t Mean You Can Skip the Chiropractor

By Dr. Molly Casey

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Patients come into the chiropractic office for care and they frequently bring friends or loved ones with them. It’s often a time of inquisition and education. One of the more common statements is, “I have a very solid stretching routine [or I do yoga] and can pop my own back, so I don’t need chiropractic care.” This statement is highly uneducated as to what chiropractic truly is, the understanding of what occurs with loss of range of motion, and what one is actually doing to themselves when they are “popping” or “cracking” their own back.

Read more and educate yourself!

What Is Chiropractic

Chiropractic is an approach to health care that is based on ensuring optimal nervous system functioning. Your nervous system -- brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves -- is your communication system. It’s how the brain speaks to the body and the body speaks to the brain. The more efficiently this system functions, the better chance you’ll experience optimal health. About 10 percent of your nervous system transmits pain. This means that the system itself can be functioning much less than optimal but you easily wouldn’t feel any pain all. Using pain as an indicator of health is not a wise idea and it’s certainly not an indicator of nervous system functioning. Utilizing regular chiropractic care as a way to improve spinal health and nervous system health is a thorough way to approach one’s health.

Range of Motion

You may feel that you move quite well overall and infer that your spine moves well. This isn’t always the case. Range of motion is categorized into segmental and global ranges of motion.

Segmental range of motion refers to how well spinal joints move individually. Global range of motion refers to how well different areas of the spine move overall. The global range of motion for the cervical spine (neck) is different and much larger than the segmental range of motion for the cervical spine joints. How well the neck moves overall is dependent on how well and intact the motion is for each joint in that area -- and in some cases even other areas of the spine. In any event, changes in the global ranges of motion occur and are noticed after segmental restriction or instability has been present for a significant amount of time. Thus, judging spinal motion on your overall body movements is neither accurate nor healthy.

Popping Your Back

Intentionally moving your spine in ways that produce a popping noise is an unhealthy choice.

There are two main ways in which this hurts the situation. When there are spinal joints that have restricted full range of motion, the joints above and below overcompensate and move too much. It’s physics. It’s how it works. So, when a person directs an unspecific force to an area of the spine, it’s likely to affect the joints above and below that actual restricted joint, thereby causing the problem itself to worsen as the dominoes begin to fall.

The second issue with forcing a popping of one’s own back is the lack of training in the physics of the joint and experience with the practice of moving the specifically correct joint. Again, the problem is likely to worsen as ligaments, tendons and joint capsules are often stretched beyond what is needed and/or healthy to get the proper desired result. If you’re not trained to do it, it isn’t wise to try. It is, after all, your spine, which protects the nervous system that controls everything your body does -- including breathe. Would you really want that responsibility of tinkering with someone else’s back? And it adds an entirely different element if you’re attempting to do it to yourself. Again, not wise or healthy. Even chiropractors themselves cannot properly self-adjust; they don’t even attempt it. It’s just too dangerous.

Just because you may have a great stretching routine, regularly do yoga and/or you can pop your own back, it doesn’t mean you don’t need or won’t benefit from regular chiropractic care. In fact, they are non-related. Regular chiropractic care is about an optimal nervous system functioning purely, simply, and profoundly. Is increased range of motion a side effect? Yes, and at the very same time it’s not the entrée, it’s a side dish. So even if you have a great stretching routine and can pop your own back, make the wise choice to see the doctors at The Joint Chiropractic and let them help you help yourself -- and your health.

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