When talking about chiropractic I normally say something along the lines of, “The essence of chiropractic is to fine-tune your body to help it work as well as it can work”.
What I’m actually doing by fine-tuning you is addressing interference to your body’s ability to work as well as it can work; interference that exists because of how your body has been used and abused over time; interference reflected in the distortions which are visible as I examine you and which can be felt in the adverse tension held within you. Everyone is different, every body heals at different rates and a body will heal in the order in which it wants, but I have found that certain responses are typical regardless of who I’m working with and regardless of what chiropractic approach I use.
The first changes I look for are what I describe as autonomic nervous system responses and I often see these during an appointment. Actions such as yawning, sighing, deep breathing and a rumbling tummy indicate that you are in a relaxed state where your body can do what it wants and needs to do. We naturally enter this state when we sleep or meditate and switch off from the activities of everyday life (we normally live life in a state where we are constantly alert and continually adapt and respond to our environment as necessary: a state of ‘fight-or-flight’). Bodywork such as chiropractic can initiate this state, too. Consequently, following an appointment - provided you have switched off and relaxed during your appointment so that you have entered this state - I next expect you to report that you feel more relaxed and comfortable.
Each adjustment releases adverse tension from the body (or normalizes the tension within the body) hence why people normally feel relaxed following their appointments (less stress = more relaxed). Some patients report a dramatic change in their health following one adjustment which indicates that adverse tension was the main detrimental factor to their health. If I see someone once, or if I see someone infrequently, I’m looking more to achieve a small change in their health, or more to help a person maintain their state of health. Frequent adjustments, on the contrary, have a cumulative effect: creating and maintaining a relaxed state, thereby creating a healing state.
The aim of regular adjustments is to release more stress than your body is being subjected to between appointments helping you to not only cope better with the stresses of your current life, but dealing with the stresses of the past, too. As a result objective and subjective changes occur and healing is enabled on a deeper level.
Objective changes are improvements in how your body works, are changes that can be observed by a third party, and reflect the fact that there is less tension in your body. These might be something as simple as improved range of motion of your neck or shoulders, or greater mobility or stability when walking, or the ability to more easily turn over in bed.
One of the ways in which your body can be seen to work better is that it becomes more efficient and effective at healing itself: as your body starts to work better and objective changes become less marked, healing and associated subjective changes start to occur. These might include reduced symptoms, or a decreased reliance on medication, are identified as changes in how you feel and reflect that healing is occurring, or has occurred. With most patients I usually start to see objective and subjective changes within the first month. The amount of change (the rate of healing) is greatly affected by:
What’s going on within you
(what tissue is damaged, how much tissue is damaged and how much adverse tension exists)
How well your body is already working
(affecting your body’s ability to heal itself)
Anything you are doing that is detrimental to your health
(e.g. poor posture, smoking)
What you are doing that is conducive to good health
(diet, water intake, quality of sleep and exercise, including following any complementary exercises you have been given)
Your progress is determined by you - what you have done and what you currently do - as much as by the adjustments I make. Working together we will see progress and meet your expectations of better health as rapidly as your body can adapt and change.