Chiropractic care can be very beneficial to a patient’s overall health plan, and while regularly scheduled manipulations and adjustments are a key component of the care, the patient also needs to maintain their alignment in between visits to their practitioner. Exercises and stretching are also necessary practices to assist a patient in their daily well-being.
A chiropractor will recommend particular exercises, based on the individual patient’s situation, and they will likely provide take-home reference sheets or instructions. The purpose of these exercises is to help “reinforce the adjustment” and “retrain various muscle groups” to lessen the likelihood of re-injury. In addition to these prescribed special movements, chiropractors will recommend regular exercise to their patients, such as running, swimming, or even walking. Sticking to an exercise plan “encourages muscles and joints to stretch and engage through their full range of motion”. It is important to not continuously engage in activities that increase pain. The patient needs to listen to their body and take breaks as needed.1
Posture and Alignment
Certain habitual and repetitive actions can continue the same pain scenario and misalignment. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to sit on the same couch in the same slouch! Besides considering ergonomics (i.e., a proper desk chair, seat, mattress, pillow, etc.), it is important to sit with proper posture.2 Stopping or limiting the injurious behaviors can greatly reduce the amount of chiropractic visits needed to maintain alignment.
Stretching and Moving
In addition to exercises, chiropractors will likely recommend stretching techniques that a patient can do as “homework”.3 Like with the exercises, patients will be encouraged to avoid pulling or pushing on the neck. When working on range of motion, patients need to make sure that they don’t “pop” the neck or back or pull on their head. Patients should make sure that they rest for several minutes after their adjustment, and take their stretching exercises slowly. They should “pay attention to signs of fatigue” and take breaks as needed. When moving or stretching, the lower back needs to be supported, and the head should not be tilted too far back or forward. Any activities that require lifting the hands above the head should include frequent rest periods.4
Finally, it is important to remember that stress and tension contribute to poor posture, neck pain, back pain, reduced range of motion, and a compromised metabolism and immune system. Tense and tight muscles can pull a spine out of alignment. By using stress reduction techniques, or even engaging in meditation or yoga, a patient may find that the benefits of their chiropractic visits last much longer.
Find out more about chiropractic and ergonomics.