What is chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a healthcare profession whose aim is to support and enhance your natural body-mind systems. Using an array of manual techniques that alter nervous system function, chiropractors capitalise on the innate intelligence of the body to self-heal and self-regulate.
Chiropractic is formed on three principles: (1) the body is self-regulating & self-healing; (2) the nervous system is the governing system which co-ordinates all other body systems and through which every dimension of the human condition is experienced; (3) through simple but specific techniques we call adjustments we can alter nervous system function, thereby positively affecting health and experience.
Chiropractors are doctors of the nervous system, working to normalise and optimise nervous system function which, due to the intimate relationship between the nervous system and all other systems, results in improved healing and regulatory functions.
The nervous system can be divided very simply into three parts: sensory (carries information going up, from the muscles and organs of the body to the brain), computer (in the brain, creates a picture of where each part of the body is and what it is doing, then decides what each needs to do next), and motor (carries information going down, from brain to the muscles and organs of the body). Thus the brain forms what is called a neural image of the body, based on incoming sensory information and uses this neural image to calculate what it will do next. If for whatever reason the incoming information is degraded then the neural image becomes hazy, the brain cannot properly “see” what is going on, and therefore is not able to properly co-ordinate the outgoing motor information. As a result muscles start firing too much or too little and at the wrong time, increasing the likelihood of injury. But it does not stop there. Organs can end up getting too much, or too little stimulation, interfering with their normal function, resulting in any number of conditions. And due to the intimate brain-body relationship, mental faculties can also be affected.
When people think of chiropractic they tend to think of ‘bone clicking’, and a lot of adjustments do rely on manipulation of spinal joints, because they provide such a direct and strong input to the central nervous system. However chiropractic adjustments are as varied as you can imagine – from the lightest touch, to the heaviest crunch – they are a diverse bunch of techniques, developed by many different doctors of chiropractic over the 120 or so years that chiropractic has been alive. Often different chiropractors employ different techniques, so no two clinics are ever the same (in fact they may be so different it would lead one to question how they can be considered the same profession at all). I would say that all chiropractic adjustments have one thing in common: they all rely on a physical stimulus (the adjustment) that acts as a suggestion to the central nervous system that a change is required. Often all they are doing is calling attention to a problem area (aka a subluxation), allowing the brain to properly “see” it, thus initiating the process of bringing it back to optimal place/function. Effectively, by removing this physical entity, we remove the stimulus that is causing nervous system interference, and the neural image is improved as a result. Improved neural image = improved brain-body connection = healthier, happier person!
As our aim is to get you back on the road to recovery as quickly as possible, most chiropractors offer home advice such as nutritional advice, do-it-yourself therapies, and specific exercises. Some chiropractors also use other techniques or modalities, which do not have a neurological basis but have local effects (such as massage, stretching, ultrasound, infra-red, taping, dry needling…).
Chiropractic really is magic, and just like getting your car tuned up, I now think of a regular check-up as an important part of a healthy lifestyle, to keep you operating at 100%. Due to the massive variety of practitioners, you might need to shop around for the best chiropractor to suit your needs.
NB: This is just my own opinion of what chiropractic is, based on my learning and experience. There are those who use chiropractic only as a remedial treatment for specific problems (eg. low back pain), and those who see the more holistic benefits of care, who often report improvements across multiple parameters of body, mind and (dare I say it) soul. Either way, it rocks! =)