The moment is finally here — my first chiropractic adjustment.
I walked into the adjustment room and sat on the table, waiting for Doctor Jenessa. The open-air room smelled like surface cleaner and I could hear the lull of country music in the background.
Doctor Jenessa (who we call Doc J) came into the adjusting room. As she was snapping on a new pair of blue gloves, we chatted about stretching on the rehab floor and how my treatment plan has been going so far. She told me that the wobble chair exercises are one of the most important to do before an adjustment, as they properly loosen your whole body. I told her I might have to purchase my own wobble chair, as it was the most fun.
Then we got started. She had me lay on my stomach with my cheeks pressed against the white paper covering the facial piece, as she felt the muscles in my back.
Her fingers moved across my back feeling for something-or-other, and stopped at a point below my right shoulder. In a calming voice, she told me exactly what was going to happen. I was going to take a deep breath, and on the exhale, she would deliver a quick pulse to my upper back. She mocked the movement in slow-motion so I knew what was coming. She clarified that it may trigger a popping sound, or cavitation, which is the sound of a gas release, and not breaking bones.
Before I had time to emotionally prepare, I exhaled and an impulse pushed my face deeper into the paper as a popping sound resonated in my ears. I froze, trying to figure out if I liked or hated the unusual sensation (and to decide whether or not my body was officially broken).
But after taking a beat, I realized I did not feel broken and was surprised that it actually felt good. After the initial pulse, my body immediately felt more relaxed.
Doc J performed another pulse on my back, but this time it didn’t pop. She explained that it was normal, and the adjustment still happens even when there’s no popping sound.
I then had my next adjustment, which is probably the most alarming-looking adjustment. Doc J had me lay on my side, cross my arms over my chest and put one knee up. Sort of like I was frozen mid-skip. She then walked to the other side of the room, turned around, and sprinted at me, yelling something in a foreign language before whale-diving on top of my body, driving my hip into the table.
Just kidding, that didn’t happen. But wouldn’t that be alarming?
In reality, she leaned into my mid-skip leg to deliver a pulse to my low back, triggering a pop in what felt like my hip. She told me these adjustments will help realign my twisted pelvis over time.
Finally, came the neck adjustment — the part I was most nervous about. There’s something about neck cracks in Hollywood that have given me a poor idea of what actual chiropractors do to properly adjust necks. Scenes from “The Terminator” flashed across my mind.
As I laid on my back, she held my neck and moved my head side to side. Again, she walked me through exactly what was going to happen and mimicked the movements before doing them. I was tense and getting more nervous by the second. Doc J told me to take a deep breath, let it out, and wiggle my toes. As soon as I wiggled my toes, she moved my neck quickly to the side, followed by an especially loud chorus of pops.
I froze again, assessing what just happened to my body. But then realized I was fine.
She did the other side, and bada-bing, bada-boom, we were done. My first adjustment was in the books.
Once I stood up, my hips and neck immediately felt looser. There’s no other way to describe it. It felt like I could Phoebe-Buffay-run through the park or turn my head 360 degrees. I felt more relaxed. And had more energy. Like I did five hot yoga classes back to back, without the sweat.
I could finally run the Rim to Rim to Rim. Or climb the Eiffel Tower.
I was the Terminator.
Then the soreness set in. It wasn’t immediate, but over the next few hours, my body started to feel like I actually did run the Rim to Rim to Rim. Doc J explained it like this: Adjustments are moving the joints to a position they have never been in. So the soreness, like a tough new workout, comes from never moving those joints in that position before.
That’s where repetition in adjustments becomes crucial. The more regular adjustments you receive, the better chance you have at restoring natural curvature in the spine.
Post-adjustment, and step three in our multi-faceted approach to chiropractic, is traction — and for me, that means cervical traction. On the rehab floor by the windows, you will find three hanging dowels on ropes that look like medieval torture devices (they’re not). These cervical traction devices help stretch your neck to a natural curve and increase disc height. It’s best practiced after an adjustment because your spine is the most mobile then and you’ll get the biggest changes in disc height.
Katy, our chiropractic technician who does everything from helping new patients to rehab, walked me through how to properly use cervical traction. You place the base of your neck inside the curved foam piece and move the dowel so it fits tightly under your chin. Then you step toward the wall, fix the ropes to match your height, and lightly squat, counting for three seconds before standing back up again. In the squat, you will feel a slight pull as the dowel moves your chin to stretch your neck into the foam piece.
Traction is designed to restore proper spinal function and is meant to be used carefully and slowly. So please, for the love of your spine, consult a doctor before purchasing a traction kit and trying this at home. It can very quickly become a medieval torture device if you don’t know what you’re doing.
After completing 20 squats on cervical traction, and cleaning my area, I returned to my office in the back of the clinic. I was still full of this newfound, excited energy. The soreness hadn’t fully set in, but was there.
For years I said things like, “adjustments are not my thing,” or “I don’t need to see a chiropractor because I’m not in any pain.” But as I quickly learned from my spinal scans, you do not have to be in pain to benefit from chiropractic care. Chiropractic ensures that your body is functioning at its optimal health. Like going to the dentist. Or the gym.
So for those of you on the fence about exploring chiropractic, take it from me — just give it a go. The worst that could happen is you realize it’s not for you, or you realize you also have a twisted pelvis (I get it).
So why not? Try to climb the Eiffel Tower, just this once.
Welcome to Meg from Marketing, a blog chronicling first-time chiropractic experiences to improve the inner workings of the body.