Outside of yoga, I have never stretched this much in my life, but I can tell you now: Exercise training and rehab is worth your time and money.
To recap, last week’s blog ended with Doctor Jenessa and I in Consult 1, discussing my whiplash-reminiscent neck, and my tilted and rotated pelvis. Both issues most likely stemmed from a childhood injury, which was probably from Rudy the horse in South Dakota. Also, I never climbed the Eiffel Tower.
If you’re just joining now, check out “Don’t climb the Eiffel Tower: A cautionary tale to check your spine,” and it will fill you in the rest of the way.
In the report of findings meeting with Doctor Jenessa, we discussed different treatment options that work best for me. She explained that patients have the option to treat symptoms to rid pain (relief care), or to mitigate pain while strengthening the area so the pain does not return (rehab).
After this meeting, patients usually have a meeting with Jade, our office manager, to discuss finances. As an employee I skipped this step, but for the purpose of this blog and in the spirit of fully immersing myself into all aspects of chiropractic care, I sat in Jade’s office for the meeting.
Her fan lazily rotated, spewing a refreshing line of cool air. I gazed at the metallic print on her back wall — an abstract expressionism sunset. Good taste, Jade (don’t tell her I said that). She hunched over my treatment plan paperwork with a clunky calculator, punching out the numbers and devising a financial plan. As a budget-savvy and straight-to-the-point woman, I knew I was in good hands. She shuffled her papers into a neat stack, then rolled over to my chair and began the least enjoyable part of chiropractic care.
She highlighted the financial breakdown of each category and in her quick-wit fashion, Jade somehow made the conversation entertaining. My grand takeaway was that you can choose to pay the same amount for spinal adjustments or both spinal adjustments and rehab. That’s like ordering a burger at a restaurant and the waiter asks you if you’d like a basket of French fries at no additional cost. Of course I want the fries, I’m already paying for the burger.
At Advanced Healthcare, the proper steps to getting an adjustment are three-fold: stretching to properly loosen up the muscles, the adjustment, and traction exercises to work on structural changes. A good rule of thumb is to add 30-45 minutes of stretching and traction to your five-minute appointment time.
I started my appointment with Katy, our New Patient Coordinator, Chiropractic Assistant and Chiropractic Technician (she does it all), who taught me each exercise training stretch. I was given specific stretches tailored to my treatment plan, including stretches for my neck, legs and low back, mid-back foam rolling and a low back warm-up on the “wobble chair.”
Let’s crack into it.
First up was the cervical phase, which is completed on the vibration plate, or vibe plate. The vibe plate is the machine in the far corner of the office that mimics the low-whir of a vacuum cleaner. All you do is stand on the platform, press start, and the plate will vibrate horizontally and vertically. These pulses help loosen muscles to work twice as hard, and heightens stability.
Jade later told me that the vibe plate can deepen stretches up to a few inches. I told her there is no way a vibe plate could help that much, to which she promptly marched us over to the plates. On the ground, she had me lightly pull my neck toward my right shoulder and measured the distance between my ear and the top of my shoulder with her fingers—four fingers wide. She motioned for me to hop on my plate, flicked the power button, and had me do the same stretch over vibrations. She measured again—three fingers wide, just like that.
What a time to be alive.
While standing on the plate, I completed eight neck stretches for thirty seconds each. Mid-stretch, I told Katy how nervous I was for my adjustment. She was standing on the vibe plate next to me, working on her extension stretch while gazing up at the ceiling. She said that before working here, she also never had an adjustment and was nervous about her first adjustment, which made me feel better.
We powered-down the vibe plates and cleaned them before moving to the padded table for the lumbar phase of stretches. The hamstring stretch was definitely the most painful for me, as I am an avid hiker and runner.
Side note — I grew up in a family of extreme runners. My parents run a 200-mile relay race every year with their friends where they each run about 20 miles over the course of a weekend. My dad and aunt both ran the Boston Marathon last year, and my aunt was just shy of the New York Marathon this year. My parents also ran “Rim to Rim to Rim,” a self-executed race across the depths of the Grand Canyon that is about 46 miles (depending on the route) and can take up to 15 hours.
For the majority of my childhood, I was the only person in my family who hated running. Then in college when I moved to an apartment without a gym, I finally started trail running and realized it wasn’t that bad. Ever since, I have not properly stretched my hamstrings, so stretching now includes sharp shooting pains and little-to-no flexibility.
While I grunted against my lack of flexibility for 30 seconds on each leg, we moved on to a more relaxing knee to chest stretch. For me it was a relief, but for Katy that was the painful one, as she has had back problems for a long time.
After learning the proper movements for seven different lumbar stretches, we moved on to the four different foam roller stretches. It was odd wearing heels and business attire while rolling around the floor. But hey, it works.
A year ago I moved to Wisconsin on a whim (don’t we all) and joined a gym program that truly changed my life. I had one-on-one training sessions with a coach who taught me how to lift weights, and properly use a roller before and after each workout. And now I’m a proud owner of an at-home roller where you’ll often see me rolling out at the end of the day while watching Netflix. So the rolling part of exercise training came naturally to me.
The wobble chair, however, was a foreign object. It looks like an elevated stool with armrests — but everything moves. With your feet flat on the ground, you sit ergonomically straight on the stool, then practice movements like “cat-cow” to loosen up your lower back. These stretches are the most important set to do before an adjustment, as it properly loosens your low back.
Katy and I wobbled and chatted all things chiropractic. She has been working at the clinic for almost a year now and gets an adjustment every day (although with a recent back pain flare-up it has been closer to twice a day). She also does dry needling twice a week and massage therapy every so often; I will dive into both in a later blog.
After we finished stretching for 45 minutes, I was ready for my first adjustment. My muscles felt loose and ready to go. Doctor Jenessa was waiting for me.
I took a deep breath, and walked into the adjustment room.
Welcome to Meg from Marketing, a blog chronicling first-time chiropractic experiences to improve the inner workings of the body. Check out next week’s blog where Megan finally experiences her first adjustment — it’s not at all what she expected.