A whole-body approach requires a mindset of inclusivity when answering the patient question ‘Can a chiropractor help with posture?’
Most people have heard “exercise is the best medicine” or “prevention is the best medicine,” but do they know how to go about applying this advice? Will any exercise work or can they just walk? When a patient asks, “Can a chiropractor help with posture?” — chiropractic not only has a lot to say about posture and quality of movement, but an adjustment can be a pivotal moment in turning someone on to a healthy lifestyle.
In fact, the adjustment can take just a few moments, but must compete with many other actions and choices one can make in a single day.
While the internet would have you think that the chiropractic story is about the sounds we produce, (‘chiropractic popping videos’ yielded 6,180,000 results on Google search) many people still come to realize that it’s how we resonate after the adjustment that really matters.
We started this series on movement focused on the patient learning experience (Part 1 — Chiropractic Economics Issue #16) before shifting to clinical perspectives on movement (Part 2 — Chiropractic Economics Issue #17). With the right approach we can offer patients empowerment from learning health essentials in addition to the bandwidth they recover from more effective nervous system function that they can tie into all movement.
As practitioners we’ve challenged ourselves to explain the potential of the spine and its related areas — specifically, the feet — as a reference point in overall health. We’ve also identified motion-related functions, like the circulation and lymphatic metabolic currents that wash over our bodies with every breath.
Building on the spine-based movement model
The question now is how far can we take this spine-based model of movement? What can we do to build on this foundation?
In this issue, where we celebrate whole-body health, it’s important to talk about lifestyle and the power of choice. When we begin with the end in mind, we can emphasize the completion of each movement cycle by taking every action back to its point of origin, or “neutral.”
Subluxations can be described as incomplete movements, or those that have not returned to neutral. The adjustment completes that process with a host of mechanisms in tow that help reach our full potential under care. The spine has ranges of motion we can refer to, while breathing cycles have form we can reset.
Further, we can apply our focus to the mental tasks, bringing them all back to a point of relaxation, recovery and finally rest. Removal of movement deficiency can be a stepping stone to not only finish movements but also open the door to more complete rehabilitation of soft tissue, re-establishing flexibility and building strength.
Can a chiropractor help with posture? Attending to whole-body posture and maximizing function
In a modern health renaissance, we pursue expression of all our talents. We don’t choose between disciplines like physical fitness or mental performance; rather we embrace the potential of maximizing whole-body posture for all its possible benefits.
The connection of chiropractic care to sports is better established than its role in learning and mental performance. While it may be obvious to the high-performance athlete that they perform better when the spine, legs and feet all work in concert, try explaining the importance of whole-body posture to a PhD candidate. Explaining the complexities of the spine has its challenges, let alone the task of encouraging posture work like breathing and balance. These are functions most have taken for granted, creating a blind spot in self-regulation, plus the missed chance to optimize brain function through improvement of these survival basics.
When they are finally confronted with pain and the inconveniences associated with it, and ask “Can a chiropractor help with posture?” — how will they know to turn to you so they can understand that pain is a cognitive distraction? Or that pain compromises their ability to make decisions? By the time they have chronic pain and possible brain function disruption, will they still turn to you for grassroots correction?
Establishing a movement-based foundation
With a foundation based on patient education and understanding of the role of movement in whole-body processes, it’s possible to see the spine, the brain and related areas like the feet as one.
It’s feasible for doctors and patients to go beyond pain and engage in sophisticated recovery and maintenance strategies that complement our neurology and intelligence. Do you believe we’ll get there operating inside of the reactive model of health care that many have adopted, or will we need to lead the process of health renewal through our teaching and clinical choices, one student at a time?
When we meet patients on their level, it’s easy to find ourselves locked into the back-pain conversation. When we demonstrate the whole-body connection through examination, imaging and report of findings, it’s possible to include brain health with spine health. When we relate our findings to clear treatment protocols, it’s possible for patients to understand the importance of wearing custom flexible orthotics that support all three arches of the foot, to stabilize the body and support healthy movement all the way up the kinetic chain. When patients take ownership and responsibility for their overall health without skipping the spine, the brain, restoring healthy function of the feet, or anything in between, many things become possible.
Learning to be more responsive
While the chiropractic adjustment can influence awareness of our bodies, learning to be more responsive is what translates into both physical integrity and resilience to stress and injury. With the right form, we can leverage posture maneuvers into both protection and performance for expression of health.
If you subscribe to the idea that it’s our responsibility to teach people a sustainable way of living, then exercise is just too good an opportunity to pass up. I like to think of every breath and every step as brain food and a critical part of how well we can live. Movement of the spine and the connection to the feet become like your teeth, chewing up gravity to produce energy.
So, we started off talking about patient communications, and what did we say patients need to know? The real labor and the leadership go into education. If you know the answers, just share them — that’s what it will take to make a difference. You could go try on the latest anti-aging tools, but if you don’t have a strong connection to the body’s processes for maintaining itself and how you can control that intentionally, then you’ve missed the point. We should be ready to think beyond pain instead of making an exception for neck and back pain. Movement is that something beyond pain and gives the patient a clear path in their pursuit of health.
The educator role is a basic part of being a linchpin in your community and offering real value, again, at a higher standard when answering the question “Can a chiropractor help with posture?” That’s how we take what we do and some of the simple things patients seek care for and build upon it and really create an opportunity to attain optimal health.
ANISH BAJAJ, DC, is a 2000 graduate of Life University in Atlanta, Ga. He is the owner of Bajaj Chiropractic in New York City and serves on the executive board of the New York Chiropractic Council, and is the chair of their Neuroscience and Research Committee. As a member of the Foot Levelers Speaker’s Bureau, he travels extensively, sharing his chiropractic knowledge and expertise with audiences around the country. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.