Chiropractic adjustments train your muscles and joints to hold their proper alignment. But just like any other kind of training, you get the best results by supporting your training through the rest of your lifestyle.
Actively caring for your spine between adjustments will assist in maintaining the proper alignment of your muscles and joints helping you to get the best result possible from your treatment.
You probably already know that your body is roughly 70% water and your body function is affected by the amount of water you drink. So how does this relate to chiropractic appointments? Your water intake affects your body’s ability to hold chiropractic adjustments and how long you may feel pain afterwards.
Water intake effects the connective tissues in the spine. Your ligaments, which connect different bones and cartilages and hold joints in place, lose their flexibility and strength when your water intake is too low. This reduces their ability to hold the adjustments made to your spine, meaning that you have to come in more often.
Water is also important in removing toxins from your body. This is especially important after a chiropractic adjustment as the release of tension that occurs when the body is put into proper alignment releases toxins built up by that tension. Water helps to flush out these toxins after an adjustment, helping with the healing process. Have a glass of water upon rising, when preparing meals and before you go to bed. Cary a drink bottle with you during the day so you can monitor how much your getting. Go for 20-30 ml per kg of your body weight.
Adjustments to the back restore mobility to areas of the spine that may have been locked up. To make the most of this and keep the these areas free, avoid sitting for a long period of time immediately after your adjustment and do some gentle exercise. Go for a walk to the beach, spend time in the park or go for a short bike ride. The waterfront is great if you are looking for somewhere flat and open, and it comes with a view! Avoid sit ups and crunches if you experience back pain as these can add excessive strain. The best exercises are the slow and gentle movements of pilates or yoga. Both build up strength in your core and spine and can help the body maintain adjustments for longer. Start or end your day spending 5-10 minutes stretching. Straighten Up New Zealand exercises offer a simple routine that most everyone can benefit from. They also have a set of exercises tailored for children.
Adjust Your Surroundings
You’ve had your spine adjusted, now it's time to adjust the spaces you're in to help you maintain correct alignment instead of sinking back into old problems. Keeping your body in the correct position is important when you are going to stay in that position for a long period.
At your computer: To avoid muscle strain which can cause neck and back pain adjust the height of your monitor, key board, and chair so that your head is level looking straight ahead to the screen, your elbows are at your side at a 90 degree angle and you can rest your feet flat on the floor -or pop them on a large shoe box if you are petite.
In your car: Long drives and daily commutes to work all add up. It’s difficult for your body to keep to its correct alignment following an adjustment if you get back into a car with it set up for the position you held when you were out of alignment. So following a chiropractic visit, sit properly in your car and position your seat and rear view mirror so you can see clearly. Next time you get in adjust your position, not that of the mirror, so that you will continue to hold proper posture while in the car. You are trying to retrain your muscles to hold your correct alignment, until they are retrained muscle memory can pull your joints back to its old misalignment.
Empty Your Pockets and Your Purse
Not for a security search or to buy something, but for the sake of your spine. A wallet or phone in your back pocket can put strain on your lower back by making one hip sit higher than the other. Keeping those back pockets clear will allow you sit with your hips even, helping your to keep your spine in alignment. As for purses, while it is tempting to keep on hand as many as possible ‘just incase’ items, the common handbag does not possess the magic powers Mary Poppin's carpet bag that allow it to be carried with ease. Extra weight, especially carried on just one shoulder can cause pain in your back shoulder and neck. So take out what you don’t need and if you carry it on your shoulder, try alternating sides.
Sleep Well to Be Well
-Time: Sleep is an important part of your daily rhythm. Your body does its intensive healing while sleeping. Most people report they have a very deep sleep after their chiropractic a treatment. Some people may feel sore following their first few chiropractic sessions as part of the healing process. After your adjustment your nerve system will be sending better messages; so some muscles may tighten up to improve your posture and some may relax. This can feel both nice and a little uncomfortable in certain areas. Knowing your body is on its way to recovery should put your mind at ease. To enhance healing it is important to get a good 7-9 hours sleep at night, each night. That deep healing starts at 10:30pm so make sure you are asleep by then!
-Position: Given that we spend this much time sleeping it's also important that your body is kept in the right position with the support it needs through the night. Position wise, avoid sleeping on your stomach or in the recovery position. Lying on your back or on either side are much better positions for the spine especially when combined with the correct support.
-Support: You should sleep on a mattress that is firm enough to hold your body level while at the same time soft enough so that your shoulders, buttocks, etc., sink into the mattress. Your pillow should keep your spine in alignment. When lying on your side it should fill the gap between your shoulder and neck, and when on your back it should support the neck but not tilt the head up. Ordinary pillows can put pressure on your neck because they have an even height all over. Instead choose a pillow that conforms to your neck, such as a memory foam pillow. These are ideal because they are thicker on one side and allow your head to drop down on the other. Bath towels are also ideal for neck support. Roll a bath towel up about the size of your biceps and place under your neck while lying on your back for 15 minutes a day. If you find this comfortable and sleep on your back, you can use it to support your neck at night instead of a pillow.
Follow the Plan, Stan
Just as damage to the spine and joints is often accumulated over time, the healing process also takes time. With chiropractic treatment your body is being retrained to hold your joints in correct alignment. Postponing a visit too long can cause the spine to move back in to its old misalignment so it is important to keep to the care plan for your long term healing. Each visit builds on the one before, allowing each adjustment to last longer than the previous one and consequently your appointments to be further apart. Your care plan is complete when your muscles have retrained to hold your spine and joints in proper alignment.