Are You Cracking My Bones?
Many people believe that chiropractor’s are “cracking” your bones. This is not actually what happens. In fact, if that was happening, it would be called a fracture. What actually is occuring with a chiropractic adjustment is the chiropractor is using the vertebrae (bones) as a lever to stretch the deep stabilizer musculature (see diagram) which releases tension in the muscles and decompresses the facet joints of the spine. When the joint is decompressed or “opened up”, the fluid in the joint turns into a gas to expand and take up the space inside the joint, which causes an energy release and creates a “cracking” sound. The sound is simply from the energy release from liquid turning to gas rapidly, called cavitation.
Understanding this process is critical to achieve results. Many people believe that your bones have “popped” out of joint, and the chiropractor simply “pops” them back in place. This is incorrect. In fact, if a facet joint was dislocated, you would have serious problems. Watch a short interview on WZZM.
By understanding that the deep stabilizer muscles are being stretched, you can then understand how to change them. The goal is to change the way these muscles hold the spine together. To achieve change in the muscles, it is similar to any type of muscle changing activity, like stretching or working out. Every time an adjustment is delivered, the muscles stretch a little more, and change a little bit, and hold that position a little longer. By utilizing frequency and time, you can change these muscles. Just like going to the gym once or twice will unlike yield results, one or two adjustments typically doesn’t either. Muscle change requires frequency of three times per week or more done over months.
Once the muscles are normally contracting and relaxing, and holding the spine in a decompressed state, you can introduce exercises to reinforce the proper patterns. If you exercise too soon when the muslces are not functioning properly, you will simply reinforce the compensation patterns and the dysfunctional muscles will typically not even participate in the exercise event. This is why the function must be restored first, before exercise.
Adjustments to these muscles cause: increased range of motion, decreased compression on joint cartilage, decrease nerve compression and irritation, increased flexibility, and increased function.
If you are having musculoskeletal or joint problems, contact iChiro Clinics and set up an evaluation to find out if you can be helped.
Dr. Kwast is a chiropractor in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and CEO of iChiro Clinics. He is the author of the book, “7 Beliefs Destroying Your Health”. Dr. Kwast’s clinics have received the 2014 West Michigan Better Business Bureau’s Trust Award for Ethics, and Grand Rapids Magazines Best of Grand Rapids 2014.