This article first appeared in the September 2019 issue of Lifelines, the Life West student magazine.Expression is at the core of Chiropractic. The variation in what we do stems directly from expression. Entire techniques are created from this variation, and I have little doubt that many who create their own technique consider it a form of self-expression. But there are instances where some get confused, or even annoyed, when variation occurs within a given technique, usually during instruction. How often do you find that when we learn a technique from one doc, the next doc we learn from, we get new, different, alternative methods of performing an adjustment for the same technique? There are those who feel this is a bad thing, and standardization should be paramount. Others welcome the “diversity” as they can adapt how they perform the adjustment to their style, making them more effective. I believe standardization is important for consistency within teaching, but flexibility for those who need it, i.e. open lab, could be a great way to get those students who need a little extra flexibility to help them give an adjustment. Furthermore, this diversity once in practice, allows docs a better ability to adjust patients. Everyone is unique!
Instructionally, I feel consistency in teaching is important and beneficial more often than it is a hindrance. Getting taught different ways of doing the same adjustment can be confusing, making it difficult to master a technique. Having a consistent manner in which a technique is taught is important for the proper practice and mastery of a given technique, at least for my learning style. Perhaps having a core, consistent style in which techniques are taught and tested, with variations being introduced for those who would like exposure to other styles, so to speak, can happen in the open lab and clinic. Students looking for this consistency often attach themselves to a particular professor, a professor that they resonate with.
When learning a technique, especially when you are having trouble, it can be quite helpful to get different viewpoints or styles of adjusting for a technique. Variations in the body habitus of the adjuster can be a good reason to seek variations on the delivery of an adjustment. Biomechanical differences between individuals can also be a reason to learn some of these variations. Also, let us not forget the patients, as there is a strong case for making adjustments to the adjustment … in order to better serve the patient and get them better.
Professionally, these differences can be due to “optimizations” a particular doc may make in order to get better at delivering an adjustment. This could be from a personal health standpoint, as doing 100 adjustments a day can take a serious toll on the body if you are delivering it in a manner that stresses your body unnecessarily. This is another instance where benefits to learning these differences in how a setup and/or adjustment is delivered can help you. There is some freedom available to help you get the adjustment successfully.
All of these scenarios are modes of expression in learning, mastery and practice. Through this, each doc will develop their own method of adjusting, therefore, expression.