Chiropractic is a profession that draws people from all walks of life under one common cause: Clearing interference in the nervous system to restore proper function to the body. With so much of our job centered around preventing disease and injury, it is ironic that the chiropractic profession has such a high rate of injury. The sad reality is that while chiropractic could be considered one of the most beneficial types of health care, it is also one of the most physically demanding for the doctor. One study suggests that as many as 40% of practicing chiropractors have experienced an injury, and 77% of these injuries have occurred while performing or setting up for an adjustment .
Many of the techniques taught to chiropractors utilize adjustments that place the practitioner’s body in some very stressful positions. Take, for example, the side posture adjustments required by the Diversified and Gonstead techniques. These adjustments require the chiropractor to bend forward over the patient, elbow out, and thrust downward. The thrust places tremendous amounts of pressure on the shoulder joint and leaves the lower back in a compromised, flexed position. If proper care is not taken to keep the core and shoulder muscles tight, the person administering care could be left in need of care themselves.
One of the best ways to prevent injury is proper exercise and strengthening of the core muscles. Sometimes it can be hard to find time to get to the gym for a full workout, especially with countless hours spent in class or in clinic with patients. So here is a list of exercises and stretches that can be done in 15 minutes or less, with no equipment, in order to increase your chances of helping patients for years to come.
- Doorway Pectoral Stretch: Face an open doorway, raise your arms until they are even with your shoulders, palms facing forward. Rest your forearms against both edges of the doorway and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold for 7 seconds and repeat this 3 times.
- Cat/Horse Stretch: Start on your hands and knees with your arms directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Arch your back to the sky and hold for 7 seconds, then push your hips down toward the ground and hold for 7 seconds. Alternate between these positions 3 times each.
- Piriformis Stretch: Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, then pull one knee up toward your chest. From here, pull the knee across your body to the opposite side and gently pull it toward the ground for 7 seconds. Repeat this 3 times for each leg.
- Psoas Lunge: Start by kneeling on one knee. Over the course of 7 seconds, bring your pelvis gradually toward your extended leg, keeping your upper body as upright as possible. Repeat this 3 times for each leg.
- Glute Bridge: Start this exercise by lying on your back with your feet planted on the ground and your knees bent. Place your arms down by your sides and press your feet into the ground, lifting your hips toward the sky until your upper body and thighs make a straight line. Hold this for 7 seconds and repeat 3 times.
As Doctors of Chiropractic, and doctors-to-be, the most valuable asset we have is our own body. With so much focus given to those we are trying to help, it is easy to overlook the little things that could potentially put an end to our careers. The basic stretches and exercises above can be used by both chiropractors and chiropractic patients to prevent and rehabilitate injuries. In order to help clear our patients of subluxations and help them on their paths to lasting health and wellness, it is vital that we maintain our bodies and give them the same care we would give to anybody that walks through the doors of our offices.
This article first appeared in the March 2020 issue of Lifelines, the Life West student magazine.
- Holm, Susan & Rose, Kevin. (2006). Work-Related Injuries of Doctors of Chiropractic in the United States. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics. 29. 518-23. 10.1016/j.jmpt.2006.06.023.