Certain types of pain are the primary focus of treatment in chiropractic medicine. These include neck pain, back pain, headaches, and pain caused by sports or work injuries. Chiropractic medicine incorporates the individual’s daily diet, recommended exercises, massage therapy, ion balancing methods, and other forms of alternative medicine. All in all, the goal is to relieve the pain – not just the symptoms – by triggering the source of the problem. This is achieved through manipulation of other parts of the body – joints, soft tissue, nerve endings, etc. Some of the most common and most recommended exercises in chiropractic care include those listed below.
Neck Stretching Exercises
Simple side-bending stretches can help relax the tightened neck muscles, which may be the cause of pain anywhere from the neck and shoulders, even headaches. Tight muscles can also contribute to poor posture. Chiropractors will advise the individual to do the following steps:
- Tilt the neck and head gently to the right, making sure that the ear moves toward the shoulder.
- Keep the chin aligned with the midline of the neck, making sure that the head does not move to the left or right. A gentle stretch should be felt on the neck’s left side, signifying that lateral flexion has been reached – marking the end of the range of motion.
- With the right hand, reach over the head, placing slight pressure on the left temple using the fingertips. This position should be held for around 20 seconds, and then the individual would assume a neutral position again.
- Five reps of this exercise for each side of the neck should be performed at least three to five times every week.
Range of Motion Exercises
Tight muscles can also be stretched using flexion and extension exercises. Active range of motion will improve flexibility. These exercises, like the neck stretches mentioned earlier, can be performed while sitting comfortably – as long as the back is kept straight and the head is placed in a neutral pose, aligned with the shoulders. This will be known as the starting position. The following are the steps in performing these exercises:
- Be sure to maintain an eye-level gaze during this exercise. Tuck the chin down to the throat, bend the neck forward until you feel the chin on top of the chest. This will cause a gentle stretch from the back of the neck. Limited range of motion may leave others unable to fully tuck their chins. In such cases, the neck should be bent forward until the gentle stretch from the back of the neck is felt. This position should be held for about 10 seconds, before the head is tilted backward.
- Leaning slightly forward, gently pushing out the chest, and drawing the shoulders back can augment the stretch – this will be felt as a light stretch around the shoulder girdle. Hold this position for about 5 seconds, then return to the starting position.
- Five reps of this exercise for at least three times a week is usually recommended.