More often than I’d like, I’ve heard from patients who perform “self-adjustments”. In particular, they describe grabbing their own head or neck and performing a maneuver that gives them a bunch of “cracks” and makes them feel like they’ve done something good for themselves. The move that I see being performed is a “move everything and hope I get the right one at some point.” As a chiropractor, this is a bad idea and I’ll tell you why.
The list is long as to why self-adjusting is ill-advised. With the rise of webMD and other resources, people are taking their health care into their own hands. However, as this resource, and any doctor for that matter, will tell you: leave it to the experts. Likewise, adjustments may seem elementary, but the reality is they are anything but. Your chiropractor studied and practiced many years to learn the technique of effectively, and safely, performing spinal adjustments.
Each vertebra can move up to sixteen different directions. Do you know which way your vertebra has gone? That’s where the chiropractor comes in. They are trained to determine which way the bone has moved and how to move it back into the correct place. Some of the directions are extremely difficult to accomplish on your own. It’s just not specific and the person performing the “therapy” has no way of knowing which part of your spine needs to be adjusted.
Many times I’ve heard to defense: “If I can’t adjust myself, why does it feel better when I do it?” You’ll notice that when you do it, the good feeling doesn’t last long. That’s why you keep doing it over and over again during the day. You still get the endorphin release, among other benefits, so you’ll temporarily get an influx of pain relief that makes you think you’ve done something good for yourself. However, the pain and discomfort returns once the endorphins are gone and you’re back to where you started.
Finally, it’s important to realize the difference between “hypermoblile”, “hypomobile” and “isomobile” (or normal) joints. Hypermobile joints tend to move too well and slip and slide in and out of place. Hypomobile joints don’t move well enough, if at all, and sit in a “stuck” or fixated phase. Normal joints are, of course, moving as they should and is the goal we as chiropractors strive to achieve. More often than not, self-adjusters, who aren’t trained to identify the hypomobile joints, adjust the hypermobile ones. As a result, they become even more mobile. More slipping and sliding, you might say. What comes from that is a further “locking up” of the hypomobile joints and, more problems.
In summary, you cannot be your own chiropractor. I know it can seem like a simple thing, but chiropractors are the experts at finding the right area of your spine to be adjusted and then moving it back the right way. See the experts!