Chiropractic care can involve a range of therapies, some of which occur during your session and some that you can do at home. Generally, the practitioner will try to adjust your spine and reduce neural compression, either manually or with the assistance of traction, during your one-on-one session. However, your chiropractor also may assign you therapeutic exercises to do at home. These exercises will focus on improving joint mobility, strengthening spinal and abdominal muscles, and increasing spine flexibility.
Types of Therapeutic Exercises
While manual manipulation and mobilization – which are both ways that the chiropractor moves your joints to achieve proper alignment – need to be done in the chiropractor’s office, certain therapeutic exercises can be done at home. These exercises can generally be divided into two categories: isotonic exercises and isometric exercises. Isotonic exercises involve repetitive joint movement, whereas isometric exercises involve muscle contractions without joint movement. For instance, a series of bicep curls would be considered isotonic exercises, while holding a weight at arm’s length and remaining stationary would be considered an isometric exercise. Your chiropractor will most likely suggest that you begin with isometric exercises before advancing to isotonic movements. Some examples of isometrics include the following (but these should not be attempted without your doctor’s permission, as they could worsen your spinal condition):
- Birddog – assume an all-fours position; straighten one leg and lift it 30 degrees from the ground; extend the opposite arm; hold for 20 seconds and release.
- Gluteal bridge – lie on your back with your legs bent, feet on the floor; slowly press your buttocks towards the ceiling, keeping the entire length of your arms in contact with the floor; hold for 20 seconds and release.
- Pelvic tilt – similar to a gluteal bridge, but less intense; lie on your back with your legs bent, feet on the floor; tighten your abdominal muscles and press your pelvis upwards a few inches while your lower back remains on the floor; hold for 20 seconds and release.
Other Forms of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care can include therapeutic exercises and therapeutic stretches, but may also involve massage, ultrasound, and nutrition counseling, among others. During your initial chiropractic examination, be sure to give an accurate description of your symptoms and medical history to the practitioner so that he or she can design a treatment plan that is right for you.