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Perpetuating the teachings of Dr. Clarence S. Gonstead, funding chiropractic research, and encouraging cooperation and camaraderie amongst all who practice the Gonstead technique.

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Doctor Relaxation Aids Adjustment Success

My adjustments are too slow. How do I speed it up? I don’t have any power to my adjustment. What can I do? When working with students on their adjusting, particularly cervical chair adjusting, two of the most common complaints are that their adjusting thrust is too slow, and/or it is ineffective or weak. When they ask me what they should do, I tell then that not only do they need to keep practicing their adjustments to develop the psychomotor/proprioceptive-muscle training skills, but they need to learn to relax. The result of adjusting with tense muscles is an ineffective, jabby thrust or a “collapse” of the adjusting hand.

In my opinion, at least 80% or more of the speed needed for an adjustment’s thrust is already there, but it’s available only if the muscles of the adjusting arm are relaxed. A simple test: when someone sets up for a cervical chair adjustment (C2 to T1), check the tone of his forearm muscles. In most cases when someone complains that he has no speed or his thrust isn’t effective, his contact side forearm muscles (and often the biceps, triceps, and pectoralis muscles as well) are fully contracted and taut. Nothing is left for the thrust. It’s tough to further contract a muscle that is already contracted. The only muscle tension is a small amount in the pectoralis and triceps muscles to maintain the proper contact.

When made aware of their contracted arm muscles when they are set up to adjust, many say that they are trying to keep the patient’s head in the right position. Keeping the head and neck in the right position is a balance between the contact and stabilization arms. Very little energy should be expended once the patient is properly positioned, particularly with the arm on the side of contact.

When you set up to adjust, say, C6, does your arm muscles feel like an over-tightened vise, and you have nowhere to go with your thrust? Relax your arm and shoulder muscles a couple of notches. Are your muscles relaxed? Do you still have your contact finger securely on the segmental contact point? If you feel like you are losing control of your patient’s head, check your set-up. Get your stabilization set right and your contact finger and thumb gently but securely cradling the neck and head. As long as the patient is set up right, you should be ready to go. There should be enough speed and depth of thrust for most patients. The rest just takes practice, and more practice.  And, that’s why they call it a practice.

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