When you visit your chiropractor, do you ever think of the full array of skills and knowledge your chiropractor can offer? Chiropractors are extensively trained in the assessment, diagnosis, prevention, and management of MSK conditions. To help relieve pain and dysfunction, joint manipulation is only one of many tools chiropractors are trained to perform effectively and safely. However, in order to optimize outcomes, you have an important role to play in supporting your care. Studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments work best and are most effective when done in conjunction with other therapies like exercise training1.
Exercise prescription, in addition to passive care such as manipulation and soft tissue therapy, can be an important component to recovery. Patient engagement through active care can help empower the patient, increase confidence in their own capacity, and improve pain and function. Your chiropractor can help you tailor exercises to meet your needs and goals.
Here are a few reasons why exercise and movement are an important part of the chiropractic approach:
- Increase self-reliance: A corrective exercise program can help you play an active role in your care. It allows for a renewed sense of self-reliance and an ability to perform activities of daily living without undue fear or risk of injury.
- Decrease fear-avoidance: Unless fear of pain is specifically recognized and addressed early, it may lead to fear avoidance behaviour—e.g., not using your muscles for fear of further injury rather than strengthening them. Resuming normal activities and exercise increases your confidence, and ultimately improves your recovery.
- Increase treatment effectiveness: Evidence also suggests that manual therapy (manipulation and/or mobilization) combined with exercise is more effective than other therapies for patients with MSK conditions, including neck pain1,2.
- Minimize recurrence: Council on Chiropractic Guidelines and Practice Parametersconcluded the use of exercise in conjunction with manipulation is likely to improve outcomes, as well as minimize episodic recurrence3.
- Long-term benefit: A study showing that spinal manipulation and/or mobilization plus exercise demonstrates long-term benefit for pain relief, functional improvement, and global perceived effect for subacute/chronic mechanical neck disorders with or without headache2.
Not only is exercise a great tool to prevent injury, it is also an effective way to alleviate pain and improve function for a number of MSK conditions, like low back pain. Being active and mobile is important to our MSK health and our health in general. But it can also help with other therapeutic interventions like the adjustment. It’s best to ask your chiropractor about how an exercise program can help you. Use our Find a Chiro feature to locate a chiropractor near you.
1. Cassidy, et al. What Do We Know About Diagnosis, Relative Risks & Benefits of Nonsurgical Management of Patients With Neck Pain? The Bone & Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders, 2007.
2. Gross, et al. A Cochrane review of manipulation and mobilization for mechanical neck disorders. Spine, 2004;29(14):1541-8.
3. Chiropractic Best Practices: A Systematic Review by the Research Commission of the Council on Chiropractic Guidelines and Practice Parameters. Draft document, 2006.