From Pez Dispenser To Bobblehead – The Chiro Episode

cat-massageSo for years I have not only avoided Chiropractors, I have actively discouraged people from going to them. My belief was that the processes of the neck and back were too dangerous to mess with and it’s easy to find anti-chiro sentiments online to support this. In the back of my mind however I was never specifically against the practice of alignment. When it comes to shoulders, ankles wrists etc. I was sure that chiropractic care had it right in the fact that without proper alignment of the bones any other therapy would not be effective. That seed was what grew into my first ever chiropractic appointment yesterday.

For about 3 weeks now I have had shoulder problems. It’s something that I have experienced before and went for almost 6 months of physio to have it fixed without success. The interesting thing is that eventually it resolved itself after a day of heavy deadlifting and I was so excited by this fact I wrote about it at the time. At that point I had finally discovered that the problem wasn’t soft tissue but was rather a misalignment of the joint itself. Now I don’t claim to know how or why this happens at the moment but I do know that for me the correct alignment of that joint left me pain free until recently. That’s about 18 months of great shoulder mobility. Unfortunately I can’t find exactly when I hurt my shoulder this time, and I can’t for the life of me remember it going out but I would bet dollars to donuts it was either dips or bench without enough warmup.

So I finally decided after trying heavy deadlifts and several attacks on my first and second ribs to try and force the joint back into place that I would go to see if a chiropractor would be able to assist. Believe me when I say that I went in with the most cynical of eyes but open to a manipulation of my ball and socket. First, she was 20 minutes late. Not a good sign, however that 20 minutes was spent under a warming blanket which was fine by me. Next the assistance asked me if I would like some thumper. Now, for me, when someone asks you something like that it’s always best just to say yes. I wasn’t sure if it was an illicit drug or a cup of herbal tea but I was pleasantly surprised when she brought out a huge massage device and proceeded to massage my entire back and neck with it. By this time I was thinking chiropractic was alright… I was also falling asleep!

Finally the doc showed up and we had a frank chat about my long history of partial shoulder separations, back surgeries, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease and so on. She then proceeded to tell me about why she became a chiropractor which was probably the best thing she could have done given my skepticism. We discussed mobility theory, joint manipulation, physiotherapy and as we spoke I understood that her theories of human performance were close to my own. Had she not done this, the next part of the show would have gone significantly differently.

I should say that I had watched extensive videos online of “Dr. Nelson Vetanze, Chiropractor at Omni Chiropractic, in Aurora, Colorado” who has a channel on YouTube. The most significant of which is of a boxer with the same problem I had. I was very happy to see that my doc did exactly the same testing as he did, which should not be a surprise but when someone does things the same was as the very successful you can bet it’s for a reason. His results were astonishing and as you will read later, so were mine. As she tested she explained that the shoulder often has issues that start in the neck and that for any treatment to be successful it would have to start at the root of the problem. I had been prepared for this as I often tell my gym kids that to fix a muscular issue you need to address issues above and below to make sure the fix sticks. After the conversation we had and her detailed explanation of the process I was comfortable enough to have her do some light adjustment to my neck and that was when the real action began. To be honest, it was very quick, she only adjusted my C1 and C2 having determined that my neck mobility was only about 60% of what it should be at the most. Her manipulation showed me where the alignment was out, she palpitated it before and after to actually demonstrate what happened and the whole adjustment was over in a couple of minutes.

Now during that two minutes several things happened. She attempted to pull my head off upwards without success. She pushed fairly gently I admit against my neck with my head turned provoking several quite disturbing cracking sounds that to me felt like a bee in an empty tin can. At no point did I feel in danger, and at no time did I feel any pain but once I sat up it was immediately apparent that my neck was far better than before. I had maybe a 70% improvement in my head mobility. For those of you who can’t math that means I went in unable to see behind me, now I can see my kids roll their eyes behind my back… In fact, the 3 times I had noticed my sore neck while driving to the appointment (shoulder check, putting seatbelt on and reversing) I had absolutely no pain at all doing the same thing on the way home.

There was a problem though. In freeing up my neck she had also inadvertently (or completely on purpose I’m sure she would claim) completely freed my shoulder blades to move in their proper fashion which immediately made me about 6″ wider. I didn’t really notice until I got to the gym but as I worked my back there was a massive difference in the degree of travel of my lats and scapula compared to the last workout, it was absolutely amazing.

I am not a convert as yet since my shoulder is still painful and I will wait to see that result before making my decision. For now, chiropractic care is no longer the devils work, it’s now been promoted to simple magic.

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