What is Retracing in the Healing Process?
Retracing is the process by which your body rewinds andrepairs previously unresolved injuries following an upper cervicalchiropractic adjustment, which may allow you ultimately to achievea greater level of health. It is important to describe aninteresting phenomenon known as retracing as itrelates to upper cervical specific chiropractic care.
Retracing is also known as unwinding, “detoxing,” or a “healingcrisis.” It is the process by which your body rewinds andrepairs previously unresolved injuries, which allows you ultimatelyto achieve a greater level of health.
Think of an archaeologist peeling back layers of earth todiscover the ruins of ancient civilizations. The deeper that thearchaeologist digs, the older the civilization. When your bodyretraces, it peels back the layers of trauma that you haveaccumulated on top of each other over time.
Let’s say that you suffered a series of injuries: A, B, C, D,and now E. When you suffered injuries A-D, you didn’t seek carebecause “they fixed themselves.” What actually happened was thatyour body just compensated for them by healing in a non-idealway.
But now that you’ve decided to seek care after suffering “E,”your nervous system gets to repair those older injuries as well.And so one layer at a time in reverse order - D, C, B, and then A -your body works to resolve those unaddressed injuries that it wasnot able to fix fully the first time.
Retracing May Reactivate Old Stuff
As you may recall from the home renovation project described inthe “Cycles of Repair,” in order for your nervous system tocoordinate these repairs, it may also need to undo some of theadaptations that it made months, years or even decades ago.
When this happens, it is possible that some of the symptomsassociated with that old injury may come back with it. Some of themost common things that people experience as part of the retracingprocess include physical discomfort (muscle pain) and flu-likesymptoms including generalized fatigue. …
And it makes sense when you consider that your nervous systemdemands extra energy to do the repair work. So even thoughretracing may not be the most enjoyable experience, it is a normaland necessary part of the healing process.
Does that mean that every symptom that you’ve ever experiencedis going to come back? No. Most retracing occurs withoutany conscious awareness or even a hint of discomfort. It'sonly when it does happen that it can be concerning, like an oldinjury coming back.
If I didn’t let you know about retracing in advance, you mightstop care because you’d think that you’re actually getting worse.Fortunately, now that you know that retracing is a necessary andbeneficial process, you’ll be better prepared if you do experienceit.
There are three principles I want to layout so that you willknow what to expect when you experience retracing symptoms. 1.Time. Retracing follows the same principles that Idescribed for you in “Cycles of Repair,” which is in your successmanual. Note: if you are not a current client, you will have noidea what I'm talking about. Click here for a quick video I posted a few years ago.
In natural healthcare, your body heals in predictable cycles.Posted by Dr. Michael Lenarz of TCW Consulting. In brief, your bodyworks in 3-month intervals of repair and rest. During a repairphase, your body is most active, and any symptoms you mayexperience will fluctuate for no apparent reason.
During the rest phase, your body is conserving energy, preparingfor the next cycle. Repair phases generally last for 2-3 weeks,which means that most unpleasant sensations that you may experienceas part of retracing processes will be short-lived: 2-3 weeks thatcome in 3-month intervals until the healing is complete.
While 2-3 weeks might seem like an eternity, in the grand schemeof things your body’s innate healing mechanisms know that theeffort is worth it in the long run. 2. Emotions.In my experience, it is far more common for people to retraceemotions than physical symptoms.
Specifically, I am referring to unprocessed memories or emotions(e.g., grief, hatred, fear, anxiety, depression, etc)that you bottled up and buried. And that could be whether you didso consciously or unconsciously. It is impossible to disconnectyour subconscious mind from your physical body.
The result is that unhealed mental scars are just as significant- maybe even more so! - then the old physical injuries (A-D) that Imentioned before that your nervous system must address so that youcan finally heal. Fortunately, as difficult as this process may be… 3. Your nervous system never (!) does anything to harm ordestroy you.
Even if you experience strong emotional retracing - even if itseems that your own body is attacking or betraying you - be awarethat your nervous system knows innately that for the first timeever, it is safe for you actually process the experience so thatyou may finally heal from it. It is working in your best interest.And however difficult the process may be, it would not even behappening unless your subconscious mind knows that you are capableof handling it.
What We Know and What We Don't Know
Retracing is a commonly observed phenomenon across healthcaredisciplines. However, it is still poorly understood from ascientific viewpoint. The cellular and physiological controlmechanisms by which retracing occurs are poorly understood, if atall.
Nevertheless, we cannot ignore that this phenomenon does occur.In addition to all the physical and emotional symptoms I’ve alreadydescribed, it is not even unexpected if you experience a sense ofagitation, irritability, or even anxiety. The sense of feeling “outof control in my own body” and that “I’m getting worse” iscommon.
Of course, if I could take away the discomfort of retracing, Iwould do so in a heartbeat. However, it is usually a process thatyou simply need to ride through. And if so, it is imperative tomonitor your progress closely to be certain that you areexperiencing genuine retracing, and that you are not that you areactually getting worse.
When we make the upper cervical correction,never know how many layers of injury - physical, chemical, oremotional - there are. Nor do we know how your nervous system needsto respond in order to retrace you back to health. Nevertheless,rest assured that on the other side of it all, you may findyourself even better than you expected to be.