Why we have you turn off your phone and rest after an Adjustment
Have you ever wondered why we have you turn off your phone and rest after an adjustment? It relates back to a concept in the 1930s, '40s and 50's about how an adjustment work and settles. (It was also easier to study back then because a mobile phone was not an issue back then!)
Through their research, the chiropractors in that era came to realize that it's not the force of the adjustment that makes the correction. What actually happens is that the adjustment produces a vibration that allows the body to use its own muscles and resources to allow the vertebra to settle back into the proper orientation.
A 1938 research book where RED is the position of things pre-adjustment, BLACK is the position post-adjustment and BLUE is the position a few weeks later (meaning that the body produced additional change beyond just the adjustment!).
(If you're ever curious, I have a big yellow book published in 1938 of pre-and-post- x-ray graphs of the entire spine demonstrating how an adjustment to the upper neck creates shifts in the vertebral column all the way to your tailbone!) But what does that have to do with resting post-adjustment?
When we're standing or even sitting upright, the force of gravity compresses your vertebrae (called "axial compression"). For maximal activity, the chiropractic researchers believed that the best way to reduce axial compression so that your muscles could do the best work is when you are lying down.
Ultimately, it is so that your adjustments would stabilize so that you didn't need to be adjusted as often so that you have a better recovery. The premiere chiropractic research center so strongly believed in this principle that from the 1930s-1960s, all their patients were given a mandatory one hour lie down ... preferably two hours, and in extreme cases, three hours or longer rest post adjustment!
Suck it Up, Buttercup! It's Important to Take a Time-Out!!
I get it: you can't take that much time out of your day just to rest! Well, keep two things in mind here. First, in this particular chiropractic center, they were seeing people with the most extreme conditions, whom medicine and even other chiropractors were not able to help.
So for them, to be able to rest for 2-3 hours at a time was a novel opportunity to heal - not an inconvenience. Second, they knew that a 2-3 hour rest was not practical for the average person needing chiropractic care. For this reason, they researched and concluded that if patients could rest for even ten to fifteen minutes post adjustment that it allowed the tissues in the neck to "gel" so that their adjustments would stabilize.
Anything less than that was a coin-toss to whether a person's adjustment would stabilize or not. Resting post adjustment also makes a big difference. My personal observation is that the ability to lie down versus going for a walk (which is what many chiropractors advocate immediately post adjustment) is huge!
More often than not, when I discover that a person's adjustment improved but did not stay in place for their next checkup, it is because they did something that violated the post-adjustment rest guideline ...
Including Using Their Phones When They Are Told Not To
... And here is where phones come into play. You may or may not have noticed the signs in the resting room that indicate "No Phones." There are a few reasons that I prohibit - yes that's a strong word! - the use of phones in the resting room. The first major reason is that the vast majority of people have the type of misalignment that is made worse when sticking their head forwards like looking on a phone.
So if we've just gone to the effort of adjusting you, why would you immediately do something that may prevent your adjustment from settling into the right place. "Well, I'll just hold my phone up and lean backward so that I'm not sticking my head forwards."
To tell you the truth, I'm guilty of this one too. However, literally, as I'm writing this article, an important thought popped into my head that will stop me from even doing that. In fact, I'm going to go so far as to advocate completely closing your eyes when you're resting.
The reason has to do with a neurological link between your eye muscles and the muscles on the back of your neck that support your atlas (called the suboccipital muscles). The suboccipital muscles around the blue triangle are important for the proper positioning of the atlas ... and they are affected when you move your eyes such as looking at your phone!
Try this one for yourself. Close your eyes, and then gently place your fingertips on the back of your neck right under the ridge of your skull. Now what I want you to do is to simply move your eyes a few directions like looking left, right, up and down ... and feel what's happening on the back of your neck in those suboccipital muscles.
You may/may not feel it, which is okay. Even if you cannot, I promise you that those muscles are moving! And those are the very same muscles that need to do the work to guide your upper neck into the right position after an adjustment.
So the second reason that I prohibit phones is that they are simply too tempting to check-in that prime time when your muscles need to do the most important work to stabilize your adjustment. The last thing you want is for your eyes to be wandering on a screen!
The third and final reason that I ban phones in the resting room has to do with electromagnetic radiation (EMR). I haven't written on this topic before because its a rabbit hole: once you hop in, there is an endless maze of directions you can go with it. I will aim to be as brief as possible then.
The science is still incomplete - and I have no idea how we escape from them - but mobile phones and the EMR that they emit along with Wifi appear to have a negative impact on DNA and cell function. Ultimately, this is the level where all healing happens.
I have a few gizmos that allow me to measure the amount of EMR that phones, wifi routers, office appliances, and electrical wires produce, and some of that stuff is just downright scary! Now, do I think that one mobile phone in the grand mix of it all will make a massive difference?
No. Its one simply drops in the ocean. That said, if I can produce an environment that minimizes those effects as much as possible - such as a resting room - it produces a very palpable place where people just get a comfortable feeling that "this is a place to rest and heal." Even if it may only be psychological, from a cellular and neurological perspective it is just as important for people to actually get well.
No Phones + Resting After An Adjustment is a Small Investment
So there you have it! The reasons that I'm the "Phone Police" and why the Resting Room is so important post-adjustment.
Ultimately it's about facilitating your recovery so that you can achieve optimal results. I mean, do you really want to keep going back to the chiropractor every couple of weeks for the rest of your life just to keep your spine in alignment?
Or do you want to be as well and strong as possible that you only need a checkup as often as you see your dentist? In my opinion, I'd prefer the latter. But what it means until you get there is that you do the right things that will allow you to get there.