What To Do (And Not Do) After a Chiropractic Adjustment?

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Getting the most out of your chiropractic adjustment means knowing what you should do afterwards. Luckily, fitting these things into your day isn’t hard.

Many of the tips in this article are common sense, such as: drink water, get adequate rest, stay active, and maintain good posture. But we’ll also go over some often overlooked things you should and shouldn’t do after an adjustment, including what sensations are normal after your spinal adjustment.

Adjustments and Their Benefits

Before we dive into things to do after an adjustment, let’s use a few studies to clear up some misconceptions about chiropractic adjustments.

One 2016 study found that spinal adjustments, compared to a placebo, were effective for relieving low back pain. In fact, some of the evidence used in this study suggests that the benefits can be seen even after a year. But the low back isn’t the only part of the body to benefit from spinal adjustments.

Another study found the cervical (neck) adjustments had several benefits. These included:

  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved mouth opening
  • Improvements in pain and grip strength
  • Lowered blood pressure in patients with hypertension

These are just some of the benefits of chiropractic adjustments. It’s also important to keep in mind that adjustments are considered very safe, with very few serious adverse events.

So, now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at what to do after a chiropractic adjustment.

What To Do After An Adjustment: Common Sense Things

If you’ve never been to a chiropractor before, then the following things may be new to you. Of course, these tips are good for staying healthy even if you haven’t recently had an adjustment.

1. Drink Lots of Water

One of the best things you can do for your body is to drink plenty of water every day. Many people don’t drink enough water as is, so this is a good one to keep in mind at all times.

2. Stay Active

While you don’t want to head for a heavy weight workout after your chiropractic adjustment, it is good to stay active. Things like walking, jogging, biking, and swimming are ideal activities after an adjustment — when done in moderation. In other words, don’t push yourself too hard in the 24 hours after your adjustment.

3. Get Some Sleep

Like getting enough water, adequate sleep is essential for good health. Aim to get seven or eight hours every night if possible. As your body gets used to the adjustment, it will need a good night’s sleep every night.

4. Keep Your Back Straight

The reason most people go to the chiropractor for an adjustment is that their spine is out of alignment. For most, this happens over time and needs to be corrected over time with regular back adjustments. But the better your posture, the fewer problems you’ll have. Reverting back to poor posture after an adjustment is counterproductive, so it’s important to keep your back straight throughout the day.

How to Sleep After a Chiropractic Adjustment

Many people find that they sleep very well after a chiropractic adjustment. A minority find that they may have trouble getting to sleep if they are experiencing minor soreness, which is to be expected for some. Because, while the adjustments themselves don’t hurt, some people do experience minor pain and discomfort afterward.

Either way, the best way to sleep after a chiropractic adjustment is on your back. This helps keep your spine in its neutral position, which is best for the spine in general. If you find that you can’t sleep on your back, you can sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to help keep your hips and, in turn, your spine straight. Avoid sleeping on your stomach after an adjustment.

One of the many benefits of massage therapy is that it helps people relax, which is why we often suggest getting a massage after an adjustment, which can help you get to sleep.

Heat or Ice After a Chiropractic Adjustment?

Chances are you’ve used both heat and ice at different times and for different things. Both are useful at specific times. Ice is good for reducing swelling and providing pain relief, whereas heat is good for relaxing stiff muscles.

And if you’re feeling strange after your adjustment, you’re probably wondering which is best. The majority of the time, you’ll want to use ice during the day following the adjustment. It’s normal to feel a little bit of pain or discomfort after your adjustment, as healing the body isn’t always a pain-free process. Luckily, those that do experience discomfort after an adjustment find that it goes away within 24 hours.

In the meantime, using ice for 20 minutes at a time every three or four hours is a good way to relieve some of that discomfort.

Stretching After an Adjustment

Like any other medical treatment, you get out of chiropractic what you put in. Chiropractic care is effective, but it’s not a passive treatment. Chances are your chiropractor will give you some stretches and exercises to do between adjustments. In fact, here at Better Health, we often show our patients how to do these stretches and exercises correctly before sending them home.

It’s important that you do any stretches prescribed by your chiropractor or physical therapist because it’s part of the treatment. Of course, if you start to feel pain during the exercises, you should stop and contact your chiropractor. It’s also a good idea to ask before you do any other stretches!

What to Avoid After a Spinal Adjustment

We’ve seen what to do after an adjustment. Now let’s look at things not to do after your chiropractic adjustment.

  • No Explosive Movements
    • While staying active is good, you’ll want to limit the explosive movements for a few days after your adjustment. That means no weightlifting competitions, contact sports, boxing, or other things of that nature. Sorry!
  • Avoid Too Much Rest/Sitting
    • Too much sitting is not good for the back, even if you have a chair with lumbar support. Try to get up and move around every 20 minutes if you must sit. Better to be up and moving around, keeping your spine in its neutral position while you do so.
  • Don’t Ignore Your Chiropractor’s Suggestions
    • We mentioned this above briefly, but it bears repeating. Follow your chiropractor’s suggestions to get the most out of your treatment. While it may be tough to do now, you’ll avoid pain in the future if you stick to the treatment plan!

What To Do After a Chiropractic Adjustment: Conclusion

Everyone is different. You may be pain-free after just one chiropractic adjustment. Or it could take you several to get to that point. Either way, it’s best to follow the dos and don’ts on this list to get the most out of your treatment. From the common sense things to the often overlooked tips, you can help your body by following them. Most of all, listen to your chiropractor and follow his or her suggestions for the very best results!

Resources:
http://europepmc.org/article/MED/27455103
http://europepmc.org/article/MED/28731832
http://europepmc.org/article/MED/15245709

Dr. Brent Wells

About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells is an actively practicing chiropractic physician that has personally led over 10,000 Alaskans to more active, pain-free lifestyles since 1998. He is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Anchorage and Juneau where he brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.

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