As someone who practises a non-manipulative chiropractic technique I am often asked why. What’s wrong with “cracking” the spine? Why do you do what you do? To answer this I want to share my story.
I like many of my colleagues had a traditional chiropractic education which involved learning how to manually adjust the spine. I studied in Bournemouth, England and the focus was on how to manually adjust people’s spines to remove their pain and was happy working this way, as were my patients.
My experience of Manual Chiropractic
What I found however was that my patients were happier with their symptom reduction than I was with the function and quality of their spine. I got the point of going – well is this it? I expected to be able to help people not only have amazing lives and resolution from their symptoms and I expected them to have great spines. What I started to observe was that I always adjusted the same area. And for many people there came a point when by doing that I just couldn’t get the results I expected. Was it my ability as a chiropractor, because I had done multiple seminars after graduating and felt pretty competent? Or was there something missing?
So I decided that I was going to open my mind to other options. I even started introducing a few moves from other techniques I had learnt at chiropractic college.
My first NSA Chiropractic Adjustment
It was at this point that I received my first adjustment with Network Spinal Analysis, which is a low force technique. I was on a seminar and shared a room with another chiropractor. And she adjusted me using Network. To be honest, I didn’t think she’d done much. She just flicked my lower back a few times, a couple of gentle touches somewhere in my thoracic spine and said I was done. I was too polite so say “was that it?” but that was what I thought.
I had the best night’s sleep that night in living memory. It rocked my world. My back pain also improved significantly after what felt like almost nothing and certainly NO FORCE at all.
So I investigated Network Spinal Analysis or NSA as it’s known and this is what I found out.
So what is NSA?
NSA was developed in the early 1980’s by an American Chiropractor called Donny Epstein. He had been trained in about 14 different techniques and was trying to find a way to take the best from each of them and do the smallest possible intervention to get the biggest possible change. Along the way he developed the two Network Waves and a different understanding of the human body and how it works. By the time I came on the scene NSA was well established and had a big research study that showed it helped people improve not only physically but also in their emotional and mental health and also how they handled stress. He linked care to improved quality of life and overall wellbeing. This sounded more like what I was looking for.
What’s different about NSA?
Rather than the traditional approach which is to find the area of the spine that is restricted and tight, NSA looks for what we call a spinal gateway which is an area in the spine that works just perfectly. These places are located in the areas where the covering of the spinal cord (the dura) attaches and these areas are very sensitive to gentle input. By using a very gentle touch to one of these areas your brain is able to observe your body. What is thought to happen is that the nervous system can temporarily drop attachment to stress or the fight-flight response. When this happens breath deepens, muscles relax, tensions dissipate and healing begins. Some people even spontaneously “crack” their own spine in response to the gentle contacts and release tension rapidly.
“There can be no doubt that we are witnessing the birth of a powerful method of healing, grounded in rigorous scientific fact, that will become integral to future systems of healthcare.” Dr. Kim A. Jobst, Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
So I enrolled on my first seminar and the rest is really history. I no longer hold insurance to adjust manually as I stopped doing it within 3 months as I got either the same or better results using NSA.
So is NSA better than Manual Adjusting?
Now am I saying manual adjusting doesn’t work? No I’m not. There are some great manual chiropractors out there and they help a lot of people. Personally I get much better results using NSA because it suits me and my body responds much better to the gentle touches. I have been constantly amazed and humbled by the changes I have witnessed in the incredible people I have had the delight and pleasure to work with and I never cease to marvel at the impact a gentle contact in just the right place at the right time can have on someone’s body.
So for me is there an end to this journey? Not really. This was the beginning of a totally different journey. I love my work with a passion. I help a huge range of people that I would never have met had I stayed in more traditional practice. I personally have so much more energy in my 40’s than I ever had in my 20’s or 30’s. My back rarely flares up, my posture is better. I feel so much better than I ever thought possible. And I get to share this “secret” with so many people.
I have now founded 3 NSA Clinics in the UK, in Cardiff, Bristol and more recently we are the first Chiropractors who are fully certified in NSA in the North West of England with our Chiropractic Clinic in Wilmslow attracting people from Cheshire, Manchester and beyond.
I still get adjusted every week. It’s like being a member of a gym. You find something that improves your wellbeing and you want more and more of it. Yes I have the benefit of being married to an NSA Chiropractor, but that doesn’t really change anything – just convenience.
So this is my story. I hope you enjoyed it and that it has given you some insight into why I do what I do and inspires you just a little bit along your own journey of life.
Rachael Talbot, Doctor of Chiropractic, Expert in Re-organisational Healing.