The following is excerpted from the January 1952 issue of the Journal of the National Chiropractic Association, Vol. 22, No. 1.
I have been quite surprised to find how few of my colleagues use corrective exercises in their practices. The exercise obtained by patients from performing everyday functions is often inadequate. Meanwhile, many conditions treated by chiropractic adjustments could greatly benefit from exercise, as thousands of traumatic low-backache cases are treated annually by exercises alone.
Above all, we must remember that the muscle holds the bone in place. Many conditions, both chronic and acute, cannot be permanently cured unless and until the damaged, distorted, or weak muscle is built up to normal strength and tone.
I would like to share a few exercises that are used in my practice. The exercises are given to patients whose vertebrae “cannot seem to stay in place very long,” to sustain the adjustment by strengthening weak low-back muscles.
The Touching Exercise
Patient stands with feet slightly apart, touches toes without bending knees. Start with five times in low-back cases; increase by two each day. If patient cannot touch toes, have him go as far as he can.
Patient stands with both arms thrust forward for balance, slowly bends knees until buttocks touch heels, then slowly recovers to standing position. Start with three times a day in low-back cases; increase by one each day.
Patient squats with buttocks touching heels, arms extended for balance, “walks” forward three or four steps, and then backward three or four steps. This is especially helpful in cases of sacralbase anteriority. Increase by one step each day.
Patient lies face down on floor, head and chest flat, arms over head. Raise one leg as high as possible and then alternate with the other. This is especially useful in lumbosacral and sacroiliac involvement. Start with five or six times for each leg; increase by one each day.
Patient kneels, stretches arms outward and backward, bending back until hands touch floor, arching the back. Recover and repeat. Start with three or four times, increase by one a day. Very effective in involvement of the first three lumbars, even of the lower dorsal.
Patient lies face down on floor; head and chest are held flat. Holding legs tightly together, raise legs simultaneously as high as possible. Recover, relax, and repeat three or four times. Indicated in anterior ischium (tail sitters).
Patient on hands and knees drops head, raises lower back pulling abdomen, raises head. Repeat five or six times. Increase by two each day.
The patient lies on face, head and shoulders are held down by operator doing exercise. Arms extended overhead, raise both legs holding them closely together, knees stiff. Swing legs from side to side. This is effective in spasm of the sacro-spinalis, and has been used for years by the osteopaths on their McManis tables.
The following two exercises are given in acute back pain prior to the adjustment for purposes of relaxation, and the patient is instructed to conduct them at home after an adjustment to prevent “stiffening up.”
Patient lies on his side with knees inflexed. Slide upper knee toward chest as far as possible, then return to original position. Repeat four or five times. Then perform same exercise on the other side.
Patient lies on back, knees flexed; bring one knee to chest, then return to starting position. Then extend same leg with the sole sliding. Return to starting position. Alternate, one leg at a time, six to ten times a day.
There are many other exercises that could be easily applied to the general practice of chiropractic. Before recommending the exercises to a patient, evaluate the condition of various muscles by palpation and posture analysis.
In a number of conditions, such as cerebral palsy, post-polio cases, and many types of traumatic paralysis, specialized exercises are needed. These cases can be handled best together with a co-operative physiotherapist to give the patient the advantages of supervised exercises and adjustments.
Editor’s Note: Insurers often question and/or deny chiropractic care as passive and not medically necessary. The mindset is that little is being done in active therapy for the patient. Incorporating patient exercises may help payers see where active therapy is often used by DCs to improve the patients’ physical status and daily living activity.
Those interested in chiropractic history may wish to contact Alana Callender, Executive Director, Association for the History of Chiropractic, 1000 Brady Street, Davenport, IA 52803, or e-mail callender.edu.
This column is coordinated by Nataliya V Schetchikova, PhD.
BY DR. MURRAY VINNIK
Copyright American Chiropractic Association Apr 2002
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