Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How Often To See Your Chiropractor

Recently I was able to spend some time out in Lake Tahoe.  It's the second deepest lake in the US (at 1,645ft), has enough water to cover the entire state of california with one foot of water, and the water is basically turquoise due to it's incredible clarity (you can see 65-75 feet down).  Feel free to use this newfound knowledge at dinner parties or talking amongst your coworkers :)  And since it's up in the mountains, everywhere you look are athletes and outdoor enthusiasts.  So just walking around the town you see bikers, runners, hikers, swimmers, skiers, etc, etc... it's almost exhausting!

Since Tahoe is 3 hours behind Boston I was up at about 4:30am everyday, and inevitably made it to the local coffee shop each morning.  This particular weekend Tahoe happened to be host to a tough mudder competition.  If you're not familiar with tough mudder, it's basically an extreme endurance event of 12ish miles that takes you through obstacle courses and intense physical tests.  The whole thing is very "extreme" and fits right in with the tahoe lifestyle.  So during one of my 5am coffee breaks I sat down next to four guys who were preparing for the days tough mudder race.  Normally I don't pay attention to who's sitting next to me, but when one of them stated "I saw my chiropractor yesterday" my ears of course perked up.

Following the first statement, I heard the next 2 out of the 3 guys say the same thing.  75% of the table had seen their chiropractor the day before.  But one guy hadn't, and he asked each one of them if they were injured.  Their responses were better than anything I normally come up with.  Each one stated that they go to their chiropractor a few times a year because it makes them perform better.  They didn't know how, and they didn't know why, but they didn't care.  All they knew was that their personal performance went up when they saw their chiropractor.  Just like getting my car tuned up, I have no clue what they do under there, but I know it helps :)

And I know what you may be thinking... oh that's just cause it's california and they are just different from us on the east coast.  Well maybe, but maybe not.  I got to thinking about how many athletes I see in the office and also professional athletes who see a chiropractor on a regular basis.  Tom Brady of the New England Patriots uses a chiropractor throughout the season.  Usain Bolt, the worlds fastest man, was seen being adjusted during the 2012 summer olympics.  Tiger Woods, arguably the best golfer of all time, has been seeing a chiropractor for "as long as I can remember".  Lance Armstrong's chiropractor traveled with him during every stage of all 7 tour de France victories.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, 7 time Mr. Olympia, went regularly to prevent injury.  And Aaron Rogers, the current MVP of the NFL, has been going to a chiropractor since he was a kid... cause his father is a chiropractor.  Yet even though almost all professional athletes (who care and know more about their bodies than almost anybody else) use chiropractors on a weekly basis, most people have never even seen a chiropractor.

If you've come into our office here in Boston, Copley Square Chiropractic, you know that we don't preach about chiropractic.  We don't tell you to come back every week to get adjusted.  Sure, when we see someone for the first time we end up seeing them a bunch of times to get them better, that's how any therapy works, but after they are feeling better most people hear me say this... "use me when you need me."  But you know what?  My recent trip to california has made me think about this recommendation.  If "extreme" athletes and weekend warriors out there are using a chiropractor to improve performance on a regular basis maybe more people should as well.  After all, I get adjusted every 2 weeks, like clock work.  I don't do it because I'm in pain, I just do it because it makes me feel good and seems to keep me from getting injured.  And yet my normal recommendation is "use me when you need me."

But even with my weak recommendation I still end up seeing many people a few times a year, I see many other people once a month, and I see many athletes every couple weeks, because they see a value without me saying it.  I see professional athletes and very powerful people being adjusted on a regular basis because it improves how the body works.  I heard from one of my best friends yesterday, who lives down in DC, after his first adjustment ever and he said "am I supposed to feel this good afterwards?"  And this is not uncommon, it's what I hear all the time, and it's how I feel after I get adjusted every couple weeks.

Now this brings up another "issue" that I deal with pretty regularly, and that is the feeling that "once I go to a chiropractor I have to go for the rest of my life."  Believe me, I hear this all the time, and some people in a lot of pain won't even go see a chiropractor because they don't want to go forever (which is a shame).  Many people are very up front about not wanting to go for the rest of their lives... and you know what?  That's fine.  And I can relate, I mean I sometimes say no to people's recommendations just for spite, I don't even know why (but that's probably a whole other issue we don't want to delve into!) But some people come in a couple times, feel better, and I never see them again, and that's okay.  But the feeling of having to come in forever is one that you hear with a lot of different things, not just with chiropractors.  You hear it with dentists, who's only gone once?  You hear it with healthy eating, you kinda have to stick with healthy eating forever for it to help right?  You hear it with going to the gym, cause who gets anything out of going just once?  Basically, anything that we may benefit from is something that we have to incorporated into our life.  I saw it out in california a lot because people seem to be very active, very interested in nutrition, and very interested in improving their bodies (by using their chiropractor).

I think many chiropractors give themselves a bad wrap because they just say, "Good to hear you're feeling better, but we've got to see you every month for the rest of your life."  And I honestly believe most of them are giving that recommendation because they think it will help that particular person.  It may be an idealistic view, but once again, it's not only seen in chiropractors.  When a nutritionist says to continue eating healthy for a long and rewarding life they really mean it. But my profession sometimes has a tough time explaining what we mean with our recommendations.  We should be explaining that, just like exercise, eating healthy, or saving for retirement, the true benefits can only be seen when these activities are done regularly.  Chiropractors make sure the joints, nerves and muscles of the body are working as best they can.  Other professions would also get a bad wrap but they seem to explain it better.  A nutritionist says you've got to eat healthy for the rest of your life, and nobody freaks out.  A trainer says you've got to work out for the rest of your life, and most people nod in agreement.  An accountant says you need to save every month for retirement and we all seem to work that in.  But if your chiropractor says you should come in every couple months for an adjustment it's blasphemy.  I've always thought that was interesting.  But you know what?  People go off and on with exercise, with eating healthy, and with saving money, so it's okay if people go off and on with chiropractic care as well.

Now let's get back to Tahoe.  Seeing those athletes talk about going to their chiropractor has certainly altered how I feel about people getting adjusted on a regular basis.  Will it change my recommendation of "use me whenever you need me?"  Well I don't know.  I do think people should be adjusted every few months, and at a minimum quarterly(4 times a year), and actually some people do need it monthly.  But if they don't, I won't be upset, and I'll adjust them whenever they feel like they need it.  I believe in people having choices, I'll give my general recommendations and people can decide for themselves.  I mean if someone doesn't want to eat healthy and exercise that's totally up to them.  However, if we look at people who know a lot about their bodies, such as professional athletes, we can see a value in going to a chiropractor.  It may not be obvious, and it may not be easy to explain to other people why we get adjusted every few months, but clearly there's a value past just pain control.  Is it valuable to everyone?  Well that's up to each individual to decide.  Americans are all about choices... and the freedom to choose what's best for them.  Lets all just be thankful for that :)

Doctors Note:

1. Use your chiropractor whenever you feel like you need him/her

2. For overall health and improved function see your chiropractor at least quarterly (4 times a year)

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