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How to Creep Out Your Spine

It’s the perfect time of year to talk about being creepy….for the sake of your spine. In order to keep (or fix) your neck curve, most of you have been given corrective home exercises – with a traction unit or Denneroll. Here’s the nitty gritty on a how it works from the researchers:

Structural/postural corrective Chiropractors work to return the abnormal spine back towards normal by the process of ligamentous remodelling. Ligamentous remodelling is based on the fact that the resting length of a ligament can be altered by the application of a structurally specific traction or exercise.

Ligament creep is defined as the time dependent elongation of a ligament when subjected to a constant stress. Ligament creep is not linear in nature. Most of the ligament elongation occurs during the first 15-20 minutes of a traction load. This is why at least 10-20 minutes of structural corrective traction is usually recommended.

Think about what happens when you bend a clear plastic ruler. It will flex some and then rebound to its original shape. If you take it past its ‘elastic’ capability and bend it farther into its ‘plastic’ range, it will turn opaque in colour and not be able to return to its normal straight/flat shape. The same happens in a plastic shopping bag – it will stretch a little, until you pull too far, it turns opaque in colour and won’t return to the normal shape. It’s the same concept with fixing your spinal curves. The key component is repetition because the change doesn’t hold very long initially.

How do you get the ligaments to keep their new shape if they recover so quickly? This is accomplished by getting the ligament stretched out to a length that moves it out of its elastic capability and into its plastic (viscous) range. Plastic deformation of a ligament can occur all at once, such as in athletic injuries where an extremely large force is applied, or through what is called “repetitive overwhelm”. Repetitive overwhelm is when a smaller physical stress is applied so often, that it causes a micro-failure of the ligamentous cross-links, resulting in permanent damage (shape change) of the ligament. The main factors that affect plastic deformation are the amount, duration and frequency of the applied force.

Corrective exercises don’t replace chiropractic adjustments but they create better spinal stability which makes us more resistant to subluxation from physical, emotional and chemical stresses in our lives. Ask us if you need help with your home exercises!

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