“Once you go to a chiropractor you always have to go, is that true?” I was at a dinner with some new people I hadn’t met before and they asked me what I do for a living. “I’m a chiropractor,” I say, and that’s when the question happened.
It’s not a new question, and it’s a fair question. I can understand why someone would ask it, they’re worried that chiropractic only offers short-term results, or they are worried that they’ll start something they’ll have to keep doing. However, the question speaks to how they view their health and it’s not a very realistic one. Here would be some equivalent concerns:
- “Once you go to the gym you always have to go to the gym.”
- “Once you start eating vegetables, you always have to eat vegetables.”
- “Once you start stretching, you always have to stretch.”
You only have to keep doing things that help you achieve the result you’re after.
If you enjoy feeling strong and having muscles… yes, you have to keep going to the gym. If you enjoy good health, you have to keep doing the things that will help your body stay healthy.
It wouldn’t be reasonable to eat one salad a year and pizza three times a day and expect to be a healthy weight and have no consequences. You wouldn’t then (hopefully) determine that the one salad you ate was bad for you. It may not give you a lot of benefit, but there’s nothing wrong with eating an occasional salad.
To get the best results from healthy activities (including chiropractic care), you have to be consistent about it. You’ll feel and look your best if you eat more good meals than bad, do consistent exercise, and have a regular sleep schedule. This is how your body works best.
The thing that frustrates people about healthy activities is they’re not usually doing enough of them to see a difference. They come to the conclusion that the activity doesn’t work rather than deciding they just aren’t doing enough of it.
If your muscles aren’t big enough yet, giving up lifting weights won’t get you any closer.
Lifting heavier weights more often will get you closer to that goal. That’s a great thing about our bodies; we can change them. If you start running and eating better, your body will change for the better.
If you gave up all of your current activities and started eating poorly and smoking, your body would change too. You just wouldn’t get the change that you’d like to see. Your body responds to your habits and the activities you do most often.
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear drives home the point that even the smallest habits done consistently start to have a compounding effect. He shares a story that asks, “will one dollar make you rich?” Almost everyone immediately says, “no.” However, if I start handing you $1 bills, there’s a moment when that one extra dollar moves you from “not rich” to “rich.”
The same effect occurs with our health.
Whatever you do consistently will give you a result. If you don’t like that result, change what you do consistently. So how does this relate to getting long-term and lasting results from your chiropractic care?
The patients that complain about recurring neck pain and say that chiropractic isn’t working seem to also be the patients that walk in looking down at their phones and then wait for the doctor while continuing to stare down at their phones. They also tend to be the patients that don’t use the neck wedge or do any of the recommended exercises.
They are hoping that they can “get cracked” and never have a problem again.
We do have patients that come in with 20 years of neck and back pain that get adjusted one time and everything is good again. No more problems and they don’t feel that they need to come back ever again.
For most people, it’s a process. We do a consistent plan to help the patient get results and we encourage and recommend home care exercises that will strengthen the area that needs it the most. We also educate our patients on their sleep posture and other daily activities.
Those that make changes and are consistent get better almost every single time. Those that get adjusted, don’t follow the recommendations, and return to their bad habits end up having the problem come back again.
Long-term results requires some changes to your habits
The benefits of chiropractic do have long-term benefits. Areas of your spine that weren’t moving are now moving. Pain has decreased, and it will likely take awhile for it to return. However, if you keep doing things that are bad for your spine, you will lose the benefits you’ve gained from chiropractic care.
This is no different than any other activity that you know will help your health. You can’t sleep ten hours one night and then sleep four every night after. You will start to lose the benefits of sleeping for ten hours.
You can’t hit the gym five times a week for a year, get in good shape, and then completely stop going without losing some of the benefits you’ve gained. It’s not fun, it’s not what we would hope for, but it is how your body works. You have to keep up with the things that are helping you succeed and get great results.
You don’t have to go to the chiropractor three times a week for the rest of your life.
The frequency of adjustments will depend on your activities, how long you’ve had the problem, and how consistent you are with home care recommendations. Most of our patients eventually settle in to once a month, but many still come by every couple of weeks because they find that’s what works best for them.
You choose the activities that you would like to keep doing, and you will then choose the type of results you’d like to continue to maintain long-term. We will always give you our best recommendation.