Manual Traction – Why Do You Pull On My Neck?

By Dr. Philip Cordova

January 10, 2011


Manual traction has been around for years and years and most people say it just feels good, but why do we do it? Following your chiropractic adjustment, we will likely gently pull the neck to alleviate pressure and free up any areas of the spine that are still stuck.

Manual traction is not a replacement for the chiropractic adjustment, but you may still feel some pops and cracks when it’s being performed. Some patients say “this is my favorite part” when we perform this technique.

Do I need manual traction or mechanical traction?

Mechanical traction and manual traction are both valuable options and perform similar functions. Due to the constraints of the practitioner’s ability to hold the neck for an extended period, research has shown mechanical traction to have an increased benefit or manual traction.

In our office, we have both options available, including an even stronger traction option available called cervical decompression therapy. Many home traction devices are available as well, with popular options including the Neck Hammock and Dr. Ho’s Neck Comforter. There are still benefits to the chiropractor utilizing their hands to provide the tractioning.

manual traction

Why do you prefer manual traction?

I prefer to use my hands when dealing with the neck because I can feel how much tension to use. Popular now is the use of a towel or the “Y-strap” to hook around the base of the head and pull with a stronger force. While this method is an accepted technique, it’s not one that I would want done on myself again (I’ve had it before). When I have my hands on the bones I’m applying traction to, I can feel which vertebrae are still stuck and can feel that moment that they will release.

I find that the amount of pressure and force applied is often less than you would think. I can also use my fingers to move specific vertebrae use different points of contact to pull on specific areas, rather than just using the base of the skull as my point of contact.

Dr. Philip Cordova

About the author

Dr. Philip Cordova is a chiropractor in Houston, Texas. He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and decided to become a chiropractor after hurting his back as a teenager and getting help from chiropractic care. He is speaker on health & posture. Click Here To Read His Full Bio

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