You may feel sore after a chiropractic adjustment because your muscles adapt to the newly adjusted position of your vertebrae by shortening or lengthening. The soreness is caused by the new position of the bones rather than the amount of pressure the chiropractor uses during the adjustment.
If you’re new to chiropractic therapy, you may have many questions about spinal adjustments and what sensations are considered to be normal. It is expected to be a little nervous, especially while you become familiar with the therapy. Feeling sore after your chiropractic adjustment is common because your muscles have to adjust to the new and aligned position of your spine.
Each person is unique and will react to chiropractic adjustments differently. The presence of soreness and intensity may depend on your condition, fitness level, and other factors. Your chiropractor will explain your customized treatment and the possible effects you can expect. Let’s explore various reasons why you may become sore after a chiropractic adjustment.
Will I Feel Worse After a Chiropractic Adjustment Before my Symptoms Improve?
Each patient may react to their initial chiropractic visits differently. While some people feel immediate relief from their symptoms, others may feel discomfort before improvement. If you are one of those people who become sore after your initial chiropractic adjustments, you must understand that your body is going through a transformative process.
Chiropractors commonly treat patients who present with chronic pain from spinal misalignment or acute pain from an injury. In either case, if your spine is out of alignment, it will take some effort to return to a normal aligned condition. During that process, your muscles need to readjust to their normal position and may become temporarily sore.
Muscle contractures occur when the spine is out of alignment. The muscles try to support the spine at any position. When the spine is out of alignment, the muscles are forced to abnormally shorten or lengthen to continue to provide support to the spine. No matter if it lasts for days, months, or years, the muscles become used to the new position.
As the chiropractor adjusts the spine to correct the misalignment, the muscles have to also adjust to the new position. During this process, the muscles have to adapt to support the newly aligned spine. This phase causes soreness, which gradually goes away once the muscles become adapted to the new position.
Common Reasons Why You May Feel Sore After a Chiropractic Adjustment
Your chiropractor may explain several reasons why you may feel sore after a chiropractic adjustment. For most patients, it is completely normal to feel soreness. However, you must differentiate soreness from pain, which is not a normal part of the alignment process. The following are some reasons why you may feel sore after your appointment.
Balancing of Overstimulated Muscles
As the term implies, overstimulated muscles are those that compensate by working harder. Spinal adjustments relieve these muscles from being overworked and therefore they don’t become as sore as understimulated muscles. However, you may still experience some soreness after a spinal adjustment as stimulated muscles are trained to return to their normal position.
More than likely, you will feel relief as these overstimulated muscles are soothed. On the contrary, understimulated muscles are more likely to experience a higher degree of soreness because they are weak and will need to get used to a higher load.
Your Musculoskeletal Structure Needs to Adapt to Proper Alignment
We are naturally in alignment. If you look at a child, they are likely to have perfect posture. As the years go on, bad habits and injuries can lead to a misaligned spine and abnormal posture. Your body fights to adapt to anything, which is why people can live with a misaligned spine for years although they don’t feel or function optimally.
Once the spine is adjusted back into proper alignment, your body has to adapt to the new corrected position. It is during this process that you may become sore, similar to straightening your teeth with braces. The corrected alignment needs to be maintained so that the spine doesn’t return to an abnormal position. This is why it is so important to follow the ongoing recommended therapy on your own that includes exercises and new postural habits.
Your Spine Has Probably Been Misaligned for Years
The body is so resilient that it will adapt to just about anything. Some people see a misaligned spine defined by a hunched posture as a normal part of life. This is seen especially in older people, but it is not normal. You can grow old without losing spinal misalignment and suffering the effects of this debilitating condition.
It is true that people with misaligned spines adapt and function the best they can. However, when your spine is in proper alignment you will feel exceptional wellness, which is the way you are meant to be.
Since your spine may have been misaligned for years, your body will need some time to reposition into normal alignment. This can be achieved with consistent chiropractic adjustments and self-care activities such as exercises and implementing new postural habits. It is during this repositioning process that your body may become sore until it regains its proper alignment and strength.
Common Side Effects You May Experience After a Chiropractic Adjustment
According to a report by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), both common and uncommon side effects of chiropractic spinal adjustments are predominantly physiological. The mind is indeed very powerful, which is why you must have positive expectations of the benefits you receive from the therapy.
The NIH report mentions that side effects of spinal adjustments are common and benign. They also disappear one or two days after treatment and include discomfort in the area of treatment (60%), followed by discomfort in other areas, headache or fatigue (10% each), dizziness and other rare symptoms (less than 5%). Symptoms are mostly reported at the start of the chiropractic therapy series. Patients who have long-term misalignment are more likely to experience side effects.
Moderate Achy and Sore Sensation
After a spinal adjustment, the moderate achy and sore sensation you feel should go away after about one day or two. You should never feel severe pain or discomfort of any kind. If you do, you must contact your chiropractor immediately. Normal discomfort should feel like the sensation you have after an intense workout.
To alleviate the discomfort, it is best to gently stretch and do breathing exercises. As you progress in your chiropractic therapy, the discomfort should lessen and eventually go away.
Part of your chiropractic therapy includes muscle work before the spinal adjustment. You may experience mild bruising on the treated site, but the bruising should never be severe. Always contact your chiropractor when the side effects of your spinal adjustment seem significant.
Improved Digestion and Bowel Movements
When your spine is aligned, all of your muscles and organs receive more nerve signals from your spinal cord. It is surprising to find out that digestive issues and other symptoms in various body systems are caused by spinal misalignment. After your chiropractic adjustments, your digestion will likely improve and you will experience more productive bowel movements.
Mild Flu-Like Symptoms
When you have a cold or flu, your body is getting rid of toxins, which is why it is important not to suppress this process. After a spinal adjustment, your body will eliminate toxins that can cause mild flu-like symptoms. Although these symptoms are normal, they should be mild and should not become chronic. Severe prolonged symptoms indicate a particular health issue that should be examined.
Abnormal Reactions You Should Never Experience After Spinal Adjustments
Some symptoms are not considered to be normal reactions after chiropractic care and require immediate medical attention. The following reactions are rare and indicate a possible underlying medical condition or injury.
Trouble or Difficulty Speaking
Abnormalities such as trouble speaking or loss of speech requires that you seek medical attention immediately. If you have no history of this symptom before your spinal adjustment, it can indicate an injury to your spinal cord.
Movement that is Accompanied by Sharp Pain
Pain is different from the normal soreness you may feel after a spinal adjustment. Contact your chiropractor immediately if you feel sharp shooting pain in any area of your body following the spinal adjustment. This symptom may indicate a strain or other injury.
Inability to Move
Similar to trouble with speech, loss of movement is a neurological medical emergency that requires immediate attention. The inability to move certain parts of your body after chiropractic therapy is not a normal symptom.
Loss of Consciousness or Fainting
While it is normal to feel mildly dizzy after a chiropractic adjustment, it is not normal to faint or lose consciousness. This can indicate an underlying medical condition that needs emergency medical care.
What to Expect During a Chiropractic Adjustment
After your initial examination, the chiropractor will be ready to perform spinal adjustments. During the session, you can expect the doctor to perform the spinal adjustment using a high-velocity low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust that puts the vertebra back into a normal position.
The popping sound you hear or “cracking of the bones” is due to a release of gas. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen are released relieving joint pressure. Patients are encouraged to be relaxed and let go of any tension or resistance both physical and mental. This allows the chiropractor to manipulate your body easily to achieve proper alignment of your spine.
Healthy Nerve Transmission
The spinal cord acts as the neural headquarters for the rest of your body. It receives and sends signals to every organ and muscle of your body. When the spine is misaligned, the spinal cord cannot transmit nerve signals properly.
Spinal misalignment or subluxations compress spinal nerves that cause the dysfunction of organs and muscles which generates an array of symptoms and abnormalities. Once your spine is adjusted back into proper alignment, your brain, spine, organs, and musculoskeletal system can have optimal function and you’ll experience optimal overall health.
Changes to Muscles After Chiropractic Care
The effects of chiropractic therapy cause your muscles to transform both neurally and physically. In addition to the major muscles of your body, you must remember that your heart is a muscle. Also, there are tiny muscles that control the functions of organs and even your blood vessels. All your muscles will start to receive full nerve transmissions from the spinal cord, which will allow them to function at their best.
Additionally, chiropractic adjustments will train your muscles to transform physically to support an aligned spine instead of the abnormal posture you’ve experienced. Muscles that have been underworked will regain strength and those that have been overworked will get relief from the overload bad posture causes.
What to Practice Following Each Chiropractic Session
You can follow a regimen after your chiropractic appointments to help the therapy progress. Below are suggestions you can follow to gain all the benefits from your chiropractic therapy.
Your body will need plenty of water to help with muscle soreness and to flush out toxins that are released after spinal adjustments. The amount of water you should consume each day is based on your weight and daily activity.
Stay Active But Avoid Intense Exercise
Give your muscles a chance to recover after spinal adjustments by doing gentle stretching, walking, swimming, and other soothing activities.
Don’t Engage in Extreme Movements
Avoid intense workouts or activities that require you to do strenuous movements. Your body should remain relaxed and be given the time to rest.
Implement Daily Exercises to Stay Aligned
Spinal alignment highly depends on your daily habits. Stay committed to exercises prescribed by your chiropractor.
Fuel Your Body With Healthy Foods
The more you fuel your body with good nutrition, the easier it will be for it to perform optimally. Eat foods rich in nutrients and water content. Junk food creates toxins in your body that affect your overall function.
Listen to Your Body
Get in tune with your body and practice awareness each day. Your body sends you messages all the time, and if you pay attention, you will gain knowledge of what is happening and how to improve.
Avoid a Sedentary Lifestyle
Prolonged periods of sitting are not healthy for your musculoskeletal system. The human body is supposed to move and stay active. When sitting or lying down, be sure you have ergonomic support that promotes spinal alignment.
What toxins are released after a chiropractic adjustment?
Each person has a unique variety of toxins that are released after a chiropractic adjustment. These chemicals include compounds accumulated from foods, pollutants, and other sources.
How long does toxic release last after a chiropractic adjustment?
Depending on the individual and their condition, toxic release symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
How to sleep after a chiropractic adjustment?
To keep your spine aligned, your sleeping habits should include ergonomic support. The natural curves of your spine should be supported with the use of pillows and a quality mattress. Avoid positions that put stress on your hips, neck, and back. Support your favorite sleeping position by using pillows to align your neck, lumbar spine, hips, knees, and feet in a squared-off position.