Everyone who sees a chiropractor expects to feel relieved and better than they were after having chiropractic adjustments. But what if you leave there feeling sore? It’s normal to panic or even doubt the effectiveness of the treatment as such a side effect isn’t something that should be accompanying a highly-certified technique like chiropractic. Contrary to what most patients think, soreness is normal after chiropractic adjustments. So, there’s no reason to be alarmed whatsoever. What’s more, it only lasts for 24 hours or less.
Reasons behind Post-Adjustment Soreness
As mentioned earlier, soreness is a normal side effect following a chiropractic adjustment. More often than not, it’s due to the following reasons:
After having a chiropractic adjustment, your body goes through a natural healing process that’s outlined by temporary soreness and fatigue. We call this reaction retracing and it’s a direct response to subluxations (spinal blockages and misalignments).
Remember, the reason you were feeling pain and discomfort before having an adjustment is that the spinal path was either blocked or crooked. As a result, communication between the nervous system and the rest of the body was hampered.
To restore the communication, a chiropractor resorted to t spinal adjustments which eventually cleared the subluxations. In response, your body becomes temporarily sore, what we are identifying as retracing. Retracing may appear as an unnatural occurrence because it’s characterized by so many events that happen at once.
- Nerve function is restored throughout the body
- Toxins are eliminated from the body
- Body fluids freely flow across the body cells
Usually, the occurrence of the above events puts your body in a temporary panic mode and the eventual effect is soreness.
2. Muscle Discomfort
Muscles are generally sensitive to physical manipulations. After tensed and tight muscles are released following chiropractic adjustments, it’s normal for them to elicit a response. Unfortunately, one of the major responses is soreness. They become tender because they are stretched beyond their natural position.
Sometimes, the pulling of the muscles has to be firm. This may mean extra pressure on the muscles which may make them susceptible to soreness. But you should note that the force applied is calculated. So, it’s safe for your body.
Furthermore, there’s an association between joint manipulation and muscle discomfort. When the joints are manipulated, they send signals to the muscles. The muscles respond by tightening, resulting in tenderness and pain.
3. Muscle Reflexes
Chiropractic adjustments can trigger different reflexes that are mostly felt by the muscles. Since your muscles are moved in an unfamiliar manner, reflexes are triggered to reset muscle tone. Unfortunately, the reaction is often characterized by soreness. But still, most adjustments trigger calm reflexes and so you may not experience soreness, pain or any other negative effect.
Ways to Deal with Post-Adjustment Soreness
Generally, soreness is not expected to last long. So, if you are a little patient, the negative feeling may fade away. Otherwise, you can deal with soreness in the following ways:
Having adjustments more regularly – Most patients experience soreness on their first chiropractic adjustment. This is understandable considering that their muscles are not used to this kind of manipulation. If you do the adjustments more regularly, your muscles become used to them and so you may not be bothered by soreness.
Heat or Ice – Heat is very effective in opening up blood vessels to encourage better circulation. To achieve this, you need to apply heating pads to the sore part. The tip will help to reduce tenderness significantly. Alternatively, you can apply ice packs to freeze the affected area and reduce soreness. It also reduced inflammation and aching. According to a 2015 study, you can alternate the two (ice and heat) for maximum effect.
Cold bath – A cold bath has the same effect as ice packs. It helps to reduce inflammation and aching. For this strategy to work, however, you need to soak your body in cold water for about 5 minutes. This may be hard if you are used to taking warm baths but will do the magic in the long run. After all, it’s only a one-time thing and so it’s worth the sacrifice.
Self-massage – If you can massage the sore part on your own, do it. Self-massage helps to improve blood flow to the affected area and this is critical for faster recovery following soreness. You just need to gently rub the area with your hands for a few seconds. Remember, if you apply too much pressure, the discomfort may intensify.
Stretching exercises – Stretching exercises can help immensely in alleviating soreness. They improve circulation and this, in the long run, promotes maximum healing. You can walk around, swing the affected body part or do any other exercise that your chiropractor recommends.
Rest – Sometimes, all that your muscles need after a chiropractic adjustment is enough rest. You need to take some time to sleep comfortably. Studies have shown that inadequate sleep can boost inflammation and this eventually causes soreness. So, learn to rest your muscles after chiropractic adjustments to avoid this from happening.
Hydration – Hydration is not just important after chiropractic adjustment but also before them when it comes to managing soreness. Taking enough water cushions your muscles against ache and discomfort. Generally, your body self-heals at its best when the fluid level is optimum. So, you need to drink water more regularly to ensure this is the case.
Take coffee – According to research by the University of Georgia, taking two cups of coffee can help you find soreness relief following physical body manipulation and workout. Since chiropractic adjustments are considered physical manipulations, coffee can help. It contains caffeine that blocks adenosine, the chemical the body releases in response to strenuous activity.
Speak to your chiropractor – If you have tried all the above approaches but the soreness persists, then it is logical to speak to your chiropractor. This should be done after 24 hours have passed and soreness is only intensifying. The expert will assess you to determine if the soreness is still a natural reaction or you require further treatment. They can also advise you on other ways to deal with the effect.
The next time you are sore after a chiropractic adjustment, you shouldn’t panic. Not only is the side effect short-lived but there are also ways to manage it as seen above. So, this small setback shouldn’t obscure you from seeing the amazing benefits of chiropractic adjustment.