Chiropractic Role in Optimizing Movement

Although chiropractic was founded in 1895, there is still much controversy in chiropractic’s role in optimizing health and more narrowly optimizing movement.

The specialty of optimizing movement is not some inconsequential sub-sub-sub specialty of orthopedics.  The benefits of optimizing movement in the healthy and the sick are vast.  By optimizing movement, we can reduce the odds of becoming injured, improve balance, improve athletic ability, reduce pain, reduce degeneration, reduce incidences of orthopedic surgery and improve pre and post-operative rehabilitation costs.  Also by optimizing movement, we can also reduce disability claims.  The benefits can potentially save billions of dollars and increase the activity of millions.

Unfortunately, the field of improving movement belongs to the physical therapist, the occupational therapist, the coaches, and the personal trainers.  The physical therapist and occupational therapists emphasis of primarily catering to the “sick” neglects the majority of the population.  They mostly work in clinics helping the sick move better, not the average to move better.  The coaches and personal trainers work in gyms and sports venues helping the average to move better, not the sick to move better.  Chiropractors have a history of working with both populations.

According to Gray Cook, MSPT, OCS, CSCS, improving movement performance is based on mastering movement skills as you move through three performance tiers.  Each successive movement tier is more specialized then the tier below.  Many injuries can be prevented and performance can be improved by first mastering the basics of movement before attempting to master more complex movements such as a baseball pitch.

Once again, according to Gray Cook, the first tier is called the Functional Movement Tier.  As described in Gray Cook’s book, Movement, Functional Movement Systems, the Functional Movement Tier is “the foundation, and represents the ability to move through fundamental patterns such as squatting, lunging and stepping, disregarding performance and physical capacity.  The only focus is movement quality.”  The issues of speed, endurance, and power are not important in the tier.  The tier’s emphasis is on balance, primary strength, flexibility, and coordination.  Once these basic skills are mastered, then it is safer to progress to the next tier and master a more complex skill set.

Chiropractic can play an ideal role as the practitioner and coach in The Functional Movement Tier.  Their background in the study and practice of spinal and extremity joint mechanics, neuromusculoskeletal coordination and balance, nervous system anatomy and function, biomechanical assessment, and there emphasis on holistic movement and health is ideal.

Chiropractic can also play an important role in the next tier and this will be elaborated in another blog post.

Please contact Dr. Jeffrey Linder of Bryant Park Wellness, NYC with any questions or comments.


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