Many patients presenting to our clinic relate how their actual injury occurred years before. In most cases, these patients’ bodies have adapted to their new asymmetrical position long before they see us. For patients to sustainably recover from difficult neck injuries, we need to understand muscle memory and make it work for us.
As NUCCA chiropractors, we want you to enjoy life more, need us less, and send us your friends and family. Maintaining your NUCCA correction is the best way to have fewer return visits to our office, reduce your health care expenses, and be able to get on with your life. Perhaps you’ve already heard the term muscle memory, but if you’re like most people, you might not really understand it.
One of the most frustrating things for patients, and NUCCA chiropractors alike, is when patients aren’t able to hold their spinal correction. For you as a patient, this often means more return visits to manage your health issues. For NUCCA chiropractors, it tells us that you don’t yet have the physical ability to handle the stressors of life without ‘blowing the fuse’.
Let’s take a few minutes to help you understand muscle memory so you can become less reliant on us.
Dr. Jeff Scholten
The Vital Posture™ Clinic
How to harness the power of muscle memory
During the initial consultation for their neck injuries, most patients tell me that they would like a more sustainable solution to their problem. We want to help you be less dependent on us over time; harnessing your muscle memory will optimize recovery from a neck injury. Before you can understand how muscle memory works, we have to go back to school for a quick muscle tutorial.
There are three basic kinds of muscle contractions:
Reflexive contractions respond and support something else that is happening in your body, like your opposite calf contracting when you reach for something on an high shelf. Active overuse muscle contractions occur with any physical activity beyond your normal, such as the tight back and sore legs you feel after returning to a sport after many years. When a muscle is held at a certain position for an extended period of time, it slowly molds itself to that new length (shorter or longer)—this is often called muscle memory and is due to habitual contractions.
The good news is that this adaptation to muscle length is a dual trait, and muscles can habitually remodel to support an increased or reduced distance across joints; it takes time, but it is predictable. In the case of your NUCCA adjustment, our clinical experience and training in muscle physiology have helped us understand that it typically takes approximately 6-10 months for your muscles to support your new, more appropriate, postural position. At this point, a switch occurs in which muscles stop tending to pull you towards asymmetrical posture and instead start pulling you towards symmetrical posture. The only requirement for effective muscular remodeling is that the majority of time is spent in your new, correctly aligned position.
True recovery happens when you need us less!
Ultimately, our current health status is the sum total of the constructive (adaptive) and destructive (maladaptive) forces. A major maladaptive stress that we can influence is the muscle memory that may be supporting your joints in an incorrect position.
Unfortunately, when you’ve injured your neck it will never return to its uninjured state, as ligaments have been damaged to various degrees. Luckily, this doesn’t mean this injury needs to get in the way of doing the things you want or having a full and enjoyable life. The better you hold your alignment, the shorter time this recovery takes—making muscle memory work for you. Stretching during the initial trial period of care supports your alignment by enhancing the elastic nature of your muscles and thus mitigating the negative influence of maladaptive muscle memory.
When you begin care in our office, we typically check you weekly to minimize the chances of a relapse to your misaligned position. As you make the transition from your initial trial period of care to recovery care, it is important to return within a few days of losing your alignment to optimize recovery speed. After recovery is complete (meaning muscle memory has had a chance to become adaptive), we recommend giving your body a few days to work towards reducing your imbalance on its own before returning for a check-up.
Trust us with your difficult neck injury
At The Vital Posture™ Clinic, we treat imbalances in the neck that, if left untreated, can result in neck pain and neck discomfort. Although neck pain specialists don’t exist in Canada yet, there are people that have different amounts of knowledge regarding diagnosing neck problems and treating neck pain. Our focus is the neck; our intervention starts with NUCCA procedures and is augmented by our advanced post-graduate training in Pain Management and Advanced diagnostic imaging (such as MRI and CBCT), and our diplomate training in other less common chiropractic neck interventions like Blair, Knee Chest, HIO/Toggle, & Orthospinology techniques.
When you have a complicated neck issue that isn’t responding to conservative care or isn’t stabilizing as well as you would like, let us help you try to find sustainable relief from your injury.
If you crack your neck from time to time, you’re not alone! You know just how good it can feel to relieve that aching stiffness.
We see many people who habitually crack their joints, from their knuckles and toes to their hips and ankles. Any joint can be popped or cracked and provide a feeling of instant relief.
However, the grim truth behind needing to frequently crack your joints and neck indicates that there is an underlying problem.
By answering this frequently asked question about neck cracking, we hope to raise awareness of the stressors contributing to the tension or stiffness that’s urging you to crack it in the first place. We’ll cover how this can have an impact on your other joints, and we’ll share some potential solutions.
Dr. Jeffrey Scholten
The Vital Posture™Clinic
Neck cracking is the act of popping or cracking your neck when a ‘kink’ is felt. A sore or stiff neck can be the result of sitting in a rigid pose for too long or craning your neck too much, causing a buildup of pressure in the joints.
Most of us know the feeling of a joint cracking. This can happen regularly throughout our lives, and the release of pressure often feels good leading most people to assume that it’s only natural. Many begin to believe they actually need to crack their neck to relax or ease their neck pain, and many also assume that the sound is created by ligaments popping, or cartilage moving against cartilage and releasing tension. This is incorrect.
Your joints and bones are lubricated by a fluid which contains carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen gases. Contrary to popular belief, the real reason behind why you hear that ‘pop’ sound is actually due to the gas bubbles in your joints being released.
The force you put into your neck to make it crack results in the release of these gases—this makes the ‘pop’ or ‘crack’ sound that you hear.
When you crack your neck or any other parts of your body due to an ache or stiffness, you are releasing gas bubbles when you temporarily relax your joints and muscles.
Cracking your neck, or any other joint, may seem harmless, but by forcibly cracking your joints you’re moving your bones in a sudden, stressed range of motion and you could create more problems than you solve. Regularly cracking your neck can quickly throw your spinal alignment off balance and lead to potential further issues for the rest of your body.
Cracking your own neck creates temporary relief, and you’re quite likely to crack it again in the course of the day or hour depending on how sore or stiff you feel. I’ve had patients start care who were cracking their own neck every couple of minutes to try and get relief from their neck discomfort.
Neck cracking can contribute to the following conditions:
You should see a NUCCA chiropractor or seek medical advice immediately if your self-manipulation causes:
Those who habitually crack their own neck don’t fix the underlying cause of their neck strain or soreness. They typically continue to experience neck pain and may even aggravate the condition.
The habit is cyclical. The more a joint stretches and relaxes, the stiffer and sorer the joint often becomes leading to more cracking and popping.
When a bone moves within its appropriate and optimal range of motion, you should never hear joints grinding or popping. In fact, it would be very difficult to forcibly ‘self-crack’ a healthy neck.
If your posture is distorted, every joint in your body could be moving through a compromised range of motion.
Compensation by your muscle activity and postural alignment is not limited to the neck, but it travels up and down your body in complicated patterns. While compensation patterns are unique to everyone, the most common clinical signs and symptoms associated with muscle strain include:
Real-Time Visualization of Joint Cavitationhttp://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0119470
Chronic Neck Pain: Making the Connection Between Capsular Ligament Laxity and Cervical Instability
The most dangerous doctor, aside from one that doesn’t care, is the one that thinks they know it all. Health care is complex, and delivery needs to be personalized and dynamic.
It’s time to be a bad patient! In recent years, many health care consumers (possibly including you) have evolved beyond just doing what their doctor told them and have begun to ask questions. This involvement has created tremendous frustration in some authoritarian doctors that demand obedience from their patients.
Do you suffer from back, shoulder, or neck pain? Migraines? Maybe jaw pain? Have you tried various pain-reducing techniques over the years, only to experience disappointment over and over again?
If so, you’re not alone.
Almost all of the patients we’ve seen at our NUCCA clinic have expressed their initial exhaustion in finding the right treatment for their pain.
Our doctors apply a structural correction of the head and neck which (for many people) is an unexpectedly effective form of chiropractic treatment.
NUCCA, or National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association, has thoroughly researched correcting the imbalances of the neck and how this may resolve many painful symptoms such as neck stiffness and poor posture. Backed by NUCCA’s ongoing development and research, we apply effective treatment methods individualized to each person.
In fact, many of our patients have called it their saving grace.
NUCCA care is a set of procedures that focus on re-aligning the upper neck and the head. Using a precise adjustment approach, we aim to restore balance and correct posture to the body.
NUCCA founder, Dr. Ralph Gregory, wanted to help his patients find relief from their suffering. He had such incredible success that other chiropractors requested that they teach them his upper spinal or upper neck adjustment techniques.
The difference they saw between his patients’ results and theirs was astonishing. Other chiropractic techniques available at the time simply weren’t as effective as what Dr. Gregory was doing.
I know that a lot of you reading this aren’t familiar with this form of assisting people in pain. So, I decided I would answer some of the questions I get on a regular basis as a Calgary NW chiropractor.
My hope is that you’ll experience that this is a viable treatment alternative – one that might very well eliminate your pain and restore balance in your body.
Dr. Jeffrey Scholten
The Vital Posture™ Clinic
For those asking! Here is what a NUCCA appointment looks like. It is a super light touch & there is no crazy cracking feeling. It’s definitely a gentle approach and it is pretty different than anything I had ever experienced. I can instantly feel the difference and it literally feels as though my entire spine then jengas into place. I don’t know how else to explain it! 📍: @vitalposture 👨🏼⚕️: @ty.d.wilson 📸: @abdulb_ahmed #nuccachiropractic #nucca #xray #visualresults #transformation #concussionrecovery #concussions #teamsophrosync #sophrosyncyyc #vitalposture #yycchiro #yycchiropractor #yycchiropractic #yycrehab #yyclife #yycliving #yyclove #yycfit #yycfitness #yycfitfam #yyc #calgary #calgarychiro #calgarychiropractor #calgarychiropractic
NUCCA treatment has been described as underwhelming, as it’s never painful. There is no abrupt movement involved in a NUCCA adjustment and the neck never leaves a neutral position. The doctor applies a short, subtle pressure that takes 3-5 seconds to make small corrections to the position of the head and neck.
The patient feels only a light pressure where the hand meets the neck. The intensity of the NUCCA adjustment is similar to having your pulse taken. In fact, most patients barely feel the adjustment.
NUCCA care is very case-specific. It includes a thorough analysis, part of which is taking measurements and x-rays.
The diagnostic tools we use show how and where a patient’s upper spine is misaligned. From there, the precise corrective force necessary will be calculated to gently bring the head, the neck, and the atlas back into alignment.
At a NUCCA appointment, the patient lies on their side, with their head supported in a neutral position, while the chiropractor places his/her hands on the side of the neck near their ear. Light pressure is applied to make the adjustment, which shifts the delicate bones and alleviates interference created when they are in the wrong position.
I wanted to share with all of you an amazing visual I got to see this morning! I have mentioned a few times I have been working closely with Dr. Wilson at The Vital PostureTM Clinic where he practices as a NUCCA chiropractor! When I first met with Dr. Wilson I was having severe concussion aftermath and clearly you can see my body was not on the mend! After some amazing, interesting and educational appointments here we are! We went from 5 degrees of tilt to 1.7 degrees! We still have a little bit of work to do but I will forever be thankful for the progress I have been able to make just by implementing this practice into my wellness. I can’t wait to see what this partnership can do for my rehab as well as my fitness and strength training in the future. If you’d like to learn more DM me or reach out to @ty.d.wilson to book in your assessment! It’s the best decision I have made. 📍: @vitalposture #nuccachiropractic #nucca #xray #visualresults #transformation #concussionrecovery #concussions #teamsophrosync #sophrosyncyyc #vitalposture #yycchiro #yycchiropractor #yycchiropractic #yycrehab #yyclife #yycliving #yyclove #yycfit #yycfitness #yycfitfam #yyc #calgary #calgarychiro #calgarychiropractor #calgarychiropractic
NUCCA chiropractors understand how leery a person might be at the idea of neck manipulations. Strictly speaking, NUCCA procedures don’t involve manipulation. This form of treatment has also been shown to be very safe.
Many have been surprised at how at ease they are during their NUCCA visits.
Our ability to perform adjustments to the upper neck that feel like you’re having your pulse taken, is due the sophistication of our analysis of joint angles and the relative position of the vertebrae. When the upper spine is out of alignment, it’s often off by no more so than by a 16th of an inch, therefore precision is necessary.
NUCCA is an unexpectedly cost-effective form of treatment. Our goal as health care practitioners is not just to relieve your pain, but to also correct what went wrong at the source. In turn, we aim to reduce your need for frequent visits. Most importantly, correcting your body’s imbalance may eliminate your reliance on painkillers, allowing your body to heal itself.
More care is typically needed in the early stages of treatment but will gradually be less necessary as your muscles stabilize your new postural balance.
The initial visit will cost $149 and you’ll receive a comprehensive consultation, postural and gait analysis, baseline testing, and a preliminary exam.
Your second visit is when your first adjustment will take place. It will take 2 to 3 hours of your time and what you will spend varies based on what is required due to the complexity of your situation. The doctor will intensively go over the problem areas to ensure that you also understand the findings of your diagnosis before your actual treatment begins. You will then receive your first NUCCA correction.
If you are a candidate for NUCCA care, treatment fees average to $175/month during the recovery phase. Your subsequent visits ensure that your post-adjustment spine is precisely in place and doing what it’s supposed to do: correct imbalances and support healing.
Ultimately, the complexity of your injury and the duration of your treatment will define the total cost.
You can decide to continue or stop treatment at any time.
Depending on how long ago the injury occurred, the patient usually requires follow-up visits to support the correction and for sufficient healing to occur. Most people with chronic conditions graduate from weekly visits within a couple of months and finish with recovery care within a year.
As every patient is different, it may take several adjustment visits to restore balance in the body.
Many tend to see the body as a series of separate systems.
Granted, we all have respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems just to name a few, but it’s inaccurate to think that all of they all work independently.
No part of your body exists on its own.
Each system is, in some way, connected to the others. An imbalance in one can contribute to an imbalance and compensation in another.
Similarly, issues in the upper neck can contribute to pain throughout the body, not just in that one specific area. The discomfort you’re experiencing might very well be related to a neck imbalance.
We hope this helps demystify NUCCA chiropractic care and why our team stand by this technique of rebalancing your body to assist you in finding relief from your pain.
Just as ‘All-you-can-eat’ buffets typically don’t promote healthy eating habits, getting adjusted more often doesn’t typically create better health outcomes.
NUCCA is not quite old enough to deserve a pension, but it is certainly old enough to have some experience with life.
How do you know if you’re healthy? Many people think they are healthy if they feel good. Although feeling good is important, and feeling badly can indicate that something is wrong, using how you feel as the only definition of health isn’t good enough.
One of the best parts about spending winter in Calgary is the break we’re given from the cold by our periodic chinooks.
Whether it’s shooting baskets or reducing misalignments, the training never stops for a professional. Iron sharpens iron, and at The Vital PostureTM Clinic our doctors spend significant time each week training and learning together.