The Art of Adjusting in the Gonstead Chiropractic System
A reputation is a powerful thing. Dr Gonstead understood this in building one of the largest chiropractic clinics ever.
And he understood that the gentleness involved in the chiropractic adjustment was a part of this reputation. However, he also understood the other half of this equation, being that his system was designed to deliver chiropractic adjustments that were deep and effective, and created change.
Change that was targeted at the deepest level of the spine, the intervertebral disc.
Which is where the art of adjusting in the Gonstead chiropractic System comes in.
Any art form is a display of a contradiction. Or if you prefer, in contrast. Light vs. dark. Loud vs. soft. Heart-thumping speed vs. stillness.
And the art of adjusting is no different than any other art in this manner of contrast.
Especially in the Gonstead System, where Dr. Gonstead was renowned for being extremely gentle (“it felt like both hands were supporting me like a pair of pillows,” being the old often-repeated quotation, or something similar), but also for creating powerful and lasting changes.
Thus the contrast involved in the art of adjusting is creating powerful, deep change while at the same time being very gentle and precise. And just like any other art form, we don’t master or perfect it.
Instead, what we do is pursue mastery and perfection.
And one way that a very experienced individual, who had been a patient of some of the most experienced practitioners of the Gonstead System, described it, (based on his encounters with those who had spent decades in this pursuit), was this.
He described it like the action of playing a piano.
“All motion of the fingers, wrist, forearm, upper arm and whole body torso is utilized in such a way as to produce the desired tone from the piano, which can be transferred or visualized to the act of moving a vertebrae.
You must learn to accurately time the commencement of movement by accurately gauging the degree of muscular activity. This gauging of movement is done through the needs of the key (vertebrae).
We must learn to distinguish the particular set of muscular contractions (active and passive) which will best serve to induce the correct movement to produce key tone (adjusting the vertebrae).”
In other words, relaxation of the hand producing the movement allows for the greatest control.
While, just like a piano player may use just a drop of a finger, like in a quiet concert hall.
Or, if they choose, can be much more dynamic. Like Dr. John delivering some hard-hitting, enthusiastic rock ‘n roll.
Either way, a great musician produces something far beyond the individual sounds they produce. And this happens by the coordination of their timing, rhythm, their complementing their fellow musicians, and all of the chosen variables come together to produce powerful, compelling music.
According to Clapp, the art of adjusting is the same:
“When you have the relaxed use of the hand, arms, and body against the vertebrae coupled with a gradual but “ever increasing” speed towards the end result, the movement of the structure, you have succeeded.”
“You are relaxed, but in order for you to be AS ONE with the Vertebrae you must feel the upward recoil of the resisting structure (a piano key or a vertebrae) then you have the necessary sensation.”
And just like the hammer of a piano key is hidden from sight, but can produce beautiful music by striking the hidden string, the spine is also somewhat hidden.
But, just like a pursuit of mastering music can produce the feeling of being at one with a song, same thing, according to Clapp. If you have the right combination of factors, along with powerful, coordinated relaxation –
“Then you are one with the vertebrae.”
And like a musician can glean insights from the reaction of his audience, we can listen and learn from the insight of patients.
Appreciation to Frank Clapp, author of “The Act of Touch,” quoted here, and to those that have pursued and been involved in the pursuit of mastery of the Gonstead System of Chiropractic.
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