Exercise and chiropractic adjustments are thought to be essential components of a healthy lifestyle. Both have been reported to provide a wide range of benefits for your physical and mental well-being, and when combined, it is assumed that they can have even greater benefits. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the benefits of exercise and chiropractic adjustments, and if combining them is beneficial for your overall health.
The Benefits of Exercise for Chronic Pain
Regular exercise has been shown to provide many health benefits. Recent has shown that exercise is extremely helpful for individuals experiencing chronic pain. These benefits include:
- Reduced pain: Exercise can help to reduce your pain! While exercise is often associated with worsening a person’s pain experience, it can have an analgesic effect. When done correctly, exercises can reduce the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and Tumour Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF alpha) in your body. These are inflammatory markers that are closely associated to pain. In other words, exercise literally have anti-inflammatory properties!
- Increase robustness: A lot of people think of exercise helps with pain by making your muscles stronger. Sure, being stronger can contribute to a quicker recovery but that is not all! There are other physical benefits to exercise such as better muscle endurance, improve joint mobility, less stiffness, reduce risk of injury (aka more resilient!) that can all work together to help to reduce chronic pain.
- Improved mood: Have you noticed that your pain is less when you are happy? Most people report higher pains at work and lower pain levels when they are on holiday! The good news is exercise can help to make you happy. Most of you would be familiar with endorphins aka the body’s happy hormones. Many studies have reported that endorphins levels increase with exercise. On top of that, exercise also help decrease stress hormone (i.e., cortisol) and increase other hormones like serotonin and dopamine which all work to improve mood and decrease anxiety.
- Improved sleep: Exercise can help to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia, which can be a common problem for individuals experiencing chronic pain. If your sleep quality is getting affected because of your pain, you will definitely want to consider exercise as therapy.
There are many physiological pathways that make exercise a great choice for chronic pain treatment. This is well supported by scientific research and clinical guidelines. We understand that you may be worried that exercise can make your pain worse. Your concern is valid! Doing unsuitable exercises can definitely make your condition worsen. This is why exercise as therapy is best done with a healthcare professional such as a chiropractor.
The Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments
Chiropractic adjustments involve the manipulation of the spine and other joints and was thought to improve joint mobility, reduce pain, and enhance nervous system function. Some of the proposed benefits of chiropractic adjustments include:
- Improved joint mobility and range of motion
- Reduced pain and inflammation
- Enhanced nervous system function
- Improved posture
In recent years, however, research does not support chiropractic adjustments as a superior treatment option for chronic pain. All clinical guidelines consider spinal adjustments to be a second-line treatment or adjective (i.e., optional) treatment for muscle and joint pain. In other words, adjustments are not the best treatment money can buy.
We know this is hard to believe and will probably conflict what most of you believe. So, we will share the scientific studies with you so you can fact check for yourself.
No real improvement in pain after chiropractic adjustments
In 2019, a team of chiropractors — yes, chiropractors — found that there is no difference between real spinal adjustments and fake adjustments immediately after treatment, 15 minutes after treatment, or 30 minutes after treatments. This study used a specific measuring tool to measure pressure pain threshold and they took measurements not just from the lower back but also calves, shoulders, hands, and feet.
Because there is no difference between real and fake treatments, the perceived improvements from getting adjusted is really just a placebo effect.
Spinal manipulation is an ineffective treatment for chronic pain
A study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2020 that compared spinal manipulation to a placebo. The study included 162 patients with lower back pain, and the researchers found that there was no difference in pain and disability scores between those who received the spinal manipulation and those who received the placebo. This means that spending thousands of dollars on getting your spine cracked may not be worth the cost.
No improvement in pain in real life chiropractic setting
People often dismiss research findings because the studies are conducted in a controlled environment, which may not accurately reflect what happens in a real-life clinic with actual patients. This is a valid criticism, which is why some studies are conducted in real-life settings. For instance, a study conducted in Danish chiropractic clinics in 2022 found that spinal manipulation did not alleviate pain for real patients.
The Benefits of Combining Exercise and Chiropractic Adjustments
By now, you should realise that there are no benefits to adding chiropractic adjustments to exercise. A study published published in February this year affirms that adding spinal adjustments to exercise neither helps with pain nor quality of life. If you’re experiencing musculoskeletal pain or other health problems, drop us a message below to find out how we can help you find freedom from pain.
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Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.
Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.
*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.