Line It Up: The Benefits of Seeing a Chiropractor

Keep the spine in line with restorative and preventative chiropractic maintenance.


photos by JOHN ALTDORFER

I could feel the sweat begin as my car crawled along Forbes Avenue in Oakland. It felt like I was catapulted into a twisted survival game. The object? Make it from one block to the next without taking out an oblivious pedestrian. Or two. Or 10. Everyone seemed far more interested in staring down at their iPhones than at the line of oncoming traffic about to turn them into hood ornaments.

“Tech neck. We walk around hunched over our iPhones like this, not paying attention,” a friend explains, contorting into a modern-day Quasimodo.

I realized I had seen that posture before. Well, felt it at least. Not while crossing the street, but while writing on my laptop, which is why I find myself face down on an adjustment table at Quitko Family Chiropractic.

“It’s easy to blame muscles on everything, but it is all about your posture and alignment,” says chiropractor Rich Quitko. “When you’re sitting at the desk, what’s happening? You’re leaning forward, looking down. Doing that 8, 10, 12 hours without taking breaks puts the head out of alignment and then it starts to pull on all the muscles of the neck, causing them to get very tight and go into spasm.”

Based on the sign hanging in his window, I guess I’m in good company: Relief from Headaches, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Shoulder Arm Pain, Hip Pain, Carpal Tunnel, Chronic Pain, Sports Injuries.  

“The crux of the treatment is to find where you are out of alignment and get that corrected so you feel better and you function better. I could massage you every single day, but until you fix the underlying cause, the pain is always going to come back,” Quitko says, rubbing BioFreeze pain relief gel into my neck and shoulders before sticking some electrode stims and ice on the tender points to relax the muscles.

Head and neck up, I’m reminded. Never bend forward at the waist. All things that immediately compromise my spine’s natural curve. “When you get chronically out of normal alignment year after year and you start to get arthritic in those joints because you are out of alignment, there becomes a point of no return. It’s rust inside of those joints, and they’re not going to move anymore,” he says.

After a few minutes, he removes the stims and begins adjusting my neck, shoulders and back to realign my bones; spinal adjusting is the main focus of the treatment to put it back in alignment, he says. I also get another reminder, said sternly with a smile, to stop hunching over my keyboard.  

“If we look at the X-rays, and you’re really out of alignment, you need to get that fixed,” he says. “If you don’t, what’s the prognosis 5, 10, 15 years down the road? It’s people of all ages, not just the elderly, that you see using canes, walkers, wheelchairs. And that’s all preventable.”   

What I noticed afterward: Taking frequent, 2-minute breaks from sitting at the computer just to move around and stretch did wonders for my cramping muscles.
 

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