Back to Basics

You eat well, exercise, and get plenty of sleep, but your neck and back still feel achy at the end of a long day. How about trying a chiropractic adjustment? You just might be surprised how good you feel.

Hair42-22555780During an adjustment, you simply lie down and relax as a chiropractor gently manipulates various areas of your neck, shoulders, and back. Advocates believe it is a safe and natural therapy to help boost the immune system, support healthy tissue function, and promote good health. (And who can’t use a little hands-on pampering?)

Some research contends that chiropractic adjustments are safer than drugs and surgical treatments of the neck and back. An adjustment by a licensed chiropractor can alleviate pressure and promote relaxation of paraspinal muscles, release tension between discs, and temporarily enhance blood cells’ ability to fight infection.

That’s a lot of bang for the buck at about $30 to $50 a session, and it’s often covered by insurance. Time-starved patients especially like that adjustments often can be done in about 10 minutes.

Dr. Lisa Muller Muñoz of Bernards Chiropractic in Basking Ridge explains, “People of all ages can benefit from a series of adjustments or even a single visit.  Certainly, one is better than none.”

She adds, “I personally have had chiropractic adjustments for the last 25 years. Chiropractic as a lifestyle is a way to remove stress from the nervous system so that all the body’s systems operate efficiently.” And Muñoz knows something about fitness. A former world-class runner, she once won the Maine Coast Marathon in an impressive 2:52:25 and was a contender for the 1984 Olympic trials.

Advocates of chiropractic say that, because the spine is the lifeline of the nervous system, a well-functioning spine and healthy nervous system can actually help the body heal itself. When the nervous system functions properly, the cells, tissues, and organs are better prepared to resist disease.

Chiropractic adjustments also have been known to help alleviate headaches, fatigue, allergies, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and irritability. Expectant mothers report easier pregnancies and deliveries, and some parents even swear by chiropractic for their children.

In fact, Muñoz, whose husband also is a chiropractor, says her 11-year-old daughter has had regular adjustments since she was a mere two hours old, and the very healthy child has never been given medications.

Doctors of chiropractic do not prescribe drugs or perform surgery, but they are well-educated with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree after passing a demanding four-part national board examination.  They also must apply to and be accepted by agovernment or professional licensing board and pass yet another stringent test before hanging their shingles.

There are about 50,000 practitioners in the U.S.  Doctors of Chiropractic can recommend therapeutic and rehabilitation exercises; provide dietary, nutritional, and lifestyle counseling; and are trained to perform adjustments.

But are adjustments really necessary for those who exercise regularly?  “Working out is helpful to strengthen muscles, but a trip to the gym won’t remove a vertebra’s pressure on a nerve. Only a chiropractic adjustment will do that,” Muñoz says. “If you have back problems or abnormal spinal function, a gym workout could actually put added strain and pressure on spinal joints and a nervous system that already might be stressed.”

Next time you feel like pampering yourself with a pedicure, facial, or massage, consider chiropractic in your mix of “feel-good” services. It’s just one more way to nurture your total self.

For help finding a chiropractor, visit the American Chiropractic Society at

Pamper your kids’ backs, too
Unfortunately, for some students,  back-to-school month means a high risk of back injury. Kids are advised to “lighten up” their backpacks because more and more children are complaining of back pain as a result of cramming too much “stuff” into their backpacks.

The New Jersey Association of Chiropractors ( supports the Backpack Safety America program and recommends that the weight of a loaded backpack should not be more than 15 percent of the body weight of the wearer, particularly with small children. Also, students should pack the heaviest objects first so that they are carried lower and closer to the body.

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