First of all, this was not a technique that I learned in Chiropractic school. In fact, the president of my school at the time really didn’t want any Activators on campus. Our attending physicians had them in the Out Patient Clinic though and would allow us to use them on patients that didn’t want to be manually adjusted or if they were osteoporotic. The problem was no one showed us how to actually use the darn thing. So, none of us knew what we were doing and we all began to develop this stigma about the activator and its effectiveness. In fact, one of our professors even said that he didn’t think it did anything when it came to adjusting, but he found that it worked great on trigger points.
After graduating, I started working for a chiropractor while I was waiting to take my last part of National Boards and get my license. She was an Advanced Proficiency Activator practitioner and exposed me to how the instrument was really supposed to be used. She treated me regularly, which I will be forever grateful to her for as I was destroyed from chiropractic school. Picture all of us just learning how to adjust on each other. It wasn’t always the smartest to volunteer to be the genie pig for those classes. It also didn’t help that someone managed to run into my car when I moved home either. So, she treated me with the Activator and low and behold I was getting better. She told me about the Denver seminar that was happening that April. At this point, I still wasn’t totally convinced that it was going to be my preferred method of treatment, but I wanted to at least learn how to use it correctly so that I could benefit my patients that needed to be treated with a more gentle approach.
That April 2005, I attended my first Activator Methods seminar. I was blown away the first morning by all of the research that was presented and began to wonder, if I had attended a “research-based” school, then why didn’t we learn this technique? This feeling only grew stronger once we split into our smaller groups for the remainder of the weekend and I was exposed to the nuts and bolts of this amazing technique. It is so in depth in neurology, orthopedics and chiropractic that I though anyone should be considered a fool if they at least look into this technique.
There was another bit of appeal here as well. I was going into practice on my own (I practice with my family, but I’m the sole chiropractor in the office). This is something that less than 10% of the graduates from Chiropractic school consider. Normally, the majority of graduates go on to an associate position for at least 2 years before trying to go off on their own. Let’s face it, as new chiropractors we basically suck. We have had next to no clinical experience but a lot of book knowledge. In every profession, I believe it’s been said that once you graduate and begin working in your trade, that’s where the real teaching begins. As a result, I wasn’t the most confident chiropractor at this point. I knew that if I ended up with patients that were exactly like my mom I was going to be screwed. Not even my attending physician in the Out Patient Clinic at Chiropractic College could adjust her neck and she had been a chiropractic physician for over 20 years! I just knew that I needed another tool in my bag of tricks and had decided Activator was going to be it.
Well, it’s 2011 and I solely am an Activator practitioner. I honestly have never manually adjusted anyone in my office. Some patients will ask if I do “that kind of chiropractic” to which I reply “yes, but let’s try this first.” I go onto explain to them why I prefer this method over the manual adjusting. For one, it has a system of checks and balances, which allows for me to know where you need to be adjusted, how you need to be adjusted, did I correct the misalignment and then just as importantly, where not to adjust. Secondly, I get to be much more precise in where I’m adjusting due to the size of the instrument in comparison to my hand. I explain that when adjusting we want to be as accurate and precise as we can so to just affect the vertebra that needs to be adjusted. Just because a vertebra has lost some of its range of motion, doesn’t mean that the body has just lost the motion. No, somewhere else either above or below that area starts to move more. As a result, the brain makes the muscles tighten up as it recognizes that those other areas are moving too much. Now, if I adjust those areas that are moving too much, what do you think is going to happen? Simply, I would be reinforcing those muscles to be tight and continue to protect those areas that are moving too much. Eventually, the brain would fire the muscles because they’re not getting the job done and would then have the bone start laying down more bone to provide stability to that area. This would result in bone spurs potentially. So you can see that precision is extremely important. One of the last things that I explain to patients is that the Activator Method of chiropractic is EXTREMELY reproducible amongst proficiency rated Activator practitioners. I know that if my patient moves, I can simply look up an Activator doctor in their new town and refer them in. That patient’s care will pick up right where we left off. Dr. Fuhr, the developer of the Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique has tried to standardize chiropractic as much as possible.
I could go on forever, but this is the main reason why I have decided on the Activator Method of chiropractic. If you haven’t REALLY experienced a true treatment from a proficiency rated Activator doctor, then you really should try it out.