Written by Dr. Matthew Alvord DC, DPhCS
There are specific phases we go through when we heal, regardless of how we feel along the way. Knowing about them can give us perspective on what is going on behind the scenes. It can also encourage us to stick to what it will take to get better.
Healing phases occur when we are new to chiropractic care or if we haven’t had consistent care. The longer we go without care, the more conditioned our body is to dysfunction and the more time and repetition is required to get right again.
The analogy of a garden is a good way to describe the nature of healing. The various plants are the organs in your body and the soil is the tissues between your organs. The water hose leading to the garden is your nervous system and the water is the nerve supply communicated by your nervous system. The kink in the hose is the interference.
As soon as the water hose becomes kinked, the garden begins to wilt even though it is still green. Over time, the entire garden becomes dry, hard and barren. The spinal misalignment kinking your spine also causes dysfunction immediately, although you may feel fine. Eventually, your entire body is suffering from one little misalignment.
Unkinking the water hose instantly allows normal water flow to the garden again. Water doesn’t have to be added to the hose because the water is just waiting to flow. The garden may look the same for a short time, but the return of growth has become possible again.
Taking pressure off your nervous system starts the process of healing from the first adjustment. Nothing needs to be added to your body because your inborn intelligence is just waiting to express normal function again. You may not feel better at first, but your body can now begin to heal itself.
As the hose remains unkinked, water continues to supply the thirsty garden though everything still looks dead and lifeless. The soil is hard, cracked and resistant to absorbing the same water it so easily received when it was green. As water gradually starts to soak back into the soil, the momentum of a constant water supply again makes the soil soft and supple to support roots and life. Once the water seeps deeper through the surface, the seeds and roots can get water for the first time again.
In the first few weeks of chiropractic care, inflammation, spasms and pain begin to reduce but are still present. These are important strategies that your body uses to protect you while proper nerve function returns to your body. It is still early in the healing process, so they gradually reduce until they are no longer needed. A clear nerve supply allows your entire body to continue to move out of a survival state towards a thriving state. With consistent care, every cell in your body begins to come alive with full function.
In the garden, the soil has become fertile for new growth. It may be very obvious on the top soil at this point, but lots of good things are happening below the surface. One of the virtues of gardening is patience, and healing is no different! During this phase, little green signs start appearing as the faithful gardener continues to keep the water supply open. The seeds have begun to open under the surface as new life is springing!
It takes several months for your nervous system to begin regenerating because it is one of the slowest healing tissues in your body. If you are new to chiropractic or have never had consistent care, it may be the first opportunity for you to heal at this level. Since most spinal subluxations occur as an infant, almost everyone you know has some form of nervous system degeneration from many years of interference.
This phase takes the longest but the garden becomes the greenest. Since the first signs of life came from the ground, the garden is now on the path to full bloom. There is a gardening saying that we can’t make an acorn into an oak tree, but what we can do is supply the resources for the acorn to grow itself. Once it is given the green light for growth, the seed knows exactly what it needs to do to become a perfect oak tree.
In your body, this longest phase is about rehabilitating everything in your body to its maximum potential. Depending on the length of time and extent of the damage, it will take several years or longer but it’s worth it! Your innate intelligence is literally rehabilitating your body in a way no other expert can, remolding and remodeling all its tissues to optimal function. Creation of new tissue also occurs during this time as the brain rewires its connections as well.
It is said that we are either growing or we are dying, so anything we care about must be maintained. A robust garden or a healthy body will become weak again if they are not continually supplied with what allowed them to get there.
When the garden finally reaches its best, this is not the time to let the garden hose kink again. The water supply has to continue to nourish the garden. When you fly over Arizona, you can see the outline of lawns and gardens and it easy to see where someone cares for a plot of land and what happens to the unkept land right next to it. Everything we want to stay green needs a constant supply of water, otherwise it will turn brown again. We have all experienced how quickly a plant starts to wilt when it is removed from its water supply.
With consistent chiropractic care, you reach your full potential. Just like anything important in your life, regular care is required to keep your body working at its best and to maintain the nerve supply that allowed it to get well in the first place. Nothing can replace the uniqueness of water to a garden and nothing can replace the uniqueness of chiropractic adjustments to allow you to be your best.
You’ve put the time and effort into your garden and now you can enjoy the harvest of health!