5 Ways Chiropractors Adjust the Neck

There are five different patient-positions that chiropractors can choose from when adjusting a person’s neck. The photos above depict each of these positions.

1. Supine: This is the term used to describe when a patient is lying face upward. This is the most commonly used position amongst chiropractors for neck manipulation. It’s the “twist & pop” style taught in every chiropractic school in the world, and is commonly used in conjunction with the “Diversified” adjusting technique.

2. Seated: This position is most often associated with the Gonstead technique, and is performed while the patient sits on a chair or bench. There’s less of a “twisting” effect, but an audible “pop” is generally heard/felt.

3. Knee-Posture: Also known as “Knee Chest,” this position is used by a small segment of Upper Cervical chiropractors. Patients kneel on the floor and lean forward, placing their head on a padded bench. While the photo above doesn’t show this, the patient’s head is turned to one side during the adjustment. Three techniques currently advocate this position: Kale, KCUCS, and IUCCA.

4. Side-Posture (Lateral): This position is also used almost exclusively by Upper Cervical chiropractors. The patient rests in a neutral position on their side. It doesn’t involve any twisting or popping, and many consider it to be the most gentle of the five. Several techniques utilize this position including Blair, Palmer Upper Cervical Specific, Atlas Orthogonal, Grostic, and NUCCA.

5. Prone: This position is most often used during thoracic (mid-back) manipulation. However, some Diversified doctors elect to use it when addressing lower cervical vertebrae. Techniques that use this position include Activator Methods and Pro-Adjuster.

Believe it or not, I’ve met patients who were under the impression that there’s only one way to adjust the spine. In reality, there have been hundreds of methods tested over the past 114-years. I cannot say that one method or technique is “better” than another, but speaking from personal experience, I know that certain techniques and adjusting positions have different effects on me. I’ve been adjusted with every method described above, but I prefer to receive side-posture adjustments.

In my St. Louis chiropractic office, I choose to provide side-posture adjustments exclusively… I am of the opinion that this position is most effective when correcting atlas misalignment.

If you’ve been to a chiropractor before but weren’t ecstatic about the results, don’t give up! Where one method fails, another can succeed! So find a different doctor who uses another technique. Remember, “it’s not the ‘TIC, it’s the ‘TOR.

(UPDATE – Here’s a comprehensive list of full spine chiropractic adjusting techniques)


Referencing you last sentence in this post, “it’s not the ‘TIC, it’s the ‘TOR.” You hit the nail on the head there! Something below you could prob quote from memory, Doc…..

Per, B.J. Palmer, Green Book Vol. XXXIX – “It is the ability to include or exclude variables, with constant, which give knowledge; and knowledge is ability. It is variables which make Chiropractors fail on case – not that ChiropracTIC is wrong; not that ChiropracTOR is incompetent, inefficient, or inaccurate, but he does NOT know variables on which he should be a specialist. You must know your bones, to know your bones.”

Derek Dewitt Monday at 07:38

My wife has been waking up with bad neck pains lately, so we are considering visiting a chiropractor soon. I like your point about how, with a “seated” position, you don’t need to twist your head as much. This sounds like a good technique for her neck since it hurts a lot when she twists it around.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

[…] when I explained the various ways a chiropractor can adjust the spine. Three days later, his wife called me, and within a short period of time the arm and neck […]

[…] comes the truly shocking part – I ask them to describe how they were adjusted… A number of these people tell me they weren’t adjusted at all, or only received cursory and […]

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