Getting a chiropractic session with Dr.Eddie Fernandes is quite an experience. By the end of the session I feel I have been stretched by about two inches, my posture has straightened and I feel about ten years younger.
The process to get me feeling that way is rigorous and fascinating, involving a combination of chiropractic and ART, Active Release Technique, a specialised soft tissue modality.
Chiropractic is one of the most widely used of the alternative therapies.
Like other complementary therapies it is based on the understanding of the self-healing capabilities of the human body.
In chiropractic the practitioner works with disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
The theory is that if any of the bones of your skull or vertebral column are not in proper alignment, or are not working correctly, they cause interference with the functioning of the nervous system.
Fernandes demonstrates using a model of a spinal column. “The spinal cord and the brain is all one, if you pull on the spinal cord is like pulling on the brain itself. The same spinal fluid that coats the brain and nourishes it coats the spinal cord.”
He goes on to explain the complexity of the spine and how overuse and trauma can affect our muscles and joints over time.
“There are 24 moveable vertebra that protect and house the spinal cord. Each vertebra in turn can have six to eight moveable points. Over a period of time overuse, traumas, and injuries can cause biomechanical problems to the muscles and joints.”
All our joints are liquid filled sacs and they need movement to pump fluid into joints and provide nourishment. Fernandes goes on to explain that once we start getting problems with joints it will still move but over time the cells start to die, leading eventually to inflammation, pain and conditions such as osteoarthritis.
A chiropractor’s job is to detect and correct any misalignments in the bones of the spine, skull or pelvis, thus allowing full function to return to the nervous system.
Fernandes is not only a chiropractor; he has also studied sports medicine and rehabilitation. His other speciality is active release technique which he incorporates with a chiropractic session.
ART has been in use to treat top athletes for years and is now making its way into the mainstream,
It treats problems that occur with the muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves, resulting from overused muscles or other traumatised soft tissues. These types of injuries can cause a build-up of scar tissue and reduced oxygen to the affected area.
Mobility is affected and muscles become shorter and weaker. Tension on tendons causes tendonitis and nerves can get trapped.
Manipulation is done on the adhesions causing them to break up.
In a consultation with Fernandes, he asks first of all about what kind of problems a client is experiencing. He then assesses body alignment and posture while the client is standing. He looks for how the neck sits on the spine how the curves of the neck and lower back appear. Are shoulders rounded or dipping whether the pelvis is even or if one side is higher than another.
Then he does a more detailed examination of the neck and spine, the mobility of the hip flexors and tightness in the muscles of the legs.
Fernandes can then tell where stiffness and mobility is impaired and what muscles such as hamstrings and quads are too tight.
He explains that some problems cannot be cured but a combination of manipulation, ART and physiotherapy exercises can stop them getting worse.
Stretched and manipulated
My own problem areas are round shoulders which don’t have lot of mobility and my right hip which has considerable reduced mobility and can get painful after any exercise.
Fernandes then starts the treatment by massaging feet and lower legs and stretching legs and hip flexors, shoulders and arms. It is hard to describe the process but it is like the type of stretches one would do as part of a warm up routine but being positioned very thoroughly.
After various stretches back and front a mechanical massage roller is run over my body and then Fernandes does some serious manipulation around the hip sockets and shoulders.
Don’t expect a gentle massage; this is done with strength and seriousness.
Afterwards I stand up and am honestly astonished at how straight I feel, my body feels strong and I understand that this is the way it should be , not hunched over as I usually feel. My right hip and leg (which always feels heavy) seem lighter and longer and there is not the drag on my hip to which I have become accustomed. Fernandes advises that to continue feeling this way he would need another few sessions. In the meantime he gives me stretching exercises to capitalise on the work he has started.