Chiropractic Manipulations and What to Expect

Living pain-free is a big deal, and something that Americans are really struggling with. Approximately 8 out of 10 people will experience back problems in their lifetime, and the percentage of the population with low back pain has increased over the last 16 years. While there are lots of options for treatment, Chiropractic care is generally overlooked until the problems become serious enough, and/or patients have tried everything else. To combat this delay in care, we want to alleviate any barriers to entry, and help people feel comfortable in their decision to set up an initial appointment with a chiropractor!

In general, people are pretty good about realizing that they are in pain. However, we tend to push it away thinking "oh it's normal" for me, or for someone in my position, or for someone my age. Pain is not normal. Period. Yes, there is a difference in being sore from an activity like exercise and being in true pain. But even that soreness is your body telling you that something is up and maybe needs some attention. So what can you do about this pain you've been noticing?

Today we are breaking down some of the most commonly used Chiropractic adjustment techniques (and my personal experience with them): manual manipulation, the activator technique, use of a Thompson drop table, and the IASTM technique. Next Gen Chiropractic's Dr. Gennett practices each of these in office, and tailors his chiropractic treatment plans specific to your body's needs to help you live pain free.

Manual Manipulation

Most likely, this technique is what comes to mind when you think hear anything related to chiropractic care. Although the idea of physically popping joints in the neck and spine make some people nervous, there are numerous studies showing the safety and efficacy of such treatments

In this method Dr. Gennett specifically locates a source of pain or discomfort, often due to lack of movement in a joint. Using a light thrust, one joint is pushed passed another, frequently producing an audible click of pop of the joint. This method is typically used on the neck and spine but is effective in other areas such as the ankles and wrists as well.

Bethany's Personal Experience: the manual manipulation is my favorite part of my chiropractic treatments with Dr. Gennett. Typically when I go in to see him (usually overdue) I have spent the majority of my week hunched over at my desk (yes sitting too - did you know more than half of Americans who report low back pain spend the majority of their day sitting??) working on a lettering project. The relief I feel in my stiff and tight neck/shoulder region is immediate and I wonder why in the world I was walking around like a slab of concrete instead of a mobile human being. Confession? I too was nervous before my first ever chiropractic adjustment, but I'm so glad I did my research and found this method of caring for my body!

activator technique

This manipulation method uses a spring-loaded device to directly tap a joint. As pictured, there is a rubber end on the device that delivers a force from the spring to the joint. The amount of force can be adjusted, typically with more force being used in the lower back region than in the neck area. This method is great for when joints are initially too tight for manual manipulation and a more gentle approach to care.

Bethany's Personal Experience: I have notoriously tight shoulders and chest from my calligraphy work and a also a wonky psoas (lacking strength/activation timing) that is contributing to some lower back issues and overuse of my QLs. Dr. Gennett has used this activator device several times to help loosen up areas surrounding my collar bone and QLs. This technique has been great for my low back and getting it primed for manipulations that will give me that "ahhhhh" feeling. It is amazing to me how often I go through my daily life "feeling okay" and then go see Dr. Gennett and realize just how badly my body was in need of some self-care!

Thompson drop tables

 During this adjustment, patients lay flat on the table and experience no twisting or torquing. Instead, sections of the table give way beneath them, producing a mechanical advantage that allows extremely stiff joints to move past one another. This method is often used to demonstrate the benefits of chiropractic treatments on individuals who are hesitant about any twisting, especially in the neck. In addition, the audible popping heard during manual manipulations is often covered by the table drop itself. It is quite common for patients to tense up in anticipation of a manipulation making it hard to perform. The Thompson Drop table is a great way to prevent that tension because the person maintains a neutral, relaxed position throughout the manipulation.  

Bethany's Personal Experience: honestly this one is the most "covert" (is that a thing?) Dr. Gennett has used this special table during my visits several times now, and although I leave feeling just as great as any other method, it is definitely less jarring physically and almost like, "wait, you're done already?" I can definitely see why people who are hesitant about manual neck adjustments prefer this method. Dr. Gennett is great about explaining why he is using a certain method over another during treatment. Pro tip: ASK! He's extremely knowledgeable about his profession and skills, and loves talking about what's happening throughout!


This is all about soft tissue work and the use of stainless steel instruments to help increase the function and blood flow to the muscle being affected. Muscles and tendons can develop inflammation during activities, acute trauma, overuse and even just repetitive stress. The strategic scraping of the tool over these areas helps to release fibrosis of the soft tissue and speed healing. This technique is used by Chiropractors, therapists and even athletic trainers on athlete specific injuries, but is great for everyday injuries as well. It is not uncommon to experience some discoloration in the treated area, so don't be alarmed if later you notice some bruising color.

Bethany's Personal Experience: I'm going to be honest. When you have adhesion or scarring in your tissues, breaking it up doesn't feel good in the moment. In the past when I saw Dr. Gennett reaching for the stainless steel tools I prepared myself for some immediate discomfort. But y'all. The benefit of this release is so incredible! He has used this method several times on my calves and heel cords (previous sports related injuries have left them extremely locked down and immobile), shoulders and even low back... the results are amazing. Don't be intimidated, Dr. Gennett worked me into the level of pressure he uses on me in my current treatments, and I now look forward to this technique as I know I'm doing my body long-term good!  


Have questions or want specific information about our office and treatment options? Contact us by phone or email today.

We've broken down the four main techniques for chiropractic manipulation, but treatment certainly isn't limited to those alone. Our practice strives to incorporate at-home exercises, stretches and mobility techniques to get you pain-free as quickly as possible. In addition, building in daily health habits gives you a much better chance at maintaining the progress made during your chiropractic treatments!

We want you pain-free and enjoying all that western north carolina has to offer, so take the first step and schedule your free consultation.