Posted by on Feb 7, 2011 in Health Tips/Information | Comments Off on Traction

Santa Barbara Chiropractor James NearyTraction, as defined, is a force applied to a part of the body to stretch soft tissue and to separate joint surfaces. Commonly used in chiropractic, traction allows the joints a time to be free from the effects of gravity. When the spinal column is free of downward force, the discs that lie in between the vertebral segments can become filled with nutrient-rich extracellular fluid and the ligaments and muscles can relax. This happens naturally as we sleep because the force of gravity acts differently upon us as we lie down. After we awaken from a night of sleep, we are slightly taller (up to ¾ of an inch) than before we went to bed. This effect (known as imbibition) is due to the expansion if joint space caused by the influx of extracellular fluid that can enter without downward force pushing it out. For a fun experiment, try measuring yourself after a long day and then immediately after you awaken.

The application of traction has many purposes.

  1. When performed intermittently, can have hydraulic pumping effects.
  2. Increases blood flow.
  3. Decreases swelling and chronic congestion of joints.
  4. Tones muscles.
  5. Increases nutrition to vertebral discs and cartilage by allowing in extracellular fluid.
  6. Stretches tight muscles and ligaments.
  7. Can help relieve muscle spasm.
  8. May help relieve headaches (primarily tension headaches).
  9. Can assist in opening the space in the vertebrae through which nerves pass (foramen).

Traction can be a wonderful experience.

  1. Light pressure is noticed in the location that traction is applied.
  2. The sensation of pressure being released in and around the joint is felt.
  3. The perception of elongation or lengthening is noticed.
  4. If the traction is to be intermittent, a gradual increase and decrease of the stretch is noticed.
  5. As the traction comes to an end, the stretch gradually decreases.
  6. Upon completion, a feeling of relief and comfort is present.

There are several ways of applying traction.

  1. Gentle lifting and stretching done by hand. Constant traction can be continuous or intermittent, whereby the stretch is repeatedly initiated and released creating a gentle pumping effect.
  2. Harnesses, often affixed with weights, are commonly used.
  3. Special tables can be implemented that provide traction.
  4. Gravity can also be employed, such as inversion devices.

To find out more information, contact us or come in

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