Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Pettibon Chiropractic System for Posture & Spinal Correction

The structure of our spine, and ultimately posture, is important for maintaining healthy and normal physical function. Abnormal posture can lead to alterations in some of our basic physiological processes, such as blood pressure, headaches, lung capacity, emotions, and even hormonal production.

There's no doubt that it’s difficult to maintain an erect sitting position because postural control is mainly involuntary and reflexive. And although we can temporarily change our posture with the help of voluntary muscular actions, our conscious control ultimately bows to our reflexive neurological control and subconscious behavioral patterns.

From this, you can conclude that best way to achieve a lasting change to spinal structure, or your posture is to somehow correct posture from involuntary, reflexive standpoint. So this logic forms the foundation for a chiropractic-based treatment protocol referred to as The Pettibon System. This chiropractic system was developed by Burl Pettibon for correcting the posture and spine through gradual adaption of postural and spinal reflexes.

The Premise Behind The Pettibon System

The main difference in the overall medical education of any chiropractor is the amount of significance placed on restoring and maintaining the integrity of one’s nervous system. It’s the nervous system that effectively regulates and controls other body functions, so it’s logical to control postural and spinal position and movement. However, it has been observed that chiropractic treatment is not as effective in making gross sand postural changes.

In contrast, the procedures used in The Pettibon Chiropractic System, heavily emphasize on the significance of paravertebral and postural soft tissues in making structural changes. Although some chiropractors incorporate physical exercises in their treatment regimens, many of these exercises of the Pettibon System attempt to change postural through various voluntary neuromotor pathways.

They also include many mirrorimage type workouts, where some postural isotonic exercises are performed by the effected person in mirror-image fashion to correct posture. However, as posture is under reflexive control, it’s much more difficult to change posture through involuntary means alone.

A Biomechanical Approach to Chiropractic Care

Seen from biomechanical perspective, most chiropractors view spines as a series of 24 movable segments. Therefore, chiropractic care and spine manipulation is usually delivered on a segmental basis, using various types of exams performed to ascertain singular misaligned vertebra. In contrast, The Pettibon System aims to treat the skull in humans as a vertebra.

Skull is regarded as one of the most important vertebra, given that most reflexes that ultimately govern the postural controls in the body are housed within the skull, such as the vestibular apparatus and visual system. Therefore, with these neurophysiologic capabilities, the skull appears to be the only vertebra that can easily orient itself to space and time.

Many of the postural reflexes, such as the cervicocollic reflex, vestibulocollic reflex, pelvo-ocular reflex, vestibuloocular reflex, cervical somatosensory input, and cervico-ocular reflex all serve to maintain a level head position in relation to neck and trunk or to the visual field.

Therefore, correction of the static structure of the cervical spine is important for correcting overall spinal and postural position and movement, because the rest of the spine will then orient itself in a top-down fashion. Once this is successfully achieved, the rest of the spine will be corrected according to the normalized reference point.

Pettibon Manipulative Procedures

In The Pettibon Chiropractic System various manipulative techniques are performed both by adjustive mechanical instruments or hands, and rehabilitative exercises in this procedure are not known to the typical physiotherapeutic arsenal. The rehabilitative and manipulative chiropractic procedures are applied on an individual basis, so every treatment plan can be easily designed according to each patient’s needs.

In The Pettibon Chiropractic System, spinal manipulation is carried out in order to provide some temporary increase in joint mobility. This enables patient to carry out rehabilitative exercises due to his/her increased range of motion. In this system, instead of corrective procedures, the rehabilitative exercises becomes the corrective procedure.

If you're interested in learning more about the Pettibon System, or would like to find a provider near you, click here.


  1. My granny had the same problem and she used to walk in a bend position. That problem, she used to say, started in her early forties and in sixties she started walking like this. Although she used to take pain killers but she used to go for clinical pilates.

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