Exercises for Subluxation


Subluxation, a separation of a bone from its joint, can happen at any juncture in the body, but it is most common in the joints of the shoulder and knee. The associated pain can be mild to severe, but the injury itself is generally considered minor, and rehab consists primarily of gentle exercise. There is a distinction between what chiropractors refer to as “vertebral subluxation complex” and medically-defined subluxation, and that distinction is not without controversy.

Patellar Subluxation

The goal of rehabilitation exercises following patellar, or kneecap, subluxation is to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the injury to prevent future dislocations. You can begin exercising the quadriceps and hamstring soon after injury, but always consult with your physician before beginning any rehabilitation regimen. Stretch the hamstring from a standing position by placing your heel on a stool about 15 inches high. Lean forward, keeping your back straight, until you feel a tug up the back of your leg. Hold the position, then slowly release.

Strengthen quads by sitting on the floor with the injured leg straight out in front of you and the other leg bent backward, like a runner stretching before a meet. Without using your hands, press the back of the injured knee flat to the floor and hold it. Tighten your quad while you hold the position, then release.

Shoulder Subluxation

You can rehabilitate a dislocated shoulder without special equipment using isometric exercises, or those that use contraction of the muscles against resistance like a wall or the floor. For example, stand with your injured side against the wall and bend your arm at the elbow. With your feet firmly planted, flex the injured arm as though you are trying to push the wall away from you with the side of your arm. Hold the contracted position for five seconds at a time, and do three sets of 10.

You can also face the wall with both arms at your sides, bent to 90 degrees at the elbow. Walk toward the wall until your fist makes contact, then push your fist into the wall while keeping your feet planted and your body stiff. Hold the contraction for five seconds at a time, and do three sets of 10.

Spinal Subluxation

Exercises recommended for spinal misalignment, often termed subluxation by chiropractors, are simple stretching and core-strengthening exercises. You should go at your own pace and consult your doctor before rushing into a routine, but once you’re ready, simple crunches are a good start. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent so your feet are flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head, or cross your arms over your chest. Lift your head and shoulders a few inches off the floor, hold the position, then release. Do several sets of at least 10, and work up to more when you are able.

You can also improve matters by enhancing your flexibility. Start with simple stretches from a seated position with your feet flat on the floor. Bend over and touch your fingertips to the floor, and hold the position. Don’t rock back and forth. As you progress, start bending further so your palms reach the floor. When you are ready, try doing your stretches from a standing position.

Vertebral Subluxation Complex

Vertebral subluxation complex is a concept popularized in the late 19th century by D. D. Palmer, a grocer and metaphysical healer from Iowa. He theorized that spinal misalignments disrupted nerve impulses from the brain and were responsible for not just back pain or sciatica, but all of a person’s ailments. By correcting the subluxation, a new, freeway pathway is opened and healing of anything from chronic illness to deafness is possible.

Modern chiropractors are divided on the concept of VSC, and the American Medical Association is quick to point out that there is no scientific evidence for such claims.