Chiropractic philosophy explains both the art and science of chiropractic, which holds a core
belief that the body holds an innate ability to heal itself, given the right circumstances. The
chiropractor seeks to provide the body with circumstances that will promote healing.
The Council on Chiropractic Education offers the following definition:
"A doctor of chiropractic is a physician whose purpose, as a member of the healing arts, is to
help meet the health needs of the public, giving particular attention to the structural and
neurological aspects of the body. The application of science in chiropractic concerns itself with
the relationship between structure, primarily the spine, and function primarily coordinated by
the nervous system, of the human body as that relationship may affect the restoration and
preservation of health. Furthermore, this application of science in chiropractic focuses on the
inherent ability of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery."
According to Virgil Strang, DC, chiropractic began in 1895, when D.D. Palmer went beyond
crude manipulation, bone-setting, traction, and massage to introduce the specific, short-lever
high-velocity vertebral adjustment. Rather than treating disease, the chiropractor detects and
corrects interference in the nervous system. A condition of vertebral subluxation can be cared
for before the patient begins to experience serious symptoms and disease. D.D. Palmer taught
that disease is caused by trauma, toxicity, and autosuggestion. His concepts have been
transformed over the last 127 years into a philosophy that views health as a homeostatic state
composed of a triad of structural, chemical, and mental factors, Balance within the triad forms
an equilateral triangle. When a person experiences poor health, imbalance in one factor of the
triad can be a contributor. Imbalance in two or three factors can be found in people with severe
and chronic health problems. Often, a health problem starts on one side of the triad and
eventually involves all three aspects. Any side of the triad can affect the other sides, both as
causative factors of health problems, and in therapeutic approaches.
THE STRUCTURAL SIDE OF THE TRIAD OF HEALTH:
Structure, with which chiropractic has always been concerned, is the base of the triad of health.
Chiropractors address structural issues by treating nerve, joint, and myofascial dysfunction by
removing subluxations to improve nerve, joint, muscle, lymphatic, and vascular function.
Chiropractors and personal trainers also address structural issues by increasing their patient’s
and client's functional capacity with active rehabilitation and functional training. In addition,
ergonomics addresses the structural issues by helping people maintain their neutral postures
while interfacing with their workstations.
The structural part of the triad of health involves the relationship between the function of
locomotion and the workings of the biomechanical neuromusculoskeletal systems. The
integrated professions, which act on this side of the triad, are chiropractic, fitness, and
ergonomics. The mechanical lesion referred to by chiropractors and stated eloquently by
Joseph Janse, D.C., "a subluxation is an attending complication of those chemical, mechanical,
and/or environmental irritations of the nervous system which in man, the biped, produce
muscle contractions sufficient to cause articular dysfunction. Once produced the lesion
becomes a focus of sustained pathological irritation. It irritates proprioceptors in the articular
capsules, ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the involved segment. The barrage of nerve
impulses stream into the spinal cord where interneurons receive them, and then relay them to
motor pathways for the conduction of muscles and glands initially in excessive amounts, but
the contraction which provoked the subluxation in the first place, is thereby reinforced, thus
perpetuating both the subluxation and the process it engenders". The subluxation is typically
treated with high velocity and low amplitude adjustments of the spine, pelvis,
temporomandibular joints, and extremities.
Chiropractors and fitness trainers advocate how to improve functional capacity (strength,
muscle endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and motor control-balance and
coordination), because neuromusculoskeletal structures (ligaments, joints, intervertebral discs,
muscles, tendons, and nerves) are constantly subjected to biomechanical forces such as
tension, torsion, compression, and shear. When functional capacity is less than what the work
or activity demands, micro failure (fatigue) and eventual injury are the result.
The distress these demands placed on the neuromusculoskeletal system acts against the
system's functional capacity, and when the distress outweighs a patient's capacity thus one's
internal resistance, then signs, symptoms, and injuries results. Maintaining neutral postures
keeps demands and distress to a minimum. Maintaining ideal functional capacity keeps the
body's internal resistance up, toward ideal elite athletic ability.
Chiropractors, fitness trainers, and ergonomist place emphasis on educating their patients and
clients in maintaining neutral body postures while in static postures and during dynamic
motion. Good ergonomics and proper biomechanics are advocated at work, home, and during
athletic activities. This emphasis on better posture helps prevent injury and enhances
Chiropractic, Fitness, & Ergonomics models for the Structural side of the Triad of
Health: minimize structural distress & build structural internal resistance-
Structural Distress Risk Factors:
• Injury, structural irregularities, & awkward postures
• Joint (i.e. motion segment) & myofascial dysfunction
• Deconditioning & altered nerve function (i.e. slowed nerve velocity due to nerve
impingement, thus compression)
Structural Internal Resistance Remedies:
• Manual therapies & physiologic therapeutics
• Active rehabilitation & functional training
• Ergonomics & occupational health promotion