What does a chiropractor do to stay healthy?

Written by Dr. Derek Larsen DC

Last Updated on December 8, 2023

2 weeks ago in my article, I talked a lot about trauma, intending to define it so that it can be identified in the day-to-day. One of the things I mentioned was my opinion on how to be healthy. First, avoid as many forms of trauma as possible. Second, do things to increase your ability to adapt to trauma you cannot avoid. Since last week we defined what trauma is so you can recognize it and therefore avoid it this week we will talk about what I do to increase my ability to adapt to the trauma I cannot avoid. This is the second half of what could be called a guide “What does a chiropractor do to stay healthy?” the first half is this article.  


What constitutes the need for an adjustment?


Before we dive into my routines I want to explain what happens that leads an individual to need an adjustment. Spoiler, it is not pain. An individual falls in need of an adjustment when the body fails to adapt to trauma, physical trauma emotional trauma, or toxic trauma. Today I’m going to talk about how to adapt better to the ever-present pressure of life. In some of the original chiropractic textbooks, it is called increasing your survival values. 


Here is the list of things that I TRY  to do daily to help my body adapt better to life. Check out my Instagram post to see how this Friday actually went for me and my health habits. 

  1. Get checked 
  2. Move
  3. Eat healthy 
  4. Drink plenty of water
  5. Strive for ample sleep
  6. Practice good posture 
  7. Practice mindfulness

Let me explain each of these things 


Get checked, by your chiropractor.

I get checked by my chiropractor 2-3 times a month to make sure that my nervous system is functioning properly. Getting checked and getting adjusted are two different things. Before I adjust every patient I check them for misalignment known as subluxation. If I find a subluxation then, and only then do I adjust the vertebra involved. If I do not find any subluxations I don’t adjust the patient, this is referred to as a check or getting checked. When you come into the office you will often hear me say “Let’s get you checked” instead of let’s get you adjusted because I don’t know if you need an adjustment until I check you. Make sure your nervous system is functioning properly by getting checked by your chiropractor. 




Right now I am trying to get two “workouts” in every day. The goal I am working towards is a morning run followed by a big stretching session and then an evening weight training session. Currently, I am letting a knee injury heal and so instead of running in the mornings, I am hitting another weight training session. My exercise runs gaged for training for a race I am planning on running in august called the Nifty 50. The structure I like for them is setting a weekly mileage goal say of 20 miles then I give myself 5 days to run those 20 miles in the week and two rest days. This could mean that I run 4 miles every day for 5 days or I mix it up and run different lengths every day. Some days I feel good and can easily knock out a lot of miles, other days I don’t feel so great and only get 1-2 miles in, or I won’t run at all during one of the days in the week and make that my rest day. This gives me some leeway on how to best complete my goal and also allows for ample rest on my two rest days. This allows me to listen to my body and do what I need to help it improve. 


I weight train 6 days a week. I like the 6 days per week schedule for weight training because I can easily train one muscle group while letting another rest. (unlike running which is the same muscle group with every step) I currently have a goal to reach the 315lb on my bench press and then to hit the 1000lb club which is lifting 1000lbs with a combination of three lifts, Squat, Deadlift, and bench. Those are the weights I am working towards but I also work a lot on keeping joints stable. This means I do a fair bit of band work and floor work using my body weight and bands to exercise. If someone asked me why I went to the gym I would have to say “I want to get big, lift heavy things, and protect my joints with strong healthy muscle.” I usually have a set plan of what muscle groups I am going to work on, I generate that plan based on how I feel during the day. If I feel my shoulders aren’t responding well when I adjust patients then I work out shoulders to help strengthen the joints. If my low back feels off or my legs feel a little weaker that’s what I target, if I have a hot date lined up, I’m probably gonna hit some chest and arms. Again this allows me a chance to listen to my body and respond promptly to what it is telling me. 


A quick note on Hormesis


You might think that I am introducing an unnecessary amount of trauma to my body with all this kind of exercise. You’re right, to a certain extent. If I overdo it on my runs or in the gym I fall in need of an adjustment or worse I damage some tissue that will take time to heal. I am also introducing a form of low-level stress that my body can react to positively. This is known as hormesis. Hormesis is originally a term used in toxicology used to describe substances that have a positive effect on a biological system in low doses but a negative effect on a system at high doses. The best example in my opinion is radiation from sunlight. At low doses, radiation from sunlight is used by the body to produce vitamin D. At high doses it has been related to skin cancer. The term hormesis has been adapted too in things like exercise, cryotherapy (cold therapy), and thermotherapy (heat therapy) in which at certain levels these types of stressors can be beneficial for the body and help it adapt to a future trauma. Check out this study for more information on hormesis and the positive effects of certain levels of stress on the body. Here is some research on hormesis and exercise.


Eat healthily


What even is a healthy diet” everyone has their own opinion about what foods we should and shouldn’t eat. From vegan to carnivore and everything in between there’s a diet book for it. I eat what makes me feel good and avoid what makes me feel bad. I love game meat, and organ meats because of the nutrients packed into them. I eat lots of good fats, High omega 3 fats, like fish oil and butter made from grass-fed cows. I eat carbohydrates and usually accompany them with fats to slow down the digestion process. I take a few supplements when I feel a need for them including B vitamins, Magnesium, fish oils, and vitamin D. and I eat organic when I can.  I avoid processed foods, seed oils because they can cause an inflammatory response. For more on this topic check out my article about diet.


Drink plenty of water


I drink lots of water. I usually carry around a 64-ounce bottle of water and drink it throughout the day. I don’t sweat very much and my rule of thumb is to keep my urine clear and urinate often. I don’t force myself to drink a ton of water I just listen to my body and give it what it needs. 

Strive for ample sleep. 


Sleep is when the body can heal. The recommendation for adults is 7-8 hours per night. I find that I can usually do just fine with 7 hours of sleep, 8 is great but occasionally I need a night of 9 hours, especially if I am pushing myself through a lot of physical and mental stress. The 9 hours of sleep nights usually come after a push of long hours at work accompanied with reaching for my physical goals. 


The other thing I usually do is take a power nap. For me, this is a great antidote to the afternoon groggy feeling. I put a hoodie over my eyes, lay back, and knock out for 15 minutes. After that, I am good for the rest of the day. I am so used to this routine that sometimes when I don’t take the nap in the middle of the day and lie down at night to go to bed I fall asleep for 15 minutes and wake up ready to go back to work. I have to remind myself that it’s actually time to get 7-8 hours of sleep not just 15 minutes. 


The most important thing when it comes to achieving good sleep is darkness. Avoid screen time at least an hour before you want to sleep. Remove any lights from your bedroom. And in the summer make sure you have good black-out curtains. The body will respond well to darkness.

Practice good posture 

Grandma always said, “sit up straight, you look like a slouch!” and she was right. Somehow grandma knew the benefit of good posture. I catch myself every day sitting in a position of poor posture and have to correct it. I do a few things like elevating my computer screen, putting a pop socket on my phone and removing the back off my desk chair, that force me into good posture so I don’t have to think about it. Good posture is a constant check and balance throughout the day. 


Practice mindfulness


Practice mindfulness This is a fancy way of saying do something that helps you decrease stress by connecting to the present moment. Most people immediately think of meditation as mindfulness. Meditation is a great avenue to follow to achieve that feeling of being present but it is not the only way. I have found that I am most mindful when I am either freediving or snowboarding. My mind is only focused on the present moment and what is right in front of my face. I do dabble in meditation as well because being able to tap into the power of being fully present in any situation is an ability that I want to have. Meditation is a way to access that ability and therefore improve focus, drive, and awareness. 


To wrap this up I want to clarify that I fall in need of adjustments often because I willingly subject myself to trauma and I can’t always be prepared for it. Sometimes I just bite off a little more than I can chew and other times I wind up in accidents that weren’t preventable. This is largely because of the hobbies I engage in. Alpine hunting, snowboarding, snow machining, endurance running, and powerlifting to name a few. These things can be dangerous and accidents do happen. I just try to be as prepared as possible by doing all the things I mentioned above for when the inevitable happens. 


All these things work for me and may not work for you try things out and listen to what your body has to tell you.


We look forward to meeting you! Come down to Happy Family Chiropractic and meet your Chiropractor in Juneau! It will be our pleasure in serving you high quality chiropractic care. 

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