Spinal Manipulation Benefits on Cervical Range of Motion

Ever notice that your neck was stiff and have trouble turning your head to the side?  Have you ever wished you could turn your head more quickly or easily when driving?

Simple things like pulling out into traffic can become difficult or even dangerous if the cervical spine (neck area) is not working properly.  While our neck and spine are not designed to have the ability to twist nearly 360̊ like the wise old owl’s, it should be no problem to turn our head from side to side without pain or discomfort.

It’s also important to recognize that all bodily function and movement, coordinated and controlled by the brain, uses signals sent to the body that must pass through the cervical spine area en route to their destination.  Misalignments in the spine can be more than painful, they can interrupt those messages, negatively affecting bodily function.

It is important to maintain proper spinal alignment and mobility have optimal range of motion and function.  Range of Motion (ROM) is a common measurement of how far a joint can flex and extend as compared to how that joint should be able to move.

Australian researchers evaluated the effects of cervical spinal manipulation on ROM1.  The subjects consisted of just over 100 patients with cervicogenic headache.  They were divided into 2 groups that were followed through four phases: 1) baseline, 2) treatment, 3) sham and 4) no treatment.  Other than baseline, the groups did not experience the phases simultaneously.


At the completion of each phase, all subjects had active ROM of their cervical spine measured by an examiner.  The examiner was not told which group the subject was in or what phase had just been completed.

At the end of Phase 2, subjects in Group 2 who had received spinal manipulation experienced a significant increase in their active ROM.  However, when Group 1’s subjects (who had received “sham manipulation” in Phase 2) received actual spinal manipulation in Phase 3, the difference in improvement between the groups was wiped out.  All 105 participants had improved ROM confirming that spinal manipulation had a positive effect on the ROM of the cervical spine.

If the spine is not working properly, it can inhibit movement, negatively affect overall bodily function and/or cause pain and discomfort.  Maintaining proper spinal health helps ensure the body is able to function at optimal levels without discomfort.


Call your chiropractor for a check-up.  ROM testing is a simple and non-invasive way to help measure your spinal health.  Your chiropractor can then perform spinal adjustments to correct any misalignments found and may also recommend stretches or certain exercises to help you maintain proper alignment and full ROM.  If you haven’t seen a chiropractor, you can find a TCA member doctor HERE.


REFERENCE:   “Active range of motion in the cervical spine increases after spinal manipulation (toggle recoil)”. Wayne Whittingham, DC, PhDa; Niels Nilsson, DC,MD, PhDb.  Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, November–December, 2001, Volume 24, Issue 9, Pages 552–555