Come Along for the Ride

This ride begins with a young girl on a horse (see photos below), but takes unexpected twists and turns. I hope you’ll saddle up with me as I explore the range of structural issues that have left me feeling sub-par for years, so that my experiences can help you in your own ventures toward optimal wellness.

I’m quite sure that having structural issues from a young age (functional scoliosis  and limited range of motion in the ankle/lower leg likely linked to genetic issues passed on from Mom having been born with club feet) were further compounded by competitively riding horses during my prime formative years. I wouldn’t change the wonderful experiences in my youth that resulted from working with horses from age 7 – 15, but the nature of the activity is anything but gentle on ones’ body.

Much of my life, however, has been full of pain, fatigue, weakness, and muscle spasms.  I’ve seen a number of doctors and massage therapists over the years and have been fortunate to have had chiropractic care for the majority of my life, as my mom became a Doctor of Chiropractic when I was 10 years old. (I am aware of the varied personal opinions that exist regarding the field of chiropractic, and respect that we all have had different experiences in our lives. I do not intend to use this blog as a way to address these opinions, but rather to share my experience with you.)

I’ve continually worked to improve my knowledge of the body and apply what I’ve learned toward bettering my personal situation. I have had reasonable success over the years, but I’ve felt enough limitations and back-sliding in what I’m capable of doing versus what I desire to do in life, that I remain open-minded and in search of healing.

Presently, this search has landed me in the care of The Yardley Institute, a chiropractic practice that specializes in treating the upper cervical spine. I greatly appreciate that we share a primary belief in the ability of the body to heal itself. Using this shared philosophy as a guide, they are able to help remove internal stress on the brain stem, which in turns allows the nervous, muscular and organ systems to heal and function correctly.

I am far from an expert at explaining this process, but I will do my best. The upper cervical vertebrae include the bones of your neck, which connect your head to your shoulders. Dr. Yardley has completed additional education in order to specialize in treating this delicate and vitally important area of the body. He is board certified by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA), whose focus is not only on the upper cervical area, but in particular, the first cervical vertebra, C-1, also known as the atlas.

The atlas is the small bone that your skull rests on and the area which is responsible for housing the brain stem, which is literally the physical manifestation of the brain-body connection. Your brain communicates with your body via the brain stem, which turns into the spinal cord and runs through the length of your spine, with nerves branching off at each vertebra. If C-1 is out of alignment, the brain stem is under continual torsion and strain, and the brain cannot effectively communicate with the body. Thus, every aspect of your well-being is affected to varying degrees by the health of this brain-body connection.

The brain stem runs from the base of the brain through the open space in the center of each vertebra

At Yardley, they use X-rays, along with 5 specific assessments at each visit, to determine if C-1 is out of alignment, or not, and the exact nature of your individual situation. It is fascinating to see X-rays of your own skull and spine and see how and where you may have a rotated pelvis, contracted leg, tilted skull, etc.

The actual adjustment of the atlas is difficult to describe, and is unlike any other physical manipulation I’ve experienced. The bone is very delicate and the adjustment technique reflects this. After a precise alignment of the body while lying on a table made for adjusting the cervical vertebrae, the doctor uses what I would describe as a gentle vibration created with the hands positioned just under the ear. (See photos on the Yardley site; the 5th one shows this adjustment.)

Being assessed in the Anatometer (pretending I'm Rose from the movie, "Titanic")

I’m less than a month into my treatment at The Yardley Institute and am so far enjoying the process. The doctors and staff are incredibly informative, clear communicators and positive people. Based on the 17,000+ cases they’ve worked with, they estimate my treatment time to be approx. 5 1/2 months, during which time they continually monitor my progress through the 5 tests and periodic X-rays. The atlas is only adjusted if I do not pass the standards set for 3 or more of the tests in a given visit.

My goal is for this treatment to play a valuable role in relieving internal, physical stress, thus allowing healing and optimization of my overall health. When the body is under strain, each of us will exhibit varying symptoms, which is why the focus isn’t on alleviating symptoms, but on getting to the root cause and allowing healing to take place. I can say, however, that one complaint I’ve had for many years is what I describe as a congested and sluggish feeling at the base of my skull.  Frankly, it drives me crazy! I was pleasantly surprised to notice relief from this feeling after my first adjustment.

In the waiting room of The Yardley Institute is a map with thumb tacks showing where various patients have traveled from to work with these skilled practitioners.  I have been impressed to hear a variety of accents and talk with people from other cities, states and even countries!  In fact, one of the doctors moved here from Australia to have the honor of working with Dr. Yardley.  I am grateful they are a short drive from my home and work.

I’d love to hear if you’ve received, or considered, similar treatment. In addition, all constructive comments, thoughts and questions are welcome. Simply scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll find a user-friendly “Share Your Thoughts” section.

To Your Best Health,


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About Autum's FITNESS 4U

I love all things health-related and have a special passion for dancing, hiking, traveling, and creating memories! I am grateful to have an amazing husband, family and friends to share this life with.
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6 Responses to Come Along for the Ride

  1. Michael Puhrmann says:

    Another great post, beautiful! Keeping an open mind to all possible solutions to problems is something we all need to foster within ourselves. And I realize this isn’t an advertisement for Yardley, but I was really impressed with the institute when I went to one of your appointments. They spent a considerable amount of time getting ne to understand the c-1 / brain stem connection and how they intended to help you. Doctors that take the time to help you understand what you’re dealing with are awesome! Glad you’re feeling better and looking forward to when you’re bionic 😉

  2. Ha! I saw a Dr. Yardley years ago while in high school. Wonder if it is the same person.

    I too have added chiropractic care (vitality in Des Moines) to aid in my well being. It has made a HUGE difference for me, especially with my migraines. I’ve been rear ended a few times and with my desk job I had major neck/upper spine issues) After a few months of treatment a couple days a week i’m now on a once a month schedule. I feel so much better now.

    That is just great! Keep it up girl!

    • That’s wonderful, Michealene! Thanks for sharing your experience. What a small world, if indeed it is the same Dr. Yardley you saw in years past. I believe he has been a chiropractor since the late ’70’s and specialized in upper cervical care in the late ’90’s, or there abouts.

  3. seattlesamba says:

    A great post with many intriguing and valuable elements! First, I had no idea what a beating horseback riding can take on one’s body. It’s clear you loved your horses–great photos (love the black cowboy hat w/red shirt!)–but what with Flicka, National Velvet, etc., it’s easy to have an idealized view of happy young girl with a horse, with no idea of the physical toll. Second, you give a very interesting (and convincing) description of the brain-body connection. I’d heard of spinal “adjustments,” but never fully appreciated how they could resonate through one’s entire body ’til I read your post. It’s exciting to hear that you felt such a difference even after your first treatment–an unexpected difference, too! Also inspiring to see how committed you are to finding the root cause(s) of your health issues; it’s so easy to give up after a few good tries, or to not realize how deep the cause can go. And interesting to hear how one can inherit a variation of a parent’s health issue–how your mother’s club feet translated into limited ankle/foot function for you. I’ve had similar discoveries and now realize that holistic can mean the whole family, not just one person or one generation. And finally, this is a great reminder that even a personal trainer–a body expert–is a work in progress, like the rest of us! Thanks so much for being willing to share your personal stories.

    • I wish there was a “like” button for comments, as I would definitely use it on yours! I’ve always considered my health challenges to have the silver lining of allowing me to connect with, relate to, and help others on a level I would otherwise not be able to. I figure if I’m going through all that I am and I have this passion for wellness, I might as well use it for something good and do my best to reach others and assist them in their journeys. You never know what will spark the light bulb for someone else.

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