Chiropractic techniques fit into 3 basic models based on the three body systems primarily addressed by chiropractors. Chiropractic intimately involves itself with the skeletal system, the muscle system and the nervous system. Therefore, while all chiropractic techniques involve all three systems, the techniques themselves can be differentiated from one another based on their method of assessment and their method of correction.
Segmental or skeletal system centered chiropractic techniques adjust vertebrae that are not in their optimum position back to a more normal position and, in so doing, affect the nervous system first and then the muscle system next.
Postural or muscle system centered chiropractic techniques first involve putting tension or relaxation within the muscle system in order to allow an easier structural adjustment to take place. In so doing, this approach involves the muscle system first which then affects the skeletal system and then, finally, the nervous system.
Tonal or nervous system centered chiropractic techniques are not muscle or bone based but rather focus on the nervous system and the related changes in a person’s physiology. As such, tonal chiropractic techniques look at the nervous system first and the doctor’s input into the nervous system then affects the muscle system which, in turn, affects the skeletal system.
Since all three technique models work and produce good results, why would we prefer a tonal approach? The answer comes in understanding how the interference to a person’s nervous system takes place to begin with. Did the bone move out of place thus affecting the nerve which then affects the muscle? Bones cannot move by themselves so there must have been a muscle imbalance first. Did the muscle imbalance occur first thereby causing the bone to move out of its normal position?
Muscles do not think or act on their own so a muscle imbalance can only be the result of an unbalanced nerve supply to the muscles. So, the bone can only move if a muscle moves it and a muscle will only move when the nervous system tells it to. For us then, it makes more sense to address the nervous system first so all else can follow.