I Tried Network Spinal Analysis…
This month I tried Network Spinal Analysis to help me with some severe muscle tension in my back. You’ve no doubt seen the news headlines about Network Spinal Analysis. Julianne Hough’s viral instagram post made the gossip sites and social media rounds, and the Netflix Goop Lab episode featuring the same treatment was released. Network Spinal Analysis is just a type of chiropractic treatment that focuses specifically on the nervous system, and it’s been around since the 1980’s.
Thanks to Goops clever way of creating media frenzy with ‘the goopiest’ most provocative articles, the weird body movement that Julianna Hough demonstrated on instagram trended on Google. The soundbite taken from the show was ‘I just had an exorcism’. Remember the This Smells Like My Vagina Candle? Such clever marketing. It’s really just a candle made of geranium, damask rose and cedar essential oils. I don’t know about you, but mine definitely smells like roses. What a conversation starter to keep on your coffee table though, right? ‘Yah mom..I just picked that one up at Bed Bath and Beyond. Doesn’t it smell nice? It really does smell like my vulva.
You Know, The Exorcism From Goop Lab and Julianne Hough’s Instagram
This viral instagram post triggered all sorts of dramatic headlines and news coverage. The post was timed to promote Gwyneth Paltrow’s The Goop Lab on Netflix’s which included an episode on this mystery treatment titled The Energy Experience. Way to burry the lead, Goop!
The Energy Experience, and Julianne Hough’s treatment features bonafide chiropractic treatment called Network Spinal Analysis. Never mentioning the name of the treatment, the post fails to offer any sort of context. Wondering what on earth these flakey actresses are up to now, you have to watch the show to find out, ‘Is it a sex thing? Did they go and join a cult again? What is happening?’.
That post created such exquisite intrigue and gossip fodder. Sensational headlines like, ‘Chiropractic Exorcism on Goop Lab’, or ‘Julianne Hough has been bewitched by chiropractic treatment’ are what followed. Those headlines definitely make you want to hate-watch The Goop Lab just to see; Did she or did she not just have a major orgasm by herself, hands free on instagram? And does she provide instructions on how to do this? Why is his hand on her butt?? People, chill, that’s where your tailbone is.
I know the treatment looks strange. Julianne writhing and arching her back sounding very orgasmic and possessed is very dramatic. It’s actually a very gentle spine treatment compared to traditional chiropractic adjustments, or even physiotherapy. Taken out of context, many different types of body treatments, both medical and alternative can look alarming.
Is it Too Goopy To Be Legit?
I have a pretty open mind to allied and alternative practitioners in addition to traditional modern medicine. Acupuncture, TCM, Yoga, Mediation, Psychology, Fitness are all practices that are integrated alongside traditional allopathic medical care. Your mileage may vary with any of these disciplines. It’s up to you to consult your Dr. and find one that works best for you and your unique needs.
Chiropractors are regulated healthcare professionals with governing boards and extensive education and qualification requirements. I’m absolutely not recommending this treatment here or refuting it. I’m completely unqualified to do so.
My experience is just my own and you should not take it as medical advice, testimony or expert validation. I am sharing my experience so that you can have better context for what this treatment is, outside of celebrity spin and sensational headlines. The truth is it’s no more strange than any of the other body rituals we have in modern society such as eyelash extensions, fad diets, cosmetic injectables etc. etc. We all do weird shit all the time in the name of beauty and wellness.
Keep reading for my experience with Network Spinal Analysis..
The ‘Chiropractor Exorcism’ From Goop Lab and Julianne Hough’s Instagram
My Experience With Network Spinal
I am not new to chiropractic care. Before I had my kids, I managed a chiropractic office for years where I got treatments for my neck pan. I have an old whiplash injury which acts up from time to time freezing my neck in agonizing torticollis. Over the years I’ve developed a lot of postural compensations for my neck injury which creates a domino effect of tension in different areas. The past few months I’ve had tension in my mid back and shoulders building up to a terrible flare up. Flare ups are usually triggered by stress, cold viruses or poor health habits. I did some research and found a chiropractor that I recognized that offered Network Spinal Analysis. The gentle treatment style really resonated with me and I wanted to try it out.
My first appointment was just over an hour long. The chiropractor took a thorough history and assessed my alignment exactly the same way my old chiropractor had. She found all the exact same areas of injury and tension, which had gotten worse over the years.
On The Treatment Table
My Chiropractor had me lay face down on the treatment table. Checking my foot alignment, she had me look left then right, and then began the treatment. All of the work happens between the base of the scull at the top of your spine, right to your tailbone while you are in this passive position.
With a few light touches at my mid back, I started breathing very deeply without her verbal prompting, only to say ‘yes, that’s it’ here and there, or ‘YES, just like that’. The breathing felt like a deep and relaxed rhythm. It was the kind of soft belly breathing you eventually go to in meditation or yoga practice. I’m not sure how my body knew to just get into that mode, but it did. If it’s some type of hypnosis, none of it happened with her verbal instruction.
Fully aware and present the entire time, I felt her gently and purposefully touching areas along my spine. She drew her hand along my spine all the way up. In the beginning I didn’t feel anything unusual beyond my breathing pattern. I was actually thinking ‘this is never going to work for me’.
And Then I Started To Feel It…
As her hand went up my spine I started to feel warmth traveling up like little sprinkles and pin pricks. My eyelids which where almost closed started to twitch and flutter. The first wave movement happened in coordination with my breath and felt like the beginning of hiccup or a big yawn.
Going in to this appointment I had such a fear that my body would feel completely out of control doing these weird contortions. It’s a bit terrifying to think that your brain won’t be in control of your body for the next half hour. I was so relieve that that was not how it felt at all. It felt like my body was fully aligned with my mind and my breath.
Right away I felt safe with my own breath, trusting my body’s instincts and directions. The doctor was stimulating an energy movement which was bringing awareness to me of areas that needed to move. My body was deciding where to go from there. Each movement happened in precise coordination with my breath at the exact same time, and my mind felt very connected to what my body was doing. Because my breath and the movement where so synchronized, it felt safe.
I was not telling my body ‘curve your spine this way’ and I had no preconceived ideas of where my body was going to go next. As she stimulated a spot in my spine and then the next, sensation traveled between the two points just like a reflex or information traveling along a circuit board. It felt like the reflex movement was mapping out areas of tension for my brain, connecting them to my breath.
Feeling along for tender spots, my body would hiccup into motion. My spine arched into the area of tension and it squeezed and squeezed into that spot creating more tension and holding it and holding it. With another breath the movement changed into a spine wave, releasing that tension and waving into the next area of pain that connected to that first area, repeating that process until it had found all spots.
This spine wave movement happens in exactly the same way in every Network treatment. Occasionally, my body was trying to get at a certain spot that my my angle wasn’t quite right (my neck was hard to access) and the doctor would help tilt my hip or neck slightly at the right moment during the movement so I could go further in that direction. At one point she held my head and told me to relax my head into her hands, my spine was able to easily move into the atlas area that causes me so much trouble. It was such a fascinating and wonderful sensation feeling my body go into such an automatic primitive movement pattern.
She knew exactly the areas my body was working to correct and was watching my movements very closely, even the very tiny twitches. This way she was able to step in and guide me only when needed.
There is a lot of focus on the emotional release in Goop Lab and the viral post, and in articles Ive I’ve read. I did not experience any of that. Crying and moaning didn’t happen to me. At one point my eyes felt like they where watering, but this felt more like when my eyes water with a sneeze or a yawn, not an emotional response.
The treatment ended by drawing the warm feeling up all the way into my cervical atlas where I have a lot of tension and pressure. Heat went up into my skull and I felt my neck wiggle repeatedly and finally straighten. My right shoulder tensed really hard drawing my arm up into the air. I felt the tension right into my fingers, which brought on a charlie horse on the side of my hand. After a few minutes that tension released and my neck wiggled and relaxed back into place. Eventually after about a 30 minute treatment my movements slowed down. After a few minutes, when I felt ready, I got up slowly.
What Did Network Spinal Analysis Do For My Pain?
Hoping that my back would feel at least a little relief after this appointment, I expected that it would take a few appointments to get it to calm everything down. I was amazed to discover the deep pinching knots where gone, and my right shoulder was no longer tensed up towards my ear. My entire body was relaxed, at ease and so comfortable. Vagus nerve stimulation is pretty amazing.
My ears popped as I sat up and I noticed my ears where no longer plugged. I have quite chronic congestion in my sinuses which causes my ears to get blocked and I get occasional tinnitus from that. Sitting up I felt a big pressure headache at the very top of my head. I always used to get these pressure headaches when with the really big, major neck adjustments. It goes away after a few minutes.
As I was getting ready to leave, the Dr. explained that throughout the evening I may still find my body working on finding alignment and I may feel some unusual sensations.
I had some really interesting sensations for sure. Not only was my spine shifting up and down sporadically throughout the rest of the day, I was becoming more aware of holding tension in my thigh muscle. I’m now able to release the tension right away, which then relaxes my hip.
Stimulating my vagus nerve caused deep relaxed breathing which continued throughout the night. I could feel sensations in the roof of my mouth, the back of my throat, and on my cheek under my left eye. All areas that involve the vagus nerve. At bedtime I had a few interesting stomach cramps in my digestive system that came and went. The vagus nerve helps modulate your digestive system, modulates your breathing and heart rate, helps you make facial expressions and is connected to the roof of your mouth. I had a very deep sleep that night, only waking up at 5am from a sharp cramp in my stomach at that same spot. The next day I stopped being aware of most of those sensations except for noticing tension.
Follow Up Care
Since that first appointment, my back has felt really great. My posture is better, not perfect yet. I can tell it’s getting there. I am able to quickly notice when and where I’m holding tension where as before I only noticed it when something started to hurt. My shoulders, neck and back are now soft and relaxed. I’ve had some follow up appointments and I’m definitely continuing on with her care. It works for me and I like it.
I’m excited seeing so much improvement in my neck from such an old deeply set problem. I just assumed I would always have neck issues, and I’ve adapted to tolerating a lot of related discomfort. It becomes a real issue though when I get flare ups which affect my day to day life, and simply taking advil or tylenol doesn’t help.
Posture Is Important
Besides the nuisance of the chronic pain and discomfort, I’ve been very self conscious about my posture. Neck kyphosis causes a hump over time called the dowager hump. It’s very unattractive. I roll my back out frequently to break up that fascia and when I drive I focus on sitting up straight and pulling my shoulders back. If this treatment helps corrects my posture, that is as significant an advantage as any cosmetic procedure in my books. To me, good posture and carriage is as much a marker of attractiveness as full lips or long lashes. It’s subtle, but I believe posture forms a large part of a persons impression about you. It speaks to your attitude, level of confidence and your overall health.
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Cristina founded The Sweat Edit in 2010. She lives with her husband, two daughters and two boston terrier fur daughters in Vancouver, BC. Cristina dabbles in many creative hobbies such as drawing, painting, and jewelry design which sometimes makes it's way here on the blog. Cristina enjoys various sweaty pursuits such as Peloton spin, olympic weightlifting and running.