It has taken me almost 8 years to find one…and now I have found her! Holistic physician, chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist, and naturopath, Dr. Gabrielle Francis is a “one and only”. Currently I see her monthly for massage, acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments. She is truly talented and extremely effective in her sessions.
Chiropractic practice is known for its controversy. Through its history, it’s been named quakery, mystical and known for fraud in the healthcare profession. Health care industry say that chiropractic adjustments and spinal manipulations may cause disability, death, or major complications to the spine. There are several chiropractors that hold water to these accusations. Some snap and crack your joints in less than 5 minutes without any preparation. Some lay 7-10 patients on beds lined up in a small room and hardly touch you but say that their energy is adjusting your spine from within. I’ve experience both and will say that these doctors commit a crime. Charging over $200 per session for 15 minutes of your time while possibly causing misalignment and more pain in your body.
It’s a pretty scary line to walk on – entrusting your body in someone’s hands, knowing that they have the opportunity to change it for the the good or bad. It’s just like working with a fitness trainer or body work specialist. You have hopes that you will be safe and they’re not going to injure you or put your body in a state of pain or disability. At least with a trainer or massage therapist, you will feel discomfort and make a choice to not continue. But with a chiropractor, your body lies in their hands (literally) before they twist and pop you.
When you exercise, you want your body to move in full range of motion. When it’s limited, your muscles will grab on your bones and joints, begin to pull in other areas and compensation occurs. So before you begin any exercise, you want to make sure your body is warm and your muscles are stretched and released. Dr. Francis begins her sessions by checking my alignment, she then props my hips up on wedges and waits until they set in proper alignment (my pelvis is a bit torqued from an old injury) . She then works on tight muscles in my glutes, back, trapezius with massage to warm and prep my body for her adjustments.
Adjustments, when done properly, can reset your body’s alignment. Let’s use an example we all do daily: sitting at the computer in poor posture. Most desks are not set up ergonomically so the most common posture would be a protracted head (image below).
In this posture, known as cervical kyphosis, your cervical spine is overloaded forcing your upper back and neck muscles to work so much harder than they should. Your spine begins to mold itself into this position. The forward weight of your head compresses the nerves in the base of your skull into your upper spine causing headaches, respiratory issues and possibly leading to psychological and mental disorders. Who would have thought sitting at a desk can create these health issues?
In correcting this, setting up your desk is the first step to avoid having to poke your head forward to look at the screen. The next step is awareness and trying to retract your head (give yourself a double chin) which relaxes the neck muscles and straightens out your spine. Consistent stretching of your neck and upper back muscles help to release tension and bring your head back to alignment. Chiropractic adjustments will help to fast forward the reversal of this posture.
I’ve been spending more time in front of my computer so I was beginning to develop slight cervical kyphosis. Dr. Francis would massage all the tight muscles in my traps, up my neck and all the way to the base of my skull to prep for a neck adjustment. This particular adjustment unnerves me and she knows this. One wrong move can misalign your spine and create all sorts of issues from disability to possible death. She relaxes me with breathing queues and assures me with full explanation of how she is setting my body up so that her adjustment will release only needs to and with minimal force. Once it’s done, it is the most relaxing feeling. I automatically breathe better and feel this openness in my neck. A symphony of cracks (nitrogen released in the joints) occur and we can all agree that that sound is release alone. She proceeds through my body and when I finally stand up, it’s a whole new me.
She informs me that I’m now moving in a different posture. So taking time in this new posture is important and not doing anything that will disrupt it’s adaptation to new placement is key. She sends me on my way with a neck traction block so I can do my homework until my next visit with her.
Dr. Francis’ holistic approach in medicine runs parallel with my beliefs and I can’t wait to explore all the ways she will teach me about the healing power of nature and how to work in harmony with my body. Her 17 years of medical education has taken her worldwide and back to NYC offering a unique approach to medicine and healing.
* I’m proud to have Dr. Gabrielle Francis a part of my Community.
Please visit her site at The Herban Alchemist.