A branch of chiropractic care, network spinal analysis is one of the more difficult avenues of alternative medicine to understand. Beginning with various chiropractic principles and “networking” them, Dr. Donald Epstein created a discipline that simultaneously achieved the goals of traditional chiropractic care—and completely went beyond them.
My friends, Steve and Julie Wilke, both chiropractors, practice network spinal analysis in Madison, WI. Steve once described to me why he gave up traditional chiropractic for networking. He happened to be looking at the x-rays of a colleague who used networking spinal analysis. Stunned, he noted that the spines of his patients were practically perfect. That spiked his interest. Echoing this success is the case of a friend of mine who had a subluxation (misalignment) in her vertebrae that a number of traditional chiropractors were unable to realign. Dr. Wilke, using network spinal analysis, succeeded.
In the initial visits to a networking chiropractor, it is common to walk out mystified. Here’s what happens: you lie face down on the table. The practitioner checks the tension in your body by feeling the tension in your ankles and having you move your head from side to side. Using the “networked” chiropractic principles, he then determines a point along the spine where the muscles are most relaxed, and touches that point with a finger (“makes a contact”). I have always had a tendency to take a spontaneous deep breath after a networking doctor makes a contact along my spine. Asking about this, the answer was “That’s what’s supposed to happen.”
Making a contact in network spinal analysis invites in the breath. The significance of this is easier to understand if we consider yoga. Breathing is the primary focus in a yoga practice. As you work through the asanas, or yoga poses, the goal is to keep steady, deep, long breaths, making the exhale longer than the inhale. Developing flexibility in yoga involves the breath, which in some real manner energetically penetrates deep into our layers of tightness, breaking them open. Similar to how water can wear away rock, the breath can reach and open those bound up areas in us that have hardened over time. Stop breathing in yoga, and you lose the ability to energetically open.
A similar process occurs in network spinal analysis. All of us have experienced tightness in our necks and backs. It is actually this muscular tightness, sometimes pulling in opposite directions, that can cause the spine to shift out of alignment. Of course this is particularly likely when trauma stresses an already tight part of the neck or spine. Seeking out a point of maximum relaxation, the network practitioner makes a contact, inviting in the breath to break up the muscular tension that created the vertebral misalignment. As this occurs, the breath becomes smooth, deep, and an unrestricted wave undulates through the spine from the sacrum (lower back) into the neck. These waves of deep breathing allow the spinal vertebrae to “shake out” into precise alignment over time.
To those who have needed repeated chiropractic adjustments, only to slip back out of alignment yet again, the advantage to this should be clear. The reason you need repeated adjustments is because the muscular tension causing the misalignment remains. Network spinal analysis takes chiropractic care a level deeper by addressing the underlying tension that produces the misalignment.
I have to salute Dr. Epstein’s genius. Somewhere he took a leap and made a connection that was not obvious, linking chiropractic care to the universal energetic currents. Perhaps there are new things under the sun after all.