What should I do after an adjustment to make sure it “holds”? Do I have to be really careful?
Unless you have significant tissue damage with a risk of reinjury, maintaining your normal activities is the best policy. Movement is life, and it aids the body in reformatting the nervous system for improved function. I often recommend that you take a gentle walk, or do whatever exercise that you are familiar and comfortable with, but just don’t push it to the limit at this time. The main idea is to not overwhelm the body with stress that it can’t handle, which may have initiated or aggravated a problem in the first place. Give the body a chance to experience pain free movement and reinforce those nerve pathways with movement.
If you are still hurting, it is still a good idea to move nearby parts of your body within a pain free range. Regional nerve pathways will be traced and reinforced as pain free, and will gradually exert more influence to pain perception at the injury site. Consider that fear can be a modulator of pain perception. To the best of your ability, attempt to be “fearless, but not foolish”. Balance is the key while you visualize and enjoy a new experience of movement.