It seemed like things got worse after my adjustment, but then got a lot better. What happened?
It is likely that a phenomenon known as retracing has occurred. This is widely recognized by vitalistic natural therapies (such as homeopathy where it is called the Hering’s Law of Cure). It may appear as old physical and/or emotional patterns “come to the surface” and are expressed as an echo of past symptoms of dis-ease. It happens as the body-mind deeply processes the correction of the subluxation pattern. Its expression can take many forms from temporary increase of pain to profound emotional release, although if it occurs it is generally mild or perhaps unnoticed. It may happen so quickly that it is not perceived, or emotional releases may appear only through dreams.
“Body tissues (especially connective tissue) possess a memory. When an injuring force occurs, the tissue which receives the force is changed. Perhaps it retains the energy of impact. The human body then either dissipates that energy as it returns to normal, or the body somehow localizes the impact energy and walls it off, much as it walls off the tubercle bacillus during the inactive state of the disease. After the energy of the injury has been effectively isolated, the body adapts to this area. Energy (electrical, magnetic, prana, Qi, or your own personal preference) is then forced to move around this area rather than through it. When the original injury is discovered, the repressed emotional component of the somatic injury frequently and concurrently release.”
- John Upledger, DO (Developer of CranioSacral therapy)
Retracing will occur with healing systems that permit the body to express and rebalance itself. Retracing will not happen in conventional modern medicine when disease is suppressed by masking symptoms. In Chinese medicine, the concept of yang implies forceful, loud, and hard, but superficial and short acting. The concept of yin implies gentle, quiet and soft, yet producing profoundly deep and long lasting effect. Retracing is an attribute of healing yin, and is commonly seen with non-force chiropractic methods.
Patients going through a particularly intense retracing may feel as if they’ve had a serious relapse or that they are getting worse. Please let me know what retracing you may experience. Although retracing usually passes relatively quickly, patients have been known to terminate their care as a result of it, and cheat themselves of complete recovery. Retracing is actually a good sign and a helpful part of your healing journey. It can open the door to deeper health through a more natural progression of healing.