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The Pettibon System™ Christian Cohen, DC, CCCN, DACNB


The Pettibon System™ was developed to deliver the promise of chiropractic through spinal structural correction. This is not just postural observance or short-term functional change but objectively measurable (provable) results by pre- and post-x-rays of the patient. The restoration of spinal form and function is a complicated process. Injuries and/or displacements of the spine require special treatment and in the proper sequence to restore the spine’s form and function. The role of water intake, supplements, warm-up stretching exercises, force-over-time traction, repetitive loading- unloading cycles, and isometric demand exercises, as well as the use of controlled vibration (whether targeted or whole body) in modern treatment results, cannot be denied. Not to say that any of these will elicit structural correction without adjusting the patient, but should be included in a comprehensive treatment plan.


A model of the normal spine is necessary before the abnormal spine can be understood. The Pettibon Spinal Model represents the spine as a closed kinetic system made up of hard and soft tissues. The soft tissues— muscles, discs, and ligaments—hold the spine upright in its optimal position for function relative to gravity, while moving it through its expected ranges of motion. These two constants, gravity and movement, are


modulated under the direction and control of the nervous system.


Gravity is an absolute environment with which the upright spine and posture must develop and relate. As Dr. Pettibon explained, “The nervous system always wants us to hold our heads upright. The nervous system will do this at the expense of causing muscles to subluxate the lower spine, or correct it if it is displaced for the same reasons.”


Pettibon practitioners take these principles and put them into practice to realign the spine so that it can function optimally in its upright position relative to gravity. At the core of The Pettibon System are


18 www .chir ohealth.or g


the weights. The Pettibon Weighting System™ consists of specially designed head, shoulder, and/or hip weights that patients wear twice daily for up to 20 minutes until spinal form and function are corrected. The number of weights and their placement depend upon the spinal displacement that needs to be corrected. Wearing the weights alters the head, thoracic cage, and pelvis’s centers of mass, causing the righting reflexes, muscle spindles, mechanoreceptors, and proprioceptors to send sensory input to the nervous system. To balance the body to the weights, and altered spine, the nervous system causes some of the involved spinal muscles to relax and others to contract (isometric demand


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