Helping Children Lead Active, Healthy, Drug-Free Lives

A chiropractor can help a child lead a healthy and active life free from drugs by preparing their spine and nervous system for proper growth and development. Chiropractors can also help parents teach their children proper posture and other healthy habits.

Starting at birth, how can a chiropractor help a newborn baby start leading a healthy life?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, that’s a great question and we have to even backtrack a little bit more because starting at conception, there’s this kind of miracle that happens and this thing that we call life is really a union of intelligence and matter.

And I know it’s a real heady topic, but when that sperm and egg come together, those two are pretty much half cells and they create one whole cell. Then all the information in the DNA is the intelligence and the instructions on how to build a body. So, these cells start to divide and under the guidance of what we call in chiropractic, the innate intelligence or the inborn wisdom of the body, that’s what’s going to do the work and assemble that baby, essentially building or making 70 trillion cells that come together to form this living being.

Now the intelligence that creates this body basically lives or resides in our nerve system somehow, and then it communicates across that nerve system. So, this intelligence needs a conduit to kind of express itself, and that’s where the nerve system comes in. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a man, a moth, a monkey, or a mosquito, the first thing that forms in any living creature is always going to be the nerve system so that information can flow and get expressed. And all that information will flow eventually from the brain then flows through that body, and then information from all the organs and the cells goes back up to the brain. And as long as that communication goes without interference, your body can execute the brain’s orders or that intelligence. It executes those orders which builds the baby.

Now, what we find is that starting at conception, well, if you were lucky enough to have the baby in good position or what the OB GYNs call head down, that baby might be there for two months with the head flexed, head down with that neck bent forward and sometimes that’s enough to cause alignment issues. Then the head comes through the birth canal and then in order to get the shoulders to align vertically, the doctor’s going to turn that baby’s head.

That also sometimes can cause a little bit of birth trauma where all, of a sudden, the baby comes out and it’s got something called an infant torticollis, which in my world is really code for a traumatic birth injury, because that stress on the neck causes the neck to lock up and the child doesn’t turn the head completely. So, whenever we have those misalignments, it irritates the neural structures and that causes dysregulation or an alteration in the communication. Then the body doesn’t regulate itself, doesn’t execute the instructions properly or with less accuracy, and that makes it harder for the body to run, regulate and actually heal itself.

Now, what’s really interesting is we know that when those two cells come together, the body is self-developing, right? It starts to form. We know that the body regulates itself because we don’t have to think about our digestion and breaking things down. And we also know that the body heals itself, and that happens by replacing damaged cells with healthy new ones. But that is all under the auspice of the nerve system. And so as long as the nerve system can monitor and regulate all the other systems in the body, everything should work well, and that child should grow normally.

So, it’s really important that this principle that I’m talking about applies to the newborn, to a teen, to an adult and an 80-year-old. It doesn’t matter if you’re 10, 50 or 100, the principle in the body is the same no matter how old and young you are. So right from the start, if you’re lucky enough and everything goes right and the baby is head down, very often there can be the first misalignment happening at birth and that’s why we check infants. And whether it be a vaginal birth or a C-section, there can be additional trauma with the C-section that can stress the spine and nerve system of a newborn.

We talked about it before, by making sure that every stage of growth and development, which is regulated by this intelligence, that information flows without interference, that gives that child the best chance to develop normally. And just by using gentle finger pressure, those bones can be released and aligned perfectly to allow the information to flow like a flood of water from the brain to the body, instead of just a trickle.

As children grow, can you explain the importance of a healthy spine and how a chiropractor can help?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely. You know, I think we kind of talked a little bit about it, how every stage of growth and development is regulated by the nerve system. And just like in the infant as the child grows, there’s an adage that says, as the twig is bent, so grows the tree. So, if a child’s spine isn’t lined up right as it’s developing, then we can see abnormal curvatures and abnormal alignment. And when we think about a child, there’s an interesting and scary statistic that they say that 60% of kids are dropped and never reported, like a babysitter or an older sibling might be holding the baby and drop it. And so, all these things can happen to our children. And then obviously you watched when your kids learned to walk how many times they fell a day, 10, 20, 30 times, they roughhouse with their friends and their siblings. And at a very young age, they’re already looking at phones, tablets, computers, flexing their head forward, causing this forward head posture, which we’ll probably talk about.

Establishing good posture when these kids are young, device use habits, and postures early are so important. That way, you can ensure that the spine and nerve system developed correctly without interference, optimizing their nerve system to take on all the stresses and strains that the body needs to deal with and adapt to. And the body uses its nerve system to adapt to stressors in the environment in a way that keeps us healthy. So, if there’s pressure on the nerve system and your nerve system is not optimized, those processes will be less efficient. You’ll express symptoms and you’ll not be as healthy as you can be with a proper functioning nerve system.

So, it’s very important that we take the time and teach our children certain postures and limit their device use and show them how to use it and really be the beacon and set the example because kids learn exactly what you teach. If they see Mom on the phone and Daddy on the tablet or on the computer with their head flexed, they just want to be like Mommy and Daddy and they copy the same behaviors.

How can chiropractic care help children with ADD and ADHD to rely less on medications?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: You know, it’s an interesting question, and I like to be careful when I answer these things because I don’t want to give the idea that chiropractic is this panacea and that any ail that your kid has a chiropractor can fix because it doesn’t exactly work like that.

But when we look at children with ADD, ADHD and all the other alphabet soup that they like to label these kids with, a lot of them get put on medications to control their behaviors and the one thing that I know for sure is that not all kids are exactly the same. You know, some kids can sit still for hours in school and just sit there hours on end and others need to be outside and moving. So, when a child doesn’t fit exactly to the model of the “model student”, they can be perceived as disruptive in class when really, it’s just a kid that’s more energetic than some of the other kids.

And I’ve probably said this to you a hundred times, kids and adults, we’re all as different on the inside as we are on the outside. And that’s important to understand. So, kids that get labeled with ADD, they usually tend to be what we call more in sympathetic overdrive, right? They’re just more active and they need to move around. And so, their body is cranking out adrenaline, cortisol chemistry, opposed to the kids who are “more balanced”. I hate to say one kid’s more balanced, they’re just different. And so, a kid that’s like more relaxed and calm is going to be more in what we call parasympathetic. So sympathetic is like fight or flight. They’re anxious, they’re energetic. The parasympathetic kid is going to be more heady, relaxed and a little easier to focus.

So, if a kid’s acting up in school, they might put them on a medication that will kind of bring their body chemistry into a different realm, right? It’ll shut down the production of adrenaline and cortisol until eventually these kids become lethargic, have less energy and kind of “fit into that class”.

But by adjusting the spine and balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system and eliminating those misalignments that cause the interference, we can balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic and usually have a positive effect on these kids.

Now, I said it before, and I want to make sure that people understand that chiropractic is not a panacea. It doesn’t cure everything that ills and it doesn’t really cure anything. It just gets the pressure off the nerve system, rebalances it and optimizes nerve system function so your child can express health and life at its very best. There’s nothing wrong with those children, they’re just different. And when we realize that, that those kids learn in a different way and can’t sit still as long, we can kind of adapt the program to the child, rather than trying to make that kid fit in there.

So, chiropractic will balance your body chemistry and allow the body to regulate because that nerve system is the master system. And like I said, it doesn’t matter if you’re a child, a teen, a tween, an adult, it all works the same. The principles are the same in everybody and in every body.

Kids are hooked on technology. So how can chiropractors and parents help them maintain proper posture and avoid tech neck, headaches and other related conditions?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: You know something, you said something so poignant I’m not even sure if you know, but you said chiropractors and parents. It’s so important that we understand that the parents have the bigger role in this.

It’s a very funny thing. I had a mom and her two kids in yesterday and I explained to the mom the importance of getting the kids checked. And she looked at her daughter and said, “Oh, honey, do you want to get checked today?” But she made it an option. And just by doing that, it kind of diluted it. Because like when the kid went for its vaccine or its shots, I’m sure Mom wasn’t like, “Oh, come on honey, do you want to get this needle in your arm?” You give the kid an option, they’re going to say no. That’s their favorite word most of the time.

So, it’s funny, but it really is about the parents. And you describe that kids are hooked on technology, but the parents are the ones who give them the technology and set them up. And I remember when I was a little boy, we didn’t have technology, but I wasn’t just given my first bicycle. There were a lot of rules. I couldn’t ride on certain roads and there were safety things that I had to learn, and they taught me hand signals, and they taught me that it’s really important about being responsible.

Now, what’s happening today is parents are just giving a kid an iPad or giving them a phone at like nine years old, and these children are just looking down at their phones. I see it in my own nieces and nephews and I kind of lift up their chins when they’ve got their head buried in their TikTok or whatever the young ones are doing these days. It’s really incredible to see how many kids are doing this behavior. If we start teaching kids at an early age how to hold devices, we limit their screen time, we use proper ergonomics, then essentially the kids are going to learn what you teach them. If you teach them how to sit and not drop their head at an early age, they’re going to develop those good habits and move forward with those habits and prevent those postural changes, particularly what we call tech neck, which is a straightening of the cervical curve. And that’ll help minimize the headaches and all other kinds of related conditions.

So, once this process of forward head posture starts, the center of gravity moves forward, it shifts the weight-bearing responsibility off the bones onto the muscles, then the muscles get tight. And I know tons of adults experience this as well as children and if that stuff gets ignored, it’ll continue to change the alignment of the cervical spine.

As a chiropractor, we step in and we do some general adjusting of the cervical spine and we can undo a lot of the damage that’s already been done and prevent further damage from happening. So, we do the postural reeducation with the kids, but it’s better to start early. Because kids learn what you teach them and whatever they see Mommy and Daddy doing on the phone all day, that’s what they’re going to do. So, it’s important to start early.

I’ve been a chiropractor for 33 years now, and I know I think I might be a little older than you, but I think we’re relatively similar in age and it’s interesting. You and I didn’t grow up with a cell phone or a computer or a tablet, but our kids today, it’s something that has to be dealt with.

We’re seeing huge changes in the x-rays in the young people that I see with forward head posture developing earlier and earlier, and this will magnify as they move into adulthood. And we’ve all heard the adage, a stitch in time saves nine. You don’t wait for pain or discomfort to start brushing your teeth. You need to care for the spine early and consistently throughout your life. We’ve all seen people with that unhealthy spine, and there’s a lot that can be done before we go down those roads and we have to start early and pay attention to the kids.

We want kids to be active and many kids pursue competitive sports at a young age. How can chiropractors and parents help when it comes to sports injury prevention?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, injury prevention, that’s a really big thing and it’s important on so many levels. Now, there’s no guarantee in life, whether you’re well-adjusted and you’re seeing a chiropractor or not, that sports injuries can happen, right? You can get blindsided in a football game, you can trip in a hole on a field and fall, and there’s more than a million ways to get hurt on the competitive sports fields. And as far as injury prevention, it’s really very simple.

What’s interesting to me is I talk a lot with parents and how kids tumble and fall and kids’ spines are very flexible, right? When we’re young, they’re malleable. They’re designed to take that kind of abuse. But when we’re older, when we fall, we don’t bounce. We break, right? It’s a very different thing as we get older. And so, the more resilient, flexible, and healthy the bones, the joints, the ligaments, and the muscles are, the less likely they’re going to get injured, right?

If I drop a rubber ball and it hits the ground, it’s going to bounce. If I drop an egg, it’s going to crack and break. So, it depends on the flexibility of the child and the health and the alignment of the spine. Because when you play that game Jenga and that box, that tower is stacked nice and tight, it’s super stable, you can put a lot of force on it. But when those blocks start to get misaligned, it’s much easier for that to topple over. So, the more flexible the spine is, the less of an impact those forces will be.

It is super important to understand, and thank God when we’re young, we bounce because we look at all the things that we go through. But life is full of bumps, bruises, slips, trips and falls, roughhousing. Anything, from birth injuries to contact sports, will have an impact on the spine, affecting the alignment, the resilience and the flexibility. And that’ll set up a child for problems in the future. So, it’s about making sure that the spine stays healthy, not necessarily preventing an injury. Look, the more flexible and younger you are, the easier it is.

But to answer your question about injury prevention, I certainly understand that a better connection from the brain to the body results in more coordination and more coordinating action. And then you’ll be less likely to slip, trip or fall. You’ll perform at a higher level. You’ll be able to process information about what’s going on around you on the field or off the field, what the other players are doing. And the faster your mind processes information, makes decisions and executes those movements, the better you’re going to be at avoiding collisions, falls and injuries.

And I do want to stress again that chiropractic, it’s not a cure-all, it’s not a miracle. It’s just a way to optimize the nerve system and make sure that your child performs at their best and the spine is as resilient as possible. In the case that there is a bump or a bruise or an injury or a fall from the monkey bars, that they bounce back, heal and return to normal as quickly as possible.

So that’s really the gist of it. There is no guarantee that we adjust a kid and they’re not going to get hurt on the field, but it does mitigate the severity of injuries and also helps them heal and get better faster.

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To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit or call (212) 977-7094 to schedule an appointment.

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