Functioning, rationale and indications
The use of different tools in chiropractic is a “hot” subject. Adjustment philosophy gravitates around two poles: on one side, there are “traditional” chiropractors, who (as the word says, chiro = hand and praktikos = practice) use their hands and only their hands to deliver adjustments and optimise the functioning of the nervous system. The Gonstead system – for example – belongs to this group. On the other side, there are chiropractors that make use of all sorts of tools: straps, blocks, lasers, massage guns and so forth. The “diversified” approach – which we use at Alive Chiropractic – often includes elements from each group with no particular limitations.
Activator uses and function
The activator is a hand-held instrument (it looks a bit like a syringe made of metal) which delivers a fast and low aplitude force impulse to spinal joints with the goal of restoring proper joiny motion to the targeted area. In addition to the mechanical stimulus, there is also an involuntary neuro-physiological response from the body (this is why the activator is also great to simply correct posture).
In the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand it is one of the most common interventions used by chiropractors. The force is adjustable and it can go from a very mild impulse (almost imperceptible) to a quite strong impulse. There is no electricity, no chemical compund. The output is purely mechanical and it comes from a spring which can be regulated before delivering the adjustment. In a few words, what this instrument does is allowing chiropractors to provide a quick, low-force impulse at specific points.
The main advantage of using the Activator are related to speed. The speed reached by the activator is not replicable by human hand. As a consequence, the client’s muscles are much less likely to get tense “waiting” for the adjustment. In other words, there is much less resistance and less resistance coincides with more effectiveness.
Moreover, this tool is very precise. If – as an example – I need to move the spinous process of the T2 segment towards the right, after I localise the segment the activator allows me to move that segment and that segment only. I will not touch any other segments, as often happens when using hands only.
Research on th Activator is limited, but there are a few studies that shows positive and promising results.
You can read more about it here: