The Dorn technique should be learned by anyone needing often chiropractic adjustments. Our skeleton is

Tight muscles force joints to work in compression.

pulled out of optimum alignment by tense or foreshortened muscles.  Similarly tense muscles make our joints operate under a tension that wears them down eventually causing joint inflammation problems.  Spinal segments can also be pulled out of normal position creating curvature or compression of the spine.  The bones are NOT the cause of the problem as they prefer to be where they belong and operate best, but muscle tension/weakness pulls them out of place.  MUSCLE imbalances displace bones, so is forcing bones back into place (chiropractic) without addressing the muscle imbalance wise?

Getting our bones into their proper position by addressing the involved muscles is the benefit of the Dorn technique.  These self-help exercises combine directed pressure PLUS movement of the joints to encourage proper skeletal placement.  Since stress tightens certain muscles, skeletal placement exercise would benefit many of us daily.  On the other hand, strengthening certain muscles via muscle exercise can exacerbate skeletal DISplacement.  Many find that the Self-Help Dorn exercises an alternative or an adjunct to chiropractic care.  I find the neck and general spine exercises (see video below) helpful.  Scoliosis, stiff neck, compressed vertebral discs, dowager hump, TMJ and specific joint problems are nicely addressed by the Dorn technique.  If you find these helpful, add them in to your daily routine.  These exercises combine a directed pressure WITH a movement, WITH exhalation during that movement. These should NOT be painful!!! My experience has been when done correctly, you will notice improvement fairly quickly.

You can find other demonstrations with an internet search.



1. Hip – Lie down face up. Bend the knee and bend the leg at the hip, loop a rolled towel under the sit-bone of one leg and hold both ends with your hands. While pulling the towel towards the torso, (and thus putting pressure towards hip joint via the towel) straighten the leg. Can be done in the standing position too. 20X/day.

2. Sacrum – Lie down face up w/sacrum placed flat on the edge of a padded table or firm bed so that your legs are off the table or bed. Move bent knees in a marching movement for about 30 seconds.

3a. General Spine– Place 2 chairs so that their backs act like parallel bars. With hands on chair backs lift feet off the ground and swing the legs as in a walking motion. This lengthens the spine. Then do a slight twisting motion by rotating the hips. 30 seconds. Excellent ‘traction stretch.’

3b. Thoracic spine (where ribs are attached) – Place an exterior corner of a wall next to (not on) the spine at the top of your back. The feet are placed away from the corner allowing for comfortable leaning pressure to be applied by the corner to the back. The arms are swung in marching movement with hands reaching above the head as pressure is applied BESIDE the spine for about 10-15 seconds. Leaning forward allows the next lower section of the spine to be treated. Then go back to the top of the spine to treat the other side. Helps with Dowager Hump.

4a. Atlas (top of neck) – place thumbs under the base of the skull on either side of the cervical spine pressing upward toward the forehead. As gentle pressure is applied the head makes a ‘no’ motion.

4b. Cervicals (neck) – place 2-3 fingers beside the cervical spine near the skull pressing inwards and forwards while head makes a ‘no’ motion for 10 sec. Move down to next position and repeat. After reaching the bottom of the neck press down on the trapezius muscle (where the neck joins the shoulder) at the base of the neck while head makes a ‘no’ motion for 10 sec. 3X/day For ‘stiff neck’

For all limb exercises below: The procedure is basically (1) bend the joint, (2) apply pressure into the joint, (3) slowly straighten the joint as pressure is applied (and exhaling), (4) release and repeat.

5. Knee – Stand, placing foot on stool so that knee is bent, thigh is parallel to ground. With hands apply pressure as to compress the knee from underneath and above. Then straighten the knee by moving the body backwards. Release pressure as you bend the knee again, then compress as you straighten.

6. Ankle – In the lunge position with the knee forward of the ankle apply pressure downward on the knee toward the ankle. Then move the body backward taking the ankle from an acute angle (beginning position) to an obtuse angle (leg straightened). Remove pressure and return to the lunge position.

7. Elbow – while sitting, stabilize the back of the bent elbow against the inner side of the thigh. With the opposite hand grab the above the wrist and apply pressure towards the bent elbow. While pressure is applied, straighten the elbow. Release & repeat.

8. Wrist – stabilize the elbow and bend the wrist. With the opposite hand grab the bent-wrist hand and apply pressure towards the wrist joint. With pressure applied, straighten the wrist. Release & repeat.

9. Fingers/thumb – bend the finger joint. Apply pressure from the distal end inwards towards the joint while straightening. For the thumb joint at the wrist or base of palm begin in the closed position (closest to the palm). Pressure is applied toward the joint and the thumb is moved away from the palm. The second joint (at the web) begins with thumb bent towards the palm. Pressure is applied toward the joint and the joint is straightened away from the palm.

10a. Shoulder Position 1 – raise the arm to the side so that the top of the arm is parallel to the ground. With the opposite hand grab the raised arm so that pressure can be applied along the humerus towards the shoulder joint while moving the arm down to your side.

10b. Shoulder Position 2 – raise the arm forward with elbow bent so that the hand points up. With the opposite hand apply pressure at the bent elbow towards the shoulder while the arm is moved down.

11a. Jaw Position 1 – Open the mouth about 70%. Place the palms on the chin with the fingers pointing towards the ear. Apply pressure towards the ear while closing the mouth. Relax & repeat.

11b. Jaw Position 2 – Place the pad at the base of the thumb on the jaw joint beside the ear and apply gentle pressure inward while opening and closing the mouth. Good for TMJ.


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