An In-depth Look At One Component Of Structural Chiropractic


Structure being the alignment of the Hip, Spine, Shoulders, neck and head.

Function being how we move and how we adapt to our environment. When we are adapting optimally we are able to heal optimally, move optimally and react optimally.

But how do you measure how we are adapting, how we are reacting.

One way is through heart rate variability, which assesses how the autonomic nervous system is functioning.

The autonomic nervous system is similar to the operating system of a computer or a phone, it handles all of our processes like digestion, breathing, heart rate and more being the scenes without us having to think about it.

When autonomic function decrease our health decreases.

Before and after every structural correction we measure our patients Autonomic Function.

We do this through measuring Heart Rate Variability (HRV) a powerful non-invasive method for analyzing the function of the autonomic nervous system.  

HRV is a marker of cumulative wear and tear, and has also been shown to decline with the aging process. Although resting heart rate does not change significantly with advancing age, there is a decline in HRV, which has been attributed to a decrease in efferent vagal tone and reduced beta-adrenergic responsiveness.

 HRV appears to be a marker of two processes, relevant to the conceptualization of allostatic load: (1) frequent activation (short term dips in HRV in response to acute stress); and (b)inadequate response (long-term vagal withdrawal, resulting in the over- activity of the counter-regulatory system in this case, the sympathetic control of cardiac rhythm).

(Allostatic load is "the wear and tear on the body" that accumulates as an individual is exposed to repeated or chronic stress)

Columbus Chiropractic Allostatic Load


One specific part of HRV analysis that we look at is Poincare plot analysis.

The Poincare plot, often used in the study of non-linear dynamics, depicts graphically HR fluctuation and it is scattered plot where each RR interval is plotted against its next interval. 

In the Poincaré plots, the SD1 width reflects the parasympathetic activity; and the SD2 length reflects the sympathetic modulation. The shape of Poincaré plot can be used to visually evaluate the sympathovagal activity. An elongated, torpedo-like shape with decreased SD1/SD2 ratio is associated with elevated sympathetic tone, and a more oval, fan-shaped configuration resulting from increased SD1/SD2 ratio indicates less sympathetic tone. The points get more scattered when vagal activity increases, or the sympathetic activity decreases.

Convergence of Poincare plots are seen with a decrease in total autonomic activity. 


Analysis before the structural correction shows a decrease in total autonomic activity. (Below)

Pre-Structural Correction Columbus


Analysis after the corrections shows an increase in parasympathetic tone, sympathetic tone and overall increased vagal activity.  (Below)

Post Correction Columbus Chiropractor


At Optimize Chiropractic it is of vital importance for us to be able to show you how and why your function is improving. By measuring HRV before and after every correction you are able to see the impact proper structural alignment has on your body.


  1. Hsu, C., Tsai, M., Huang, G., Lin, T., Chen, K., Ho, S., . . . Li, C. (2012). Poincaré plot indexes of heart rate variability detect dynamic autonomic modulation during general anesthesia induction. Acta Anaesthesiologica Taiwanica,50(1), 12-18. doi:10.1016/j.aat.2012.03.002

  2. Albert C.­C. Yang, MD ReyLab, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Harvard Medical School Dept. Psychiatry, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taiwan 


Jacob Coffman