The Technique

The Activator Method Chiropractic Technique® is a diagnostic and treatment system that can be used by some chiropractors to treat many different conditions. Commonly, the method is used to treat back pain, neck pain, headaches (including migraines), rotator cuff dysfunction, hip or pelvic dysfunction, etc.

The Activator Method uses a small, hand-held instrument called the Activator Adjusting Instrument to deliver a gentle impulse force to the spine with the goal of restoring motion to the targeted spinal vertebra or joint. It is an alternative to the traditional manual form of spinal manipulation. Chiropractors will use a protocol that involves the patient moving certain parts of their body as directed by the doctor (ex. Please turn your head to the right) to determine which segment of the spine needs to be adjusted, other doctors will use the instrument, but not the protocol.

The Advantages

There are a few theoretical advantages of an Activator instrument-assisted treatment. The first is based on the speed of the device – since the instrument is so quick the body’s muscles are less likely to tense in response, and resist the treatment. The lack of muscle resistance may facilitate the treatment effectiveness. The second is that the applied force is located and does not add any additional torque or bending moment to the joint. Such additional bending can be uncomfortable for patients who are arriving in acute pain. Another advantage of the technique is because it is so gentle, patients with osteoporosis or smaller build who have fear of being manual adjusted are able to comfortably receive chiropractic care.

caledon_activatorWhat to Expect

During a typical adjustment with the Activator, the chiropractor applies the Activator device to the tissues at or near the affected joint. An initial pressure is followed by a quick thrust from the device, which feels much like having one’s reflex tested by tapping your knee. The patient remains still, with no twisting or turning as there often is for a traditional chiropractic adjustment. After an adjustment, the chiropractor will often re-evaluate for correction of signs and symptoms associated with the complaint.

If you are from the Bolton or Caledon region and are looking for an alternative to traditional manual chiropractic care, book with Bolton Total Rehabilitation today!


    1. Huggins T, Boras AL, Gleberzon BJ, et al. Clinical effectiveness of the activator adjusting instrument in the management of musculoskeletal disorders: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 2012;56(1):49-57.
    2. National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Job Analysis of Chiropractic 2005: A project report, survey analysis, and summary of the practice of chiropractic within the United States. Greeley, CO. January 2005.
    3. Richards DM. The Activator story: development of a new concept in chiropractic. Chiropractic Journal of Australia 1994;24:28-32.
    4. Chiropractic adjusting instrument Patent No. US 4116235 A. Accessed June 19, 2013.