Terms Explained: what is the Webster Technique?

The Webster Technique is a chiropractic adjustment often discussed in relation to pregnancy.

Chiropractic care can enhance neurobiomechanical function, which means it helps make sure that the bones and nerves are in optimal positions and performing at optimal levels. When pregnant, a person can carry a lot more weight than normal and can carry that weight in different ways than normal. Because of this, muscles, bones, and ligaments can adjust to new positions in ways that make everyday movements – and even labor! – more difficult. Chiropractors call these new positions “sublaxations.” Chiropractic care during pregnancy can mitigate the negative effects of sublaxations by manipulating bones and ligaments back to their original – and ideal – positions.

The Webster Technique is a maneuver designed by a chiropractor who adjusted his daughter during her labor and realized that chiropractic care could benefit pregnant people more if it focused more on the pelvis. Specifically, there is a triangular vertebra at the end of the spine called the sacrum. The sacrum supports the weight of the whole upper body. So, as you might imagine, pregnancy can put a lot of stress on the sacrum.

Here’s a quick video showing you what I mean.

This increased stress on the sacrum during pregnancy can cause a “sacral sublaxation.” The Webster Technique is an adjustment of the spine to help correct a sacral sublaxation. (Keep in mind that anyone can get a sacral sublaxation, whether pregnant or not, but since a stretching and growing uterus pulls on uterosacral ligaments, which attach to the sacrum, it makes sense that pregnancy and sacral sublaxations are linked.)

Early on in the adaptation of this technique, several clients who experienced the Webster Technique also had a breech baby who then turned to be in an ideal position for birth, and because these happened around the same time, some people began to think that the Webster Technique could be used for “turning babies” (or, in medical tearms, adjusting a fetus from a malpresentation to an ideal presentation). This is not held up by evidence. The focus of the Webster Technique is not to move the baby or otherwise treat any medical condition, but rather to facilitate normal movement and proper alignment of the pregnant person’s spine and pelvis. For more information, see this article.

Chiropractors can be specially trained and certified in the Webster Technique. If you want to see what a Webster Technique adjustment looks like, check out this video. If you would like to find a chiropractor who has done this, check out this directory. As always, talk to your medical care provider before starting a new kind of treatment.

Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash

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