Start Small Mindi Fried Says Chiropractic Benefits Are for a Lifetime

If children are clay, Mindi Fried wants to be the sculptor — before something else does the molding.“You want to have your body and your child’s body functioning the best it can,” said Fried, owner of Motion Chiropractic Center in Easthampton, who stresses the need for not just adults, but children and adolescents to be examined as well.“Who knows how much of what you experience as an adult actually started with that so-called ‘little fall’ when you were 2, when you managed to put enough stress on just the right spot so that a joint got stuck or moved out of position, and developed in a less-than-optimal fashion?” she asked. “If you bend a tree sapling and secure it in a bent position, it will grow up bent. It’s the same thing with a child.“It’s like a sculptor working with fresh clay versus clay that has been sitting out in the sun for two weeks,” she continued. “Which is going to be more pliable and really see some changes?”

When most people think of chiropractic care, Fried said, they probably talk about back and neck pain, and look for a single incident that caused it. However, she emphasizes that injuries and bad habits accumulate over time, even from childhood. The earlier someone is treated by a chiropractor, the better, she explained.

“It’s not that we don’t see changes in the adult spine; they just take much longer to occur,” she said. “Stress piles upon stress piles upon more stress, and that just changes how easily adaptable we are as adults. Working with kids is fun; after a couple of adjustments, you see some major improvements.”

Fried has carved out more than one niche at Motion Chiropractic, having been trained by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Assoc. in the care of children and pregnant women. The idea, she said, is to tap into the body’s natural healing ability to allow people to perform at their maximum potential, whatever their stage of life.

“I love my job,” said Fried as she cradled her recently born infant at her chest. “I love working with everyone, especially pregnant women. There were times last year when there were five pregnant women in here, and I was one of them. I have a great time here.”

Sea Change

Despite those good times, Fried didn’t originally intend to be a chiropractor. She majored in Marine Biology at Gordon College with the goal of working in whale and dolphin research. “But that required years and years of plankton research to climb the ladder, and that’s not what I wanted to do.”

After working in research at Boston University Medical Center, she was offered a job opportunity with a chiropractor, and started getting adjusted as well to remedy her near-daily headaches. “The migraines pretty much went away, and I thought, ‘this chiropractor stuff is kind of cool.’”

Still trying to find the right career in her mid-20s and leaning toward earning a teaching degree, a friend suggested she would be a good chiropractor. That month, she applied to school, and was licensed in 1996.

“I had considered going to medical school at one point in my life, but a lot of stuff wasn’t gibing with me philosophically,” she said. “I like to be a little more holistic and whole-person-oriented.”

In addition, she had done some volunteer work in an emergency room in college and wasn’t satisfied with the lack of contact between doctors and patients in the hospital setting.

In contrast, she has found a more fulfilling niche as a chiropractor, first with Valley Chiropractic, and, for the past three years, operating her own practice. As a business owner, she said she’s able to be more flexible balancing work and home responsibilities (she has two children). As a relatively new business, she said, geography has helped her, in that she set up shop in a progressive region that has been fertile ground for many non-traditional forms of health care.

“This is an area that’s really open to alternatives,” Fried said. “Even the medical community is friendly to alternatives and understands how we can all fit in the same environment. It’s not so much a competition like it is in some places.”

Whether working with children or adults, she said, her goal is always optimizing the patient’s health by understanding how the whole body works. That takes patience and a willingness to look beyond the quick fix, both for her and for patients who might prefer easy answers to chronic head, neck, or back pain.

“One question I get a lot is, ‘what event caused this?’ I’m like, ‘do I have to pick one?’” she said. “Where we are right now is an accumulation of where we’ve been, and people need to see getting help as a journey rather than an event. It’s a process that takes time; it’s not like there’s one fall and you’re sick, or one adjustment and you’re healthy.

“People have to change their mindset, especially in this culture we live in,” she continued. “It’s like fast food; ‘show me the quickest way possible to do XYZ.’ But it’s really not like that.”

For patients willing to put in the time, said Fried, chiropractic benefits are many. For example, she explained, adults can not only do away with pain but improve stamina, balance, and coordination. She claims infants and children can find relief from asthma, allergies, colic, ear infections, and even bedwetting. Meanwhile, chiropractic care in expectant mothers can restore balance to pelvic muscles and ligaments, leading to an easier, safer delivery and recovery.

I’ve had two kids now and received chiropractic care with both pregnancies, and I really feel that chiropractic care during pregnancy can help with so many things,” she said. “It’s a natural alternative for dealing with the pain when people are uncomfortable taking medications, but also, when your spine and pelvis are aligned properly, the birth becomes easier because there’s as much room as possible to let the baby out.

“If you’re properly aligned and your nervous system is working properly, the baby will be in the best position for birth,” she continued. “The vast majority of the time, when the baby is not turning its head down or is in a bad position, something’s going on with the pelvis.”

Take Care

Naturally, Fried recommends both mom and baby be checked out after childbirth, as the experience is one of the most physically traumatic that either will experience. But childhood is so full of chiropractic pitfalls — from heading soccer balls to walking in poorly fitting shoes to carrying a backpack on one shoulder all the time — that care shouldn’t stop in infancy, she asserted.

“I really feel like people would be in here a lot less often if they took care of themselves. I always tell people that, if they do the right things for themselves outside the office, they’ll be a lot better off,” she said, and that includes checking the bad habits of the workplace, from lifting heavy loads incorrectly to using bad posture while sitting in front of a computer monitor (see related story, page 29).

“It’s like the difference between brushing your teeth once a week versus after every meal,” she said. “It affects how often you’ll see the dentist. Well, taking care of yourself will help determine how long your body will last.

“You only have one body,” she added. “Some parts we’ve figured out how to replace, but the spine is not one of them.”

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