The NUCCA adjustment is not an ordinary chiropractic adjustment.

Continuing with our theme of using my kids' storybooks and the universally-accepted life lessons they contain, our attention is called to the word "force". The function of force is highlighted in principle #10 of the 33 principles chiropractic was built on, so it's actually quite relevant to a discussion about how the spine gets thrown out of balance AND how it's best corrected. Here goes...

“Cluck!” said a chicken, and her chick said “Peep!”  “Maaa!” said a goat.  Blue said, “Beep!”

“HONK” yelled a dump truck.  “Coming through!  I’ve big important things to do!  I haven’t got time to pass the day with every duck along the way!”

NUCCA Adjustment

The dump truck gets stuck in the mud and then needs the help of all the animals and the little blue truck he just yelled at. 

Nothing gets done without something called “force”.  Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” 

In Mead’s message, thoughtfulness and commitment is what changes the world.

Gravity is a force.  Hate can be a force.  Love is a force.  I’m sure you can think of others.  Basically force precedes the motion, and motion is what gets things done.

The spinal adjustment is also a force, gently moving the vertebrae back into position and connecting inborn intelligence with the physical molecules that make up you. The spinal column’s purpose is to protect your spinal cord, but when the alignment and mechanics in the spine are off, the very vertebrae which are meant to protect the nerves now cause an interference in the body signals transmitted along those same nerves, thus limiting the expression of your body’s vital regulatory forces.  NUCCA accomplishes this as specifically (and gently) as possible.

Isn’t it cool that it really is that SIMPLE?

It wasn’t mere calories and muscles from the animals that pushed the dump truck out of the mud.  It was compassion.  Remember, force precedes motion just like gravity is there before you drop your keys.

“Nothing happens until something moves.” - Albert Einstein

How to Learn More About the NUCCA Adjustment

To learn more about the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association and Dr. James Pietrek's unique approach, please visit the NUCCA website here. To learn more about Upper Cervical Chiropractic in more of a general sense, please visit the advocate awareness site here.

To schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Pietrek in Prior Lake, see our contact page here.

You know the story...the pig who built the brick house was the smart one because the Big Bad Wolf couldn’t blow his house down.

When we think of a column, we may think of a Roman pillar. A pillar can be likened to a brick house, as in the story of The 3 Little Pigs.

Is the Spina a Column

There is a foundational problem with viewing the spine as a column or a brick wall though. Brick walls and columns don't have to bend down and tie their shoes. A brick house doesn’t need to put babies into car seats or bend over the sink to wash dishes.

When the spine turns into a brick-like structure or a true “column”, we have a name for this—it’s called arthritis. 

Arthritis, as we get older, leads to balance problems and stiffness and an increased risk and fear of a very real wolf:  the fear loss of coordination and balance which leads to accidental falls. 

A healthy spine is more like a tensegrity bridge (also known as tensegral or suspensory), which is more like the design of the new Saint Anthony Bridge, which replaced the one that collapsed in Minneapolis back in 2007. 

Struts and cables help the new bridge move and be flexible while being durable and light-weight.

Every bridge has it’s limits, but it would be nice to have some obvious warning signs. Sadly, the old bridge had some warning signs....but they weren't very obvious.

Thankfully, the spine’s sailboat-like assembly with many of the cables connected to the struts at the top of the head and neck will SHOW obvious signs of impending break down and when we may be at risk of giving way like a bridge.

Prior Lake Chiropractic Office Views the Spine Differently

Spinal adjustments at Prior Lake Spinal Care are likened to tuning a guitar - NOT repositioning Jenga Blocks within a confined spinal clumn.

It’s gentle and it needs to be done from the top because this is where the neurological control center is. Additionally, it’s the terminal/original point of much of our muscle and ligamentous framework.

To use a concrete layer's analogy, they Keystone's shape and position is the most important part of the archway. It's the main engineering concept behind the longevity of the Roman Coliseum and interior support structures of the Egyptian Pyramids.

At our chiropractic office, we know that palpation (feeling) of the upper neck vertebrae is totally unreliable when it comes to determining how the top two vertebrae have misaligned. (Van Roy P., Caboor D., DeBoelpaep S., Barbaix E., Clarys JP., Left-Right Asymmetries and Other Common Anatomical Variants of the First Cervical Vertebrae. Part I: Left-Right Asymmetries in C1 Vertebrae. Manipulative Therapy, 1997;
2(1):24-36 / Jende A., Peterson CK., Valididty of Static Palpation as an Indicator of Atlas Transverse Process Asymmetry. European Journal of Chiropractic, 1997; 45:35-42)

Just like a Keystone, effectively adjusting the top vertebrae in the neck requires an intimate knowledge of the shapes of the joint structures even before considering they may have misaligned and need to be re-aligned. This is "key" when it comes to delivering the most STABLE spinal adjustment possible.

To learn more about the chiropractic methodology at Prior Lake Spinal Care, please visit the NUCCA website here or the Upper Cervical Awareness website here.

To set up a free consultation over the phone or in person with Dr. Pietrek, please visit our contact page here.

You may have heard of the gag reflex.  Not the kind you may get from watching a despicable act play out on TV in the form of unsportsmanlike conduct, but the kind you SHOULD get when the medical doctor sticks a tongue depressor on the back of your tongue.

A healthy gag reflex not only means you're less likely to choke (survival value), but it also could mean that you have a strong immune system.

Brainstem nerve cell bodies are what these two things have in common.

The connection is simple. The brainstem sends the nerve signals to the muscles of the soft palate, larynx and pharynx, tongue, and swallowing & airway functions.

On another branch of the tree, a separate communication line goes to a relay station in the brainstem that controls most of our immune system.

When the brainstem doesn't fire or function properly and there is a lacking or absent gag flex or deficient immune system, studies show that oftentimes this is due to improper nerve signal firing at the level of the brainstem.

Upper cervical chiropractic (NUCCA) helps improve health and function by freeing up the nerve flow that can be restricted as a result of a misalignment of the tiny vertebra at the top of the spine known as the atlas or C1 vertebra. To learn more about NUCCA (National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association), click here. Also see this website dedicated to Upper Cervical Awareness.

Vagus Nerve Function and Upper Cervical Chiropractic

At Prior Lake Spinal Care, we specialize in the detection and correction of this small (yet large!) problem in the human condition.

When it comes to misalignments in the top of the spine, we know that small problems are large. Just like pollution in the headwaters of a river can affect the downstream water quality, we know that side slip and especially rotational misalignments of the Atlas (C1 vertebra) and Axis (C2 vertebra) can negatively impact the efficiency of the health and healing messages being transmitted along of the Vagus Nerves (you have two of them) which travel from every major organ of your body down to the first part of the large intestine.

To visit with Dr. Pietrek and learn more about his chiropractic, how it may optimize Vagus Nerve transmission and help your body move better, please visit our contact page here.

We need to breathe anyway, and it's one of the fastest ways to alter our physiology when we need to, so why not learn to do it a little more effectively?!? Better breathing, like upper cervical chiropractic care, starts at the top.

Carbon dioxide is just a  waste product of breathing in oxygen, right? 

Not so! In fact, the experts say that carbon dioxide loosens the bond between oxygen and hemoglobin within our red blood cells.

So, as long as we have to breathe anyway, let’s try to do it a little better so that we can have better tissue repair and better fuel supply for our brain.

When we breathe too fast and too shallow (usually mouth breathing) it directs the incoming air toward our chest and we expel  the carbon dioxide too fast. This makes it so that the oxygen doesn’t get into our tissues as well.   Here are three tips…

See our YouTube video for pacer video in which Dr. Pietrek plays notes on guitar, to the tempo of this formula, so you know when to breathe in and out. The goal is to pace your breaths accurately without thinking about it so much.

Better Breathing is Regulated by the Vagus Nerve

The Vagus Nerve ("The Wandering Nerve" in Greek) is Cranial Nerve #10 and exits from the brain at the level of the brain stem. This nerve plays a large factor in one's health because it controls much of the function of every organ of your body from the heart and lungs down to the first part of the large intestine.

As such, spinal imbalances in the top of the spine can alter the performance of the Vagus Nerve, which may result in limited function or poor health.

Upper Cervical (upper neck) based chiropractic care is an effective means for feeling great as well as optimizing function and healing.

To learn about upper cervical chiropractic, please visit the Upper Cervical Awareness site here. To learn more about the chiropractic method Dr. Pietrek practices at Prior Lake Spinal Care, please visit the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association here. To schedule a free consult with Dr. Pietrek, please see our contact page here.

Prior Lake Chiropractor, Dr. James Pietrek, loves reading children's books with his two kids. There's usually one simple yet important lesson we can all glean from each one.

In the children’s book The Dot, Vashti is a girl who does not yet know that she is creative.

In art class, all she could bring herself to do was to draw a dot in the center of her paper. Her teacher had her sign her “masterpiece” and then the teacher set her work in a beautiful gold frame right behind her desk. Every time Vashti walked by she thought to herself “I can draw a better dot than that!”

Curt Thompson, M.D. has done an in-depth study of the brain and has concluded that the prefrontal cortex is what makes us unique from other living beings. He says that this is where the ENERGY of the mind and the INFORMATION in the mind join together, and that’s where we get our creativity and ability to appreciate creative works.

Vashti’s dots/artwork continued to improve and made quite a splash at the school’s art show. In fact, a little boy came up to Vashti and said that he really admired her work and he wished he could draw as well her.

Vashti handed him a blank piece of paper and said “Show me”. He said “Me? Not me, I couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler.” Again, she said “Show me.”

The boy took the paper and pencil and his hand shook as he started to draw. Vashti looked at the boy’s squiggle and said “Now, sign it.”

Chiropractic in Prior Lake is About More than Just Back Aches

Chiropractic principle number 5 says that we have an inborn intelligence which maintains the vital force and allows us to make use of our educated brain and physical shell.

Upper cervical chiropractic care helps to ensure that the relationship of force and matter is free of interference so that you can not only get out of pain but also be more creative and appreciate creativity.

To learn more about Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care, please visit Upper Cervical Awareness or

To schedule a free consult with Dr. Pietrek at Prior Lake Spinal Care, please visit this page.

Dr. James Pietrek, Prior Lake Chiropractor, says that our bodies are designed to heal. Health is the entity, just like light. You don't try to eliminate disease, just like you don't try to eliminate darkness. You simply turn on the light.

"If a bumbly old bee stung him right on the knee….you would have a giraffe and half with a rat in his hat looking cute in a suit with a rose on his nose and a bee on his knee.” - A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein

Imagine: You go for a nice long walk all by yourself. You enjoy the cool breeze or the warm sun and as you get to your front step, you notice a perfect circular arrangement of leaves right on your doorstep. 15 leaves just laying there in a perfect circle. You look around but there’s nobody there.

You go inside and you ask your spouse/roommate/kids “What’s the deal with the leaves on the doorstep?” They all deny knowing anything about it. But you’re smart and whether you get to the bottom of this, you have good reason to believe someone’s messing with you.

Since we’re born with intelligence, we have the ability to recognize intelligent activity.

William Demski says that we recognize design when we observe a highly improbable event which follows a recognizable pattern. For example, a cliff in the Black Hills of South Dakota is a highly improbable event. Miles of gently rolling hills with a sudden drop off certainly doesn’t happen every few feet of terrain. But if you’re walking along for weeks and all of a sudden you see what looks like the faces of four former US Presidents, now you have both a highly improbable event with a recognizable pattern.

Freeway systems and the central nervous system follow a predictable pattern as well. If you’re in a car and you start in Oceanside and 50 minutes later you’re in San Juan Capistrano, then it is a safe bet that you drove on I-15.

In the central nervous system, did you know that in order for us to touch C1/Atlas and immediately change your posture, then we also had to influence (a positive influence) on the hippocampus (learning center), amygdala (stress response center) and hypothalamus (hormonal system chief regulator) of your brain as well?

It’s true! That’s how you’re wired. Pattern recognition is a method in forensics and in a child’s cognitive development. And pattern ARRANGEMENT is chiropractic principle #21: The mission of innate intelligence. The mission of innate intelligence is to maintain the material of the body of a “living thing” in active organization. “If you gave him a shoe and he stepped in some would have a giraffe and half with a rat in his hat looking cute in a suit with a rose on his nose and a bee on his knee with some glue on his shoe.”

Prior Lake Chiropractor Loves being back in His Home State

As you can see, the roads mentioned above reference places in Southern California. Dr. Pietrek chose "re-start" in Prior Lake because of it's proximity to family and because of the nearby lakes and more room to have fun outdoors.

Ever since early in chiropractic college, and thanks to some late night conversations with a roommate, Dr. Pietrek became fascinated with the intricacies of the human body and spinal cord system. He believes there's no way the body could have been formed by chance, and that it's the same designer that allows one to respond to chiropractic care, equipping us with the resilience to heal and make long-term hormonal changes that are needed to enjoy a higher level of spinal stability.

In a nutshell, that's how he describes his work: spinal stability through specificity.

His objective with patients is ROI. Usually this means return on investment, but at Prior Lake Spinal Care, it means tapping into your body's inherent resilience in order to optimize (Optimus = the highest version of yourself) through Integrating our office systems and education, along with the location and manner in which we adjust the spine (often called "brain-to-body" connection).

Incidentally, this is one of the most resourceful things you can do, seeing as though we don't take anything out of you and we don't put anything into you. In a way, we like to think of that as a good ROI of your time and money.

If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Pietrek's unique chiropractic system, please visit the NUCCA website here. If you'd like to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Pietrek in person or over the phone, please contact us here.

Prior Lake Chiropractor, Dr. James Pietrek, admits that he dropped a couple tears when reading this one. The Little Engine that Could's lesson on perseverance still rings loud and true.

Finally, the train reached the top of the mountain. "Hooray! Hooray!" cried all the dolls and toys. "Thank you little blue engine."

Perseverance: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

You know, I'm of the opinion that pretty much everything in life has to do with chiropractic one way or another.....

The desire, the human will, to live (that's her name, Liv, making her YouTube debut), to be resilient, to grow, to heal, to self-preserve and to support our loved ones AND the feeling you might occasionally get on Saturday morning when you just wake up, desiring to do something CONSTRUCTIVE (before the urge comes to shut off the alarm clock and roll over).

These all remind me of chiropractic. See, there's an invisible, intangible yet undeniable FORCE that runs, controls regulates and heals your body 24/7 whether you're awake or asleep. Yet there are destructive things that are constantly breaking us down all the time.

The question is, are we going to OVERCOME or SUCCUMB? And that's why I like this story, "The Little Engine that Could", because it teaches us to persevere. "The little blue engine just smiled. And as she puffed down the mountain, she seemed to say "I thought, I thought I could, I thought I could."

Prior Lake Chiropractor NUCCA Chiropractic Procedure

There are hundreds of chiropractic techniques. The NUCCA procedure is an excellent way of restoring spinal balance for most people because it addresses the connection from brain to body, at the level of the brain stem.

We know that the top of the spine is the weakest link, it's neurolgically the most important, has the most unusual mechanics AND it's usually been misaligned the longest, when one considers the amount of pulling force often needed just to "pull" the baby through the birth canal.

It's the side most part of the brain stem that controls the tone of the muscles that anchor the lower back to the hips. Sort of like the lead engine pulls the weight of the rest of the cars across the track.

If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Pietrek's unique chiropractic methods in Prior Lake, MN, please visit the NUCCA website here. If you'd like to set up a free consult to discuss your health concerns either over the phone or knee to knee at his office, please visit here.

Searching for the right Prior Lake Chiropractor is not an easy task. Even our own patients, sometimes, just don't get it.

I know they're only joking. I'm on their side. 

It's counterintuitive that so much can be done by doing so little.  Hence, some call it "magic" or "voodoo". 

Here's a homemade video that should clear things up.

One more thing. Occam's Razor says that doing the least to accomplish the most will always be more powerful than doing lots of things and getting the same result. Learn more about Occam's Razor here.

Prior Lake Chiropractor's NUCCA Spinal Adjustment

In chiropractic jargon, NUCCA is called and "upper cervical (neck) technique", while methods are referred to as "sports technique", "Activator technique" or "full spine technique" to name a few. However, in my opinion "full spine" techniques are actually segmental techniques, whereas NUCCA is actually more full spine than theirs.

If I didn't get pain relief from a "full spine" technique, I wouldn't have chosen to become a chiropractor. Yet, even while seeing some of the best chiropractors in the state, my back kept getting worse until I discovered NUCCA. I still have the curves in my spine, but at least the top of my spine is positioned over the bottom, now that "I've gotten my head on straight" with the NUCCA work (see photo below).

To learn more about the NUCCA method, please visit here. To set up a free consult with Dr. Pietrek in the Prior Lake area, please visit our contact page here.

Busy individuals who seem to get a lot things done are resourceful. They know that in order to be "into great", they must integrate.

Prior Lake Chiropractor Discusses Scoliosis Pain Relief

Every week, people say "my back went out on me" at our Prior Lake Chiropractic office.

When someone “throws out their back”, it could mean any number of things has taken place. They may have pulled a muscle or strained a ligament. In some cases of arthritis, they may have “pinched” a nerve along one of the jagged surfaces of a bone in the spine.

Some people “throw out their back” more often than others, so let’s take a look at some of the contributory factors. This way, you can see if you may have any red flags and take action to prevent this from happening to you. Also, check out our two videos below.

Here are the top four factors common among patients in my own chiropractic practice who tend to “throw out” their backs most often (along with some preventable measures):

Rotational Movements. When people throw out their lower or midback, they usually say they were doing some rotational movement at the time. Specifically, front-loading the lower back vertebrae and then twisting as they come back toward a neutral position.

Giving one last round of goodbye hugs to young grandchildren, shoveling snow, cleaning the garage and taking out the trash are all examples of activities that cause us to have much rotational movement in our mid and lower back.

2 Tips: Before doing these activities, make sure your chin is retracted just like a soldier at attention. Not tucking your chin down but locking it back. When you do this, it’s pretty much impossible to have bad mid and lower back posture.

Another tip is to find your belly button and trace around the other side to your lower back. This should be at the level of L3 which is the middle of your lower back. If you can, try to pinch the skin from the top-to-bottom. Now pretend that you are golfing with an iron from the fairway. When you go down to lift something, you should be able to maintain that skin pinch. If your skin stretches and you do not maintain that “skin pinch”, this means that you’re front loading your spine and transferring your weight to discs. Over time, this can lead to cracking and bulging of the discs which are the cushions between your individual vertebrae.

Obesity. Obesity associated with various health problems. This includes weakness in the connective tissues that hold the vertebrae together. Muscles and ligaments distend outward, from the middle. This weakens the integrity of the spinal structure, especially when bending…and even more so when bending and then rotating (twisting). Not only that, it accelerates the effects of gravity. Gravity compresses the spine and the extra weight can turn a good spine into a bad one and a bad spine into a potentially non-recoverably bad one.

Tip: Lose the extra weight. If you’ve tried unsuccessfully in the past you need to change your approach. Consider what you’re motivated by. In high school I was assigned to visit a laryngectomee support group and write about my experience. Sitting around a bunch of people with a hole in their neck sounding like a robot with their speech device was enough to convince me to not make certain lifestyle choices. There are genetic factors involved a lot of times with excess weight, but anything you can to drop a couple of pounds will be helpful.

Lack of Water. Now we’re getting into factors involving the spinal discs. A healthy disc contains about 90% water. You probably are not getting enough water every day. You need to forget about the “8 glasses of water” idea. It doesn’t take a genius to know that no two glasses are the same size and, if you’re like most people, you forget how many glasses you’re on by the time you get to your fourth one. Glasses don’t work very well for running errands either because they can break and spill easily.

Tip: Your best bet is to get a large container that you fill up once or twice a day. It should be calibrated on the side with the number of ounces or milliliters. This way you can keep track of what you’re taking in. A rule of thumb is to take your weight (in pounds) and divide it by two. Take this number in OUNCES and this is how much water you should be putting down every day. I know it seems like a lot. The good news is it will help you with your oxygen circulation and you’ll find that you need to use the restroom less often over time. And if you’re overweight, this will HELP you lose weight because dehydration and obesity go together.

Video #1 of 2

Video #2 of 2

Dr. James Pietrek, Prior Lake Chiropractor

There are hundreds of chiropractic methods. Because of this, it can be confusing to know which is the right for your situation. That's why we make all these you can really get a feel of what we're about.

With regards to the technicalities of what we do, we know that accidents and injuries cause the spine to lose its center of gravity. This is a top-down phenomena, as the rest of the body will counteract the imbalance that occurs in the top of the spine.

Because of the weight of the head and the larger amount of motion occurring in the top of the neck, the neck tends to be less stable than other parts of the spine. Additionally, the nerves are more important in the brainstem area than anywhere else in the spine. That's why the rest of the spine will compensate for what's occurring in the top.

We focus on re-orienting the person with gravity once again so that their centers of motion naturally return on their own. Because of our specificity, we're able to make the spinal adjustment super gentle and have a full-spine effect. Very simply, if we know which key goes into the lock (knowing the shapes of the joints and mis-alignment in all three dimensions), then we shouldn't have to try to "jam" it back into place. There is no snapping, twisting, or cracking of the spine whatsoever.

To learn more about our procedure, please visit and to set up a free consult with Dr. Pietrek over the phone or in person, please visit here.

Mental and Emotional health has been a huge topic the past couple years.  World events and COVID have been associated with up-tics in various mental health conditions.   

The good news is that 2 of the 4 common "side benefits" (in addition to pain relief) here include clearer thinking and better stress handling.  This short playlist offers simple tips to capitalize on your newly tapped healing improvement that are backed by science and work for all people.  Rooted in principle, these statements will hold true for forever.

See, we humans possess a much-higher-than-the-animals ability to reason, intuit, perceive, remember, imagine and exercise their willpower.  The problem is that we're endowed with these faculties and we didn't earn them.  This means they're easy to take for granted. 

Journaling is the best way that I know of to sharpen and integrate all of these faculties.

In this video series we talk about what to journal on and how to review your journal entries for maximized benefit.

We talk about the importance of standing between your thoughts and actions (your feelings) in order to have the best insight into what makes you tick AND ensure that you're on the correct trajectory per your own values, roles and goals.  When you feel like you're making progress, it eliminates the internal struggle associated with depression and anxiety.

Lastly, we talk about how to meditate on your journal entries for the best carry-over effect on your daily life.  There are numerous resources that go along with this unique and critical video series, so if you'd like more information on any of these smaller topics, just let me know!  

Here's the playlist......

Intro to Journaling and Meditating for Mental / Emotional Health

A Journaling Method

Using Your Journal as a Guide to Meditation

Dr. James Pietrek, Prior Lake Chiropractor

We know that most doctor visits are at least indirectly related to mental health. I'm impressed with how the body is simultaneously both a mechanism and an energy field. It's an exciting time to embrace. The quantum model of physics guides biological research and the Newtonian model is a thing of the past.

The thing I like best about my work is meeting someone where they're at and usually helping with their pain. Yet I always hear statements like "not only is my headache gone, I don't seem to be as argumentative", or "I just feel like I'm thinking so much sharper these days.

I had a solo practice in San Diego for over 17 years, and I loved going to the beach. In surf contests, surfers are judged by the amount and difficulty of maneuvers they perform once they catch the wave. Here, we know that most people are going to not only physically feel better, but also notice some of these more subtle yet just as valuable benefits such as mental and emotional health improvement.

The purpose of these videos is to help our friends and patients maximize their healing and performance so they can ride out life's waves gracefully and achieve regular breakthroughs.

To set up a free consult in person or over the phone and see if you're a candidate for chiropractic care, please contact here. We'd love to hear your story!

Our passion is to serve you and your loved ones! Dr. James Pietrek and his team are here to assist you in reaching your goals. Enhance your quality of life with us!
8734 Egan Drive
Savage, MN 55378
Monday - Friday
9:00am - 12:00nn and 3:00pm - 6:00pm
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