HEDO and the Flying Seven

A chiropractor adjusts a patient.
Chiropractic may help prevent stenosis and relieve back pain. Andy Crawford/Cultural Exclusive/Getty Images

HEDO or the Flying Seven

Are you among the many people who, upon turning to a chiropractor for spine care, take little interest in exactly what happens when you back is “cracked?”   Interested or not, you may wonder why the adjustment sequence looks and feels pretty much the same almost every time you see the doc– whether you go in for a low back problem, whiplash, kyphosis or other posture issue, an out-of-alignment sacroiliac joint, or for some other reason.

Related: 7 Sacroiliac Joint Treatments and How Well They Work

Word on the (internet) street is that such treatment uniformity is not isolated to just one chiropractor’s office, nor to any one type of chiropractor.  Rather, it tends to be the norm across the majority of offices. For the most part, it seems, this way of treating is ubiquitous. (Note that as the chiropractic profession grows and expands, this practice may be slowly changing.)

Related: How to Tell if Your Chiro is Practicing Legitimately

Chiropractors have a couple of names for this type of practice.   They are:  the “flying seven,” and HEDO.  HEDO is an acronym that stands for “hit every damn one.”  HEDO and “flying seven” refer to the same thing.

So what’s up with HEDO? Does chiropractic treatment consist only of the flying seven?   

HEDO and the flying seven are not well studied or reported in the medical literature. This may be because chiropractic is considered a “controversial” treatment by establishment forces, and as such, may lack the comprehensive inquiry that more conventional treatments enjoy.

 Regardless of the reason, when exploring topics that are internal to a profession as HEDO and the flying seven are to chiropractic, all we really have to go on is hearsay. 

What is the Flying Seven or HEDO?

HEDO, or “Hit every damn one” refers to 7 areas of the body that a chiropractor who subscribes to this way of thinking will generically treat for nearly every patient.

  The flying seven adjustments are made to the upper cervical, lower cervical, upper thoracic, mid thoracic, the thoracic-lumbar junction, and then to the lumbsacral area on either side, as follows:

  1. Some type of back to front adjustment in the thoracic spine.  Keith Innes, D.C., reporting on chiropractic students who "visit(ed) the best doctors of chiropractic in the(ir) area and watch(ed) and record(ed) what was being done to each patient," said this adjustment (called the P A Thoracic adjustment) was given with no thought as to the location or direction of the thrust.
  2. An adjustment to the upper thoracic spine (which is the area of your upper back that is close to the bottom of the neck.)  This adjustment might be one of two types: Either one that chiropractors call a right and left combination, or another type, known as a straight arm adjustment.
  3. The same as #2 above - to the other side.
  4. Either a right sacroiliac adjustment, or a right lumbar adjustment or some type of combination of the two.
  1. The same as #4 above - on the other side.
  2. A neck adjustment (using rotations, which is twisting) on the right, while the patient is lying on her back.
  3. The same as #7 above - on the other side.

Innes says the students reported that none of the chiropractors observed made any attempt to screen for signs of vertebral basilar insufficiency before proceeding with the neck adjustments.  Vertebral basilar insufficiency is generally caused by hardening in the arteries and results, in this case, in reduced blood flow to the brain. Symptoms include dizziness, vision problems, nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, tingling and numbness in hands or feet, sudden weakness, and more.

Where Did the Flying Seven Come From, and Where Is It Going?

One internet poster, a chiropractor, said that the flying seven was originally  taught in school as way to hit all the important joints of the spine.  He also said it was touted as a shotgun approach to help about 80% of patients. 

But the HEDO technique can be rough, another poster points out, and that’s why some chiropractors have stopped using it.  In fact, it may be associated with a higher injury rate, he adds.

HEDO and the flying seven are likely still going strong in chiropractors' offices all over the country (and perhaps world) but as new techniques are developed and patients' voices are heard, it may be that this profession will continue moving in the direction of individualized treatment plans based on qualified diagnoses.  

Related: Chiropractic Terms


Amaro, The Chakras and the Flying Seven. International Academy of Medical Acupuncture website. May 1993. Accessed Feb 2016. http://www.iama.edu/Articles/ChakrasFlyingSeven.htm

Chiropractic. Reddit. Accessed Feb 2016. https://www.reddit.com/r/Chiropractic/comments/3jo3pb/three_chiropractors_three_different_issues_all/

Innes, K., What If... Dynamic Chiropractic. September 1992. Accessed Feb 2016. http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=43446

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