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What is Drop Table (Thompson) Technique?

What is Drop Table (Thompson) Technique?

What is Drop Table (Thompson) Technique?

By Dr. Derek DeCagna

Chiropractic spinal manipulation is both a science and an art.  As such, it can be administered in a variety of ways to best meet the needs of a patient and the practitioner.  Drop Table Technique, a.k.a. Thompson Technique, is a form of spinal manipulation that utilizes gravity through a “drop” to make segmental corrections.  More specifically, Drop Table Technique requires the use of a special chiropractic table that is divided into various pieces.  These pieces have the ability to be raised between 1 to 2 inches relative to a neutral flat-lying surface and their “tension” or relative ability to drop back to neutral can be modified.  


How is a chiropractic adjustment delivered using a Drop Table?

The patient is always asked to place his or her area of focus on top of one of the drop pieces.  The practitioner will then set the desired tension of the drop piece to adequately counterbalance the patient’s weight.  The drop piece is then lifted, and a manual chiropractic adjustment is delivered to the patient so that the drop piece releases and falls back to its neutral position.  Once the drop piece comes to a rest, the momentum gathered from the drop continues through the patient for a very short period of time.  This transfer of energy creates a summative, amplifying effect on the force of the chiropractic adjustment, while creating a relatively mild sensation for the patient.    



What does Drop Table (Thompson) Technique feel like?

Typically, drop table adjustments are experienced as a “gentler” form of spinal manipulation because they require less power from the practitioner and less ancillary movement and/or special positioning by the patient.  Drop pieces magnify the thrust of a chiropractic adjustment in a way that minimizes the force and pressure experienced by the patient for an adjustment.


How is the magnifying effect of a Drop Table achieved?

A great way to examine the physics at play when a drop piece is utilized is to look at the scenario in terms of energy.  When an object is at rest, its gravitational potential energy can be represented as follows:




PE = potential energy

m = mass

g = gravitational constant

h = height


Moreover, the potential energy of an object at rest can be transferred to another object if all of its energy is converted to kinetic energy.  In this particular hypothetical example, the potential energy of a patient lying over an elevated drop piece can be described as: 




PE = potential energy

m = mass of patient 

g = gravitational constant

h = height of drop piece 


When a chiropractic adjustment is delivered, the energy of the thrust is added to the potential energy of the patient:


ETotal= EThrust+PEDrop


ETotal= EThrust+mgh


Since the drop piece must be elevated prior to a chiropractic adjustment, the energy of the chiropractic adjustment must be greater than the potential energy of the drop piece in order for the piece to fall.  The amount of energy required to make the drop piece fall is dependent upon the tension that is determined by the patient’s weight and the judgment of the chiropractor.  Taking this into consideration, one can see that the total energy exerted during a drop piece adjustment must be greater than 2x the amount of energy required to keep a patient elevated on a drop piece: 


ETotal  mgh+mgh


ETotal  2mgh



  • Drop Table (Thompson) Technique is a viable form of chiropractic manipulation that can be used to treat the spine and extremities.
  • Drop Table (Thompson) Technique is usually experienced as a milder form of chiropractic manipulation compared to techniques that require more power and special positioning.
  • Drop Table (Thompson) Technique utilizes gravity and the patient’s own weight to make an impactful influence on the force of a chiropractic adjustment.