Clarence Gonstead

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Clarence Gonstead
Born (1898-07-23)July 23, 1898
Willow Lake, South Dakota
Died October 2, 1978(1978-10-02) (aged 80)
Mount Horeb, Wisconsin
Resting place Mount Horeb, Wisconsin
Nationality American
Alma mater Palmer School of Chiropractic
Occupation Chiropractor
Years active 1923–1978
Known for chiropractic technique
Home town Primrose, Wisconsin
Title Doctor
Spouse(s) Elvira (Meister) Gonstead

Clarence Selmer Gonstead (July 23, 1898 – October 2, 1978) was a chiropractor and the creator of the Gonstead technique. He established a large chiropractic facility in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. [1]

Early life[edit]

Clarence Gonstead was born in Willow Lake, South Dakota the son of Carl and Sarah Gonstead. A few years later, his family moved to a dairy farm in Primrose, Wisconsin. At the age of 19, Gonstead was bedridden with rheumatoid arthritis.[2] After exhausting all other medical methods, his aunt sought help from Dr J. B. Olson a chiropractor in Madison, Wisconsin. After some chiropractic care, Gonstead could walk again. This inspired Gonstead to become a chiropractor himself. He would later enroll in the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. [3]

As a boy, Gonstead was interested in repairing tractors and early automobiles, something that would come in handy later in life. Gonstead continued work as an automotive engineer in Madison and later Racine. The job allowed him to save enough money to pay for school, but also taught him basic mechanical engineering concepts that he would later apply to his chiropractic practice.

While enrolled in the Palmer School of Chiropractic, Gonstead became a member of the chiropractic fraternity Delta Sigma Chi. Gonstead earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 1923 and returned to Wisconsin. He would first practice with Dr. Olson, the man who inspired him to become a chiropractor, before establishing a practice in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. His younger brother Merton Gonstead (1902-1983) would join his practice in 1929 for a few years before starting his own practice. Clarence Gonstead would remain a sole practitioner for the next twenty years.


Gonstead's method of chiropractic practice was an extension of his training at the Palmer School of Chiropractic. While Gonstead was a student, school president B. J. Palmer began promoting the neurocalometer (NCM), an invention of chiropractor Dossa Dixon Evins (1886-1932).[4] Gonstead assisted in various efforts to improve the quality of these two instruments. In the 1940s Gonstead became a consultant for Electronic Development Laboratories (EDL). EDL made the original Nervoscope, a competitor device to the NCM. Over the years, Gonstead helped the company define the device's sensitivity, parameters, and function. Gonstead also worked with various X-ray companies to optimize full-spine 14x36 X-ray exposure, primarily the use of split screens to account for varying patient density on the lateral film.[5] [6]

Gonstead's first office was located above a bank building in downtown Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. In 1939, Gonstead built the first Gonstead Chiropractic Clinic (or second office) in downtown Mount Horeb. In 1964 he opened a second clinic just outside of Mount Horeb which treated 300 to 400 patients per day. It was designed by John Steinmann.[7] The next year, 1965, a motel was constructed next to the clinic to accommodate out-of-town patients and chiropractors attending his seminar.

Gonstead is recognized for applying basic mechanical principles first learned as an auto mechanic to analyzing the spine by using weight-bearing X-ray films. He used his expertise to develop an original chiropractic technique that proved to be successful in treating patients. Gonstead later taught other chiropractors his techniques in a series of seminars. Colleagues began visiting Gonstead to observe his methods beginning in the late 1940s. In 1954, a formal program started that led to an organized seminar series. Over the next few years, a group of professional teachers helped to organize a formal teaching system, leading to an ongoing seminar program that offers classes across the country. [8]

Later life[edit]

In 1974, Gonstead sold his clinic and seminars to Alex and Doug Cox. Clarence Gonstead died in 1978 at the age of 80. His clinic continues operation under the ownership of the non-profit C.S. Gonstead Chiropractic Foundation. [9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The History of Clarence S. Gonstead, D.C". Gonstead Clinical Studies Society. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Who was Dr. Gonstead?". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  3. ^ "Carl Gonstead". findagrave. Feb 21, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  4. ^ Moore, J. S. (1995). The neurocalometer: watershed in the evolution of a new profession (Chiropractic History: 15: 2: 51-54)
  5. ^ Amman, Matthew (2007) The Machines and Tools of Clarence Gonstead, D.C. (Chiropractic History 27: 2: 55-58)
  6. ^ "Dossa Dixon Evins - Inventor & Innovator". Chiropractic History Blog. January 23, 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  7. ^ John Steinmann Mid Century Modern Milwaukee December 2011
  8. ^ "The Basic Principles of the Gonstead Method of Chiropractic Analysis". Gonstead Clinical Studies Society. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  9. ^ Matthew J. Amman. "Preserving the Gonstead Clinic of Chiropractic – A Case of National Support" (PDF). Gonstead Preservation Group. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 

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