Experts estimate that 90 percent of all world-class athletes use chiropractic care to prevent injuries and increase their performance potential. All National Football League (NFL) teams rely on Doctors of Chiropractic in varying capacities, and 77 percent of athletic trainers have referred players to a chiropractor for evaluation or treatment. You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from regular chiropractic care. At Sheppard Chiropractic, we treat patients from all walks of life, Sports (PeeWee, High School and College) and fitness levels (weekend warriors and elite athletes).
Most people make the conclusion that a person visiting a chiropractor is doing so for problems with their back or neck. According to a recent study led by Dr. Simon French of the Melbourne University in Australia, most people do visit the chiropractor for these reasons. However other research is showing that people are reaching out to their D.C. for other treatments involving problems with their muscular-skeletal system, and a great deal of these patients are younger athletes.
Here’s 5 ways that Athletes and (non-athletes) benefit from chiropractic care:
1. Undo the punishment the body takes in sports
Many athletes swear by the positive effects of chiropractic when talking about their personal successes. Famous athletes like Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds, Dan O’Brien and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to name a few, swear by their chiropractors. Athletic performance is affected by a combination of strength, flexibility, speed and coordination. Participating in sports is encouraged because of the many benefits. Not only is a person getting exercise when playing, but they are also developing fine motor skills, learning about teamwork and fair play and of course building friendships. But their bodies are also taking impacts no matter what sport they are playing.
When the spine exhibits imperfections in movement and/or alignment, the resulting vertebral subluxations can create focal areas of irritation in the nervous system, which subsequently interfere with the optimum functions of all other systems. As a result, athletic performance suffers. When athletes are adjusted regularly, they will often attribute their success to regular chiropractic care.
Even if you don’t play football, sports like soccer, baseball, volleyball, softball, wrestling and lacrosse involve a lot of contact and the physical demands of any training and practice affect your spine and muscles too. Dr. Jay Lipoff, Executive Board Member of the International Chiropractic Association Council on Fitness and Sports Health Science drew a comparison between heading a soccer ball traveling at 70 miles per hour and getting punched by Muhammad Ali.
2. Chiropractic care treats a variety of sports injuries
Athletes can experience many different benefits from receiving chiropractic care. Not only can adjustments help when treating injuries from high-impact sports such as wrestling, football, and hockey, but they offer other benefits as well. It’s been shown that high-impact sports can place the same amount of strain on the body as an auto collision. Athletes getting routine adjustments may notice improved athletic performance, improved range of motion (especially in endurance athletes), better flexibility, increased blood flow, and may suffer from fewer injuries. Because spinal adjustments will reduce the irritation of the nerve roots between the vertebrae, the healing time from minor injuries can be shortened, improving performance.
Both high-impact and low-impact athletes can benefit from routine spinal adjustments. For high-impact athletes, it increases performance and flexibility and lowers the risk for injury; for low-impact athletes (golfers, tennis players, and bowlers), routine adjustments can help relieve the strain that is being placed on the body. Chiropractic care offers a natural way to treat and prevent many different ailments that often plague athletes.
Headaches – with a current focus on head and neck injuries in sports it should be noted that a Duke University study from back in 2001 came to the conclusion that, “Spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate relief for headaches originating from the neck.” Since 60 to 90 percent of all headaches are linked to facet joint pain (neck), chiropractic treatments offer a significant form of relief.
Shoulder pain – Studies from the Annals of Internal Medicine and the British Medical Journal both found that adding shoulder manipulation to traditional rehab techniques improved the outcomes and reduced pain associated with certain shoulder injuries.
Ankle injuries – a joint study from the JMPT and Physiological Therapeutics found that chiropractic care of ankle sprains helped increase motion, lessen pain and provide better ankle function.
Injury prevention – An Australian study conducted in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders reported that Australian football players who used a regiment of chiropractic care had a fewer number of leg injuries than those who did not.
3. Non invasive/drug free treatment
While seeking chiropractic care for back and neck pain caused by injuries suffered in sports like football and rugby would normal, injuries to other parts of the body can also benefit from a visit to the D.C. In fact, many studies have shown that chiropractic treatment helps athletes recover from injuries without the need for painkillers or invasive surgery.
While there are many different types of treatments that chiropractors perform on their patients, Ellen Sonnino’s report in US News and World Report discussed four methods that are often used to treat athletes:
Active Release Technique where massage and stretching are combined with moving the effected joint through a range of motion.
Functional dry needling where deep trigger points are focused on to release tension in the muscles through stimulation.
Electrical muscle stimulation to release tension towards the surface of the muscle using contraction caused by electricity.
Not all athletes are seeking chiropractic care after they suffer an injury. Some, like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, find that it helps improve not only their health, but their performance, “Chiropractic just makes you feel so much better. When I walk out of the clinic, I feel like I’m about three inches taller and everything’s in place. And as long as I see the chiropractor, I feel like I’m one step ahead of the game.”
4. Injury Prevention/Performance Enhancement
Any DC who specializes in treating athletes should be prepared to treat the whole person, and tailor a comprehensive program aimed at injury avoidance. Initial evaluations should include not only traditional orthopedic tests, neurological examinations, and consideration to supplement physical exam findings with any additional diagnostic evaluations, if appropriate or a referral if indicated. Numerous studies support the fact that chiropractic care helps athletes achieve an optimal level of performance. A Canadian research team included chiropractic care in the rehabilitation program of 16 injured female long-distance runners. The runners recovered quickly; seven of them actually scored “personal best” performances while under chiropractic care, although there may be other contributing factors.
5. To Decrease Pain
The spine is an important physical structure that contains many pain-sensitive tissues: Most notably, joints, muscles, nerves, discs and ligaments. If there are any abnormal alignment patterns in the spinal column, this can place an abnormal amount of stress and strain on any one of these tissues. In a recent article reviewing the effectiveness of spinal manipulation, chiropractic adjustments were consistently better than other medical options in reducing the intensity of acute low back pain, plus restoring normal function, both for short-term and long-term effects.
So whether you are a young athlete, weekend warrior or an elite CrossFitter, you can benefit from regular chiropractic adjustment to improve your performance, reduce injuries and give yourself that competitive edge of a 100% properly functioning nervous system on and off the field.