Top Athlete & Chiropractic Care
Each time I prepare to write a piece for a publication, I hear a little voice in my head say “ok, think of a topic that people are interested in, that you have some expertise in, and that isn’t chiropractic specific; because that would be too predictable.” No, it’s Top Athlete & Chiropractic Care!
Well this time I told that little voice to be quiet! Why? Because I am amazed by the number of people (and more so, avid athletes) who are completely unaware of the benefits of chiropractic care, let alone with regards to athletic performance.
Because chiropractic care is the fastest growing form of health care in the world.
Because it has been shown to be more effective (and cost efficient) in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions than most traditional forms of care and most of all; because it is the form of health care that an estimated 90% of world class athletes utilize regularly to prevent injuries and improve performance. So today, we focus entirely on how chiropractic care can improve athletic performance.
In order to get everyone moving in the right direction, I thought I would start with a small list of professional athletes that have utilized chiropractic care on a regular basis: Aaron Rogers, Lance Armstrong, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Emmit Smith, Sugar Ray Leonard, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey, Jr., Michael Jordan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tiger Woods, Dan Marino and Wayne Gretzky, just to name a few.
Olympic teams usually have two official chiropractors traveling with them.
All but two NFL teams have an official chiropractor and the majority of teams in MLB, the NBA and the NHL either have an official chiropractor on staff or refer to one outside their organization. Ok, ok you get it, chiropractors are out there and they are treating athletes, the best athletes. But why?
As most would agree, sports expose the body to a wide range of demands and stresses. It’s quite obvious in sports such as hockey, football, lacrosse, basketball and soccer where players are subjected to contact that can jar, and often misalign the spinal column. A blow to the ribs, legs, feet, head, shoulder, or torso radiates to the spine and will in many instances result in a change in normal spinal function.
Although more obvious, contact sports are not the only ones that are demanding on the spine.
Sports such as golf, tennis and running which require repetitive or stressful movements can cause repetitive “micro-trauma” (small injuries that cause no immediate symptoms). Eventually, this type of trauma (micro) often results in injuries such as bursitis, tendonitis and conditions such as arthritis or spinal disc decay. Even in the absence of “injury” the functional changes I am about to describe are almost sure to occur.
Let’s take the average runner, someone that runs 3-5 days a week for a total of 15-25 miles. As a result of the repetitive impact absorbed by the lower back, spinal joints may become hypomobile (less mobile), and muscles may react by becoming tight, spasmed or inflamed. This alteration in function around the spine requires the body to make additional changes in an attempt to compensate for the dysfunction.
What typically results? Muscle imbalance, additional limitations in joint mobility and an overall lack of functional efficiency over the long term. This leaves the athlete with sub-optimal performance and an increased risk of further injury. The longer the spine is left in this state of dysfunction, the more susceptible it becomes to more complicated conditions such as arthritis or disc bulges and herniations.
I’m not saying that these sports are “bad” for us. I’m saying that they are “stressful” on our bodies and that if we don’t take the necessary steps to prepare for the demands of our sport, performance will surly decline and injury will surly occur.
Chiropractic care is just one part of a comprehensive approach to athletic preparation that must include attention to strength and flexibility, nutrition, proper rest and adherence to proper training techniques.
Many potential injuries and performance pitfalls could be avoided or eliminated with early detection and correction of underlying musculoskeletal dysfunction. Your Chiropractor can provide you with guidance in the areas of conditioning and flexibility and give you a clear understanding of your musculoskeletal system and how it should be performing.
Periodic Chiropractic evaluations and treatments (even in the absence of symptoms) are becoming common place for professional and amateur athletes alike. These evaluations focus on ensuring that the spine and entire musculoskeletal system is balanced and free from structural stress and mechanical dysfunction.
Chiropractic treatment often includes a combination of joint mobilization, both of the spinal joints and extremities (ankle, hips, etc). Various forms of physical therapy are often utilized such as various stretching techniques and different forms of soft tissue work or myofascial release techniques. Exercises addressing flexibility and strength are a vital component and play a huge role in resolving any condition.
Finding a chiropractor that truly specializes in sports injury can be tricky; many doctors claim to “specialize” but have no formal certification. The letters C.C.S.P. (Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician) or D.A.C.B.S.P. (Diplomat of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians) indicate post-graduate study and board certification. Look for these credentials to assure that you are receiving the best care for your sports related concerns.
Striving for this state of “optimal function” will leave an athlete free to maximize potential, while minimizing the risk of injury. With proper diagnosis, care and preparation, athletes of all abilities can prevent many of the sprains, strains, and pains that can hinder performance, lessen the enjoyment of their chosen sport and cut short their careers.