Why Chiropractic Gives Athletes an Edge on the Competition
Athletics are a huge part of our society, as we enjoy not only participating in them but also watching them. College football and the NFL are starting their seasons, baseball is in its stretch run, and other major events in soccer, tennis, and golf vie for our attention. With schools getting back in session, it is also time for fall sports to begin, and many of our kids will be training, practicing, and playing for long hours during the week. It is estimated that 30 million children now participate in organized sports including soccer, football, swimming, gymnastics, hockey, basketball and baseball.
In competitive sports, the difference between winning and losing is sometimes measured in milliseconds. Athletes need every little bit of strength, speed, and flexibility they can muster. They also need to stay on the field. Honestly, the best ability for an athlete is their availability. An athlete cannot help his or her team on the sidelines.
Athletes have been benefiting from chiropractic care for many years; however, it has only recently been receiving attention from the media. Athletes of all types, from the weekend warrior to the world-class athlete, utilize chiropractic because it is a drug-free way to better health and performance. It is not only about treating injuries. Athletes often seek care to prevent injuries before they occur and to improve performance. They want to gain an edge on the competition. Sean Atkins, a PhD Exercise Physiologist, states, “I would estimate that in excess of 90% of all world-class athletes use chiropractic care to prevent injuries and to increase their performance potential.” Famous chiropractic advocates include Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Cole Hamels, Jerry Rice, Usain Bolt, and many more. All NFL teams employ on-staff chiropractors. So do 72 percent of PGA golfers and the majority of NBA, MLB and NHL teams.
Many injuries can be avoided before they occur. These are the sprains, strains, and other overuse injuries caused by small, but repetitive injuries to the body’s tissues, joints, and spinal column resulting in chronic health conditions. A major key in preventing injuries and improving athletic performance relates to the value of keeping the body in alignment and the soft tissues healthy. Athletes must move well. If someone has proper posture, then chances are that they will move well. Alignment of the spine and body are crucial to proper movement. Athletes such as sprinters and gymnasts often have very good upright posture, and it is not a surprise that they perform at high levels. However, many athletes that we see in our practice do not move correctly. They have tightness, immobility, and alignment issues in their neck, shoulders, mid-back, pelvis and hips. This is obviously not good and hampers performance and increases the likelihood for injury. For example, if a golfer does not have good mid-back mobility, then the shoulders and low back will take on more responsibility and he or she will be more susceptible to injury in those areas. He or she will also not be able to hit as long or straight because the mechanics of their swing will be altered.
Essentially, proper biomechanical structure allows athletes to achieve and maintain their optimal level of performance—safely and naturally. There is a growing body of research and case studies which clearly show the relationship between chiropractic care and athletic performance. A Canadian research team included chiropractic care in the rehabilitation program of 16 injured female long distance runners. Not only did these runners recover quickly, 7 of them scored “personal best” performances while under chiropractic care. A landmark research effort from the New Zealand School of Chiropractic and the University of Auckland, evaluated the effects chiropractic adjustments on reaction times. There was a marked improvement for the group that received an adjustment over the group that got nothing but rest. The group that received the chiropractic adjustment showed a decrease in reaction time of 97 milliseconds, representing a 14.8% faster reaction time! What baseball or tennis player, for example, wouldn’t benefit from a quicker reaction time?
At Radiant Life Chiropractic, we love working with athletes. We have 53 moveable joints in the spine, and when the spine is aligned well, the joints move correctly. Chiropractic adjustments help ensure that the body functions as efficiently as possible, which can maximize healing and recovery from all types of injuries. Chiropractic’s focus on the nervous system and postural biomechanics allows the body to function properly and to heal itself. The healing process always occurs from within the body, but research has shown that chiropractic has an amazing potential to assist the body in the recovery process. Because doctors of chiropractic are experts in the field of human biomechanics, they are very aware of proper posture and movement. By observing an athlete in action, a chiropractor can often detect and prevent a structural problem that can lead to injury or poor performance. Athletic injuries are often caused by improper biomechanics or muscle imbalances within the spine. Using chiropractic adjustments and specific posture exercises and movements, we aim to correct abnormal posture and aberrant movement. We want to regain proper postural balance and stability so that the spine will be able to withstand the load of exercise.
This fall as you or your child participates in the many athletic opportunities offered, be sure to follow the example of the professionals. Have your spines checked regularly, both before the competitions to enhance athletic performance and after sporting events to minimize the effects of trauma!