How Chiropractic Gives Athletes a Competitive Advantage

Athletics are an important part of our culture because we enjoy not only participating in them but also watching them. University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and the NFL have begun their seasons, baseball is nearing the end of its season, and other major events such as soccer, tennis, and golf compete for our attention. With school back in session, it is also time for fall sports to begin, and many of our children will be training, practicing, and playing for long hours during the week. It is estimated that 30 million children now participate in organized sports such as soccer, football, swimming, gymnastics, hockey, basketball, and baseball.

The difference between winning and losing in competitive sports is sometimes measured in milliseconds. Athletes require all of the strength, speed, and flexibility they can muster. They must also remain on the field. To be honest, an athlete’s best ability is their availability. On the sidelines, an athlete cannot assist his or her team.

Athletes have been benefiting from chiropractic care for many years, but it has only recently received media attention. Athletes of all levels, from weekend warriors to world-class athletes, use chiropractic because it is a drug-free way to improve health and performance. It is not just about treating injuries. Athletes frequently seek treatment to avoid injuries and improve performance. They want to get a leg up on the competition. According to Sean Atkins, a PhD Exercise Physiologist, “I would estimate that more than 90% of all world-class athletes use chiropractic care to prevent injuries and increase their performance potential.” Famous chiropractic supporters include Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Cole Hamels, Jerry Rice, Usain Bolt, and many more. All NFL teams have chiropractors on staff. So do 72 percent of PGA golfers and the vast majority of NBA, MLB, and NHL teams.

Many injuries can be prevented before they happen. These are sprains, strains, and other overuse injuries caused by minor but repetitive injuries to the body’s tissues, joints, and spinal column, which result in chronic health problems. The importance of keeping the body in alignment and the soft tissues healthy is a major factor in preventing injuries and improving athletic performance. Athletes must be able to move quickly. If someone has good posture, they are more likely to move well. The spine and body must be aligned for proper movement. Sprinters and gymnasts, for example, often have very good upright posture, and it is no surprise that they perform well. However, many of the athletes we see in practice do not move correctly. They have neck, shoulder, mid-back, pelvis, and hip tightness, immobility, and alignment issues. This is obviously detrimental to performance and increases the likelihood of injury. For example, if a golfer lacks good mid-back mobility, the shoulders and low back will take on more responsibility, making him or her more prone to injury in those areas. He or she will also be unable to hit as far or as straight due to changes in the mechanics of their swing.

Essentially, proper biomechanical structure enables athletes to achieve and maintain their peak performance levels in a safe and natural manner. There is an increasing body of research and case studies that demonstrate the link between chiropractic care and athletic performance. Chiropractic care was included in the rehabilitation program of 16 injured female long distance runners by a Canadian research team. Not only did these runners recover quickly, but seven of them achieved “personal best” results while receiving chiropractic care. A groundbreaking study conducted by the New Zealand School of Chiropractic and the University of Auckland examined the effects of chiropractic adjustments on reaction times. The group that received an adjustment outperformed the group that received nothing but rest. The group that received the chiropractic adjustment had a 97 millisecond decrease in reaction time, representing a 14.8% faster reaction time! What baseball or tennis player wouldn’t benefit from a faster reaction time?

At Form and Function Corrective Chiropractic, we enjoy working with athletes. The spine has 53 moveable joints, and the joints move correctly when the spine is properly aligned. Chiropractic adjustments help the body to function as efficiently as possible, allowing for faster healing and recovery from all types of injuries. The emphasis on the nervous system and postural biomechanics in chiropractic allows the body to function normally and heal itself. The healing process always starts within the body, but research has shown that chiropractic has a tremendous potential to help the body recover. Chiropractic doctors understand proper posture and movement because they are experts in human biomechanics. By observing an athlete in action, a chiropractor can frequently detect and prevent structural problems that can lead to injury or poor performance. Poor biomechanics or muscle imbalances in the spine are common causes of sports injuries. We use chiropractic adjustments as well as specific posture exercises and movements to correct abnormal posture and movement. We want to restore proper postural balance and stability to the spine so that it can withstand the strain of exercise.

Follow the example of the professionals this fall as you or your child participates in the many athletic opportunities available. Check your spines on a regular basis, both before and after competitions to improve athletic performance and to reduce the effects of trauma!