Can chiropractic care enhance sport performance? Do athletes treated by chiropractors obtain performance advantages? How can it benefit me?
Across all facets of competitive sport, amateur and professional, fractions of seconds, or millimeters matter. Athletes need every ounce of strength, speed, flexibility and stamina to be on top of their game.
A study conducted in 1991 found that “athletic performance improved by 16.7%, across 5 categories of agility, balance, kinesthetic perception, power and speed, whereas a control group only showed a 4.5% improvement.
So much so that it is said that more than 90% of all world-class athletes use chiropractic care”. Chiropractic is founded on the key principle that a properly functioning nervous system is vital for controlling and regulating the human body. The brain, the control unit, tells our cells, organs and rest of the body how to act by sending messages via our nervous system. From the brain, nerve messages travel down the spinal cord and continue through our spinal nerves until they reach their final destination. It is therefore so important that the nerves have an uninterrupted pathway on their journey so that the body can perform at its best or heal as quickly as it can.
Most of the nervous system is contained within the skull and spine, meaning misalignments in the spine directly influence the function. Unfortunately, sports injuries are a part of everyday life, and these can lead to spinal misalignments. As chiropractors our role is to use specific adjustments to restore normal motion to the joint, removing the interference and restoring optimum function. Chiropractic care has become relevant within a whole host of sports, so much so that the vast majority of sports have a team chiropractor, such as Leicester City FC. At the commonwealth games in Birmingham there was a huge team of chiropractors and other health care professionals working together to aid athletes from various sports. These included, basketball, hockey, rugby, tennis, badminton, cycling and athletics, which are all groups of individuals we see in clinic regularly. The types of injury seen will vary from sport to sport, be it acute tears and sprains, or more repetitive stress injuries, such as golf or tennis elbow. Lets take a closer look at a few groups of athletes that we love seeing in clinic.
First off, golfers. Playing a round of golf the body experiences lots of biomechanical change, subsequently golf is well known for causing injuries to various areas of the body including the shoulder, hip, knee or elbow, with the lower back being most common and the lead side most often affected too. This is because during the coil and uncoil phases of swing our spine must rotate, extend and bend laterally, that’s a big combination for our spine. These injury sites are all areas of the body that we are used to working on with the goal of getting you back out on the green as soon as possible. Golf has also been shown to knock 3 shots off your golf game, who wouldn’t want that?
Horse riding is a fun and rewarding sport, but often results in falls or injuries which can displace joints and cause trauma to muscles. Some of the most common things we see are shoulder injuries, neck aches and pains, muscles strains and falls onto the spine or pelvis. These problems can arise from the pelvis, through tilts and twists meaning that your weight when sitting astride is distributed differently. This has a knock on affect for the horse constantly getting different input from the saddle and your leg being closer one side than the other and sometimes causing it to misbehave or you need to use extra rein for a simple turn.
When it comes to runners, having the nervous system functioning optimally will mean your performance will improve and your body will be stronger. Therefore, it’s always a good idea for runners to be proactive and come to see us before they have pain or injuries. Not only does a correctly functioning spine and nervous system increase performance, but it also significantly reduces the risk of injury. Runners who receive regular chiropractic treatment have less pain, move more freely and often start hitting PBs they previously missed as they generate more power and have better stamina.
For me personally I spent most of my life playing or watching rugby and I am very lucky that since the age of 7, I have only had 2 major injuries and both involved my collarbones. This isn’t the case for every player. As many as 1 in 4 rugby players will be injured during the season. The most common injuries are
concussion, neck and shoulder traumas and damage to muscles, ligaments and tendons. I can honestly say I have never in my professional career met or spoken to a rugby player that has not had a niggle in their neck, mid or low back. As you’ve probably gathered by now, spinal health is kind of our thing. So being proactive, especially at the start of the season, means you can stop those niggles turning into bigger problems.
Athletes often report that their athletic performance is enhanced through chiropractic adjustments which allow the body to function better and perform at its best. We also help address mobility issues and provide relief and recovery after competitions and between training sessions. But you don’t have to be a professional athlete – or even an athlete at all to benefit from care, we just believe in keeping people active and at their best. Whether you’re a weekend hero going after the first 5k or competing in any sport, sporting injury or not, we can help you. So if you’re struggling to get better at your sport, or suffering afterwards, let us know and we’ll help get you back to where you want to be.