It used to be viewed with some skepticism, but professional athletes’ enthusiasm for chiropractic care has helped the general public understand its benefits. Pros as diverse as Joe Montana, Tom Brady and Lance Armstrong have all discussed how this former “alternative” treatment helped them recover from injury and even improve their mental focus.
Whether you’re on a team or committed to a serious workout program, chiropractic care improves your athletic performance by treating current problems, helping avoid future injuries and boosting your overall health.
Perhaps one of the most common reasons athletes first seek out a chiropractor is because they’ve had an injury. Not only can the pain from sports injuries be excruciating in daily life, but it severely impacts future performances.
Skillful shoulder manipulation, for example, can greatly improve range of motion after an athlete has suffered a torn rotator cuff. Similarly, headaches stemming from neck sprains — including the severe kind that might normally keep a player off the field — can be lessened through chiropractic care, as can work on ankles following sprains.
Studies also show that athletes who regularly visit a chiropractor have a better chance of preventing injuries. This is attributed to the increase in blood circulation, as well as the greater amounts of oxygen into the bloodstream, that various forms of chiropractic treatment encourage. Improved circulation reduces the severity of bruising, inflammation, muscle strain and torn tissues.
Whether you play football or run cross country, you’re probably well aware that over time the impact of getting hit by other players, or sustaining thousands of heavy foot strikes from running, can eventually throw your whole body out of whack. Chiropractic care helps get the skeletal and muscle systems back in place, which in turn can have a beneficial impact on related functions, such as the nervous system.
All of this adds up to better athletic performance, in which your muscles move with precision and strength, your skeletal system supports those movements, and you don’t have the headaches, numbness or tingling that results from a nervous system that’s out of whack.
Avoiding Painkillers or Surgery
No injured athlete wants to be denied a return to the sport because he or she needs to take painkillers or muscle relaxants — or worse, be sidelined for months due to an operation.
Among the treatments that athletes can undergo in place of surgery or drugs is electric muscle stimulation, which provides a series of artificial contractions in order to reduce muscle tension. “Dry needling” achieves the same goal of muscle relaxation, through the stimulation achieved by the needles.
Chiropractors also use a non-surgical technique known as active release tension, in which injured areas are massaged and stretched, while also gently put through range-of-motion exercises. Finally, injuries in which scar tissue is part of the problem may respond to the Graston technique, in which a chiropractor gently breaks down the tissue with stainless steel implements.
Increased mental focus seems to be an often-overlooked part of chiropractic care’s benefits — but they are real benefits. Specific spinal adjustments affect the brain’s pre-frontal cortex, improving the kind of mental focus and the ability to make quick decisions that are so key to athletic performance.
Take it from Tom Brady, “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.”