by Caroline von Fluegge-Chen
Why do professional athletes in almost every sport rely on regular chiropractic care? The simplest answer is, because it works. In fact, the role of chiropractic in sports is three-fold: It speeds up recovery from injury, it enhances performance, and it helps prevent future problems. Common sense tells us that what can help the professional athlete can also help the rest of us.
Although it is true that injuries are possible in any sport, the increased fitness and fun of athletic participation make it not only satisfying but worthwhile. Sports chiropractic is a specialty area that helps athletes return to peak performance by applying chiropractic principals to restoring biomechanical and muscular function. Not only do athletes in “high impact” contact sports like football, hockey, basketball and soccer benefit from care, but golfers, bowlers, joggers, tennis players, skiers and many others also have found that chiropractic gives them a decided competitive edge.
The injuries received in a contact sport like football or hockey is often the same type you might suffer in an auto accident. The body is subjected to a forceful impact. When an arm or leg is fractured, the bone is set and in time, it heals. When a vertebra is damaged or displaced in the neck or back, it may not be detected until much later. When this creates pressure on adjacent nerves, other health problems are sure to follow.
Contact sports are not only the ones to produce injuries. Disc and soft tissue involvement is common in sports like golf and tennis which require a twisting motion. Runners subject their joints to punishing wear and tear with constant jarring.
When spinal bones lose their normal position and motion, this can exert pressure on adjacent nerves, impair neural function and affect the function of every other tissue, organ, and system in the body. Doctors of chiropractic call this a vertebral subluxation. These spinal injuries affect motion, strength, endurance, and speed. Until the joint is restored to normal motion and position, complete recovery from an injury is not possible and athletic performance is also limited. The chiropractic doctor restores spinal function with a series of adjustments that gradually realign the spinal bones.
A WARNING TO WEEKEND WARRIORS
While trained athletes often suffer muscle and joint injuries, the dangers to the recreational athlete are perhaps even greater. Because their muscles and joints may lack the flexibility and conditioning of the trained athlete, strains, tears, and inflammation often occur and can heal more slowly.
For many of us, even before we are sidelined by a sports injury, we may not be functioning to our fullest potential. Any malfunction in the neuromusculoskeletal system causes your body to compensate by changing or adapting the way other parts function with it. This compensation causes your body to expend more energy to achieve the same result it did before the malfunction. Even when other symptoms are not evident, the proper function may be lacking. With correction, the athlete could experience improvements in range of motion, muscle function, coordination, balance, and as a result, overall performance.
PREVENT FUTURE PROBLEMS
Many potential problems could be avoided or eliminated with early detection and correction of joint dysfunction. Your doctor of chiropractic can provide you with guidance in conditioning and flexibility exercises, and give you a clearer understanding of your musculoskeletal structure. With proper diagnosis, care and preparation, athletes can prevent many of the sprains, strains, and pains that take the fun out of athletic participation.
Before you begin serious conditioning for a new sport, or after you suffer a sports-related injury, seek a full evaluation by a doctor of chiropractic. Whether it is some previously undetected joint or spinal problem or years of poor posture, a chiropractic checkup will discover any problems that could limit your athletic performance. Regardless of your age, conditioning, or health, chiropractic care can improve your athletic potential.