Sports Chiropractic Care: Utilized and Effective.

The purpose of Chiropractic care is to restore and maintain neuromusculoskeletal function.  Doctors of Chiropractic focus on the interaction between joints, muscles, nerves.  By correcting imbalances/dysfunction and treating injuries, both visceral and somatic structures work better; promoting optimal health.

Chiropractic care focused on sport performance acts to improve an athlete’s functioning.  Football Chiropractors are simply Doctors of Chiropractic that help football players and have a clear understanding of the mechanism of injury.  Difficult training regimens, repetitive motions (swimming, running, ballet, cycling, skating, golfing, lifting, football collisions etc.), and overworked muscles all place a great deal of stress on an athlete’s body. Subtle or gross changes in the physiology of an athlete’s body can have tremendous impact on the time and effort required to perform an activity.

National Football League (NFL)

Chiropractic has numerous health benefits that transfer into the realm of professional athletics.  From strenuous training, injuries and “life” stressors, professional athletes place a tremendous toll on joints, spinal column, nervous and muscular systems.  Routine stressors like strength training, repetitive motions and trauma produce catabolic activity (breakdown tissues) and negatively impact health.  Chiropractic care can help the body heal and repair injured tissues.

A 2002 study reviewing the utilization of Doctors of Chiropractic by the NFL showed that:

Thirty-one percent of NFL teams have a chiropractor officially on staff, and an additional 12% of teams refer players to chiropractors but do not directly retain these chiropractors. (1)

Approximately 77% of the team trainers that responded advised a player to seek care from the team chiropractor or suggested chiropractic care for musculoskeletal injury, back pain, neck pain, and other conditions. All the study respondents stated that some NFL players utilize chiropractic care without referral from team medical staff.

Collegiate Football

A retrospective study published in 2012 took a look at how chiropractic adjustments (manipulative therapy) impacted  a football team’s performance at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).  The Virginia Tech football players received care for two football seasons and coaching staff rated an individual’s post game performance:

A total of 1976 manipulative treatments were provided to 115 football players in 2 consecutive football seasons. Sixty-two offensive players received 985 manipulative treatments, and 53 defensive players received 991 manipulative treatments. Treatments were applied to the affected regions of the spine: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral sections. (2)

After two seasons, the results showed a positive correlation between pre-competition adjustments and a players performance:

Pre-competition manipulative treatment was positively associated with improved performance among both offensive and defensive Virginia Tech football players…researchers found positive correlations in performance of the offensive and defensive players. (2)

Pop Warner to Highschool

As more and more research is being completed, healthcare professionals are learning extensively about the negative long-term effects that some sporting activities have on the body.  As a result, whether “Pop Warner to Highschool” or “Professional,” an athlete should be evaluated and managed by a Doctor of Chiropractic.

Top three reasons athletes should be receiving chiropractic care:

1. Substantially decrease healing time
2. Find and treat the root cause of the injury
3. Improve athletic performance

Common Injuries

Common problems such as Achilles tendinitis, stinger, plantar fasciitis, patellofemoral syndrome, IT band syndrome, strains/sprains, and joint pains (neck, back, shoulder, knee, etc.) are often secondary to spinal and extra-spinal joint dysfunction.

Specifically, spinal joint dysfunctions may cause neurological disturbances affecting various bodily functions such as muscle strength, coordination, and balance. Not only can these and other problems cause local pain, but they alter body bio-mechanics causing more problems elsewhere. The overall damage makes the body less effective and efficient.

Although physical training factors can be modified, the bio-mechanical restrictions that have been created in an athlete’s body are seldom addressed. This leads to future injuries and delayed recovery time inhibiting the athlete from reaching his or her full performance potential and goals.

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  1. “The use and role of sport chiropractors in the national football league: a short report.” Stump JL, Redwood D. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2002 Mar-Apr;25(3):E2.
  2. “Precompetition Manipulative Treatment and Performance Among Virginia Tech Athletes During 2 Consecutive Football Seasons: A Preliminary, Retrospective Report.” Per Gunnar Brolinson, DO; Michael Smolka, DO; Mark Rogers, DO, MA; Suporn Sukpraprut, PhD, MA, MSc; Michael W. Goforth, MS, ATC; Greg Tilley, DC; Keith P. Doolan, MS, ATC. J Am Osteopath Assoc September 1, 2012 vol. 112 no. 9 607-615.