8 Ways Chiropractic Benefits Sports Performance

Dr. Group
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

Chiropractic in Sports

During its 100-year history in America, chiropractic has gained steady acceptance for easing a wide array of physical ailments. The American Chiropractic Association describes chiropractic as a form of health care that focuses on musculoskeletal and nervous systems disorders and numerous studies support their assessment. [1] Chiropractic is common in sports medicine and many trainers will encourage it before, during, and after any physical performance. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how chiropractic has benefited the sports world.

1. Solid Body Maintenance in Professional Football

It’s no secret that professional football is a beast of a game and injuries are frequent. Even if football players avoid serious injury, it’s a sure bet that stiffness and soreness are just par for the course. In a 2002 survey, thirty-one percent of football teams in the National Football League reported having a chiropractor on staff. Athletes reported using chiropractic care quite frequently, noting its effectiveness. [2]

2. Improved Mobility in College Football

Osteopathic manipulative treatment, or OMT, is one of the main forms of chiropractic therapy used in sports medicine. The main goal with OMT is to promote flexibility and pain-free movement. Football players often rely on OMT as a preventative measure against injuries. A 2012 Virginia Tech study showed that OMT positively impacted sports performance in both offensive and defensive Virginia Tech football players. Most football players also reported a self-assessed improvement in athletic performance after OMT sessions. [3]

3. Helpful for Hockey Injuries

Like football, ice hockey is a full-contact sport and injuries are common. Chiropractic has been shown to reduce painful symptoms of recurrent shoulder instability related to hockey injuries. [4]

4. Relief for Sports Hernia

Five to twenty percent of all sports injuries involve groin pain. However, it’s not always the result of a line drive baseball. One of the most common causes of groin pain in athletes is athletic pubalgia, commonly referred to as sports hernia. [5] A study showed that soccer players who experienced sports hernia were relieved of discomfort following 8 weeks of a combination therapy that consisted of chiropractic care and rehabilitation exercises. [6]

5. Increased Strength in Martial Arts

Although mainly used for alleviating muscular and skeletal complaints, it seems that chiropractic can also promote physical strength. [7] [8] [9] In one study, national level judo athletes showed a 16% improvement in grip strength after undergoing only three chiropractic sessions. [10]

6. Support for All Olympic Athletes

For years, chiropractors have worked with world-class Olympic athletes to improve their strength, endurance, and range of motion while training. Olympic athletes also receive chiropractic care at the games. One particular set of games often overlooked at the Olympics is the Paralympics. These games include professional athletes with some type of physical disability who also use chiropractic care to enhance performance and overcome minor injuries. [11]

7. Soothes Tennis Elbow

A whopping 50 percent of tennis players can expect to get tennis elbow during their lifetime, and one-third of tennis players will experience it in severe fashion. The main goals of chiropractic therapy for tennis elbow is to relieve discomfort and redness, promote healing, rehabilitate the injured arm, and avoid recurrence. [12] Specific joint manipulation performed by a chiropractor has shown to be effective for discomfort associated with tennis elbow.

8. Keeps Baseball Players Swinging

Baseball is a game that demands quick bursts of energy. Whether it’s running the bases or swinging the bat, these fast-moving activities often come with rotator cuff injuries, neck pain, back strains, and hamstring pulls. Studies have shown that chiropractic helps prevent hamstring and other lower limb injuries in baseball players. [13] Another study revealed that muscle strength and long jump distance was greatly improved in baseball players who received regular chiropractic adjustments. [14]

Receiving the Benefits of Chiropractic

There’s no question that chiropractic care is a fantastic method of mechanical maintenance that has repeatedly been shown to benefit the machine that is the body of an athlete (and soldiers!). Are you an athlete who incorporates chiropractic care into your health and wellness plan? Please leave a comment and share your experience of the difference chiropractic has made for you!

References (14)
  1. Dagenais S, Haldeman S. Chiropractic. Primary Care. 2002 June; 29(2):419-37.
  2. Stump JL, Redwood D. The use and role of sport chiropractors in the national football league: a short report. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2002 March-April; 25(3):E2.
  3. Brolinson PG, Smolka M, Rogers M, Sukpraprut S, Goforth MW, Tilley G, Doolan KP. Pre-competition manipulative treatment and performance among Virginia Tech athletes during 2 consecutive football seasons: a preliminary, retrospective report. Journal of American Osteopathic Association. 2012 September; 112(9):607-15.
  4. Moreau CE, Moreau SR. Chiropractic management of a professional hockey player with recurrent shoulder instability. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2001 July-August;24(6):425-30.
  5. Farber AJ, Wilckens JH. Sports hernia: diagnosis and therapeutic approach. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2007 Augst; 15(8):507-14.
  6. Yuill EA, Pajaczkowski JA, Howitt SD. Conservative care of sports hernias within soccer players: a case series. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2012 October;16(4):540-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.04.004.
  7. Nilsson N, Christensen H, Hartvigsen J. Lasting changes in passive range motion after spinal manipulation: a randomized, blind, controlled trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 19 (3): 165-8.
  8. Whittingham, W., Nilsson, N. Active range of motion in the cervical spine increases after spinal manipulation (toggle recoil). Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 24(9).
  9. Haldeman S. Spinal manipulative therapy in sports medicine. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 1986; 5(2):277-291.
  10. Botelho MB, Andrade BB. Effect of cervical spine manipulative therapy on judo athletes’ grip strength. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2012 January; 35(1):38-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.09.005.
  11. Uchacz GP. 2010 Olympic winter games chiropractic: The making of history. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. 2010 March; 54(1): 14-16.
  12. Kamien M. A rational management of tennis elbow. Sports Medicine. 1990 March; 9(3):173-91.
  13. Hoskins W, Pollard H. The effect of a sports chiropractic manual therapy intervention on the prevention of back pain, hamstring and lower limb injuries in semi-elite Australian Rules footballers: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2010 April 8;11:64. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-11-64.
  14. Schwartzbauer J, Kolber J, Schwartzbauer M, Hart J, Zhang J. Athletic performance and physiological measures in baseball players following upper cervical chiropractic care: A pilot study. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, 1997 1(4):7.

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