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The Importance of Chiropractic for Peak Performance in Athletes at All Levels
Athletics and chiropractic care go together like peanut butter and jelly.
They share a long history of mutual support and growth.
Chiropractors stress a non-invasive, drug-free approach to health for people suffering from various musculoskeletal problems.
The largest focus of chiropractic care, whether we’re talking about chiropractic for peak performance in athletes or otherwise, is usually the prevention of harm or injury.
Athletes who routinely receive chiropractic care, whether on the sidelines or in the office, report substantial improvements when it comes to their sport.
The Athletes Dilemma
When you think of your favorite professional athlete, often it seems as though they are the epitome of health.
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It is easy to follow the media coverage of how intensely they are training, what specific exercises they are doing, and which diet has been deemed ‘best’ for them to follow.
What we don’t see, however, is the disconnect between day-to-day ‘fitness’ and the true expression of ‘health.’
Fitness is used to explain an individual’s capacity to perform a given task.
Still, health describes a person’s overall state of well-being in which all of their physiologic systems are working together (1).
Therein lies the athlete’s dilemma…
Athletes may be fit without truly being healthy.
This is one of the big reasons chiropractic for peak performance in athletes is essential.
One large cause for this is overtraining syndrome or OTS.
An Overview of Overtraining Syndrome (OTS)
OTS can be caused by any combination of physical, biochemical, or mental-emotional injury.
This includes conditions that range from seemingly benign muscle soreness to more damaging malnutrition and even depression (2).
The factors involved in this condition can range significantly depending on demographic factors like age and gender, in addition to an individual athlete’s training history, current ability level, and sport.
When most athletes suffer from an injury, they want to return to their sport as quickly as possible, and this is where utilizing chiropractic for peak performance in athletes shines.
Some areas in the body are more vulnerable to injury, making it important to seek preventive treatments that can reduce the risk of injury happening in the first place or hasten the recovery process.
Three Ways to be at the Top of Your Game with Chiropractic
Thankfully, chiropractors receive countless hours of education on anatomy and physiology, and some pursue further education in the field of sports.
Any chiropractor will be trained to help an injured athlete return to the top of their game.
Let’s take a closer look at the why chiropractic for peak performance in athletes is so important to helping you and your favorite sports stars alike thrive!
To some, preventing a sports injury from happening may feel like an uphill battle.
However, with a chiropractor as part of a sports medicine team, prevention is a piece of cake.
When evaluating the benefits of using chiropractic for peak performance in athletes, it helps to remember that a chiropractor’s scope of practice includes prescription exercises which, combined with their clinical expertise, can be a complete game-changer for any athlete.
If you consider all exercises like a hockey game, broken into three periods, you can understand the role of a chiropractor in each one.
Period 1: The Warm-Up.
Chiropractors can prescribe you sport-specific warm-up dynamic stretches to prepare your muscles and joints to undergo any stressors throughout a practice or game.
Period 2: The Game.
Chiropractors can prescribe sport-specific exercises to strengthen muscles that stabilize high-injury risk areas like the ankles, knees, shoulders, and wrists.
Additionally, exercises can provide cross-training to stay active without burning out.
Period 3: The Cool-Down.
Lastly, there’s the cool down.
After a game or practice, prescription stretches can help your body recuperate from intense training and prevent injury at your next session.
Chiropractic care can help repair muscle tissue damage and prevent future injuries by using multiple therapies such as spinal manipulation, soft tissue work, and exercise.
The largest reason for the efficacy of these treatments lies in their ability to reduce pain, promoting faster recovery.
Chiropractors are trained in providing a wide range of non-pharmacologic treatments, meaning no prescription medications and safer care, and that is certainly something everyone can appreciate when considering utilizing chiropractic for themselves or chiropractic for peak performance in athletes on their own teams.
By not masking painful symptoms with medications, chiropractic care can work in many ways to treat the cause of pain, whether it is a sports injury or OTS.
While all chiropractors are trained in manual therapies like spinal manipulation and soft tissue work, others specialize in sports nutrition or exercise, which are additional ways they may add benefit to improving your recovery (3).
Balancing Stability and Mobility
Another reason that utilizing chiropractic for peak performance in athletes makes sense is that many sports often involve repetitive movements, making certain joints, muscles, and ligaments more prone to injury.
Chiropractic care can help you find the balance between mobility in these joints and stability in their surrounding structures through many different avenues.
When considering mobility, the first thing that may be used is spinal manipulation.
This is the treatment that chiropractors are most well-known for and can be a key part of restoring motion within a joint and reducing any stiffness in the surrounding muscles.
Additional treatments to improve the flexibility of these surrounding muscles may be used, such as instrument-assisted soft-tissue manipulation (IASTM), active release technique (ART), or various types of sports massage.
These soft tissue treatments can also promote blood flow to the tissues, encouraging further healing.
You can address stability and strength after an injury has already occurred or prevent one.
To prevent injury, a chiropractor can consider both your personal history and the specific demands of your sport to create exercises tailored to help you perform optimally.
To treat an injury that has already happened, a chiropractor can provide you with gentle rehabilitative exercises to strengthen reciprocal muscles in the injured area.
For example, if you’ve torn your ACL, a chiropractor may prescribe exercises for you to maintain the strength in the surrounding leg muscles.
Getting Chiropractic Care in Your Corner
It’s easy to see how utilizing chiropractic for peak performance in athletes can help those from all sports from all leagues at all levels – including you – stay at the top of your game.
While your favorite professional athletes have entire sports medicine teams to help them, you can help your body perform at its best by visiting a chiropractor for a few simple reasons.
First, chiropractic treatment offers a safe and non-invasive treatment option for aches and pains by decreasing pain in the body or pain from a specific condition.
While there is a time and place for pain medications, non-drug treatments like chiropractic care are just as effective and can reduce the risk of side effects from these medications (4).
Additionally, athletic performance can be improved by implementing simple sport-specific stretches and exercises to improve flexibility and strength.
The treatments used to improve flexibility often reduce muscle soreness by improving blood flow and decreasing hypertonicity in the muscles.
Most significantly, chiropractic doctors are educated on the body’s anatomy and physiology, its response to movement patterns, and even the best treatment methods.
Your chiropractor must understand injury repair and the correct protocols for safely returning any athlete to their sport.
In other words, again, utilizing chiropractic for peak performance in athletes just makes sense.
Finally, if you’re an athlete looking to maintain or improve your physical strength and flexibility, or if you want to prevent a sport-related injury without the use of medications and other potentially invasive treatments, you should consider having a chiropractor on your sports medicine team.
When your body is moving efficiently, and without pain, you may very well be astonished at how much healthier you feel and how much better your sports performance improves!