Chiropractic Care: The Athlete's Choice
by Sean Thornton, DC
Doctor of Chiropractic
Many avoidable injuries sideline amateur and professional athletes. Others miss time from their activities because their injuries do not respond to ordinary treatment. Still others continue to compete at less than peak efficiency, simply because their structural system is not in balance. Progressive coaches, athletes, and doctors are realizing that pain killing drugs, muscle relaxers, and cortisone injections are not the answer. Medications merely cover up the symptoms prompting the athlete to continue their actions which could make the injury more serious or interfere with the healing process. Probably more than any other health profession, Chiropractic's approach to health, wellness and proper body mechanics most closely relates to the needs of the athlete or sports participant. Most sports involve fast starts and stops, body positioning that places an unusual amount of strain on the spine and extremities, and also jarring contact to the structural system. Doctors of Chiropractic consider a person as an integrated being, giving special attention to the spine, nervous system, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Chiropractic is a natural health care method that concentrates on keeping all the systems of the body functioning at their maximum potential so the player can enjoy peak performance, a minimum injury risk, and faster recuperation following competition. Many world class and Olympic athletes, as well as professional stars and teams, have retained sports chiropractors to provide care. Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Arnold Schwarzenegger all utilize chiropractic care. The Players Association of the NFL has officially incorporated sports chiropractors as a regular part of care. Many NHL and MLB teams have a team Chiropractor. Chiropractors have been selected as attending doctors at the Olympic Games and at national and world championships in track and field, cycling, volleyball, powerlifting, aerobics, and triathlons.
What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is that science and art based on the premise that good health depends, in part, upon a normally functioning nervous system free from interference from the spine or adjacent structures. When there is interference in the nervous system caused by a misalignment or dysfunction of the spine, tissues, muscles and organs may not function properly. Detection of these problem areas ("subluxations") and their correction by spinal manipulation will relieve nerve interference and allow the spine and nervous system to return to a healthy state. Also misalignment or dysfunction in the joints of the extremities following an sprain/strain type injury may also get adjusted to promote healing and relieve pressure in the joint. Correction of these problems and maintaining good health is the goal of Chiropractic. Chiropractic is licensed in all 50 states. Four years of post-undergraduate education are required and culminate in a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. Chiropractors perform a comprehensive orthopedic, neurologic, and chiropractic examination after a history of the injury is taken. The need for further testing, such as x-rays and blood tests, is based on the findings of the history and examination. Following the completion of the exam a diagnosis will be reached and if the need for the referral to another health care provider is needed many Chiropractors work closely with Orthopedic and Nuerological specialists.
What can be treated with Chiropractic care?
The primary treatment of the Doctor of Chiropractic is manipulation ("adjustment") to those areas of the spine or surrounding joints which are misaligned or producing dysfunction and fail to function normally. Given by hand (the word chiropractic means "done by hand"), the adjustment will restore proper alignment and function to the spinal joints or extremity joints, thereby restoring the normal nerve transmission and healing potential to the vital structures of the body. Promoting a decrease in inflammation and joint pain, improving range of motion in the joint, and decreasing the generation of scar tissue to the area. Therapeutic exercise, massage, and nutritional support are part of patient care when appropriate. Injuries like sprains (ankle), strains (eg. pulled muscles), tendinitis (eg. tennis elbow), bursitis (eg. shoulder pain) and joint problems in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, knee, ankle, and foot can all be treated effectively and are all good reasons to seek chiropractic care. However, the beauty of Chiropractic is not only drug-free and surgery-free care, but also preventative and performance enhancing care. Maintaining proper alignment will allow athletes to be prepared for their sport. Many of the greatest athletes in the world are adjusted before competition as a "tune-up" in an effort to place their bodies in a state of peak efficiency. Following competition, they are adjusted to enhance the recuperative process after the stress of their particular event.
"I've been going to chiropractors for as long as I can remember. It’s as important to my training as practicing my swing."
- Tiger Woods