Whether they play in a neighborhood sports league or are elite competitors, an increasing number of athletes rely on chiropractic doctors who specialize in sports injury treatment to get them back in the game.
“Professional leagues, including Major League Baseball and the National Football League, have recognized the benefits of chiropractic treatment for years,” noted Carlo Guadagno, DC, Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences at National University of Health Sciences ̶ Florida. “At the 2016 Olympics Games I was part of the Olympic Village polyclinic sports medicine staff, where many athletes were referred to us for neck, low back and extremity conditions,” he said.
NUHS graduate Lindsey Polaskey, DC, says she often sees sports enthusiasts such as gymnasts, runners, crossfit athletes and baseball players at Impact Sports Rehab and Chiropractic in Oswego, Ill. One of those patients was a “high level gymnast in an important stage of competition for recruiting purposes,” Dr. Polaskey explained. “We had a tight timeframe to get her back to full competition safely,” which they did in time for her to qualify for the national competition.
Regardless of their fitness levels, here are six reasons athletes love chiropractic medicine for sports injuries and injury prevention.
1. Improved Range of Motion
Athletes put a lot of pressure on their bodies every time they train, which can create problems with spinal alignment and movement. They can easily end up with stiffness and pain in their joints, causing their range of motion to be limited. Receiving the appropriate chiropractic treatment can help undo the damage and prevent sports injuries before they occur, all while promoting pain-free movement.
2. Shortened Healing Time After Sports Injuries
Even when injuries can’t be prevented, chiropractic care can help to shorten healing time for a variety of conditions. For example, ankle sprains can heal more efficiently with the help of adjustments that reduce pain, improve function and increase motion. “Sports chiropractors provide therapies that are geared towards maintaining strength and avoiding injuries, but when injuries happen, they can effectively manage the associated pain and healing,” Dr. Guadagno explained.
3. Reduced Pain
Active people, even the strongest athletes, often suffer from pain, particularly in the lower back. A chiropractic doctor knows exactly how to work with a sensitive spine to promote proper alignment and movement. Chiropractors can recommend treatments that will reduce pain and discomfort in other areas of the body in the short-term and for the long run, in addition to restoring function.
Nadrine S. Omar, DC, an NUHS alumna who gained experience providing sports injury treatment as a student intern in the Whole Health Center, works with “both high end and the typical weekend warrior” at Aligned Modern Health in Chicago, Ill. One of her patients was a professional golfer who wanted to be able to swing a golf club without pain. “He had been in physical therapy (elsewhere) for a few months, but with a detailed and focused approach using the McKenzie method, core strengthening and thoracic mobility drills, he was able to golf without pain and reduce the frequency and severity of his low back pain,” Dr. Omar related.
4. Less Reliance on Prescription Drugs
While aches can be, and often are, treated with pain medications, cortisone shots and other drugs that provide short-term relief, chiropractic medicine offers athletes drug-free alternatives that can reduce, or even eliminate, their pain from sports injuries. This also means that athletes aren’t subjected to the side effects or dependencies that commonly arise from the use of prescription medication.
5. Safer, Non-Invasive Treatment
Chiropractic treatment is often a viable alternative to invasive procedures such as drug injections or surgeries that would keep athletes sidelined during a long recovery period. Chiropractic doctors do more than just back adjustments. National University of Health Sciences Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine Program graduates, for instance, are trained to be primary care providers who can order X-rays, evaluate blood tests and provide other non-invasive treatments and therapies for musculoskeletal issues.
6. More Time and Attention From Their Doctors
Chiropractic doctors typically spend more time with each of their patients than MDs. Chiropractic treatment includes a whole health assessment to ensure there are no underlying issues that may be contributing to an injury, or have the potential to cause future problems. They will continue to evaluate progress with each visit.
“Growing up, I was a gymnast and often dealing with injuries,” recalled Dr. Polaskey. “I saw many orthos and other doctors. They didn’t seem to listen or understand my sport or individual injury. My parents eventually took me to a chiropractor,” she explained. “It was refreshing to have someone take the time to make an individualized plan of care and action.”
Ultimately, if you’re an athlete who wants to maintain your physical strength and range of motion, or if you want to recover from an injury without the use of prescription drugs and invasive treatments, you may want to consider seeing a chiropractic doctor on a regular basis. You may be surprised by how much better you feel and how much your performance improves when your body is in alignment and pain-free!
For those interested in a career in sports-related chiropractic medicine, the National University graduates suggest taking sports-related seminars, shadowing chiropractors working with athletes and participating in student clubs. “The seminars, Motion Palpation Club and Sports rehab clubs were all very helpful to me in implementing diagnostic skills, prevention and treatment of various injuries,” Dr. Omar advised.
Explore the career field of chiropractic medicine with our complimentary guide.