What Does a Sports Chiropractor Do?
If you’re a serious athlete, whether professional or amateur, considering chiropractic care, choosing a sports chiropractor is a smart decision. The field of chiropractic sports medicine is a specialization of traditional chiropractic care focused on the unique needs of athletes with an emphasis on treating and preventing musculoskeletal injuries. Sports chiropractors bring extensive sports knowledge to their practices and understand the desire for peak performance, accelerated recovery, and the avoidance of unnecessary medications and invasive treatments.
With their blend of chiropractic and sports expertise, sports chiropractors help athletes in several important ways:
- Focus on health and wellness — Sports chiropractors take a holistic approach, treating the whole patient and not just an injury. Using hands-on manipulations, a sports chiropractor may be able to correct alignment issues contributing to other health concerns or hampering performance. Athletes often discover that while they may not have an active injury, chiropractic treatment can improve range of motion, strength, reflexes, and performance. Other benefits include pain relief, faster healing, and reduced inflammation.
- Maximize sports performance — This is one area where a specialist in sports chiropractic medicine can make a huge difference. Sports chiropractors are experts in the following disciplines:
- Athletic Biomechanics
- Performance Nutrition
- Sports Medicine
- Sports Physiology
- Sport Philosophy
- Strength and Conditioning
- Sports Training
Serious athletes, including high school, club, college, professional, and Olympic teams as well as competitive athletes from various sports are increasingly turning to sports chiropractors to optimize sports performance.
- Prevent and treat sports related injuries — It’s not just about getting stronger, faster, or more limber; it’s also about preventing and treating injuries. Sports chiropractors prefer to prevent injuries than treating them. A sports chiropractor will often prescribe a series of movements and exercise tailored to prevent specific injuries such as ACL injuries. As part of injury prevention, your sports chiropractor may show you how to avoid vulnerable positions or warm up appropriately.
Should an athlete suffer an injury, chiropractic treatment is a non-invasive option that can help athletes avoid invasive surgeries and the use of powerful painkillers.
- Recover from injuries — As with any injury, sports injuries often require long recovery times and physical therapy. A sports chiropractor provides one-on-one therapy tailored to the athlete’s needs. A blend of manual adjustments, therapeutic exercises, resistance training, and home exercise routines along with a series of physical therapy sessions is commonly used to help athletes recover from their injuries as safely as possible. These treatments work to restore proper joint functioning and strengthen supporting muscles and soft tissues.
At the same time, it’s not unusual for a sports chiropractor to investigate how the injury occurred in the first place and provide expert guidance and techniques to prevent a repeat in the future.
- Prepare to return to your sport — Rehabilitation is crucial, but it’s not complete without considering how you’ll eventually return to the sport. Return to a sport, or return to play, therapy is a component of injury rehabilitation that prepares you for your eventual return to the game. A sports therapist, under the direction of a sports chiropractor, helps athletes transition from rehab to the game. During this transitional period, you’ll work on conditioning both the injury and your body as a whole so that you’ll be able to perform at the desired level. In fact, other issues such as technique or range of motion issues may be detected and corrected during your return to sports therapy, positioning you for even better performance and agility.
- Learn about sports nutrition — As holistic care providers, sports chiropractors often help athletes better understand what their bodies need from a nutritional standpoint. With proper nutrition, many illnesses and ailments can be alleviated, if not eliminated, and/or prevented. Sports chiropractors often offer expert nutritional guidance and recommendations about supplements.
- Pain and headache relief — Many athletes suffer from headaches and a host of aches and pains, many of which are caused by biomechanical malfunctions of the spine and surrounding muscles. These malfunctions can affect the sensitive nerves and blood vessels leading to the head, causing headaches and neck or back pain. While painkillers can bring temporary pain relief, they don’t correct the root cause, leading to ongoing pain. Correcting the root cause brings lasting pain relief, with some athletes experiencing relief immediately and others requiring multiple sessions.
These are but a few of the many ways a sports chiropractor can help athletes improve their performance and their overall health and wellness. Whether you’re in peak condition now, would like to optimize your performance, or have suffered a sports injury, consulting with a sports chiropractor could be one of the best moves of your sports career.