It is widely accepted that athletes are constantly in search of ways to improve and increase levels of performance. With the war on doping raging on, finding ways to optimise performance without turning to chemicals is important. The spine is susceptible to joint dysfunction resulting from biomechanical overload, neurological irritation, environmental stress and injury. Chiropractic addresses joint dysfunction by using various techniques and has been found to result in biomechanical and neurophysiological improvements. Some of which will be discussed below.
1. Improved Mobility and Flexibility
Chiropractic has been shown to improve joint range of motion which has a direct impact on how your muscles, ligaments and tendons function. This improves efficiency, helping you push harder for longer with less recovery time, not to mention reducing overuse injuries due to compensation patterns.
The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published guidelines suggesting that chiropractic should be attempted before resorting to spinal surgery, which is not only high risk but has also been proven to be low reward, not to mention expensive, with spinal surgeries running into the hundreds of thousands – not great when you’re trying to fund your sporting activity as a privateer.
3. No Drugs
I’ve already touched on the war on doping, but beyond getting you in trouble with Johnny Law, there is also the havoc some of the chemicals we consume these days in our hunt for greater performance wreak on our bodies; from eating our stomach lining to destroying our livers and kidneys; from shooting our blood pressure through the roof to massive spikes and drops in blood sugar; the list goes on. One just has to skim through the telephone book-sized package inserts in medications to be put off this option. Never mind the mass builders, fat burners, vasodilators, performance enhancers, meal replacements and recovery lotions and potions we’ve been sold to replace a healthy diet rich in organic whole foods in the name of convenience.
4. Reduced Pain
Manual forms of intervention have been documented since ancient times as a means of reducing pain, and in recent years the research surrounding the efficacy of chiropractic in particular as a form of pain intervention, has grown tremendously with a recent study showing a reduction in inflammatory cytokines following chiropractic. You don’t have to be a scientist to grasp that reduced pain can only ever help performance during an event but wait, there’s more: less inflammation means quicker recovery and so fewer rest days, getting you back out there prepping for the next big one ASAP.
5. Improved Posture
The vast majority of us spend our weeks chained to a desk or crammed into a car seat and then we go home and slump into a squishy couch and then we curl up into the foetal position or lie on our stomach with our heads twisted at 90 degrees to one side for eight hours of ‘rest’. This, sprinkled with around four hours per day of noses buried in a mobile device, means we’re heading back the way our cave man ancestors came but without the muscle development that goes with it. Spinal x-rays of children as young as 9 years old have started showing permanent degenerative changes and it’s all thanks to our “technologically advanced” societal norms. Chiropractic and Advanced BioStructural Correction™, in particular, has been shown to reduce these effects by improving posture, visible both from the outside as well as on x-ray. This occurs as a result of repositioning vertebrae and joints that have been pushed out of position in a direction that the body cannot self correct.
6. Fewer Injuries and Reduced Recovery Time
As we spoke about earlier, chiropractic has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve mobility but it also improves co-ordination and this means fewer injuries (acute ones like ankle sprains and torn ACLs as well as chronic ones such as tendonitis and joint degeneration). This is good news for anyone who asks a lot from their body and who needs as little downtime as possible.
7. Better Gut Function
More and more people are developing digestive issues such as gluten and dairy intolerances and it has been proposed that this has something to do with the nerves supplying our gut being incredibly sensitive to stress and dysfunction, and while no chiropractor can justifiably claim to directly treat such conditions, chiropractic is able to improve the brain-gut connection thus improving the body’s resistance to stressors which may cause hypersensitivity in both the nervous system and the gut. This means better digestion, increased immunity and again, less inflammation. All of these are great outcomes for bodies placed under even more stress by athletic endeavour.
8. Better Respiration
Chiropractic is great for the mobility of the ribcage as well as the function of the diaphragm which makes breathing in and out easier and more efficient. This means not only is there more oxygen circulating to all your muscles helping them work harder for longer but the removal of carbon dioxide is also improved and this helps slow the build up of acidic compounds in your system preventing cramp and improving recovery. It also feeds your brain and nervous system helping you make better decisions and think clearer in a high-stress environment.
9. It’s Safe
Chiropractic has an exemplary safety record. Time and time again it has been shown to be safe and effective. Don’t just take my word for it though, this claim is backed up by the insurance companies with insurance for a chiropractor in South Africa costing around R2000 annually… this compared with specialists who pay anywhere between R300 000 to R1 million per year for cover.
These are just a few of the many benefits chiropractic has to offer not only athletes but our families too.
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