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Athletic Performance and Chiropractic

Updated: Apr 12

Chiropractic definitely can help a whole host of illnesses and diseases, but can it actually improve your performance on the athletic field? The answer, simply, is YES! Chiropractic adjustments align your spine, so your body functions optimally. Whether that is relieving headache symptoms or improving the biomechanics of your throw, an optimally functioning nervous system will allow the rest of your body to perform at its peak. Don't take just my word for it though, look at some of the professional teams that have chiropractors on staff. The Bills, Ravens, 49ers, Broncos, Browns, and many more all have team chiropractors and that's just football. (Chiropractic Roster By Team - Professional Football Chiropractic (profootballchiros.com)) In 2016, 28 out of the 30 MLB teams also had team chiropractors on staff (Chiropractic Care in Major League Baseball | The American Chiropractor | OCTOBER 2016) currently I believe all teams do, but I could not find a reputable source for that short of visiting every team's website or citing a questionable site. Most NHL teams have a team chiropractor as well (NHL TEAM CHIROPRACTORS | Professional Hockey Chiropractic Society (prohockeychiros.com)) So if the big guys are doing it, don't you think it's worth it for your personal performance?


Still questioning it? Lets take a look at some recent research studies.


First off, this recent study completed in 2021 took a look at field hockey performance after spinal manipulation. Tests performed before and after treatment included the sit and reach test, vertical jump, 40m sprint, and a 5-0-5 agility test. These are all qualified as sport-specific tests for field hockey and are accepted to be great indicators of sports performance. In the control group which received palpation of their spine but no thrusts (manipulations), there was only a significant improvement in the 5-0-5 agility test but no other improvements, versus the treatment group who did receive the thrusts (manipulations) who approved significantly across the board. (Muller_A_2021.pdf (dut.ac.za))


Another study done on professional boxers was trying to see if there was a difference in punch acceleration after chiropractic treatment. Although their findings for acceleration were not significant between treatment and control groups, they did find that punch frequency improved significantly. Meaning the boxer could land more punches in the same area in the same amount of time after receiving chiropractic treatment versus the control group. Although they were not able to show a difference in punch velocity the number of punches you are able to land in the ring can be the difference between winning and losing the match. (The effect of Chiropractic Manual manipulation of the cervical spine on fist acceleration in boxers - University of Johannesburg (uj.ac.za))


Finally, our animal athletes can show a benefit to receiving chiropractic care as well. Just this year a study was published on hunter-jumper horses and the effect chiropractic care has on their performance. Although they did not find a statistical difference in measurable outcomes such as stride length or heart rate, the riders of the treatment group reported significant improvements in their mounts performance after treatment versus the control group which noted no changes pre- and post- placebo treatment. The study does admit they may need better equipment to truly detect if there was a change. They used a simple fitness tracker to detect the animal's heart rate, stride length, stride symmetry, and stride rate. They also mention that differences in weather, rider, and terrain were different between horses and may have affected the results. (Chiropractic effects on stride parameters and heart rate during exercise in sport horses - Lorello - Equine Veterinary Journal - Wiley Online Library) However, as a horseback rider myself, any time I can have a better ride on my horse, whether it's just my perception or if there is actual improvement, I am all for it. I think most equestrians would tend to agree with me as well.


These articles are just the tip of the ice burg. I will definitely be posting more over the weeks to come but figured I'd start off with some smaller less popular sports and work my way up to the big leagues. If you have a specific sport you'd like to hear about, please drop a comment in the feed below or shoot me a private message and I'll be happy to look into it for you!

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