Chiropractic – sidelines your pain while you bounce back
When a runner injures a calf midway through a race, or a footballer pulls a hamstring as he kicks the ball in the same way he has kicked it thousands of times before, it may not be the running or the kicking that has caused the injury – but an underlying problem that is finally showing itself. Whether it is a previously undetected spine or joint problem, or years of poor posture, the resulting injury could potentially signal the end of a sporting career.
Whether you are an amateur sports enthusiast or a professional athlete, your body is prone to the same kind of injuries. Repeated stresses can lead to a slight loss of proper movement in the bones of your spine (vertebrae) and joints, which in turn can interfere with the healthy working of your muscles and nerves. You may have ignored the pain and carried on with your sport for too long without treatment, and now find yourself with a chronic injury. It’s not surprising that chiropractors often see patients with:
- Hamstring and calf strains
- Achilles tendon injuries
- Groin and thigh sprains
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Shoulder sprains (rotator cuff injuries)
- Sciatica (often confused with hamstring pulls!)
These injuries often recur, may shorten promising sporting careers and turn enthusiastic amateurs into observers.
Problems with performance
Injury is not the only problem for sports enthusiasts and professionals. Many find that they reach a ‘threshold’ of ability, and cannot improve further, however much training they put in. This is why so many serious athletes consult chiropractors who will work to improve both function and health. Many chiropractors have areas of special interest in sport related injuries.
As well as speeding up your recovery from injury, your chiropractor can enhance your performance, and help to prevent future problems.
Unlike painkilling drugs, chiropractors search for the cause of the injury, rather than just treating the injury itself. Your chiropractor will carry out a full examination (including x-rays if necessary), and ask you questions about your sporting life, posture, medical history and lifestyle, to discover the cause of your injury or poor performance and make a diagnosis.
Then your treatment will begin, often with gentle, specific manipulations done by hand accompanied by adjunctive therapies, to free stiff joints and remove spinal nerve irritation. This effective drug free treatment is generally painless, although you may feel some short-term discomfort around the injured area. Treatment will normally be followed by a rehabilitation plan to strengthen the injured area, improve your flexibility and prevent future flare-ups.
Chiropractic treatment aims to restore normal function to your joints and muscles as well as your nervous system, and may increase your control, co-ordination and muscle strength.
Like most athletes who have benefited from chiropractic treatment, you may decide to return for regular check-ups to keep your body working at its best. Regardless of your age, condition or health, chiropractic care may improve your athletic potential.
* * *
Many top sports teams now have a chiropractor as part of their medical care.
* * *
How can a recurrence of the problem be prevented?
This, of course, will depend upon the problem itself, but many sports injuries are caused by a poor approach to sport. It is vitally important that you warm up before you start, and stretch when you have finished. If you have been away from your sport for a long time, your body will be less fit and supple, making injury more likely. Your chiropractor will be able to advise you in either case.
Will chiropractic improve sporting performance?
Yes, probably. By addressing the injury cause, chiropractors will attempt to eliminate the cause of these problems as well as improving the mechanics of your joints and muscles and the nerves supplying them. Many athletes find a significant improvement in performance because of this.
What about just working through the pain?
This is usually not a good idea. If your body isn’t working properly, you will continue to overload the injury, prolonging the healing process and risking further problems as a result of your body compensating. When your chiropractor has improved the movement and strength of your joints and muscles, your injury will heal more quickly and be much less likely to come back.