“Chiropractic just makes you feel so much better. When I walk out of the clinic, I feel like I’m about three inches taller and everything’s in place. And as long as I see the chiropractor, I feel like I’m one step ahead of the game.”
-Tom Brady, 5 time Superbowl champion
An estimated 90% of world class athletes use a chiropractor as part of their training and competition preparation (1). As Tom Brady highlights, chiropractic provides verifiable physical benefits like having “[everything] in place,” as well as mental benefits like feeling “one step ahead of the game.” Clearly, elite level athletes know that chiropractic plays a key role in keeping them healthy and preparing for competition.
Many people think of chiropractic as a tool to help recovery, and they are right. Chiropractic can help athletes return to play stronger than ever. A study of 20 female distance runners looked at the differences in a control group and one using chiropractic as part of their rehabilitation program as a means of rehabilitation. But even more interesting, a secondary finding of this study was that 5 of the runners achieved PR times in their 10k, and an additional 2 noted PR times in their half-marathon times (2), this while coming back from an injury.
Chiropractic can also help to correct posture. A forward head posture can lead to long term muscle strain, disc herniation, arthritis, or pinched nerves (3); This implies that chiropractors may help reduce injuries in athletes at any level. Forward head postures have been linked to loss of up to 30% of vital lung capacity (4), and helping to correct this may improve vital lung capacity, which allows for easier breathing. As you have probably experienced when exercising or playing a sport with a stuffed nose, easier breathing (and a higher lung capacity) allows you to give your best effort for longer.
Not only will improving posture give performance improvements on the field, but improving posture has been linked to reduction in cortisol and increases in testosterone (5). Reduced cortisol and increased testosterone both help improve recovery from regular activity (so you feel better after games/practices/workouts), as well as improve injury recovery and rehabilitation (so you feel better and return to play faster after getting hurt).
Some of the most amazing effects of chiropractic are neurological. A study investigated the impact of chiropractic on reaction time, by recruiting 50 athletes and assessing their reaction time. Twenty-five athletes were selected to receive chiropractic, and 25 athletes to act as a control group that received no chiropractic care. After six weeks of standardized training for all participants, the control group showed less than 1% improvement in reaction time, while the group under chiropractic care showed an 18% improvement in their reaction time (6). (The chiropractic group was also scoring significantly better on 11 standard tests of athletic ability, including distance perception, side step test, vertical jump, broad jump and many others). Who wouldn’t want to have such fantastic improvements with something so simple as a healthier functioning nervous system through chiropractic?
A related study found that chiropractic caused split-second decision making to happen twice as fast when reacting to computer based stimuli (7). As Many athletic endeavours, especially sports, require split-second decisions to be made, and being able to cut reaction time in half can make a world of difference.
Chiropractic can offer faster recovery time, improved athletic performance, and faster reaction times for athletes. Countless world class athletes are benefiting from chiropractic, but athletes at every level who are seeking an advantage could benefit from chiropractic. Perdita Felicien, a former World Champion hurdler and Canadian record hurdler is a big fan of chiropractic, and during her prime was quoted as saying
“Chiropractic care is an important part of keeping me in the best condition, so I can perform at an optimal level.”
Perdita has experienced what the research says: Chiropractic offers tremendous advantages to athletes at any level of competition.
Photo by Life Through Exposure Photography
1. Sean Atkins, Ph.D. , Exercise Physchologist.
2. Grimston, S. K., et al. “Muscular rehabilitation prescribed in coordination with prior chiropractic therapy as a treatment for sacroiliac subluxation in female distance runners.” Chiropractic Sports Medicine 4.1 (1990): 2-8.
3. Mayo Clinic Health Letter, Vol. 18 #3, March 2000.
4. Rene Calliet MD, Department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, University of South Carolina.
5. Carney, Dana R., Amy JC Cuddy, and Andy J. Yap. “Power posing brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance.” Psychological Science 21.10 (2010): 1363-1368.
6. Lauro, Anthony, and B. Mouch. “Chiropractic effects on athletic ability.” The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation 6 (1991): 84-87.
7. Kelly, David D., Bernadette A. Murphy, and David P. Backhouse. “Use of a mental rotation reaction-time paradigm to measure the effects of upper cervical adjustments on cortical processing: a pilot study.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics 23.4 (2000): 246-251.