As healthcare practitioners, we generally find our niche, and by that I mean the favorite ailments we love to treat, or the focus we attract. Some chiropractors choose pediatrics, or pediatrics chooses them. Same with geriatrics, postural correction, sports injuries, or animals (yes there are chiropractors who work on animals, racehorses for example).

For me, I think I’ve attracted the sportsmen and women, why? Probably because it’s been apart of my life forever, and continues to be. It’s one of my communities, and it is something I’m so passionate about. From swimming and underwater hockey to cycling, running and CrossFit, at different performance levels, with the occasional involvement and enjoyment of a large range of other activities. I generally find that patients want a practitioner they can relate too, someone who understands the sporting struggle, the hard work, the injuries, the brick walls, the “I can’t afford to rest” and so many other factors. Well, I know I do. 

In the next couple of months, I am going to be unpacking different sports or major events based on my practice experience, whether that be young swimmers with the goal of making the Olympics, runners participating in a 5 km fun run or the Comrades Marathon, athletes prepping for Warrior races, etc. So if this kinda talk interests you, stay tuned over the next few months. But to set the foundation for these forthcoming blogs lets focus on the well being of sportsmen and women in general and why chiropractic care should form part of your preparation just as much as the training itself. And by the term “sportsmen/women” I do not mean exclusively a professional athlete that is being paid to compete, I am using it as a loose term for any individual training religiously towards a goal or event. 

Sean Atkins, Exercise Physiologist said, “I would estimate that at least 90% of world-class athletes use Chiropractic care on a regular basis to prevent injuries and to improve their performance.” Well, let us have a small look. 

  • Tom Brady, American Football Player, “As long as I see a chiropractor, I feel like I’m one step ahead of the game.”
  • Tiger Woods, American Professional Golfer, “I’ve been going to chiropractors for as long as I can remember. It’s as important to my training as practicing my swing.” 
  • Floyd Patterson, former American Professional Boxer and World Heavyweight Champion (1956 – 1962), “I have to have a series of chiropractic adjustments before I go into the ring. I found that going to a chiropractor three times a week helps my performance. The majority of boxers go to chiropractors to get that extra edge.”
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Professional Bodybuilder, when asked about his personal training, he talked about his chiropractic treatment, “This is how I found out the best way to use chiropractors, not only after injuries but also before injury.”

So there are numerous famous athletes that utilise chiropractic care to enhance their game. But what about the everyday heroes and sportsmen and women that walk into my practice regularly? Can we better relate to them? What do they have to say?

  • Comrades runner and provincial triathlete seeing a chiropractor every two weeks to ensure she is as injury free and well maintained as possible.
  • National High Jump athlete who “traveled with a chiropractor for weekly competitions, working his chiropractic magic at every session we had.” 
  • The CrossFit athlete receiving maintenance care to improve ankle and hip mobility in order to squat more efficiently.
  • National Paddler receiving chiropractic adjustments prior to surf-ski races to keep any niggles at bay and to ensure paddling efficiency and optimum performance.
  • Cyclist preparing for KZN and SA road cycling champs receiving chiropractic adjustments “to increase power output on the bike, which isn’t a perception, it is a defined reading.”
  • Competitive swimmers receiving “regular care to maintain a high intensity in training and peak performance whilst racing.”

One patient of mine wrote this in a review, “As an individual who is involved in a numerous amount of sports, I have learned but one thing when I have decided to skip on my chiropractic appointments; chiropractic support is not a necessity but an absolute essential part of the training and healing process.”

With all that said, if you’re training towards a sporting goal, however big or small, chiropractic care has an important role to play in your training. 

So what are the benefits of overall wellness and chiropractic care to sportsmen or women? I am going to unpack this slightly differently, and I hope you will understand why by the end of the blog, because as a chiropractor, I personally believe in a holistic approach to care, especially when treating athletes, which ultimately means I consider the FIVE PILLARS OF HEALTH. Sleep/rest. Nutrition. Mental/Attitude. Movement. Spinal/Nervous System. My attention is focused more specifically on one pillar (naturally the nervous system), but I address and pay attention to all pillars because, in order to function and race at your optimum, you need a good balance of all five. One car wheel doesn’t perform its function without the other three working in unison. 

To begin, as sportsmen and women, we are ALWAYS looking for the next best thing to enhance our performance and get ahead of our components and opposition. Have you tried Hydrotherapy? What about that athlete, he’s on a Ketogenic diet and look how well he’s performing. Have to tried ice bathing after every session? Maybe you should train in an altitude chamber? Have you tried genetic testing? Everyone needs to find what works for them, and yes, these things can all aid performance, however, I will share this disclaimer: Get your FIVE PILLARS OF HEALTH aligned first. Let’s go. 

[ SLEEP/REST ]

Every night when we sleep, our metabolism changes and our cells go into rebuild mode. They do this to repair the damage that has occurred during the day, as well as to flush out any toxins that have accumulated. You are all putting your body through huge amounts of stress each day on the bike, on the road, in the gym, in the pool, etc. We are not super humans even if we think we are. 

How many of you spend your time before bed on your cell phones or iPads? Well, believe it or not, this bombards you with EMFs which affect our body’s ability to produce melatonin – a hormone that is necessary for proper sleep. 

Insufficient sleep = impaired repairing of cells and a build-up of toxins. 

ONE OF THE BEST PERFORMANCE ENHANCERS IS SLEEP! 

You can’t expect to train at your optimum if your body hasn’t received the recovery it needs. With that said, it is not only sleeping, this includes RESTING and giving your body time to rebuild from numerous hard training sessions. Overtraining is a thing, it isn’t just some myth. 

[ NUTRITION ]

Aha! 

You know that saying – you are what you eat – well there is a lot of truth to that. What we eat every day is going to determine the health and energy of our cells and how efficiently our metabolic pathways work. 

I always like to relate to the food you eat to fuel for a car. High-quality fuel = high energy cells. Low-quality fuel in the form of processed foods etc = low functioning of the cells. 

I treat so many sportsmen and women that are not eating well but are expecting the results. When I take a case history and ask, “So how are your eating habits? Do you eat well for your training?” Um… it’s either a guilty smile that follows or “ah that’s nice wallpaper.” Please ladies and gents, see a dietician if you are unsure how to fuel yourself adequately, get a good eating plan that is specific to YOU. Just because Sally functions well as a vegan, doesn’t mean you will. Be smart. 

[ MENTAL ]

Now, this is crucial in the sport you do. 

This is not only your mental capacity, its the relationship you have with those around you. 

People close to us have a tremendous effect on our health, positively, negatively or both. This, however, works both ways – you also play a role in adding value to those around you, especially close training partners.

Sport is a relational healthy mindset, just as much as an individual mindset. I find that many sporting individuals that I treat are actually seeing a sports psychologist regularly and there is nothing wrong with this! Especially if you’re a professional or competitive athlete, the stress that comes with performance is high and can be mentally challenging, and struggling in this area can have a massive impact on external performance. 

[ MOVEMENT ]

Yes as sportsmen and women, you’re active. Well done. For my patients that don’t exercise, I encourage movement of any sort, but in your case, I’m not talking about going for your training runs or your scheduled 180km cycle. In your case, it’s movement specific to avoid injuries and ensure stability and strength. 

The best way to prevent injury is by staying diverse with your movement demands. 

This is the perfect summary of a great quote from Boo Schexnayder on the topic of preventing injuries: 

The ides is that the human body was designed to be a Swiss Army knife of movement with the capability of sprinting, jumping, lifting heavy things, moving with fluid motion, and feats of endurance. Focusing on just a few of these elements for your “exercise” would simply be a mistake. By working through a wide range of physical literacy challenges, different systems and tissues are stressed without being overstressed. This results in more resilient tissues and less injury. So have your primary focus but supplement or break up programming with components of physical literacy that are neglected by the “meat and potatoes” of your program. 

The number of athletes I see that have a weak core, um… insert emoji facepalm to the face. If you are serious about your goals and want to achieve some superb results, please see a Biokineticist, you will not be disappointed. CORE: GET GOOD AT BEING STILL SO YOU CAN BE EFFICIENT WHEN YOU’RE MOVING FAST. 

[ NERVOUS SYSTEM ]

Which brings me to this. So what are the reasons why sportsmen and women get adjusted and receive chiropractic care?

  • Well, firstly it is non-invasive and DRUG-FREE. We do not prescribe medication to try to fix niggles or prevent injuries, nor do we give medication to enhance performance. We simply look to the neuromusculoskeletal system, because that is where it all begins. 
  • Heightened body awareness. Training towards a goal requires a lot more activity and participation, and for some sports that further requires higher levels of impact on the body. Chiropractic adjustments restore function to the body and nervous system. 
  • Chiropractic care improves movement, on a spinal and joint level, as well as overall body movement. Imagine training for the comrades with ankles that don’t move properly? That directly affects the whole gait cycle and can lead to numerous lower limb enthesopathies. 
  • Better Balance. Chiropractic care restores balance to the entire body through correcting nervous system disturbances and allowing signals to flow freely between the brain and the body. Upper cervical adjustments have a direct influence on the brain stem. Do you know what the function of the brainstem is? It controls the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body and also controls basic body functions such as breathing, heart rate, swallowing, blood pressure, consciousness, whether one is awake or sleepy, and maintains healthy brain function and balance/coordination.
  • Increased flexibility. When joints and spinal bones are in proper alignment, you are able to maneuver with ease. This is crucial to athletes. 

All the above benefits, therefore, contribute greatly to preventing injury, relieving body stress inflicted by strenuous training regimes, increases strength and enhancing performance. Seeking chiropractic care is not only about injuries, but it’s also about body function and overall optimal performance. 

What are you truly missing out on? 

Focus on ensuring that these five pillars are standing strong and I can assure you that achieving your sporting goals will be that much easier and much more enjoyable. 

As always, 

Inspiring you to Move. Heal. Excel.

Big love,

Doc Lol x