What You Should Know About Chiropractic Medicine and Sports


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This article was provided by Dr. Alex Tauberg DC.

What is Chiropractic Medicine?

The question what is chiropractic medicine can be hard to answer. This question is very similar to asking “what is osteopathic medicine?”, or even “what is medicine?” These questions are hard to answer because they each encompasses a vast assortment of different specialties. Chiropractic medicine is the practice of medicine performed by someone who has a doctorate degree in chiropractic, more specifically, the practice of evaluating, treating, and managing neuro-musculoskeletal conditions using conservative therapeutic measures. Chiropractors are most noted for using spinal manipulation to treat lower back pain, however this is not the only treatment that chiropractors use, nor is it the only condition they treat. Chiropractors use a wide array of techniques and treatments to help people with a multitude of different conditions and diagnoses get better. The goals of treatment can range from getting someone out of pain, improving one’s ability to perform daily functions, to improving ones athletic performance.

The typical treatments that chiropractors use when working with athletes can vary. Some of the more popular ones include spinal manipulation, extremity manipulation, post-isometric relaxation, myofascial release, exercise therapy, and electrical muscle stimulation. Each of these treatments can be implemented for a variety of conditions commonly experienced by athletes. Most of these treatments can be provided both in office when the athlete is rehabbing from an injury or on the sideline to get the player back into the game.

How does chiropractic medicine integrate with sports?

Since chiropractic medicine is concerned with treating neuro-musculoskeletal injuries with conservative care, it is easily integrated into sports medicine. In sports, the goal is to win or perform to the highest of ones abilities. When an athlete is focused on these goals, sometime injuries occur. These injuries may be due to overtraining, overexertion, a traumatic collision during the game, or something different altogether. When these injuries occur, athletes want to return to the game as quickly as possible. The treatments that are most conducive to quick healing are the ones that athletes want to use. Sports injuries are almost always neuro-musculoskeletal. Very few sports injuries affect the visceral tissue. Therefore the majority of injuries that are experienced in sports are best treated with conservative rehabilitation and therapies. Being that chiropractic physicians are most concerned with treating neuro-musculoskeletal injuries with conservative care, there is a clear role for them in being one of the primary physicians who treat athletes.

Chiropractic medicine and sports also go together in that many athletes like to visit the chiropractor on either a daily basis or as part of the game day routine. While the research is still out, many athletes believe that receiving spinal manipulation, as well as the other services that a chiropractor performs, on a regular basis helps prevent them from getting injured and possibly even perform better.

Chiropractors are an integral part of the sports medicine team. They have been working hand in hand with athletes for decades. Working with great athletes such as Aaron Rodgers, Jerry Rice, Sidney Crosby, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and many others. Often these athletes feel that chiropractors play such an important part in getting them back into the game, whether after an injury or just on a regular basis, that they demand to have chiropractic medicine provided for them.

Which athletes can benefit the most?

All kinds of athletes can benefit from chiropractic medicine. From swimmers and triathletes, to hockey and football players, the treatments that chiropractors are able to provide helps the rehabilitation process and possibly prevents injuries from happening as well.

How do you know when to see a chiropractor and which chiropractor to see?
It can be hard to determine who the best provider for you is, especially when many providers do similar things. There are many great practitioners from many different professions. As long as you find a competent provider who is well versed in working with athletes on sports injuries it should not matter what kind of provider you visit. That being said, if you go to a chiropractor who is an experienced sports medicine provider you are bound to get amazing care that will help you get back on the field as quickly as possible, while using the least invasive methods.

Finding chiropractors who are experienced or trained to work with athletes can be tough. The sure fire way to find one is to look for a few different things. Look for a chiropractor who either directly work with sports teams, holds a certification called the CCSP, or holds a diplomate as a chiropractic sports physician. If you can find a chiropractor who has any or all of these qualifications you are very likely to receive excellent sports medicine care. These chiropractors are likely to be highly experienced with treating athletes and have probably seen a wide assortment of different conditions.