As we have become more aware of the importance of physical activity to good health, the number of sports-related injuries has increased. The benefits of exercise and recreation outweigh the risks, but it’s important to know what to do and who to see if you have an injury—and to learn how to prevent injury in the future.
Chiropractic is widely recognized in the treatment of sports injuries. All NFL teams and most NBA teams have a team D.C. (Doctor of Chiropractic), and many coaches and trainers refer other professional and amateur athletes to chiropractors on a regular basis. The baseball legend Babe Ruth depended heavily upon Erle “Doc” Painter, a chiropractor who served as athletic trainer for the New York Yankees from 1930 to 1942. And it was chiropractor George Goodheart who became the first of his profession to join the U.S. Olympic Team at Lake Placid, NY, in 1980.
Common Sports Injuries
Of the more than 8 million Americans who suffer sports injuries each year, about 750,000 are under 18. Younger people are more prone to injury because their reaction time is often slower than adults and they may be less coordinated.
Adults, on the other hand, are often injured because they push themselves too hard and develop overuse injuries. They may use improper techniques or equipment, or fail to warm up. Aging baby boomers who want to stay active may need help with chronic pain, flexibility, strength and balance so they can keep participating in recreational sports or exercise.
There is a wide range of sports injuries, but many are musculoskeletal. Among the most common are:
- Sprains and strains
- Knee injuries
- Achilles tendon injuries
- Shin bone pain
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Ligament tears
- Tennis elbow
With the exception of wounds, fractures, dislocations and some ligament or muscle tears that require quick medical care, sports injuries can often be helped in a chiropractic office, and chiropractors can consult on the advisability of returning to athletic activity.
What Chiropractic Can Do for Sports Injuries
Chiropractic can help you by reducing pain as well as allowing you to regain strength and mobility. All chiropractors are expert in the management of spine and joint problems. Some chiropractors have advanced training in managing sports injuries and are certified as Chiropractic Sports Physicians or International Certified Chiropractic Sports Physicians.
Depending on the diagnosis, chiropractors may use joint manipulation and mobilization as well as soft tissue therapies such as massage, trigger point release, electrical muscle stimulation, cold laser therapy or ultrasound. As you improve, chiropractors can help with a rehabilitation plan. It may include exercises tailored to you and lifestyle advice about nutrition or supplements to reduce the chances of a repeat injury. First aid measures that are common to both chiropractic and traditional medicine in treating sports injuries are rest, ice, compression and elevation to reduce swelling.
Prevention is a key focus of chiropractors who specialize in sports injuries. For anyone who is considering starting a sport or exercise program, periodic manual adjustments of the spine will align and maintain balance of your spinal structures, relieving tension and making you less susceptible to injury. Adjustments will also help keep experienced athletes at their best. For many top athletes, chiropractic is a key element to keeping them on the field, in the ring and on the court.
We can also advise you on how to minimize the chance of suffering sports-related injuries. Here are some important tips:
- Warm up and stretch before practice and play
- Wear proper equipment
- Maintain good nutrition
- Hydrate to prevent overheating and cramping
- Let your body rest and recover after exertion
- Use ice to reduce inflammation
Exercise and sports are a big part of staying healthy, but injuries happen. When they do, whether you’re a weekend warrior or an Olympic athlete, chiropractic can help get you back in the game.