When the muscles of the spine undergo the abnormal physical stress associated with athletic training, contact, and competition, a spinal vertebra may shift slightly from its normal alignment — called vertebral subluxation.
Once the vertebra has subluxated, the hard vertebral bone irritates the spinal nerve, which disrupts communication to all the organs and systems in the body.
When the spinal nerve is irritated, the body cannot perform at 100% of its ability. Nerve compression can disrupt cardiovascular and respiratory function, so athletes feel more winded and fatigued. Muscle contraction can be disrupted, too, causing lethargy and weakness, while body chemistry may shift so that CO2, VO2, and lactic acid levels all become subpar.
A published sports performance research paper in The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation stated that athletes under regular chiropractic care performed better than athletes not under chiropractic care.
In the study, one group of athletes received weekly chiropractic spinal adjustments and the other did not. Every six weeks the researchers tested the athletes in agility, kinesthetic perception, power, and reaction time. After 6 weeks, the group under regular chiropractic care performed almost 11% better than the group that wasn’t under chiropractic care. And after 12 weeks, the chiropractic group showed almost a 17% improvement compared to the control group.
Another study showed that athletes under chiropractic care for a 14-week trial period showed significant improvement in muscle strength, long jump distance, and capillary blood counts.
One of the most relevant studies on chiropractic care and athletic performance measured pulmonary function in athletes receiving chiropractic spinal adjustments. The test subjects’ lung volume capacities increased 6% following 2 weeks of chiropractic care. Increased lung volume means an athlete is able to breathe stronger and deeper for longer periods of time, sending vital oxygen to the muscles and increasing endurance.
The Association of Chiropractors states that: “Chiropractic, as part of the health care team, provides a form of care that benefits everyone; regular chiropractic adjustments are essential for the correction of vertebral misalignments which causes neurological dysfunction and decreased performance, even in the absence of symptoms.”
Dr. Steven Horowitz, one of a team of chiropractors for the United States Olympic squad, said of the athletes receiving care, “They call chiropractic care before competition a ‘tune-up’. They always come back and tell me that the care enhanced their performance.”
According to Dan O’Brien, an Olympic Decathlon Gold Medalist, “If it wasn’t for chiropractic care, I would never have won the Gold Medal.”
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