Chiropractors help student athletes prepare their bodies for fall sports by improving joint mobility and range of motion, correcting muscle imbalances, improving stability and building muscle strength.
Could you review how chiropractic care helps the body perform at its best?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. So, if you go to any pro sports team, NBA, NHL, MLB, they’ve all got chiropractors on staff. And then you hear or you see all these top athletes, Russell Wilson for the Broncos now. You’ve got James Harrison who is at the Steelers. They all have a personal chiropractor on tap. Essentially, chiropractic’s going to help with a vast array of things within the body that are going to get you ready for fall sports.
So, first and foremost, what is a prerequisite for a healthy joint? It’s full range of motion. And then, obviously, moving with stability and strength. So, we have limited range of motion in a joint, so that can be your spine, your hip, your knee, your ankle, your wrist, your elbow. Then if we have limited range of motion, that’s going to increase the stress and tension within the joint. And obviously, over time that’s going to break the joint down. And over time, if we’ve got a joint that’s limited in range of motion, it’s breaking down, so we’ve got weak and flexible soft tissue in and around the joint, that’s obviously going to increase the chance of injury.
How can chiropractic care help with that? Well, chiropractic is designed to do exactly that. It’s designed to improve the mobility within the joint and then obviously restore health to the tissue, balance the muscle strength. And then obviously, by doing that, if you are loading the joint, so you’re playing basketball and you’re obviously loading your hips and your knees a ton, where those knees are moving well and they’ve got good stability with balanced muscle strength, then obviously that’s going to allow us to perform and function at our best and obviously decrease the chance of injury.
So, if you’re taking the summer off and you’re a middle school, high school, collegiate athlete, and then you go back to school and you start preseason training, you want to make sure we’re in to see a chiropractor before we do that, to make sure our joints are alive and make sure they’re moving well. Make sure we’re picking upon any muscle imbalances so we can do some prehab before we move. And then obviously, by doing that we’re going to optimize the body ready for taking on the fall sports.
If someone is feeling healthy and not experiencing any aches or pains, why should they still visit a chiropractor to get ready for fall sports?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Yeah, great question. And essentially, that comes down to two types of healthcare. We’ve got reactive and we’ve got proactive. Majority of us all are in a reactive kind of environment, so we don’t take care of our health until it’s a crisis. And when it’s a crisis, then we’re obviously making decisions under stress, which typically don’t lead to good decisions. So, why wait until there’s a problem? Why don’t we get ahead of it and then negate a possible problem from happening?
So, if you’re an athlete, there’s no harm in going to see a chiropractor to get a full evaluation. Taking you through a detailed functional exam, orthopedic exam, neurological exam, maybe taking some x-rays if we feel that it’s needed, and then figuring out where you’re at.
You may feel like you’re walking, you’re running well, but if you go through an evaluation, you see that your hip shifted and it’s creating a shift and some rotation in your pelvis, which is a shift in your lumbar spine. Well, of a sudden, you start doing two days and you’re playing football. Well, our bodies are really economical at figuring things out. We’ll be okay for a little bit, but over time the more repetition we put into that joint, the more chance it has of failing, essentially creating injury and dysfunction. So, we want to try and be proactive in how we address our healthcare, particularly for sports.
Because obviously, as a young athlete, being injured, there’s nothing worse. You’re not able to get out there. So, by seeing a chiropractor and just get an evaluation to see where you’re deficient in your range of motion or your muscle imbalance, is a really smart way to get ready for fall sports. That’s going to give you peace of mind to really attack the season.
How can a chiropractor help prevent typical sports injuries like sprains, strains and overuse injuries?
Dr. Luke Stringer: I think that leads off of from our earlier question here. Mobility is a prerequisite for a healthy joint. So, if a joint isn’t moving well, so that could be from previous trauma, previous injury, could be from repetitive stress, well that’s going to increase the stress and tension in the joints. So, now that joint’s moving a ton from playing sports, and all the muscles that cross it and anchor into it are designed to move it with stability. Well, that joint’s not moving well, then the soft tissue, muscles, lingaments and tendons are going to have to work harder than they should. So, over time, if they’re working harder than they should, they’re going to essentially break down. By breaking down, they force what’s called an adhesion. Adhesion is like chewing gum in a muscle. It’s just weak, fibrous collagenous tissue. It’s just weak and inflexible.
So, now if we have adhesion in a joint, that’s going to compound the issue. It is going to continue to limit our range of motion, which is going to increase the stress and tension within the joint. So, over time, that’s going to break the joint down. And then that can manifest as injury, dysfunction or can hide itself for a long period of time, create degenerative changes, et cetera.
So, by seeing a chiropractor, they’re going to be able to assess the joint function. And if it’s not moving well, they can adjust the joint to get it back in alignment. Adjustments aren’t home runs, so we need to then supplement that with some soft tissue work, figure out which tissue crosses the joint because they’re the muscles that move the joints. And obviously, work those muscles through their intended range of motion while they have them under tension and clinically clean out adhesion.
By performing a functional exam we can figure out where the muscles are deficient. For example, our hamstrings and our glutes physically move us along, but if we’re sitting in internship or somewhere in that flex position, well, those big muscles that pick up our movement slowly switch off. So, the big muscles in your lower back dominate. So, now when you’re on the football field, for example, and you’re running around, well, if the hamstrings and glutes aren’t engaging before your lower back, that’s going to increase stress and tension in the lower back. Obviously, over time that’s going to break us down.
So, by getting evaluated from a chiropractor, we can say, all right, your right hamstring’s not engaging, your left glute’s not engaging. We need to prescribe some strengthening work to engage and fire up the hamstring and the glute. That’s going to allow for better gait function. Better gait function can allow for better obviously functionality on the field, help us perform better, and also decrease the chance of injury.
If someone is recovering from a sports injury, can chiropractic care help them rehabilitate?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. You got to remember, chiropractors kind of incorporate several forms of healthcare into a form of healthcare essentially. So, depending on the injury, let’s say it’s a soft tissue injury, it’s a grade one sprain strain at the hamstring or anybody regardless of who you are, we need to follow the right protocol. Rest, ice, compress, elevate.
Goal one is to reduce inflammation. So, that can be done with a physical therapist, can be done at home. It can be done absolutely in a chiropractic office. Once we achieve the goal of diminishing inflammation, improving range of motion, then we can start on breaking down the scar tissue. So, that can be done through passive therapy. So, lots of soft tissue work, it can be performed by a chiropractor. It can also be done by active therapy. So, obviously, the patient getting work through lots of stretching exercises.
Once we’ve improved range of motion, then we can obviously shift into more stability and strength work. So, then chiropractor can be adjusting the joint to improve the mobility and then supplementing that with physical therapy, to obviously stabilize and strengthen the muscle, maybe we’re talking about soft tissue injury here, stabilizing and strengthening the muscle. So, then when we start going back into our pre-play regimen, then we can obviously ramp up the protocols of adding a lot more functional exercises. And by doing that we can obviously take you through the paradigm of getting you decreased inflammation, improve mobility, stabilize and strengthen the tissue, and then obviously you’re going to get ready and back into play.
In what other ways can chiropractic care help athletes get ready for fall sports?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Chiropractic care is great for all athletes. Like we discussed, it can evaluate posture, which is really important. As we discussed this on previous podcasts, it’s going to be able to evaluate joint function, find where we’re deficient, improve that. We can break down scar tissue. There’s soft tissue techniques, which is paramount for healthy muscle tissue, which is obviously paramount for good joint function. And then obviously, loads of physical therapy that can be prescribed to stabilize and strengthen joints. So, I view it as chiropractors can address mobility, they can address stability, they can address strength, and then all the things between it.
So, even if you’re not injured, but you’re an athlete, we should be seeing a chiropractor. Like I said earlier on in the podcast, any pro team’s got a chiropractor. I have several colleagues that only treat professional athletes. They’re getting flown in for three days before they play, in the off season. They’re maximizing every tool they can to get that extra 5, 10% out of their performance. So, there’s no reason why our corporate athletes or high school athletes can’t be doing the same.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Luke Stringer visit www.southloopchiropractor.com or call (312) 987-4878 to schedule an appointment.