Spring Into Spring Activities Without Fear or Hesitation. How Chiropractic Can Help Performance and Prevent Injury.

Chiropractic care helps prepare the body for optimal sports performance by getting the spine and joints in alignment to improve range of motion and avoid injury.

Dr. Luke Stringer: I think we’ve got to view our bodies like an engine of a car. You jump in a Ferrari, you don’t just floor it because the engine is going to blow up. You’ve got to kind of warm that engine up before we get going. So typically, most people during a long, cold winter are going to be more sedentary in nature. If you live in Chicago this winter, it was five degrees out for about a month and it was pretty frigid, so it really limited movement for us. I’m sure that was the case for many places in the country.

Before you dive back outside and start moving again, it’s pretty important to make sure your body’s ready to go. So importantly, we want to make sure our spine is in alignment, particularly the low back and the pelvis because that controls all gait function. We want to make sure that muscles that are critically important for movement, so the core, the pelvic floor, the hamstrings and the glutes are engaged and switched on.

Because once you start moving and we’ve been laying around for several months during the winter time, our bodies are super economical, so if we’re not using something, then the body will essentially just shut it down. So, if we’re sedentary, and we’re not moving, the core’s going to get weak and lazy, the glutes and the hamstrings are going to get weak and lazy. All of a sudden, we’re up on our feet, we’re out for runs, we’re hiking, we’re doing all the fun stuff we should be doing come springtime.  But then all of a sudden, things aren’t in alignment, they’re shifting, the core’s not engaging, the posterior chain in the back of a body is not engaging. So, then we’re just in this compensatory issue which can over time, break us down, lead to injury and dysfunction. So, it’s really important to make sure that you’re really ready to roll before you get moving in the spring.

Dr. Luke Stringer: A chiropractic adjustment does several things. And one thing it absolutely does do is improve joint mobility and range of motion in the joint. With a chiropractic adjustment, the premise is, take the joint to tension through its intended range of motion. And obviously, by applying a light force and pressure through the joint line, you’re going to hear the traditional kind of pop, crack that comes with it. Well, this isn’t the joint cracking or popping, this is gas being released from a joint, but it verifies that the joint’s moved. So, a prerequisite for a healthy joint is full range of motion, supplemented with balanced muscle strength, stability, and strength within the joint.

The chiropractic adjustment can absolutely get joints that are stuck, they’re aberrant, they’re not moving well, and get them moving, which can obviously improve joint mobility and range of motion within the joint. Now unfortunately, chiropractic isn’t a home run. It takes repetition to get joints moving. That’s why adjustments in repetition over a period of time are critically important. Once you get the joint moving or you adjust the joint, it moves. But then if you’re not addressing muscle imbalance, poor tissue health, poor loading mechanics, biomechanics, then obviously as soon as you’re on your feet and you start loading that joint again, it’s going to shift, get stuck, and limit range of motion. Limited range increases load, load breaks down joint tissue and nerves. So, adjustment is a key piece to getting the joint moving, but you’ve got to supplement it with some other key factors, too.

Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. Posture’s a window to your health. There’s umpteen studies out there, basically stating that poor posture can have a negative effect from being a leading cause of stress to lifestyle diseases, to obviously increased chance for injury while playing sports. But essentially you have two types of the spine. You have your axial spine, which is your spine, so top bone, your neck and skull, all the way down to the bottom bone in your tailbone, so your tailbone, essentially. And then you have your appendicular spine, which is everything else that anchors into it.

For example, if you are looking at someone’s posture from the side, their ear should be on top of their shoulder. And with their head shifted two inches forwards, well, this is going to create stress and tension from the neck into the upper back where the body doesn’t like tension. The side effect of that forward head carriage is that our shoulders are going to protract, which essentially means those shoulders are going to round in. The shoulder blades are going to wing off the rib cage, the humus, your arm’s going to rotate in. Then all of a sudden, you’ve got this impingement.

So, if you are a tennis player and you’re trying to launch a ball above your head and serve it, that’s going to limit your range of motion. If you’re a volleyball player, lifting weights, anything that’s going above your head, all of a sudden, you’ve got a joint that’s out of alignment and you’re creating load in that joint. Well, if it’s out of alignment and it’s increased its load, that’s obviously going to break down the joint, the tissue, the nerve, which is going to over time, lead to an increase in injury.

Chiropractic can absolutely help with your posture through adjustments, physical therapy, soft tissue therapy. And specifically, how we practice in our practice, chiropractic biophysics takes engineer and math principles to the spine, biomechanical principles, and you can actually objectively change the shape of your spine. This technique is leading the field in spinal research. They’re coming out with some really cool studies. They just published one where essentially the further forward your head goes, the more time it takes you to process sensory stimuli.

Again, if you are playing racket sports and you’ve got a tennis ball coming at you and you’ve got a two inch forward head shift, that creates tension in the spinal cord, your ability to see the tennis ball, process that information, get your racket up and swing is going to be slower than someone who has good posture because they can process stimuli quicker. So, posture is a real big deal for how joints move and then also how we have the physical ability to process stimuli, and there’s some really cool research papers coming out to back that up. Yeah, posture is key and chiropractic can absolutely help with that.

Dr. Luke Stringer: Yeah, chiropractic care can help you avoid sports injuries on multiple levels. Remember, chiropractic isn’t necessarily just the adjustment. The adjustment is key because that essentially allows joints that are stuck and out of alignment to start moving, get back into alignment. That’s key for joint mobility. Chiropractors are essentially physicians, so then we can do lots of soft tissue therapy if joints are out of alignment, not moving well. It forms something called adhesion, adhesion is like glue in a muscle. So, if you’ve got chewing gum stuck in your shoulder joint, it’s going to move but it’s not going to move well. That’s obviously going to limit range, increase load, break the joint down further, and increase the chance for injury. So, we can clean out that adhesion and do some specific soft tissue techniques. And then obviously balanced muscle strength in a joint is critically important. Anyone playing sports should be having full range in a joint with stable movement patterns and strength in the joint so it can function well under load. Then obviously, chiropractic can prescribe rehab for, if it’s posture related or if it’s specifically related to an injury, knee or shoulder to switch on and engage all those muscles that are critically important for the joint to move and then obviously, move with stability and strength while it’s being loaded.

So, chiropractic care can be a blended approach to all of the above. Good joint mechanics in the adjustment, good, healthy muscle strength through the soft tissue treatment and balanced health and then balanced muscle strength through the rehab. When you add those key components up and you’ve got good range of motion, good stability, good strength in the joint, then your chance for injury is going to be a lot less than someone who’s poor posture, poor joint mechanics, poor muscle health, poor muscle balance. They’re the people that are going to consistently get injured and essentially not be able to do the things they should be able to enjoy this spring.

Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. You name a professional football, basketball, baseball team that doesn’t have a chiropractor on staff. You name a high-level athlete that doesn’t have a chiropractor on speed dial. Chiropractic care is just a key piece to the puzzle for people to feel comfortable that they can play sports without having to worry about trauma and injury coming from poor joint mechanics, poor muscle balance, poor tissue health. Once your spine’s in alignment, it’s moving well we’re treating the tissue so it’s healthy, we’re proactive in our rehabilitation, so all the key muscles for stability, joint mechanics are switched on.

Your chance of injury is reduced and your performance is going to be improved compared to someone whose joints aren’t moving well, they’re out of alignment, muscles aren’t engaging, they’re compensating. They’re the people that will compensate and over time, break down. So yeah, being proactive in your chiropractic care can absolutely assist you in reducing the chance of injury and improve your overall sports performance.

If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Luke Stringer visit www.southloopchiropractor.com or call (312) 987-4878 to schedule an appointment.

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