Special thanks to the Chiropractic Sports Institute for this article!
Chiropractic is the fastest growing healing profession in the world today. Since Chiropractic is the branch of the healing arts that deals with structure and function, many athletes (both professional and amateur) have found great relief through Chiropractic health care. However, it is still overlooked as a tool for maintaining health and achieving maximum output for your athletic event.
In order to understand how Chiropractic can enhance your athletic potential, as well as your overall health, it is important to understand more about how Chiropractic works, and clear up a myths that you may have heard.
The spinal column is made up of 24 movable bones called vertebra that function together during movement. The most important function of the vertebra is to protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord is the body’s “switch board”. Just as the trunk and branches of a tree transfer nutrients to the leaves, the spinal cord transfers nerve impulses, through the neurological network, to all parts of the body. If we look at our lives from the time that we are born until the time we die, the body is in constant motion, even when we are at rest. The cells of our body are constantly dying and being replaced by new, health cells. Two and a half million of them will die and be replaced every minute of your life. This is a normal process. Health can be defined as the ability of the body to replace the cells and tissue structures normally and on a consistent basis. This will work properly as long as there is no interference between the brain (central computer) and the tissue cells. Research out of Colorado State University states “the amount of pressure on a nerve at a compressive force of a quarter on the back of your hand, 2 mm of mercury, can result in a loss of up to 60% nerve function”. The Doctor of Chiropractic calls this interference a Vertebral Subluxation or intersegmental dysfunction.
What is a Vertebral Subluxation/Intersegmental Dysfunction? A subluxation is a vertebra (back bone) that is not biomechanically aligned with the vertebra above and below which can result in abnormal pressure on the exiting nerve root. This pressure on the nerve root can cause an interference of the brains impulses to the tissue cells. This interference can result in abnormal cell production down the line leading to Pain/symptoms. This interference can also lead to the initiation of a Dies-ease process. As the study showed, this small amount of pressure can “dim” the affects of the nervous system. This “dimmed” nerve can cause a lack of maximum output, which can alter the performance of the muscles or organs, which the nerve supplies. A specific Chiropractic adjustment of the involved vertebra is the most effective way in correcting a Vertebral Subluxation and restoring nerve flow back to the cells.
Most people let pain guide their health care regiment. What they don’t know is the subluxation may or may not involve pain. Pain is you body’s alarm system and only enters the picture when at least 50 percent of damage has taken place if it enters the picture at all- (some organs do not have pain sensory fibers at all) As a society, we’ve been indoctrinated into thinking that pain is bad, when in reality its our body’s alarm system to prevent us from further injuring ourselves. Careless use of drugs in the form of pills, anti-inflammatories and other medications can mask the pain allowing the athlete to continue the activity that caused the damage in the first place. If your car’s oil light came on would you cut the wire so the light went out and the say, “Good now my car isn’t low on oil anymore.” If you had this attitude, eventually your car would seize and fall apart. The same thing happens to your body if you keep ignoring or masking the pain. This is why a lot of athletes develop chronic injuries.
In athletics, and life for that matter, there is a tremendous amount of stress placed on the musculoskeletal structure. Since out body is a Biomechanical Kinetic Chain (hip bone connected to the thigh bone), when one area is injured it can affect the entire structure. Any imbalance, can cause pain, weakness, lack of function and overall a decrease in your maximum output. If the imbalance isn’t corrected and you cover up the symptoms your body is sending you, over time, this will lead to degeneration and an early retirement form your sport. Many athletes both professional and amateur use Sports Chiropractors as a form of body mechanics maintenance.
By correcting the biomechanical misalignments and allowing the body’s nervous system to function at its maximum, you too can achieve results that are often unbelievable. People are constantly underestimating the body’s healing capacity.