Playing in any competitive sport, you would like to get any advantage from your fellow competitor. Chiropractic care may help you get that edge. A few things to understand. One, every person's body is different yielding to different care resulting in different outcomes. Second, in any sport we see the difference between winning and losing comes down to a 0.10 inch or a 0.5 seconds more. So gaining that small crucial half second or tenth of an inch can mean is key to taking the gold or silver. Lastly, what is going on in the patients mind too. Do they think chiropractic works for them? Chiropractic care show promising data that can give an athlete an advantage on the field.
What do studies show?
There are studies that show benefits in receiving chiropractic care with sports performance. One study did a jump and sprint test on rugby players before and after an adjustment to see if they are improve on their performance. They found that
"there were improvements in vertical jump height for both the forwards and backs (ruby players) in the experimental group. Following the chiropractic adjustment, the forwards increased their vertical jump heights by 0.007m (0.5050m-0.4980m) and the backs by 0.017m (0.5245m - 0.5075m). In the print test both forwards and back in both experimental and controlled groups performed better when they completed the indicators after the interventions. The forwards in the experimental group ran0.146s (4.8050s - 4.6590s) faster while backs ran 0.1055s (4.6040s - 4.4985s) faster".
In this study they noted that even though the control group improved on the sprint group, they said "the improvements in the experimental group occurred for both forwards and backs and were greater than for the control group" . With that said, it is suggested that the rugby players did get an improvement when getting chiropractic care.
Another article had baseball players perform different jump tests, muscle strength and a treadmill stress test. They also monitored the players blood capillaries. Blood capillaries is the exchange of materials between the blood and tissue cells. Meaning more blood capillaries equals more exchanging of nutrients and oxygen to the tissue cells leading to high performance. The study monitored and tested them at a five weeks and fourteen weeks to see the affects of chiropractic care versus the control. The results show that both groups improved in each test. The one thing the study mention was, "while values were not significantly different between the groups, in each instance of improvement the adjusted group demonstrated substantially greater percentage increases relative to baseline than did the control group" . Although the test can not show any significant difference the fact that the chiropractic group showed more of an improvement overall to the control cannot be understated. Remember, when athletes are performing at a high level it only takes a few meters or seconds to make a big difference. For the capillary count, the chiropractic group show had a higher count then the control group.
"In the adjustment group, capillary counts were significantly greater than baseline at five weeks, but not at fourteen weeks...After the treadmill run, the adjustment group showed a significant increase in capillary count at the five week interval, with an accompanying large effect size. By comparison, there were no significant increases in capillary count in the control group either before or after the treadmill run in regard to the baseline count" .
This means the players who reviewed chiropractic care got a higher capillary count which in turn is able to transfer materials and oxygen to the tissue cells. Although this study does not have any significant difference it shows that people who do get care are performing better. For an athlete, a small gain can mean a big difference.
What do Athletes think?
A study done in 2022 called "I expected to be pain free: a qualitative study exploring athletes’ expectations and experiences of care received by sports chiropractors" by Eindhoven and colleagues interviewed 18 athlete ranging from ages 16-68. They found that "Most participants believed the care they received positively impacted their physical performance" . To be a good athlete you need to have a good support team behind you, this includes coaches, trainers, as well as chiropractors. These athletes believed that chiropractic helped them. As chiropractors we understand that everyone is different and needs to be addressed to their own specific needs. By giving athletes what they want an more we can make them feel amazing throughout their care.
The study then focused on the athletes sports performance. The majority of the athletes thing that, "improved performance may not always be measurable using traditional methods" . The study brought up how challenging current methods for research can ignore small changes to athletes performance. However for the athlete small losses and gains can mean the difference. One athlete quoted, “Literally I mean like finding thousandths is not insignificant” . The athletes are already pushing themselves to the max and getting a small gain or advantage, no matter how small, a gain is a gain.
Chiropractic in sports is growing in popularity. As athletes try to find a way to gain an advantage. Modern research are still in debate as to if chiropractic can improve an athletes performance. However, researches do show participants gaining an advantage over their control counter parts. Chiropractic has shown promising results in increasing capillary counts in athletes. Finally, athletes do think that chiropractic does help, no matter how small of a gain. This small gain can mean the difference between winning that gold or taking the silver.
Conradie, Érnsl..Chiropractic Adjustive Therapy on Sprint Time and Vertical Jump Height in Rugby Players. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, University of Johannesburg (South Africa). (2014). https://www.proquest.com/openview/d88908c76a660876c795ed55ce70acdf/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2026366&diss=y
Schwartzbauer, J.,Kolber, J., Schwartzbauer, M., Hart, J., Zhang, J. Athletic Performance and Physiological Measures in Baseball Players Following Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care: A pilot study. JOURNAL OF VERTEBRAL SUBLUXATION RESEARCH1, 4 (1997). https://lowcountrychiro.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/1497-0043_athleticability.pdf
Eindhoven, E., Lee, A., Stilwell, P. et al.I expected to be pain free: a qualitative study exploring athletes’ expectations and experiences of care received by sports chiropractors. Chiropr Man Therap30, 21 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12998-022-00426-4