Why Football Players Should Seek Chiropractic Care
Many would agree that football “season” is the best time of the year, and it’s hard to disagree, with one caveat-when football season is in full swing, so are football-related injuries.
Football-related injuries occur in many forms, and include (but are not limited to) ankle sprains, knee injuries, quad/hamstring/groin strains, hip pointers, shoulder dislocations, herniated discs, fractures, acromioclavicular sprains, wrist/hand injuries, and concussions. Each of these injuries poses the threat of long-term damage, particularly if insufficient time is given for rest and recovery in the wake of an injury. It’s not unusual for football players to return to the game still injured or only partway through their recovery window-for example, Jack Youngblood’s stint with the Rams in 1979 when he played defense with a broken fibula, or in 1985 when the 49er’s safety Ronnie Lott chose to have a portion of his finger amputated to continue playing rather than wait the allotted 8-week recovery time with his hand in a cast.
With regard to the pressure to perform during the season, things haven’t changed over the years. Players still “tough out” any injury that isn’t visibly obvious, with strains and pulls being some of the most commonly ignored injuries. Understandably, no player wants to be branded as “injury-prone,” or develop a reputation for taking lengthy breaks from the game. Whether a player is new to the scene or not, establishing or maintaining a successful career in the NFL just doesn’t leave a lot of room for injury-or, more aptly, recovery. Players (both professional and recreational) and avid fans know that injury is an inevitable part of the game-but there are ways to mitigate, alleviate, and reduce the likelihood of injury as well as accelerate the recovery process after injury has occurred.
Prevention & Performance
American football is an impact sport which requires explosive energy, speed, and strength. Muscle composition, endurance, agility, and flexibility are only a few of the qualities that football players train rigorously to develop and increase, hoping to deliver outstanding, notable performance on the field. As a result, their bodies are like machines, and just like machines, they require regular tune-ups with a measure of regularity that is proportionate to the quality of performance that they hope to deliver.
Beyond the usual measures of warming up the muscles, ensuring sufficient rest, and always wearing appropriate guards and equipment, there is something equally impactful and often overlooked-chiropractic care.
Contrary to popular belief, chiropractic care isn’t limited to “getting an adjustment” or aligning the spine. Although these are both functions of expert chiropractic care and can make a world of difference in daily life, chiropractic care takes many forms and produces a wide variety of performance-enhancing effects.
Chiropractic care often results in significant pain relief. By alleviating the pressure on muscles, ligaments, and nerve bundles, simple adjustments can create noticeable improvement in chronic or acute back and neck pain, as well as in other areas of the body such as the arms and legs. Reducing pain is a significant component of improving performance, and pain isn’t always injury-related. As such, seeking out chiropractic care to soothe pain resulting from inflammation, over-use, general wear-and-tear, soreness, and pinched or compressed nerves can treat the symptoms of pain at their source. With expert chiropractic care, pain isn’t masked or obscured-it’s addressed at its origin and the affected areas are set on the road to recovery and healing.
Range of Motion
Chiropractors use a number of therapeutic treatments to address and resolve concerns related to muscles, nerves, and joints. The most well-known among these are called adjustments, which can be applied to almost any moving joints in the body.
With repeated use or injury-especially in the context of football-joints can become stiff and immobile as scar tissue develops near areas of frequent use. For football players, these areas are usually in the hips, spine, pelvis, shoulders, arms, and neck. Whether it’s throwing, receiving, kicking, or tackling, a football player’s body is in constant motion, which can create long-term wear over time.
When a football player receives a chiropractic adjustment, the connection points between their extremities and torso are reinvigorated with fresh circulation, which eases inflammation and reduces compression on nerves. Lymphatic fluid is drained and nerve connectivity is improved, resulting in faster reaction times, higher oxygen levels in the extremities, and of course, improved range of motion.
Unfortunately, the wear and tear that American football can take on cognition and the brain is well-known, with an endless string of tragic tales encompassing brain-related football injury, damage, and degeneration.
Even with proper gear and equipment, repeated collisions between bodies and impact to the head often lead to concussions or, more commonly, subconcussive impacts. The results of subconcussive impacts don’t manifest as obviously as a traditional concussion, and are therefore rarely diagnosed, but they still have a crippling effect on the default mode network (DMN) of the brain. The DMN is responsible for regulating body functions and non-directed thinking, and damage to this area can inhibit both of those processes.
In contrast, chiropractic care can help protect and support the brain. Traditional adjustments send a surge of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) into the brain container, enhancing neurological function and the assimilation of nutrients through the blood-brain barrier. This has enormously positive implications on brain health, as CSF can improve blood flow, nourish brain tissue, increase oxygenation, and stimulate and support the distribution of neurotransmitters.
With the knowledge that completely preventing injury is an unrealistic goal in the world of American football, it is important to acknowledge the supportive role that chiropractic care can take in the process of recovery. In addition to improving range of motion, supporting healthy cognition, and relieving pain, chiropractic care can also do the following:
Increase Rate of Recovery
Many of the treatment options within chiropractic care have recovery-enhancing properties as they enhance circulation, reduce muscle tension, restore proper alignment and decrease inflammation. Whether these treatments are targeted to certain areas (back, neck, etc.) or delivered comprehensively across the body, they often produce a holistic healing effect that diffuses where it is most needed. Even if an injury can’t be directly treated through chiropractic care, using adjustments, spinal traction, soft tissue manual therapy, physical therapy, and prescribed stretches and exercises can produce a rejuvenating effect on the entire body. Additionally, the spine plays a large role in dictating healing and recovery across the rest of the body. By addressing the spine, improvements can be seen even indirectly as the result of increased support and efficiency within the body’s systems.
It isn’t just injuries from impact and collisions that can create misalignment in the bone structures of the body, although they very well may-muscle strain, tension, and tightness can pull and push joints out of place over time, throwing the entire structure out of balance. This can create asymmetry, decreased performance, and chronic pain.
When a football player is recovering from an injury, it’s important to ensure that their body is healing properly. By receiving expert chiropractic adjustments and spinal traction, players can reduce misalignment in their body and, over time, restore their spinal posture and bone structure’s ideal alignment.
Chiropractic care is a holistic form of wellness therapy with innumerable benefits. Because of the positive ripple-effect of chiropractic intervention across the whole of the body, it can be considered a form of highly effective treatment that helps to foster the ideal environment for healing. High-impact sports and athletic events like football put the body into a constant state of stress, and as such, chiropractic care is particularly ideal given that it helps return the body to a state of healing. When the body is exposed to constant strain and over-use, chiropractic care can help to mitigate, balance, and even reverse some of the resulting damage.
Seeking Chiropractic Care
Whether you’re a current NFL football player, a recreational athlete or an avid sports fan, chiropractic care has something to offer you in the way of restoring balance, enhancing recovery, and increasing and improving overall well-being. Even injuries and lifestyle wear-and-tear that is unrelated to sports, such as car accidents, sedentary jobs, and aging or genetic predispositions for poor posture can be treated effectively with chiropractic care.
Whether you are a professional athlete or simply want to perform like one, the expert chiropractors of Advanced Spine & Posture in Grand Rapids, MI will use state-of-the-art digital imaging technology, personal x-rays, a visual assessment, and verbal history to determine how your wellness can best be supported. Whether it’s using spinal traction, customized exercises and movements, or regular adjustments to bring your spinal structure, nerve networks, and muscles into balance, ASP is confident that chiropractic care is right for you.