The last 20 years has seen a boom in athletes seeking chiropractic care to manage injuries and optimise performance. This has been particularly noted at the London 2012 olympics with sporting stars such as Usain Bolt speaking highly of his chiropractor helping him in winning his multiple gold medals. But is all this just placebo? Or is there science behind it?
To date, there have been numerous prominent research papers into what effects does a chiropractors intervention have on someone who is not in pain. Below is a summary of four early research papers
Lauro & Mouch, Chiropractic effects on athletic ability. J Chiro Res & Clin Investigation. 1991; 6:84-87
Fifty athletes were tested and divided into two groups. One group received chiropractic adjustments, the other served as controls. Eleven tests were used to measure aspects of athletic ability including: agility, balance, kinesthetic perception, power, and reaction time. After 6 weeks, the control group exhibited minor improvement in eight of the 11 tests while the chiropractic group improved significantly in all 11 tests. In a hand reaction test measuring the speed of reaction with the hand in response to a visual stimulus, the control group exhibited less than a 1% response while the chiropractic group exhibited more than an 18% response after 6
weeks. After 12 weeks the chiropractic group exhibited more than 30% improvement.
Schwartzbauer et al. J Vert Sublux Res, 1997;1(4):33-39.
Assessed changes in athletic performance & physiological measures in a
randomized controlled trial of 21 male university baseball players free of injury (9 in spinal manipulation group, 12 in control group), during & after upper cervical adjustment. Evaluated 1) vertical jump, 2) broad jump ? specified, 3) standing broad jump, & 4) muscle strength, 5) blood
pressure, 6) pulse rate, 7) microcirculation (nail bed capillary counts) & 8) treadmill stress test. Subjects tested at baseline, 5 & 14 weeks follow-up. Results: Significant improvement at 14 weeks in muscle strength, long jump distance in adjustment groups. Adjustment group also showed improvement in capoillary counts at 5 & 14 weeks. Trends in performance in other measures were accompanied by either moderate or large effect sizes within both groups. Adjustment group revealed decreases in resting blood pressure & pulse rate following tread mill activity. These same measures showed increases in the control group.
Watson, Sports Med & Phys Fit 1995;35(4): 289-294
52 high level soccer/rugby players followed 2 years to assess relationship between injuries & body mechanics by using photographs with prints on a metric grid to detect asymmetries of shoulder, back, trunk & lower limbs. All injuries were recorded & mechanical associations were noted. The most common deviations of mechanics: 1) excess lumbar lordosis, 2) kyphosis, 3) shoulder asymmetry, 4) sway back, 5) scoliosis, 6) abducted scapulae, 7) rib hymp, 8) deviations of foot mechanics, 9) knee interspaces. Injuries sustained: 27 Subjects had muscle strains of lower limb, 24 had 33 back
injuries, 14 had knee, 17 had ankle injuries, 12 of 52 Subjects had no injuries within the 24 month, 10 subjects had 1 type of injury, 13 subjects had 2 types of injuries, 7 subjects had 3 types, 10 subjects had all 4 types. The incidence of injury was linked to body mechanics defects associated with the site of injury. Subjects who had more than 2 types of injury had signif lower scores for lordosis, sway back & knee interspace & lower mean scores for the 15 aspects of body mechanics. Study indicates a relationship between deviations of body mechanics & occurrence of sports injuries. Results suggest that intervention programs to improve body mechanics might help reduce the incidence of injuries in footballers who regularly compete at a high level.
Further studies have been conducted into Australian Rules Football players which showed decreased injury rates with chiropractic intervention added to their healthcare team.
Some famous athletes who are under the care of a chiropractor:
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Barry Bonds
- Martina Navratilova
- Lance Armstrong
- Jo Montana
- Lennox Lewis
- Evander Holyfield
- Every professional NFL team