Whether you’re a competitive athlete or just enjoy staying in shape and participating in a sport, there are certain challenges you face. There’s the challenge of improving your competitive performance and getting your body to do better than you thought previously possible, all while trying to prevent an injury. Then there’s the challenge of recovering when you sustain what seems like the inevitable injury, even if it’s the common sprain or strain.

Most people associate chiropractic care with back pain and spinal adjustments, which is a significant part of how all chiropractors are trained. However, just like other doctors, chiropractors can seek additional training and specialize in certain practice areas, including sports performance and injuries. Discover what makes a sports chiropractor different and five reasons you should consider seeing one as part of your regular athletic training regimen.

What Is a Sports Chiropractor?

Let’s start by talking about what a sports chiropractor is. Understand that all chiropractors receive training on the diagnosis and treatment of restrictions in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. The full theory behind chiropractic care goes beyond simple pain relief but extends to better overall well-being. All chiropractors are required to graduate from a chiropractic school and pass a four-part board exam.

Sports chiropractors tend to have a special interest in sports, with many of them being current or former competitive athletes in high school, college, and even beyond. There are two different post-doctoral courses of study they can take to extend their specialized knowledge in the areas of sports injuries, rehab, and management. Both programs are administered by the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians.

Sports chiropractors offer what’s known in the field as a mixed chiropractic technique. This means that in addition to the focus on spinal alignment, sports chiropractors will also use modalities like ice, heat, imaging, extremity adjustments, and more. Sports chiropractors are often well-versed in modern sports medicine practice and theory, allowing them to integrate more easily with other practitioners you may see, such as physical therapists, athletic trainers, medical doctors, and many others.

You have so many options for improving your athletic performance and treating sports injuries. As you evaluate all of your options, consider these five reasons why visiting a sports chiropractor is non-negotiable.

1. Improve Athletic Performance

Let’s put injuries aside for the moment and focus on your sports performance. A sports chiropractor may help improve your athletic improvement through two primary areas.

First, a sports chiropractor can help improve your range of motion. These specialized chiropractors evaluate your biomechanics, looking at ways your body is moving that aren’t appropriate for your sport. The evaluation includes understanding the underlying issues that may cause the adapted movement.

In many cases, you may not be moving optimally simply due to the amount of strain you’re putting on your body during training and while playing your sport. This can lead to structural misalignments, including your spine and other joints. These either cause discomfort for which you compensate or physically inhibit certain movements. Both of these problems limit your range of motion and are solvable with appropriate chiropractic care.

Secondly, regular chiropractic care can help you get into a better head space, improving your athletic performance. One study found that blood serum levels of neurotensin and oxytocin were higher after chiropractic adjustments. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone, and neurotensin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in the production of dopamine, serotonin, and more. These two chemicals have a significant impact on how you feel about people in your life and about the enjoyment of your lifestyle and activities. The more you enjoy training for and playing your sport, the more you’re willing to push yourself to perform better.

2. Accelerate Recovery Time

When you happen to sustain an injury, you want to get through recovery quickly so that you can get back to the sport you enjoy. Some common treatments for many sports injuries include surgeries of various kinds, all of which have substantial recovery periods. Chiropractic care accelerates your recovery in two specific ways.

When you’ve sustained an injury, sports chiropractic care helps alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve blood circulation. All of this is necessary to allow the nervous system to get into the healing parasympathetic state. Further, chiropractic care helps relieve tension in muscles, allowing you to continue appropriate stretches and exercises during your recovery.

However, the healthier your body is at the time of injury the better positioned it is to naturally heal. Routine sports chiropractic care prior to an injury helps keep your immune system strong, allowing it to act quickly when you sustain an injury.

3. No Invasive or Prescriptive Techniques

Athletes that don’t know anything about chiropractic care may quickly agree to invasive surgical intervention. However, not only does it take a long time to recover from surgery, but it also increases scar tissue that can alter and degrade your performance.

For non-surgical injuries, pain management becomes the primary function. The go-to method of pain management is a combination of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and over-the-counter or prescription pain medicines. Many prescription pain medications run the risk of becoming habit-forming, not to mention slowing your response time.

Some studies have shown that spinal manipulation releases beta-endorphins. These are critical pain-blocking chemicals your body naturally releases and is a primary key to why chiropractic care helps alleviate pain.

4. Prevent Sports-Related Injuries

It’s said that the best medicine is prevention, and this certainly applies to sports injuries. You won’t lose any time enjoying your sport if you can prevent injuries in the first place. Whether you’re playing a repetitive motion sport, like golf and running, or a contact sport like football or hockey, a sports chiropractor can help reduce the risk of injuries.

Neglected or unnoticed weakness is a common cause of many types of sports injuries. Because of the whole-body approach that sports chiropractors take, they’ll uncover these areas and recommend steps to strengthen them. They’ll also find and correct structural imbalances that may affect your biomechanics. These imbalances may make you more susceptible to injuries.

5. Extremity Expertise

Many sports injuries are not directly related to the spine and may present problems for chiropractors who primarily focus on the spine. However, part of the additional training sports chiropractors receive focuses on the extremities and the injuries they may sustain because of their sport. This could include rotator cuff injuries, tendinitis, sprains, hip impingement, meniscus, and much more.

Because sports chiropractors have a specific interest in sports and are often athletes themselves, they have much more experience with these sorts of injuries. What that means for you is a more robust breadth of knowledge relating to sports injuries at the extremities and how to manage them effectively.

If you’re an athlete in the Redmond area, accelerate your injury recovery and enhance your athletic performance by visiting Structural Chiropractic. Call (425) 636-0303 to schedule your sports chiropractic consultation today.