For athletic activities, DCs need to maximize performance through chiropractic sports training for patients
As the weather gets warmer, people are gearing up to perform more exercise and spending even more time outside. As chiropractors in clinical practice, we observe this annual trend of increased activity in our patients’ bodies when they come in for care. We often see these effects in the pain they complain to us about afterwards. Often, their discomfort related to their training is not even the primary reason they are coming to consult us, showing that active patients can benefit from specific chiropractic sports training.
This group of folks not only includes the typically athletic types who stay very active in the colder winter months, but those who get motivated by the sunny, warm weather. Many feel emboldened or have increased confidence that they can get started training, increase their physical activity level and improve their overall health.
Some patients will contact a personal trainer, physical therapist or nutritionist, or consult a former coach or exercise class instructor to help them in this endeavor. Still others will jump on the trend of virtual coaching, exercise classes or online training tips. Cycling/spinning, yoga, Pilates, Zumba and TRX are just a few examples of how patients can go online to seek a new training regimen.
A big problem with this concept is that virtual coaches or trainers will not have the same ability to spot and correct errors and issues during the training process the way a real-time health care provider will.
Chiropractic sports training and care
So in this quest to ramp up their activity level, the average person can often forget about the chiropractor as an important training partner. If they really understand what chiropractic is about, they will know to include it as an integral part of their training regimen.
Many professional teams across multiple sports, including the Olympic games, collegiate, and high-school level sports, often utilize chiropractic sports training and care because they know their players stay healthier overall. So how do we get this message across to our patient population?
Let’s set the stage for how people’s bodies can be stressed even before they begin ramping-up their activity level. Remember, the feet are the foundation of the entire body above. A healthy state of the three functional foot arches creates the basis of stability, balance and reduced force transmission from the ground up through the body all the way up the spine to the head.
In my practice, 99% of the patients I see are excessively pronating where their arches are flattened, causing their feet to drop or fall to the floor. This normally begins to happen after age seven once the arches are done fully forming. For most patients, the arches fall slowly and the overpronation happens over the course of years. For others, overpronation happens much faster and it can be observed in children and tweens by looking at their feet and evaluating their symptoms.
In either case, the collapsed arches drop, causing the tibia and femur bones to internally rotate, and the pelvis tilts and rotates. The patient also experiences degrees of medial ankle/knee, lateral hip, SI and spinal stress.
The diagram above allows you to follow the plight of the feet from the ground up so you can see the stress and wear-and-tear patterns that come from excessively pronating feet. Many of the common injuries athletes seek medical care for have roots in the feet. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, metatarsalgia, medial meniscus, ACL, ITB, hip and lower-back pain are familiar conditions that can come about during physical training and stem from faulty foot function.
As chiropractors, we have the appropriate knowledge, training and skills for evaluating and treating the whole body. We can help our patients prepare for, train for and recover from activities they engage in year-round, but especially when they raise the level during the summer months.
Consider the following scenarios. What do they have in common? Each patient wants to perform at their best and your chiropractic care can help them achieve their goals:
- A sedentary patient who finally wants to get off their rear end and start walking.
- A patient who is normally a walker/jogger and has decided to train for a 5K race for the first time.
- A patient is upping their mileage and training for a 10K or half marathon.
- More extreme athletes training for a marathon, a Tough Mudder or a Spartan race.
- Student athletes cross-training during their off-season, so they are toying with different forms of cardiovascular exercise, weight training or classes offered at the gym for variety.
How chiropractic provides maximum patient performance
Evaluation and assessment of weight-bearing posture — Chiropractors can examine how a patient is standing, walking and running and in what manner their body is bearing weight. Gait cycle has been something we learned from our first year of chiropractic school, and with practice we have seen how important it is to everyday activities. Identifying problems, imbalances and deficiencies in the gait cycle will then shed light on faulty joint biomechanics, hypertonic/compensatory muscle responses and the understanding of why certain maladies are affecting the different parts of the body and the body as a whole.
Adjustments to the extremities and axial spine — Patients’ vertebrae and extremities often move out of alignment in multiple regions due to the demands put on their bodies. We know these subluxations and misalignments will negatively affect their health and performance. So we do what we do best and we adjust the affected areas, restore structural alignment and allow the body to heal itself. Overall health is always improved with chiropractic care.
Appropriate ancillary care — Physiotherapy modalities like cold laser, EMS, US, vibration therapy, soft tissue techniques, etc., can be utilized for patients when appropriate. Rehabilitative care can also be provided to bring even more improvement to the patient’s health. These procedures will also enhance and speed up healing for the patient’s benefit.
Ancillary care may also take the form of a concurrent referral to a medical or deep-tissue massage therapist, acupuncturist, dentist, homeopath or mental health professional depending on the patient’s needs.
Also, as chiropractors, we are team players in health care with our ability to work with the primary care provider, orthopedist, physical therapist, etc. No one profession can do everything for the patient. Making appropriate referrals to the right specialist may be key to a successful outcome for the patient’s treatment and complement chiropractic care.
Post-adjustment care options to maintain stability of the whole body — More than any other health profession, chiropractors are able to understand foot/arch anatomy. We realize it is a key component of weight-bearing posture involving the feet/arches as the foundation of body support related to the kinetic chain from the ground up through the rest of the body. Custom, three-arch, flexible orthotic support gives any person who wants to be active, athlete and non-athlete alike, a solid and stable support base from which they can operate.
Custom orthotic support for the three functional foot arches, elastic sports tape, cervical pillows, recommending appropriate shoes, braces, etc., are all possible aspects that will round out the patient’s care. We need to take care of them while they are out of the office, not just while they are in our office.
Ongoing support to maintain health
Chiropractic sports training is an integral partner for anyone engaging in physical activity of any nature. No matter if they are increasing their intensity or training level, or they want to maintain their state of health, getting ongoing, appropriately scheduled adjustments helps the body heal from injuries, improve joint movement/stress, boost performance and reduce the risk for injuries.
KEVIN M. WONG, DC, is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, and a 1996 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic West. He has been in practice for over 25 years and is the owner of Orinda Chiropractic & Laser Center in Orinda, Calif. As a member of Foot Levelers Speakers Bureau since 2004, he travels the country speaking on extremity and spinal adjusting. See upcoming continuing education seminars with Wong and other Foot Levelers Speakers at footlevelers.com/continuing-education-seminars.