Having just got back from the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, I thought it would be a good time to talk about chiropractic and elite athletes, in this case, track and field.
Why do athletes utilize chiropractic?
While many think chiropractic is about spinal pain, athletes tend to understand chiropractic is about FUNCTION! Chiropractors focus on the motion of the joints in the body, especially the spine. When joints get misaligned or fixated, their function is impaired and associated nerves can be irritated, interfering with the signals they send. Since the nervous system controls all functions of the body down to a cellular level, altered nerve signals mean dysfunction in the body.
We see evidence for this in the reduced stride of an athlete, or a muscle mis-firing. At an elite level, any suboptimal function can mean not winning a race or making a team, or worse, predispose the athlete to injury.
Those at the top of their sport know this well and ensure their body gets the care it needs in order to perform at its peak and recover rapidly afterwards. How is Tom Brady still performing at such a high level? How was Jordan able to stay at the top for so long? They will be the first to tell you that it's because they take the best care possible of their body, and that chiropractic is an important part of that.
I have been fortunate enough to work with some of track and field's elite athletes since 2005, when I worked my first US nationals meet with my father and mentor, Dr. David Pascal. Since then, I've provided care at the 2012 and 2016 US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, and this last weekend was my second time working the Drake Relays, an international meet featuring highschool, collegiate, professional Olympic athletes and even the us para-Olympic team.
I was at this meet specifically to work with Olympians Aries Merritt and Bershawn "Batman" Jackson. Aries is an Olympic gold medalist and holds the world record of 12:80 seconds in the men's 110 hurdles set in 2012. Bershawn is a world champion in the 400m hurdles.
Our model of care for these elite athletes may be different that many expect. It's not just about checking them before and after competition. In many cases, we will manage all of the care of an athlete throughout a meet, a season, and even a career. This includes all the physical, mental, and chemical factors that may effect an athlete. Lots of co-managing with other practitioners ensures the athlete is at prepared as possible. We team up with athletic trainers, massage therapists, medical doctors, acupuncturists, physical therapists and even other chiropractors. A mutual understanding with the athletes coach can also be key in effectively managing an athletes care.
At Pascal chiropractic we don't just take care of the elite athletes, we also have a passion for the local youth athletes in many sports. Proper neurologically based chiropractic helps athletes at any level perform better, recover faster, and avoid injury. If anyone is curious about sports chiropractic, our approach, or just wants to talk track & field or bay area sports, don't hesitate to reach out.