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Smyrna Chiropractor | Smyrna chiropractic care | GA | Sports Chiropractic

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Sports & Family Chiropractic & Spa


Sports Chiropractic



Each year athletic performances go beyond what we have perceived or believed as the limits of human potential. Having a good understanding of the proper neuro-biomechanical principles needed to achieve peak performance can help us prevent injuries and restore functional integrity and stability.

Just imagine your body is like a Ferrari. Imagine if the wheels are out of alignment; when the speedometer reads 110 mph, in reality it’s only going about 100 mph and will eventually breakdown. The human body is a precision machine that requires fine tuning and when not properly cared for it begins breaking down.

Over the years there has been a great deal of research and case studies on the role of chiropractic in improving sports performance. These studies have demonstrated the power of the chiropractic adjustment in improving speed, strength, reaction time and coordination. One study published in the May, 2006, issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics analyzed "movement time", which is an analysis of coordination and speed tested by moving a cursor onto a target appearing on a computer screen. It was found that those who received a chiropractic adjustment improved their scores 5 times more than those not adjusted. This study shows that a single adjustment has the power to improve speed and coordination throughout the entire body. 

The New Zealand School of Chiropractic and the University of Auckland conducted a study testing variations in reaction times. One group received chiropractic adjustments, while the control group got a short period of rest. There was marked improvement between the groups. The control group showed a decrease in reaction time of 58 milliseconds, an 8% faster reaction time. The chiropractic adjustment group showed a decrease in reaction time of 97 milliseconds, representing a 14.8% faster reaction time. The ability to react quicker provides added performance enhancement benefits for athletes, who rely on optimum reaction reflexes to perform at their maximum competitive capacity.

Another interesting study was performed by Drs. Anthony Lauro and Brian Mouch and was published in the January, 1991, issue of the Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation. The findings demonstrated significant increases in athletic performance after a twelve week program of Chiropractic adjustments.     

Male and female athletes between the ages of 18 and 42, representing a variety of sports backgrounds, participated in this study. None had ever before been under chiropractic care. Each participant underwent eleven separate tests designed to measure a specific aspect of athletic performance. Then, half the participants were evaluated through chiropractic analysis and placed on a twelve week program of chiropractic care (a consistent regimen of chiropractic, similar to a consistent regimen of physical athletic training/exercise). (Measured aspects included: side step test, dodging run, right boomerang run, modified bass tests of dynamic balance, vertical power jump, standing broad jump, distance perception jump, horizontal linear space test, nelson hand reaction test, nelson speed of movement test, and nelson choice of response-movement test.)

All subjects continued training as usual in their respective sports. Reevaluations were done on both groups at six weeks and score changes noted and compared. All increases in performances by each group were measured by the average percent of change in all eleven tests combined.

The control group, not receiving chiropractic care, showed slight improvement in eight of eleven tests. By combining the average percentages of change on each test it was found that the control group showed an overall improvement of 4.5%.

Those under chiropractic care had dramatically different results. They showed improvement on all eleven tests for a total 10.7% average increase after six weeks. When retested again after the second six-week period of care, this group demonstrated a remarkable 16.7% average increase in athletic ability. (Consider that one/one hundredth of a second (1/100th) is the difference between a win or loss,,, 16.7%  is a HUGE IMPROVEMENT for an athlete. It can mean the difference between consistently running the 100 meters under 10 seconds or just above that, or jumping consistently over 17.50 meters or 8.50 meters….and that might be the difference between medaling at the Olympics or World Championships or not even making it to the finals.) The report also concluded that subluxation-free (free of spinal biomechanical problems) athletes react faster, coordinate better, and execute fine movements with improved accuracy and precision, amounting to an overall better athletic performance.

What these studies demonstrate is that although one chiropractic adjustment can have a dramatic impact on an athletes’ performance, continued chiropractic care can elevate and sustain athletes at a much higher level. Just imagine, if your entire body were functioning at just a 10% higher level, the difference over time would be extraordinary! No wonder top athletes are seeking regular chiropractic care.   

Many athletes are sidelined with avoidable injuries. Others sit on the bench because their injuries are not responding to ordinary or conventional treatment. Still others are competing, but at less than peak efficiency, simply because their structural system is not balanced. Progressive coaches, athletes, and doctors are realizing that pain-killing drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) certainly are not the answer. Pain pills merely cover up the symptoms, and NSAIDS inhibit the cells from producing the inflammatory chemicals needed for proper tissue healing and repair, deceiving the athlete into actions or activities which often aggravate existing injuries. The cumulative effects of constant small athletic stresses over a long period of time can give rise to the same difficulties as severe sudden stress.

Do not underestimate the importance of active resting. Recovery from your workouts is just as important as the workout itself. Many elite athletes, after an injury or illness forces them to rest, return and perform at a higher level than before the injury. The symptoms of over-training--fatigue, general body malaise, disinterest, sleeping difficulties, listlessness, sweating--are signs your body needs rest because the nervous system is overworked. Either decrease the intensity of your workouts or just skip one. Studies have shown that high performance athletes have the ability to block pain sensations to the brain so they are able to still train or compete at a high level, but not their highest, and once they attempt their highest the injury comes.

It is amazing how many athletes have no understanding of the human body or even know how to listen to their own bodies. Soreness after every workout does not mean your workouts are effective; it means you are doing damage to your muscles by not allowing them to recover properly. Muscles grow by tearing down and building back up. The building up phase requires rest. Constant muscle soreness means you are not giving your body enough time to rebuild and grow.

The athlete seeking peak athletic performance in preparation for athletic competition must be mentally and emotionally, as well as physically, prepared to deal with the demands placed on the body on a daily basis during training. 

Athletes are used to injuries, and to having them diagnosed and treated. The traditional medical approach is disease, trauma and treatment oriented. What separates a sports chiropractor from many other healthcare providers is that we often insist on looking at areas of the body other than--and in addition to--the injured area, focusing on injury prevention, maintenance of proper structure and optimal function of the athlete at all times.

Probably more than any other health profession, Chiropractic's approach to health closely relates to the needs of the athlete.

Top athletes require advanced and proficient chiropractic care which is designed for their special needs in order to optimize their prospects of achieving that competitive winning edge. 

 How many world class athletes have been performing well below their true potential due to existing asymptomatic spinal imbalances, and they believe they are at peak performance because they are fit, well trained, and are void of symptoms and debilitating injuries? This makes you wonder how the record books would be re-written if all world class athletes were to undergo a “serious program of chiropractic care.”

The role that the Sports Chiropractor plays in the athletic arena is much needed and, by integrating these practitioners in their training regimen, the athlete will be able to perform optimally at a higher level. This role is very distinct and different from that of a qualified sports medicine doctor, the athletic trainer, the massage therapist or the physiotherapist. By this we are not meaning that one role is greater or lesser than the other.

By integrating the services of a sports chiropractor in the sporting arena alongside other qualified sports medicine professionals allows us to remove any perception of competition or even duplication of services and allows us to become recognized for our unique value to the athlete.

Doctors of Chiropractic are primary contact health care professionals who focus on the complex relationship between the central nervous system (CNS) and the spine, and how this relates to the overall functioning/performance of the body. The nervous system controls and regulates every bodily function by sending and receiving nerve messages. It is protected by the bones of the spine called “vertebrae”. When the spine exhibits its optimal structural function, the nerves are protected and optimal communication exists between the CNS and the rest of the body.

The vertebrae are susceptible to certain stresses and forces which can cause them to lose their proper position or motion. These fixations in the spine can cause nerve irritation and affect the entire structure of the spine. Athletic training often can jar and misalign the spinal column because the spine runs through the center of the body. Impact to the legs, feet, head, shoulders and torso often radiates to the spine. “Changes in the optimal spinal position produce spinal pathologies and loss of function. Spinal pathologies destroy joint reflexes, arc fibers and cause nerve impedance.” Wyke, B (1987) Backache Diary

Abnormal peripheral joint function (in ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, etc.) can alter nervous system function and reduce performance. Specifics of examination and correction of the body’s mechanical imbalances, including the spine and peripheral joints, is the domain of the Sports Chiropractor. By ensuring proper mechanics of the spine and peripheral joints, a Sports Chiropractor can influence a number of body functions--from reducing the coefficient of friction at the joint surface level, to balancing and restoring normal muscle tone through soft tissue techniques, to proprioceptive retraining. The Sports Chiropractor can enhance an athlete’s recovery from injury, prevent future injury (such as overuse/overtraining syndromes) and enhance athletic performance in the absence of symptoms.

The Sports Chiropractor focuses beyond the spine because we understand that the extremities are extensions of the spine. So something as simple as an imbalance in a foot can place a great deal of stress on the spine because hip and back muscles have to compensate for the altered gate. That is why correct foot plant is crucial to the sprinter; it allows her or him to achieve proper body positioning to generate the maximum force needed for forward hip explosion. The correct physical alignment ultimately results in an athlete's optimum performance. Chiropractic adjustment will allow the body to become stronger and more stabile so that the correct biomechanical movements required for each sport can be honed to perfection.

The Sports Chiropractor should also have a good understanding of proper body mechanics and body positioning during the performance of en exercise or event. It is important to be able to look at an athlete running, throwing or jumping and to determine where the incorrect mechanical patterns are. Similarly, asking simple questions as to how the foot is striking the ground or where the arm is moving, or are they sitting down while running can tell the Sports Chiropractor a lot about possible mechanisms of injury, compensatory mechanism of recruitment or incorrectly--trained mechanical patterns. The history and evaluation also helps determine if an injury is new…or old and never corrected. This is key in helping the athlete understand the cause of the problem and how to begin addressing it, whether with specific adjustments and muscular re-education or with changes to practice routine.

Part of Chiropractic principles states that normal body mobility (and motor performance) cannot adequately occur without proper joint function. This function is dependent upon intrinsic (non-voluntary) joint motion. The term "proprioception" defines the body's automatic sensitivity feed-back mechanism that detects the motion or position of the body or a limb by responding to stimuli arising within the organism. The brain sends messages through the Central Nervous System, which then dictates information to the rest of the body (e.g., muscles, tendons, joints and inner ear) about how to react and with what amount of tension. This is a critical component of everything from explosiveness of movement to complete range of motion to proper nutrition of the joint and its cartilage.

The failure of the normal proprioceptive input has been linked to a predisposition to injuries and loss of adequate muscular coordination. Any alteration from the normal joint function in non-injured athletes can affect their motor function and alter the normal joint movement; this in turn creates muscular compensatory or recruitment mechanisms setting the athlete up for future injury.

When basic there is coordination in basic movement patterns the body is able to adapt to the stress created by major loads applied without injury. When the patterns of adaptation become abnormal, the body is not given the opportunity to absorb the forces normally or to transfer the loads thru the musculoskeletal system in a normal fashion. The long-term effect is postural stress and tissue overload, leading to strain and overuse injury mainly because any deficit in proprioception can cause the muscles to react slowly to a stimulus. This does not allow adequate joint protection. More subtle proprioceptive defects may be responsible for changes in coordinated limb movements that are associated with gait and an inability to attain high velocities and acceleration during gait.  

For example, repeated micro-trauma in the feet (i.e., running on the toes or with the foot externally rotated) is a common cause of proprioceptive dysfunction. This can lead to biomechanical malfunctioning which then produces injury due to impaired muscular stabilization.

A successful sprinter must have the ability to exert great force against the surface of the ground in a short time period in order to generate greater power or ground reaction force.  From a neurological standpoint, sprinting is a complex sequence of motor neuron firing which activates muscles to move the extremities in order to effectively apply that force. (USATF 1999, Pfaff 2001)

The ability of the muscle fibers to sustain a long duration contraction (power explosion) followed by a smooth transition to the relaxed state allows the athlete to utilize the full potential they have repetitively trained for. Ideally, this is the state of optimum performance.

Following even a minor injury, the body begins creating new adaptation patterns that will now tell the nervous system to form  new patterns of compensation that orchestrate new motor control patterns. Minimizing healing time, decreasing the effects of scarring and maintaining or restoring normal range of motion reduces the opportunity for the athlete to develop altered movement patterns, which have the potential for further injury and increasing abnormal involvement of the neuromuscular and proprioceptive systems.

This is why when an injury occurs, if the soft tissue component is treated but the joints around it and the neurological effects are ignored, the recovery time typically will be slower than expected. The initial response to any injury is muscular contraction for protection. This is triggered by receptors in the joint capsule, followed by formation of minor scar tissue, which causes imbalance and altered range of motion. This is why chiropractors treat the bigger picture—the whole body

The reasoning behind adjusting the spine when the complaint is in the knee, shoulder, or other areas is based on the many reflex loops of the body (somato-visceral, somato-sensory, etc.), even though they have no apparent direct attachment to your legs and feet. These can cause the body to compensate when injured, which affects the body as a whole and can cause further injury. The presenting complaint could be due to neurological deficit manifested directly relating to spinal imbalance affecting the areas that the nerves supplies.

The Sports Chiropractor can help break the injury cycle by doing a thorough investigation of the patient's biomechanics, injuries to date, running style and training habits. We should ask athletes about their daily training and frequency, body mechanics and the type of surfaces on which they train. By asking these questions we can determine where small changes and recommendations can deter injuries that lead to disappointment and frustration. Athletes competing with the proper mechanics have the greatest ability to perform at their best.

It is, therefore, a must for an athlete to not only train properly but to also be in the optimum biomechanical state. This is the role of the Sports Chiropractor.

While conditioning is emphasized in athletics, at times more stress is placed on winning, rather than on prevention of injuries. This does not make much sense. Dr Belizaire understands how to properly evaluate and how to provide the hands-on care. He has extensive experience both treating athletic injuries and improving athletic function in the absence of injury. In addition, his ongoing active participation in the sport gives him a unique approach to taking care of runners.

Dr. Belizaire has been for many years the chiropractor to many elite Olympians training in the State of Georgia and has also worked with several Olympic teams. As a former Olympian having trained under one of the best coaches in the field, Dr. Belizaire has gained a keen understanding of the importance of proper biomechanics for peak performance and of the big role chiropractic in achieving it. Since Doctors of Chiropractic do not utilize pharmaceuticals, the athlete can receive care without fear of drug reactions, loss of alertness, or athletic disqualification.

When the body is functioning properly, the mind is often able to focus more intently on the task at hand (in this case, performing at an extraordinary level). The athlete looking for the competitive edge need not look beyond the framework of his or her own body.  Increased  public  awareness is leading  many  to  realize  that  a  natural  method  is  available  in achieving  performance enhancement. The method is Chiropractic!

The Bottom line? The team that fields the healthiest athletes WINS! The Sports Chiropractor is one of the team players.

Are you ready to make a commitment to getting and staying healthy -- to training your body for peak performance?  Why wait to achieve optimal health?  Make an appointment for a chiropractic sports consultation today!

Famous Athletes Quotes:

I didn’t know how much I could Improve until I started seeing a Chiropractor. Since I’ve been in Chiropractic I’ve improved by leaps and bounds both mentally and physicallyMichael Jordan


"Being a Chiropractic patient has really helped me immensely...lifting weights and seeing a Chiropractor on a regular basis has made me a better golfer.  I've been going to Chiropractors for as long as I can remember.  It's as important to my training as practicing my swing."  Tiger Woods

"If it were not for Chiropractic, I would not have won the gold medal." "You obviously can't compete at your fullest if you're not in alignment. And your body can't heal if your back is not in alignment. It was the holistic idea that I liked about chiropractic and that is what track and field is about. Every track and field athlete that I have ever met has seen a chiropractor at one time or another. In track and field, it is absolutely essential. Chiropractic care is one of the things I think that no one has denied or refuted."    Dan O'Brien Decathlon Olympic Champion and former World Record Holder

Smyrna Chiropractor | Sports Chiropractic. Dr. Marco Antonio Belizaire is a Smyrna Chiropractor.