Chapter Five Athletes And Chiropractic

Athletes and Chiropractic

Tune-Ups or Blow-Ups? Your Choice

Athletes today, both professionals and amateurs like your jogging neighbor, are constantly discovering the benefits of chiropractic. You can, too!

Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback

All Pro and Super Bowl MVP quarterback Tom Brady uses chiropractic to keep him at the top of his game.  

“Chiropractic just makes you feel so much better.  When I walk out of the clinic, I feel like I’m about three inches taller and everything’s in place.  As long as I see the chiropractor, I feel like I’m one step ahead of the game.”

The role of the chiropractor in respect to athletic performance is fourfold:

. General tune-


. Nutrition

. Conditioning


. Injury care

Let’s look at each of these.

Evander Holyfield, heavyweight champion has been quoted as saying, “I do believe in chiropractic. I found that going to a chiropractor three times a week helps my performance. Once I drove 20 miles to see a chiropractor before a fight. I have to have my adjustment before I get in the ring." 1

Dan O’Brien, an Olympic runner said, “You obviously can't compete at your fullest if you're not in alignment. It was the holistic idea that I liked about chiropractic. I really think chiropractic is essential in running. If I could put a percentage on it, I think I compete eight to ten percent better from regular chiropractic use, if not more. It is essential for me and my training routine.” 2

Ten percent? Is ten percent really worth a trip to a chiropractor? Let’s take a quick look:

. In a 100 meter dash, an 11-second time won’t qualify for the Olympic team. A 10-second time can get you a medal.

. The 10% difference that Dan O’Brien experienced was the difference between gold and not even making the podium.

Now try to imagine your own life if everything was functioning at least 10% better. The difference would be astounding! You would be happier, healthier, and more energetic. You would sleep better and heal faster. You would be less likely to suffer from hormonal imbalances or illness. You would experience true wellness.

Studies Show

Chiropractic Has Positive Effects on Athletic Ability

In a 1991 issue of Chiropractic: The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation, a study shows that chiropractic enhances athletic performance. Fifty athletes were tested – 25 receiving chiropractic care. After 12 weeks, those receiving chiropractic improved 30% in balance, kinesthetic perception, power and reaction time. 3

So, what is it that athletes understand about chiropractic that most people do not understand? They understand the concept of wellness. They realize that wellness isn’t about how you feel. They are aware that you can feel fine and still be unhealthy.

Athletes look at their body the way a mechanic looks at a car. Proper preventive maintenance will keep the car running smoothly. Oil changes and tune-ups, even when the car seems to be running perfectly, keep big problems from happening later on. No one wants to find out that they’ve blown an engine! Athletes do not wait until they are sick or injured to begin taking care of their bodies. They fine-tune their body at every opportunity. This is the idea of wellness and they realize that the best form of wellness care for fine-tuning is chiropractic.

Testimonial – Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith, despite his small size, is a giant in the eyes of professional football.  Because of his longevity, he has become the NFL’s all-time leader in yards rushing. When asked about his longevity, he attributes it to his chiropractic care. He said that he has found a chiropractor "that's really good in balancing out my body to make sure my hips are rotated right, and my body is functioning properly. I remember somebody telling me that what I put myself in during the games is like having a car wreck every Sunday. It's against the norm. You can find yourself in awkward positions. That stuff takes its toll. But if you take advantage of the health care, balance your body back out, put it back where it's supposed to be, you function better, and you recover faster." 4

But this is not all they understand. They understand the intimate relationship between their nervous system and every other function in their body, from cell function to organ function and everything in between. 

Your brain takes in information from the environment and sends out signals to your body to let it know what to in response to the environment. If there is a block in the pathway, the brain can’t get the information correctly and can’t send out the appropriate signals to the rest of the body. With such blockages, the body cannot meet its full potential.

 Removing this interference is the role of chiropractic to keep your body functioning at its best.

Finally, athletes prefer not to use drugs. In fact, world-class athletes are banned from using many drugs traditionally used for pain. Chiropractic is drug-free. The chiropractic model is not one about masking symptoms. It is one that believes the body can heal itself if allowed to work efficiently. Spinal adjustments to remove subluxations do this naturally, with no side effects. It makes no sense to add the side effects of drugs when you are trying to create a beautifully operating system, does it?

This is why athletes use chiropractic. They understand the necessity of keeping their body operating at optimal levels. This leads to better performance, fewer injuries and quicker recovery. If they don’t, they lose their status as a top athlete. 

You may not be a top athlete. You may not even be an athlete of any kind. But you can learn from these athletes. You can make a choice to achieve wellness through chiropractic care.

If You Are What You Eat, What Are YOU?

Nutrition is one of the key ingredients of the holistic principles of chiropractic. The benefits of proper nutrition include:

. Enhanced performance

. Greater speed

. Faster injury rehabilitation

. Increased endurance

Chiropractors qualified in the field of nutrition are able to give pertinent advice on vitamin supplementation and dietary intakes, as well as environmental dangers and homeostasis.

      Words Defined: Homeostasis 

A body’s ability to regulate in order to achieve a relatively stable state of equilibrium.

Individualism Counts

A chiropractor is highly educated in all areas of the body, particularly in the mechanical function of the nerves, muscles and bones and how they interact with one another. This education can help an athlete learn more about their own body and how to get each system functioning together.

Due to this extensive education and understanding about the neuromusculoskeletal system, a chiropractor can help an athlete develop a conditioning program perfect for them and their situation. This isn’t a “boxed” program like you find on late night TV infomercials, but a truly tailored plan that takes into account the athlete and the sport in which the athlete participates.

Stat Fact

A 1983 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 60% of runners reported injury from training for a marathon. 55% of the injured runners did not seek professional help.

6% never recovered pre-race

43% reported partial recovery

 Only 51% reported full recovery 6

For instance, a weekend runner with a weakness in the right knee would get a completely different program than a 

professional marathon runner with a past ankle injury. Such a program will not only enhance their performance but will help with injury prevention. 

Fix Me Fast!

Professional athletes log in a large amount of time training. The numbers can seem staggering. For instance:

. Runners may run 200 miles a week

. Swimmers may swim four or five hours a day

. Pentathlon participants may work on all their skills up to eight hours per day

With such sheer volume, it is quite likely that professional athletes will experience injuries. But injuries are not limited to professionals. You don’t have to log in 200 miles running each week to become injured.

 Words Defined: Neuromusculoskeletal System

The neuromusculoskeletal system comprises the human frame, muscular system and nervous system. 

High school sport injuries are quite common. Out of 100 participants, 30% of cross country runners, 8% of volleyball players, 35% of gymnasts, 29% of basketball players, 30% of baseball players and 75% of wrestlers will become injured in a two-year period of time. 7

The goal of chiropractic is to bring an athlete back to optimal performance and allow the body to heal itself. The difference between masking an injury and actually correcting the cause can make the difference between an athlete performing again or sitting on the bench.


NO MIGRANE HEADACHES after suffering with them for over 40 years

NO MORE KNEE, HEEL AND TOE PAIN after 7 years of constant pain

NO MORE ALLERGIES after 21 years of tolerating the symptoms and medications





Corina H.

Testimonial – Derek Parra

Derek Parra, a U.S. Olympic speed skater, believes wholeheartedly in chiropractic. "I've always believed in chiropractic care. I've used a lot of other treatments for injuries and pain, but the problem doesn't get fixed until I go to a doctor of chiropractic." Since chiropractic deals with subluxations, interference to the nervous system, he can compete at a higher level. At the Olympic level, any edge can make the difference between a medal and going home without.8

The sports chiropractor also understands the mindset of an athlete. Suggesting to a runner that they stop running and their pain will go away is not a good solution. A runner wants to run. In fact, a runner is likely to dismiss the idea to stop running, continue running on an injury, and eventually do enough damage that they have no choice but to stop running altogether.

A sport chiropractor understands this. Instead of stopping the runner from running, a chiropractor will diagnose the problem, treat it and suggest activities such as stretches and exercises that can be done at home to help strengthen the athlete. The goal is to get the runner running again as quickly as possible. And not just running, but running at their optimal level!

Teams Benefit From Chiropractic Care

In addition to individual athletes, many teams are using chiropractic as part of their overall fitness and injury programs.

The Baltimore Ravens, a professional football team, has had a team chiropractor since 1995 who was on the sidelines as part of the medical team when they won the Super Bowl in 2000 and again in 2013. The Ravens’ trainer refers his players to receive chiropractic care because he realizes that even slight injury can cause alignment problems and that chiropractic is the answer to these issues. Although the Ravens were one of the first to have a chiropractor on board, almost every NFL team now has a chiropractor on staff.

Stat Fact

Almost all NFL trainers have referred a player for chiropractic care.9

Studies Show

Chiropractic Improves Movement Time

In a 2005 Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics, a study analyzed movement time – coordination and speed. People who use chiropractic improved their scores five times with just one adjustment.10

But it isn’t only professional teams that have found the benefit of chiropractic. College football teams are also getting in on the act.

For instance, Virginia Tech has an impressive football team and the head coach attributes much of the success to chiropractic. He realizes that chiropractic is responsible for their physical health as well as faster recovery from injuries. When the team has players functioning at optimal health, winning is much easier! Once other athletes at Virginia Tech began hearing about the success of chiropractic in achieving better flexibility, range of motion, and general wellness, they started receiving care as well. Now athletes from the swimming, diving, lacrosse, soccer and basketball programs have begun regular adjustments.

Testimonial – Dan O’Brien

Dan O’Brien, a decathlon gold medalist, has said, “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." 11, 12

Olympians are also benefiting from chiropractic care. In 2002, the first year that the USA winter Olympics team had a chiropractor as part of their sports medicine team, the USA did better than it ever had. Many of the coaches attribute some of that success to the ideals of chiropractic: correcting misalignments and treating injuries so that athletes can be stronger and return after injuries faster and better than before. 

With such success, the winter team of 2006 also had a chiropractor on board. In a news story prior to the games, it was noted, “athletes seek chiropractic care to maintain their health and improve their competitiveness.” Additionally, with the extreme drug testing to detect performance enhancing drugs, athletes feel that chiropractic is a safe, drug-free alternative to the modern medical practice of medications for pain and swelling.

With such successes, other countries began looking towards chiropractic care. Canadian athletes for the 2006 winter games also had a chiropractor as part of their sports medicine team. 

Chiropractic care has been benefiting athletes for years. The wellness model fits perfectly with those that want their body to be the best it can be without the use of drugs and unnecessary surgeries. The point of chiropractic care, to enhance a body’s function so that it can perform at optimal levels, allows athletes to perform better and heal faster from injuries.

Even if you are just a weekend athlete, you too can benefit from chiropractic.


1.  USA Today, December 1998.

2.  USA Today, August 1996.

3. Lauro A. Mouch B.   Chiropractic: The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation, “Chiropractic effects on athletic ability.”  1991.

4. Fort Worth Star Telegram, Oct 28, 2002.

5. Chung-Ha Suh, Ph.D., "The Research Status of Spinal Manipulative Therapy," 1975.

6. P Jokl, P M Sethi and A J Cooper, British Journal of Sports Medicine, “Master’s performance in the New York City Marathon 1983–1999” 2004.

7. Julie A. Rechel Ellen E Yard, MPH, and R. Dawn Comstock, PhD, Journal of Athletic Training, “An Epidemiologic Comparison of High School Sports Injuries Sustained in Practice and Competition.” 2008 Mar–Apr.

8. American Chiropractic Association, “Preparation for Outdoor Winter Activities Prevents Injury”,

9. John L. Stump, DC, OMD, EdDa

, Daniel Redwood, DCb

. The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, “The use and role of sport chiropractors in the National Football League: A short report.” March 2002.

10. D. Smith, M. Dainoff, J. Smith. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, “The Effect of Chiropractic Adjustments on Movement Time: A Pilot Study Using Fitts Law.”  May 2006.

11. Interview with Dr. Eric Diener.

12. USA Today, August 1996.