Long Beach Doctors Say Chiropractic May Enhance Athletic Performance
By Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer
September 25, 2012 - Athletes of all levels, all shapes and sizes, competitive or not, take on some risk of injury when participating in sports.
For most athletes, training involves pushing their bodies further than they have gone before, to lengthen and strengthen muscles, to improve balance and increase flexibility. Athletic training can put the body under a significant amount of stress, and when injury occurs it can be debilitating.
When it does happen, an athlete should first stop the activity and apply the R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compress and elevate), according to the National Institutes of Health. If the injury does not seem treatable with R.I.C.E. alone, most doctors would recommend the athlete have an evaluation of the damage prior to treatment, to assess whether the injury is acute or chronic.
The evaluating doctor will determine what he or she thinks is the best way to address the pain and impairment, but treatment selection is up to the athlete. Depending on the severity of the injury and the individual’s preference, he or she may want to seek a second opinion.
At a traditional medical office, a sports injury may be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, immobilization (using a sling, splint or cast), surgery, physical therapy and rest. Alternative therapies may include massage and chiropractic care.
Chiropractic care is about fine-tuning the nervous system so all parts of the body are receiving the proper amount of regulatory information from the brain and that the spine is in the most flexible condition possible.
Dr. Arthur Keenan of The Joint Chiropractic in Long Beach treats athletes that compete in a variety of sports, from track and field to tennis and golf.
“Most people come to chiropractic because they have an area on the body that is hurting,” Keenan said. Some of his athlete clients have chronic pain or have had injuries due to repetitive motion in their sport performance. “Regular chiropractic care helps avert those flare ups, avert those problematic areas that are brewing,” Keenan said. “I can find those areas, and I can quell the fire, so to speak, before it generates into a full blown condition of pain.”
Keenan is currently working with a senior amateur golfer who competes in regional tournaments. Under his care, Keenan said he has been able to help the golfer increase his ability to walk the course longer without being out of breath and reduce his aches and pains. “The patients that I have treated not only benefit from an increase in flexibility, but they also benefit from chiropractic helping the body to work better.”
The more athletic you are, the more often you need to be adjusted, Keenan said. “I’m treating a young lady who is a runner for high school track,” he said. “She had general lower back pain and a lot of knee pain. With treatments once per week, she has been able to run quicker and her knee pain has reduced significantly.”
At Mull Chiropractic, owner Dr. Paul Newton also treats various athletes. A former athlete at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), Newton is giving back to his alma mater by treating a number of the university’s athletes who compete in basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis, water polo and track and field sports. Since his office, located at 222 Palo Verde Ave., Suite I, is close to the university, Newton is able to offer chiropractic care and massage therapy for CSULB athletes at his office or on campus.
One of Newton’s newest patients is a women’s basketball player from CSULB who has some problems with her middle back. “She’s been to the MDs, done the medical route and the pills, and it’s not working,” he said. “What I’ve found is that a lot of people we see, after they’ve done the main routes, are looking for an alternative solution. So I told this patient up front that I think this is a good place for her to be, that I would try to unlock that mid-back and get her back in alignment, but I can’t make any promises. If it doesn’t work, I will work with her to find a solution.”
When he took over the chiropractic office four years ago, one of Newton’s patients was a pitcher for the CSULB men’s baseball team. Pitchers’ injuries tend to be associated with the shoulder and neck because of the whipping motion used to pitch the ball. Muscles are getting shorter and tighter over time, impacting joints and range of motion. “When athletes are doing these repetitive things to try to become perfect at what they do . . . we need to unlock those areas and align it so they can improve,” he said. “We are trying to elongate tissues, get the biomechanics back in those joints and decompress.”
While we may not consider ourselves athletes, most of us are essentially weekend athletes – from attending fitness classes to working out at a home gym. “We may compete at a very low level, but it is still competition to us,” Keenan said. “If you do spin classes or enjoy gym activities, as you go through the process on a weekly basis you set goals for yourself to go beyond what you have done before. Even if it’s a competition with yourself, it feels good to accomplish those goals. Chiropractic is just one way we can make it easier to accomplish that on a regular basis.”
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