It has been well established that chiropractic is one of the most effective conservative treatment for back pain. The American Medical Association (AMA) has suggesting that chiropractic should be tried prior to consider surgery. Some of the most famous athletes in the world (Kelly Slater, Usain Bolt, Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice,…) have used chiropractic treatment throughout their career. Today, many athletes will see their chiropractor in order to speed up their recovery time after an injury. And it works. But how about when they are not injured? Is there any benefits to see a chiropractor on a regular basis as a lifestyle habit? Does chiropractic allow to enhance physical performance? The answer is yes, and this is how:
1. It increases the trunk muscles strength
A study using surface electromyography on the erector spinae muscles (those large paraspinal muscles in the lower portion of your back) of 40 athletes showed that spinal manipulative therapy increased significantly the maximal voluntary contraction of those muscles. In order words, adjusting your lower back will increase you trunk muscles strength.
2. It improves the movement time
In that study, people were asked to move a cursor to a target appearing on a computer screen. The results showed that people who received an adjustment improved their movement time by almost 10% whereas people who did not receive any adjustment improved it from less than 2%.
3. It improves the sensory perception of the environment
We use our different senses to interact with the environment. Our eyes tell us where our teammates are or where the opponent is. Our proprioceptors help us to orientate. Other higher functions of our brain help us to deal with eye-hand coordination, joint position sense, postural adjustment, attention center, reaction time, etc… The way it works is the following: we perceive the environment through our organs (our eyes, skin, ears,…). From those organs, the information is conveyed to our brain via the peripheral nerves. Once it reaches our brain, our central nervous system will integrate that information and command a motor response to our body in order to adapt to that situation. This is called the sensory integration center and it is capital to work correctly in order to function normally in life. For instance kids with autism have a dysfunction of their sensory integration center. Needless to say that for professional athletes this integration center has to be close to perfect. But sometimes because of an old injury or accumulation of wrong neural pattern, our brain is not able to assimilate the sensory information well, and hence your body does not respond appropriately. Not only this will result in poor performance (mismatching of a target or distances, slowness in reflex,…), but it will also increase the risk for future injury. The good news is that chiropractic adjustment has shown to improve the sensory-motor integration center.
4. It increases the activity of your brain
And more particularly your prefrontal cortex. Dr. Haavik showed in a recent study that chiropractic adjustment was improving the brain function by 20% on average. The author mentioned: “An effect on the function of the prefrontal cortex could explain many previous research results, such as improvements in sensorimotor function relevant to falls-prevention; better joint-position sense in both the upper limb and the lower limb; improved muscle strength in lower limb muscles; better pelvic floor control; and better ability to carry out mental rotation of objects.”
5. It increases your grip strength
Probably my favorite research paper ever. Any grappler can tell how important the grip is important. If you control the grip fight, you have a huge advantage on your opponent. Well, here is the deal: researchers analyzed the grip strength of Brazilian judo athletes and noticed that it became stronger after receiving a chiropractic adjustment at the cervical spine! Grapplers, BJJ or judo fighters, when your neck gets adjusted, not only it moves better after but you also optimize your grip strength!