Period of adjustment: modern chiropractic improves flexibility and performance and reduces injuries - Fitness Options
Foolishly ignoring the advice of my trainer, I tried to do a one-rep maximum on my own ... and bench-pressed myself into an orbit of pain.
The tension in the back of my neck and shoulders produced stress headaches that felt like ice picks being driven into my skull. The burning sensation between my shoulder blades made sleep near impossible.
Good old Dr. Johnson, my general practitioner since I was 3, offered this advice: "Take some aspirin." I threw a 17-year-old copy of Highlights at him and stumbled to the office of a nearby chiropractor. After my first visit, my headaches disappeared. Following my second adjustment, the stiffness in my neck and shoulders was history. By my third trip, I was hooked.
Chiropractic, derived from the Greek word chiro-praktikos, means "effective treatment by hand." The primary focus tends to be the spine, where the nerves are linked to all parts of the body.
"Adjusting" the spine by manipulating vertebrae that are out of whack allows the body to operate more efficiently and comfortably.
The field encompasses several areas of wellness, including joint and muscle health, and clinical nutrition. It's this dose attention to the body's optimal balance, Hall says, that makes chiropractic treatment beneficial to athletes and active men in the following ways:
- Improved performance Chiropractors with fitness and sports training can help improve your flexibility, range of motion, and reaction time. A report in the Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation found significant increases in athletic performance after only three months of chiropractic care, and the U.S. Olympic Committee assigns a chiropractor to its staffs for the Pan-American and Olympic Games.
- Injury prevention Regular visits can reduce injuries, reports John Triano, D.C., of the Texas Back Institute in Plano. Adjustments can help you maintain your full range of motion, which protects against muscle strain during workouts and reduces joint dysfunction by ensuring that your joints aren't misaligned. "Better-coordinated movement patterns between bone and muscle create a more even distribution of weight, which prevents muscle strain during exercise," Triano says. "And well-distributed weight prevents further misalignments and the chance of future injuries."
- Few side effects Any residual soreness experienced the day after an adjustment is the same tenderness that results from a good workout, caused by lactic acid released by tissues that have been manipulated. The risk of injury to a patient is slim: It's 400 times more likely that someone would be adversely affected from ingesting an Advil, says Hall.
- Fast relief "The response to a chiropractic adjustment is immediate," Triano says. "Unlike a lot of medical care, you can tell right away if your body is responding." That may explain why patients preferred chiropractic methods to hospital care in a three-year study on back pain published in the British Medical Journal.
Will chiropractic care work for you? If you snap your shoulder capsule playing football, direct your gurney to an orthopedic surgeon's office. But for conditions related to muscles, joints and unbroken bones--especially chronic complaints that haven't been resolved by traditional approaches a good chiropractor may readjust your thinking about alternative medicine.
According to a Gallup Poll, 10 percent of all Americans used chiropractic services within the past year. Once viewed with skepticism, doctors of chiropractic are recognized today as highly skilled professionals who work with medical doctors and physical therapists in occupational health, sports medicine and other rehabilitation practices. In fact, chiropractors--who are required to take more college hours than regular M.D.s--now represent the third-largest group of doctoral-level health providers in the United States. For advice on when and how to find a practitioner, call the American Chiropractic Association at 800-986-4636 or access www.amerchiro.org.
HOW CHIROPRACTIC WORKS
Your chiropractor considers more than just your spine. Using your medical history, a physical exam and probably an X-ray or two to ascertain genetic anomalies, he'll locate and adjust musculoskeletal areas that aren't functioning properly. Much of the discomfort in exertion injuries actually results from the surrounding muscles going into spasm to protect the joint, rather like forming an internal cast around the injury. Chiropractic manipulation helps return the area to normalcy, allowing the spasm to relax.
A well-outfitted practitioner may use "activator" instruments, which apply pressure to areas that are out of alignment or aren't moving within their normal ranges of motion. Either way, adjustments rarely hurt and last a fraction of a second, yet deliver as much as 200 pounds of pressure per square inch. The movement isolates the errant joint, and then guides it through its intended arc of motion. Usually there's a brief crunch, believed to be a release in the negative pressure or vacuum, as the joint settles back into proper function.So chiropractic care isn't about cracking backs into place? "That's an outdated theory," says Raymond Hall, a Los Angeles doctor of chiropractic who specializes in sports medicine. "Chiropractic medicine is really about removing nerve interference. If dysfunctional joints cause pressure or interference in the nervous system--which controls and coordinates all functions--then the body can't function properly and can't heal itself."
- From findarticles.com, 2002 Weider Publications, 2003 Gale Group
- Robert L. Pela "Period of adjustment: modern chiropractic improves flexibility and performance and reduces injuries - Fitness Options>". Men's Fitness. Oct 2002.