We weigh out chiropractic for runners.
WHAT IS CHIROPRACTIC?
A therapy in which a practitioner makes manual adjustments to joints, mostly to those in the spine, to relieve pain and restore range of motion. Misaligned vertebrae can cause discomfort and tightness in the back, hips, and extremities. One of the key focus points of chiropractic is the relationship between the structure, primarily of the spine, and the function, as coordinated by the central nervous system. This relationship can affect the preservation and restoration of health. (1) A chiropractor works to help joints realign into a functioning position. We asked Lauren Steinfort, an Australian-qualified chiropractor practising in the Netherlands, to break down the details.
HOW IT HELPS
Since every person has a nervous system and spine, and chiropractic is concerned with the optimal function of the nervous system and spine, everyone has the opportunity to try it! It’s purported to correct musculoskeletal imbalances and improve joint mobility to allow athletes to run with proper biomechanics and to prevent and treat overuse injuries.
According to the research completed by the Australian Spinal Research Foundation and Dr Heidi Haavik DC from New Zealand Chiropractic College, those who were researched achieved a greater level of proprioception (sense of awareness of their body in space), greater muscle activation leading to greater strength, endurance, power and force. The researchers, after delivering a gentle chiropractic adjustment to the dysfunctional spinal segments, noticed an increase of their force produced by their lower limb muscles by 16 precent. Both the control and test group had to repeat the contractions over and over, and it was noticed that those in the control group became weaker as the testing went on. Those in the test group who had received specific chiropractic adjustments did not have fatiguing muscles, in fact, their muscles produced more strength while completing the repeated strong muscle contractions. (2)(3)
A separate group of New Zealand researchers researched the effects of strength training over a three-week period on strength and endurance. (2)(3)
At the end of both studies, researchers discovered that those who received one chiropractic adjustment achieved the same strength and endurance results as those who worked out in the gym for three weeks. These results indicate that a single session of chiropractic care is almost equivalent to working out in the gym for 3 weeks. (2) (3)
Chiropractor Lauren reports that many runners and athletes visit their chiropractor before a big event or race to ensure that their body is in alignment with the goal of aiding in injury prevention, increase in muscular strength, force and endurance. (2) (3) & (4)
WHAT TO EXPECT
Your chiropractor will watch you move, assess your posture, complete a screening neurological exam and assess the tone and balance of your body. If necessary, X-rays or further imagining may be required to gain a thorough understanding of the health of your spine.
After the assessment is completed, and you have an understanding of what is going on, you will lie on a chiropractic table and your chiropractor will add gentle impulses (called chiropractic adjustments) to the areas of the spine and/or body that are restricted in motion. The goal is to restore optimal motion in the joint and therefore impacting the brain and nervous system, allowing the body to restore function.
Sessions are often frequent in the beginning, depending on the patient’s stress levels (past and present). Many people chose to use chiropractic as a part of their lifestyle plan, much like running regularly or eating healthy food. We visit a dentist for regular check-ups to look after our teeth, so likewise chiropractors recommend regular spinal check-ups with the goal of achieving optimal long-term functioning. We only get one spine and nervous system; it is vital that we care for it!
QUALIFICATIONS AND PROVIDERS
In Australia and New Zealand, chiropractors have completed five years of university education at an accredited chiropractic university, and this usually includes a master’s degree in Clinical Chiropractic. Chiropractic is regulated under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Find a chiropractor near you at chiroalliance.org or www.chiropractors.asn.au
HOW IT STARTED
Joint manipulation goes back to 2700 B.C., but it got a big bump later in ancient Greece when Hippocrates, often called the father of medicine, altered vertebral alignment. More than a thousand years later, in 1897, D.D. Palmer opened the first chiropractic college in America.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Prices for an initial consultation on average are between A$65 to A$120 a session. Regular visits with a chiropractor range from A$40 to A$70 and vary with location and provider. (5) Some health insurance companies cover a portion of chiropractic treatment, however a chiropractor does not base their care plan according to how much an insurance company will pay out.
You’ll likely hear some cracks – changing pressure in the joints releases gas bubbles that pop. This can be disconcerting for first-timers. But chiro regulars often report instant relief.
Usain Bolt, Michael Jordan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meb Keflezighi, Kara Goucher, Stephanie Bruce
*Chiropractic is not for everyone, and as registered healthcare providers, they are cautious not to make treatment claims that may be misleading to the public resulting in unnecessary or inappropriate treatment. If you believe that chiropractic could be of benefit to you in your case, a chiropractor will determine if care is necessary, beneficial and appropriate.
Resources and further reading:
1) ACC Association of Chiropractic Colleges
3) “Changes in H-reflex and V-waves following spinal manipulation”, Experimental Brain Research, vol. 233, 4, pp. 1165–73
4) Haavik H., The Reality Check, NZCC 2014; therealitycheck.com
6) Australian Spinal Research Foundation: https://spinalresearch.com.au/