We all have our own fitness goals and routines. For some it’s strength training, and working toward continually breaking through personal records. For others, it’s running that marathon they’ve been putting off for years. And for others, still, it’s simply being able to play with their kids in the backyard without any pain or fear of injury. No matter your goal, your sport, your lifestyle, it’s all about movement.
So what allows us to move? Well, that boils down to our joints, muscles, fascia and central nervous system. And, depending on training or philosophy, there have been many differing opinions throughout history on which is ‘more important’ in terms of healthcare professionals. So when it comes down to understanding injuries, or determining injury prevention, it has been a case of the ‘chicken-or-the-egg’ debate—did the tight muscle cause the joint mis-alignment, or did the joint restriction cause the muscle imbalance. Lets put this into perspective, though— your nervous system tells your muscles to fire, which pull on your bones and surrounding fascia, which then hinge around your joints and allows your system to move. If all the systems are working so closely together, aren’t they all ‘most important’?
This is where Sports Chiropractic comes into play, and why it’s become such a popular treatment option among athletes and non-athletes alike. Sports Chiropractic provides specialized care that directly interfaces with all areas simultaneously. We are able to work directly with your central nervous system through chiropractic adjustments, balance and release soft tissue restrictions, mobilize fixated joints, and modify muscle firing patterns to optimize biomechanics and performance.
So why is the chiropractic adjustment so important? As we mentioned above,
movement occurs at the joints throughout your body. The joints of your spine, however, are extremely important because they house and protect your spinal cord while also providing a strong support system. This is also where the nerve supply exits from the spinal cord and runs to every other part of your body (muscles, organs, skin, etc). If any of these segments are restricted, or not moving properly, two things can and will occur:
Your brain recognizes the issue and goes into defense mode. It will tighten up the muscles surrounding that area to protect it from further injury or harm. Over time these muscles become imbalanced, fascial adhesions form, and other segments of your body start to take on excessive motion to compensate for the imbalances. Nerve interference occurs.
Picture a water hose that is on full blast. Water continues to flow at a steady pace and will continue to do so until the water is turned off. Now picture that same water hose, but you grab it by the middle and kink the hose. Water stops flowing as much, or stops completely. This same sort of interference occurs within your nervous system, leaving a muscle or organ with a ‘kinked’ nerve supply. The muscle won’t be able to work to its full potential- affecting strength, firing patterns, and biomechanics. The organ won’t be able to work to its full capacity either- causing decreased function within that system and overcompensation by other organ systems.
Until these joint restrictions (aka the cause of the issue— maybe the chicken, but still maybe the egg- regardless a big component of the issue) are addressed your brain and nervous system will not allow that area of the body to fully recover. The same issue occurs in a car or truck that has improper wheel alignment. The tires will wear in an abnormal fashion, and no matter how many tires you replace the same problem will occur until you realign the wheels. This is why you may hear of someone having regular massages that give them temporary relief, but the issue just keeps coming back after a week or two. There is an underlying issue that won’t allow long-term improvement. The key to proper recovery, injury prevention and sports performance is addressing the joints/nervous system first.
Notice how I said address the joints and nervous system first. Not only. Remember we talked about how everything works together (muscles, fascia, joints, etc). Aligning the wheels on your car won’t fix your worn down tires, and replacing your tires won’t fix an alignment issue, right? Well here is where we step away from the wheel alignment analogy a little bit. Addressing your joints and nervous will actually improve some of your muscle imbalances, adhesions, trigger points, etc by turning off the body’s natural defenses, balancing the system, and removing the interference causing the tension in the first place. But what about the remaining issues? Well that’s what makes sports-based chiropractic so great. We have the ability to address the joints, fascia, muscles, and nervous all in one visit. We can work to balance and remove the remaining soft tissue restrictions and imbalances in combination with joint manipulation.
All this work is for nothing if we do everything right in our activity of choice and then in our daily routines do everything wrong. You can load your spine 100% perfectly during a squat and hinge your hips just right during a dead-lift, but then spend 8 hours a day slouched in your chair at work staring at a computer.
That being said, we can’t and don’t try to be the end all be all. In my opinion, if you have a lot of muscle imbalances you should see a massage therapist and a Strength Coach. In fact, I recommend to all my athletic patients that they see a sports massage therapist that can give them targeted care to supplement the chiropractic adjustments. I also refer directly to Strength Coaches, physical therapists, and other holistic healthcare providers to provide patients with the best care possible.
Dr. Clint Sellers, DC, MS, FMT
Owner of Peak Chiropractic and Performance