It takes an athlete to know an athlete’s body, training, injuries, recovery and rehabilitation. Dr. Sabrina has always been active in sports, including competitive running, badminton, tennis, dragon boating and ballroom dancing. She cycles regularly, and participates in a variety of other sports on a recreational basis. She utilizes a variety of techniques to help athletes, including Atlas Orthogonal, SOT, Palmer Package, Myofascial Release and Physical Therapy stretches and exercises. Over the years, Dr. Sabrina has volunteered her services, treating athletes at many sporting events, including the World Police and Fire Games, Ontario Summer Games, Toronto International Dragon Boat Festival, and Breast Cancer 2-Day Walk.
A note to athletes involved in high-impact or contact sports
If you have had hard or repeated impacts to the head, or concussions, it is highly recommended that you have your atlas bone checked for subluxations. A subluxated atlas can significantly impact your body awareness (and coordination), performance, and ability to focus. While chiropractic is often beneficial throughout training and competition, the ideal time to begin chiropractic care (especially for the atlas) is during the off-season. This is to allow the body time to recover and stabilize before heavy training begins again.
Maximizing Performance with Chiropractic
Let’s face it, athletics and sports are more fun when you’re good at them. Similarly, competitive sports are even more satisfying when you or your team can outperform your competitors. With this train of thought, athletes, young athletes’ parents, and coaches are always looking for an edge. While the general public may hear that top athletes see a chiropractor, most people don’t know why. I’m here to tell you that most people (top athletes included) don’t know how to get the maximum benefits from chiropractic care to get to the next level and beyond.
- From Pain Relief to Performance
When athletes think chiropractic, many only consider it for pain relief. Most people, however, don’t even know how valuable chiropractic is for musculoskeletal pains, like neck or back pain. In fact, many independent government studies conclude that chiropractic is the most effective, cost-effective, and safest option for dealing with musculoskeletal pain. They even recommend more people see chiropractors for their pains first, so as to avoid opioid addiction. So, the question for amateur athletes and their parents becomes, “How much pain do I need to be in, in order to require chiropractic care?” That’s like saying, “How broken do I need to be, before getting fixed.” If you want to be your best, you want every part of you working the best it can. Chiropractic care is about assessing and correcting even minor injuries that can alter your biomechanics and affect how your body works. The effects of each issue may seem insignificant on their own, but cumulatively, it can be the difference between producing an average performance and being extraordinary. How often should you see your chiropractor? Some pro-football players get adjusted almost daily. Pro-golfers may get adjusted several times a day during a major tournament. For “regular” athletes, once per week is a good minimum, and extra if you’re nursing injuries, in heavy training or during competitions.
- From Mobility to Flexibility and Reach
From a purely musculoskeletal perspective, chiropractic is about looking for joint fixations (joints that don’t move properly) and applying a force (usually with their hands) to re-align that joint. Most commonly, we are talking about the spine, but especially in sports, we assess and address all joints in the body. Joints can be misaligned in the areas of pain and elsewhere. Areas of pain are not the only possible locations of joint misalignment. An injury in one area can lead to overdependence on another area. Even in the absence of pain, one can have many microtraumas, fixated joints, and unbalanced biomechanics causing awkward body motion. When you release joint fixations chiropractically, then those joints will naturally become more mobile. Doing so in all areas of fixation (not just the area of acute pain) will have a cumulative effect of increasing your flexibility and reach. If releasing one spinal fixation allows for 1cm more of movement, then taking care of the whole spine and extremities might increase your reach 50cm or more! Won’t that make a huge difference each time you lunge for a tennis ball or jump to intercept a pass?
- From Strength to Power
If strength is the amount of force you can generate, then power is the amount of strength you can muster upon command. The real magic of chiropractic care is in improving the nerve signals to your muscles so when you tell a muscle to contract, a greater percentage of the muscle fibres engage. And it’s not just the muscles you think you need to move. Before moving the big muscles like biceps and quadriceps, you need to activate the core muscles first. The core stabilizer muscles are the tiny muscles attached to spine. Chiropractic adjustments directly stimulate and activate them to keep stability and allow for a firm foundation, from which other muscles extend. With the spine in proper alignment, the brain and nerves can coordinate the core muscles, main muscles, and accessory muscles to work properly together. With many more parts cooperating you can access a great deal more power on each movement and be able to sustain that power more easily over a longer period of time.
- From Agility to Finesse
Agility is the ability to coordinate your body movements, especially upon short notice for changing conditions. People mistakenly believe that repeating motion patterns will create “muscle memory” and that is the source of agility. That statement is incorrect. Muscles have no memory. They contract or relax only when nerves instruct them to do so. It is the nerves that hold the memory of motion patterns and keep track of the muscles to turn on and off, and how strong, to produce the desired result. When the nerves are better at coordinating the many individual motions, we see smoother overall actions. Finesse and grace are when the actions are so well-controlled that there are no awkward lag-times or jerkiness in the motions. The point of finesse and grace, even in sports that aren’t judged for their artistry, is to reduce injuries and reduce wasted energy on extraneous movement. Chiropractic adjustments greatly increase the proprioceptive information (joint position in space, movements) to the brain, so the brain has a much more expansive and detailed sense of awareness. With increased awareness, the brain can quickly predict trajectories, plan proper motions, alter these plans if necessary, and execute the motions with finer control. Add mindfulness training and even basketball can be played like a chess game, thinking 2 steps ahead. When your brain thinks more clearly, you feel you have more time and your body just knows what to do. The sport seems to come to you, “naturally”. Not all of us are born that way, but with chiropractic, proper coaching, and lots of training, athletes can develop skills and talent that can surpass those whose ability come “naturally”.
- From Recovery to Resilience
Many life-long athletes were taught, “no pain, no gain!” and to “hit the wall” to reach new heights in performance. Athletes are routinely urged to “push through the pain” and brag about it. Over time, athletes can become out of touch with their bodies and can no longer recognize whether they are in pain or not. With high intensity sports, basically all athletes are injuring themselves on a regular basis, whether or not they realize it. As injuries accumulate, recovery takes increasing amounts of time and effort. If you want to recover faster and more fully, consider getting regular chiropractic adjustments throughout training and competition. When you take care of small injuries and stresses along the way, you can recover faster, improve performance and prevent reversible damage. Resilience is when you can more easily “take in stride” unexpected situations and challenges and “bounce back” easier. Chiropractic’s real benefit is in increasing your brain’s awareness and control over your body. The result is that you can to think faster and clearer, act effectively and efficiently, avoid or minimize injury, and heal faster. One could say chiropractic is a long-term approach to becoming more invincible.
Isn’t that what we’re really wanting performance-wise… to be more like Superman? While we won’t be able to fly or have x-ray vision, through training and with chiropractic care, you can unleash powers that can amaze yourself and others. Athletes are already accomplishing feats now that were unthinkable 30 years ago. Let’s find out how amazing you can be! By this, we’re not only talking about athletics. Imagine the implications of a brain with better awareness of self and the environment and better access to higher executive functions… You could be extraordinary in many other ways as well! Please visit http://www.familywellnesschiro.ca/ and fill out a Baseline Health Questionnaire to receive a free consultation to determine what we can do to help you be your best!
*As with all techniques and therapies, a thorough consultation and examination is necessary to determine if a person is a candidate for that type of care, and results will vary from person to person.