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Sports and Fitness

Who participates in sports and fitness activities?

First the good news! The expanding interest in health and wellness is reflected in the growth of participation in sports and fitness activities. The increases are not only in organized sports. People are committing considerable time and money to individual programs of exercise. Some simply want to get in better shape or stay that way. Others hope to cope with physical deficits caused by illness or aging. All want to have a good time while improving their health rather than letting it deteriorate.

Everywhere, men, women, children and seniors (even people with relatively serious physical disabilities) are involved in fitness programs. They are working out, swimming, jogging, running (or just walking regularly) bicycling, playing racquetball, roller blading, using exercise equipment, training with weights, rock climbing, dancing, doing aerobics and yoga and Tai Chi Chuan, and engaging in one or more of innumerable other activities for fitness and fun.

Adults and children are engaging in all sorts of individual and team sports. Youth soccer attracts more participants every year. Interscholastic, intramural and league baseball, softball, football, volleyball, wrestling and bowling are just some of the competitive and recreational sports people pursue. Golf and tennis remain enormously popular and represent two ends of the wide spectrum of exercise options available–from sports requiring relatively little physical effort to those that are extremely demanding.

Of course, professional and serious amateur sports involve large numbers of talented athletes. To ensure that they can play at their peak without hurting themselves and to assist them if they do experience injuries, they rely on highly skilled trainers and health care professionals, whose numbers include specially educated and certificated chiropractors. Many pros, top amateurs and famous champions in professional, intercollegiate and Olympic sports loyally turn to their chiropractors for assessment, adjustment, guidance and treatment to get a performance edge by enhancing their strength, flexibility and endurance.

What are some of the typical health concerns of people who engage in sports and are interested in maintaining fitness?

Now the not-so-good news. There are problems and risks associated with engaging in sports and physical fitness activities.

Backs, necks, shoulders, knees, ankles, wrists, fingers and toes–in fact, most bones, joints and connective tissues–are subject to misuse and injury when people play hard. Seniors, individuals long out of shape or with disabilities, children who haven't yet learned how to protect themselves during physical exertion, and adolescents whose bodies are changing rapidly are among those at even greater risk than men and women in fairly good shape.

Among the causes of sports-related injuries are:

• Overreaching, overdoing it, pushing too hard to achieve health or performance goals;

• Failing to use good judgment to avoid injuries;

• Not knowing your limitations, or knowing them but driving yourself beyond them in the heat of competition and the desire to perform more and better;

• Trying to recapture a lost (or even an imaginary) past of youth and vigor when you excelled almost effortlessly at physical contests and pastimes you now may find so difficult and demanding that they are, realistically, nearly impossible for you;

• Playing all out with insufficient warm-ups, nutrition, training, and guidance;

• Not receiving the most appropriate and conservative treatment possible for injuries that do occur;

• Failing to recuperate fully after injuries or overexertion because you can't wait to "get back into the game."

What can chiropractic do?

Chiropractic is ideally suited to helping you deal with the many pains and strains that can result from playing sports and pursuing physical fitness programs. Chiropractors have expertise in dealing with spine-nerve problems, with range-of-motion and biomechanical issues often central to what makes people prone to sports-related injuries.

Among health care professionals, chiropractors are some of the most actively involved in sports-related conditioning, injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

A chiropractor can examine you before you begin or change a program of physical activities. This is especially important before you engage in competitive sports or try something like a marathon, which might put significant strain on your body, and particularly on the back and joints.

A doctor of chiropractor can help you assess your athletic and exercise/fitness goals and analyze your motivation to prevent injuries caused by going beyond sensible activity limits given your age, health profile, preexisting conditions, and any other factors. And he or she can offer training and nutrition suggestions, do periodic reevaluations to monitor your progress toward your fitness or competition goals, and work to prevent and treat injuries and rehabilitate you if you are injured.

Chiropractic creates an atmosphere of mutual trust in which patients can be confident that their feelings and needs are appreciated and will be dealt with appropriately. This makes chiropractic especially effective in dealing with issues and problems associated with sports and fitness. Patients need to keep their health care providers informed of what they are doing and how they feel. Chiropractors listen and they keep their patients aware of how best to prepare themselves for exercise or competition and are there to help if overexertion or accident causes an injury.

Many professional and high-level amateur athletes depend on chiropractic to protect them from costly and career-threatening injuries. They want any injuries they sustain to be managed in the most conservative way to lessen their "down time" from the athletic activities that are so important in their lives. Chiropractors are devoted to such conservative care, meaning they provide appropriate and effective injury management that may make surgery and the use of dangerous or debilitating medications unnecessary, except as a last resort.

Look for chiropractors with special training and certification in diagnosing, evaluating and managing sports injuries and in providing preventive health care for men, women, young people and seniors engaged in athletics and physical fitness activities.

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More Articles on Sports and Fitness


• White J. Alternative sports medicine. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, June 1998; vol. 26, no. 6 (On Internet at http://www.physsportsmed.com/issues/1998/06jun/white.htm).
• Haldeman S. Spinal manipulative theory and sports medicine. Clinical Sports Medicine, 1986; vol. 5, no. 2.
• Schafer RC. Chiropractic management of sports and recreational injuries, 2nd ed., Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1986.
• Hyde TE, Gengenbach MS, eds. Conservative management of sports injuries, Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1986.
• Irvin RS. Sports medicine prevention: Evaluation, management and rehabilitation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1983.
• Nook BC, Nook DD. Demographics of athletes and support personnel who used chiropractic physicians at the 6th all African games. Journal of Sports Chiropractic & Rehabilitation, Dec. 1997; vol. 11, no. 4, pp136-39.
• American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic Association and the Canadian Dietetic Association: Nutrition for physical fitness and athletic performance for adults, Journal of American Dietetic Association, 1993; vol. 93, pp691-96.


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