Chiropractic and Athletic Performance

Athletes young and old can improve their game by seeing a chiropractor. Eliminating interference with the nerve system allows the body to function better, increase coordination and improve overall performance.

It’s hard for me not to mention Tom Brady’s name when discussing this topic. Whether you are a Patriots fan or not, Tom Brady swears by his chiropractor to help him get ready for every game and look where he is today. For any athlete who is healthy and in great shape, what does a chiropractor do to help prepare them for peak performance?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Wow, that’s pretty good question, and I’m glad that Tom Brady is swearing by his chiropractor and not at him. It makes me feel happy. You know, for a long time there are many high-level athletes that seek chiropractic care just before they take the field. They’re all 100% aware of the benefits of chiropractic, essentially clearing out the nerve system of interference. Now, if you need to coordinate a lot of different movements like Tom Brady’s throwing the football, or throwing a hundred mile an hour fastball, doing gymnastics, dancing, ballet, all these beautiful coordinated efforts and movements that are choreographed and arranged by your nerve system properly and controlled by the brain, which is mission control central.

Well, how well information is sent from the brain, and how clean it goes and how much feedback comes back from the body to the brain is really what allows the body to repeat these concise, consistent movements, like we said, throwing, running, hitting a baseball, anything that requires a lot of hand eye coordination, they’re all regulated by the nerve system. And the better the communication, the faster the flow of that information from the brain down to the body and the information going back will enable you to perform at higher levels because you’re interpreting things faster and more cleanly.

So, I kind of compare like an athlete who is under chiropractic care and in top shape neurologically to kind of someone who’s running their computer on a DSL or a T-1 line, which is really super-fast. But if you remember anything about dial up internet for all the people who are on or about my age, it was much slower and the amount of information that was communicated was slower. Well, if you need to do things fast, slow information processing and delivery is going to be horrible for the body. By speeding all that up and making a clear, concise pathway, these people are going to perform at a much higher level because their reactions are going to be quicker. And that’s the key, and that’s really where chiropractic comes in. It’s not about eliminating their pain or anything, it’s just clearing the interference off the nerve system to allow the enhanced flow of nerve energy and communication from the brain to the body, which increases processing efficiency in the body, and then you can execute that movement better and more precisely.

And really when you think about it, and I’m sure everyone’s experienced something that you’re good at, like sometimes when I’m playing my guitar, I’m not thinking, Oh, I’ve got to go from C sharp minor back to A; everything just flows. And when you’re in that state of flow, most people know what I’m talking about, you can just keep going and do things, you’re not even thinking about it, your body’s just in that state. And chiropractic keeps the body free from nerve interference and allows people to stay in that state for as long as possible.

Can regular chiropractic care actually help athletes prevent injuries? If so, at what age would you recommend that parents take their young athletes to see a chiropractor?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, chiropractic is important in preventing injuries because when the spine is in line and mechanically moving more fluidly and more flexible, it’s less likely to get injured. Someone who’s more flexible is less likely to get injured. Something that’s rigid like glass, when it hits the ground, it shatters. Something that’s malleable and flexible, yeah, might get bent or bruised, but it’s not going to break. So, the more flexible and malleable the spine is, the better you’re going to see performance and less likely it’s going to break down, you know. It’s just like tuning up your bicycle and truing your wheels, or bringing your car in for a tune up and correcting the alignment of the front end so you don’t wear the tires out funny. So, if you’re asking me, what age should someone be seeing a chiropractor? As soon as children are starting to walk, they’re going to start to fall, that can cause misalignments, which can set the stage for problems later.

Chiropractic is not just for athletes. I recommend that all parents get their kids checked because you never know what’s going on with the health of the spine. You know, you need to have your children checked by a professional. We always tell people, don’t base health on symptoms. Right? You know, just because the kid’s not complaining his back hurts, doesn’t mean it’s perfectly in alignment, they need to be checked for scoliosis. The earlier your kids get checked, the better. Now they might not need to get adjusted too often, but they need to get checked to determine if there are misalignments in the spine. And like I said, kids will start to develop misalignments in the spine as early as the moments they’re able to first pick up their head and control it, but much more common when they’re learning to walk as they’ll fall 20, sometimes even 30 times a day.

As these kids get older, they roughhouse and play and engage in other sporting activities. The amounts of collisions, bumps and bruises, increase exponentially as we get older. That’s where we want to get the kids checked because as the twig is bent, so grows the tree. So, it’s a great way to prevent spinal problems from happening later in life, especially if your kids are going to be engaged in sports activity. But even more important, if you engage in contact sports like soccer, football, rugby and basketball, it is so important to make sure that the spine stays in line because again, flexibility, less tightness in the muscles, you’re less likely to get injured. When a muscle’s tight, it’s so much easier to pull it.

We all know athletes do sustain injuries. So, if an athlete is trying to avoid surgery in some cases, can chiropractic care help them heal without surgery? And if they have surgery, can chiropractic care help them rehabilitate faster?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, the one thing I always maintain and talk about in chiropractic is that, chiropractic is really focused on the body’s ability to heal itself. And the body heals by replacing damaged cells with healthy new ones and that is all controlled by the nerve system. So, if your nerve system is functioning optimally, your body should be able to heal and heal itself, so you should be able to avoid surgery. Look, when someone breaks a finger, when you go to see a medical doctor, they want to make sure that it’s straight and if it’s straight they put a brace on it or they tape it to the one next to it, and then you go home and your body just knits those bones back together. Your body is self-healing, self-regulating and self-developing. All those things are controlled by the nerve system. I’ve said it many times before that the body’s ability to heal is directly related to how healthy and how well functioning the nerve system is because your nerve system also controls the immune system and the immune system is what does the healing.

So, making sure that all the proper cells are in the area and sent over there, that do the tissue repair, making sure you’ll have all the proper building blocks to repair and heal the body is really important. The example I’ve used a couple of times, maybe even with you is like, an example like Christopher Reeve, someone who had a massive amount of damage to his nerve system is essentially unable to heal. His nerve system really couldn’t tell his body how to recognize and repair itself. So, if the body’s breaking down faster than the body’s healing, it’ll create a deficit of health. And typically, anyone under chiropractic care should have enhanced nerve system function, maximizing the body’s ability to heal and rehabilitate.

Whether it’s an athletic injury or a car accident, the principles in chiropractic are always the same. So most professional athletes will have the best physical trainers, the best physical therapists and the best doctors to help them on their way, and there’s no reason that they shouldn’t have an excellent chiropractor, and there’s no reason that regular people like me and you shouldn’t enjoy the benefits of chiropractic as well. If the body heals better, yeah, you’re less likely to need surgery. So that’s what we really hope and we always stress, try the conservative management first, physical therapy, chiropractic, whatever it is, drugs and surgery will always be there as the second option.

Some athletes cannot take prescription drugs for pain and inflammation. So how can chiropractors help these athletes manage pain and discomfort naturally?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: You know, there’s tons of research out there supporting the fact that chiropractic is a great way to help people with back pain and neck pain and other painful conditions. It’s certainly beneficial for people who can’t take pain medications or other medications for any reasons, and you know, chiropractic is safe; it’s not addictive and it’s truly an effective way to help people without using drugs and surgery. People who have addiction issues will come to chiropractors. Athletes who get drug tested who can’t take certain medications also will come to chiropractors. It’s great that people understand that chiropractic is natural and important to know that there are people out there who need alternatives to traditional medical treatment. And you know what I always say is, taking drugs for pain and inflammation only cover up the symptoms, they don’t fix the symptoms. None of those drugs fix the problem. It just deadens the nerves and might decrease the amount of inflammation so you’ll have less pain but really, it’s not fixing the problem.

Chiropractic gets to the cause by getting pressure off the nerves and allowing the body to heal more naturally in getting pressure off the nerves. And the best part again, there’s no side effects and chiropractic is extremely safe. I pay in malpractice probably 20 times less than a medical doctor because what we do is extremely safe, non-addictive and there are no side effects to it. So, like I always say, chiropractic first, drugs and surgery second. And if you’re already in a position where you can’t take prescription drugs, then it’s even more important that you have an excellent chiropractor.

Athletes strive to run faster, jump higher, and perform better. In your experience, what are some proven benefits that athletes have seen from receiving chiropractic care?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Wow, you know, I have some guys who come in after we adjust them and they tell me they can see better, and I hear everything from, I feel better, I can jump higher, I can run faster, I can reverse dunk now and I’m only five foot one… Nah, I’m just kidding on the last one. But the reality is that, chiropractic just enhances nerve system function. And if you can remember that your nerve system is the master system and it controls and coordinates everything else, when you have bones out of place or there’s subluxation in the body, it creates incoordination in the body. There’s a lack of ease, a lack of communication and the information that’s flowing from the brain to the body can be distorted. Without that coordination, if you stumble or you’re a half step too slow or slower reflexes when it comes to the high pace things that occur in a baseball game, or a football game, or a hockey game, you’re not going to be at the top of your game because your nerve system is not working right. Just like when someone’s drunk, it impairs the ability of the nerve system to function properly, they’re not going to hit a baseball so well, they’re not going to be able to drive a car so well.

So, it’s just by eliminating interference and anything that slows down the nerve system will enhance function, increase coordination, and increase overall performance. It’s just that simple. The better aligned the body, the more efficient it is, the higher performance you’re going to get out of it with less degeneration and less injury. We always tell people, if you want to perform at your best, make sure your spine is in line. And it’s just one piece of a puzzle. Please, I don’t want people getting the idea that all we need to do is walk into a chiropractor, get their spine adjusted, and they’re going to be able to hit a 90 mile an hour curve ball.

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