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 Chiropractic's Role in Sports

As more athletes discover the benefits of chiropractic care not only for injuries but additionally for increased performance, more athletes and teams are using chiropractic to gain an important edge.  A recent study published in the March/April 2002 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, (JMPT) examined the usage of chiropractic care by National Football League teams throughout the US.  

The Journal article reported on the results of a survey of NFL trainers on their usage and referral to chiropractic care. Participants of the survey were head athletic trainers of the 36 National Football League teams. They were all men, and all had at least 17 years of experience and had served with their present team in their current position for a minimum of 1 year .

The results of the survey showed that 45% percent of the trainers themselves have been treated by a chiropractor.  Presently 31% of NFL teams use chiropractors in an official capacity as part of their staffs. However, even though not necessarily on the staff of the NFL team a full 77% of the trainers have referred to a chiropractor for evaluation or treatment.  Probably the most telling result of the survey is that 100% of trainers agree that some players use chiropractic care without referral from team medical staff.  

Several other questions were also asked in the survey and the answers were as follows:

  • Should trainers refer players with suspected spinal subluxations to chiropractors? - Five percent of trainers strongly agree, 48% agree, 24% disagree, and 19% have no opinion.
  • Is there a role for the doctor of chiropractic in the NFL? - Eighty-one percent agree that there is a role for the chiropractor in the NFL, 5% strongly agree, 14% have no opinion, and none disagree.
  • Is the role of the sport chiropractor different from that of the team physician? - All (100%) of the trainers see these roles as different from each other.

In addition to NFL players, many athletes from many sports depend on chiropractic care.  One such athlete is John Stockton, a professional basketball player and future hall of famer with the Utah Jazz.  In an April 2, 2002 article that appeared in the Toronto Star, writer Doug Smith asks and answers the question concerning John Stockton's longevity, "What is the secret to John Stockton's continued success on the NBA basketball court at age 40? A Good Chiropractor."  When asked to explain his usage of chiropractic John's response was, "I'm not a good enough expert on what that (chiropractic) entails, but it's not just adjustments, it's balancing muscles and overall health." John then added, "it's been great for me, and for my family."  The article reports that along with chiropractic, Stockton says that a love for the game and fun with his family are two other secrets to his continued success.