Chiropractic Care and Athletic Performance

Here at Community Chiropractic of Acton, we frequently see people with injuries that include a loss of strength, reduction in range of motion, as well as tingling toes, fingers and limbs. Frequently, after a course of our chiropractic care, our patients report the following,

  • Feeling better, with a reduction in pain
  • Improvements in their quality of life, including a noticeable improvement in function
  • Significant increases in ranges of motion
  • Significant postural improvement
  • Significant improvements in tests that were previously abnormal

From these results, it is easy for us to draw a conclusion that chiropractic care can restore human movement and function. There is an abundance of research on the effects of chiropractic care that support our conclusions, as well.

For example, in 2006, an important study was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect(s) of chiropractic adjustments on the time of movement, using a mathematical model called ‘Fitt’s Law’.

Fitts’s law is a predictive model of human movement that is primarily used in ergonomics, and interactions between humans and computers. It is used to model the act of pointing, by either pointing to an object on a computer screen with a pointing device, (such as a mouse, stylus, etc), or by physically touching an object with a finger, or a hand. Using Fitts’s law, the time required to move to a target can be predicted using a function of the ratio between distance to target, and the width of the target.

The Study

Methodology

Using a randomized, prospective, and controlled trial, ten patients participated from a private chiropractic practice. The participants in the treatment group received high-velocity, low-amplitude chiropractic adjustments to areas of joints that were previously reported as dysfunctional. Participants in the non-interventional group were used as a control to monitor improvements that resulted from the effects of time and practice.

The length of time for the participants to move a cursor onto a target on a computer monitor was measured, and a range of target widths and distances provided a variable index of difficulty.

Results

The study found that all of the participants in the treatment group had significantly improved performance times following spinal adjustments, as compared with only 1 of the participants in the control group.

Additionally, the average improvement in performance time for the treatment group participants was 183 ms, a 9.2% improvement, compared to the average improvement in time for the control group was 29 ms, demonstrating only a 1.7% improvement. After the intervention, the improvement of performance for the treatment group was significantly greater when compared with the control group, as demonstrated by a 2-tailed independent samples t test (P < .05).

Conclusion

Clearly, the treatment group demonstrated a significant improvement in performance with the chiropractic care over the control group. The results of this study demonstrates that spinal adjustments may influence human performance.

What does this mean?

While we can’t unequivocally claim that chiropractic care can help athletes push their personal bests, or help academics achieve higher levels than they already have, but our observations here in our practice, as well as the body of research, would suggest that chiropractic care can have positive implications for human performance.

Additionally,

  • We know that the force of a human bite may increase after chiropractic adjustment.
  • We know that large muscle contractions also increase after chiropractic adjustment.

Both of these have potential to impact physical and athletic disciplines.

Slowly but surely, we are learning more and more about how the brain controls the muscles and the mechanisms behind why chiropractic care is effective. There is always more to learn, but we definitely observe that when our patients get adjusted, both the structure and the function of the brain are changing.

We have much more research to conduct, but we can now understand that if we are able to increase brain signals, we can assist the signals in reaching their destination more quickly, through the chiropractic adjustment. The adjustment also seeks to remove distortion, which can mean less fatigue and more strength.