For many athletes, chiropractic care and massage form a key component of their training and care regimen.
So as sport season starts up again and you hit the soccer fields and netball courts, understanding the place these treatments have in your routine may give your performance a boost and help you avoid time spent in recovery.
Combining chiropractic and massage for sports injuries
Chiropractors are most well-known for working on spinal and musculoskeletal injuries, but research suggests that when it comes to treating sport injuries, chiropractic care can be part of the overall wellness plan of an athlete.1
Multiple analysis and reviews2 show that injury prevention programs, especially those that deal with strength, proprioception, and balance, like chiropractic treatment does, are beneficial for athletes.
Remedial massage on its own reduces pain and improves function3. Combined with chiropractic, especially under the care of a trained practitioner with comprehensive knowledge of how muscles and joints interact to perform specific movements, can provide even greater benefit.
Prevention of sports injuries
A couple of the things chiropractic care works on is improving range of motion in your joints and alignment of your musculoskeletal system. This focus on proper function of your muscles and joints plays a key role in injury prevention.
A chiropractic and massage therapy routine can help prevent sporting injuries in two key ways:
Improves muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. Although the type and level required for different sports varies, muscle flexibility is key to high performance in most types of sport.4 Combined chiropractic and massage helps you to build strength and stability at end ranges of motion. Not only does this help your sporting performance, but it also means you can move more safely and better avoid injury.
Prevents the build-up of musculoskeletal imbalances. These imbalances, including things like back or joint pain, can place undue strain on your muscles and compromise your sporting technique, both of which can ultimately lead to injury. Regular chiropractic to support a healthy spine and nervous system helps to address pain points before they cause significant damage.
Management of sports injuries
When it comes to managing sports injuries, regular chiropractic and massage appointments may promote faster healing by:
Improving local blood flow. During a massage, capillarisation, where blood vessels increase in size, allows better blood flow in your body. This increased flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients can increase tissue elasticity and reduce recovery time.5
Reducing the build-up of scar tissue. Scar tissue is a natural part of the healing process, produced by excess collagen which protects and strengthens the site of an injury. The downside is that this scar tissue is less flexible, so breaking it down through massage and manual therapies can help get you back to peak performance.5
Releasing pain-reducing hormones. Massage also seems to produce biochemical changes, which may affect mood and pain perception by increasing the release of serotonin and endorphins.3 This can help with recovering from the pain of injury and getting back to training.
Reducing swelling, allowing muscles to contract properly. Swelling occurs when excess fluids and metabolic wastes surround an injured area to prevent further damage, mainly by limiting movement. But this can also weaken muscles and cause pain, so reducing swelling faster through massage techniques like effleurage and deep strokes, can help get you back in shape.5
Are you looking to prevent or manage a sports injury? Book a session with one of our chiropractors or remedial massage therapists.
1 A Miners, Chiropractic treatment and the enhancement of sport performance: a narrative literature review, J Can Chiropr Assoc, 2010
2 S Stephenson, J Kocan, AV Vinod, M Kluczynski, L Bisson., A Comprehensive Summary of Systematic Reviews on Sports Injury Prevention Strategies, Orthop J Sports Med, 2021
3 D Bervoets, P Luijsterburg, J Alessie, M Buijs, A Verhagen., Massage therapy has short-term benefits for people with common musculoskeletal disorders compared to no treatment: a systematic review, Journal of Physiotherapy, 2015
4 A Hamilton., Flexibility and stretching: preventing sports injuries, Sports Performance Bulletin, 2022
5 When can massage help?, physio.co.uk, 2022