Sports Optimization at Collin Chiropractic addresses two facets of performance that are closely connected- bio mechanical efficiency and injury prevention. In fact, they are so closely related they are virtually the same thing!
Today's athletes demand more from their bodies than ever before, especially with our youth athletes. Children are starting sports specific training at younger and younger ages, with longer and longer seasons.
With the explosion of popularity of club ball many youth athletes can participate in their selected sports almost year round. While this is important for their growth and development in their path to becoming elite athletes it also sets them up for potential injuries at progressively younger ages as well.
I have treated athletes for sports optimization from youth sports to professional athletes for many years and it still surprises me how early children can get "adult injuries."
Many parents fall into the "they are just kids, they will be fine" trap, and I can't advise against that strongly enough. This is because THERE IS A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "FINE" AND LOSS OF ATHLETIC POTENTIAL when it comes to injuries.
Yes, your youth athlete will probably be fine in the sense that their bodies will recover and adapt from most injuries and they will be able to live a normal life. The problem is how the body responds to the injury can lead to potential-draining compensations.
As the old saying goes, "it was the straw that broke the camel's back". This happens in the "regular world" as well. How often do you hear that "Bob just bent down to pick up a pencil and his back went out!"
Picking up the pencil didn't cause his lumbar disc to rupture, it was that awkward time he attached the boat trailer 20 years ago that finally caught up to him.
Athletes just magnify this problem with the intense demands they put upon their bodies. I'll give you an example. If you hurt something one sided somewhere in your leg, lower back, or pelvis, all your body has to do is slightly rotate and tilt the pelvis and it can transfer a large percentage of the load-bearing to the other side. You likely won't even realize it's happening.
I personally experienced this process in my upper body in my early weightlifting days. I suffered a substantial pectoral tear on my right arm my senior year of high school during a bench press. I began rehabbing it on my own and about six weeks later tore the other arm.
I wasn't recovered, I just got better at compensating with my other pectoral until IT gave out.
I learned my first lesson about bio mechanical compensation that day. Two years later I learned another valuable lesson about bypassing body parts, which is similar to compensation, but I'll address this later.
What's more is compensation doesn't just end with the opposing body part, it can affect virtually any other part of your body, especially with athletes. The example I use with many of my patients is pulling on a thread on a wall tapestry. It can disrupt and twist the whole thing.
Our bodies have symmetrical muscular support and attachments in most locations. Thus, any disruption can throw off the whole system. This is the basis to how I restore and preserve athletic potential.
To understand, let's look at what the skeleton does (because there are more bones than just your spine). Your skeleton serves multiple purposes, but for our means, we'll look at two: to support your weight and to provide attachments for your muscles.
I often compare the relationship of muscle dysfunction and skeletal misalignment with another old saying of "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"
Skeletal misalignment will cause certain muscles to bunch into spasm, and others to be stretched taunt. It can cause ligaments and tendons to now rub on structures that shouldn't be located there. Conversely, muscles in spasm or tension can cause skeletal misalignment.
That is why it is often necessary to address both components regarding sports optimization. "I just need a massage" or "should I just take a muscle relaxant" is rarely the answer, and just being manipulated will not yield the speed of results that most athletes require.
Continuing with the imbalance theme, not only does one side of your body balance the other, but skeletal/muscle systems also buffer each other top to bottom.
This can be as if not more severe a drag on athletic performance than side to side disturbances. Rotated hips will cause a counter rotation somewhere else, and if you're really unlucky this compensation game can happen multiple times, with each one creating a new loss of efficiency and injury risk.
Whiplash, car accidents, or a bevy of other causes can disrupt proper curvatures from the front to back giving you the final 3rd plane of disruption possibility.
Combine all this with something as basic as throwing a ball. Force begins by pushing off the ground with your foot. This force has to go through your ankle, knee, hip, pelvis, lumbars, thoracics, out your shoulder blade and collarbone, through your shoulder socket, elbow, wrist, and off your fingers.
How your head is turned to look at your target will also affect the surrounding structures and musculature. Any imbalance or misalignment in any of those joints in any of those planes combined with any of the associated muscles can and will reduce the efficiency and result of the throw, causing reduced velocity, and more wear and tear on each affected muscle and structure.
Sometimes I think it's a miracle we can even walk, not to mention throw a baseball!
This is why at Collin Chiropractic I look at the body as a whole, and do the particular techniques that I do as seen in the video. I am looking for any misalignment that can disrupt the transfer of force. Come try it today, and feel the difference with chiropractic and sports optimization!
I want to wrap up this sports optimization section with some words of warning that I previously mentioned: bypassing body parts and injury chains. What I'm referring to as bypassing is to artificially support a body part by taping, bracing, etc.
Bottom line is, your body needs to defuse and/or transfer force, and it needs to be able to compensate for balance changes. Your foot arch and ankles absorb force from the foot strike and account for all kinds of body balance and terrain changes.
Rigid foot supports and certain types of ankle taping and bracing will limit that unit's ability to function, "passing the buck" to the knee and hip systems. Further bracing there continues the cycle.
My personal example of this is leg presses. I found I could do more weight when I wrapped my knees and wore a belt. I firmly believe this led to my bilateral hernia surgery. Something had to give.
Injury chains refer to injuries of one body part setting up another in the same direct chain. Again, I can provide a personal example. I played volleyball on a questionable ankle and tore my hamstring on the same leg. We see this all the time in explosive movement sports like football.
My intended takeaway from this warning is only knowledge and awareness. There are situations that will warrant having to take these chances, especially as you rise up the ranks of sports, and you'll likely survive under the care of a skilled healthcare practitioner such as athletic trainers, especially if they are working with you to strengthen and maintain these areas outside of critical performance periods.
I also want to emphasize to concerned parents that this sports optimization section of my website should not dissuade you from having your children participate in sports, the benefit often far outweighs the risks. It is designed to inform that there are ways to protect your child from injury, minimize it's affect if one happens, and speed up their return to the sport.
Play on my friends!!
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