This is Dr. Bob Salamon! Welcome to the Lowcountry Chiropractic blog! We hope you’re doing well and staying cool! As we approach midsummer and begin preparing for fall, the imminent arrival of fall sports might be weighing on your mind, especially if your child participates in an organized sport. Along with the routine of daily practice and the thrill of Friday night games, there’s also the added worry of potential injuries. Today, we’ll discuss the importance of chiropractic care for young athletes, as well as how regular adjustments can prevent injuries and improve performance.
In the United States, more than forty-five million children participate in organized sports. Seventy-five percent of families have at least one child in organized sports. And, between the ages of five and twenty-four, there are two-point-six million emergency room visits every year due to sports-related injuries. That’s a lot of ER visits!
At the professional—or even collegiate—level, athletes are afforded medical expertise by some of the most renowned specialists and physical therapists available. They have free reign of top-notch facilities and expensive treatment options. When they’re injured, they’re put on a special time-bound rehabilitation routine. Most young athletes who participate in school or club sports only have access to their coaches. If they’re in an especially well-equipped program then they might have access to a sports’ medicine resident or doctor. These individuals are on hand in case of an injury, not to prevent injuries. Often, the best they’re able to offer is an ice pack and a few tablets of over-the-counter pain medication.
With chiropractic care, the goal is to prevent injury, as much as possible. Our main proposition is that with regular care and proper technique, an athlete’s body should be able to manage the stress of physical activity without injury. Our secondary proposition is that with regular care and proper technique, an athlete’s body should be able to repair an injury which has occured due to strenuous activity.
The Impact of Sports on the Body
Young adults and children are, in more ways than one, particularly vulnerable to injury. Due to increased growth velocity and the closure of growth plates during adolescence, young athletes are susceptible to traumatic and overuse injuries. Traumatic injuries are sudden physical injuries which require immediate attention. These include blunt force trauma, bone fractures, concussions and spinal cord injuries. Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive trauma to a muscle or joint. These include conditions such as tendonitis, shin splints and stress fractures. Overuse injuries are caused by training errors—such as taking on too much physically strenuous activity at once or training without proper form. Overuse injuries are common in young adult sports because they are often unregulated in terms of practice hours, practice frequency, repetitions of exercises and rest times.
As a result of adolescents’ quick expansion of both muscles and bones, tension develops across the growth plates, the apophyses (sites where tendons or ligaments attach to the bone) and the joints. This increase in tensile force makes these points vulnerable to injury. As well, during adolescence, athletes can display notable decreases in flexibility, coordination and balance. As you can imagine, these deficiencies translate into more frequent injuries.
In the event of an injury, child athletes can sometimes be pushed back into competing before they’re fully healed. Children do heal faster than adults—except in regards to concussions—but coaches and guardians must take into account their immature skeletons. Premature returns to competing can result in chronic pain, lessened performance and repeat injuries.
How Chiropractic Care Prevents Injury
As previously stated, prevention is always preferable to treatment. Chiropractors have the knowledge and expertise to adjust joint segments to enhance mechanical motion. An increased range of motion, for anyone, will lessen the likelihood of a potential injury. This means adolescents can kick, run, jump and flip—as their coaches expect—without constantly fearing a pulled muscle or herniated disk. As well, soft tissue techniques can improve blood flow and muscle tone. Both of these combined could lead to an increased ability to perform and compete.
If a young athlete is out-of-alignment, they may experience headaches, disrupted sleeping patterns, fatigue and general soreness. These uncomfortable conditions don’t have to be a side effect of organized sports. With regular adjustments, many of these secondary ailments can be reduced or alleviated entirely.
How Chiropractic Care Rehabilitates
In the unfortunate event an injury does occur, chiropractic care can be essential in the rehabilitation process. When an injury happens, scar tissue forms around the site, restricting motion, reducing blood supply and trapping nerves. Soft tissue techniques can bring blood flow back to the site and reduce adhesions around injuries. This, in turn, speeds up the process of recovery and allows the body to heal faster.
Chiropractic care is a non-invasive form of treatment for musculoskeletal issues and its benefits are innumerable. In addition to increasing range of motion, chiropractic care can reduce pain, lessening the need for over-the-counter or prescription pain medications. Post-practice soreness might not be able to be avoided, but pain which persists for longer than three days may be the beginning of an overuse injury. A short break from training is recommended, as well as a check-up with your favorite chiropractor.
While there is a risk of children being injured during practice or play, the benefits of participating in organized sports often far outweighs the negatives. Organized sports help break up the cycle of inactivity which has become more prevalent in children these days. Consistent activity has both physical and physiological benefits; improves caloric expenditure and social development. Youth participation in sports also decreases the likelihood of their participation in high-risk health-related behaviors (such as smoking, using illegal drugs). Young girls who take part in organized sports have a decreased chance of developing breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease and obesity. Sports also have a positive impact on their self-confidence and body image.
If your child is going to participate in sports, make sure they have what they need to be successful and safe. The right chiropractor will be knowledgeable about which injuries your child might be susceptible to developing and recommend treatment based on your child’s needs. Before and after injuries, chiropractic care is the best option for an adolescent participating in organized sports.
If your child is experiencing discomfort or having trouble recovering fully from an old injury, chiropractic care may be the solution. We are here to help! Reach out to set up your first appointment. We look forward to assisting in your or your child’s recovery process. We’ve got your back covered! Thanks for reading! Take care
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