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Chiropractic and The Olympic Games

Chiropractic care was offered as one of the core services for athletes for the first time ever at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. The service received very positive feedback from athletes and coaches, as well as others serving in the host services team, prompting Rio to follow a similar model. In 2012, a team of chiropractors were based at the Physical Therapies Department within the London Olympics Medical Centre as part of a multi-disciplinary team. Many countries also sent their own team chiropractors, with the US team alone sending over 100 chiropractors to treat their athletes. The inclusion of chiropractic services at the Olympics reflects the fact that chiropractic has become a key part of an athlete’s training and recovery programme. In the run up to the Games Usain Bolt received chiropractic treatment to recover from his back injury and Tour de France winner and multiple Olympic champion, Bradley Wiggins, has been having treatment since 2008. In fact, it is estimated that at least 90% of elite athletes use chiropractic on a regular basis to prevent injuries and to improve their performance.

Why Olympic Athletes Use Chiropractic

Do you ever wonder why so many Olympic athletes mention a chiropractor as part of their strategy for success? The reason might not be so obvious. Sure, chiropractors probably help many Olympic athletes with their back pain, neck pain, headaches and other issues that may occur secondary to their intense training. However, there is a much more important reason the top athletes in the world utilize chiropractic care. It optimizes function of the human body.

When you compete against the best in the world, every millisecond counts. For example, Michael Phelps beat Masato Sakai by .04 seconds to win the gold medal in the 200 meter butterfly event. That is roughly the time it takes to blink! When the difference between first and second place is so small, you need every advantage you can get. This is the reason so many Olympic athletes utilize chiropractic care.

How Chiropractic Works for Olympians

So, what are chiropractors doing to enhance human performance? The role of a chiropractor, particularly one who focuses on structural correction of the spine, is to conservatively stabilize the spine and direct it toward normal alignment. There is a range of normal and abnormal spinal alignment, just like there’s a range for normal and abnormal blood pressure. As your spine moves away from normal, it transmits neurological strain to your spinal cord and nerves. Why is this a problem?Your spinal cord and nerves are the electric wiring of your body. The proper operation of your body is no different than the proper operation of your house or car – it depends on electric signals. If there are obstructions in the electric system of your body, it will not perform at its peak. For example, imagine your brain is a satellite dish and the cells of your muscles and organs are television screens. When the weather is beautiful outside, the image comes in crisp and clear. Now, imagine an obstruction like a thunderstorm moves into the area. What happens to the image on the television? I imagine it gets a little fuzzy. That is essentially what happens when there is an obstruction in the electric system of your body.

Olympians Who Use Chiropractic

Usain Bolt – the World’s Fastest Man – regularly utilizes chiropractic care to recover from injury and improve his performance. In Rio, Bolt, the most decorated sprinter of all time, became the first track athlete in Olympic history to win three gold medals in one discipline, with his win in the 100m sprint. He followed that up by winning the unprecedented “Triple Triple” – winning the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay in three straight Olympics. He (possibly) finishes his career an 11-time World Champion and nine-time Olympic Gold Medalist.

Michael Phelps- already the most decorated Olympian of all time, added five Golds to his remarkable tally, finishing his storied career with an amazing 28 medals – 23 of them Gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the Olympics in Rio many watching were concerned about the red/purple circles all over Michael Phelps body. Quickly into the games, Phelps cleared up what all the circles were. He explained that they were the result of a treatment a chiropractor had performed on him called cupping. The practice of Chinese cupping has been around for more than 2,000 years. But Robinson and USA Swimming chiropractor Kevin Rindal said that the form of therapy used on Phelps is somewhat different. It's essentially the opposite of a massage, using the suction from perfectly circular cups to manipulate and help separate the various layers of fascia and muscle beneath the skin. The end result is decreased discomfort and an increase in range of motion.

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