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Elite athletes using chiropractic approach

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Elite athletes are increasingly using chiropractic care to enhance their performance levels and New Zealand research is leading the way in uncovering the mechanisms involved according to the New Zealand Chiropractors' Association [NZCA].

Dr Greg Oke, chiropractor and chairman NZCA Sports Council explains: `We have known for a long time that chiropractic is really good for drug free injury management and regaining peak function, with benefits for neuro-musculoskeletal problems not just spinal disorders.

'What a growing body of basic science research now suggests is that there are lasting neurophysiological effects when we adjust spinal dysfunction. This neural plasticity or the brain's ability to adapt is highly important for sports performance and injury prevention and we're very excited about the implications.�

'A recent New Zealand study demonstrated that when the neck is adjusted there is an improvement in elbow joint position sense in a group with sub-clinical neck pain. This means the subjects were more aware of exactly where their elbow joint was after they had their necks adjusted which suggests an improvement in proprioceptive function. This would obviously be good for sport performance as it improves body awareness and control.

'Another benefit being researched is that chiropractic adjustments may improve feed-forward activation of the core abdominal muscles. Being unable to feed-forward activate is now known to be predictive of developing low back pain. This has particular benefits as properly functioning core abdominal muscles are vital for sports performance.'

Greg Oke points out that High Performance Sport NZ, which was formed last year to promote and support elite athletes has included chiropractic in its multidisciplinary approach to athlete support. The NZCA has long championed an integrated approach noting that medical staff members and chiropractors working together not only eases their job but adds value for the athletes.

Greg Oke attended the last two Olympic Games and the last two Commonwealth Games and performed many treatments on our athletes at each event. He explains that chiropractic provides a valuable, conservative, non-drug approach that meets Olympic participation requirements and keeps athletes competing at their peak skill level.

`If you are performing at 98 per cent effectiveness we can help get that last bit of performance in a competition by making a high performance body perform higher. In the last week alone I have had three Iron Man competitors come through and these are guys and women who are at the top end and they are making sure that what is working well can work better. With winter approaching chiropractors will be seeing a number of rugby players looking to perform at their best.

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