Chiropractic in the sporting arena, written by Meriel Davis, chiropractor, specialising in sports therapy.
This is the most perfect time to talk about chiropractic in the sporting arena as the London Olympics is wrapping up. You may not know, but behind the scenes in the Olympic villages, chiropractors are busy little bees he;ping out athletes and staff alike. Chiropractic is regularly used for sports injuries but also for injury prevention. Read below to find out about my time working on the athletes both past and present.
In July I was treating the athletes at the Masters National Outdoor Championships up in Derby. Essentially, this was a warm up for me before going to Germany for a couple of weeks, to work at the European Masters Athletics Championships (to which I had been invited). As a sporty person myself (lots of tennis and kite surfing) I have a special interest in sporting injuries. I know first hand how it feels when an injury of any sort stops you from doing what you want to do, especially in the sporting context – freedom of movement is a basic human necessity.
So on 15th August I packed my portable bench, kit bag and the rest of my luggage on and headed off to Zittau, East Germany, via Munich and Dresden.
The first day included meeting the team I would be working alongside, as well as the medical teams for all the other countries, and accrediting myself with the stadium officials. We had been previously sent out uniforms but needed our passes to allow entry and exit to the stadium complex.
Each country in the medical tent had brought flags with them so the athletes knew which area to go to for treatment. Me and the rest of the British team put a couple of big Union Jack flags up. We had the Germans to our right, the Italians and Dutch in front, and the Norwegians to our left – languages and nationalities flying about everywhere. There was a great sense of camaraderie amongst everyone in the medical teams, with some light hearted banter (some lost in translation) with of course some german beer at the end of the day.
The athletes then started to come in thick and fast for both pre and post-event treatment. I have never seen so many achilles tendon problems in all my life. Lots of hamstrings, shoulders, feet and ankles but hardly a low back pain in sight. This is probably because they keep themselves so fit!
We were working every day from 9-7pm. I the evenings we would just chill out as there wasn’t much to do in the nearby area. Zittau is a beautiful town but there isn’t exactly a cafe/bar culture. I would therefore join another colleague and go for long runs in the evening and explore the beautiful countryside. The weather was extremely hot and hit 40 degrees on a couple of days, which isn’t too pleasant when you’re working with sweaty athletes under a big marquee. I have to admit, the food there was not great. The choice normally being sausage or schnitzel, and they don’t half drink a lot of beer!
We managed to get one day off so some of us went to Poland (which was great), but basically everyday was treating athletes. The main thing about treating sporting individuals track/pitch/court side is that they want instant results. The pressure was on but time after time people were getting better very quickly. The general pattern in standard practice is the healthier/fitter an individual is, the quicker they respond to chiropractic care and that was certainly true out here in Germany. It was a fantastic feeling when the athletes would come back and give a big thanks for helping them to win a medal or get a PB (personal best). Makes me love my job even more!
I can’t wait to do my next athletics event. Fingers crossed for the 2016 Olympics in Rio hey!!
Have you have had any dealings with chiropractic in the sports setting? Have you read up of any top class athletes using chiropractic to improve their performance and game?