How Chiropractic Care Can Help Runners
Olympians Molly Huddle, Will Claye, and Colleen Quigley rely on chiropractic care to stay in top shape for running competitions. Visiting a chiropractor could be just as beneficial for you. Whether you're a casual runner, a marathoner, or an Olympic hopeful, chiropractic care eases pain, soothes aching muscles, and helps you avoid injuries.
6 Ways Chiropractic Care Helps You Stay Fit and Healthy
Although running is an excellent form of aerobic exercise, there's no denying it can be hard on your body. Running exerts considerable pressure on your muscles, joints, and tissues, increasing your risk of strains, sprains, fractures, tendonitis, and other injuries.
Unsurprisingly, running injuries often affect the lower part of the body, from the hip to the feet. The location of these injuries varies depending on the sex of runners, according to a systematic review published in Physical Activity and Health. The review notes that women are more likely to develop injuries in the calf or lower leg, while injuries in men most often occur in the hip/pelvis/upper leg region.
Even minor injuries can disrupt your training schedule and affect conditioning, stamina, and endurance. Luckily, chiropractic care can help you recover from injuries and reduce your risk for future injuries.
Visiting the chiropractor offers these benefits for runners:
- More Fluid Stride. Stiff joints affect your gait and may make running more difficult. Stiffness and mobility issues can be related to subluxations, misalignments of the vertebrae in your spine. These misalignments are painful in themselves but cause other problems too. Subluxations also affect the muscles and tissues attached to the spine, causing some muscles to become too tight, while others slacken. When muscles are imbalanced, you're more likely to experience injuries while running. Spinal manipulation, a simple treatment that realigns the vertebrae with quick thrusts, restores normal spinal alignment, and eases pressure on muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- Less Pain and Inflammation. Chiropractic treatments flood your body with endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. Endorphins soothe achy muscles and improve your mood. In fact, they're responsible for the runner's high. Spinal manipulation, massage, ultrasound therapy, and other chiropractic treatments ease pain and reduce inflammation. You'll probably notice an improvement in pain after your first chiropractic visit, although it may take a few treatments to see a significant improvement, particularly if you've been in pain for a while.
- Fewer Shin Splints. Shin splints may be considered a minor injury, but they make running difficult or impossible. Subluxations can be a contributing factor in shin splints, as misalignments in your spine affect the balance of your entire body. A spinal misalignment can strain the muscles, tendons, and tissues in your shins, increasing your risk for shin splints. Spinal manipulation therapy eases pain and inflammation and realigns your spine, reducing stress and strain on your shins. Massage, soft tissue, mobilization, ultrasound therapy, dry needling, and shoe inserts can also be helpful if shin splints are a problem for you.
- Relief from Muscle Spasms. Do you have muscle spasms while you're running or resting? Your chiropractor can determine why you're getting spasms and offer helpful treatments, like hot and cold therapy, massage, spinal manipulation, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to deal with these issues. TENS treatment involves using a gentle electrical current to decrease tightness and ease pain.
- Quicker Recovery from Injuries. Chiropractic treatment improves blood flow to injured areas, which speeds healing time when you have a running injury. Manipulation and soft tissue treatments break up scar tissue, preventing joint restrictions and boosting flexibility, range of motion, and mobility.
- Prevention of Injuries. You're less likely to stumble and fall or strain a muscle, tendon, or ligament if your body is properly balanced. Spinal manipulation, massage, and other therapies keep your joints properly aligned and your tissues loose and flexible. Chiropractic treatments not only help you avoid injury but may also enhance your performance. Decreased speed or endurance due to gait problems is less likely to happen when you have full range of motion in your joints.
Don't let running injuries sideline you! Add regular visits to the chiropractor to your training schedule. Contact our office to schedule a pre- or post-run visit.
New York Times: When All Else Fails, It's Time to See the Olympic Body Mechanic, 8/3/2021
Physical Activity and Health: The Prevalence of Lower Extremity Injuries in Running and Associated Risk Factors: A Systematic Review, 7/9/2021
WebMD: Chiropractic Care for Joint Problems: What to Know, 10/1/20
National University of Health Sciences: 6 Reasons Why Athletes Love Chiropractic Medicine, 9/10/2019
Runner’s World: Should You See a Chiropractor?, 9/2/2016