Professional athletes have long relied on the specialized skills of chiropractic sports physicians to support them in optimal injury recovery, pain management, and athletic performance.
Like other health and wellness professionals who specialize in nutrition or massage therapy for athletes, sports chiropractors can offer nuanced and powerful insights and treatments from their field that can offer athletes a competitive edge.
But you don’t have to be a professional athlete to benefit from the expertise of a sports chiropractor. Increasingly, people with active lifestyles are turning to these experts as a source of guidance and treatment to help them stay active, pain-free, and fit throughout their lives.
What special skills and training does a sports chiropractor have?
A certified chiropractic sports physician - sports chiropractor for short - specializes in using chiropractic treatment methodologies to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal conditions and injuries common to athletes, or injuries that impact athletic performance.
Sports chiropractors can also support uninjured athletes in achieving peak performance by diagnosing asymmetries and imbalances in movement and uncovering weaknesses that could be improved with training. They can also consult with athletes prior to intensifying or significantly altering a training program to ensure proper physical preparation that can help prevent injuries.1
The American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians governs the specialized certification process for sports chiropractors. If you see the letters “CCSP” or “DACBSP” following your chiropractic physician’s name, this indicates that they completed specialized training to earn the title of Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) or Diplomate American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (DACBSP).2
Sports chiropractors’ advanced training gives them the following additional insights to assist athletes:
• An understanding of the effects of different forms of exercise on the body
• Familiarity with training protocols, along with associated risks and common challenges
• Chiropractic treatment for musculoskeletal injury care related to sports participation
• Injury prevention treatments and strategies for athletes3
• Understanding and treatment for conditions not caused by sports participation that can negatively impact sports performance
• Strategies for maximizing athletic performance
• Education for athletes on self-care
• An understanding and acceptance of athletes’ special priorities, values and needs
Evaluation techniques may include functional movement assessment to identify any asymmetries caused by pain and compensation, specific weaknesses and misalignments.
What is sports chiropractic treatment like?
Visiting a sports chiropractor is a unique and holistic experience. The treatment techniques employed during your visit may include:
• Manual adjustments to the spine and joints to improve range of motion, restore mobility, and reduce pain
• Therapeutic exercises to correct asymmetries in strength that cause dysfunctional movement patterns
• Active Release Technique,67 a manual therapy rooted in massage, in which the therapist uses their hands to remove adhesions and scar tissue and restore function to muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves
Treatments by a sports chiropractor are often targeted to enable athletes to continue training or reduce downtime during injury recovery.
It is common for a chiropractic sports physician to take a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. They will often possess other sports-related training and certifications, including physical therapy, the soft tissue treatment techniques mentioned above (Graston and ART, which many chiropractors are certified in but which are not restricted only to chiropractic physicians), as well as myofascial release massage. They may also be certified as a Corrective Exercise Specialist or Certified Group Fitness Instructor.
The Bottom Line
In short, chiropractic sports physicians generally bring a wide as well as deep range of skills and knowledge to their specialized treatment of athlete patients, to provide the most powerful care for their health and well-being.
Whether you want treatment for tennis elbow, runner’s knee, or sciatica that interferes with your gym routine, posture and sleep quality, a chiropractic sports physician can be a great asset to help you perform at your peak. Chiropractic sports medicine is a great place to start for effective, minimally invasive treatment options without the risks and downtime of surgery and medication.
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1“What is a Sports Chiropractor?”
2American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians:
3“Sports Chiropractic: The Athlete’s Secret Weapon”:
4“Benefits of Graston Technique Therapy”:
5“Utilize the Treatment Option the Pros Use”:
6“Active Release Techniques for Pain Relief”:
7“Active Release Technique”: