Chiropractic Care for Sports-Related Injuries in Children

Now that school is back in session- sports have begun. In the last couple of weeks I have had several children ranging in age from 3-16 years old with some subjective complaint related to an injury sustained from such sports as tee ball, football, tumbling, gymnastics, basketball and hockey.


I recently read a very informative article by Claudia Arnig, D.C. called Sports-Related Injuries in Children: What Parents Need to Know. In this article Dr. Arnig gave some very interesting numbers that I believe all parents should know. It is estimated that 3.5 million children under the age of 14 receive some form of medical treatment for sports injuries each year. Also, the Institute for Preventative Sports Medicine estimates that each year close to 212 million school days are missed by students who have sustained a musculoskeletal injury vastly attributed to sports-related incidents.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 300, 000 children and adolescents suffer from sports-related concussions each year. Concussion symptoms range from memory loss, chronic headaches, difficulty with concentrations to depression. These symptoms can manifest for months, even years following a severe concussion. Some parents even reported abrupt personality changes following a serious sports-related head injury.

Repetitive stress injuries to children’s developing spine and extremities can also develop in children who play sports that require the child to move one arm or leg repetitively over long periods of time like baseball, golf, and tennis for example. If their sport leans toward asymmetrical movements, children should be taught how to properly warm up and cool down through symmetrical activities to balance the body and minimize repetitive strain injuries.

Childen should also be taught the concept of pain and its importance as a warning signal from the body that something is wrong and needs to be checked out. Taking pain medication or OTC pain relievers will simply mask the problem and act as a band aid instead of getting to the root cause of the problem.

Children benefit greatly from regular spinal and extremity check-ups with their chiropractor. Rather than waiting for an injury to occur, chiropractic care can help children practice practical prevention strategies and develop better overall stability.

ref: Dynamic Chiropractic, August 26, 2009

Sports Performance and Chiropractic

Peer Reviewed Journals:


The use and role of sport chiropractors in the national football league: a short report. Stump JL, Redwood D.   J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002 (Mar-Apr); 25 (3): E2

  • There is significant chiropractic participation in US professional football. Certified athletic trainers see a role for the sport chiropractor in the NFL, primarily as a spinal specialist treating low back and other musculoskeletal injuries. A substantial majority of NFL trainers have developed cooperative relationships with chiropractors, with 77% having referred a player to a chiropractor. Thirty-one percent of NFL teams have a chiropractor officially on staff, and an additional 12% of teams refer players to chiropractors but do not directly retain these chiropractors.

Chiropractic effects on athletic ability. Lauro A. Mouch B.   Chiropractic: The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation. 1991; 6: 84-87

  • Fifty athletes were tested. They were divided into two groups. One group received chiropractic adjustments, the other served as controls. Eleven tests were used to measure aspects of athletic ability including: agility, balance, kinesthetic perception, power, and reaction time. After 6 weeks, the control group exhibited minor improvement in eight of the 11 tests while the chiropractic group improved significantly in all 11 tests. In a hand reaction test measuring the speed of reaction with the hand in response to a visual stimulus, the control group exhibited less than a 1% response while the chiropractic group exhibited more than an 18% response after 6 weeks. After 12 weeks the chiropractic group exhibited more than 30% improvement.

Athletic performance and physiological measures in baseball players following upper cervical chiropractic care: a pilot study. Schwartzbauer J, Kolber J, Schwartzbauer, DC, Hart, JDC, Zhang J.   Paper Presented at the National Subluxation Conference, October 12-13, 1996 Phoenix, Arizona, Sponsored by Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic.   Published in the J of Vertebral Subluxation Research 1997; 1 (4): 7

  • Abstract: The athletic performance of university baseball player was assessed before, during and after chiropractic care. Each athlete’s performance was evaluated by athletic abilities, such as the vertical jump, standing road jump. Linear space (specified), broad jump (specified), muscles strength; and physiological tests such as electrical cardiogram, blood pressure, pulse rate and treadmill stress testing. 28 players were recruited for the study. Twenty players completed the entire experiment with usable data. All players were randomly divided into control and experimental groups. Every player was required to complete three sessions of athletic ability and physiological tests. The first test was administered before any chiropractic care was given. The second test was given after six weeks of chiropractic care. The third test was given after fourteen weeks of chiropractic care. Only the subjects in the experimental group received chiropractic adjustments to remove/reduce vertebral subluxation. The results showed a positive correlation between chiropractic adjustments and athletic performance.

  • Note: In addition to the above improvements, the chiropractic group showed significant improvement in capillary count at five and fourteen weeks of chiropractic care. Since healthy oxygenation of tissues is dependent up blood supply, this physiologic parameter may be the most important one of all.

Additional publications:

Jocks and Chiropractic Care From: The Latest Stuff from Gerry by Gerald Clum, DC President of Life Chiropractic College-West. November 1998 issue (on-line):

  • There have been a number of recent high profile articles and references to world class athletes receiving chiropractic care.  On October 16, USA Today carried an extensive article about Emmitt Smith with the headline “Cowboys’ Smith still runs ahead of time” with a tag line “Body maintenance key to longevity for backfield star.” The article notes “Smith will head to his chiropractor.” Smith himself commented, “I started doing this on a regular basis about four or five years ago. I believe what I am doing is helping me go on. I think Warren Moon does the same thing. So I’ve become a big, big believer in servicing my body and making sure it is lined up properly and functioning the way it should be on Sundays.”

  • The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article a few days later under the headline “Considering the Alternative,” which was a discussion of the use of alternative health care by professional athletes. “More and more professional athletes are embracing alternative health practices, forcing teams to acknowledge the effectiveness of everything from shark cartilage to chiropractic care.” “Though more teams are acknowledging the effectiveness of acupuncture and chiropractic care, even these practices are considered too unusual for by some teams. The Chicago Bulls, for example, do not have a chiropractor on staff, so Scottie Pippen has to hire one on his own. In the NBA finals in June, Pippen received chiropractic care at least once during a game-only because he brought the chiropractor to the game.” “Chiropractors are flown in at the player’s expense,” said Dr. Malcolm Conway, a chiropractor in Pennsylvania who works with wide receivers Rocket Ismail and Qadry Ismail and other professional athletes. “Athletes like Pippen are willing to pay for chiropractic care because they need to recover quickly from injuries and they believe chiropractic treatment has a good rate of success.” I agree!

References from Koren Publications’ brochure: Sports and Chiropractic

  • Green, J. Fort Lauderdale Sun-Tattler, July 7, 1988. Sec. D. P.1

  • Athens, N. Chiropractic Achievers, Nov/Dec 1989, p.38.

  • Haldeman, S. “Spinal Manipulative Therapy in Sports Medicine.” Clinics in Sports Medicine 5(1986): p. 277.

  • U.S. News and World Report, 31 July, 1989, p.56.

Reprinted from