For professional athletes and even school sports players, athletic injuries are just a part of the game. Sprains, strains, tears, and other injuries are common, and may sideline a player for a time. Other injuries can become chronic and threaten a career. Consider the following two examples of common sports injuries and the impact they can have. Then we will consider a natural way to get relief from these common sports injuries that may also be able to boost your game in general.
Sciatica – Radiating Nerve Pain
Sciatica is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. It stems from the lower part of the spine with four roots connecting it to the spinal cord. Then the nerve branches into two and continues down both legs. As a result, symptoms can be felt in the lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs. While pain is usually unilateral, it can still be debilitating for athlete.
A serious case of sciatica can lead to pain the radiates from the back all the way down to the feet. A pins and needles feeling, or numbness and tingling, can make it difficult to walk, let alone run and jump. What makes this type of pain so common for athletes?
There are several things that can affect the sciatic nerve. Perhaps a misalignment is putting pressure on the nerve. Or a disc may be bulging and compressing the nerve. The location of the nerve irritation dictates where the pain or numbness is felt as well as the severity of the condition.
How Upper Cervical Chiropractic Helps Sciatica Patients?
The neck probably isn’t the first place your mind goes when it comes to dealing with lower back and leg pain. However, even the slightest misalignment of the atlas (C1 vertebra) can lead to significant changes throughout the spine. The body is compensating to keep the head on straight. If the changes lead to compression of the sciatic nerve, the pain can be felt far away from the original problem.
As a result, it is important to have the upper cervical spine checked for misalignments any time sciatica occurs. Otherwise, correcting the lower back issue won’t fix the problem long-term. The body will just continue to compensate for the atlas misalignment, and the pain will eventually return. An upper cervical chiropractor can provide the examination you need to determine if an atlas misalignment exists and can also offer gentle adjustments to correct the problem.
Concussions – The Bane of Sports
Another serious injury that many athletes contend with is a concussion. One issue is that concussions are rarely cared for properly. Someone may have to sit the rest of the game out, but that’s basically the extent of care. Many don’t even take this necessary precaution because they don’t realize a concussion occurred. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be knocked unconscious to suffer a concussion. You have to look for symptoms such as:
- Neck pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensory sensitivities
- Delayed responses
- Slurred speech
A concussion can lead to long-term symptoms. When this is the case, a patient may be diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. Keep in mind that post-concussion symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of whiplash. This may be because both injuries can cause the same underlying problem. Once again, we’re talking about an atlas misalignment. How can that cause the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome?
For one thing, the atlas (as well as the rest of the neck) helps to facilitate blood flow to the brain. If this proper blood flow is not maintained, it can lead to headaches, vertigo, and numerous other symptoms. Cognitive function may struggle as well as speech and response time.
Another possible complication is inhibited brainstem function. This is because the atlas surrounds and protects the brainstem. So a misalignment can put pressure on this vital component of the central nervous system. All of the signals sent throughout the body pass through the spinal cord and through the brainstem to get to the brain. The brainstem must be functioning properly, or cognitive issues will occur.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic and Concussions
If you have suffered a concussion, you should get your upper cervical spine examined before returning to the playing field. This will help to determine if an atlas misalignment occurred. Correcting the misalignment early on may be able to help post-concussion syndrome patients and get you back to full speed. Rest is important, but it won’t get your atlas realigned on its own.
Improving Sports Performance with Upper Cervical Chiropractic
Case studies have revealed the benefits of upper cervical chiropractic care for athletes with an atlas misalignment. For example, one study showed that visual acuity improves with upper cervical relief. Just about any athlete will perform better if he or she can see better.
Another study focused on breathing benefits that come from upper cervical care. This makes sense because the brainstem controls unconscious activities such as breathing. Since breathing is a vital part of getting oxygen to your muscles, improving breathing will benefit an athlete’s endurance.
Finally, another study specifically researched how upper cervical chiropractic affected the play of baseball players. Significant improvements were noted in the players’ ability to jump as well as in overall muscle strength.
If you want to recover quickly from sports-related injuries and improve your ability on the field, upper cervical chiropractic may be a good, natural option for you. To learn more, contact a practitioner in your area today.