In addition to spinal manipulation, chiropractors use a variety of physical therapy techniques to treat various musculoskeletal problems, including ones caused by the movements associated with sports-related activities. In many ways, the chiropractic approach to diagnosing and treating sprains, strains, joint pain, and spine-related problems linked to sports overlaps with standard PT and medical care. The main emphasis with treatments recommended is to restore function and comfort without the use of medications that fail to treat the source of the problem.
PT of this nature involves the targeted stimulation of tissues in the affected area. The goal is to reduce or eliminate inflammation around affected joints, increase circulation to promote healing, decrease pain, and naturally increase or restore range of motion. The most common sports injuries that may respond well to manual stimulation or massage therapy include:
- Ankle, knee, or wrist sprains
- Muscle strain affecting the lower back or joints
- Tendinitis and similar overuse soft tissue injuries
- Bursitis affecting shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, or heels
Hot and Cold Therapy
Cold applied with ice packs or cooling gel to irritated tissues shortly after a sports injury is sustained can reduce tissue swelling and minimize the risk of pain around joints. Heat applied with heat wraps, heating pads, or moist or dry heat packs dilates blood vessels to increase blood flow, which may relax sore muscles and restore flexibility. Some sports injuries respond better to a combination of hot and cold applications.
Joints, soft tissues, or parts of the spine affected by sports injuries need to be reconditioned as healing progresses. Specific exercises recommended are designed to allow tissues to heal while also being gently stimulated and manipulated. Depending on the nature of the injury, therapeutic exercise routines may involve:
- Exercises to promote lower back flexion
- Prone press-up exercises when discomfort is less noticeable during extension
- Stretching hamstrings and other tight or short postural muscles
- Exercises that restore function and range of motion
Chiropractic physical therapy in Brandon, FL, also includes preventative care. Both professional athletes and weekend warriors alike can benefit from tips on such things as how to maintain optimal spinal alignment while practicing proper form and technique. Advice on diet and exercise habits may also reduce the risk of future injuries, as can proper warm-ups and stretches.