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Chiropractic Care May Reduce Gym & Fitness-Related Injuries

22nd May 2014

Chiropractic Care May Reduce Gym and Fitness-Related Injuries, Say NZ Researchers

The inability of some people to properly activate and control their core muscles when engaging in exercise, predisposes them to lower back injury, and may be reversible with regular chiropractic care according to researchers at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic.

According to Dr Heidi Haavik, Director of Research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic: `We know that delayed trunk muscle reflex responses increase the risk of low back injuries. Research suggests that this is partly due to a failure of the brain to predict what is going to happen during some movements, affecting what is known as feed-forward activation times of the deep abdominal musculature. There is now accumulating evidence that chiropractic care may play a part in improving the ability of the brain to engage the core muscles appropriately and stabilise the spine.’

Dr Hayden Thomas, chiropractor and spokesperson for the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association explains: `It was exactly a hundred years ago that chiropractic arrived in New Zealand and although hundreds of thousands of patients have benefited since then, like many other successful modalities, it has taken time for science to catch up and demonstrate how it actually works. It now appears thatan inability of the brain to activate the core muscles in time may be the cause of many gym and fitness-related injuries. It may be due to poor nervous system co-ordiation which you can’t feel until it is too late.’

According to Dr Haavik: `Chiropractic care improves the communication between the brain and body and results in better control of the core muscles during body movements, so that your spine is at less risk of injury. We are also starting to see research developing which suggests that a single session of chiropractic care may improved muscle activation and increase muscle contractions equivalent to findings following three weeks of strength training. This line of research also suggests chiropractic care may possibly reduce muscle fatigue developing during strong contractions.’

The growing interest in the neuroscientific applications of chiropractic will be highlighted at this year’s NZCA Annual Meeting in Hamilton on 24th May, where the keynote speaker will be Dr John Donofrio, president of the American Chiropractic Association Council of Neurology. Dr Donofrio will discuss how researchers have objectively demonstrated that chiropractic care can change aspects of nervous system function including the way the brain controls muscles, responds to sensory stimuli and controls limb function.

New Zealand research has already indicated that chiropractic care may have a role to play in assisting those who display poor proprioceptive function; the ability of the brain to sense the relative position of the body parts in space, and the ability to move accurately and precisely without having to look at what you are doing. Without accurate proprioception you would not be able to drive a car safely as you would need to constantly look at what your arms and legs were doing.

As Dr Haavik explains: ‘When proprioceptive function is impaired, for instance not knowing precisely where your arm is when your eyes are closed, you are more likely to be clumsy and accident prone. We know that chiropractic care assists brain function in many ways, one of which is proprioceptive function and this improves the accuracy of the internal brain map so your brain accurately knows what is going on all the times.’

‘We are developing a dysfunctional sensorimotor integration scale, or I suppose you could call it a ‘clumsiness scale’. With this, the higher your reading on the scale, the more likely you may need to be seen by a chiropractor.’

In a review published in the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology in 2012 Dr Haavik and Professor Bernadette Murphy from Canada provided an overview of the growing body of research on the effects of spinal manipulation or adjustments on sensory processing, motor output, functional performance and sensorimotor integration. The review looked at studies using somatosensory evoked potentials, transcranial magnetic brain stimulation, and electromyographic techniques to demonstrate neurophysiological changes following chiropractic interventions.

For further information on the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association visit


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