Let the Games Continue!

[originally published in KCN, October 2000]

Cathy Freeman

The flame may be out in Sydney, but our society’s fire for sports will never be doused.  There’s nothing like the Olympics, however, to bring out our patriotic competitiveness.  It’s great to watch our dedicated athletes who have invested their lives in perfecting their sport obtain Olympic status.  It’s inspiring to see them push the human-envelope of performance and break records.  It gives us a sense of pride.  And because they reside in the same country as us, there is a certain part of us that shares in their glory.  This feeling goes deeper for us chiropractors, however, because we know that numerous Olympic athletes owe much of their successes, and sometimes continued ability to compete, to chiropractic care.


Remember the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, when we saw diving competitor Greg Louganis strike his head on the diving platform?  With a chiropractic adjustment delivered behind the scenes immediately after the incident by Jan Corwin, D.C., he was able to return to the board to win the United States another gold medal.

Or how about when star basketball forward Charles Barkley, of our 1992 Olympic “Dream Team”, was brought to the medical crew during the Barcelona Games unable to turn his head? While the traditional model would have put an orthopedist in charge, the 9 medical doctors and 25 athletic trainers comprising the U.S. Olympic Committee medical team “analyzed the situation, put all egos aside and decided that in this case, the chiropractor should provide the primary care with other specialties providing support.”

Charles Barkley

A crowd of fellow Olympic athletes watched Philip Santiago, D.C., lone chiropractor of the U.S. Olympic Committee medical team, deliver a successful chiropractic adjustment to our “Dream Team” forward.  Trainers then completed the job with soft tissue work while the MD’s prescribed anti-inflammatories.  An excellent example of how “flexibility and camaraderie can result in ultimate dynamic care.”  Dr. Santiago remarked, “I had the unusual feeling that, for a moment, doctoring had become a spectator sport and we had won a team victory.” The next day, Dr. Santiago gave Mr. Barkley a pregame adjustment and sent him on his way to another basketball triumph.

And it’s not just Olympians that are taking advantage of what chiropractic has to offer, but  professional, collegiate, youth, and even the esteemed “weekend warrior” athletes are finding that  no other form of health care lends itself to sports quite the way chiropractic does.  With its emphasis on optimum nervous system function and joint mechanics, these athletes are drawn to chiropractic’s hands-on, non-pharmacological approach.  Not only are they able to call on chiropractic to effectively treat injuries, as in the above examples, but, more importantly, to help prevent them in the first place.  Savvy athletic teams are beginning to realize this, and thus we’re seeing more team chiropractors than ever before.  With numerous D.C.’s having obtained advanced postgraduate training in sports injuries and extremity adjusting, the chiropractic profession stands ready to accept this new wave of demand.

And perhaps a coveted pearl among athletes, is that chiropractic has been shown to improve one’s athletic performance — as much as 16.7% according to one study in the Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation.  This is particularly noteworthy as athletes continue to make the push to be drug-free.  Symbolically this was seen during the opening ceremony  in Sydney, in which Olympic history was made with the addition of a sentence to the Olympic Oath denouncing the use of drugs for performance enhancement.  Chiropractic can give athletes the “enhancement” they’re looking for — naturally — by simply unleashing the potential that is already within them.

St. Louis Rams v Detroit Lions

Athletes are finding that when their spines are adjusted their bodies work better — and they see the results — which is crucial when your livelihood depends upon it.  Ralph  Filson, D.C., chiropractor for the St. Louis Rams and Cardinals told Dynamic Chiropractic recently in an interview that professional athletes are more in “tune” with their bodies than his average patients.  “They know their living is made by their bodies, and that everything has to function 100%.  They spare no moment in getting treatment….they know they’re at risk with their careers if they don’t keep their bodies perfectly in sync or aligned.”

“Next to talent, “ remarked Alan Palmer, D.C. in an article on the subject a few years ago, “keeping the body in balance is the edge athletes need to take them to the next level.” To borrow from one of our profession’s publications on sports chiropractic, “Chiropractic’s popularity among competitive athletes is probably attributable to the tangible and immediate differences one can feel following an adjustment.  In few other situations are subtle articular and muscular functional differences so overtly magnified as they are when they knock a few milliseconds off someone’s time or represent the ‘edge’ that enhances the accuracy of a pitch, a free throw, or a few millimeters of altitude in a high-jump.”

Mark McGwire

The year that Mark McGwire slammed 70 homers, many of his  teammates told his chiropractor, Dr. Filson, “Do you realize how important you were to him this year?”  And 1996 swimming gold medalist Sheila Taormina dropped this note off on chiropractor Steven Horwitz’ adjusting table towards the end of the Games in Atlanta:  “Dr. Steve — Thank you so much for helping me get ready for my race.  You are the reason why I’m going home with a gold medal and American record.  I seriously don’t think I could have performed to my best without your help.”

So just which one of your athletic heroes has come forward as an advocate of chiropractic?  Well the list is long and is increasing in number everyday.  But chances are that whatever sport you enjoy watching, or attempting, on your day off, you’ll find someone you admire that is being treated by a chiropractor.  So here’s my attempt to “scratch the surface”:

Ruth In Action

Aerobics: Mindy Mylrea (World Champion), Bernard Horn (Men’s Champion).  Archery: Larry and Todd Wise (World Champions), Mike Kerr (Champion).  Auto Racing: Bill “Doc:” Ingram (Champion).  Baseball: Jose Canseco (Boston Red Soxes), Wade Boggs (Tampa Bay Devil Rays), Barry Bonds (San Francisco Giants), Greg Mathews (Philadelphia Phillies), Ryne Sandberg (Chicago Cubs), Mark McGwire (St. Louis Cardinals), John Smoltz (Atlanta Braves), Chris Sabo (Cincinnati Reds), Robby Thompson (San Francisco Giants), Mark Portugal (San Francisco Giants), Scott Butler (Atlanta Braves), Brett Butler (San Francisco Giants), Jeff Reardon (Minnesota Twins), Wes Parker (Los Angeles Dodgers), Don Sutton (Los Angeles Dodgers), Steve Garvey (Los Angeles Dodgers), Roberto Clemente (Pittsburgh Pirates), Babe Ruth (New York Yankees), Rick Monday (Chicago Cubs), Jeff Reardon (New York Mets), St. Louis Cardinals Team, San Francisco Giants Team, Arizona Diamondbacks Team, Cincinnati Reds Team.  Basketball: Dan Schayes (Phoenix Suns), Gerald Wilkins (NY Knicks), Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls), Charles Barkley (Houston Rockets), Robert Parish (Boston Celtics), Jack Sikma (Milwaukee Bucks), Scottie Pippin (Chicago Bulls), John Stockton (Utah Jazz), Gerald Wilkins (Cleveland Cavaliers).  Biathalon: Kenny Sousa, Joel Thompson, Brent Steiner, Fred Klaven.  Bodybuilding: Arnold Schwarzenegger (Actor/Bodybuilder),

Arnold Schwarzenegger Flexing MusclesFrank Columbo (Actor of “Conan the Barbarian” movies/ Champion Bodybuilder/ and chiropractor), Lee Haney (Mr. Olympia 84-91), Clifta Coulter (Miss USA), John Defendis (Mr. USA), Grace Lewis (World Champion Powerlifter), Kevin Levrone (Reigning National Champion), Rick Valente (Host of ESPN’s “Body Shaping”).  Boxing: Evander Holyfield (Heavyweight Champion of the World), Rocky Marciano (Heavyweight Champion 1956), Evander Holyfield V Ray MercerJack Dempsy, Tony Lopez, Tim Witherspoon, Michael Carbajol, Muhammad Ali.  Cycling: Adam Payne (Champion).  Dancing: Shirley MacLaine, Liza Minnelli, Marcello Angelini, Daniella Buson.  Football: Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers), Irving Fryar (Miami Dolphins), Emmett Smith (Dallas Cowboys), Crawford Kerr (Dallas Cowboys), Atlanta Falcons Team, San Francisco 49ers Team, Detroit Lions Team, Denver Broncos Team, Dallas Cowboys Team, Tennessee Titans Team, St. Louis Rams Team, Ed “Too Tall” Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Charles Haley (Dallas Cowboys), Roger Craig (San Francisco 49ers), Bob Joe MontanaHayes (Dallas Cowboys), Sean Landeta (NY Giants), Paul Fraze (NY Jets), Ricky Bell, Dammone Johnson, Alex Karras (Detroit Lions), Mark May (Washington Redskins), Gary Clark (Miami Dolphins), Terry Kirby (Miami Dolphins), Keith Jackson (Green Bay Packers), Mike Renfro (Dallas Cowboys), Jerry Rice (San Francisco 49ers), Mike Ingram (Green Bay Packers), Mike Timson (Chicago Bears), Bill Fralic (Atlanta Falcons), Warren Moon (Houston Oilers), Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins), Brian Hansen (New York Jets), Terance Mathis (Atlanta Falcons), Gary Downs (Atlanta Falcons), Byron Hanspard (Atlanta Falcons), Ruffin Hamilton (Atlanta Falcons), Craig Sauer (Atlanta Falcons), Lester Archambeau (Atlanta Falcons), Ronnie Bradford (Atlanta Falcons), Tim Dwight (Atlanta Falcons), Bob Christian (Atlanta Falcons), Joe Profit (Atlanta Falcons), Lenny McGill (Carolina Panthers), Keith Crawford (Kansas City Chiefs), Corey Louchiey (free agent).
Bay Hill Invit X WoodsGolf: Fred Funk (PGA Tour Professional), Barbara Bunkowsky (LPGA Tour Professional), Tiger Woods (PGA Tour Professional), Chi Chi Rodriguez, Patti Rizzo, Sandra Palmer, Lynn Connelly, Beth Daniel, Jan Stephenson, Donna White, Kim Bauer, Patty Sheehan, Lynn Adams, Sally Little, Amy Alcott.  Gymnastics: Mary Lou Retton, Olga Korbut. Hockey: Detroit Red Wings Team, Wayne Gretzky (Los Angeles Kings),
SHARKS V KINGSBrett Hall (Dallas Stars).  Kick-Boxing: Jorge Angat, Jr. (US Lightweight Champion), Dennis Alexio (World Champion).  Horse Racing: Gary Stevens (Winning Jockey of Kentucky Derby), Olympic Events: Dan O’Brien (Decathlon), Joe Greene (Long Jump), Donovan Bailey (100 Meter), Alberto Juantorena (400 & 800 Meter), Bruce Jenner  (Decathlon), Mac Wilkins (Discus), Dwight Stones (Hi-Jump), Edwin Moses (Hurdles), Greg Louganis (Diving), Maria Maricich (Skiing), Suzy Chaffee (Skiing), Tim McCrossen (Bobsled), Cathy Turner (Speedskating), Mary Decker (Track), Willie Banks (Triple Jump), Joseph Arvay (Wrestling), Nancy Ditz (Marathon), Patrick Jeffrey (Diving), Craig Virgin (olympian), Karch Kiraly (Beach Volleyball), Kent Steffes (Beach Volleyball),
Olympics Day 14 - Modern Pentathlon

Sheila Taormina (Swimming), Marisa Pedulla (Judo), other events chiropractors treated athletes:  boxing, softball, women’s basketball, cycling, hockey, weight lifting, fencing, speed walking, kayaking, table tennis, sharp-shooting, soccer, water polo, synchronized swimming, rowing.   Rodeo: numerous cowboys across the country.  Running: Henry Rono, Franci Larrieu, Patti Van Wolvelaere.

RODEO: AUG 30, 2009: Extreme Bulls PRCA Pro Rodeo.

Soccer: Gregg Blasingame (Atlanta Attack Professional Soccer Team), Brian Haynes (Atlanta Attack Professional Soccer Team), US World Cup Soccer Team.  Surfing: Ritchie Rudolph (Professional), Mark Kechele (Professional), Jeff Booth (Professional).  Tennis: Jim Connors, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendi, Billy Jean King, Tracy Austin.  Triathalon: Mark Allen, Craig Reynolds, Larry Rhoads.  Volleyball: Sinjin Smith, Randy Stoklos, Kent Steffes, Tim Hovland, Craig Moothart, Mary Jo Peppler.  And, we’ve even had a fair number of chiropractors who have “moonlighted” as prominent sports celebrities either during or before they began practicing:  Dr. Franco Columbo (Bodybuilder), Dr. Jack Dolbin (Football – Denver Broncos), Dr. Chris Goetz (Baseball – New York Giants), Dr. Fred Cox (Football – Minnesota Vikings), Dr. Terry Schroeder (Olympian), Dr. Doug Price (Olympian), Dr. Dennis Koslowski (Olympian), Dr. Gary Sato (Olympian), and Dr. Terry Schroeder (Olympian).

Phew!  While not a complete list by any means, it certainly should give you an appreciation for the fact that athletes from virtually every sport are enjoying the benefits that chiropractic has to offer — treatment that gets results:  relief from injuries, prevention of injuries, and improved performance.  Now if I could just figure out why our Seahawks, Mariners, SuperSonics, and Thunderbirds aren’t on that list.


Addendum notes:

1) In June of 2004 I reran this article as the world embarked upon the Summer Olympic Games in Athens.  The following preface lead the article:  As we gear up for the Summer Olympic Games in Greece this year, I thought it appropriate that I break out this interesting article on sports and chiropractic.  Most people associate chiropractic with the treatment of pain — but some people, athletes in particular, know that chiropractic can enhance their ability to perform at their peak.  Chiropractic for many of these elite performers is their secret weapon.  The great thing is, it can be your’s too. — Dr. Lamar  (June 2004)
2) 2009 update:  As I stated in the article, our  list  of athletes who utilize chiropractic is far from complete and is increasing in number everyday.  I will attempt to add names in this addendum field as I find them.  Three notable athletic figures that come to mind that have found their way to the Sports Chiropractic List three-time Super Bowl winner Jerry Rice, multiple Gold Medal Swimming Olympian Michael Phelps, and Tour de France champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Rice catches passSwimming Day Six - 13th FINA World Championships

Tour de France 2009 Stage Fifteen


Sources used for this article:
Chiropractic in the Sports World. Dymamic Chiropractic.  (www.chiroweb.com/archives/10/22/17.html) downloaded 09/17/00.
Cowboys and Chiropractic. Dymamic Chiropractic.  (www.chiroweb.com/archives/13/08/06.html) downloaded 09/12/00.
Cowboys and Chiropractic —A Rodeo Duet. Dymamic Chiropractic.  (www.chiroweb.com/archives/14/10/35.html) downloaded 09/12/00.
Devitt.  Chiropractic Keeps Cardinals and Rams on Top.  Dynamic Chiropractic. 18(19) pp1, 14-16.  2000.
Feuling.  Chiropractic Works!  Wellness Solutions.  Carlsbad, CA  1999.
In the World Spotlight:  Chiropractic Rose Parade Float Boasts Celebrity Patients. Dymamic Chiropractic.  (www.chiroweb.com/archives/13/02/11.html) downloaded 09/17/00.
Koren.  Sports, Athletics, and Chiropractic. (brochure). Koren Publications.  Philadelphia  1990.
Lauro and Mouch.  Athletic Performance Improvement.  Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation. January 1991.
Listing of Celebrity Chiropractic Advocates.  David Singer Enterprises. 1995.
Mootz and McCarthy.  Sports Chiropractic.  Topics in Clinical Chiropractic Series.  Aspen Publishers, Inc. Gaithersburg, Maryland 1999.
Norris.  The Role of Chiropractic Doctors in Athletics.  Athletic Therapy Today.  Nov. pp19-21.  1996.
Olympic Athletes Give Thanks for Chiropractic. Dymamic Chiropractic.  (www.chiroweb.com/archives/14/21/32.html) downloaded 09/17/00.
Olympic Games Inspire Optimal Athletic Care. Dymamic Chiropractic.  (www.chiroweb.com/archives/10/25/22.html) downloaded 09/12/00.
Olympians Get Chiropractic Care:  DCs Work as Members of National Health Care Teams. Dymamic Chiropractic. (www.chiroweb.com/archives/14/19/23.html) downloaded 09/17/00.
Professional Athletics and Chiropractic:  a winning combination. Dymamic Chiropractic.  (www.chiroweb.com/archives/15_temp/12/02.html) downloaded 09/17/00.
Schwartzbauer et. al.  Athletic Performance and Physiological Measures in Baseball Players Following Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care:  A Pilot Study.  Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research.  1: 33-39.  1997.
Ziegler et al.  Is there a trend toward chiropractic in sports care.  Dynamic Chiropractic. (www.chiroweb.com/archives/09/13/11.html) downloaded 09/12/00.
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