Kids? Athletic Performance? Chiropractic?
Posted on February 20, 2017 in Dr. Rachel Family Chiropractic
The title of this week’s blog is inspired by parents whose kids are always on the move. I love anything physically exhilarating and challenging, and treasuring my childhood experience in dance, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, cheerleading, swimming, cross country, and track, my passion is to communicate to parents why chiropractic provides something so fundamental in athletic performance.
Disclaimer here: I am biased. I received chiropractic as a child. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For anyone, the goal of chiropractic is optimal connection of the brain with the body. That’s it. Many athletes view chiropractic from the lens of injury rehabilitation, or injury prevention. But the reality of chiropractic for optimal connection of the brain with the body in fact becomes a vehicle for optimal performance.
So, whether we’re talking about a city slicker looking to flip tires, a couch potato aspiring to accomplish his first 5k, a young athlete longing to leave her legacy with the team, little superstars scoring soccer goals, or parents seeking to keep up with their kids…optimal connection of the brain with the body becomes a vehicle for optimal performance.
Parents want their children to be as healthy and fit as possible. Along with character development and other benefits, this is the number one reason kids play sports. It’s also exactly why kids are in our office– because we, just like their parents want their children to be as healthy and fit as possible.
These kids don’t have back pain, nor is their reason for being here because of injury! So here’s the reality: Muscles move bones. But muscles aren’t too smart. At least, by themselves, they don’t make sense, and they don’t work. They need a nerve supply to direct their work. And without a healthy nerve supply, muscles will strengthen, but muscles will strengthen less than what they are capable of. Muscles will strengthen differently on each side of the body, and result in imbalance in their child’s posture. Parents notice this- one shoulder is higher than the other, one hip is higher than the other, one pant leg is higher than the other, the sole of one shoe wears down more than the other.
Nerve supply imbalance–>> Muscle imbalance–>> Postural imbalance–>> Asymmetrical stress on joints and ligaments–>> Predisposition to future injury.
The bottom line: if our kids exercise a neurologically incompetent muscle (one that has less nerve supply), that compromised muscle gets stronger at a slower rate, increasing strength differently than its opposing or its counterpart muscle. No matter how much that muscle and its counterpart is stretched or strengthened the nerve supply imbalance remains the same. The inevitable is the muscle is stretched and strengthened more than its opposing or its counterpart. The muscle is predisposed to injury. The resulting posture imbalance in the frame of their body places uneven stress on ligaments and joints in their ankles, knees, hips, shoulders. This creates uneven wear and tear, and begins a process of dysfunction often not detected for years.
But beyond injury prevention, the best way to build a house is to start with a good foundation. The beauty is that when kids exercise they are doing just that. They are developing their brain. Every movement is a complex symphony in their brain, strengthening and solidifying neural circuits, and making the most of their neural plasticity. It’s no secret that active kids create active adults. And active kids make smarter kids. Kids have an incredible opportunity to build strong bodies and strong brains for their lifetime by movement through exercise.
Just like hammering a bent nail won’t straighten it out, continuing to exercise a body with nerve connection imbalance will yield less than optimal performance. With less than optimal nerve connection the hard work they do as athletes to become their best hinders their performance beyond what we can see. Coordinated athletes are neurologically connected athletes. Kicking a soccer ball involves nerve coordination to many muscles in the body– too many to even count! Every time your child practices this motion, she strengthens her brain, she hard-wires the pattern to do it. So the saying goes-perfect practice makes perfect. Having a perfectly coordinated baseline from her brain to her toes gives her the tools to make that perfect practice perfect.
Chiropractic for kids is no longer a luxury, just as feeding them healthy brain foods is no longer a luxury. It’s quite necessary, especially if they want to succeed as much as we want them to!