Athletes turn to chiropractors to maintain health

Ben Golan relaxes as Doctor Matt Slater adjusts his neck.

Carly Prows | The Chronicle

Whether it is shooting a jump shot, blocking a lineman or throwing a pitch, Mason High School (MHS) athletes are turning to chiropractors to help them deal with intense pain. 

With sports in full swing, MHS athletes are intensifying their training and workouts in hopes of performing their best during the season. Rigorous training can be followed by sore muscles, pains and even injuries. As chiropractic therapy is not commonplace, athletes who choose to get adjusted do so because they believe it helps with the daily aches of being a high school athlete. 

Chiropractor Matt Kelly has been adjusting athletes for 16 years, working with all different kinds of physical limitations. Kelly said that he knows how to maintain an athlete’s joint health whether it be for something as simple as a finger or as complicated as the spine. Kelly said that athletes perform better when he removes the pressure from their joints.

“Ultimately, you want everything to function one-hundred percent,” Kelly said. “If you’re dysfunctional, and if things aren’t working the proper way, you’re going to be at a natural disadvantage.”

Though it is more accepted today, Kelly said that the field of chiropractics was not always seen as equal in comparison to other medical professions. In the 1970s, chiropractors were outlawed and even put in jail. Kelly said that the criticism his field takes is not always valid given the training they endure.

“There’s definitely sometimes a stigma with what we do,” Kelly said. “More than anything I think it’s just ignorance, like not knowing what education we’ve actually gone through.”

According to Kelly, the key to a quality adjustment is to be relaxed, however, some athletes are afraid of the intense popping noises when visiting the chiropractor. In order to safely and easily adjust the patient, there are methods Kelly uses to relax and distract them.

“I’ll tell them to wiggle their toes, clench their fists or take a deep breath,” Kelly said. “You only need a split second for [the muscle] to relax to get the adjustment done.”  

There are MHS athletes who view chiropractic care as a significant role in their athletic health. For sophomore track runner and hurdler Lily Eagleston, injury prevention and staying loose are vital factors in performing at her best. As a prospective college athlete, Lily trains her body at an elite level, so she makes it a priority to visit once a month while in season.

“With hurdles, it’s a lot in your hips,” Eagleston said. “[Hip alignment] does affect how fast you snap your leg down and how well you move over the hurdle.” 

As a monthly visitor, Eagleston said that chiropractic therapy is a form of treatment that athletes should consider. If athletes are not loose, they will not achieve full functionality when playing their respective sports

 “It’s going to prevent injury in the long run because everything is where it should be,” Eagleston said. “If everything’s out of place, it’s not going to function right.”

When athletes see a chiropractor, they are putting the health of their bodies into someone else’s hands, so it is important to feel cared for and valued. Eagleston also said that her chiropractor does more than the standard, quick adjustment. 

“That’s what I like about him,” Eagleston said. “He’s not like ‘crack, crack, crack;’ he really only works on two or three specific spots at most and does a lot of stretching.” 

Engaging in sports can be hard on the body, but with a contact sport like basketball, pain and injuries are almost inevitable. MHS Senior Ben Golan is on the men’s varsity basketball team. He visits the chiropractor monthly to ensure his body is in optimal condition and stays free from injury.

“It’s definitely helped me with my flexibility,” Golan said. “There was a stretch of time when I didn’t go; I felt super tight and wasn’t playing as fluid.”

Like many athletes, Golan is no stranger to major injuries. After suffering a fracture to the lower back last year, he had been referred to the chiropractor as a form of physical therapy. He said that the therapy had allowed him to play freely again. 

“Going to the chiropractor really helped loosen up the tight muscles and get them ready for physical activity,” Golan said. 

Athletes like Eagleston and Golan incorporate chiropractic therapy into their busy schedules, knowing it will physically prepare them for their seasons. Whether it be greater hip mobility on the track or feeling more limber on the basketball court, these athletes value the chiropractor as a necessary form of therapy that all athletes should seek out.

“When an injury feels like it’s out of my control or I don’t feel one-hundred percent,” Golan said. “It’s nice to always have the chiropractor as an option.”

Photo by Carly Prows