What a great question and one that deserves looking into! The primary role of the chiropractor in the NFL is to prevent injuries. You are probably aware that the NFL is a contact sport and when muscles are repetitively traumatized or even over-used, they get tight. Tightness means muscles shorten and when that happens muscles start pulling on joints. This is when the joint is vulnerable to injury. You see, our joints have protective mechanisms that help them not become injured during normal movements but when tightened and shortened muscles are pulling on our joints then these protective reflexes do not often sense the strain on joints and that is when injuries occur (something we try to prevent)
Many of you realize that your muscles become more relaxed when you receive a chiropractic adjustment, and you may instantly feel more relaxed or have less pain or increased movement. The same happens to NFL players and they feel better and recover faster from the games and practices. The quicker they recover, the less vulnerable they will be to injury during the next game.
Many injuries to muscles are classified as soft tissue injuries and NFL chiropractors are trained how to assist the body in healing from these injuries. There are specific therapies that are specific to different parts of our muscles and these athletes require all aspects of their injuries to be properly treated in order to be at their best in less than a weeks’ time. All NFL teams have one or more team chiropractors, a position I held for nearly 20 years. The teams’ chiropractors are part of the medical team and are very active in weekly therapies to the athletes. The teams all travel with one or more chiropractors who are actively treating players while they are preparing for the next game. You can find a team chiropractor on the side-line taking care of players during the game.
Medical care is a team approach and has specific guidelines as to who initially evaluates a player who comes off the field with an injury. This is the role of one of the team physicians who the chiropractors work closely with. You may see several medical professionals go into a portable tent on the sideline and often the chiropractor is part of this team. Take a look at the next game you watch and see if you can see the team chiropractor on the sidelines working on a player!
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