It’s Game Time… Soccer and Chiropractic

An interesting piece of research was published in the Chiropractic and Manual Therapies journal early this year.

It explored how chiropractic treatment affected the flexibilities, kicking speeds and perceptions of soccer players.

The study was conducted in Durban, South Africa, and recruited 40 soccer players from several regional premier league teams. The players were evaluated for spinal dysfunction and then divided into groups for chiropractic treatment to address those dysfunctions. One group was given placebo (fake) treatment to act as the control/comparison group. This allowed the researchers to compare the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment and rule out the possibility of other factors contributing to the results of the study.

Before and after treatment, the researchers measured three things in the soccer players:

  • Their low-back flexibilities, using a digital inclinometer (something we use in our clinic as well).
  • Their kicking speeds, using a speed radar.
  • Their perceptions of whether their kicking speeds were different, using a simple questionnaire.

Remarkably, the players who received actual chiropractic treatment during the study had significant increases in their flexibilities and kicking speeds, and could also perceive the changes in their kicking speeds. The group that received placebo treatment did not produce such results.

What I find interesting is that all 40 players were asymptomatic. This means they did not actually feel any back pain or dysfunction. However, evaluation of their spine discovered dysfunctions that were limiting their performance on the field. This allowed the researchers to address the problems, leading to their increased performances.

Not many studies are done on asymptomatic (i.e. pain-free) subjects. More are done on chiropractic and its effects on relieving pain. That is what is so exciting about this study – it shows there is so much more to chiropractic than just getting us out of pain!

I hope you have enjoyed this research summary. If you would like to read the full text of the study, you can find it online by clicking here.

I wish you the best in health,

Dr Roi Cheng (Chiropractor), 23/4/15