Why Runners Need a Chiropractor (& How to Choose One)

Muscle injury. Man with sprain thigh muscles. Athlete in sports shorts clutching his thigh muscles after pulling or straining them while jogging on the beach.

Did you know that over 70 percent of runners get injured each year?

Of course, don’t take my word for it.

Research by Harvard scientists reported that two-thirds of runners would be injured over a period of a year of training.

Most runners are aware of the high-impact nature of the sport. Push your body harder than last time, and you’ll be prone to sprains, tears, and strains. These pains can manifest into more serious running injuries that can kick you off the training wagon for a while.

Knee injuries are pretty common, and so are other conditions. Shin splints, ankle sprains, tendonitis, and calf strains are a few of a runner’s many injuries.

In most cases, a mix of rest, compression, and proper recovery practice can get the job eventually.

But if you want to sidestep running injuries fast, a chiropractor should be on your list as they can help bring your body into proper alignment, reduce pain and injury risk, and improve your overall health.

In today’s article, I’ll explain some ways that a chiropractor can help your running game and how to pick the right one for the job.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

What is Chiropractic?

Technically, a chiropractor is a healthcare professional who focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and conservative care of spine-related conditions and other painful musculoskeletal disorders.

The chiropractor’s overall objective is to soothe pain and restore normal function by manually adjusting or manipulating the spine and its structures.

The best part about working with a chiropractor is that they look at your whole body, not just the injury. For example, you might have pain in your knee, but the problem might be your hip. Your whole body works as one unit—and your spine is the center, so anything that affects it can also affect the rest of your body.

Around 50 million Americans visit a chiropractor each year.

The Process Demystified

Literally translating to “healing with the hands,” chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative methods. They can fix musculoskeletal problems and improve nervous function—all of this in a non-invasive manner.

How come?

By making manual adjustments to joints, mostly to those in the spine, to south pain and restore range of motion to joints and other structures hindered by scar tissue caused by injury. This is believed to help the body’s health without medicating or surgery.

During the session, you might hear some cracks—a change in pressure in the joints that releases a bubble that pops. This might be problematic for some, but most people report instant relief.

Enter Sport Chiro

Although standard chiropractic offers plenty of health benefits to people, it’s usually not enough for those engaging in high-impact sports—runners are no exception.

That’s why sports chiropractors exist as they might be the best manual therapist for dealing with chronic injuries and optimizing performance.

A sports chiropractor is a health professional that focuses on diagnosing and treating sports-related injuries and issues. They primarily treat injured athletes and those who want to improve their athletic performance.

Most sports chiropractors, such as Gratason and Active Release Technique (ART), are trained in muscle work. They also tend to be experts at rehabilitating and preventing sports injuries and designing treatment programs that allow athletes to return to their sports faster.

What’s more?

A good chiropractor can also provide soft-tissue therapies, fitness coaching, diet advice, and lifestyle recommendation.

That’s why there’s always chiropractic on professional sports and Olympic teams. Their services are invaluable.

How Can A Sports Chiropractor Help Runners

When the vertebrae of your spine are misaligned, or your muscles are imbalanced, you’ll insentiently change your running gait—as in the way you move—to compensate.

When this occurs, other muscles and structures pick up the slack, forcing them to be used in the not-so-optimal (or wrong) way. This, as you can already tell, sets the stage for pain, especially overuse injury.

Runners, just like any other athletes, are prone to misalignments, including running on a slanted surface, sticking to the same type of surface, or training in ill-fitting shoes. Of course, you can simply change up your running terrains and shoes more often, but your chiropractors will help you figure you if your body is in want of more balance. The rest is just details.

So how can a sports chiropractor help?

The chiropractor’s goal is to single out muscular-skeletal issues related to physical activity and running, with the ultimate objective of relieving pain and preventing future (re)-injury.

A good sports chiropractor is trained to use advanced diagnostic tools, such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and musculoskeletal Ultrasound. These tools, in turn, help fully analyze a condition while also keeping tabs on the therapy progress.

For example, a chiropractor would assess how you move and run, then test for imbalances. Next, you’ll be asked to lie on a table while they put you into different positions body to align muscles, joints, and other structures.

The Benefits of Chiropractors For Runners

So why do runners need a chiropractor? First, let’s dig into how they can help improve your running game and performance.

Speed Up Recovery

I hate to be the harbinger of bad news but sooner or later if you’ll come down with a running injury. The recovery period can last up to weeks or even months. Losing the ability to run can be a real setback, especially if you’re working toward specific running goals.

For this reason, lowering the risks of spending long spells on the sideline is welcome.

Although physical therapy helps speed up recovery and restore movement post-injury, a chiropractor can take your recovery game to the next level, getting you back on the road as soon as possible.

A thorough examination by a chiropractor will assess:

  • The way you move
  • The way you tend
  • Your foot arch type
  • The alignment (or mis-) of your knees
  • The alignment (or mis-) of our hips
  • And so much more

Following the assessment, the chiropractors recommend the right treatments and proactive measures.

Reduce Risk for Injury

As I’ve explained earlier, you’ll unconsciously change your running gait to compensate when your muscles or joints are out of alignment. This, in turn, forces certain structures to bear more load than usual, leading to overuse injury down the road.

A sports chiropractor can help keep your spine in alignment, which can positively impact the rest of your body. Regular adjustments limit the impact stresses caused by running, which helps prevent overuse injuries over the long haul.

Improved Range Of Motion

Relaxed and functional joints lead to an improved range of motion, especially through your pelvis and hips. This, in turn, can help improve your gait performance.

Although working with a chiropractor won’t turn you into the fastest runner on the block overnight, improving your range of motion can undoubtedly help you move more freely. This, in turn, lowers your risk of running-related injuries.

Lower Risk of Injury Recurrence

Another great benefit of using the services of a chiropractor is reducing the risk of having an old injury recur.

Regular adjustments can help restore balance to your body, which may help stop old injuries from resurfacing. This follows the same formula as the initial preventative measures employed by chiropractors that I mentioned earlier.

Can A Chiropractor Help With Runners’ Knee?

Tough back pain isn’t the most common running issue, runners’ knee is the signature injury of the running world. It’s also a condition that could be managed under the guidance of a sports chiropractor.

Although it’s not the ONLY culprit, one common cause of the runner’s knee is poor alignment (often stemming from misalignments within the spine).

Adjusting the spine triggers a domino effect on the rest of the body since the spine plays a major role in our central nervous system and everyday function. Most manual adjustments often focus on the sacroiliac joint, where the pelvis and hips meet.

A good sports chiropractor can also help evaluate the risks of a future injury by singling out muscle imbalances or joint restrictions that somewhat contribute to knee pain.

Some of the treatment strategies used by chiropractors for runners’ knees may include:

  • Deep tissue massage to break down scar tissues
  • Stretching the muscles around the knee
  • Strengthening the muscles around the knee
  • Fixing gain and foot strike
  • Improving function in the lower back to help improve proper leg movements
  • And so much more.

Sports Chiropractic Treatments For Runners

A good sports chiropractor will use various techniques and strategies to tend to a runner’s specific needs.

According to my research, the main chiropractic treatments are often recommended for runners.

  • Active Release Technique (ART) – this method combines stretching and active massage by applying deep tension to a certain body part. The goal is to feel for damaged or abnormal tissue in the muscle, tendons, ligaments, nerves, or fascia.

 

  • Y-Strap adjustment – This method helps the chiropractors stretch out your back and neck, and it works by pulling the head in the Y-Axis of the body. This pulling force helps achieve spinal decompression.

 

  • Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) – This is a technique that soothes tension by stimulating the surface muscles.

 

  • Functional Dry Needling – a great technique for releasing tension in trigger points via deep muscle stimulation with special needles.

 

  • Graston Technique – A form of Instrument Assistance Soft-tissue Mobilization, this method helps break up concentrated scar tissue with hand-held stainless steel tools.

How Much Do Chiropractors Cost?

In general, the services of a chiropractor can set you back anywhere from roughly $40 to several hundred dollars per appointment. The average fee for consulting a chiropractor in the U.S is around $65 per visit.

For some individuals, health insurance may cover a portion of chiropractic treatment. But, in most cases, a chiropractor may not design their intervention plan according to payouts from the insurance company.

How To Find A Chiropractor

Looking for a sports chiropractor? Hop onto Google. Look up terms such as “chiropractors near me” or “sports chiropractors in (your region)” for quick results.

I’d also recommend you check with your insurance company to see if they have any nearby chiropractors in your region.

What’s more?

Remember to check the reviews. You can also ask your family members, friends, or gym buddies about any referral they might have, especially if they’re also serious runners.

Conclusion

There you have it!

If you’re interested in consulting with a sports chiropractor to help you with your running program, then today’s article should set you on the right path. The rest is just details, as the saying goes.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong.