Posted 23/07/2020 in Category 1

An Overview of Chiropractic Treatment in Sports

An Overview of Chiropractic Treatment in Sports

A sports chiropractor uses manipulation to apply a controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint to improve spinal motion and improve physical function. Chiropractors are in demand to help sports performers recover from injury, prevent injuries and improve physical performance. For example, the USA has used sports chiropractors at the Olympic since 1980, and one study by Stump and Redwood (2002) showed that at the time 77% of American Football (NFL) teams have referred a player to a chiropractor, while 31% of teams have a chiropractor as part of their medical team.   

A recent study by Rainer Thiele (2019) reviewed the role of chiropractic treatment in sports and in specifically the evidence for the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment in sport using randomised control trials.

Following a literature search five randomised clinical trials clinical trials using chiropractic treatment in sports were identified. One was withdrawn (although no explanation was given why). So four studies were evaluated using the PEDro scale. Using the scale up to 10 points can be awarded for the quality of the study with studies having a high methodological quality scoring seven or more. All the four studies in this systematic review scored 8 or above. 

Below are brief summaries of the findings of each of the four studies:

  • Botelho and Andrade 2012 - Three sessions of spinal manipulation significantly increased the grip strength of judo athletes in the intervention group compared to the control group. Increases in the intervention group equated to an increase in grip strength of 10.53% (right hand) and 16.82% (left hand). 
  • Lubbe et al. (2015) - Six chiropractic manipulations were carried out for athletes with a recurrent ankle sprain with functional instability. These manipulations accompanied standard rehabilitation. The control group received the standard rehabilitation. At the end of the intervention the chiropractic treatment group reported lower levels of pain as reported by the FADI and VAS.
  • Pellow and Brantingham (2001) - Chiropractic treatment of subacute and chronic ankle inversion sprains of grades I and II. One group received four weeks of chiropractic treatment and one group received ultrasound treatment. The results showed a decrease in pain and an increase in functionality in the chiropractic treatment group.
  • Straub et al. (2001) - Explored how 19 days of chiropractic treatments (intervention group) compared to 19 days of sham chiropractic treatments (control group) in alleviating the effects of jet lag. No differences were observed in symptoms of jet lag (e.g., mood, sleep disorder) between the two groups.


The results from the review are interesting. There is clearly some evidence for the use of chiropractic treatment to deal with physical functioning. It is not surprising perhaps that chiropractic treatment was not effective in alleviating the symptoms of jet lag. What is perhaps most noteworthy is the very small number of randomised control trials and in general the small numbers invloved in those trials. Although there are good reasons why it is difficult to get large number of participants in sports teams (e.g., access to participants with the same type of injury). However, more trials of this nature will certainly be helpful in establishing even more strongly chiropractic treatment in sport. 

If you are interested in using the services of a sports chiropractor or chiropractic clinic then we have a great selection on our site. In addition to treating sports injuries our chiropractors can help help reduce the risk of injury in your sporting activity. Many also offer sports massage as well. Use our sports directory to find a sports chiropractor or clinic near you. We also have other professionals who can help with sports injuries including sports physios, sports osteopaths, sports therapists and medics. 

If you require any help on the site then please do not hesitate to contact our friendly and helpful My Sports Map team. 

If you yourself work in sport and if you would like to list on the site then we would be delighted to host you and you can join here.


Thiele, R. (2019). Chiropractic Treatment in Sports: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. International Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 6(2): 6-12