The recent New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) Sports Symposium was packed with four incredible speakers who utilize the modalities of chiropractic and acupuncture to treat athletes and sports-related injuries. As noted by Assistant Professor Michael Pingicer, LAc, of NYCC’s Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, many athletes opt for natural approaches as they are drug-free and they won’t have to worry about failing an athletic drug screening.
The first presenter, Eric St-Onge, DC, discussed how to predict and prevent sports injuries from occurring when working with athletes. According to the research presented, strength training, coupled with plyometrics, is an effective means to prevent sports-related injuries. Preventative strategies are particularly relevant to young female athletes, who are statistically four to six times more likely to rupture their ACL.
Prof. Pingicer then shared his successes in treating athletes with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Pingicer uses motor point needling, stimulating the area of the muscle with the least electrical resistance (the highest concentration of nerve endings) to achieve results. This technique allows him to reset muscles that are either tense (“locked short”) or flaccid (“locked long”). He also utilizes cupping, gua sha, and tui na (forms of Chinese bodywork) in his work, alongside adjunct therapies such as tai ji, qi gong, and meditation to improve athletes’ mind-body connection. He explained that since athletes tend to be ritualistic and very in tune with their bodies, these practices provide them with balance and stillness.
The next presenter, Mathieu Lentine, DC, explained the relationship between the gut-brain axis and sports performance. He described how the bacteria of the gut communicate to the brain via the vagus nerve, and how everything from an unhealthy diet to stress can impact digestive health. Further evaluation through the use of diagnostic testing (e.g., stool samples and blood work) can provide additional insight into the digestive health of a patient. Dr. Lentine then expounded on how inflammation and other indicators can also be treated by dietary modifications and supplementation.
Finally, Dr. Mike Prebeg, chiropractor for the Toronto Blue Jays, gave an informative presentation on the treatment of athletes through functional neuromodulation techniques. He stressed not to chase pain, but rather to establish a treatment strategy that will support the overall functionality of the athlete. He emphasized the importance of recognizing common musculoskeletal pain patterns, and underscored that insights can be gained by observing and diagnosing based on the unique physiological movements required by the athlete’s particular sport.
I want to thank everyone who was involved in the organization of the Sports Symposium, and give a huge thanks to the speakers who donated their time to come and educate us here at NYCC.
By Aidan Kaye, student in the DC and AOM programs