With just over 40 million unique viewers per week, there is no denying that Americans love watching the National Football League (NFL) go to battle. As autumn approaches, we get excited about the upcoming season. Fans break out their jerseys, game day t-shirts, favorite fan-wear, and smack-talk, just to be ready for that first game. We rattle off statistics and recite facts about top players and historical moments.
We are passionate about our teams and players. That is why we stand still, staring at the screen when one of our rockstar players goes down. Those moments when a key player is lying (or writhing) on the ground seems just as excruciating for us as it is for them. However, more often than not, the player pops up like nothing ever happened! These incredible athletes are in top condition. We know they work hard to stay in shape and grow in strength, but what we do not realize is the secret weapon they have on the sidelines that may shock you. All 32 NFL teams use a drug-free tool to keep their players in top condition: chiropractors.
That’s right. You read that correctly. For the past few years, chiropractic care has been the secret weapon for many top athletes, not just football players. In 1980, Dr. George Goodheart was the first official Olympic team chiropractor for the Winter Olympics held at Lake Placid, NY. William Moreau, DC, DACBSP became the first chiropractor to serve as the managing director of sports medicine for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and as the Olympic Games Chief Medical Officer for Team USA in Rio.
When it comes to a career in the NFL, longevity on the field is paramount. From the moment these athletes fall in love with the sport at young ages, they are often encouraged to “play through the pain,” or to “tough it out.” Even without the push for constant play, in such a competitive sport, many athletes hesitate to complain about pain at all because they fear getting pulled from the field. For many, this could end a career.
Historically, football athletes have been known to push through torn ligaments and tendons, receiving multiple shots of anesthetics to help them continue playing. In May of 2014, over 600 football players filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL for pushing painkillers to mask the pain of injuries, keeping them out on the field in often dangerous situations. This unhealthy practice is one of the many reasons that the NFL teams now employ a full-time team chiropractor. Chiropractors provide care for acute injuries and general maintenance that keep these professional athletes on the field longer and help prevent injury through athletic rehabilitation and training.
Jerry Rice, the greatest wide receiver in American football history, is the spokesperson for the Foundation of Chiropractic Progress. This 13-time Pro Bowl football player says, “I did a lot of things to stay in the game, but the regular visits to my chiropractor were among the most important.”
Before NFL running back Reggie Bush retired, he stated that “as a professional athlete, I am highly competitive—only accept the best. When it comes to healthcare, chiropractic is an essential service. It keeps my on-field performance at its highest level and contributes to the success of the entire team.”
The professional football season lasts 16 weeks, and during that time the average pro football chiropractor renders 30-50 adjustments per week. In today’s competitive environment, athletes, their agents, and athletic trainers understand the disabling consequences that pain can have when players sustain injuries. Having a chiropractor on the sidelines has helped to mitigate the consequences of minor as well as major injuries.
So, if the NFL trusts their athletes in the hands of chiropractors and elite athletes trust chiropractors with their entire career, how powerful must chiropractic care be? The power of chiropractic has been proven through decades of athletic performance. Chiropractic delivers results to everyone, and the power of an adjustment is the maximization of the human body’s innate potential to feel better, heal better, and work better. This means that with chiropractic care, you or your athlete can play longer and harder and stay in the game.
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