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DC to DC: Working with athletes during COVID

working with athletes

Continuing a balanced strength and conditioning program in the off-season when working with athletes allows for decreased possibility of injuries

COVID-19 has changed patient’s lives in countless ways. One instance is that some sports, or levels of sports, aren’t playing right now. But suppose you’re a chiropractor working with athletes? How do you work with them to stay in shape and keep ahead of injuries?

Malcolm Conway, Jr., DC, who partners with his son at Conway Clinic, specializes in sports injury rehabilitation, chronic pain treatment, and athletic performance — including professional athletes. Conway is one of the co-developers of the MyoFascial Disruption Technique, and the practice is one of the few on the east coast that leverages an accelerated recovery program machine to benefit their patients’ recovery speed.

Conway answered our questions about working with athletes during a COVID pandemic.

While some sports are being played right now, there are many that have been restricted — what kind of advice are you giving athletes right now?

Some advice we’re giving our athletes is to continue to train and stay in shape as if your season is going to start on schedule. It’s imperative to continue to improve the small skills that you can focus on at home. You can also study film of yourself performing your sport; it’s a great way to learn more and grow in your athletic event during your time off the field.

Use the downtime as a competitive advantage. Increased time at home or away from games means more time to practice your skill, hone your craft, and prepare for upcoming seasons.

Continuing a balanced strength and conditioning program in the off-season allows for decreased possibility of injuries occurring during an athletic event.

Are you still working with athletes directly or virtually?

Yes, we are providing both in compliance with all local laws and regulations.

For in-person sessions, we are providing personalized, one-on-one off-season strength and conditioning programming to build skills and endurance.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Focusing on form for each individual sport (lifting technique, proper biomechanics, increasing mobility, decreasing possible risk of injury when sports are live again).
  • Providing personalized diet and nutrition advice.
  • Supporting with spinal manipulations and other chiropractic care as well as wave neurotherapy to help.

Through COVID-19 we’ve also been able to implement telehealth to stay connected to patients. We’re able to oversee at-home exercises and rehab programs to monitor proper form and function, consult, and examine injuries.

Are you advising them on avoiding injuries?

Yes. Some advice we’re giving includes that proper diet, hydration, and sleep are the three most important things for an athlete.

When exercising, it’s also key to warm up before the workout (break a sweat before exercise), conduct a proper cool-down with stretching, and complete range of motion/mobility exercises to recover for the next session.

What are the biggest challenges chiropractors face when working with athletes during these times?

One of the biggest challenges is trying to keep athletes motivated to continue with workouts and training regimen when no one knows if or when there will be a season. Some athletes right now are struggling to keep a positive mindset as they wonder, “If I don’t have a season, what’s the point of the work?”

We advise athletes to continue to film themselves practicing skills or conducting training exercises, and send them to recruiters.

Why is it important for chiropractors to continue advising athletes?

  • Commitment to athletes: When you commit to an athlete’s development, that individual is placing his or her trust in you. As a chiropractor, it is critical to fulfill that commitment, day or night.
  • It’s important for chiropractors to continue to advise athletes so that if an injury does occur, it can be rectified quickly and not grow into a larger issue.
  • We must continue to help restore joint function to the athlete so that he or she can properly absorb force being placed upon neuromuscular system.
  • Recent studies show an increased risk of injury in contact sports due to training restrictions in COVID-19. Chiropractors help this by addressing the biomechanical needs of the body and preventing neuromuscular weaknesses to support effective performance by the athlete at his or her individual sport.

What are the biggest mistakes chiropractors can make in this environment?

Rushing someone back from an injury when you could have taken advantage of the increased rehab timetable could be detrimental.

If you have more time for rest and recovery — and to spend working with athletes getting them in shape the right way — use it to your advantage. Now is the time to strengthen the weaknesses that have been overlooked historically.

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