As an effective approach to achieving overall wellness and advancing preventive care, chiropractic has gained wide use among professional and amateur sports teams across the country. Three trends point to sports chiropractic as an exceptional way to provide value and enhance care:• Participation in high school and college sports is up, with experts predicting a 15-percent rise in employment of coaches and scouts by 2022.
• A growing number of professional and amateur athletes are seeking new strategies for gaining a competitive edge.
• As the baby boomer population ages, doctors of chiropractic (DCs) are treating more retirement- age patients who want to maintain their athletic ability by eliminating acute and chronic pain, increasing flexibility, enhancing strength and balance and improving overall quality of life.
Experts estimate that 90 percent of all world-class athletes use chiropractic care to prevent injuries and increase their performance potential. All National Football League (NFL) teams rely on DCs in varying capacities, and 77 percent of athletic trainers have referred players to a chiropractor for evaluation or treatment.
Treating Professional Athletes
Treating collegiate, Olympic and professional athletes has helped DCs gain wider recognition, creating a growing demand among younger athletes who benefit from chiropractic care in the areas of critical, acute and emergency care. This is important since the typical primary care physician lacks the education to deal with biomechanical and neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction.
Longevity on the playing field is critical: For every year a player remains competitive, millions of dollars may be earned. Professional athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and sports agents understand the consequences of disabling the pain mechanism and view chiropractic as essential for treating the cause of pain.
With professional sports highlighting its value, chiropractic is poised to become a mainstream option for improving sports performance and injury rehabilitation among athletes at every level.
Treating Young Athletes
More than 30 million children participate in organized sports in the United States, and approximately 775,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries. According to the Journal of Neurological Science, more sports-related, non-fatal injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments than any other type of unintentional injury. While traditional medicine treats fractures, dislocations, lacerations and damaged tendons and ligaments, many athletes leave the hospital with as much spinal stress as they had prior to care.
Younger athletes are more susceptible to injuries because they have slower reaction times than adults, are less coordinated, and are still growing and developing. Many injuries result from overuse, such as repetitive use syndrome, which comes from placing stress on the musculoskeletal system. It is caused by not using proper techniques or equipment, such as athletic shoes, which makes greater demands on the body with less healing time.
Injury Prevention/Performance Enhancement
Any DC who specializes in treating athletes should be prepared to treat the whole person, and tailor a comprehensive program aimed at injury avoidance. Initial evaluations should include not only traditional orthopedic tests, neurological examinations, and consideration to supplement physical exam findings with any additional diagnostic evaluations, if appropriate or a referral if indicated. Numerous studies support the fact that chiropractic care helps athletes achieve an optimal level of performance. A Canadian research team included chiropractic care in the rehabilitation program of 16 injured female long-distance runners. The runners recovered quickly; seven of them actually scored “personal best” performances while under chiropractic care, although there may be other contributing factors.
Chiropractic is beneficial to professional, amateur and weekend athletes, maximizing athletic performance and preventing and managing injuries. The growing reliance on chiropractic care among American professional sports teams has both raised awareness about the many benefits of chiropractic and helped many DCs apply and improve knowledge of biomechanical injuries and their treatment.
With growing awareness of the role of chiropractic care, practitioners will find themselves in community leadership roles, imparting a positive impact on student sports and expanding their skills to further affect athletic performance. They may be called upon to provide nutritional expertise and other approaches for enhancing pre-competition preparation, competition endurance and all aspects of injury prevention and care coordination.
Putting Sports Chiropractic into Practice
Besides having an interest in sports, becoming a successful sports DC requires:
Tailoring nutritional requirements, equipment and techniques to the needs of today’s athletes. This means augmenting traditional chiropractic care with soft-tissue treatment methods including instrument-assisted soft-tissue mobilization.
Obtaining credentials. A doctor of chiropractic does not need to add credentials such as the Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician credential or the advanced diplomate in sports, or the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic’s (FICS) international certified chiropractic sports physician (ICCSP) in order to be qualified to treat athletes. But, having these credentials conveys a higher level of knowledge and training in sports care.
Marketing sports capabilities to build a solid referral stream. The best approach is to forge solid working relationships with orthopedic surgeons, athletic trainers, physical therapists and other MDs who provide sports medicine services. Get involved in local, regional and national sports organizations and events, and issue press releases to local news outlets.
Kray Kibler, CFO, ScripHessco (www.ScripHessco.com), joined Scrip Companies in May 2006 as chief financial officer. In prior roles at Scrip, he oversaw the company’s financial, IT, human resource, customer service, distribution operations and field/corporate sales.
Spencer H. Baron, DC, DACBSP (www.drspencerbaron.com), is a health, sports fitness and medical expert, team chiropractic physician for the Miami Dolphins and a nationally acclaimed speaker and educator. Named the 2010 National Sports Chiropractor of the Year, he is author of Secrets of the Game: What Superstar Athletes Can Teach You About Health, Peak Performance and Getting Results, and co-founder of the Pro Football Chiropractic Society and POWER Play, LLC.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Entertainment and Sports, Coaches and Scouts; Occupational Outlook Handbook; www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/coaches-and-scouts.htm; accessed April 29, 2014.
2. Palmer Center for Natural Healing; Chiropractic Improves Athletic Performance; www.palmercenterfornaturalhealing.com/2011/chiropractic-improves-athletic-performance.html; accessed April 2, 2014.
4. Professional Football Chiropractic Society; Chiropractic in the NFL; www.profootballchiros.com/chiropractic-in-the-nfl/; accessed April 29, 2014.
5. Warner, Theresa, Warner, Stuart; ChiroEco.com; Kids, kickball and chiropractic: Child athletes need your help; www.chiroeco.com/chiropractic/news/3221/766/kids-kickball-and-chiropracticchild-athletes-need-your-help/; accessed April 29, 2014.
It’s amazing how quickly life can change! One minute you’re going about your typical daily routine. The next minute, everything changes and you have far more questions than answers.
One of the biggest questions on nearly everyone’s mind right now is… how does the human immune system work and what can we do to help support it, so it can function better?
A strong, healthy immune system is the best defense for fighting off germs of all kinds – viral, bacterial, fungal.
But many people don’t realize there’s a well documented, research-supported link between immune system strength and exercise. In other words, by staying active and physically fit, you help your immune system stay fit and healthy as well!
But are there specific actions you can take right now, to help improve your immunity through exercise?
The good news is – there is!
Below is some info on the link between exercise and health. Please be sure to pass these tips to family and friends as well. As everyone is currently looking for anything they can do to help stay healthy…especially now.
The Science Between the Immune System-Exercise Link
Just last year, the Journal of Sport and Health Science published a study describing what they called a “compelling” link between exercise and immune system response.
This relatively new field of science is called “Exercise Immunology.” Yet there is scientific research dating back well over a century, highlighting how immune system response changes based on levels of exercise.
Here, as it turns out, moderation (rather than extreme exercise or a totally sedentary lifestyle) is key to optimal immune system function.
In other words, you don’t have to head to the gym every day before or after work for hours and hours. The best results will come from simply adding in some moderate exercise to your daily schedule.
Nursing Older People Journal published a study in 2012 confirming that exercise helps fight back against immunosenescence.
What is immunosenescence?
This term refers to the normal reduction in immune system function as we age.
But researchers now know that immunosenescence is something you can slow down. Exercise can strengthen immune system response by improving killer cell response, increasing T-cells production and enhancing the body’s response to almost any immune system challenge it faces.
Read on to learn easy, effective ways to add exercise to your daily routine and experience the immune-boosting benefits this will bring.
5 Easy Ways to Add Immune-Boosting Exercise to Your Day
These five ideas will help you brainstorm creative ways to add immune-boosting exercise to your day and also encourage your loved ones to join in with you.
1. Start with one-minute workouts….20 times per day.
Here is the secret to fitting 20 minutes of exercise into your day, starting right away. As MedLine Plus emphasizes emphasizes, you don’t need to do all 20 minutes at one time.
One 2016 study published by Plos One Journal showed that sedentary adults who added one (yes, ONE) minute of high-intensity exercise every 10 minutes for 50 minutes got the same benefits as adults who pursued a routine requiring 50 minutes of moderate, sustained exercise.
What are some examples of one-minute high intensity workouts? Assuming you do the suggestions below for one minute…here you go:
– Taking the stairs at a brisk clip.
– Fast-walking from your car into the grocery store.
*assuming it’s safe, park as far back in the parking lot as possible
– Chasing your dog around the park.
– 30 jumping jacks.
– Lifting your toddler up and down 20 times with good form.
If you do each of these five things once, you just added five minutes of high intensity exercise to your day. Using the research study example, this is roughly equivalent to 25 minutes of moderate exercise. Already you’re close to exceeding your goal!
2. Create a walk-able lifestyle
If you don’t already have a dog, now may or may not be the right time to go out and get one. But you can still pretend as if you have a dog – and not just any dog, but a dog that goes stir-crazy without frequent walks.
This is important, because WebMDWebMD points out that just adding regular walks to your schedule can cut the number of colds you get in half.
Colds, including the seasonal illness we now call influenza, are viral. So is the flu.
When you add more walks into your day, your body starts producing more T-cells (white blood cells that fight germs and disease). Are you in your 60’s and you want the white blood cell count of a 30-year-old? Walk for 30 minutes each day.
How can you add more walks into your day? Try these five ideas:
– Once again, park farther away in the parking lot at work.
– Walk your dog more (or offer to walk your neighbor’s dog).
– Make a “walkable errands” list and save up those tasks to do during your walk.
– Use half your lunch hour to walk outside at work.
– Institute a new family tradition – take a walk after dinner each night.
3. Incorporate gentle exercise with proven stress-reduction benefits.
As Northwestern Health Sciences University (NHSU) explains, exercise may have proven immune system benefits, but it is not a magic bullet all on its own.
If you are chronically stressed out, you are still more susceptible to becoming ill.
And if this describes you, then adding exercise to your life can potentially make your existing stress even worse.
That is the last thing you want or need!
Instead, consider choosing a gentle, consistent exercise practice that also has proven stress-reducing benefits. This way, you get the immune-boosting benefit and the stress-reduction benefit all at once – kind of like getting two for one.
Here are five ideas for gentle exercise programs that also have a proven link to stress reduction, as well as overall immune response improvement:
– T’ai chi chuan
4. Aim for “functional strength” in your exercise routine.
“Functional strength” is a term that basically means you are improving your strength, balance/stability and endurance at the same time.
Another, more common term, that you also might have heard of is “resistance training.” Resistance training incorporates muscle-building into focused exercises against some type of resistance such as a band or weight.
Here is a common example: you decide to do 20 controlled squats with good form, while you are holding a two-pound weight in each hand. In this example, you are working out your cardiovascular, neuromuscular (nervous system and muscular systems) and respiratory systems all at the same time.
Frontiers in Immunology researchers have now confirmed that exercise like this is likely to strengthen immune response over the long-term, and here is why.
When you work out your muscles and your body’s cardiovascular system at the same time, this releases more white blood T-cells into your body to fight off pathogens wherever they are hiding in your tissues.
Here are five easy tips to consider when adding functional strength training to your day:
– Use a suspension trainer (like a TRX) for improved form, while performing body weight exercises like a step-back lunge.
– Use bands and tubes for at-home resistance training combined with endurance movements.
– Harness your body weight to do push-ups, planks, bridges and squats.
– Try Pilates routines to work with bands or reformer machines.
– Small dumbbells or kettlebells also make handy functional strength training props.
5. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down.
Injuries happen, but neither your body nor your immune system will thank you for suddenly launching into vigorous exercise without any warning or without stretching afterwards.
Taking five minutes at the start of your workout to get the blood moving…and end with a 5-10 minute gentle stretch.
Also practice deep breathing, tune in to how you are feeling and soak in the benefits of your workout. These simple tips can perhaps be just as important as the exercise itself.
According to the Journal of Sports Medicine, a cool-down period is particularly supportive of overall immune system response following exercise.
Here are five ideas from the American Heart Association for adding easy warm-up and cool-down periods to any exercise routine:
– Plan for at least 5 minutes of warm-up and 5-10 minutes of cool-down.
– Do some exercises, just at a slower pace, as part of the cool-down.
– Hold each stretch gently for up to 30 seconds.
– Incorporate your whole body in your warm-up and cool-down sessions.
– Breathe in and out (through your nose if possible) deeply during warm-up and cool-down.
These five tips will help you boost your immune system function. And as a side perk, you will also reap all the other potential benefits of regular exercise – improved heart health, sleep, energy levels and enjoyment of your favorite activities!
Get Your Personalized Exercise and Fitness Program Today
Did you know that you can request your own free personalized exercise and fitness program courtesy of WebExercises? Contact your health care provider to ask for a WebExercises prescription that is tailored to your specific health and fitness needs and goals.
– Vitamin D is an unusual vitamin because it acts like a hormone in your body. It helps the bones absorb calcium, supports the immune system and may aid strength gain and fat loss.
– Vitamin D is made in the body when your skin absorbs ultraviolet light, but most people don’t get enough sunlight to reach adequate levels
– Deficiency of vitamin D is common, so consuming a D supplement may be beneficial
– The D3 version of the vitamin is absorbed better than D2, making it a wiser choice for supplementation
What Is Vitamin D?
While classified as a vitamin, D is unique among vitamins in a few different ways. For one thing, your body makes it itself when it’s exposed to sunlight. For another, it behaves like a steroid in the body (no, not that kind of steroid), meaning that it can turn genes on and off. This makes vitamin D an especially powerful nutrient with many potential influences on your health.
When your skin absorbs ultraviolet radiation, a cholesterol precursor in your body is converted to vitamin D3 (one type of D vitamin). However, it’s difficult for most people to get the amount of vitamin D they need from the sun alone. Fortunately, vitamin D is available in food, and many other foods are fortified with it. Nevertheless, vitamin D deficiency is common, and a serious threat to health (see Do I Have A Vitamin D Deficiency? below).
Vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning that it dissolves in fats and oils, and can be stored in the body for long periods. For years, scientists have known that Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphate from the food in your gut, making it a key supporter of bone health. More recently, D has also gotten credit for the role it plays in muscle strength and performance, nerve transmissions, and immune health.
How Do Vitamin D2 and D3 Differ?
There are two main kinds of vitamin D—D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D2 is found in plant foods, including fungi like mushrooms and yeasts. D3 is only available in animal foods, and it’s the type of vitamin D your body makes on its own when it’s exposed to UV light.
D2 is inexpensive to produce, so it’s often added to foods—such as milk—to boost their vitamin D content. However, D2 is not as well absorbed by the body as D3. Some studies indicate that D3 may be almost twice as effective at raising levels of vitamin D in the blood as D2 (1, 2, 3). If you supplement with vitamin D to achieve optimal levels, nutrition experts generally recommend choosing vitamin D3 supplements.
According to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report, medical literature regarded D2 and D3 “as equivalent and interchangeable” for many years, “yet this presumption of equivalence is based on studies of rickets prevention in infants conducted 70 years ago…
Despite an emerging body of evidence suggesting several plausible explanations for the greater bioefficacy of vitamin D3, the form of vitamin D used in major preparations of prescriptions in North America is vitamin D2.”
In addition to failing to raise blood levels of the vitamin as well as D3, D2 also has a shorter shelf life. Therefore, the Journal concludes, D2 “should not be regarded as a nutrient suitable for supplementation or fortification.” However, some D2 supplements are oil-based, and may be more shelf-stable and bioavailable as a result. More research is needed to see how they compare to D3, but, in the meantime, D3 supps seem to be the smarter alternative.
What Does Vitamin D Do For the Body?
Due to vitamin D’s ability to act like a hormone in the body, it has the ability to support multiple aspects of health. While it’s long been known to help regulate bone health and growth, D has also been linked to the following.
A 2015 meta-analysis of seven studies found that vitamin D supplementation significantly aided gains in upper- and lower-limb strength. The subjects ranged from 18 to 40 years of age.
A 2014 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed overweight and obese women on a diet and exercise routine for one year. Half the subjects received a vitamin D supplement, and the other half a placebo. Researchers found that the ones who got up to healthy vitamin D levels lost more weight than the placebo group—by an average of seven pounds.
Meanwhile, another study in Nutrition Journal showed that women who took vitamin D for 12 weeks didn’t lose weight, but their body fat percentages did go down, indicating that D may have helped with recomposition.
Innate immunity is the term used to describe the body’s general defense mechanisms—the ones that turn on when it senses that an unwelcome invader has entered your system. Barriers, such as the skin, and white blood cells—the body’s soldiers in the war against a pathogen—are examples of your innate immune defenses.
Adaptive immunity refers to the immune responses that are specific to a particular antigen (any foreign substance your body wants to get rid of). These include the antibodies you develop when you’re recovering from a cold, so that the same virus doesn’t make you sick again in the future.
Vitamin D has been shown to help modulate both innate and adaptive immune responses (The Journal of Investigative Medicine), supporting a strong immune system. In 2017, a review published in the British Journal of Medicine analyzed 11,321 people from 14 different countries. It concluded that vitamin D supplementation helped promote immunity in both subjects who were deficient in the vitamin, as well as those who had healthy levels.
At the same time, a lack of D in the diet can wreak havoc on health.
One study published in Archives of Internal Medicine followed 19,000 subjects for six years. Those with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to report upper respiratory health issues than those who were getting sufficient D. Meanwhile, a review in the Journal of Investigative Medicine explains that a D deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to health issues.
Do I Have A Vitamin D Deficiency?
Most people living in first-world countries don’t have many vitamin deficiencies. We can get most of the nutrients we need through food alone, and many foods have vitamins added to them to ensure that we get enough. Vitamin D deficiency, however, is still rampant, even among otherwise healthy people.
The main reason why is lack of sun exposure. Contrary to what you might think, just walking around outside on a sunny day usually isn’t enough, even if you live on a tropical island. Clouds and shade dramatically cut down on ultraviolet light—the stuff that your skin needs to produce vitamin D—and window glass blocks it completely. Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health explain that wearing sunscreen with an SPF of eight or more won’t allow your body to absorb enough light to make D, although it’s obviously important to use some anyway to avoid sunburn and long-term skin damage.
Ethnicity also plays a factor. Melanin is a pigment that darkens the skin, but it also reduces the skin’s ability to absorb vitamin D. African Americans and Hispanics typically have more melanin than white people, so they tend to be more deficient.
A Nutrition Research study concluded that more than 41% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. African Americans and Hispanics are most at risk, as 82% and 69% are deficient, respectively. The study went on to say that, “deficiency was significantly more common among those who had no college education, were obese, with a poor health status, hypertension, low [HDL] cholesterol level, or not consuming milk daily.”
Looking more closely at obese populations, the National Institutes of Health observe that “obesity does not affect skin’s capacity to synthesize vitamin D, but greater amounts of subcutaneous fat sequester more of the vitamin and alter its release into the circulation.” Even if an obese person gets bypass surgery to aid weight loss, his/her vitamin D levels will still be suspect, as the part of the small intestine that absorbs D is bypassed.
Senior citizens are also in jeopardy. A trial in the American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy stated that elderly subjects had insufficient D levels, “despite vitamin D intake consistent with national recommendations.”
Just what the recommended D dose should be is a subject of great debate. The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 15 micrograms, or 600 IU, for people up to age 70. (Folks older than that need 20 micrograms, or 800 IU.) A serving or two of fatty fish, such as salmon or trout, should have it covered. However, these recs might be very optimistic. A review of vitamin D studies in Nutrients accuses the current RDA of being flat out inaccurate because of an error in math. It concludes that, “With the current recommendation of 600 IU, bone health objectives and disease and injury prevention targets will not be met.” The appropriate IU, the researchers assert, may be many times more than what is currently advised.
Evidence published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology agrees, suggesting that significantly higher doses, such as a minimum of 25 micrograms/1000 IU of D is more appropriate. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism also explains that at least 1,500–2,000 IU per day may be necessary for adults, and at least 1,000 IU for children and teens. The Linus Pauling Institute echoes these numbers as well.
If reading all this has sent you scrambling to the cabinet for your multivitamins, your next question may be, “how much vitamin D is too much?” The National Institutes of Health say you can probably get as much as 100 micrograms/4,000 IU before you see side effects, which may include nausea, poor appetite, weakness, and weight loss. Vitamin D toxicity is rare, however, and it mainly comes from overuse of vitamin supplements. (You can’t get too much D from the sun, as your body will shut down production before then.) One review showed that there were no health risks associated with consuming 1,800–4,000 IU of D daily.
Whatever the optimal D dose may be, it seems fair to assume that we should all get our levels tested and, if low, aim to take in more. An article in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine calls vitamin D deficiency “pandemic,” noting that health organizations worldwide are refocusing on the importance of D due to the discovery that “vitamin D receptors are present in nearly every tissue and cell in the body and that adequate vitamin D status is essential for optimal functioning of these tissues and cells.” It concludes that it is “imperative that all individuals be encouraged to obtain vitamin D from either sunlight or supplementation.”
What Are The Best Sources of Vitamin D?
It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from sunshine, but it’s even harder to get it from food—at least the way most people eat. The best source of dietary D is from fish livers, such as cod liver oil, but now ask yourself… when was the last time you ate cod liver oil?
Mackerel, salmon, sardines, swordfish, trout, and tuna all offer D, as do mushrooms and eggs. If you eat them regularly, you’ll meet the government-recommended requirement, but if you’re in the camp that thinks 600 IU is too low, you’ll need to be more aggressive to hit your D goals. Dairy products and cereals are fortified with vitamin D, which helps, but one review, and Harvard University, determined that supplementation with a multivitamin or concentrated vitamin D capsule provides a better insurance policy.
Of course, you shouldn’t completely avoid the sun. According to a report in Alternative Medicine Review, “the health benefits accruing from moderate UV irradiation, without erythema [reddening of the skin] or excess tanning, greatly outweigh the health risks, with skin pigmentation (melanin) providing much of the protection.”
The National Institutes of Health note that getting five to 30 minutes of sun on the face, arms, back, or legs—without sunscreen and between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week—is usually enough to promote sufficient vitamin D synthesis in the skin. However, sun exposure, especially at these hours, can be difficult to get, and particularly during winter time, or during work weeks with a busy schedule. This is why scientists frequently recommend supplementation.
Why Take Vitamin D and K?
Vitamin K has similarities with vitamin D. It’s fat-soluble, found in egg yolks and liver, as well as some plant foods, and, like vitamin D, it assists calcium in promoting strong bones. K works with D to make sure calcium gets where it needs to go without causing a problem.
Here’s what we mean: your blood levels of calcium need to stay at a certain level. When you don’t get enough calcium from your diet, one of vitamin D’s functions is to take it from your bones and move it into your bloodstream. Obviously, this isn’t ideal, but if you generally get enough calcium in your diet, it isn’t cause for concern.
While D takes calcium from your bones, it doesn’t control where it ends up in the body. Vitamin K steps in as a protective measure, seeing that the calcium doesn’t accumulate in places that could be dangerous, such as the blood vessels or kidneys. For this reason, some people believe that any vitamin D you take should be supplemented with vitamin K. In cases where vitamin D intake was too high, some subjects ended up with too much calcium in their blood, suggesting that, if taken, vitamin K might have helped to regulate the buildup and prevent the problem.
But to date, there’s no compelling evidence to show that any of the aforementioned recommended doses of vitamin D are harmful with or without vitamin K in tow. If it turns out that the two should be taken together, however, chances are that you’re already covered. Unlike vitamin D, vitamin K is available in large amounts in many commonly eaten foods, such as spinach, parsley, kale, and soft cheeses. And because K is fat-soluble, it will last in your body a while after each serving.