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Many people visit a chiropractor for the first time as the result of an injury or a specific condition. If you’re looking for long-term wellness benefits, however, regular preventative care can be just as important as those acute appointments.

For more than 15 years, Kai Borgstrom, DC, CCSP, certified chiropractic sports practitioner at LifeClinic in Cypress, Texas, has worked with student and adult athletes to improve their well-being. The most common question he gets is, “Can regular chiropractic care help with my fitness goals?”

The answer is yes.

Whether you’re a performance athlete or someone with personal fitness goals, chiropractic care can support efforts for increasing speed, building muscle, reducing stress, enhancing overall wellness, and more. “Working with a chiropractor can help increase the attainability of your goals,” says Borgstrom. “Talk to your practitioner about your goals and they can develop a timeline, treatment plan, and checkpoints to set you up for success.”

We spoke with Borgstrom to learn more about the specific benefits, as well as the resources a chiropractor can provide.

What can a chiropractor do for me?

A chiropractor can do so much more than simply adjust your neck or back. “Consider them a partner who can help you improve several aspects of your health and fitness,” says Borgstrom. “If you have specific challenges or injuries, they’ll explain what muscles may be involved and offer advice for changing your habits or routine to improve your situation.

“They can also show you exercises, stretches, and soft-tissue techniques to help you consistently progress, get stronger, and become more resilient — so that you need chiropractic care less frequently,” he adds.

Chiropractic care can specifically help support you in these areas:

Accelerating injury recovery: “Many fitness injuries are the result of your body moving the wrong way,” says Borgstrom. “Chiropractic treatments can reduce the recovery time and provide long-term relief by identifying the root cause of the injury, and then restoring proper movement, maintaining alignment, and optimizing overall performance so you can move more confidently coming off an injury.”

Preventing injury: “Regular chiropractic care can help your body maintain proper mechanical balance, normal range of motion, and post-workout recovery,” Borgstrom adds. “A chiropractor will educate you on how your body moves and what exercises you may need to stabilize certain joints. This personalized approach to your body’s movement can decrease your risk of injury.”

Building muscle: Want to build muscle? Improve your range of motion, says Borgstrom. Bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons all work together to support your body’s movement within a specific range. Regular chiropractic care helps ensure all these pieces are aligned to widen your range of motion, so your joints move easily and comfortably. This helps your muscles to work at longer lengths, which in turn allows you to build more strength.

Reducing stress and tension: By reducing muscle tension and increasing range of motion, regular chiropractic visits help lessen stress on the body, which can lead to quicker recovery times. Chiropractic adjustments can also activate positive hormones that reduce pain and inflammation, and help the body in times of stress. “When your body is under less stress, you’re able to take on bigger fitness challenges — whatever you may wish to accomplish,” says Borgstrom.

Increasing speed: If speed is important to you, Borgstrom notes one study that determined that spinal adjustments appeared to help increase drive and prevent fatigue. When your spine and neck are properly aligned, it helps the muscles throughout your body work at their strongest capacity.

How can I find the right practitioner?

Borgstrom recommends taking the time to find a practitioner you trust. “I would start the conversation among friends or in your local community,” he advises. “Once you have a few recommendations, do some research on each chiropractor’s approach to treatment and read their online reviews. Identify your goals and decide which practitioner aligns best with your needs.”

And if you’re searching for assistance with specific fitness goals, Borgstrom highly encourages looking for a chiropractor with experience in treating sports and fitness athletes. “Chiropractors with experience treating for sports and fitness goals often use a functional exam or assessment to help determine the root cause of your pain or dysfunction,” he explains. “Methods of treatment in this specialized field may consist of soft-tissue therapy, kinesiology tape, laser therapies, rehabilitation exercises, and adjustments.”

How often should I visit a chiropractor?

It depends on your preferences and health situation: The practitioner you choose will recommend a frequency for your visits based on your unique circumstances. For example, you may need to make weekly appointments for a while and then move to a monthly cadence once your condition improves. And as your goals change, keep your practitioner in the loop. They will adjust your plan and recommend different exercises and stretches as needed.

“Your chiropractic frequency will vary based on your body’s limitations, dysfunctions, or the level of pain you’re experiencing,” Borgstrom advises. “You’ll start with a personalized plan to restore, maintain, and optimize your body’s function, which may take weekly visits for a while. Then, I recommend maintenance visits based on your physical demand and your own self-care preferences. Generally, a visit every one to two months is a good routine but listen to your body. If you’re struggling to move or feeling pain, see your chiropractor for updated assessments and performance evaluations to make sure you’re not increasing your chances of injury.”

Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a senior writer and content editor at Life Time.

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