Athletes, Concussions, and Your Chiropractor
We have all heard of concussions, particularly in athletes, but many are unaware of the seriousness of getting a concussion as a result of a sports incident. At times, concussions are overlooked by coaches, players, and even young athletes parents. However, this traumatic brain injury can have long term consequences if it isn’t treated properly.
How Does a Concussion Affect an Athlete?
A concussion can result from direct or indirect head trauma that can lead to internal bruising, bleeding, tissue damage, increased intra-cranial pressure, and can alter the brain’s ability to function properly. If left untreated (and if it is treated but is severe) this injury could potentially lead to physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms like amnesia, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and headaches.
Longer term effects are often caused by changes in the function of the nervous system. This is why an immediate assessment and the development of a treatment plan are so vital to the recovery process. Returning to your sport too quickly in the recovery process can set you back, especially in cases where multiple concussions have been diagnosed.
How Can a Chiropractor Help an Athlete Return to Play?
The access to fast assessment and expertise that lead to appropriate care and resources will be the guiding force in how quickly a person can resume regular activities, and eventually sports. The focus here is to heal the injury, and minimize the risk of post-concussion syndrome and persistent symptoms.
Generally, the protocol before returning to regular scheduled activities includes complete rest initially, then slowly moving into light exercise like swimming or walking. From there, easing into sport specific exercises and non-contact drills can take place while being monitored. At any point if there is a recurrence of symptoms, it is advised that the process is restarted from the very beginning.
The recovery process is something that is closely monitored by us, along with the rest of the healthcare team. The goal is for the athlete to be completely symptom free and to not be depending on medications to modify the symptoms in order to return to their sport.
As with all head injuries, taking close care of the athlete is the most important factor in recovery and should not be rushed. Where some could take up to 10 days to recover, this timeframe could be much lengthier for others. In addition, the number of concussions the athlete has sustained is a determining factor in the length of the recovery process. Multiple concussions can run the risk of cognitive impairments, which is why being serious about recovery is so important.
Musculoskeletal Injuries Are What We Do
We will also assess and manage any musculoskeletal injuries associated with the concussion in order to help you return to your sport. Having us as a part of your healthcare team is what will ensure optimal healing and the ability to functionally return to your training.
Additionally, it is your overall health post concussion that will be the main focus of your treatment moving forward.
5 Tips for Surviving Long Drives
Whether you’re a long distance driver for work, you have a long commute, or you’re gearing up for a road trip; maintaining adequate blood flow will be the key to diminishing stiffness, soreness or pain.
The average person will spend 2+ hours a week driving, if you live in a big city this can be up to 5 hours sitting in traffic. This combination of prolonged sitting and the stress that traffic can induce is a recipe for stiff shoulders, migraines, and back pain. Taking breaks during road trips is a must, doing some simple stretches during an every day drive can save you from discomfort, and for those who drive for work… it’s all about the breaks AND the stretches.
Here are 5 tips for surviving those long drives:
- Adjust the angle of your seat. The angle of the seat will determine how much pressure is on your spine, along with the reach to the steering wheel with your arms, and the reach to the gas/break with your leg/foot. All of these will contribute to neck and back pain. Your seat should be at around a 75 degree angle. Reclining too much will cause neck pain as the effort required to check blind spots and mirrors will become bothersome. Remaining upright will allow your ears to remain over your shoulders.
- Roll your shoulders. Lift your shoulders as if you are trying to touch them to your ears. Then roll them in a circular motion. This will help loosen up tight upper back muscles by lengthening and strengthening them, which will help to relieve tension. This can easily and safely be done while driving.
- Take a break. There is no harm in taking the extra time to get to your destination if this means you’re alleviating the potential to feel sore when you arrive. Taking a break to get gas, to get a drink, or to just get up and walk will help to keep your circulation flowing and will loosen up stiff muscles. Feeling ambitious? Do some light stretches – touch your toes, roll your shoulders, stretch your calves, and roll your wrists.
- Use a lumbar support. If you send hours a week, or even hours a day driving, a lumbar support will help to dramatically reduce the potential for back pain over long periods of time. Prolonged sitting unfortunately will weaken your back muscles if you aren’t determined to maintain adequate support and prevention through exercise. Not all lumbar supports are created equal, so make sure you purchase one that is the right size and curvature for your body.
- Stay hydrated. I know, you’re probably wondering why considering driving doesn’t induce sweating (unless it’s a hot day and there isn’t any air conditioning). But hydration is always important. Your spine has discs filled with fluid that sit in between the bones in your spine. These discs provide cushion so your spine can move freely and without the pain you would experience if the bones were grinding against each other. Staying hydrated allows these fluid filled discs to remain functional.
The Goal is a More Pleasant Commute
Having a pain free commute is always the goal. Having a few tips you are willing to follow during these long drives will allow you to enjoy this part of your day. Listening to your favorite podcast, e-book, or music will help to boost your mood, making this part of the day more enjoyable.
And of course, regular Chiropractic visits are always a good idea!