Insight summary

  • Chiropractors can help manage athletes through all phases of injury
  • Addressing niggles/old injuries is important to prevent future injury

Pain and injury are a common part of sport and performance, especially at higher levels of competition. Athletes push their bodies to the limits of what they’re capable of, so there’s a fine line between pushing the limit of what is possible, and what can cause injury!


This insight will cover the role of chiropractic in helping to manage athletes, and to improve their performance.

DMC Health understands what it takes to compete at a high level, as well as the physical and mental toll it takes on your body. That’s why we are passionate about helping athletes stay in the game, and performing at their best.


When managing athletes, treatment can be divided into three phases:

  1. Acute injury management
  2. Active rehabilitation
  3. Preventative treatment

In acute injury management, there’s usually a specific injury (e.g. muscle tear) that needs to heal. Here our role is to facilitate the healing process by managing the symptoms (decreasing pain, swelling, and maintaining mobility) via manual therapy, advice, and education.


During active rehabilitation we focus on rebuilding mobility, stability and strength that is specific to the athlete’s injury and specific sporting goals.


Once the injury has healed and been rehabilitated, and the athlete has returned to their normal activity, then we focus on preventative treatment. Here our goal is to maintain the results we’ve achieved, and managing any niggles that may occur over time to limit their impact on performance, and reduce the risk of injury (1).


In this phase, it’s also important to address old injuries that may not have been managed appropriately in the beginning, leading to potential compensations in biomechanics or sport specific technique. For example, in weightlifting, significant shoulder stability is required in overhead positions. If a weightlifter had a previous shoulder subluxation that wasn’t rehabilitated, this may lead to chronic instability. Therefore, limiting the weight they can hold overhead, and increasing their risk of further injury.


Chiropractors are trained in the assessment of human biomechanics, and understand how to address these using exercise rehabilitation. Additionally, we help athletes by managing/overseeing their training/competition workload. This is crucial to avoid overuse injuries from doing too much, too soon.


Finally, it is our role to understand you, your sport, and the specific demands that it places on your body, in order to achieve the best results.


About the Authors


David-ChiroDavid McNaughton is a clinician, researcher and lecturer. He is the director and principal chiropractor at DMC Health & Wellness. He has an extensive background in the diagnosis and management of chronic pain. In addition to his clinical studies, David holds a Master’s of Research and PhD in Psychology. He regularly publishes his research in peer reviewed medical and psychology journals. David has taught both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Chiropractic and Psychology.



Isaac Searant completed a Bachelor of Chiropractic Science and Master of Chiropractic at Macquarie University, and is currently enrolled in a Master of Research. His research aims to understand the clinical decisions health practitioners make about diagnostic imaging. His clinical interests include spinal pain (neck and back) and sporting injuries. Regardless of the condition, his goal as a chiropractor is to work collaboratively with patients.





  1. Whalan M, Lovell R, Sampson JA. Do Niggles Matter?-Increased injury risk following physical complaints in football (soccer). Science and Medicine in Football. 2020 Jul 2;4(3):216-24.



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