Feb 17 2016
Mixed martial arts and competitive fighting has never been more popular in the U.S., with world-class athletes pushing their bodies past the point of mere mortals. But all of that tireless training, merciless pounding, and violent blows enact a steep toll on their bodies. Enter chiropractic care, which has long been an undercover ally to the best mixed martial arts fighters – and now has gone mainstream in the fight game.
Mixed martial arts is best known by the UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship, the professional organization that hosts the biggest contests. This full-contact combative sport (of course there are rules, like no head-butting, groin strikes, etc.) pits two opponents against each other in a caged octagon matt for grueling 5-minute rounds.
In the early years of mixed martial arts, fighters usually specialized in one discipline – like boxing, wrestling, judo, karate, Muay Thai, or jiu-jitsu. But over the last two decades, the fight game has evolved so much that professionals train in almost all of these. After months and years of vigorous training, you still never know what’s going to happen once they step into octagon, with some fights lasting only seconds until someone is knocked unconscious while others go the distance to a close decision.
As you can imagine, these super-athletes look for every possible competitive edge in their training, athletic performance, recuperation, diet, and overall health. For an increasing number of professional MMA fighters, chiropractic care is provides that edge.
How do regular visits to the chiropractic help professional fighters? It’s not hard to imagine the physical toll the training takes on a fighter’s body, and healing and managing preexisting injuries and treating new ones is essential. Pain management is also a huge aspect of chiropractic care, as well as increasing strength, flexibility, range of motion, balance, and coordination.
Chiropractic also helps align the spine, refreshing neurological signaling that allows the body to heal and recuperate itself optimally.
These fighters literally put their lives on the line every time they step inside the octagon, as the potential for serious injury always looms. With explosive kicks, flurries of punches without anything more than small gloves, elbows, knees, and plenty of grappling and choke holds, mixed martial arts wreaks havoc on the musculoskeletal system, and puts the neck and spine in particularly vulnerable positions.
In fact, a 4-month study of mixed martial arts tournaments found that of the 427 fighters who participated, 103 suffered cases of cervical neck injury; 5 required hospitalization. The physicians and chiropractors that oversaw the research described the typical fighter’s injury as whiplash suffered in auto accidents.
The list of professional fighters and mixed martial artists started with just a few who were looking for relief from injuries and an athletic advantage.
BJ Penn, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Fabricio Werdum, Benson Henderson, Gilbert Melendez, Michael Bisping, Lorenz Larkin, Mauricio Rua, Cheick Kongo, Michael Bisping, Giva Santana, Shane Del Rosario, Ian McCall, Spencer Fisher, Ricco Rodriguez and Tito Ortiz have all visited chiropractors regularly and been outspoken proponents.
And these days, chiropractors are an essential part of the health, athletic, and medical team for almost all fighters. Here’s what Ronda Rousey, former UFC champion and one of the most celebrated fighters of all time has to say about chiropractic care:
“A lot of the injuries that I get during training, I can count on Dr. Sarkis Cholakyan [her chiropractor] because he always helps me get better.”
Strikeforce lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez quickly found great value in visiting his chiropractor on a regular basis.
“If I have a regular head cold,” says Melendez, “I call him up and say ‘Hey, man, I need to get adjusted.’ It’s not just for my injuries, it’s for me having good energy and feeling right, feeling balanced.”
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Frank Shamrock has his own unique story with chiropractic care.
“When I was 16 in high school I started playing basketball and my right leg went numb and started to drag slightly behind me, says Shamrock. “I went to the regular MD who did x-rays and told me that I had broken my back at an early stage of my life, that I would need immediate surgery, and I’d have pain and limited mobility for the rest of my life. So, being the highly holistic and active person I am, I went and saw a chiropractor. I’ve been seeing chiropractic for 16 years now. It has been the change in my life that has allowed me to participate in professional athletics and to achieve six world championships … I believe in chiropractic.”
Those are certainly some glowing endorsements for chiropractic from the best athletes in the most violent, physically taxing sport on earth – so imagine what it could do for you!