Background: The chiropractic profession has a long history of providing care for athletes. Despite anecdotal claims regarding improved performance made in chiropractic marketing, little evidence exists showing a relationship between chiropractic care and improved sports performance. Strength and conditioning research has recently begun to investigate the role of the autonomic nervous system in periodized training and recovery. The function of the autonomic nervous system is responsible in large part for the physiological adaptations that occur as a result of training; and heart rate variability is being utilized to assess athletes’ physiologic recovery.
This paper will explore the principle of specific adaptation to imposed demand, periodization of overload training and recovery, the role of the autonomic nervous system in physiologic adaptation to training, utilizing heart rate variability to assess response to training load and state of recovery, and a potential research agenda for subluxation based chiropractic in a population of athletes.
Discussion: The topic of periodization, recovery, and overtraining syndrome is broad and complex, but the role of the autonomic nervous system in sports performance is garnering a lot of attention. Function of the autonomic nervous system appears to have a central role in adaptation versus maladaptation during training cycles. Due to the increased popularity, and evidence, in monitoring training and recovery status through the use of heart rate variability in conjunction with subjective measures, future chiropractic research endeavors involving athletes should be geared towards identification of vertebral subluxations, their epidemiology in a population of athletes, and the effects of correction of vertebral subluxation on objective measures such as HRV and questionnaires such as the REST-Q.
Conclusion: Sufficient evidence exists to establish a research agenda geared towards subluxation based chiropractic in a population of athletes utilizing heart rate variability as an outcome measure.
Key words: Sports performance, heart rate variability, HRV, chiropractic, overtraining syndrome, autonomic nervous system, subluxation, adaptability, salutogenesis
Get our Health-E-Update
Subscribe to get our weekend update on the latest health insights to keep you healthy.