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By Lisa Stone  |  19 July 2020   

A chiropractor is basically a health care professional that specializes in spinal health, although they address all other joint issues and alignments, as well. A great chiropractor is going to help ensure quick recovery for any injury, but especially if it’s martial arts related.

Spine with Brain | Fighting Arts Health Lab

An injury occurring during class, sparring, or competition may sprain tendons or twist a vertebra out of place. Even an open cut or knee sprain can pull muscles, tendons and ligaments out of alignment during the event. 

The skeletal components of the body are like the foundation of a house; they keep the body strong and solid, allowing energy, life force, or chi to flow. Once they are realigned, and kept that way, the rest will tend to fall into place and heal correctly. 

Chiropractic Care Is the New Normal for Those in the Combat Arts

Dr. Peter Goldman is the chiropractor to the MMA elite stars. Dr. Pete, as he’s called, is also a martial artist. Dr. Pete is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, receiving his black belt from Carlos Sapao, and a past U.S. champion in karate.

Dr. Pete said, “In 1991 only two fighters were chosen to represent the U.S. in the European Full Contact Karate Championships. I was one of them. I won my first fight by K.O.” It’s easy to see why fighters and athletes trust him. He understands sports injuries in a ‘been there, done that’ real life context—and he gets results. Dr. Pete is the go-to chiro guy for MMA and UFC fighters, both for preventive care and immediate injury care.

DD Palmer was the founder of chiropractic. He taught that altered or hindered nerve impulse flow was the root cause of disease. Misaligned spinal vertebrae hinder or block nerve energy flow, negatively affecting the body. Dr. Pete practices the Zone Technique, which is built upon those principles that Palmer taught, combined with the teachings of Dr. Thurman Fleet (1895-1983).

“If I have a regular head cold, 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,” said Strikeforce lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez. “I separated my shoulder. People have surgery. We opted out of that. Dr. Pete’s a guy that assured me I wouldn’t need it. He’s doing something beyond chiropractic. He’s definitely doing some kind of healing.”

Dr. Pete convinces fighters to try his form of healing in one way. He says, “One word, results. MMA fighters, like anyone else, want results, and when they come to me that’s what they get.” Dr. Pete said this about getting started with chiropractic healing in the fight world. “About ten years ago, I helped Bas Rutten and BJ Penn quite a bit and then the fight world took notice.”  

The Body Electric

The human body is basically a complex electrical system set up within a biological shell. Any electrical wiring expert knows that if the electrical connections are faulty, blocked, inhibited or compromised, the electricity cannot easily get through the wires. Essentially, the human body runs the same way. In the human body electrical connections, or nerves, that are faulty or blocked may create shorts in the system, electrical ‘fires,’ pain, inflammation, or other types of ‘system failure.’ 

Body Electric | Fighting Arts Health Lab

When the spine or other bones are misaligned, blockages or faulty connections in the system may result. It may also pinch or otherwise inhibit electrical transmissions of a nerve (human ‘electrical wire’), resulting in numbness, weakness, inflammation, and pain. Or the spine may get pulled or twisted out of place, resulting in weakness, painful muscle inflammation, tenderness or knots on either or both sides of the body, radiating pain down nerve pathways as in sciatica, or neck spasms.

“Dr. Thurman Fleet taught that the body is like an electrical machine with the brain being the positive pole and the spinal cord being the negative pole. When certain parts of the cord are properly stimulated with touch, the brain can be put in proper harmony with the systems of the body.”

What Chiropractors Do

A chiropractor who has been trained in excellence will first examine and run tests on the body to see if any obvious misalignments can be observed. They will look and feel for slight differences, for example, in comparative limb length, i.e., is one leg shorter than the other (implicating misalignment). 

Is patient able to bend equally to the right and left sides, or to the front and back easily and equally? Are shoulders hunched or is one up higher than another, are there knots of muscle tension in the hips and lower back, or is one vertebra clearly misaligned from the rest of the spine? These small physical tests and observations may also be accompanied by several medical machine tests searching for places on the body, for instance, that register higher temperatures, meaning there is possible misalignment, inflammation, or infection there, etc.

Chiropractors Reopen Energy Pathways

Chiropractic care adheres closely to the oriental ideas of meridians and energy pathways. Chiropractic, however, focuses on how those meridians and energy pathways are affected by tiny, incorrect shifts in skeletal connections in relation to each other.

So if this one vertebrae between the shoulder blades is slightly crooked and sticking out instead of laying relatively flat, it will negatively affect the energetic and electrical flow of all nerves, muscles, rib heads, etc., attaching to it or around it. 

Those physical aspects attaching to misaligned vertebrae will now also become slightly misaligned, negatively affecting yet another group of nerves, muscles, rib heads, even lungs, stomach, intestines, etc. 

The body is one interconnected unit, and as such, each little part affects the next part and the next.

In this case, that one misaligned vertebra between the shoulder blades is connected to the lungs and diaphragm, so within days or weeks could cause shortness of breath, problems inhaling fully, pain in diaphragm area, pain radiating up into the shoulders and neck, even sciatica pain down the arms or legs.

Calling chiropractic care “Bullsh*t” is one place where UFC commentator Joe Rogan got it all wrong. Here’s a little proof:

  • UFC fighters BJ Penn, Nate Diaz, Royce Gracie, Michael Bisping, and Michelle Waterson are but a few Chiropractic care regulars. That impressive lineup means successful treatments and positive results.
  • BJ Penn swears by Dr. Pete’s chiropractic technique as healing a potentially career-stopping injury. “10 years ago Dr. Pete gave me so much relief from my herniated disc in my neck that it has never been a problem again.”
  • Chiropractors are required to pay very low insurance premiums because there is little potential danger for the client.
  • The chiropractic practice has been accused of being in the ‘dark ages.’ A ridiculous assertion, considering that the highest level of competitive athletes from the U.S. Olympic team, NFL, and NBA are utilizing chiropractic deep tissue therapeutic techniques such as the ‘active release’ on a consistent basis.

Chiropractic Care is Holistic

Chiropractors are taught to treat the entire body and person, rather than separate them into little boxes of ‘symptoms.’ They recognize that a human is a ‘complete system,’ meaning all parts connect to the whole, and each aspect connects with and affects the rest of the unit. 

MMA fighters get injuries similar to whiplash. These include injuries to the central nervous system, blows to the head and neck causing a variety of neurological problems. These athletes are experiencing better reaction times, balance, and increase of strength as a result of chiropractic care. Chiropractic realigns the spine, giving them better neurological signaling, and ultimately, a sharper competitive edge. 

Fighters Talk About Chiropractic

Ex professional boxer Evander Holyfield said, “I do believe in Chiropractic. I found that going to a Chiropractor three times a week helps my performance. Once I drove 20 miles to see a chiropractor before a fight. I have to have my adjustment before I get in the ring. The majority of boxers go to get that edge.”

Chiropractic Care Believer Evander Holyfield | Fighting Arts Health Lab

Source: Gustavo Fadel / Shutterstock.com

Frank Shamrock is former UFC light heavyweight champion and MMA fighter. He felt like discovering chiropractic care was a pivotal point in his professional athletic career.

“When I was 16 in high school I started playing basketball and my right leg went numb and started to drag slightly behind me. 

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.”

Shamrock added, “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.” 

Chiropractic Treatment Greatly Increases Immunocompetence

There have been multiple studies proving chiropractic treatment, in particular correction of upper cervical subluxation, improves immunocompetence. HIV-positive and AIDS patients were given chiropractic care or sham treatments.

At the 6 month check up, patients receiving chiropractic adjustments showed a 48 percent increase in CD4 cell counts. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection. 

They are also called T-cells, T-Lymphocytes, or helper cells, and are a primary indicator of the health of your immune system. The more you have the better condition you are in. CD4 cells defend against infections, pathogens, and illnesses. 

After 6 months those patients receiving sham treatments had CD4 cells decline by 7.96 percent, and two AIDS patients died. The study was terminated early and sham chiropractic patients given spinal adjustment treatments. These studies clearly show the importance of correcting spinal misalignments causing nerve interference and blockage.

Increased Immune System Response 

A chiropractic immune system study by Patricia Brennan, PhD, in 1991, tested the effects of a thoracic (middle of back) treatment on patients. The study resulted in an increased immune system response. Another researcher, Dr. Pero, stated in his report conclusion, “Chiropractic patients in the study had 200 percent greater immune competence than people who had not received chiropractic, and 400 percent greater immune competence than people with cancer or other serious disease.” 

Chiropractic Helps with Neuropathy 

Research also proves that chiropractic adjustments decrease symptoms of neuropathy. Neuropathy and diabetic neuropathy symptoms include numbness, tingling, and/or burning. Chiropractic adjustments reduce discomfort and pain of neuropathy. 

Chiropractic Also Helps Athletes Improve Performance

Chiropractic Vertical Jump Test | Fighting Arts Health Lab

Athletic performance is improved for many types of sports with chiropractic care, even when the athletes are physically compromised.

One research trial studied the effects of chiropractic care on vertical jump height by female handball players with talocrural joint dysfunction (ankle joint pain). Their performance was compared to athletes receiving only sham care.

After three weeks, the group receiving chiropractic ankle manipulation had significantly improved their vertical jump height. 

One spinal adjustment improved muscle strength in elite Taekwondo athletes. Researchers tested whether a single session of chiropractic adjustment would increase muscle strength and cortical drive in the lower limb or soleus muscle of elite Taekwondo athletes. One chiropractic session did increase muscle strength and corticospinal excitability for at least 30 to 60 minutes. 

Chiropractic Aids with Issues

Chiropractic treatment helps with a wide variety of physical and mental conditions. Chiropractic care is effective and recommended for all ages. Chiropractic adjustment is recommended for many types of issues including: migraine and cervigenic headache; all types of back pain; knee pain; acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain; cervigenic dizziness; neuropathy; acute/subacute neck pain; immune system response; extremity joint conditions; talocrural ankle joint pain; chronic ankle instability; acute whiplash; shoulder girdle pain; adhesive capsulitis; lateral epicondylitis; hip and knee osteoarthritis; patellofemoral pain syndrome; and plantar fasciitis.

Improvement was also shown with carpal tunnel syndrome; ankle sprains; rotator cuff pain; and shoulder pain. This is not by any means an exhaustive list. 

Chiropractic care found more effective than some medications. Over 50 research studies were performed comparing chiropractic care to certain medications. For acute and subacute neck pain, chiropractic manipulation proved consistently more effective for reducing pain and improving neck function in immediate and follow up results than did certain medications. Chiropractic manipulations consistently improved acute and chronic neck pain in both immediate and long term results.

Evidence-Based Chiropractic Care

Over 60 percent of adults in the U.S. have used alternative and complementary medicine therapies. Chiropractic is the largest alternative medicine profession in the country. It has over 70,000 members, and chiropractic services account for the greatest number of alternative medicine treatments. Chiropractic care is covered under Medicare and Medicaid. Veteran’s Health Administration, Defense Department, and hospitals provide chiropractic care. 

Most private insurance and many health maintenance organization insurance plans now cover chiropractic care. These changes are the result of an evidence-based approach to chiropractic adjustments and manual therapy that has repeatedly proven its effectiveness, along with a growing body of clinical research documenting positive healing results. 

Palmer Chiropractic Method

Dr. Palmer said, “The main difference between modern medicine and chiropractic is that modern medicine is generally concerned with treating symptoms, while chiropractic is interested in adjusting the cause.”

“Outside of situations that require emergency medicine, many people went to these old school chiropractors with all types of requests and found amazing results,” said MMA elite chiropractor, Dr. Peter Goldman, who practices Palmer chiropractic method mixed with the Zone, and holds black belts in Kyokushin Karate and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

Chiropractic Daniel David Palmer | Fighting Arts Health Lab

Daniel David (DD) Palmer was the founder of chiropractic. BJ Palmer was his son, who deeply researched for 30 years the Palmer chiropractic method, compiling data, and establishing medical protocol.  The following information explains chiropractic manipulation according to the Palmers. All other chiropractic methods build from this base. 

The following is taken from BJ Palmer and the Hole in One Adjustment.

There are several versions of the story about how DD Palmer discovered the importance of vertebral alignment. The most famous version happened on September 18th, 1895. This story is about a janitor named Harvey Lilliard who was a patient of DD Palmer. Lilliard had gone deaf 17 years before of unknown reasons. 

One day Lilliard complained to Palmer about chronic neck pain. Palmer ran his hands over Lilliard’s neck. Normally Palmer did magnetic therapy, but had started experimenting with spinal manipulation. Palmer felt an unusual lump on Lilliard’s neck. He manipulated the protrusion and gently pushed it back in place, thereby re-aligning the spine. Then suddenly, Lilliard got his hearing back as a result of this spinal correction. Palmer believed that misaligned vertebra negatively affect nerve energy electrical flow in the body, which will cause disease and chronic health issues if not corrected. Palmer believed that health will be restored by realigning the vertebrae.

The Brainstem, C-1 and C-2 Vertebrae

  • The Brainstem is where the most important organ of the body resides, is the source and the Brainstem is the beginning of life in the body.
  • At no other place in the Nervous system does the Nerve tissue come as close, and fit as snug, as the brainstem to the bony tissue, inside the skull and upper two neck bones.
  • The nerve roots and the spinal cord have much more room between themselves and the bones below C-2
  • There are no discs holding these two bones in place, but discs are present between every other vertebra in the spine.
  • There are no large vertebral bodies supporting the vertebrae at C-1 and C-2, but are present throughout the rest of the spine.
  • There are only 2-3 intervertebral surfaces stabilizing joint movement between the upper two cervical bones C-1 and C-2, also known as Atlas and Axis, but there is an average of 6 to 8 between the bones of the rest of the spine.

Once C-1 and C-2 displace, they tend to lock out of normal position, until a specific force is introduced to unlock them, allowing them to go back to their proper position. 
The brainstem itself has no feeling or sensory awareness. This means the upper two cervical vertebrae can create interference to the energetic life flow coming from the brainstem, thereby damaging any part of your body without your awareness, thus it has been nicknamed the "Silent Killer," or its formal name, vertebral subluxation. Vertebral subluxation could be present for years accumulating damage before a pain or symptomatic warning showed.

Why Chiropractic Care is Important

People by the thousands traveled to see Palmer after he cured Lilliard. Palmer healed cases of epilepsy, hydrocephalus, cancer, tumors, encephalitis, multiple sclerosis and many more difficult cases. He charted and recorded everything. His healing results in various categories of disease or sickness scored in the high 90 percent healed range, with low averages being mid 80 percent healed. 

From the spinal cord, 31 nerve roots on each side (62 total), branch out from the spinal cord inside your spine, passing through the holes on the side of your vertebrae, (formed by two vertebrae), to the outside of the spine. From there each spinal nerve root branches out an average of 500 million times to supply each and every cell of the human body with the vital life force, enabling each cell to heal and new cells to reproduce regularly to replace old cells. 

BJ Palmer (DD Palmer’s son, Dr. BJ Palmer) discovered that the upper neck bones could displace by each moving in four different directions from their appropriate positions, creating interference to the brainstem. This would require a special "torque delivered force" and observance of specific lines of drive to accomplish a "complete" correction of all the brainstem pressure and interference. 

BJ discovered that there were 274 possible combinations that these two bones could displace to create brainstem interference, and developed a special chiropractic adjustment to correct this. Once BJ unlocked these vertebrae with his special Hole In One Adjustment, all types of problems began to get well that never responded before. 

Chiropractic manipulation is an excellent health tool for the martial artist. Use of chiropractic methodology to keep the body and mind in top operating condition, and to help repair and heal injury and trauma is imperative for maintaining the athletic body.

It is clear from elite martial artists’ testimonials that chiropractic manipulation is a powerful, effective treatment for many conditions, and an excellent tool to use in conjunction with other healing modalities such as massage, heat, LLLT, physical therapy, and exercise. 

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About the author

Lisa Stone is a writer, artist, and dancer from the US who specializes in martial arts, health, and fitness. She began as a freelance ghostwriter helping authors with fiction writing and poetry then moved to online web writing. She’s addicted to sushi with ginger and wasabi, and martial arts films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Always an athlete, Lisa started martial arts training the week after an attack on the street left her feeling vulnerable, victimized, angry and helpless. Intensive martial arts training shifted that dynamic almost overnight. It was the excitement, fun, and camaraderie that kept her going back week after week to classes designed to test physical, mental, and emotional limits. And she’s still hooked—lol, pun intended! Find her at writesalternative.com.

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