New Study Finds Chiropractic Improves Kicking Speed In Soccer Players
Soccer players get a kick out of chiropractic!
Whether you just won the 2022 World Cup in Qatar or play with my preschooler in the slightly less-competitive Elmbrook United U6 Soccer League, the single most important skill in any soccer player’s arsenal is a powerful instep kick. Also referred to as the laces kick, the instep kick maximally recruits all four of the quadriceps muscles in the thigh to extend the knee and drive the soccer ball forward with maximum force.
But when your spine, pelvis and hips aren’t functioning optimally – whether from falling and colliding on the field or the stress that running 5-10 miles over the course of a 90-minute match puts on a player’s body – the strength of that kick can be affected significantly.
What the evidence says about soccer & chiropractic
While we’ve known for years that spinal manipulation by a chiropractor can increase maximum voluntary muscle contraction – in some cases up to 59% – a recent study out of The Journal of Chiropractic and Manual Therapies was the first to focus exclusively on soccer players. Specifically, the researchers investigated whether chiropractic manipulation of the lumbar spine and/or sacroiliac joints could help players improve their kicking speed.
Forty Premier League soccer players were recruited for the study, all of them asymptomatic (meaning they weren’t currently experiencing any pain or other symptoms). The participants were selected into one of four groups based on range of motion evaluation by medical examiners.
The first group consisted of players who had restricted mobility in the lumbar spine (lower back), the second group had restriction in the sacroiliac joint(s), the third group consisted of players with restricted mobility in both the lumbar spine and the sacroiliac joint(s), and a fourth control group had no mobility issues at all.
All four groups performed the same warm-up routine, followed by the appropriate chiropractic adjustment for groups 1-3 and a sham adjustment for group 4. Ball velocity for each participant was measured both before and after treatment by a SpeedTrac Sport Radar device.
Players were also asked for their subjective take on changes in their kicking speed post-treatment.
The results of the study?
While the control ‘sham adjustment’ group saw a slight decrease in kicking speed, the players in the first three groups who were actually adjusted saw a massive improvement. In fact, the groups receiving sacroiliac adjustments or sacroiliac plus lumbar spine adjustments saw an average kicking speed increase of up to 6.5 km/h (about 4 mph) post-chiropractic treatment.
Players’ subjective perception correlated closely to the objective results as well, meaning they could tell their performance was improved.
Keep in mind this was after just one adjustment by a chiropractor, and to professional Premier League players. These are athletes who’ve already fine-tuned their ability to kick a soccer ball better than pretty much any other human alive.
Other similar studies have confirmed these findings, including one published in September by the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, which saw an average increase of 6.3 km/h in ball velocity following spinal manipulation.
Of course, there are some caveats. It’s possible that these are short term effects that will just as quickly fade away when players cool off after practice. Whether they can bring the increased kicking speed to the field and retain it with a significant amount of consistency remains to be seen.
Answering those questions will require future studies with larger sample sizes and longer observation periods. But the important thing is that it works – and it gives further support to the fact that chiropractic should be a key part of any athlete’s routine even if they’re not in pain.
Why it matters
Stronger is better… better stamina, better balance, better coordination, better performance in every area of your life. What will you do with more strength?
Whether you’re a pro athlete or weekend warrior, study after study shows that regular chiropractic care is an essential part of reaching your full potential as an athlete. Ready to get stronger and looking for a Brookfield chiropractor? To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.