Can Chiropractor’s Help Powerlifters perform at their best?

  • by

To answer this question, let’s first look back in History when Ed Coan set over 71 world records in powerlifting.

Ed Coan worked with Chiropractor, Dr James Stoxen. Dr Stoxen was with Ed at every Championship. Besides his four day a week powerlifting, and weight lifting for strength he attended his Chiropractic treatments three days a week so his body could be examined and remove every spasm weakening his frame – they called this ‘connecting the knots’.

I have written the below article for all of you training for powerlifting, training for weightlifting or weight lifting to prepare for competitions, in an aim to help you perform at your best.

When you lift, whether that be at your squat, the deadlift or the bench, or many of the other programs you might be incorporating to improve your strength, it can cause compression of the spine especially the lower lumbar spine. This can result in low back pain, particularly lumbar disc injuries. Not to mention the strain your peripheral joints go through such as elbow and knee.

Here are some ways that Chiropractor’s can help.

1. Manipulation and/or Mobilisation of joints

The adjusting techniques we use are designed to relieve pressure on joints, reduce inflammation, and improve nerve function. Joints can become restricted from repetitive lifting. The manipulation performed is a low-force, high-velocity technique focused on your joints. Virtually all joints of the body can be adjusted to help restore proper range of motion instantly.

The sacroiliac joints (SIJs), hips and thoracic spine (mid back) is often where we find restricted movement and we see the most impressive results. Improving range of motion at the SIJs and hips helps with the depth of squatting. Freeing up the thoracic spine will enable a more comfortable bar position during squatting, as well as enabling better posture during squatting and dead lifting.

When an area of the spine is not moving as well as it should, other areas start to compensate and work harder and this is where an imbalance in your body starts to occur.

2. Dry Needling

This is the gold standard of soft tissue, and extremely effecting for treating tight muscle. Unlike acupuncture, dry needling is not based on the flow of chi or traditional Chinese medicine. Dry needling is based on a thorough understanding of the scientific background of trigger points.

From a pain science perspective, trigger points are constant sources of peripheral nociceptive input leading to peripheral and central sensitization.

Dry needling can:
• Reverse some aspects of central sensitization
• Reduces local and referred pain
• Improve range of motion and muscle activation pattern
• Alter the chemical environment of trigger points

For example, an imbalance at the lower spine can be caused, by a combination of a hypertonic (tight) latissimus dorsi in combination with the lumbar erector spinae and lumbopelvic fascia. Getting regular Dry needling can restore this imbalance and in turn improve your performance in the powerlifting sport.

3. Rehabilitation

Dr James Stoxen DC with Ed Coan APF World Championships 1988
Dr James Stoxen DC with Ed Coan APF World Championships 1988

Rehabilitation is based on deficiencies or muscular imbalances that have been detected during your functional movement assessment. It consists of exercises that get your body to move in ways in which it was designed to move, to correct dysfunctional patterns or habits of movement which have been adopted over time from poor and repetitive movement.

Individual rehab programs help powerlifts with any mobility or motor control (stability) issues that they have. Getting on top of these dysfunctions will help powerlifters to prevent injury and enhance their performance.

4. Orthotics -Better Posture Starts with Your Feet

Architecture and structure is fundamental to preventing injury and degeneration. Customs made orthotics are custom shoe inserts that support all three arches in your feet. This creates a healthier, more attractive posture, plus a more stable foundation for your entire body. Though they may go unnoticed, these subtle imbalances can contribute to postural misalignments, knee pain, hip problems, head tilt, forward leaning head carriage and general fatigue. We have specialist orthotics for athletes that are flexible. It improves the loading and imbalance in your lift, Orthotics is the best start.

5. Massage

The pain and stiffness felt in the muscles the day after a workout is referred to as Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise. This is known all too well to powerlifters. Discomfort experienced when trying to tie shoe laces, bending forward or even moving to sit down on a chair can become very frustrating. A regular massage can help flush the body of these unwanted metabolic by-products of exercise and see you returning to the weight lifting room earlier.

Dr John is happy to answer any questions patients may have about this topic. Contact us to arrange an appointment today reap the benefits of preventative therapy that keeps you lifting longer and stronger.

Disclaimer: The above is only aimed that providing with awareness and information. It does not provide medical advice. It is intended for the purpose to promote discussion and boarded understanding and knowledge of the topic. Please always seek the advice of your Chiropractic.


Lee D, Lee L-J (2004) Stress Urinary Incontinence – a consequence of failed load transfer through the pelvis? 5th World Interdisciplinary Congress on Low Back and Pelvic Pain, Melbourne, November 2004

Smith et al (2006) Disorders of breathing and continence have a stronger association with back pain than obesity and physical activity. AJP, 52, 11-16

Sapsford RR et al (2000) Co-activation of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles during voluntary exercises. Neurourology and Urodynamics, 20, 1, 31-42

Kelly M et al (2007) Healthy adults can more easily elevate the pelvic floor in standing than in crook-lying: an experimental study. AJP, 53, 187-191

Rahmani N & Mohseni-Bandpei MA (2009). Application of perineometer in the assessment of pelvic floor muscle strength and endurance: a reliability study. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.

Stuge B et al (2006) To treat or not to treat postpartum pelvic girdle pain with stabilizing exercises? Manual Therapy, 11, 337-344.

These latter investigators concluded that effective treatment of postpartum pelvic girdle pain may be achieved when exercises for the entire spinal musculature are included, individually guided and adpated to each individual.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *