Athletes and Chiropractic


Athletes and Chiropractic

There is a wave that is building in the ranks of professional athletes for chiropractic and alternative health care.

Mark Letendre, the head athletic trainer for the San Francisco Giants of major league baseball, has incorporated chiropractic care into the Giants' system for 12 years now. He is a staunch supporter and believer in the power of chiropractic and in the power of the body to heal itself.

Mark's first experience with chiropractic came in the late '80s when the Giants' then-shortstop Robby Thompson had a low back problem. Thompson had a series of epidural shots which did nothing to resolve his condition. Mark then called Nick Athens,DC, of San Carlos, California. Dr. Athens had gained a reputation in the Bay Area for treating Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers and other players. Dr. Athens was able to get great results with Robby. That was the beginning of Mark's long relationship with chiropractic that lasts to this day.

Mark recognized that drugs and surgery did not provide all the answers. If he could use the benefits of chiropractic care as one of the tools in his toolbox, he could make chiropractic part of his multidisciplinary approach to care for the players. It would be a benefit for the players, the team and the trainer.
It took some time for Mark to establish chiropractic in the Giants' system, mostly because the gatekeepers were orthopedic doctors. But once Robby Thompson and Matt Williams started getting care at Dr. Athens' office, other players began following suit. Today, about 80 percent of the Giant players and 40 percent of the front office staff use chiropractic.

Dr. Newman, whom the Yankees asked to examine Boggs in January 1997. Dr. Newman's task was clear: to restore the future hall-of-famer's back to normal function. "I gave Craig an ultimatum," said Boggs. "Either get me to the point where I can be pain-free and play to the expectations I have for myself and do the things I did in the past, or that's it ..." But after twice-a-week chiropractic care, Boggs no longer is heading for the whirlpool after the game, nor strapping the ice packs to his back. He is able to run, make the long throw to first, or slam out base hits without even a hint of pain. The revitalized Boggs, wishing to keep his form, convinced Dr. Newman to set up a chiropractic network so that he can receive adjustments in every city on the Yankees schedule. Wade has become something of a spokesman for chiropractic. "I'm the torch-bearer here," he said.

"100 Percent Better" Giants outfielder Barry Bonds: "I think it should be mandatory for athletes to see a chiropractor." A three-time winner of the National League's Most Valuable Player award, Barry Bonds plays in the outfield for the San Francisco Giants and brings home a significant paycheck: a little more than $11 million per season. While in Arizona for spring training, the gifted athlete, in un-Bond-like clumsiness, tripped and fell down a flight of stairs in his rented home, landing on a marble floor and narrowly avoiding a grand piano. "I hit the floor with my hip and went straight down," he recalls. When Giants head trainer Mark Letendre heard about the accident he called upon Dr. Alan Palmer of Scottsdale, Arizona, the team's consulting chiropractor during spring training. After Dr. Palmer's treatment, Bonds said that he felt better immediately, remarking, "The chiropractor helped out a lot. I feel 100 percent better ... I'm fine. I'm real fine." He underwent an MRI test later that day and has felt no ill side-effects since that time. Like Wade Boggs, Bonds sees a benefit to receiving regular chiropractic care. "Your body is being treated like it is supposed to be treated (when you receive chiropractic care)," remarked the outfielder, who has received routine chiropractic treatments since joining the Giants in 1993. "I think it should be mandatory for athletes to see a chiropractor."

Sports Facts

  • 75% of the San Francisco 49's football team, including star quarterback Joe Montana, consulted their chiropractor during the final 24 hours before winning the Super Bowl in 1990. Joe Montana has gone on record to attribute his recovery from a potentially career-ending back injury to his chiropractor.

  • Retired tennis star Martina Navratilova has had a personal chiropractor in her entourage for a number of years.

  • Canadian Olympians (other than the aforementioned Donovan Bailey) who have benefited from chiropractic care include numerous members/medalists on the men's and women's rowing teams as well as Carolyn Waldo (Gold Medalist, synchronized swimming), and Elizabeth Manley (Silver Medalist, figure skating).

By: The American Chiropractic Association