Chiropractic and Water Polo: What Happens Below the Water Doesn't Stay Below the Water
By Paul Rothbart
Quick, name a water sport. Most of you probably said swimming and maybe some came up with diving. Maybe a few of you named water polo.
Now, name a brutal, physical sport with a high risk of injury.
Football was likely the number one answer followed by hockey and maybe rugby. Unless you’ve played it before in high school, you probably didn’t choose water polo. However, water polo players engage in a sport in which their bodies are put through hell.
High school. College. National team. Hell.
How Physical Is Water Polo?
The physical demands of water polo rank up there with any of the toughest sports. There are more than 40,000 high school water polo players -- boys and girls -- who are among the athletes who must make sure they don’t drown while competing. Think about that for a moment. First rule of water polo: Don’t drown.
Unlike swimmers, water polo players have opponents trying to impede their progress while they swim, tread water, pass, shoot, and play defense. This alone is a killer combination of physical activities. But wait, there’s more.
Although it’s nearly impossible to tackle someone in the water, the amount of grabbing, pushing, shoving, kicking, and jostling that goes on beneath the surface in water polo matches makes the jostling among basketball players fighting for position under the hoop seem like a walk in the park.
Consider that water is far more dense than air and it requires more force and energy to move through it. Water polo players are constantly twisting, turning, and contorting their bodies along with the repetitive throwing motion. It’s a tough sport to play and stay healthy while doing so.
What Injuries Are Prone to Affect Water Polo Players?
Like any athlete in a physical sport, water polo players are no strangers to getting hurt and there are some common injuries. The head, the knees, and the shoulders account for half of all water polo injuries.
Water polo players are frequently struck in the head by the ball and the arms of opposing players. Facial injuries such as contusions, damage to teeth, and injuries to the eyes are among the most common. It is also not unusual for players to suffer concussions. We said at the outset this was a tough sport.
The shoulders get quite a workout in a water polo match. Much like football, players slam into each other using their shoulders. More commonly, an overuse injury will occur. Water polo players are constantly swimming as well as throwing the ball. Like baseball players, this causes strain that can result in torn rotator cuffs and labrums.
In a sport that requires staying afloat while your arms are busy throwing a ball and defending and fending off opponents, the task of not drowning is largely left to the legs. They get quite a workout and not surprisingly, knee pain and injury are common. Patellofemoral pain syndrome runs rampant in water polo. The pain is caused by overworking the knee joint.
With all of the twisting and turning, water polo players put tremendous stress on their backs and hips. Pain is common in these areas, as are injuries. If anybody could use a chiropractor, it’s these athletes. Water polo players were made for the adjustment table.
How Can Chiropractic Help Water Polo Players?
If you’re a parent of a water polo player, chiropractic treatment is something that should be considered to keep your child in fighting form. Given the brutal nature of the sport, the constant stress on the back and joints, and the common injuries, water polo players can certainly benefit from seeing a chiropractor to ensure optimal range of motion.
Chiropractic adjustments can treat subluxations in the back, hips, shoulders, and knees. When these parts are properly aligned, injuries can heal, pain can be relieved, and full range of motion restored. Healing from injuries is an obvious benefit for any athlete.
Chiropractic can help water polo players as a method of injury prevention. Optimal joint mobility enables those joints to better withstand the rigors of water polo. The same is true of a properly-aligned back. The risk of injury can be significantly reduced, and as a nice bonus, athletic performance is often boosted.
Chiropractic Tips for Water Polo Players
Chiropractors offer useful tips to aid the health of athletes and this includes water polo players. As in any sport, warm up carefully before practice or matches. Stretching and light calisthenics loosen muscles and tendons and get the blood flowing. This prepares them for the stress of game-related activities.
Eating well and staying hydrated is essential. The body needs fuel and water to engage in physical competition. You’ll play better and have less chance of getting hurt. An athlete’s body needs 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night to restore and repair itself. This is especially true of high school players whose bodies are still growing.
What Impact Can Chiropractic Have on High School Athletes?
Athletics are a popular part of the high school experience. Teenage athletes enjoy competing and representing their school in various sports. Water polo is typically played in fall for boys and winter for girls, and is a part of the athletic program of many high schools. Sports medicine is as important to these adolescent players as to their adult counterparts.
Teenage athletes have bodies that are still developing and they may be more prone to injury. Can chiropractic aid in injury prevention for these young water polo players? The short answer is yes. Chiropractic adjustments are just as likely to help prevent sports injury in young players as in older athletes. High schoolers can also heal faster and play at their optimal levels as a result of regular chiropractic treatment.
Do the Best Water Polo Players Use Chiropractic?
Water polo players at the highest levels of the sport use chiropractic treatment to keep them in the game and on top of their game. Merril Moses, the goalkeeper of the U.S. National Men’s Water Polo team, acknowledges that a good part of his team’s success is due to the care of team chiropractor Dr. Terry Schroeder. Dr. Schroeder is a member of the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame, the coach of the U.S. Olympic Water Polo Team, and the captain of the Olympic teams that medaled in 1984, 1988, and 1992. The man knows a thing or two about the sport and chiropractic treatments.
Water polo is more than just physically demanding, it’s outright war. Players need every edge they can get to heal from injuries, lower their risk of getting them, and play at their best. This goes for players from the lowest levels right up to the highest levels of international competition.
If you play water polo or have a teen who does, consider visiting The Joint Chiropractic. No appointment is needed and there are hundreds of locations all over the country. Find out how regular treatments can benefit you.
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