Objective: The purpose of this study was to review the literature regarding the relationship between spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) and sports performance.
Methods: PubMed and Embase databases were searched for original studies published up to July 2016. Inclusion criteria were if SMT has been applied to athletes and if any sports performance-related outcome was measured.
Results: Of the 581 potential studies, 7 clinical trials were selected. Most studies had adequate quality (≥6/11) when assessed by the PEDro scale. None of those studies assessed performance at an event or competition. Four studies revealed improvement in a sports performance test after SMT. Meta-analysis could not be performed because of the wide differences in methodologies, design, and outcomes measured. Spinal manipulative therapy influences a wide range of neurophysiological parameters that could be associated with sports performance. Of the 3 studies where SMT did not improve test performance, 2 used SMT not for therapeutic correction of a dysfunctional vertebral joint but to an arbitrary previously set joint.
Conclusions: Although 4 of 7 studies showed that SMT improved sports performance tests, the evidence is still weak to support its use. Spinal manipulative therapy may be a promising approach for performance enhancement that should be investigated with more consistent methodologic designs.
Keywords: Athletes; Athletic Performance; Musculoskeletal Manipulations; Spine; Sports.
Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Inc.