Behind the Scenes of Sports Medicine: Chiropractic Care at the FIFA World Cup

Date:  July 19, 2023


As the world’s most popular sport, soccer demands the utmost physical performance from its players to withstand competition on the field. With the high level of intensity and physicality involved, injuries are a reality that athletes and teams must navigate.

In recent years, chiropractic care has emerged as a vital component of sports medicine. Dr. Scott Howitt, a Canadian chiropractor, has been at the forefront of his field, working closely with athletes and soccer teams, including the Canadian men’s national soccer team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

After completing his undergraduate degree in kinesiology at Western University, Dr. Howitt pursued his chiropractic training at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC). Following a sports residency at CMCC, Dr. Howitt launched his career working with various sports teams and athletes before establishing his own clinic in Thornhill, Ontario. In 2017/2018 at the recommendation of certified athletic therapist, Dave Blatz, Dr. Howitt was offered his dream position working for the Canadian men’s national soccer team.

The role of chiropractic care in sports has evolved significantly over the years. In the past, teams relied on a single athletic therapist or physiotherapist, along with a medical doctor. Now, teams embrace a multidisciplinary approach, with a diverse range of performance therapists, including chiropractors like Dr. Howitt, who work collaboratively to optimize athletic performance and care.

“The biggest shift in sports has been introducing an integrated support team of ‘performance therapists’ with multiple disciplines, including physiotherapists, chiropractors, athletic therapists, and massage therapists — all working together to support athletic performance,” Dr. Howitt explains. “The roles and responsibilities vary by team, but in general, these overlapping and diverse roles include many duties and responsibilities beyond our hands-on manual care.”

-Dr. Scott Howett

The integration of various healthcare professionals allows for a collaborative approach to player care. These medical teams work closely together, providing coaching staff with comprehensive information to evaluate injuries, develop treatment plans, and ensure the players receive the best healthcare for performance and longevity in their sport.

For Dr. Howitt, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was a pivotal moment in his career, where he had the privilege of working with the Canadian men’s national soccer team. While the team didn’t make it past the group stage, they achieved significant milestones that left a legacy for future players, including a riveting match against Belgium and Canada’s first ever World Cup goal against Croatia. This experience underscored the critical role an integrated and multidisciplinary healthcare team can play in optimizing player performance and ensuring its well-being. As the role and integration of chiropractic in sports healthcare teams continues to grow, Dr. Howitt is excited about the positive impact it will have on athletes and the success of the team.

Related post: Fitness Tips for Soccer Players

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