Chiropractic in the NFL: Willie McGinest and His First-Hand Experience

With his ability to crush opposing offenses any given Sunday, Willie McGinest is a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron. The veteran linebacker signed with Cleveland in 2006 after 12 successful seasons in New England. He made an immediate impact for the Browns, notching 46 tackles and 4 sacks while adding immeasurable value to the team through mentoring and leadership and carried that same momentum throughout the 2008 season. McGinest is also the all-time sack leader in NFL playoff history. His record-breaking performance came with a stunning 4 ½ sacks and 8 tackles in an AFC wild card victory. Those 4 ½ sacks also set an NFL single-game playoff record.

Just like other NFL players both active and retired, McGinest has made no secret to how chiropractic was instrumental in having a career marked by success and longevity.  McGinest sat down with the staff of To Your Health magazine to speak candidly about just how chiropractic has helped him and his game. 

What was your first experience with chiropractic care?

When I was with the New England Patriots, we had a team chiropractor, Dr. [Michael] Miller, who had been with the team some 25 years. I tried it when I found myself having small pulls and found out I was off-center. My back wasn’t lined up. That’s really important in playing a contact sport like we do. Our bodies are already machines, going 100 miles an hour, running into people, but it helps if you are aligned. If you aren’t lined up or one side is off, it can cause the muscles and other parts of the body to work harder, and that causes those muscles to give out on you.

Do the Browns have a team chiropractor?

Yes, we have one [Dr. Greg Kempf, who's been with the team since 1999]. When I was on the East Coast, I used Dr. Miller. They are probably the two best I have ever had. They know my body; they know what’s out. I know my body; I know when something’s not lined up right. They usually go right to the problem and solve it.

Is it your experience that most NFL players use chiropractic care to some degree?

I think a lot of teams are starting to use it more and doing the research… I think a lot of my success and a lot of my being healthy was heavily dependent upon chiropractic work.

How does chiropractic help prepare you for an NFL game?

Earlier in the week [in between games], I get adjusted. There are a lot of times where you go for full contact and are hitting. Your body gets jarred sometimes, is in the wrong position or you hit awkwardly. So after the game, I try to go to the chiropractor right away, just to make sure I am lined up so that my body is not in a bad position. If you are working out or practicing, and your body is not aligned, it can cause injuries. Usually, right before the game and right after the game, I make sure I’m lined up. [During the game], I’m full speed ahead, and I’m not worrying about something being off-center or unbalanced on one side, pulling a muscle or knocking something out, making it worse.

Has chiropractic ever helped you recover from an injury?

There have been times when I’ve knocked something out [of alignment]. I leave the field right away, we go adjust it and it fades. I’ve had injuries where my hamstrings tightened up because my lower back was off. I knew what was causing it. I would go get adjusted right then and come back out feeling fine.

As a linebacker, its all about speed and power. How does chiropractic help you in that regard?

It keeps you able to use your speed and power. If you are out of balance, you feel stuff pulling, and your hamstrings and back are tight. You aren’t able to move as fast. When the body is lined up and everything is moving right, it allows you to be fluid, agile, feel good and take those hits over and over. Our bodies are used to the contact, but sometimes we get caught awkwardly. If your body is able to bounce back or be put back in alignment, it helps a great deal.

You mentioned an ounce of prevention. Any advice for a young athlete just entering the NFL?

You feel good now, and everything is great because you’re young. But after a while, it will start to catch up with you. You might not think you need it, but try it sometime. If you go to a really good chiropractor and can find a guy to keep you lined up, you’ll feel a whole lot better when you are playing.


Hearing Firsthand how Wilie McGinest accounted chiropractic for allowing him to be the best athlete he could possibly have been, its no wonder NFL athletes like him, Jerry Rice and Jerome Bettis have spoken out about the benefits of being regularly treated by a chiropractor.  And chiropractic’s benefits aren’t just limited to high-impact sports.  The head coach for the US Olympic Water Polo Team is utilizing chiropractic for his athletes, gaining international recognition at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.  Here at Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic, we regularly treat athletes not just for their immediate injuries, but help prevent future injuries from occurring, as well as optimizing their musculoskeletal system so that they can perform even better.   There is nothing better than being a partner in a patient’s training regimen, and seeing them reach even further than they themselves could have imagined.


The Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic Blog is written by Dr. Mark Huntsman.

Augusta GA Chiropractors Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic provides customized chiropractic care to the Augusta, Martinez, and Evans GA communities. Visit our main website at

Choose several options to schedule your appointment: call (706) 814-5053 or use our online form.