Top 15 Reasons Why You Should See a Sports Chiropractor
How Chiropractic Came To Be?
Before I tell you a bit about how Chiropractic practice came about, I want to mention that I am telling you about the history only because its history and philosophy has shaped how the Chiropractic profession came about and how many Chiropractors still practice today.
Chiropractic care shares its birthday on September 18, 1895. It all started when a man named D.D Palmer gave an adjustment to a man named Harvey Lillard. It was claimed that Harvey Lillard was partially deaf and having an adjustment to his spine resulted in the ability for him to hear. Mr. Lillard had once reported that he had lost his healing a result of hearing a pop in his back initially. From this point on, it was theorized that a lot of diseases, illness, and troubles that humans get regarding their health come from the spine and that manipulation to that area of the spine can result in increased health benefits.
Since its inception, Chiropractic care has grown tremendously in the form of research, techniques, styles, philosophies, and plays a large part in many people’s lives to keep them healthy.
Within Chiropractic as in all professions, there are specialties and sub areas of interest. In particular the area Sports Chiropractic is an area where Chiropractors are highly trained in the sports field which includes rehabilitation, passive care, active care, strength and conditioning, soft tissue injuries, imaging, biomechanics, injury prevention, and much more.
Having advanced training in the sports field allows Chiropractors to work alongside medical doctors, athletic trainers, massage therapists, physical therapists, and many more professionals within the sports field. In addition, this allows Chiropractors to work alongside athletes, sports teams, and better manage injuries within their own clinics.
Traditional Chiropractors vs. Sports Chiropractor (Philosophy Differences)
When people first think of Chiropractic they likely think of low back pain, the spine, and getting “cracked” or adjusted. While this is the foundation of Chiropractic, is only the tip of the iceberg and as mentioned before there are specialties within this field. Within chiropractic we actually have names for these types of individuals. We call them “straight Chiropractors” & “mixer Chiropractors.”
The major difference between the two groups is one of philosophy. “Straight Chiropractors” tend to adhere to the belief that illness and disease originate from the spine and therefore by taking care of the spine, you can improve the body’s health and function. Within the Chiropractic field (especially in straight Chiropractic) this is called Vitalism. This is the belief that when there is spinal interference, it can place pressure on a nerve and create a less healthy human which can lead to diseases. Removal of such interference, which is called a Subluxation (Chiropractic subluxation, not a medical subluxation) can promote health, wellness, and vitality.
On the other hand you will have “Mixers” who tend to believe and practice a bit differently in that they will use modalities (ice, heat, imaging, rehab, extremity adjustments, etc). “Mixers” often subscribe to modern methods of medicine and approaches to research and often adopt ever-changing styles based off of this research. This allows the practitioner to make better decisions on an injury or illness and co-manage injuries with other practitioners as they will tend to have the same terminology and research base background.
Mixer Chiropractors tend to subscribe to the idea that there is a reason for such dysfunction and that there is an alteration in biomechanics and/or the way things are functioning within the body. We call this “Mechanism.”
Sports chiropractors are a mixer type of group and use the traditional chiropractic philosophy with modern medicine research to help manage the patient’s condition.
In both cases, chiropractors are geared towards helping others improve their health, wellness, and prevent injury, without the use of drugs and/or medications.
Sports Chiropractors often treat extremities, which means they deal with hands, elbows, shoulders, feet, ankles, hips, and different areas of the body other than the spine. They are very much well versed in the treatment and management of injuries that are not as a result of the spine. This can be injuries like tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, knee sprains, meniscus, hip impingement, and much more.
Chiropractors with this type of training will have a better idea and understanding of how to treat extremity injuries and manage the injury based off of training, research, and experience. This is particularly important because many athletes use other areas of the body to perform and function at their best. For example, runners often get foot and ankle injuries while baseball players often suffer shoulder and elbow injuries.
Biomechanics & The Kinetic Chain
Biomechanics is the study of how joints move and work separately. The kinetic chain is how forces are transmitted through the body and how one area the body affects the other. Essentially, this is the study of how the joints work collectively.
Chiropractors all study some joint mechanics of the spine but Sports Chiropractors have advanced training in joint biomechanics and the kinetic chain. We’ve all heard that when somebody gets injured, they tend to compensate and/or alter their movements. Sports chiropractor will assess the true nature of the injury, discover any compensatory movement patterns, and treat the cause of the injury while reducing symptoms. In contrast, a traditional Chiropractor will likely focus on improving spinal movement via adjustments and manipulations.
Either way, treatment of your injury should be customized according to the initial cause and your specific case history.
Specialty & Advanced Education
All Chiropractors are required by the Board of Chiropractic Examiners nationally to complete school and pass four parts of the board exam. So essentially, all Chiropractors have similar schooling but their unique experiences what they do in school regarding elective courses and after school that determines extra training.
Sports Chiropractors tend to have a background in athletics and sports in that they may have played throughout in high school, college, or more. To actually become a Certified Sports Chiropractor there is additional training for sure!
There is one major governing body called American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (ACBSP) that is in charge of running courses, education, & certification of sports Chiropractor. This program has been established in the 1980s. Within this field you can obtain a CCSP or a DACBSP and both a post-doctoral program.
CCSP (Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician) is a 120 hour post-doctoral program on the sports injuries, rehab, and management. All participants must have a valid CPR at all times, and pass a 250 choice multiple choice question test to become certified.
The DACBSP is a continuing education program that requires you to complete the CCSP program as a pre-requisite, a minimum of 200 hours in the sports program, completion of a sports residency, pass the exam, and to top it off they need to publish a paper within 5 years of completing the program.
Needless to say, a CCSP and/or DACBSP requires extensive additional training, examinations, study, and also requires both parties to take additional sports related continuing education every year.
Soft Tissue Therapy
A very unique feature that sports Chiropractors obtain as a result of training is a sub specialty in soft tissue and muscle work. This means that your Chiropractor can treat and manage injuries to the muscle, ligament, tendon, and nerve. Often times, sports Chiropractors will have a subspecialty in this field that is above and beyond what they learned in school. Not only does this require additional studying, testing, and certification, but also it requires finesse and practical application of the techniques to ensure high-quality results. These techniques are often science-based and require constant evaluation and learning to ensure the highest quality results.
This includes but is not limited to techniques such as Active Release Techniques, Graston Technique, Myofascial Release, and more.
We have all heard that people are attracted to like-minded individuals. In the case of Sports Chiropractors, we tend to collaborate with other doctors and professionals within the sports field. This is particularly important because many Sports Doctors have an expansive network of individuals not only locally, but also throughout the nation.
How can this benefit you? Well, in many cases if you are traveling and need a Chiropractor or Doctor, we can likely have a good referral that will give high quality care. In addition, we refer locally and in some cases, patients may need additional evaluations, x-ray, blood work, or co-management by other professionals. Working with a team of sports practitioners can give a much comprehensive care that give different perspective to the patient.
Essentially, working with a Chiropractor in the sports field will give you access to their network should you need anything!
We all know exercise and rehabilitation is good for you. Certified Sports Chiropractors have more advanced training and an understanding of exercises than most traditional Chiropractors. The Doctor can the prescribe you exercises that fit you needs and that are custom to you, your movements, and your goals.
There are many different types of certifications in rehab and you can even obtain a specialty degree in rehabilitation.
Time & Management
The average traditional Chiropractic visit is about 5 minutes or less however, the actual adjustment takes only about 20 seconds. From my experience, your first session will be about 15-30 minutes for your initial appointment.
In contrast, if you are looking for more one-on-one time with your Doctor and looking to have a more customized approach, then you may want to consider sports Chiropractic. On average, you can expect about a 15-30 minute session rather than a five-minute session. Your initial appointment will likely be more detailed and is usually about 45 minutes to one hour.
Let’s be honest though, you will likely have to pay more as there is more time allotted for each individual and a specialty in place but it’s well worth the knowledge that they have acquired.
In summary, you may want to check how long each chiropractic session will be for your initial appointment and for your follow-ups but generally speaking, sports chiropractic facility will likely allow more time an individualized attention.
Functional movements can be defined as movements that pertain to your life and or sport. This is kind of like a crossover between biomechanics of the joint and real-life application of them. Since Sports Chiropractors are well versed in biomechanics and sports it makes the crossover very easy.
Chiropractors that understand ones sports and activities can better serve the client or patient because they are able to bring them through treatment protocols that are functional for their sport, hobby, and lifestyle. For example, if you had knee pain or shoulder pain during an activity during sport, we can translate this movement into a real life activity. As a result, we can process this movement pattern with your training, your injury, and help correct the injury in a way that will be useful for your lifestyle.
I think this is one of the biggest problems in medicine today! Most practitioners do not allow much time with each patient and as a result, “What are your goals” is usually not a question that is asked when there is such limited time. In addition, Doctors can put their own biases ahead of the patient’s needs despite what the patient wants.
For example, I have countless patients and have been told by other therapists and doctors that they should not squat because it’s bad for their knees or they should not run because it’s bad for their back. Whatever the reason is, my question really is how does this help the patient?
How does this help the athlete or the individual get back to doing what they love to do? It doesn’t help them at all! If anything, it waste their time, money, and doesn’t allow proper motivation for the patient to be pushed in the correct direction. This just furthers their recovery and often derails the individual.
Sports Chiropractors want to see their patients healthy and active. They are typically very goal oriented and as mentioned before, likely athletic themselves and understand the role they play in keeping you active.
An important part many doctors visit should be your goals. The focus should be on you and how we can achieve what you’d like to achieve as safe an effective manner while also understanding and knowing the risks associated as well as the rewards.
Nearly every organized sports team and professional athlete has access to a Sports Chiropractor! I can honestly say firsthand since I work with this professional sports team that they all value and use Chiropractic care even though they have access to massage, athletic trainers, doctors, gyms, trainers, etc. The reason is that it helps their recovery and performance!
Chiropractors are available at major sports and sporting events that include the Olympics, College level athletes, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, Crossfit Games, Superbowls, UFC, MMA, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Wrestling, All-Star Games, PGA Tours, and much more.
Some notable Athletes include:
- Michael Jordan
- Tom Brady
- Tiger Woods
- Derek Jeter
- Wayne Gretzky
- Aaron Rodgers
- Jerry Rice
- Tony Hawk
- Derek Rose
- Barry Bonds
- Phil Mickelson
Chiropractor vs. Other professionals
While some may think and I’m going to bash other therapists and professionals, this simply isn’t the case. There’s a time and place for everything, including Chiropractic. In addition to all this I want to say that I do refer to all of those people listed below as they’re major benefits that they provide.
Sports Chiropractor vs Sports Massage
Who doesn’t like a massage? I mean especially if it’s a good one! A massage therapist typically works on your muscles and joints using a soft tissue approach. This is great for blood flow, recovery, and just makes you feel great. In addition, having massage can really be a source of stress relief in self-care that is much needed in our world.
The major difference between a Sports Chiropractor and a Sports Massage Therapist is there schooling and training. Most massage therapists can obtain their license within 6 months to 1 year whereas a Chiropractor (not Sports) it takes about 3.5 years. Within the training and schooling, the biggest difference within the training is really the ability for the Chiropractor to be able to diagnose an issue or condition whereas a massage therapist cannot legally do so.
Chiropractors can legally utilize any and all soft tissue-based techniques that a massage therapist would otherwise use but the massage therapist cannot utilize all the techniques and skills the chiropractor would have. In many cases, the advanced degree of a Chiropractor enables them to enroll in soft tissue courses that are beyond the scope the massage therapy license. For example, at the time I am writing this, Graston Technique does not allow massage therapist to participate in their courses without additional degrees and/or certifications.
Sports Chiropractor vs. MD/DO
A medical doctor (MD) is one who has studied medicine. To be clear, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine has studied medicine but there is a slight difference in that the DO has an emphasis on adjustments or manipulation to the body.
Many DO’s that I know tend to practice within the more medical sense. As I mentioned earlier, there is always a way to specialize and add on to your current degree and/or certification.
Medical Doctors and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine tend to prescribe medications and serve as a resource for other professionals. For example, if you hurt your back your Doctor may refer you to a Physical Therapist or a Chiropractor. If you have some tightness in your upper back, they may tell you seek out a massage therapist. While many Medical Doctors are familiar with sports techniques, rehab, and therapy, they tend to focus on coordinating care with other specialists and typically do not perform hands-on work with the patients.
Within the world of medical doctors there are always different roles as well. We have those who are surgeons, internal medicine specialists, etc. In many cases in sports the athlete may need to seek medical advice and see a orthopedic surgeon.
Typically, the role of medical practitioner is coordinating care & managing internal medicine.
Sports Chiropractor vs Physical Therapist
In many instances it would seem like a Physical Therapist is the antithesis of a Chiropractor but I view these two professions so similarly and how to complement each other so darn well!
Physical therapists are known for specializing in exercise rehabilitation protocols to get the patient to reduce their pain, improve their strength, stamina, mobility, and eventually to get the patient back into their activity.
The major difference between a PT and Chiropractor is really that Physical therapists are not training in Chiropractic Adjusting. On the other hand, PT’s have increased their education where they can now get certification in mobilizations, and spinal adjustments. While it may be a similar technique, a Chiropractor tends to start adjusting after 3 months in school so they tend to have much more hands-on adjusting hours than a weekend certification course.
On the other hand, a PT may have much more of a comprehensive protocol for rehab with progressions. This holds true for a lot of post-surgical cases as well.
Together between Chiropractic and Physical Therapy, the professions really do complement each other. I often refer to PT’s and co-manage with them. For example, if someone hurt their neck they may be seeing me for Chiropractic treatment and soft tissue mobility work and right after the session they will go to their PT and strengthen and stabilize the structure.
Do you have to be an athlete to see a sports chiropractor? How do you know if you should see one?
No. You do not have to be athlete to see a Sports Chiropractor. Almost everyone can benefit from the skills and knowledge that Chiropractors have.
If you are someone looking to improve their health, fitness, programming, get out of pain, improve mobility, or just want to practice injury prevention then you can likely benefit from a Chiropractor.
How to properly choose a Sports Chiropractor or Professional?
Great question! Most people seek treatment of a Chiropractor or professional solely based on two things.
- Insurance – do they take your insurance?
- Location – Are they close to your work or home?
The problem with this is that you are choosing convenience rather than who is the best for the job. I understand money and time are an issue but if you really want to get results or see a specialist you may have to travel and/or pay the extra fee associated with their expertise.
If you are looking to choose a sports Chiropractor I would recommend a few ways.
- Search the ACBSP Directoryand see who is actually sports certified.
- If you are looking for soft tissue therapy then look for a provider that practices Active Release Techniquesand/or Graston Technique.
- Clinical Athletehas a database (and are continuing to improve it) that helps patients find a Therapist who is sports based.
Tips and Advice For Finding a Good Practitioner
- Call the office and ask questions!
- How long does the initial exam take?
- Follow Ups appointment times?
- What is the typical appointment like?
- What should you expect?
- Anything else I should know before I schedule?
- Search their website & social media
- Read their website! Learn a bit about them to see if they are a good fit for you. This includes personality and treatment style.
- Check Facebook, Blog, YouTube, Podcasts, Instagram to see what kind of content they post.
- Go to an online injury forum, doctors page, Instagram, YouTube video, etc and ask other doctors or therapists if they have a referral in your area.
- I tend to refer someone else out from my office at least once per week. We all know someone. It does not hurt to ask the question!
- Ask other friends and family members who had a similar injury or concern that you have. Who did they go to and what was their results and experience?
- Go to an online injury forum, doctors page, Instagram, YouTube video, etc and ask other doctors or therapists if they have a referral in your area.
- Make you own decision
- At the end of the day you need to make your own decision. Make it based on good faith and trust in yourself that you did your research.
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