We are pleased to present the following article by Dr. Corey Campbell from the Motion Palpation Institute. Motion palpation has gained acceptance as an indispensable diagnostic tool for the chiropractic profession; and the Motion Palpation Institute has set the standard for functional manual care. ChiroUp is honored to collaborate with and support the mission of MPI; to create a culture and a community seeking clinical mastery in order to better serve our patients.
MPI is a not-for-profit organization that cosponsors many evidence-based educational seminars on a worldwide basis each year. MPI instructors are some of the best in the profession, teaching real-word skills that practicing clinicians can implement on Monday morning. Check out the MPI USA course calendar here, or view their International Calendar.
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5 things it takes to be a “SPORTS CHIROPRACTOR”
by Corey Campbell DC
MPI Instructor & Board Member
Being a Sports Chiropractor is a big deal now. I am blessed to teach to students and doctors all over the world and I often hear: “I want to work with athletes and be a sports chiropractor”. I think that is a great goal; and to work with athletes you need a big toolbox. This got me thinking…what makes a “sports chiropractor”?
I have colleagues and friends that work with professional teams and some that are true team DC’s for pro teams so I look to them for that answer. I have also been a DC for 14 years and I have worked with athletes of all ages and levels as well as being fortunate enough to have been a part of a large multi-disciplinary facility that was largely orthopedic spine surgery based.
Below, I have listed out 5 traits that seem to be common to the sport DC (from here on abbreviated SDC). I have gathered these from my colleagues and my own personal clinical experience. The 5 skills that you’ll need to be a SPORTS CHIROPRACTOR are (in no particular order of importance):
1. Soft Tissue Release Skills.
There are many classes and certifications that you can take (ART, Graston, Strain/Counterstrain, PIR, etc) but more importantly, you need to have mastery of where the muscles are, what they do, and how they react or compensate. What I have found is that the best “soft tissue” therapists are the ones that understand not all muscles need to be stripped, released, stretched, or needled. The best “soft tissue” DC’s are not only skillful in their techniques but they realize a trigger point that refers pain into another area won’t respond to release- just as a muscle that has lost its elastic properties won’t respond to dry needling. Muscles respond to changes in joint motion and the tasks they are being asked to perform. The best providers understand how the control triad works and the role the muscles play within that system. The control triad is the CNS (the coordinator) the PASSIVE SYSTEM (the joints, ligaments, tendons) and the ACTIVE SYSTEM (the muscles).
2. Functional Assessment Skills.
All good Sport DC’s utilize functional screening tools as part of their assessment. Again there are a number of classes that can be taken to learn these or some have come up with their own functional assessments. Regardless, all good SDC’s assess movement. Being able to do this gives you insight into what basic movements and biomechanics might be pitfalls in the kinetic chain. Incorporating functional assessment into your examination is very important and helpful even if you aren’t a SDC.
3. Functional Rehabilitation/DNS Skills.
All good SDC’s incorporate rehabilitation/active care into their care plans. You don’t have to be a coach or trainer (nor would I suggest doing that), but you do need to incorporate movement retraining as well as core and joint stabilization into your practice. This doesn’t necessarily require 30-minute retraining sessions, but all good SDC’s understand the importance of laying the foundation of respiration retraining, lumbar spine stabilization/ bracing, scapular stabilization, hip stabilization, and more sport-based functional retraining, i.e. chops or rotational movement for golf and squat retraining for CrossFit ,etc.
4. Taping/Dry Needle/ Cupping/ Laser.
It seems most SDC’s provide some other ancillary services or specialties. These ancillary services typically help with inflammation or acute pain. The athletic population will often come see you when they injure themselves, so it is often beneficial to have some way to stop or slow the inflammatory process to relieve pain so you can do the other things listed above.
5. Joint Palpation and Adjusting Skills.
I realize I said this list was in no particular order, but in my biased opinion this is the most important skill required for a great SDC. Being an instructor for the Motion Palpation Institute has given me perspective on the importance of hand skills. As DC’s, the very essence our profession is our ability to assess, diagnose and treat (heal) with our hands. I fear the profession has lost sight of importance seeking mastery with our hands as well as our minds. There are so many “other” things students and doctors can do now and more certifications you can get than a business card can hold. However, I feel students and doctors often take classes and acquire letters without knowing how and when to use these new tools. We have a buffet of information but are starving for application, usefulness, and buy-in. Having a vast set of tools and certifications with no understanding is like having a bag full of golf clubs and only playing with a 7 iron.
I would rather be the best palpator and adjuster in my area than the best rehab guy or soft-tissue guy in town (but that is my bias). Being great with your hands makes you indispensable. I truly believe the best providers in the world have a mastery of that “one thing” they hold vital to their practice. They own the ability to help people and have a vast understanding of how other things can be used. They recognize when to use them based on the exam findings and the “feel” they are getting from the person they are trying to help.
Focusing on just one group of people (athletes) can be limiting and may present a challenge to practice growth. I would advise becoming proficient in the things listed here by choosing one to master then start layering other skills on as you go. Chiropractic clinical practice is a marathon, not a race. Being a skilled Sport DC is a noble undertaking, but first, all great clinicians need to strive to be growth minded, potential-pushing seekers of mastery.
Editors Note: You can hear more from Dr. Campbell who is speaking along with Dr. Bertelsman at the Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association Convention on August 10-13 in Kearney Nebraska. And to learn more about MPI, check out this video from their president, Dr. Mark King:
About the Author
Dr. Corey Campbell
Dr. Corey Campbell graduated cum laude from Cleveland Chiropractic College in 2003. He has completed a 300-hour Diplomate certification with the American Chiropractic Rehabilitation Board. Dr. Campbell has trained with the Father of Manual Medicine, Karel Lewitt, MD as well as Pavel Kolar. Dr. Campbell is an instructor and executive board member for MPI. He teaches for the American Chiropractic Rehabilitation Board at National University of Health Sciences in Chicago. He was the first DC voted onto the medical advisory board for the Nebraska School Activities Association. Dr. Campbell formerly practiced within a large multidisciplinary orthopedic system and currently owns and operates Omaha Spine & Sport in Omaha Nebraska.