Chiropractic has never managed to gain access to the high school athlete market. A combination of medical politics, lack of unity within our profession and a less than exciting message have all contributed to the unending obstacles chiropractors have faced when attempting to get involved. Through the years, I’ve tried every conceivable way to gain access to these athletes, only to be halted prematurely. I’ve met with coaches, athletic directors, even superintendants of schools. After virtually every meeting, nothing would happen. It was as though these were virtual meetings in my mind that never actually occurred.
Only after many years and exhausted efforts, combined with learning the behind the scenes politics that influence every industry, have I been able to tap into this market. And, the amazing result; it’s better than I had ever imagined and has been well worth the wait.
7 Keys to Success
Step 1 – The key to succeeding in this market is the need for chiropractors to crystallize their identities when approaching these potential patients. Nobody cares about subluxations, and nobody really cares about a better way of treating back pain. This over-scheduled society we live in doesn’t have time to measure whether you’re right or not. They’ll simply ask the school trainer, their pediatrician or coach what to do, and this, usually, will land them either on the sidelines for a couple weeks or in the orthopedists office, which will then typically lead to a bout of physical therapy.
You need to be their biomechanics expert. There is no one in the current sports medicine system providing anything remotely close to this. In addition, chiropractors are trained to provide biomechanical care. Crooked man (Fig. 1) is the first step in helping this market understand what sports biomechanics is all about.
Fig. 1 When people are shown this graphic and it’s explained properly, that structural imbalances increase the vulnerability to injuries and accelerate the degenerative process, you’ll quickly move up their ladder of respect. And, all people have biomechanical imbalances, so our first mission is to identify each person’s biomechanics before we do any type of recommendations or treatment; which leads to the 2nd key—who to speak to in order to make things happen.
Step 2 – That person is the parent. Not the coach, and definitely not the athletic director or the school trainer. A sound presentation to a group of parents can move mountains. We use a 20-minute highly effective power point presentation, and this tells the whole story.
Step 3 – The next important step is getting these student/athletes into your office. This is an incredible challenge, as most parents typically would ask for their pediatrician’s approval, check to see if their insurance covers it, along with a myriad of other ridiculous questions and, usually, somewhere along the way, the obstacles become too many and the parent says, “Forget it.” You’ve got to remove all of the obstacles. We provide our detailed biomechanical exam at no charge, with no obligation.
Step 4 – When they do come in, you must know how to perform a complete biomechanical exam that is both efficient and comprehensive. We perform a highly efficient 5-minute physical exam; we use a digital foot scan (Fig. 2) that shows weight distribution imbalances; we measure the athlete’s center of gravity and we take 4 standing biomechanical X-rays.
Step 5 – You must interpret and communicate this information to the parents and athlete so it makes sense to them and helps to motivate them to want to take action. You need VISUAL EVIDENCE, which the tests mentioned above provide. We not only show the biomechanical imbalances, but we also discuss the predictability factors that appear on the X-rays and other tests we do. For example, if a patient has a reversed cervical curve with an anterior cervical gravity line (Fig. 3), there is an increased stress in the lower cervical and upper thoracic muscles and joints. The head, which is approximately 10% of the body weight, is forward of the body’s natural center of gravity, causing all kinds of structural chaos. Now, add some participation in some sporting event. This will predictably accelerate the breakdown in the lower cervical joints over time, if this issue is not addressed.
Step 6 – Provide a sound corrective program that will not only address any acute injuries the athlete is suffering with, but also address the necessary rehabilitative process that will assist this athlete to work towards their maximum biomechanical potential. We provide one year programs (Gold, Silver and Bronze).
Step 7 – Provide the quality biomechanical care and management that only a skilled chiropractor is equipped to provide. Re-exams are needed along the way to monitor progress and alter necessary treatments and exercises.
This approach can change the way future high school athletes handle their physical health. Everyone knows that a proactive approach is far more efficient than reactive care, and there is no profession more qualified than the chiropractic profession to provide this care. This is also a major step in solving our current health care crisis.
Dr. Maggs currently practices full time, while also lecturing for Foot Levelers. He is the developer of The Structural Management® Program, as well as the 10 Week Webinar Series, “How to Build Your High School Athlete Practice”. He can be reached at 1-518-393-6566 or [email protected]. His website is