Sports chiropractors have seen an increasing need for their expertise in recent years, but many people who are athletic, and even professional athletes, have been referred to chiropractors for years. According to the Palmer College of Chiropractic, 90% of all world-class athletes use chiropractic care to prevent injuries and boost performance, and all NFL teams have chiropractors on staff as of 2020. Along with the specialty, there are specific certifications, associations, job prospects, and tools of the trade that are important to know when deciding whether you should pursue a sports chiropractic specialty or not.
Sports Chiropractic Associations
There are a couple of organizations that will be key to obtaining the credentials for sports chiropractic as well as a hub for resources in the field. The most well-known is the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (ACBSP) as they are the governing board for the Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) and Diplomate American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (DACBSP) certifications designed for chiropractors who want to specialize in chiropractic sports medicine. They have led the development of sports chiropractic certification ensuring sports chiropractors meet industry competency standards to treat athletes.
American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (ACBSP) Certifications:
- Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) – this certification requires at least 100 hours of postgraduate education in the Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician program at an accredited college, have a current Athletic Trainer Certification (ATC), have a Master’s of Science (MS) degree at an accredited college in the domain of sports medicine, and have already completed the first year of a sports medicine residency program with an accredited college.
- Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (DACBSP) – this certification requires that the chiropractor already have a CCSP certification first. Additionally, this certification requires a written exam, a six-station practical exam, a written project, and 250 hours of practical experience in the field.
Additionally, if you become certified, you will be added to their directory making it easier for patients to find you, and give legitimacy to your practice. There are also news, events, and other resources available.
One of those resources is another great organization for the sports chiropractic profession; the American Chiropractic Association Sports Council. They are a nonprofit organization for chiropractors committed to improving the treatment of athletes. They seek to advance ethical practice of sports chiropractic and exercise science to promote physical fitness, and increase athletic performance. The ACA Sports Council has contacts at the U.S. Olympics Committee, the International Olympic Committee, the World Olympian Association, and other global sports organizations. That being said, being a member would mean a lot of possible connections especially helpful if you’re just starting out. They have memberships for both active chiropractors and students to allow for them to get involved early on gaining sports chiropractic experience participating in sporting events.
ACA Sports Council Benefits:
- Members only access with information, articles, and forms for your sports chiropractic practice.
- Discount on registration to the ACA Sports Council Annual symposium.
- Mentorship and preceptorship opportunities.
- Directory listing on their website with links and information about you.
- Free membership in the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS)
While there may be several organizations out there for sports chiropractors, these two are legitimate and trustworthy sources to gain information, training, and knowledge of the sports chiropractic specialty.
Sports Chiropractic Tools
Along with being involved with the proper organizations and armed with the right certifications, it is important to have the most efficient tools in place needed for sports chiropractic. While there are many brands and tools out there, some are better for certain injuries so it may be beneficial to keep a few different tools on hand for the various needs of athletes. Chiro Hours is not affiliated with any companies listed below.
Sports Chiropractic Tools of the Trade:
- Graston/IASTM Tools – these are made of metal or plastic and used for myofascial restriction. These are useful as sometimes working through the knots in the muscles with the doctor’s hands is either not aggressive enough or too aggressive. These tools also allow for treatment of pain, decrease tight spots, help swelling, and up-regulate tissues. RockBlades is also a great brand option for sports chiropractic providers.
- Kinesiology Tape – it is said to create a decompression effect allowing for more blood flow and tissue glide while correcting posture, restoring quality of movement, and more. A study in 2018, Kinesio Taping Improves Pain and Function in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis concluded that while larger studies are needed, this study showed taping to be effective in improving pain and joint function. Another study in 2020, Short-Term Effect of Kinesiotaping on Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain and Disability concluded that, again, while further studies are needed, taping had a beneficial role in pain reduction and disability improvement. Some of the best brands include the following:
- RockTape – best overall
- KT Tape Pro – best overall
- Sparthos – most budget friendly
- Kinesio Tex Gold and Mytape – best for sensitive skin
- Physix Gear Sport Waterproof – best for swimmers
- Muscle Fix Tape Sports Kinesiology Tape – best for shoulders
- Master of Muscle Beast – best for athletes
- Theraband – best for beginners
- RockTape – best overall
- Electric Stimulation – E-stim for short, is used to induce relaxation in the muscles. It is very gentle, and should not cause your patient any pain in the area during the session.
- Exercise Bands – these are a must in the sports chiropractic office to improve stability, motor control, stability, improve stretch, and engage the muscles. TheraBand is a great brand option to try for sports chiropractors.
- Cupping – used to bring blood to the surface, and allow for blood movement causing decompression in the layers of the skin and muscles.
There are many tool options on the market for a sports chiropractor, and it is important to determine the most efficient tools for the best value out there. Additionally, take a note of what is needed most often in your practice by your patients, this will help eliminate any wasted product.
Sports Chiropractor Jobs
Sports chiropractors, more than other specialties in the field, are utilized in many aspects of athlete health. There are several job options for chiropractors with a sports specialty certification.
Sports Chiropractic Career Options:
- Private practice – many sports chiropractors decide to open their own practice and aid everyday athletes with prevention, stabilization, and healing of sports related injuries. Some even partner with other alternative modalities in their practice such as physical therapists, massage technicians, and acupuncturists to create a well-rounded practice with a goal of getting athletes back in the game.
- Veteran or integrative clinics – many VA hospitals and other integrative clinics have in-house chiropractors
- Professional athletic teams – most professional sports teams across the country will employ a chiropractor to provide chiropractic adjustments, offer advice to help the body heal itself, and treat injuries. Professional sports leagues such as football, basketball, soccer, hockey, tennis baseball, and golf teams all have been known to employ chiropractors to address and prevent athletic injuries. The U.S. Olympic team also employs sports chiropractors.
Should You Pursue Sports Chiropractic?
The call for sports chiropractors has grown exponentially in the last couple of decades. 100% of MLB and NFL teams now employ chiropractors compared to 2002 when only about 31% of these professional teams employed chiropractors. Additionally, sports chiropractors are needed for everyday athletes for care and prevention to keep them at peak performance. Sports chiropractors require ample experience to be truly great at what they do. If this specialty interests you, reach out to any of the above organizations today to learn more.