11 Outside-the-Box Tools for the Sports DC in 2021
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Dynamic Chiropractic – February 1, 2021, Vol. 39, Issue 02

Outside-the-Box Tools for the Sports DC in 2021

By Spencer Baron, DC, DACBSP

Innovation is a word used most often in the technology space. Mind-reading electronic devices are being created so we can give our computers commands simply by thinking. "Invisible" car hoods are being developed, utilizing a series of cameras strategically positioned so it appears the front of the vehicle is completely transparent. Robots are now programmed to conduct major surgeries.

In some cases, innovation involves taking items designed for one purpose and discovering they are more valuable when used for another. Take bubble wrap, for instance. Smithsonian Magazine reports that these tiny, plastic-encased air pockets were the result of taking two plastic shower curtains and sealing them with heat in an effort to create textured wallpaper.1

The point of all of this is to say that innovation also occurs in the chiropractic field. These three doctors prove it by using new ways of thinking to help their athletic patients receive a higher level of care.

Use One Sport to Enhance the Others

toolbox - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark What's the one tool Landon Christy, DC, who practices at Airrosti Denton and is also the team chiropractor for the University of North Texas and the Dallas Cowboys, uses regularly with his players? A lacrosse ball. But why?

"We have them use a lacrosse ball for self-myofascial release," Dr. Christy explains, citing that the ball works better for his athletic patients than a foam roller because it is quite a bit smaller. This enables the player to release tight fascia in areas the roller isn't able to reach.

A lacrosse ball isn't just good for elite athletes either, he says. For example, if you are working at a computer all day and have a tight forearm, place the ball on the desk and roll your lower arm across it. This will help loosen the tightness, providing relief.

With regard to athletes specifically, Dr. Christy will often take two lacrosse balls, tape them together, and use them on the player's neck and spine. "Sometimes you gotta get creative," he says.

Bring the Gym Into the Treatment Room

Tim Bain, DC, FAAIM, CCSP, EMHL, CEO of B3 Medical and official chiropractor for the Tampa Bay Lightning, has also thought outside of the box when it comes to helping his athletic patients improve their performance. His tool of choice is a hanging suspension trainer.

Many gyms use these strap-based training systems to help their patrons get in better shape using nothing more than their own body weight. Dr. Bain says he uses them "all the time to assist athletes in learning and being able to create perfect form in squats, lunges, side lunges, etc."

According to Dr. Bain, the hanging suspension trainer "allows us to create posterior chain firing patterns that are otherwise lost with training and playing during the season. We use this in offseason workouts and during the season to assist with the proprioceptive system and relearning proper movement patterns."

A Proactive Approach to Revealing Problems That Seemingly Don't Exist

When an athlete presents with pain, it doesn't take a professional to know that there is a problem. Brian Prieto, DC, of Prieto Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression Center and team chiropractor for the Los Angeles Angels, says he doesn't wait for an issue to progress far enough to cause the player discomfort. Instead, he takes a more proactive approach by utilizing selective functional movement assessment.

Dr. Prieto calls this assessment method as "a great diagnostic tool" for finding dysfunction when no symptomology exists. It reveals potential issues with the player's movement patterns, which can highlight problems before the players realize they exist.

A 2016 case report2 published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy adds that selective functional movement assessment "helped guide therapists to dysfunctional movements not seen with more conventional examination procedures." This particular case involved an 18-year-old male soccer player experiencing intermittent low back pain. After being assessed, it was discovered that the teen male had dysfunctional, yet non-painful movement in six of the 10 motions evaluated. This dysfunction caused him to alter his form, resulting in excessive movement in the lumbar spine, thus creating the pain.

New Tools for the New Year

Sometimes, finding new ways to help your athletic patients achieve higher levels of health – and sports performance – involves thinking outside of the box. It involves using tools and equipment not necessarily designed for chiropractic, but that also work to enhance musculoskeletal function.

This is the cornerstone of innovative thinking, and these three DCs prove it is alive and well in areas other than technology. So, what's your outside-the-box strategy to help your patients this year?


  1. Kindy D. "The Accidental Invention of Bubble Wrap." Smithsonian Magazine, Jan. 23, 2019.
  2. Goshtigian GR, Swanson TP. Using the selective functional movement assessment and regional inderdependence theory to guide treatment of an athlete with back pain: a case report. Int J Sports Phys Ther, 2016 Aug;11(4):575-595.

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