How to Become a Sports Chiropractor

January 15, 2014

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In the coming months we are going to have various professionals from the fitness, performance and rehab settings write short posts on their specific profession and how they got jobs in the settings which they now work. Our goal is to help guide some of our younger readers who may be interested in one of these fields. Our first post on is by expert contributor Dr. Eric Nelson who is a very accomplished Sports Chiropractor and lead Neurokinetic Therapy instructor.

Contributed by expert Dr. Eric Nelson

As chiropractic continues to be accepted into the mainstream, sports chiropractors are without a doubt leading the way. Prominent athletes such as Jerry Rice (Video testimony), Emmitt Smith (Emmitt Tweets Chiropractic), and Tiger Woods (Tiger Quote), are huge proponents of chiropractic. Almost every NFL team has an official team chiropractor (NFL Chiropractic Listing ). In addition, William Moreau, DC DACBSP is the medical director for the United States Olympic Team (USOTC Medical Staff Listing).  Recently, during a sports medicine lecture at The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, MD included chiropractors as part of the sports medicine team.

Sports chiropractors are trained in all aspects of sports injury management as well as on-field protocols. While sports chiropractors are trained to be part of the sports medicine team, we are also trained to provide sole coverage at a sports event. While we receive a base level training in school, some schools offer master’s degrees in sports and rehabilitation sciences (Logan Chiropractic Sports Master’s Degree). In addition, many schools offer post-graduate degrees in sports injuries.

Most sports chiropractors have obtained board certification in sports injuries from either the 100-hour post-graduate Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) program or the 300-hour Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (DACBSP) . The CCSP designation requires a written test and CPR certification, while the DACBSP requires a written test, CPR certification, a practical exam, 100 hours of on-field experience, and a paper either accepted for publication by a peer reviewed journal or an abstract presentation at the ACBSP’s annual symposium. Training includes emergency procedures, taping, advanced diagnostic procedures, diagnostic imaging, extremity management, rehabilitation, sports psychology, nutrition, and other sports related topics.

Recently, the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS) has developed a certification that is recognized internationally, the International Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (ICCSP). This designation guarantees a minimum qualification required to be part of a FICS chiropractic delegation for a national or international event such as the Olympic and World Games. FICS is growing rapidly around the world and as a result there are many international opportunities for sports chiropractors.

The American Chiropractic Association Sports Council (www.acasc.org) has members that cover sports events of all levels from midget football to the NFL. Many members have traveled around the world to cover sporting events. In New Jersey, the Association of NJ Chiropractors Sports Council (www.njsportsdoc.org) has one of the strongest sports councils in the country with four of our members having been the official chiropractor for the US Olympic Team. In addition, many of our members have been selected for a 2 week internship at the Olympic Training Center.

Sports chiropractors generally have training in cutting edge techniques such as Active Release Technique (ART ), the Graston Technique ( GT)  , Kinesiotaping (www.kinesiotaping.com) , Rock Tape (www.rocktape.com ), FAKTR (www.faktr.com) , Neurokinetic Therapy ( NKT)  , the Functional Movement Screen (FMS ), the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA ), and others. As a result, many sports chiropractors have busy practices treating both athletes and active people of all ages.

In an effort to further their knowledge base, some sports chiropractors have become Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) while others have backgrounds as Certified Athletic Trainers (ATC). Some sports chiropractors obtain certification as strength and conditioning specialists (CSCS). A common theme is the pursuit of knowledge in order to provide the best care to our athletes and patients.

Sports chiropractors are leading the charge of chiropractic into the mainstream. By becoming an integral part of the sports medicine team, sports chiropractors are becoming highly sought after specialists by both athletes and active patients.

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