This article originally appeared in the Capital Bicycle Club Newsletter June 2013
Sometimes I get kinda carried away. I’ll admit that sometimes, I find myself asking how I got where I am. After all this time, you may even ask, “Who is this chiropractor writing these articles every month?” (And why doesn’t he write about chiropractic?) Well, tonight, after teaching a stretching class for the Bicycle Commuter Contest, someone finally asked, “So, how is all this tied to chiropractic?” To be honest, I was surprised how hard it was for me to answer! If I could rewind and give the answer again, it would sound like the rest of this article. Please pardon the indulgence.
Some of the saddest times of my life have been when I didn’t own a bicycle. Thankfully, those times have been rare, but the most profound one was just after chiropractic school. On the eve of a cross country move to Olympia, I abandoned a bicycle. By that, I mean I literally leaned it up against a dumpster and walked away from it!
In the first few years of getting my practice started here in Olympia, I didn’t even miss bicycles. But, then, I got jealous. There I was, sitting peacefully on my front porch, watching my neighbor leaving for a group ride, AGAIN. (You know who you are!) I thought how pitiful it was that I wasn’t doing the same. Well, those feelings didn’t sit well, and before long I got a bicycle and carried on.
At about that same time, I had the opportunity to meet and study with Dr. Jeff Spencer. He was a sports-focused chiropractor who was working with professional cyclists and teams including, you guessed it… Lance Armstrong. Spencer was the team chiropractor for all of his Tour de France wins, and it was from that perspective that he spoke and inspired me. From his lectures, I was challenged to think about how our bodies move, how they get injured, and how they heal. I was inspired enough to seek out more training and then commit the following year to study, travel, and post-doctoral certification as a Certified Sports Chiropractic Physician (CCSP.)
Soon after that, I also became obsessed with becoming a USA Cycling coach, thinking that it would help me tie some of what I’d been learning into my clinical practice. As it turns out, though, I obtained that licensing in secrecy and then hid the certificate in a drawer for a very long time. I was scared to death that someone would actually find out I had it! (If you’ve ever seen me race, you’d know why I would have been scared!) The truth was that I still couldn’t connect the sports certification and the coaching license into what I was doing in the office with my patients on a daily basis. I had some struggles with it but I continued to try and understand how I was going to make it all work together.
Ultimately, the platform that I discovered works for me is in reflecting on the fact that ALL bodies heal based on similar principles and mechanisms whether they are the bodies of athletes or not. I finally found the solid ground that I needed! I view my job as helping people discover their body’s most efficient way to recover from an injury or by helping to prevent injuries in the first place. My sports training informs that work greatly. It may come in the form of teaching a stretching routine, providing core exercises, applying manual therapies/chiropractic treatment, or referring a patient for other treatments. One very concrete place that this shows up in my office is in the medical bike fit program that I have been developing over the past few years.
On a day-to-day basis, my path has led to a very interesting and challenging practice where I have the opportunity to take care of people from all walks of life. To those of you in the cycling community who have inspired me along the journey with your trust and GREAT questions, I am forever indebted to you for the opportunities to grow. I only hope to keep learning and be of greater service to you through these pursuits.
And that, my friend, is what I would have said. 🙂 See y’all on the road!