Whether you have an injury, nagging pain, or are looking to prevent both of those, it’s important to invest in seeing a trusted provider who can help you on your wellness journey.
Two of the most common types of practitioners endurance and adventure sports athletes frequent are chiropractors (DC – Doctor of Chiropractic) and physical therapists (DPT – Doctor of Physical Therapy).
At first glance, a DC and DPT may seem to be nearly the exact same thing. They both treat aches and pains through functional movement and approved techniques, and they both can help prevent injuries through a prescribed strength and movement regimen. However, there are some key differences that may help you decide which to visit for your next steps in achieving your athletic goals.
Physical Therapists: Movement Specialists
Physical Therapists are movement science specialists. Their goal is for you to perform better through proper movement, and they can accomplish this with an individualized assessment of your movement patterns, relative to your sport.
If you intend to have a lifetime of fitness, fun, and adventure, a proper movement assessment is critical to this longevity. Bruk Ballenger, Owner and DPT at Prevail Physical Therapy tells us, “injury prevention is one of the realms of improving performance. Higher level athletes, and older athletes who have seen it all, have the best understanding of this. Nobody can train as effectively as they would like to when they are hurt.”
The best time to tackle injury prevention with a PT is in the off-season, when you can focus on improving your mechanics, strength, and mobility without adding to the stress of a high training volume plan. Since many of us are in limbo without races at the moment, now is a great time to safely connect with a PT near you (find one through our GritLink network) to address any movement patterns causing you pain.
Chiropractors – Alignment Specialists
When you think of chiropractors, the first thoughts that may come to mind are joints that crack and pop – but that isn’t always the case when you visit a Doctor of Chiropractic.
A chiropractor’s toolbox includes techniques for skeletal alignment, soft tissue manipulation and rehabilitation. In addition to being a DC, some common qualifications and techniques you may see offered by a chiropractor include:
- Active Release Technique (ART)
- Graston method
- Selective Functional Movement Assessment
- Functional Range Release
- Functional Range Conditioning
- Functional Movement Taping
- Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization
Pain can be an indicator that you need to see a chiropractor, but the ideal time to visit is when you’re healthy and navigating a new training cycle. When you’re healthy, a chiropractic assessment will include a joint-by-joint baseline functional screen that may include analysis of your gait, squat, unilateral stability, hip extension, overhead reach, and core stability.
Dr. Joe Farris, DC, at Tangelo Chiropractor & Rehab views his job as “giving the gift of physical autonomy, rewiring your software to create the new norm.”
Interested in visiting a chiropractor to get your body on track? Take a peek at the ones in our GritLink network.
Now that we have a solid foundation for understanding the differences between physical therapists and chiropractors, here are a few questions you may want to ask of either provider during your first visit:
- What sports does the physical therapist specialize in?
- How long have they been working with athletes in your sport?
- How long is a typical session with patients?
- Do patients typically meet with the DPT directly, or with the DPT’s assistants?
- What treatment methods does the DPT commonly employ (myofascial release, dry needling, deep tissue work, etc.)?
- What is their familiarity with your specific sport?
- What are their speciality certifications that are relative to your athletic needs?
- What does a typical treatment involve?
- What utilities do they use in practice (i.e. adjustments, soft tissue, manual therapy, etc.)?
- Do they adjust extremities?
Armed with this knowledge and these thinking points, you’ll be set to find the provider that’s right for you the next time you check out GritLink.
By Kristin Goett. Kristin is a social media marketing and public relations professional who currently resides in the Denver area. A triathlete herself, Kristin knows firsthand how important it is to have access to great providers. When she isn’t checking Instagram or posting to Facebook, Kristin is spending her days in the Colorado mountains and training for her next Ironman.
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