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You may already be aware that a Doctor of Chiropractic takes care of a patient’s spinal health. However, not all chiropractors are equally qualified to handle sports injuries or work with performance-oriented athletes. Over the years, this type of work has evolved into a recognized specialty within the chiropractic field.

Two of the most respected certifications for this specialty come from the American Board of Chiropractic Sports Physicians. The first such certification is called a Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner (CCSP). It is a one-year, post-doctoral program delivered by a broad range of respected chiropractic schools. The second such certification is called a Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (DACBSP). This is a three-year program that can be started at some schools concurrently with the CCSP program.

Both programs advance the chiropractor’s knowledge of sports-related injuries and how to treat them. The chiropractic sports physician provides conservative treatment of such injuries and designs rehabilitation programs for his or her patients. The skills of the chiropractic sports physician extend to performance optimization of the athlete’s musculoskeletal and nervous systems. And the CCSP or DACBSP graduate learns how to work in a multi-disciplinary sports care environment that includes medical doctors, physical therapists, trainers and others.

Because of their extended training in this specialty, sports chiropractors have made great strides in spinal injury prevention programs. They have also contributed greatly to the science and art of contact sport trauma management, therapy, athletic health maintenance, superior healing after injury, and even to the development of specialized protective gear.

A chiropractic sports physician may work with professional sports teams, college athletics departments or even Olympic programs. A growing number of elite athletic organizations, both professional and amateur, have included sports chiropractors on their medical staff in an official capacity. Since 1980, chiropractic sports physicians have participated conspicuously in the care of the US Olympic team. At the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada, chiropractic sports physician, Mike Reed, was named medical director of the US team, greatly increasing the visibility of chiropractic in the sports care field.

More and more, athletes are giving public recognition to their personal chiropractors as important parts of their health maintenance, recovery and training programs. Many top athletes have used sports chiropractors, including Jerry Rice, Tiger Woods, Emmit Smith, Lance Armstrong, Hines Ward, Sidney Crosby and Kelly Slater, just to name a few.

For the chiropractic sports certification, courses of study vary, depending on the school offering the CCSP and DACBSP programs, but they may include strength training, concussion management, sports psychology, sports nutrition, diagnostic imaging, taping and bracing, extremity adjusting, emergency procedures, biomechanics, exercise physiology, and coaching. Like most similar programs, maintaining certification requires periodic continuing education units. All certificate holders and candidates are also required to keep their CPR certification current.

With chiropractic sports physicians on hand, athletes have never had it better.

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