Chiropractic Road to the Olympics
North American DCs are poised to make their mark at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

By Caitlin Lukacs

If you’ve ever had an Olympic dream, you know about all of the hard work and training it takes to get to the Games. The same holds true for members of the medical staff. Olympic-caliber athletes need medical care in the unfortunate event of an injury, but they also need help pushing their bodies to perform at their maximum potential. Doctors of chiropractic who specialize in sports injuries and physical fitness are the ideal practitioners to provide that care, being uniquely equipped to handle both injury and recovery treatment, as well as to help athletes prepare for the competition. And the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) agrees.
Since the 1980 Games, when George Goodheart, DC, was selected to be Team USA’s chiropractor for the Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., DCs have been included on the U.S. Medical Team. In 2008, a record number of four chiropractors were sent to Beijing, China, with Team USA for the Summer Games. There were approximately 600 athletes to care for on the U.S. team. This winter, the USOC will take five DCs to Vancouver, Canada, for the 2010 Olympics. They’ll have about 200 athletic competitors to work with.
“Chiropractors have really come a long way in terms of the Olympic Games,” says Michael Reed, DC, MS, DACBSP, medical director for the USOC. “And the demands of athletes are one of the main reasons why.”
Simply put, elite athletes are asking for chiropractic treatment. Sports-focused DCs are able to treat pain and injury with spinal manipulation, but they are also trained in many other modalities that help athletes avoid injury and prepare their bodies for competition—including taping, icing and stretching, explains Dr. Reed. At the 2008 Summer Games, for example, the U.S. beach volleyball team requested that Ernest Ferrel, MA, DC, CCSP, serve as the medical staff member to accompany them to their matches.

Preparing for Vancouver
One of the five DCs chosen by the USOC to work at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Blase Toto, DC, DACBSP, will be working at the medical clinic in the Olympic Village in Vancouver. The clinic will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. He’ll provide care for several different sports teams, including figure skating, hockey and curling, as well as for those athletes whose sport does not have a team chiropractor.
“These athletes are used to receiving chiropractic care at their home training centers because they know that it helps them to perform at their top level,” Dr. Toto says. “Since we’ll all be there for about a month, the athletes will need someone to continue their regular chiropractic routine.” In addition to maintenance and performance care, Dr. Toto will also be available for acute-injury treatment.
Richard Robinson, DC, CSCS, who practices in Calgary, Canada, will attend the Olympics with the Canadian team and work with the freestyle skiing, speed skating, women’s ice hockey and alpine ski teams. “I wasn’t hired by the Canadian team just to treat injuries,” he says. “I was hired because the team recognized the value in what I do to make them go faster and perform better. If we plan to treat injuries after they’ve happened, we’re already too late; we need to get to the Olympics performing our absolute best.”
Competition actually begins a week prior to the opening ceremonies, and Dr. Robinson will be moving into the Olympic Village in the first week of February. “I’ll spend time working in the clinic in the village, but I’ll also be onsite for every training session and competition for speed skating and freestyle skiing,” he says. Luckily, the speed skating events will take place in the mornings, while freestyle will be under the lights in the evenings.
Greg Uchacz, DC, FCCSS(C), CSCS, who practices in Calgary, Canada, will also be a part of the Canadian medical staff. He will focus on the bobsled and skeleton teams and was chosen because of athlete requests. He, too, will prepare the athletes, rather than just treat their injuries. “As DCs, we focus on ensuring that the athletes are performing to their optimum biomechanical function,” he explains. “If you think about athletes as racecars, we are essentially fine-tuning them all the way through training. I’ll be present at competition time, helping to make sure the athletes are in ideal condition by stimulating nervous system responses and stretching, among other things. I’m the last person they’ll interact with before stepping onto the course,” Dr. Uchacz continues.
According to Dr. Reed, each of the five DCs on the U.S. medical team will have slightly different responsibilities come February, but one thing they’ll have in common is competition preparation. Tetsuya Hasegawa, DC, MS, ATC, CSCS, will work with the bobsled and skeleton teams onsite at the sliding center and also out of the Olympic Village in Whistler. Eric St. Pierre, DC, DACBSP, CCSP, CSCS, who is employed by U.S. Speed Skating, will focus his attention on that team from the Olympic Village in Vancouver. Both Drs. Hasegawa and St. Pierre will be expected to care for any injuries, but their main focus will be stretching and other preparatory care—whatever it takes to have the athletes ready to compete.
Dr. Toto will work in the medical center in the Olympic Village in Vancouver and Josh Sandell, DC, DACBSP, CSCS, will be stationed at the performance service center in Whistler, doing recovery work for injured athletes. The fifth DC, Dr. Reed, is in charge of organizing the U.S. medical staff for the Games and providing care for the athletes in the Whistler Olympic Village. “It’s becoming more and more paperwork, but I’ll be available to jump in and treat athletes, if help is needed,” he says.

How They Got There
As an athlete, you can’t just sign up to compete at the Olympic Games. It takes years and years of training, and you must prove your skills at Olympic trials or team try-outs. The same holds true for doctors of chiropractic who want to work at the event. The road to the Olympics is a long one, and it often requires relationship building, as well as physical training.
To be considered for inclusion on the U.S. medical staff, DCs must first go through the USOC’s Sports Medicine Volunteer Program—a 15-day rotation at one of the U.S. Olympic Training Centers, in which they treat any athletes that need rehab or long-term care. (DCs can apply for a volunteer position by logging onto
And it may take years before you get selected to work in an official capacity. Dr. Toto completed the volunteer program for the first time in 1995. In spring 2009, he was invited back to the training center in Colorado Springs. Shortly after he returned home, Dr. Toto received a letter stating that he had been selected to go to Vancouver for the Winter Games. “It had been a goal of mine for a long time, but I didn’t think it would ever happen because it had been 14 years since I’d first worked with the USOC,” Dr. Toto says. “I’m humbled and grateful and excited. I’ve never served in the military, so this is my opportunity to serve my country by caring for the best athletes it has to offer.”
For Dr. Robinson, it all started when he was a student at Palmer College of Chiropractic West. Having always been interested in sports, he worked with the faculty and students to start a sports chiropractic program and student sports council. After graduation, he returned home to Canada with the goal of working with athletes. “I was always looking for opportunities to get involved with sports, and I discovered that there really are a lot of ways to do that,” he says.
About 10 years ago, he started working with a trainer and a strength and conditioning coach who happened to treat elite freestyle skiers. The skiers had never had chiropractic care before, and they immediately noticed a big advantage to their bodies, particularly with the soft-tissue work Dr. Robinson was providing. Within six to nine months, Dr. Robinson was asked to travel with the freestyle ski team, and he began treating them at the national center for winter sports training in Calgary, where he was noticed by athletes from numerous other sports.
Eventually, Dr. Robinson became a contractor to the sports center, treating many of the national team members that came through. For the 2010 Olympics, those teams put in a referral for Dr. Robinson to join the Canadian team’s medical staff. “All of my opportunities have come from word-of-mouth endorsements from athletes,” he says.
Dr. Uchacz had a similar experience. When its time to select the medical staff for the Winter Games, all of the Canadian national organizations for the various sports put in applications for the practitioners that they want to be there. The bobsled and skeleton team requested Dr. Uchacz. That endorsement, along with his training and credentials, secured him a spot on the Canadian team’s staff.
Getting Started in Sports Chiropractic
If you’re interested in working within the sports arena, take the CCSP program, says Dr. Reed. There’s a lot more to working with athletes than simply giving treatments, he explains. You have to understand the team environment and know that there is a proper protocol for making decisions about an athlete’s care and communicating with other practitioners, coaches and team members.
“Then just get out there and work,” continues Dr. Reed. “The athletic population utilizes chiropractic more than the general public, and there are so many sports out there—from youth programs to local high schools or universities to semi-professional and professional teams. Volunteer your services, and opportunities will continue to open up.”

Dr. Reed also suggests finding a sports medicine mentor, or two. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a DC, but find someone working in sports and just follow them around and take in as much knowledge as you possibly can,” he says. “Pay particular attention to how they interact with other practitioners and members of the sports community because that is such a huge part of working in sports medicine.”
“Your focus should never be that you want to go to the Olympics; it should be that you want to serve athletes and provide them with the best care possible,” says Dr. Uchacz. “If you do a good job, the athletes will tell each other, and there’s no end to the opportunities that can come your way.”

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We now accept the following insurances: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, Cigna, Aetna, United Health/OptumHealth, and Medicare.

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Prevention is Key to Better Health
It’s the season for sickness – getting flu shots, kids’ asthma acting up, and ear infections plaguing the preschools. These ailments are painful, and treatments for each can be costly. Prevention can be the key to getting through the season a bit healthier.

The Massachusetts Chiropractic Society ( believes prevention is the key to health and wellness, and can provide some tips and guidance on healthcare maintenance for families this upcoming flu season.

Consider the following:

- In the United States, asthma cases have increased by more than 60 percent since the early 1980s. Researchers don’t know why cases of asthma are increasing at such an alarming rate. Some say genetics and environmental exposure to allergens play a role.

- Asthma is a chronic disease; it can’t be cured – only controlled – and many people say chiropractic care can be helpful in treatment results along with care from an asthma specialist and primary care physician.

- Ear infections can be painful, difficult to treat, and account for more than 35% of all pediatric visits. Standard treatment is with antibiotics, but repeated doses of antibiotics can lead to drug-resistant bacteria in which case drugs do not help. More parents are turning to chiropractic care to help with chronic ear infections.

Some preventative tips to aid in keeping health this winter season are as simple as hand washing, using air filters in the home, and adding supplements of vitamin C.

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Shoveling is Risky to Low Backs

by American Chiropractic Association

Shoveling snow can wreak havoc on the musculoskeletal system. The ACA suggests the following tips for exercise of the snow shoveling variety:

• If you must shovel snow, be careful. Listen to weather forecasts so you can rise early and have time to shovel before work.
• Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.
• Shoveling can strain “de-conditioned” muscles between your shoulders, in your upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs. So, do some warm-up stretching before you grab that shovel.
• When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Don’t try to throw it. Walk it to the snow bank. Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions.
• Bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
• Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles. A fatigued body asks for injury.
• Stop if you feel chest pain, or get really tired or have shortness of breath. You may need immediate professional help.

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Citizens Advocate For Chiropractic Health Care Through Two National Grassroots Organizations
The American Chiropractic Association and the International Chiropractic Association have developed programs to help citizens have a voice in national health care issues, including inclusion of chiropractic as a core service benefit. Below you’ll find information regarding both organizations. For more detailed information about these two important efforts, click on the links at the bottom of this page.

The American Chiropractic Association’s patient advocacy network is ChiroVoice. The chiropractic advocacy network is a dedicated group of national volunteers who educate policymakers about the value of chiropractic and work to positively impact any legislative efforts to reform the current national health care system. Through the chiropractic advocacy network, patients and chiropractic supporters can stay informed about important health care issues and help ensure that:

* Congress does not restrict your ability to access essential chiropractic services.
* Congress does not limit – but instead expands – coverage for services provided by Doctors of Chiropractic within Medicare.
* Insurance and managed care companies do not deny patients’ access to the essential chiropractic services they need.

Your involvement makes a tremendous difference.
Each active member of the chiropractic advocacy network brings us one step closer to our goal of assuring full-scope access to chiropractic services. Chiropractic patients and supporters who are interested in serving as advocates may sign-up to receive special e-mail alerts about advocacy issues and important legislation. Network members will also receive a monthly e-newsletter.

The International Chiropractic Association has created Adjust the Vote as its advocacy vehicle: We activate and maintain a grass roots network of chiropractors, supporters and chiropractic patients to influence local, state and federal legislation and candidates on issues important to the chiropractic community, including a patient’s freedom and right to choose their chiropractor as part of their personal health care team.

Learn more about both these organizations by clicking on the links provided below.

related links:

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What conditions can ART treat?
We use ART to treat a broad range of soft tissue injuries, including the following:
• Arthritis
• Achilles tendonitis
• Ankle Injuries
• Back Pain/Injuries
• Bicepital Tendonitis
• Bursitis
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• De Quervains’s tenosynovitis
• Dupuytren’s contracture
• Foot pain/injury
• Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis
• Gait Imbalances
• Golfers/Tennis elbow (Tendonitis)
• Golf Injuries
• Hand Injuries
• Headaches
• Hip Pain
• Ilio tibial band syndrome
• Impingement syndromes
• Joint dysfunction
• Knee meniscus injuries
• Knee Pain
• Leg Injuries
• Muscle pulls or strains
• Muscle weakness
• Myofascitis
• Neck Pain
• Nerve Entrapment Syndromes
• Performance Care
• Plantar Fascitis
• Post surgical
• Repetitive strain injuries
• Rib Pain
• Rotator cuff syndrome
• Running Injuries
• Scar Tissue Formation
• Sciatica
• Shin splints
• Shoulder Pain
• Sports Injuries
• Swimmers Shoulder
• Tendinitis
• Tennis elbow
• Thoracic outlet syndrome
• Throwing Injuries
• Weight Lifting Injuries
• Whiplash (Hyperextension/hyperflexion injury)
• Wrist Injuries

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What is an ART treatment like?
Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements.

These treatment protocols – over 500 specific moves – are unique to ART. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient. ART is not a cookie-cutter approach.

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How do overuse conditions occur?
Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:
•acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc),
•accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
•not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia).

Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.

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What is Active Release Technique:
Active Release Techniques (ART) is a patented, state of the art treatment for injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves, collectively known as soft tissue.
A few examples of soft tissue injuries include:
•Shoulder pain Tennis elbow
•Carpal tunnel syndrome
•Back pain
•Knee pain
•Plantar fascitis
Almost any soft tissue structure in the body can be treated with ART.
Scar tissue (adhesions) is often an underlying component to injuries, whether the injury is acute, chronic, traumatic, or related to overuse. ART is highly effective for locating and eliminating scar tissue.
Each treatment session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The doctor uses his hands to evaluate the texture, tension, and movement of the soft tissue. Functional tests (i.e. lunge) or a provocative motion (i.e. yoga pose) may also be used to determine the most important structures to treat. The combination of precise direct tension and very specific patient movements is used to treat abnormal tissue.
Over 500 specific treatment protocols are unique to ART. The specificity of the protocols, properly applied tension, and precise patient movements set ART apart from other soft tissue treatments.

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Pogany Chiropractic is now open and accepting new patients. We are located at 104 Charles Eldridge Drive Suite 9, Lakeville, MA 02347. Call us at 508-923-8722 or visit our website at

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