Why did you get into chiropractic?
I volunteered at a hospital for three years throughout my undergraduate education at Cal State Long Beach. From that experience I learned that I wanted to be on the opposite side of healthcare, focusing on educating and empowering people to make healthy lifestyle choices. I started looking into Chiropractic after my mom encouraged me to do so. The more research I did, the more I realized it was the right fit for me. Although it was a last minute decision to apply and attend Palmer West Chiropractic School, I have never regretted it and every day in practice only confirms that I made the right decision.
Tell us about your day-to-day. Where, and what do you specialize in?
After graduating from Palmer West I moved back to Long Beach and started working at Bloch Chiropractic Wellness and Sports Medicine six days a week. Here, I work with four other chiropractors who share similar philosophies and treatment styles and I have built a wonderful patient base. Since the majority of my patients are athletes on some level: club, high school, college, weekend warrior etc, I enrolled in the CCSP program to become a Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner. I felt that it was in my patients’ best interest for me to have further education in the specificity of treating and preventing sports injuries.
About six months into practice I started working at American Gymnastics Academy (AGA) once a week. At the gym, I worked closely with the coaches and gymnasts to prevent and rehabilitate injuries. I personally feel that this set up is the future of sports training; to have a sports-specialized professional onsite who is familiar with the athletes and able to work directly with the coaches, athlete, and athlete’s parent.
Since becoming the Sports Medicine Manager of the Men’s Team at USA Water Polo the majority of my time is spent in Santa Ana where the Men’s team is currently training full time as they prepare for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Although my schedule is fluid and constantly changing, on any given day I am at the pool from 7am-3pm, and then treating patients in my office or at AGA from 4-8pm Monday-Saturday. My role with the Men’s Team consists of working with the weightlifting coach and team dietician to ensure the men are in the most optimal environment for success. I am present during almost every practice. I also treat the athletes during their breaks and following training. If and when a player has a more serious injury I work directly with our head team physician Dr. Naresh Rao to make sure they get proper imaging and to the correct specialist to minimize missed training time. I am also responsible for coordinating first aid care for the USA Water Polo Boy’s Pipeline teams. USAWP has a very cool setup built to harness and develop talent from a young age in the sport.
As the Olympics are approaching, what are your biggest concerns for your athletes?
My biggest focus with the Men’s Olympic Water Polo Team is injury prevention. They have been training at a high intensity for over 6 months now. Weight training, swimming, and practicing for 8 hours a day, it is inevitable that repetitive micro traumas and compensatory patterns will develop in each athlete. It is my goal to prevent those underlying issues from developing into an injury. I do that by maintaining and improving range of motion of large joints, improving proprioceptive awareness, and decreasing adhesion build up in over-used muscles. I do a lot of soft tissue work on the athletes, mostly myofascial release but also instrument assisted soft tissue techniques. I also adjust my athletes and do joint mobilizations such as scapulothoracic and mulligan hip.
What are the most common ailments you treat?
I primarily see shoulder and hip ailments in water polo. However, due to the asymmetry of the sport, I have noticed specific compensatory patterns depending on the athlete. For example, a right hand dominant attacker will have hypertonicity in the right paraspinals and QL of the low back, an over trained right rotator cuff, and tight lats on the left hand side. After 3 hours of shooting they all have ribs out and every one of the guys have particularly tight hip flexors, hamstrings, and IT bands.
What are the most common injuries that water polo players have?
The injuries in the sport of water polo vary. Compared with other land based sports, there tends to be less career ending injuries with water polo athletes. However, due to the aggressive nature of the sport, lacerations, concussions, and fractures are always a risk. Biceps tendonitis and hip labral tears are possibly the most common overuse injuries in the sport. However, a single injury is rarely found in isolation. I find the biceps tendonitis to be secondary to a tight subscapularis, and sports hernias secondary to decreased internal hip rotation which literature now supports.
What was your first experience with RockTape?
I took both the upper extremity and lower extremity certifications for RockTape during my last year at Palmer West. It was my first time using any type of kinesiology tape. I was able to use it on athletes during events such as the Sea Otter Classic and Susan G. Koman Walk for the Cure. I received positive feedback from the patients I used the tape on and found its application options to be endless. Once in private practice, I was unable to use other brands of kinesiology tape because I found them to be less sticky, less stretchy, and therefore less effective.
How do you use RockTape in your practice?
Since the majority of my patients are athletes on some level, whether they are an Olympian or weekend warrior, I use RockTape 2” on every new patient I see in my office because I find it prolongs the efficacy of treatment by increasing circulation to the area that was worked on. I let them decide if it is something they would like to include in their treatment plan and the majority of my patients fall in love with the product after its first application. I was very excited when I learned of the partnership between USA Water Polo and RockTape because I was aware of all the recovery tools that the company produces. In the weight room, the athletes use the RockBalls and Rockn’Rollers for self-soft tissue work. RockRub is great for long trips because one container lasts much longer than the equivalent amount of massage cream. Some of the guys actually request “the Sauce” from me before games or after practice.
What’s your favorite RockTape pattern/product/etc?
I have to have the 2” RockTape H2O in beige at all times. The H2O because it sticks better and my water polo athletes are usually covered in sunscreen and are always in the water and my gymnasts are sweaty and covered in chalk or foam from the pit. Beige so it can be used in competition. I tape a lot of shoulders for my water polo athletes. I use the H pattern for low back with my gymnasts as well as edema taping because they get bruised frequently when they fall on beam etc.
If you could change one behavior of your patients, what would it be?
It would have to be patients taking more of a responsibility for their health and being their own advocate. I love working with athletes, especially at the Olympic level because they are very aware of their bodies and extremely involved in their recovery care programs. They genuinely want to know what they can do to improve their performance and recover from injury faster. I find that my most difficult patient is one who has a “what can you do for me” approach to their treatment.
Where do you think Chiropractic care is headed? What’s the future of it?
The future of Chiropractic care is becoming the first line of defense in musculoskeletal injury as opposed to a last resort. Since it is conservative care (no drugs or surgery), chiropractic treatment is a safe place to start on the road to recovery. We are able to order imaging and refer to other medical professionals if conservative care is not the appropriate treatment. At Bloch Chiropractic we always tell our patients that if we can’t get you better, we will find someone who can. We have built wonderful interdisciplinary relationships with local health care providers and are confident when making patient referrals.