Part #0- The Intro (must read)
Part #1- The Adjustment
In my opinion, at an absolute bare minimum, there are two things a chiropractor should have in his tool belt: the ability to adjust (and adjust well) and a soft tissue modality of his liking. With these two tools, you can get a hell of a lot of people out of pain. And for a weightlifter, soft tissue work is 100% vital when looking for a chiropractor. If a chiro doesn’t mention some sort of soft tissue stuff on their website or in person, find a new one. Times have changed.
– And let me get this out of the way: regular ol’ massage doesn’t count. Massage is to make you feel good. Massage is to pad the bill. Massage is to keep the common folk coming back. Massage is bullshit for fixing real problems. If you are serious about any athletic endeavor and you want FIXED… your chiro better have more than a fucking massage therapist on staff.
– I am going to be talking about different modalties with different names… just know there are “generic” versions of this stuff too. These days, a lot of chiropractic schools teach the generic versions, so it is legal for them to do them in practice as well. So what this really means is, just because someone isn’t technically ART certified, doesn’t mean they don’t know how to do ART like stuff… they would just call it “MRT” or “myofascial release technique.” Same thing goes with say, Graston Technique -vs- IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue modality). Only way to know is to check their website or ask…
– BUT… I really think someone should be certified (or been certified at one point) in at least one of the big soft tissue modalities.
– Also know that keeping a certification usually means the doc is paying an annual fee each year to keep it. At some point, the returns you get on that investment start to diminish and a lot of docs will let there certification lapse. So, if on a website you see “certified ART from 2000-2009,” don’t worry… it doesn’t mean ART came and took it away because they suck. It means the doc got sick of paying the annual fee to keep it. He is still just as proficient as before.
There are two big categories of soft tissue work: using hands or using instruments.
– ART (Active Release Technique) is easily the big dog in this category and as of right now probably the big dog in soft tissue modalites. If you see a chiro certified in ART, they are most likely pretty damn dedicated when it comes to soft tissue modalities. The reason being is ART courses are fucking expensive and they constantly have to “re-certify” to pull even more money out of you. ART works but it can be pretty painful. Even light ART doesn’t feel very good lol. But it works, there is no doubt about that.
Another “named” hand on soft tissue modality is the Stecco Method. Now I don’ t know a whole lot about it (it is outside my price range lol) but one of the developers of it, Warren Hammer DC, is like the god father of soft tissue so I would have no problem at all telling people to see a Stecco provider. Stecco seems more based on movement and the “assess, treat, reassess” philosophy which is incredibly sound.
I am sure there are other named ones but those are the two that stand out for me.
– Now with instrument assisted soft tissue modalities, you are using some sort of tool to do the work for you. The advantages for the doc is that it increases your longevity… using your thumbs a ton like in ART can tear them apart long term. I also think it takes less “skill” than the hands on therapies. The good tools can guide you on where to apply the treatment… with the hands on modalities you are completely at the mercy of your palpation skills and some peoples skills are non-existant.
Now there are TONS of different tools used for IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue modality). They range from the stainless steel to plastic to stuff like Jade.
I am going to say something that would probably be unpopular with a lot of chiros and my fellow students: as a lifter and someone who is active, non-stainless steel stuff is bullshit. If your doc is using some fucking plastic or some rocks or a reflex hammer or some shit, find another one. It means he isn’t serious about soft tissue work. The stainless steel stuff is MILES above the other shit. And it isn’t THAT expensive. I bought a FAKTR, stainless steel instrument for $250. The module one for Graston is around $600 I think. BOOM… the training of Graston Technique and I got a good, stainless steel instrument for less than $300 (instead of the Graston tools which are $3G’s).
– Anyway, speaking of names, the big daddy of IASTM is easily Graston Technique. It is right behind ART as far as “named” soft tissue stuff and is gaining a lot of steam at the same time. As far as I know, people who get Graston certified stay that way for life. There isn’t a lot of recertification involved, unlike ART. There are two types of GT people: GT trained and GT certified. GT trained (like I am) means they took Module 1 which is Basic GT training. GT certified means they took module 1 and module 2… the advanced training. GT certified people also have the true, Graston instruments while GT trained people might not. Just something to think about. A lot of people don’t go on to get fully GT certified because you learn the techniques you will use 90% of the time in module 1 and you are not forced to spend the $3G’s on the tools. To take module 2 you need to have the GT tools.
Anyway, another name in IASTM is FAKTR. FAKTR was developed by a former GT instructor. It is similar to GT except that it involves movement. So they will do the soft tissue work while the athlete is in motion. Does it make a difference? I don’t know. But it is a solid #2 in the IASTM world.
– A lot of DC’s will get certified in one of the above categories, but use a generic version of the second category. For instance, they will be GT trained, but then do MRT (not ART) when they feel the need. Or an ART doc will do IASTM with cheaper tools. This breaks the rule I said above about the stainless steel instruments by the way. If a doc spent all the money for Stecco or ART and then decides to use some plastic tool when doing IASTM… no biggie. ART is his main weapon and the IASTM is his back up.
– A lot of docs will combine both treatments. What works really well is doing IASTM and then doing some sort of stretching or MRT. Just a heads up. More and more docs are combining the two.
How to Find Out of a Chiropractor is Soft Tissue Proficient?
– The easiest way is to go to their website. Every chiro that is certified in something will put it somewhere or they will mention they are soft tissue proficient or some crap. If they don’t have a website, you can call and simply ask if they do soft tissue work other than massage and if they say something like, “yes we do myofascial work” or, “yes we do stuff similar to Graston/ART” then they should be decent. While you are at it, tell them to come to the year 2013 and make a fucking website.
– If you are looking for a new chiro and don’t have any idea where to start, you can go to the “provider” websites. Below are links to the popular soft tissue modalites. All you have to do is put in a state/zip code/city or something and it will find all the certified docs in the area and tell you specifics on what they are certified in. For example, someone may only be ART certified in upper extremity instead of all 8 thousand of them.
– If you have any questions, ask below. And on a personal, biased, informed note, of all the modalites used on me, Graston Technique is easily my favorite.