In recognition of April as National Youth Sports Safety Month, MomsTeam has asked 30 experts to write a blog answering two questions: first, how or why did they get into their field, and second, how have they made a difference in the life of a youth athlete in the past year.
Today, we hear from Dr. Steve Horwitz, a chiropractic sports physician and sports performance coach and Director of the Capital Sports Injury Center in Bethesda and Silver Spring, Maryland.
Why did I get into my field?
As an undergraduate at Cornell, I studied history, but I was always interested in health and fitness. I had a significant shoulder injury in college and did not receive the care I needed from the medical professionals who treated me. It spurred my interest in the chiropractic profession and I have not looked back since.
Immediately after completing my chiropractic education, I went on to obtain a Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Combining these two educational paths, as well as being an athlete myself, has given me a unique insight into injury care and injury prevention. Since these early years, my goal has always been to prevent the injuries I treat every day to improve performance using the formula, Injury care = injury prevention = sports performance.
How have I made a difference in an athlete's life?
I have helped so many athletes, it is hard to select one, so I have picked three.
The first is about a 15 year-old football player referred by an orthopedic surgeon for rehabilitation after a spinal stress fracture sustained when his coaches made him squat with 400 pounds. As a competitive power lifter, I encourage properly supervised weight and resistance training for youth. Unfortunately, this athlete was never taught how to squat properly, his hips were very tight, and his core was weak. His goal in rehab was to be ready to throw the shot put in time to compete in the last outdoor track meet of the season. After six months of corrective exercise training, he was able to return to the shot put ring, setting a personal best by 1 foot even though he had not touched a shot put since the prior season! The next week, in the county championships, he threw the shot another foot further. In the state championships the following week he improved by yet another foot!
A 12-year-old swimmer presented to my office with rotator cuff problems in both shoulders. 12 years old! After several months of treatment and corrective exercise and time off from swimming, he set personal records the first time he got back in the pool!
A high school junior cross country runner with severe back pain came to my office with her mother. I explained that she would need to take three months off running while being treated in order for her to return safely to running. It wasn't what the athlete's mother wanted to hear so they left. Almost exactly one year later they were back, as the athlete's low back pain had not resolved and her performance had suffered. After three months off from running and treatment, she was pain free and back training to run in a Division I collegiate program.
These stories highlight what I view as two major problems with youth sports today: First, year-round programs with no off-season, and second, the lack of proper physical (and mental) assessment and preparation. If the kind of long term athletic development programs other countries use, programs which combine the gradual development of movement, strength, speed, mobility, and balance with training in sport-specific skills, were followed in the United States, I believe we would see a dramatic reduction in the number of sports injuries.
Dr. Steven Horwitz is a graduate of Cornell University and the National University of Health Sciences. He is a certified Chiropractic Sports Physician, Strength and Conditioning Specialist, USA Weightlifting Club Coach, HKC Kettlebell Instructor, USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach, Titleist Performance Institute Certified, Functional Movement Screen, and Sports Nutritionist. He has full certification in Active Release Techniques®, Graston Technique, Dry Needling, and Kinesio Taping. Dr. Horwitz is listed on the Paleo Physician Network.
Dr. Horwitz was named by Washingtonian Magazine as a top expert in sports medicine, named to the 2006 Guide to America's TOP CHIROPRACTORS, is the former chairman of the Maryland Council on Physical Fitness, and state director of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He was selected by the US Olympic Committee as the sole chiropractor on the sports medicine staff of the 1996 US Olympic Team and has travelled internationally with USA Track and Field.
Dr. Horwitz has authored many ebooks including Rotator Cuff Relief, Golf Fitness Made Easy, The Athlete's Guide to Sports Diet and Nutrition, and Rub Some Dirt On It - What every parent, coach, and athlete should know about on-the-field injuries. An avid athlete, Dr. Horwitz was the 1986 A.A.U. Collegiate Mr. America Bodybuilding Short Class Winner and is a competitive powerlifter and kettlebell enthusiast.