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For more information about chiropractic treatment, contact:


M. Todd Staker, DC
Ben Schemmel, DC
Trevor Williams, DC

3550 NW Cary Parkway, #104
Cary, NC 27513
Telephone: (919) 460-1515

The Chiropractic Path to Rehabilitation

Dr. Todd Staker and his colleagues at Staker Chiropractic Center in Cary—Dr. Ben Schemmel and Dr. Trevor Williams—have spent years of their lives becoming experts in the rehabilitation of the injured human body. And, led by both interest and training, they have developed special expertise in working with athletes—professional and weekend enthusiasts.

Drs. Williams (left) and Schemmel performing ART on a professional soccer player.

Their expertise is reflected in the fact that Dr. Staker is the long-time provider of chiropractic services for the Carolina Hurricanes, and Dr. Schemmel offers this same leadership and guidance for the NASL’s North Carolina FC soccer team. The three chiropractors help ease and relieve pain for athletes on every level, male and female, on an every-day basis. All three were active athletes in their high school and college days.

In a lively conversation with Health&Healing, Doctors Schemmel and Williams reflect on the rehabilitative process generally and on the specialized treatment of athletes.

Health&Healing: How would you describe the rehabilitation process?

DR. SCHEMMEL: You could say that rehabilitation is fundamentally what we do in a chiropractic practice. And there are different approaches. First, there’s the average patient who presents to the office for a neck or lower-back strain or sprain. We treat the injury, and then we rehabilitate the muscles, building up their core strength to prevent the injury from happening again.

And then there are the athletes we treat—and with athletes there is a lot of co-management involved. We do adjustments and active release technique (ART®)—a patented, state-of-the-art soft tissue system that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves, usually resulting from overused muscles. Meanwhile, their team trainers help in other ways. It’s a coordinated, balancing act. I may do an active release technique, adjusting the spine or shoulder joints, to free up any adhesions, misalignments, or obstructions, for example. And the goal is to get the player back on the field quickly, because they want to play—but you can’t release them too soon. We advise them to go back to playing, test our rehab work, and see how they do. Sometimes we have to change treatment courses, such as their rehab exercises.

H&H: Is the healing process of an active, healthy athlete different and/or harder than a non-athlete?

DR. WILLIAMS: We do a lot of chiropractic manipulation, along with soft tissue work and active release technique with all our patients. All of us have had post-doctoral education in rehabilitative practices, whether it’s in exercise, strengthening, or restoring posture. But athletes take care of their bodies differently. They have a team of people caring for them. There are some high-level, peak-conditioned athletes who previously had surgery and still play. That brings their rehabilitation to a whole new level since you have to be mindful of their old injuries.

We also see athletes who come in with one complaint—perhaps tightness in their hip—and you realize that their ACL knee reconstruction is causing the hip tightness. There may be scar tissue around the knee, some tightness, or compensation patterns around the knee or quads that are causing the hip to hurt. The level at which they’re playing may also be causing tightness. We always have to be mindful of previous injuries when deciding how to continue their rehabilitation. That encompasses all our patients, including the weekend warrior—the patients who want to stay healthy and active, but overdo it, and hurt themselves.

H&H: Is it difficult to know when therapy is done, at least for the moment?

DR. SCHEMMEL: Yes, especially with peak athletes. You have to stay on top of it and always be proactive. Chiropractic, soft tissue work is used with many athletes—we call it a “tune-up.” It’s recognizing patterns before injuries occur and rehabbing the player so that they stay well. I’ve been working with soccer players for years now, and they come to us on a regular basis for a “tune-up.” They might not have any major injury, but they just don’t feel right.

H&H: Are professional athletes, or very active people, more liable to regularly put themselves out of alignment, or are they in such good shape that they don’t?

DR. SCHEMMEL: I think they do. Because they’re always putting their body under stress, whether they’re kicking a soccer ball or tackling someone, there’s a better chance that they will misalign or injure themselves. On the other hand, that same thing applies to anyone who is engaged in repetitive activities or postures that are problematic. Think about the average person who works behind a desk; they’re doing the same thing—constantly sitting, slouching, and thus misaligning their bodies, as well.

H&H: Is pain the symptom that really drives what you do?

DR. WILLIAMS: Pain is certainly the symptom that brings people in seeking relief, but I would say that pain is often the last indicator of something going on in the body. There are those who realize that they’re hurt, in pain, and want help. But many others recognize the benefit of pre-emptively getting checked or adjusted. What I always say to people is that the body cheats a lot and is a great compensator. If you have an issue in one area, it could be that rehabilitating another area is the key to success. We see complicated cases where patients may have had some rehabilitation, surgical intervention, epidural injections, or massage therapy, but it’s not until we look at the global picture of the mechanics of the body and the biomechanics of the individual that we discover the true problem.

H&H: Is there much technology involved in the rehab process?

DR. WILLIAMS: It’s a little bit more low-tech than you might think. It most often comes down to our education in movement patterns. There are times when we do video analysis. We’ll videotape a patient doing whatever activity that recreates the pain. If they’re a weightlifter, we’ll watch them squat; if they’re a runner, we’ll watch them run. We can slow down the video to see what’s happening biomechanically. Where are the shifts and faulty weight distributions? Why is this person compensating and attributing?
H&H: What type of exercises do you recommend for rehab?

DR. WILLIAMS: If the patient is in the acute phase, they shouldn’t do too much, just relax, ice the injury, and take anti-inflammatories to reduce the pain and keep the swelling down. Once they’re in the sub-acute or chronic phase, which could take a few days or weeks to reach, they can start doing some non-weight-bearing exercises. Depending on the injury, it could be swimming, the exercise bike, or some other exercise to get them moving. They slowly build up their weight-bearing exercise and strength training to help stabilize everything.