After seeing Dr. Rob Silverman speak at the 2015 ACA Sports Council Symposium in Denver, where he has also awarded the Chiropractor of the Year award, we caught up with him to talk about his experiences as chiropractor, from the beginning of his journey to where he stands now. Not only did Dr. Silverman share what drove him to become a sports chiropractor, but also why he specializes with sports chiropractic. Interested in working in the same field? Read on for Dr. Silverman’s tips about how to break in.
Tell us about your background—what drew you to become a chiropractor?
I was both a point guard and a quarterback in high school, and my coach told me something. He said, “Variability and diversity are the keys to life. I can only tell you from what I’ve seen what I think the other team is going to do, but sometimes they will change their strategy. If you can’t adapt to it, life will leave you behind.”
So it’s funny—I grew up in a pretty traditional family, but medical doctors didn’t offer us much. My mom said that cutting us open to correct problems would leave scars and that it never made a lot of sense to her, so she said not to do it. I tried a chiropractor at 18 and it was a really bad experience; I even became “anti-chiro” for a while.
But when I had an injury at 21 from playing basketball, many people recommended me to see a chiropractor who dealt with sports injuries, Dr. Gary Young. I was a little resistant, but he changed my life.
Being treated by Dr. Young was my Mark Twain moment: he’s famous for saying that “the two most important days are the days that you are born and the day you know why.” I knew after I met Dr. Young that my second day had come. He worked on me, treated me and gave me answers and explanations. He was enthusiastic and it was contagious. I literally walked out and went home and said, “You know what? I’m going to drop out of school; I want to be a chiropractor.”
That’s a great story! What did your family say?
When my Jewish mother heard me, with my business degree paid for on academic scholarship, she had a heart attack! But that’s how we worked it out. I finished because I knew I had to. But even while I worked half of a day at IBM, I had to leave because it wasn’t for me. I enrolled for the prerequisites for chiropractor school and Gary Young was the first person to change my thinking about what a chiropractor does.
Where did you go to school?
I graduated in December 1999 from the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic. The ACA was the first chiropractic organization that I joined when I came out of school, and I joined the ACA Sports Council around 2005.
And you were recently named Chiropractor of the Year by the ACA sports council, congratulations! How has your involvement with the ACASC evolved over the last 15 years?
I became involved in the sports council because I always wanted to have an emphasis of the diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries in my own practice. Being a former attempted athlete, if you will, I thought there was a crying need for good quality assessment and rehab of sports injury.
I think chiropractic is truly the bridge between all the different philosophies and the different kind of practitioners out there. We’ve got some interesting advantages over others, so I’ve been involved where I can, including speaking at events, and I’ve actually spoken five years in a row at the ACA sports council show. They’ve been very kind to me through it all.
That’s great. What else are you doing with sports performance and chiropractic?
Right now, at Northwestern Chiropractic College, I teach a sport, nutrition and performance certification that draws from all of my own experiences. It includes nutritional treatment and assessment protocols, sports injuries, a topic many of my students enjoy, similar to my ACL prevention program.
I’m actually one of the few people that talk about the athlete in ACL prevention conception. In class, we go over some of the general nutritional concepts like nutritional timing and I also give students sample faulty movement patterns and teach them, hands-on, what to search for in a faulty movement pattern. There’s even been an opportunity for me to talk about lasers and their integration. So it’s all about nutrition and sports performance.
Those are all great subjects for chiro students to have exposure to before graduation and real world application. Who were some of the chiropractors that inspired you as a student and beyond?
Dr. Steve Perle was a big influence; he was very sports oriented as a chiropractor and also was the head of the 1991 USA Track and Field team. I could always go to him and ask about any sport I was interested in, even though other DCs weren’t as visible with teams as they are today, and he’d say, ”Look what I did, it happens.” That was great motivation.
I always knew I wanted to incorporate a sports theme in my office and I was fortunate enough to meet the godfather of it all—Tom Hyde. Tom’s not only in the hall of fame and worked for the Miami Dolphins, but he’s a great guy who taught me, a sniveling new chiropractor at the time, how to get started in sports.
He was always asking, “How can I help you?” and helping me learn, introducing me to his people that day. So Tom was very influential in enabling me to get to where I am and I’m grateful to him.
Dr. Steve Cagliostro is a current-day mentor of mine. He’s an elite MD who I run different treatment ideas off of—it’s great to have his perspective and insight.
As someone’s who is now established in the sports chiropractic field, what’s some advice you’d pass on to younger doctors?
I will tell every young chiro who wants to be a sports doctor this: he or she probably won’t go out and get the world-champion, golden-team opportunity right away. It’s going to be hard right out. However, as I was once advised, work with all levels of sports patients. My first interest was working with Olympic-level athletes, and my peer just told me to never forget Peewee football. He said he received more patients from Peewee football leagues than when he was an Olympic doctor.
When you start off, get the local people, start working with these kids, from junior high to college age, and focus on your reputation. Start working with them because once you have one or two patients, they will translate into more patients and families and word of mouth over a lifetime. They will be your practice’s backbone.
I think of it like this: the chiropractor works similar to mixed martial arts. It’s not what you learned, but whose honed it the best and can perform without fail. Of course, we chiropractors have such an inherent advantage because we’re critical thinkers and we’re using our hands with patients because we know how to adjust. So if you’re injured and going to go to a manual therapist, who are you going to choose?
Thanks for the advice Dr. Silverman!
Dr. Rob Silverman, DC, MS, CNS, CCN, CSCS, CKTP, CES, CIISN, DACBN, DCBCN, HKC, SASTM has a full-time successful private practice in White Plains, NY, where he specializes in the diagnosis of joint pain, soft-tissue management and its treatments with an innovative, established and well-researched approach to non-surgical care, while incorporating proper nutrition protocols. He is an Editorial Contributor for DC Aligned. The author’s opinions are their own and DC Aligned does not take responsibility for content statements and opinions. You should seek expert counsel in evaluating opinions, treatments, products and services. For more info see our Editorial Policies.