Sports Chiropractor versus Chiropractor

Many of the previous posts have hinted at the differences between what a sports chiropractor does differently from a general chiropractor. If you are interested in seeing one or the other, there is some additional terminology that may help you determine who offers the services that you’re seeking.

Generally speaking, chiropractors will fall into one of two groups: conservative or liberal.


These are often referred to as “straights” or “mixers” respectively. Conservatives or “straights” tend to focus their practices almost exclusively on spinal manipulation.

Liberals or “mixers” use a much more broad range of interventions and treatment modalities for their patients.

The main difference between straights and mixers is twofold: philosophical approach and mainstream usage and acceptance. At one end of the spectrum are the straights and at the other, the mixers. Many chiropractors fall in between as well.

Straight chiropractors adhere strictly to the teachings of the founder of chiropractic medicine, D.D. Palmer. They believe that subluxation, or misalignment of the spine, is the sole cause of disease and bodily dysfunction. Therefore, spinal manipulation is really the only form of both disease and illness prevention and treatment. Because of this, straight chiropractors really don’t even recognize disease states, because to them, “disease” doesn’t exist; it is simply a secondary manifestation of subluxation.

The number of these types of practitioners in the U.S is low. They comprise about 15% of all chiropractic providers.6 These practitioners often completely reject mainstream medicine and therefore, are really not integrated into the modern healthcare system.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the mixers.

These chiropractors provide a wide array of therapies and use many diagnostic tools to aid in the evaluation and care of their patients. They may provide homeopathic remedies such as acupuncture, herbal remedies and natural supplements for their patients. They are skilled at the use of imaging exams such as x-ray to help diagnose, treat or reassess a patient’s condition or response to treatment. They may work with a PT or recommend exercise as part of the therapeutic regimen. While they still believe in and use spinal manipulation in their practices, they also very much believe in following mainstream medical research when evaluating and treating their patients.

They are also very interested with overall health and well-being, and utilize therapies that avoid the use of drugs and surgical intervention to treat painful conditions and injuries.

These practitioners are highly integrated into the modern healthcare system; they truly see themselves as complimentary, yet alternative medical providers.

The sports chiropractor is very much a mixer.

By incorporating the basic chiropractic principles into an evidence-based practice that focuses on strength and conditioning, exercise rehabilitation and physiotherapy, sports chiropractors have a broad and deep range of knowledge and skill that blends many elements of evaluation and care.