By Michael Dorausch, D.C.
It all started with a bike ride.
It was 2001, and a June Friday morning in Venice Beach, California. I was out for a meditative bike ride on my black Schwinn beach cruiser. While riding and having visions of bringing chiropractic to the world I came across what appeared to be a massive set construction project on the beach. There were tents and stages, scaffolding and advertising banners, and tons upon tons of dirt.
I ventured in for a closer look and saw guys raking and shoveling the dirt into place while kids rode down 50 foot ramps on BMX bikes, testing jump conditions. They were preparing for a BMX and Skate Extreme Sports Event, the first in Los Angeles. My chiropractic sense to serve welled up inside and I internally shouted to myself… “This event needs a chiropractor.”
I looked for whoever was directing people to get things done, approached him and asked “who’s the event chiropractor?” He gave me a way too busy to be bothered look and then rattled off several reasons there was no chiropractor for the event. My internal voice went silent, and then it welled right back up.
My mind raced. In getting chiropractic to the world, I’d been travelling on humanitarian missions to Panama and Costa Rica during the past 4 years, and I had promised myself I’d bring the spirit of the mission home.
This event was happening in my backyard, I was a Venice local, how could I let this go? I persisted, highlighting the importance of chiropractic care and athletic performance and my mission to get chiropractic to the world. He was uninterested and preoccupied. He turned to me and said “look, if someone were going to volunteer and …” Without hesitation I said “I’ll see you tomorrow!” He hadn’t even finished and I was getting back on my bike to race home and get ready to rock!
Opportunity hits the pavement.
Saturday morning I was up early, meditating and doing affirmations, and preparing for the unknown of the day. It was a short walk to the beachfront event from my house and I arrived with my portable chiropractic table in hand, eager to make this day happen.
The lead organizer was high up in a tower announcing the days event over a loudspeaker while participants on skateboards got a feel for ramps and the jumps below. I stood at the fence waiting and silently directing thought at the back of the organizers head, hoping he’d soon turn around. When he finally did turn my way I must have had the biggest I’m ready to go to work smile on my face. He gave me a smile killing look, turned his head away, and carried on.
Dejection filled my being and I nearly choose it as reality when I heard a slam and collective gasp from the crowd of spectators that had been gathering. A kid about 12 on a skateboard miscalculated a jump and had face planted onto the concrete, now apparently out cold.
I looked up to see the lead organizer with his jaw dropped. He turned to look at me and I was already jumping the fence. I got down on the ground and applied skills I’d learned working with varsity football players. All was quiet (but it wasn’t). I gave him my best, and eventually we got up together to walk it off. The crowd cheered and I heard something over the loudspeaker about the doctor being on top of it as we walked towards the riders tent. (BTW: That kid went on to accomplish great things in the world of skateboarding.)
The first person to meet us was the kids dad. He said thanks, we chatted, and I turned to discover the organizer standing at my side, ready to show me where I was setting up my table for the day.
I walked out of the tent to go fetch my table and found myself face to face with a news reporter asking me questions about the hazards of extreme sports and the dangers involved for those who participate. Here I was (a sudden voice of authority) defending skateboarding, BMX, the event, and extreme sports in general.
Everything happens for a reason.
I had grown up with a skateboarding is not a crime mentality and the reporter encounter just brought my own biased emotions back. I’d had my share of broken arms, sprained wrists, fractured ribs, and ankle injuries. I had no idea how every injury I’d had as a kid would play a role in my clinical career, and on this day.
My personal BMX experience was short lived (but essential). At about age 13 I attempted a dirt jump the local kids were completing. I came up short, handle bars turned, hit the dirt and cracked my ribs as I fell onto my bike. On day one in my world of extreme sports I learned this was called casing a jump. I saw several riders that had cased jumps that day, and I innately knew exactly how to approach the injuries.
Over go for it.
When I wasn’t adjusting or assessing injuries in the tent, I was up on a platform, studying the body mechanics of the riders. I began to clearly see different postures and mechanics from skilled riders vs kids on the platform for the first time. The pros appeared and acted calm, the amateurs had a nervous tension about them (like I did the day I broke my ribs).
There was one kid in particular who had cased a jump during the practice runs, and I had him on my adjusting table later that morning. He was complaining about aches in body parts (foot, shoulder, etc.) but he didn’t have any major injuries. I was palpating his spine and could feel the nervous energy, I told him to breathe.
When he sat up he shared his concerns about the jumps and I found myself in a role that has affected my personal life and professional practice immensely. I shared that I’d been watching riders from atop of the ramp, and that I’d been seeing a pattern in their behavior. In chiropractic we have a saying “be one with the bone” and I said calmly, “be one with your bike.” Choose whoever you think is the best rider on the platform, and ride out after him, and go down that ramp faster than he did.
This kid went down the ramp just after one of best (and most famous) BMX riders on the planet completed his jump. He rode fast, cleared it, landed it, and the crowd went wild. Other riders ran out to him to give high fives and hugs, it was a great sight. He ended up winning prizes that day, and so did I.
I assessed and adjusted quite a few people that weekend, professional athletes and amateurs, skateboarders and BMX riders, and I had a blast. I had volunteered for the event and yet the rewards came, both physically and emotionally. I went home Sunday night determined to better know the evolving world of extreme sports.
What you think about.
Monday morning came and I was in the office, high off of the weekends event, adjusting patients and internally excited about this wonderful world I had entered. I was less than an hour into the workday when someone new came in with complaints about his low back and right foot after his weekend activity. What are the odds this guy tells me he was out riding motocross in Gorman (California’s second largest off-highway vehicular recreation area) and now he’s pretty banged up? Some people would say the odds are 100%.
This particular patient worked at a local motocross dealer (where I eventually got my motorcycles) and he rode a lot. We talked bike ergonomics, riding, jumping, chiropractic, and injury recovery. Within a week the manager was in my office (also a rider), and then the owner.
I now refer back to that day as Motorcycle Monday. It was as if my entire first weekend working with extreme sports athletes was simply preparation for what was coming my way. Most of the local motorcycle dealers near my office (there are several) are closed on Mondays, and many locals go out to places like Glamis, Rasor Road, and Gorman on the weekends to ride. Monday morning in my office for chiropractic care became a natural extension to their weekend activities.
American flags are flying.
The Core Tour was coming back to Venice Beach for the finals the weekend of September 14th, 2001. I’d been in communication with several riders since June and I made arrangements for them to get in office assessments and adjustments before the tour started. Word had spread and a few brought along friends. Now I had pro extreme sports athletes being assessed and adjusted in my practice.
When it was all said and done, I had worked the Core Tour over four years from 2001-2004, with a focus on BMX and skateboarding. I meet amazing people and learned much more about performance and human mechanics than I had known previously, and I was just getting started.
Possibility loves preparation.
In the summer of 2003, The X Games came to Los Angeles for the first time. Athletes participating began calling me a few weeks before to schedule coming to the office while in the city. While I didn’t officially work for the X Games, I provided care to a number of participating athletes in the office, and at the event that summer. The X Games returned to Los Angeles in 2004 and continued to be hosted in the Los Angeles area until 2013. The proximity of my chiropractic practice to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) turned out to be great for athletes visiting the area, and it wasn’t uncommon for them to visit directly from the airport.
My office walls became adorned with photos of athletes I’d worked with, and those photos remained on the walls until we remodeled the office in March of 2017.
If you’re still reading this.
Quite a few things had to happen in a universe of possibilities and probabilities in order for me to be here writing about this nearly 2 decades later (it’s been a wild ride). The event had not officially started when the kid had fallen off of his skateboard. If it were 10 minutes later, staff paramedics would have been first to the scene, and I’d have a different story to tell.
The Atlanto Calcaneal Connection
I’ll get into the clinical components (upper cervical calcaneal correlation) of what I learned and how I’ve applied it in my practice in another post. Needless to say, at the time I began providing care (chiropractic centered – subluxation based – alignment and performance care) there were no certifications and no extreme sports seminars a provider could attend (that I was aware of), although continuing education towards a solid foundation in chiropractic technique and extremity work has long been available.
2003: X Games IX – Staples Center & LA Coliseum, Los Angeles (August 14–17, 2003)
2004: X Games X – Staples Center, Home Depot Center, Long Beach Marine Stadium, Los Angeles (August 5–8, 2004)
2005: X Games XI – Staples Center, Los Angeles (August 4–7, 2005)
2006: X Games 12 – Staples Center, Home Depot Center & Long Beach Marine Stadium, Los Angeles (August 3–6, 2006)
2007: X Games 13 – Staples Center, Home Depot Center & Long Beach Marine Stadium, Los Angeles (August 2–5, 2007)
2008: X Games 14 – Los Angeles (July 31 – August 3, 2008)
2009: X Games 15 – Los Angeles (July 30 – August 2, 2009)
2010: X Games 16 – Staples Center, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum & L.A. Live, Los Angeles (July 29 – August 1, 2010)
2011: X Games 17 – Los Angeles (July 28–31, 2011)
2012: X Games 18 – Los Angeles (June 28 – July 1, 2012)
2013: X Games Los Angeles 2013