If you’ve been searching for, “best chiropractor near me” or “ sports chiropractor Irvine”, I’m sure you’ve come across many chiropractors but you don’t know the difference between a sports chiropractor and a functional movement chiropractor, for example. You’re better off asking Siri or Alexa for “ functional movement near me”, and this blog will tell why including:

  • What is a sports chiropractor?
  • Is a chiropractor a doctor?
  • What is functional movement?
  • and the best functional movement exercises 

It is so important to always go to the right doctor for your issue. Chiropractors, just like medical doctors have their own specialty and focus in practice so while some focus on general practice, pregnancy, or infants, others specialize in sport but that does not mean that their focus is on functional movement. In fact, most often, the main agenda is to recover from injury and get back to the activity. When it comes to functional movement chiropractors, the goal is to move, balance, and attain functional posture based on the design of the body so we are talking about the depth of movement with functional movement chiropractor.

Is a Chiropractor a Doctor?

While many think of Doctors as Medical Doctors, Chiropractors have a Doctorate in Chiropractic and are titled DC. The main difference between a Chiropractor and your primary care physician, for example, is that they are on different ends of the health spectrum! I have written a blog on the difference between a Medical Doctor and a Chiropractor, that you may wish to explore.


There are more similarities between chiropractors and physical therapists which I compared in the blog“What is the Difference Between a Chiropractor and a Physical Therapist? Medical doctors are accustomed to referring to physical therapy for musculoskeletal conditions, however, all chiropractors are licensed to do physical therapy while being the only profession that can perform spinal manipulation or adjustment.

Sports Chiropractor vs Chiropractor 

So what exactly does a Sports Chiropractor do? As mentioned earlier, Chiropractors may have different specialties, for example, I specialize in Postural Neurology and Functional Movement 

Sports Chiropractors specialize in diagnosing and treating athletic injuries. Just because some Chiropractic offices don’t have sports in the title does not mean they do not treat sports injuries. And the type of rehabilitation offered at all sports Chiropractic clinics is not equal in terms of effectiveness! This is why I suggest searching for a Functional Movement Chiropractor vs Sports Chiropractor. 

Some traditional Chiropractic offices, on the other hand, don’t offer any kind of functional sports injury rehabilitation services, and mainly only perform chiropractic adjustments and provide different passive modalities such as electrical muscle stimulation or ultrasound.

If you want the best and the most effective treatment for any musculoskeletal injury or issue, then you want a Doctor who specializes in functional movement rather than sports injuries.

What is Functional Movement?

Functional movement referred to as Developmental Kinesiology, is the movement patterns that we all as babies move through in order to develop muscle strength and movement. With those specific movements come the development and finalization of the nerve pathways necessary to execute movements. This is referred to as neuro-kinesiology and a great subject of interest in my practice. Let me digress a little bit but it is so worth knowing!!

We are born with a small hippocampus, in the back of the head where information is stored while being awake. So look at it as with eyes open and observing the surroundings, you collect data; this data gets stored in the hippocampus and when sleeping, it gets uploaded to the brain which impacts in adding details to the map of movement and sensation (homunculus) that we are born with but not detailed so much.

This is why babies nap so much during which, the brain then tests the map!! That is why there are so many twitching babies have when sleeping!! The brain ‘zaps’ the areas on the map to assure the nerve pathway is working and connecting to the right part the map shows!! FASCINATING and I absolutely LOVE it.

Here is what Functional movement is about:

If we all as babies moved through this blueprint of movement patterns, why reinvent the wheels when it comes to rehab and restoring proper movement? This is where most treatments of musculoskeletal injuries fail because we have gotten into this system of care when only the area of complaint is isolated and treated when in reality your entire body works together to perform movement and your brain is the conductor behind every movement!

Most treatments will not address the brain in regards to posture and movement. This is why I don’t only utilize Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS)  in my clinic, but with an extensive postural neurology examination I can map out the parts of your brain that are not performing as well when it comes to your movement and posture. I then use specific exercises to stimulate those portions of the brain while using the DNS exercises to restore proper movement patterns. You see, with injuries or even lifestyles and habits, we end up modifying this map, and the change in the map, means the change in doing the movements. More deviation from the original, most perfect blueprint of movement means going from functional movement to dysfunctional movement.

Lifestyle modifications, such as ergonomics, are another huge portion of the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries because they become feeders of the dysfunction that has resulted (which can be a whole other blog itself). I suggest you read my recent blog on Functional Movement Disorder to educate yourself on the dysfunction that results when you have pain or are injured in order to understand that being out of pain is not enough and that proper movement of the entire body needs to be attained.

If you’re wanting more insight on how treatment at a functional movement clinic differs from a sports chiropractic clinic, I suggest you watch the video below.

Best Functional Movement Exercises 

The best functional movement exercises are those that involve every muscle doing its own job while the spotlight is on the legs, for example, to perform the movement.

You see, if movement is a concert, the brain is the conductor, the map of movement is the musical note in front of the conductor; your body parts are the musicians and any specific movement has all musicians playing while the spotlight is on a specific player. When it comes to movement, the stabilizers are to stabilize while the arms and legs are to perform their part. During a push-up, the spotlight is on the arms while the rest of the body needs to do an outstanding job stabilizing and supporting the body. That is NOT what happens and most people mechanically push themselves up but functionally they fail to do the move correctly. This is when problems such as lower back, shoulder, mid-back, and neck pain arise.

In functional movement, you have muscles whose job is to stabilize you and muscles that perform the movement. This true core stabilization (I’m not talking about having a six-pack here) is what almost every person that walks into my clinic is missing and the number one culprit is lack of biological breathing and understanding the basic requirements of all movements. We know more about how our smartphone works than about the body and there is no surprise our bodies are overused and foreign to most!

Once you’ve got the breathing down (every single patient at my clinic questions why a simple breathing exercise is so hard to understand and perform), we can re-walk the path that we all did as babies learning and building the muscle strength to fix what failed. It is not always muscle weakness that leads to a problem. Weakness can come when a muscle or group of muscles don’t get the cue to chime in! This is a great example of how our lifestyle is messing us up.

For example, with so much sitting, the hamstrings don’t get to work as much as the hip flexors, one of the heads of your triceps gets over-worked while the other one hardly does anything. This imbalance gets carried over to when you are not behind your desk! When asked to do a push-up, the arms can’t perform (as one of the heads is out of practice) so you do your full set of whatever number but in a dysfunctional manner. This increases the chances of you injuring your elbow and shoulder and puts a toll on your neck and upper mid-back. Do you see the pattern of failure here? Is there even the question of going to the gym to work out the arms? NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT. You can’t beat a dead horse. The answer is to go back and make sure the map of movement is right to begin with, then go through the baby moves that brought strength to the arm at the very beginning. If you have not subscribed to my Youtube channel, do so right now so you don’t miss out on what is out there and more videos to come.

The video below is how a baby develops the oblique muscles of the abdomen which are essential in holding the body in a stabilized fashion.

If you’re curious about functional movement, developmental kinesiology, or DNS and why it’s so effective, I encourage you to do your research and explore the many resources on my website. For more functional movement exercises visit my Youtube Channel, specifically the Functional Movement/Posture Exercises Playlist.

If you have any questions or want to make an appointment make sure to contact the office.

Until the next blog, take care.

Dr. Shakib