Every one of us has a body–but do we know how to keep it in top performing condition? Nitsan Gaibel Interviews Dr. Donald Ozello, a chiropractor adds his special touch to the standard treatment. He even has his own approach to athletes in Tour de France.
Nitsan: How do you, a chiropractor, become an innovator?
Donald: What I like to do is patient education. I want to teach people things that they can do outside of my office to help themselves live healthier, fitter, more functional lives. And that’s injury prevention, that’s nutrition, that’s ergonomics, things that they can do outside of the office to help themselves.
Nitsan: Is that much different than what most people in your profession do?
Donald: I try very hard to stand out in that aspect. I know there’s a lot of people that do it but that is one thing that I really emphasize.
Nitsan: Ok, let’s put aside, for the moment, what other people do. Is there something that you had been taught formally and you combined it with some other things that made it personally yours? A very personal touch of yours?
Donald: Most definitely. Obviously I had my formal education; I learned a large amount. And through my experience treating patients I learned a great deal. When I’m treating patients I take all the things I’ve learned through experience and combine that with my formal education to help patients in the office and outside of the office. Just asking for feedback from patients, seeing how they responded to the care, seeing how they responded to procedures that they did outside of the office. I’ve been able to really help people live healthier, fitter, more functional lives.
Nitsan: So, if you could be one of your patients now, leaving the office, what would they say about you? What would they say about Dr. Ozello, that he is different, that he is so special—because…?
Donald: That’s an excellent question. I would have to say a lot of my patients tell me that they feel a lot better when they’re leaving compared to when they came in. And I’ve spent time with them while I was treating them, explaining things that they could do to help themselves and explaining the actual things that I’m doing in the office so they have a better understanding of the treatment and how their body works and how my treatment helps their body function better.
Nitsan: Can you give an example of that?
Donald: Yesterday I had a patient come in. He had a little bit of neck pain; he had some ringing in the ears. This is a patient that I’ve treated in the past and he knows that when I’ve treated his neck that it has helped to lessen the ringing in his ears. So I treated him, loosened up the muscles in his neck, adjusted the vertebrae in his neck so there’s proper motion. It helped to eliminate the neck pain that he had and it helped to lessen the ringing that he had in his ears. Also I helped him do things in his workouts that can help him to prevent his neck pain from reoccurring.
Nitsan: Explain to me how it’s possible that just from putting your hands on someone you can actually eliminate a person’s ringing in his ears.
Donald: It’s not the idea of just putting your hands on someone—it’s the idea of restoring proper function and proper physiology. Getting the neck working correctly. You have muscles in the neck that attach to the skull, so you want to make sure that you have proper nerve flow to those muscles and you want to make sure that you have the correct amount of balance and tension so that they’re not pulling on the skull and creating an abnormal amount of tension on the skull. That will help to eliminate symptoms that are caused by that.
Nitsan: I think a lot of people like myself think of chiropractors as… they shift bones or muscles. What is there that I’m getting wrong?
Donald: That’s the basic fundamental aspect of modern chiropractic has not changed over the past 125 years. The idea is to restore proper physiology. We want to optimize the nerve flow and we do that by re-establishing proper skeletal motion. It could be in the spine, it could be in any of the extremities. What that does is help to maximize the body’s healing capabilities and make the body function at its highest capacity.
Nitsan: What would you say are people’s biggest misconceptions about chiropractic practice?
Donald: There’s many. A lot of people think that we only treat the spine, which is the fundamental aspect of it but a lot of people don’t know that chiropractic care can benefit the extremities. I treat people every day who have symptoms in their foot, in their ankle, in their knee, in their hip. I treat a lot of runners so I see those types of injuries. Also I treat people who sit at the computer all day long. They have symptoms in their shoulders, in their elbows, in their wrist, hands, and fingers. I can help people with those types of symptoms also. It’s just the idea of eliminating the source of the symptoms and then educating patients on things they could do outside of the office that could help to eliminate those symptoms and remove the source of those symptoms.
Nitsan: What’s the most common problem people come with to your office?
Donald: The most common problems I see in my office are, first of all, low back pain. Second would be neck pain and third would be headaches. Those are the three things that I see the most. Oftentimes it is the idea of restoring the proper motion and then educating them on things that they could do outside the office. What I like to call extrinsic factors—things that are outside the body that they can change that will greatly benefit the things that are occurring inside the office. It could be ergonomics. It could be the way that they’re training. It could be the way that they’re sleeping. Those types of things will benefit people a tremendous amount.
Nitsan: You find that some people try to stay away and save money and not visit you by doing stuff that’s do-it-yourself?
Donald: I see that all the time. I think that doing things yourself, doing your stretching exercises, using proper ergonomics, getting the correct amount of exercise, doing your rest and recovery is ideal. But you want to combine those things with proper chiropractic care to really get the body functioning at 100%.
Nitsan: So if I would be a typical patient and I come in, what are the two or three most common questions that people like me would ask you?
Don: First of all, if someone has never been to a doctor of chiropractic before, they want to know if I could help them. Another thing they want to know is what exactly is chiropractic? So I’ll spend some time explaining things. Usually the first question I’ll ask someone when they’re a new patient in my office is “Have you ever been to a doctor of chiropractic before?” because that immediately tells me how much they know about chiropractic. I will explain things in detail to them. I don’t try to get in to all the terminology that is too deep. I just want to explain things to people—how I can help them. And that’s one of the most important things.
Nitsan: It’s great that you know it so well. If you would summarize, and you have to stand on a soapbox in the middle of the park, what would you shout to people?
Donald: I would tell people that there are many things that they can do to help themselves. You want to make sure that you stay in motion. In my opinion, motion is the best medicine. Find an exercise you enjoy, do it correctly, and do it consistently. Find a different exercise that complements that first exercise and do that correctly and consistently. Next thing you want to do, make sure you eat properly. Proper nutrition is vital in health. Third thing is rest and recovery. You want to make sure you’re getting the proper amount of rest. Like I said, exercise is important, motion is the best medicine. You want to make sure you’re recovering from your exercise. Too much exercise or what I call over-training leads to a lot of issues, so you have to listen to your body. The next thing would be ergonomics. How you set up your workstation. How you set up your sleeping situation. Those things are vital. You want to be in the best position where you maximize your body’s efficiency and you minimize the possibility of acquiring an injury. Then obviously chiropractic care, like I spoke about before, chiropractic care is going to help restore proper function to the body. It’s going to reestablish the proper skeletal motion and it’s going to help to optimize nerve flow so that the body can heal itself properly.
Nitsan: Beautiful. So now that I’ve got a picture of how you innovate and what you do for patients, is there something that’s happening right now in the sports world that connects directly to what you’re doing?
Donald: I treat a lot of runners in my office. Right now the big sports event going on in the world is the Tour de France. World-class athletes from numerous countries all over the world are competing in the Tour de France. These are well-trained athletes who will do anything they can to have their bodies functioning 100%. These guys are competing every day for almost three straight weeks. Their bodies have to be functioning well.
Nitsan: What do you do? Let’s say you stand in at the Tour de France and you have the opportunity to help a single athlete, what’s your message to him, beyond what you’ve already said to me? Specific to the guys in Tour de France.
Donald: What I would say to him is you’re doing a great job competing. Let’s spend a few minutes getting your body back to 100% of its capability. I would check the spine for any misalignments that need to be adjusted and I would check the extremities for any misalignments to be adjusted. I would do the chiropractic adjustment, which is the restoration of proper motion.
Nitsan: Let’s say you get the guy, you’ve done all that, and then you want to go one step further. What’s the big Dr. Ozello insight that’s going to make this guy win instead of coming in third, fourth, twentieth, or a hundredth?
Donald: Preparation. He has to make sure that he is prepared mentally and physically for the event each and every day. A lot of that is rest and recovery. A lot of that is the nutrition. And so you have to look at those things and say, “Am I getting enough recovery? Am I recuperating from the day before? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I eating properly so that tomorrow morning I can get out and compete at my highest capability?”
Nitsan: Let me say frankly that didn’t sound like such a big secret. Do you think that all the coaches are telling their participants exactly that same thing?
Donald: Most likely they are telling them that and it’s not a big secret because it’s a very basic fundamental of what makes the body work the best.
Nitsan: Listen. You know, neither you nor I created the world so it’s not against you or me that we don’t have a big secret if it’s just the truth. But do you have one? Do you have something you could slip one of these guys and say: “this can be a great advantage to you, a secret sauce!”
Donald: The secret sauce I would say would be to make sure that you are getting your chiropractic care and ensure that you’re getting proper nerve flow down to the lower extremities. Starting from the lower back down into lower extremities so that all the muscles and all the joints are functioning at 100%.
Nitsan: And you have a methodology to ensure that nerve flow?
Donald: Oh, yeah. The basic of chiropractic is the chiropractic adjustment, which is going to help optimize nerve flow from the brain down through the spinal cord and out to wherever the nerves that control the working muscles.
Nitsan: Sounds to me like we could make you a t-shirt that you’d walk around in the Tour de France and it would say on it ‘Make sure you adjust your nerve flow.’
Donald: Make sure that the body is functioning properly through chiropractic care so that you get the proper nerve flow into all the working muscles.
Nitsan: Beautiful. Do you have any last words that you’d want to tell me if I wanted to join the Tour de France? Something you haven’t said so far?
Donald: I did publish a book recently about the prevention and management of running injuries. It has a lot of general information and a lot of specific information that people can do to help themselves prevent common running injuries and manage those common running injuries.
Nitsan: Thank you Dr. Ozello for explaining us how champion athletes and the rest of us can stay healthy and vigorous.
You can find more resources to relieve yourself from pain and injury and live a healthy life at Dr. Ozello at http://www.championshipchiropractic.com.