By Jaime Lackey
Sports chiropractor Josh Glass helps athletes achieve their dreams—and a few Olympic medals.
Often, a patient and a chiropractor consider treatment a success when the patient achieves a normal range of motion without pain. But Josh Glass’ patient-athletes hold his work to a high performance standard.
As owner of Georgia Sports Chiropractic in Atlanta, Glass works with athletes who demand perfection of their bodies. “Athletes want their bodies to be more efficient,” Glass says. “Whether I’m working with professional athletes or hobbyists, if I improve their symmetry of motion, they become more efficient in their movements. They can run faster, jump higher and throw farther. The aim is to improve their bodies’ musculoskeletal and neurological function.”
A number of Glass’ patients are world-class athletes. In May, Glass was in the stands in Gotzis, Austria, as his patient, Trey Hardee, won the Hypo Meeting Decathlon. “The 10 events of the decathlon over two days demand that Trey performs at his best for each of the disciplines and recovers fully between days,” says Glass, who helps his patients do just that.
In 2008, Glass was in Beijing, when his client, Angelo Taylor, won Olympic gold medals in both the 400-meter hurdles and the 1,600-meter relay. Glass calls the 2008 Olympics one of the highlights of his own career; he says, “I’ve worked with Angelo since 1999 and it was amazing to see him win two gold medals—especially when he wasn’t favored to win.”
Glass was also at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, when his client, Terrence Trammell, earned a silver medal in the 110-meter hurdles. In 2007, Glass helped Trammell recover from an injury that could have ended his season. Trammell tore an adductor muscle at a track meet. “Most people didn’t think he’d run again that season,” says Glass, who coordinated the team to rehabilitate Trammell—without surgery.
Trammell acknowledges that Glass has played a significant role in his career. “Josh and I have been working together for about eight years and he has been a huge part of my consistent performance,” Trammell says. “In 2007, I had a slight tear in my left groin—my trail leg. This was considered a six-week injury. With all the different therapies we did, I was back [on the track] in three weeks.”
Trammell had an MRI immediately after the accident in 2007 to determine the location and extent of the tear. His treatment included daily chiropractic care and sports massage therapy, along with acupuncture and therapeutic modalities including ultrasound, microcurrent therapy, light therapy and hyperbaric therapy. Less than a month after the injury, Trammell won the 110-meter hurdle event at the USA Nationals and he placed second at the World Championships at the end of that summer.
Collette Ragan Glass, Josh’s wife and owner of Georgia Sports Massage, was responsible for the massage therapy that contributed to Trammell’s recovery. Glass and his wife accompanied Trammell to both meets in 2007 to help him recover between rounds and perform at his best.
Since then, Trammell has earned silver medals in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin and in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Glass works with a variety of athletes—including tennis players, golfers and football players—but the greatest percentage of his clients are runners and triathletes. He can tell by watching a runner’s stride if the muscles and joints are restricted and need work.
Glass always planned to work with athletes. He studied exercise science at the University of Georgia, where he also ran cross-country and track. And he had seen firsthand how a chiropractor can help athletes: Josh’s dad, Hank Glass, had started Georgia Sports Chiropractic in 1986. After a shoulder injury he was told would require surgery, Hank Glass saw a chiropractor instead. He was so impressed by the care he received that he decided to change careers. He earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life University in his mid-30s.
Josh Glass worked at his dad’s practice while he was in school, first as an office manager and then as an intern while he earned his D.C. degree from Life University. He joined the practice full-time in 2001 and he took over the practice entirely in 2002.
Although his dad left the practice when he moved out of state, work continues to be a family affair for Glass since he frequently collaborates with his wife and they travel together to take care of clients at sporting events. “Collette is one of the best sports massage therapists in the country. We began working together in 2004, and I love traveling with her. It is exciting to see an athlete whom we’ve both worked with win a medal,” Glass says.
Sports chiropractors help athletes recover from intense training sessions as well as injuries, Glass notes. “In other areas of sports medicine, doctors fix what is broken. Chiropractors have ongoing relationships with patients; we help them stay in peak shape for competition.”
Sports chiropractic care helps athletes recover and perform in a variety of ways. “Repetitive micro-trauma occurs during training and competition. This repetitive micro-trauma can be minimized. Our goal is to aid the body in healing and remodeling the soft and connective tissue fibers that are most affected,” Glass says. “Additionally, maintaining the athlete’s most efficient biomechanics and neuromuscular patterns prevents injuries—this is one of the main goals of Sports Chiropractic.”
He adds, “Recovering more quickly and maintaining good mechanics helps beginning athletes keep training and reach their goals—it can also make the difference in a world-class athlete’s attempt to win a gold medal.”
Glass is a board-certified sports chiropractor and he is a certified provider of Active Release Technique and Sound Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization.
“If you want to work with athletes—and if you want to be really good at working with athletes—you have to specialize,” Glass says. He notes that training with many different techniques is critical, as is experience with different sporting events. “Volunteer to work with high school and local athletes,” he advises chiropractors who want to specialize in sports. “Opportunities to work up to the collegiate and pro levels are harder to come by.”
Personal experience as an athlete helps, too. “Knowing the ins and outs of track and field—the training, racing, equipment, different events—has helped me the most,” Glass adds.
From invitations to the highest level of sporting events around the world to helping a weekend jogger stay active, Glass enjoys the opportunities his career brings him. “I love helping athletes of any level reach their goals,” he says.