Hannah: Welcome to “The Future Adjustment Chiropractic Economics” podcast series on what’s new and notable in the world of chiropractic. I’m Hannah Fell, the associate editor of Chiropractic Economics, and our guest today is Karla Wolford. She is the owner of EHP CrossFit, and Elevate Human Potential in Moorhead, Minnesota. Her practice offers sports chiropractic and rehabilitation, group training, personalized coaching, one-on-one nutrition, and more. She graduated with high honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic-West and summa cum laude from Logan University with a Master’s Degree in Sports Science and Rehabilitation.
Dr. Karla appreciates working with people who may be overcoming an old injury and finding ways to teach them how to move differently and more effectively to avoid future injuries.
Karla, thank you so much for joining us today.
Karla: You’re welcome.
Hannah: So, I was reading about you online, and I understand that you got into CrossFit because you wanted to treat CrossFit athletes for a sports chiropractic job that you’re working at the time, and the gym said that you could treat those athletes if you tried CrossFit out for a week. What was that experience like?
Karla: Well, it was a bit humbling. I was a college athlete. I was a Division III college athlete. I played multiple sports and I was actually pretty scared for a few reasons. I had a pretty significant snowboarding injury that resulted in a broken lumbar spine with a ruptured disc, so I was pretty conservative in the fact that, like, I lifted weights. I just didn’t pull a lot from the floor at that time, because I had a lot of low back pain. And, I just tentatively and hesitantly said, “Okay, I guess I’ll come for a week.” And the rest was pretty much history.
Hannah: So, did you gain a lot from that experience of being CrossFit and did that kind of shape your direction with where you wanted to go with chiropractic and then you decided you wanted to treat CrossFit athletes?
Karla: Yeah, I mean I always like treating athletes of all varieties; basically anybody who has ambition to go somewhere and do something. And, CrossFit just happens to incorporate a lot of different things into one. So, CrossFit athletes tend to be quite complex as far as, like, treating them. The good news is, in my practice, unless you’re really down and out, I’m always going to encourage you to modify your activity and keep moving. And I guess the nice thing is coming from a world where I worked with a ton of runners…if you take a runner out of their sport for too long, mentally they start deteriorating. You know, the good news is, if I have a CrossFitter with an ongoing shoulder thing, I can say, “All right, do this instead of that. Do this instead of that.” And mentally I can help them through it and say, like, you know, “This is what we’re gonna gain. In the next three weeks, we’re not going to be able to do, you know, your snaps or your kipping, but this is what you’re gonna gain in that time.”
So, it’s difficult because we’re complex athletes, but it’s easier because you can always give a modification and help people get better in a different way.
Hannah: What kind of challenges have you seen in your practice in treating athletes?
Karla: Well, you know, I’ve been all over the country and all over the world treating different athletes of different calibers. And, there’s so many different challenges, I guess. I would say younger in my profession, it was to get athletes to adhere to, like, out-of-office, like, education, modification of whatever activities they were doing. Somehow nine years in now, and somehow I don’t know if I say it meaner or what I do, but people tend to really pay attention and really take it to heart. Like, what I ask them to do when they’re not in the office, because in all actuality I teach a lot of people how to treat themselves so they don’t have to come see me as much.
Hannah: So, do you think that being a CrossFit athlete yourself has kind of given you this ability to I guess understand what it might be like to have an injury and how to best treat that?
Karla: Well, yeah, I’ve had my fair share of injuries throughout things that I’ve done whether it be college basketball, or volleyball, snowboarding were probably my worst injuries. You know, and not to say that CrossFit doesn’t have injuries because all sports have injuries. I’ve actually been fairly lucky at the level that I’ve competed at in CrossFit. I did have a meniscus injury that I had fixed, and I had a pretty severe ankle injury. I was not even jumping, I was stepping off a box. And in the last couple years, actually my dog ran into me and took me out and took out my ACL, which I chose to not surgically fix.
And so I’ve gotten my fair share of injuries, so empathy is…I get it. I get when people are injured and struggling. So, when they’re in my office…I just had a gal the other week. She’s got some, like, thoracic disc degeneration, and we’re cotreating with another provider. And I just said, “At this time, you’re not gonna get better at your front squat or your back squat, but this is what you are gonna get better at. So let’s take and restructure your goals on what you wanna achieve in the next three months based upon where your body’s at.” So, sometimes it’s just letting people know that you get it and having them meet them where they’re at is half of treating my patients I guess.
Hannah: Yeah, so I was looking around on your website and I saw that you also encourage your patients to engage in a healthy lifestyle which extends to the food they eat. How much of a role does nutrition play in your practice in treating your patients?
Karla: Well, nutrition should honestly be, I think, the biggest foundation of what we do. Is it the whole foundation of what I do and practice? No. I won’t say that I don’t plant those seeds in people. We talk about diet, we talk about nutrition, and I will plant little seeds into people’s lives about, like, “All right, like, you know, I know that you think what you’re doing is healthy but it’s not.” And, a lot of times people come to this crossroad of, “Okay, like, I really want to, like, learn, and I really want to dig in.” So I do individual, like, nutrition plans for people and anywhere from two months to a year based on chronic diseases, or performance, or weight loss, or whatever their goals are.
And then also, because I own a gym, we also run a body transformation challenge which brings a group of 8 to 12 people together, and we basically teach you how to meal prep. We teach you what healthy food is. We take you on grocery store tours. We have a really comprehensive eight-week program that shows to increase some body muscle and decrease a lot of fat mass.
But most importantly through this and all the things that we’ve studied over the past two years is eating healthier things improves people’s quality of life scale and happiness scale. We’ve had them test the World Health Organization scales. So, it really is the cornerstone of what we do. You know, when somebody comes in with a sprained ankle, they don’t want to hear me talk about nutrition but I still do it. It’s pretty much the foundation of where we should start.
Hannah: That’s good. So, I guess that’s all I have to talk about with you for today. Thank you so much for spending some time with us and helping us understand that, you know, CrossFit, and nutrition, all that you do, and how to specialize in that as a CrossFit athlete and as a chiropractor. Thank you for giving us a look into The Future Adjustment. I’m Hannah Fell and we’ll see you next time.