Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

A Chiropractor’s Arena

By Leif Sigurdson DC   

Features Leadership Profession

As chiropractors, we need to build and maintain our practices. We are also aware of the value of giving back to our communities.


As chiropractors, we need to build and maintain our practices. We are also aware of the value of giving back to our communities. Winston Churchill spoke to this when he said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” By volunteering my chiropractic skills to the Simon Fraser University (SFU) hockey team, I am able to enjoy this holistic approach to life, all the while pursuing my passion for the game of hockey.


It was the 1980s and I was growing up in Dauphin, Manitoba, where hockey was the game in town. William Johnson had written an article, for Sports Illustrated, that captured this feeling. Titled “The Only Game in Town,” the article pointed out that: “Without hockey, the saying goes,the community of Dauphin, Manitoba would freeze to death in winter and nobody would notice until spring. Citizens young and old have the game in their very bones.” We all played with dreams of skating for the local Junior A team, the Dauphin Kings. In those days, my dad volunteered as the team’s medical doctor and would often to take me to games. I recall the energy in the dressing room,and witnessed the appreciation, respect and friendships his work created.

My interest in chiropractic developed as an undergraduate in university, when I saw it as an opportunity to develop interests in health, science and sport. After graduation from chiropractic college, and faced with the challenge of creating my patient base,I revisited my memories of time spent with a Junior A team, and decided to get involved with a team in my community. The SFU hockey team appeared to be a good fit and the Burnaby Mountain Sports and Medicine complex at SFU also happened to be a location where discussions were ongoing to create the first university-based chiropractic program in Canada.


The SFU team began to playin 2004, and is composed of students who have played at the NCAA and Junior A and B levels. The team plays in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) against the University of Victoria, University of the Fraser Valley, Selkirk College and Trinity Western University. We are classified as aclub team within the athletic department with hopes of varsity classification and playing in Canadian Inter-university Sport (CIS). We’ve enjoyed success so far, having won the BCIHL championship in 2007-08 and become a finalist in2008-09. The 2009-10 season will see two teams added to the league, as well asan extra exhibition game that the SFU team will play against the Burnaby Express, a Junior A team that has produced current NHL players Milan Lucic and Kyle Turris.


It was easier than I had imagined to become involved with the team. I contacted the team’s manager, Jeff Dubois, and expressed my interest and outlined how chiropractic could benefit his players. He was excited about the offer, and we arranged for me to come on board. I contacted the Canadian Chiropractic Protective Association (CCPA) and was instructed that professional liability protection provided coverage, for this work, within the province of licensure. However, I was reminded that professional responsibilities do not change and therefore history, exam,diagnosis and informed consent must be completed prior to treatment.

With this knowledge and a portable table, I was ready to go.


Training camp begins in early September. At this time, I meet with the players and have them complete a form to detail medical issues. Then, I provide time for them to discuss any physical complaints that they would like me to address. Strength, core stability, explosiveness and agility are assessed, and each player is provided with a program that will assist them in addressing their own weaknesses.

The 18-game BCIHL season begins in October with road exhibition games against universities in Oregon and Washington State and ends in a championship tournament in March.

Each week, I correspond with the assistant coach about new injuries, and he schedules the players for me to come and see them. I arrive at the rink three hours before game time, which allows me to see five to 10 players, and be done with them well before game time, so they can, then, give undivided attention to the coaches. My work is generally completed once the equipment is on.Any in-game injuries are taken care of by the team’s trainers, who apply first aid and report to me with whatever occurred.


Hockey combines tremendous speed with aggressive physical play, and, therefore, there is great inherent potential for injury.3 My own experience with the SFU club parallels the literature which suggests that 85 per cent of injuries are traumatic and 15 per cent overuse.2 Strains and sprains to the knee, shoulder, hip and pelvis are the most common injuries.1 The vast majority are minor –resulting in less than one week absence from play – however, dislocations, fractures and lacerations do occur and need to be referred accordingly.2 The players typically respond well to treatment, and are appreciative of my efforts to help them win the battle of attrition that a hockey season is. I am, however, fully aware that the minor nature of the injuries, as well the age, fitness and health of the players, serve as positive prognostic factors. 

As Mr. Dubois puts it,“Before Leif contacted us to offer his services, injury treatment was really a self-serve process: Players would see their individual doctors or physiotherapists and report back to our coaches with a diagnosis. That isn’t an ideal scenario in a sport where you’re seldom able to field a fully healthy line-up, and there is no doubt that we’ve lost fewer games to injury since Leif came aboard.”

Overall, my work with the SFU club has been a great experience. I have been exposed to a wide range of injuries I would not otherwise see in practice. It has led to several direct referrals, and being involved with a university team has created positive impressions within my practice as well as my community at large.

The team has been tremendously appreciative of my efforts, resulting in the feeling, on all sides, that I am an important part of the team. The team’s manager sums up the team’s appreciation, “Players have a number of choices when it comes to picking a school and a team, and being able to offer access to the services that Leif provides is something we emphasize to recruits. We’ve come to rely on Leif a great deal and he’s been a very positive influence on our program.”


1. Agel J, Dompier TP, Dick R, Marshall SW. Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate men’s ice hockey injuries: National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System,1988-89 through 2003-04. J Athl Train. 2007 Apr-Jun; 42(2): 241-8.

2.   Pettersson M, Lorentzon R. Ice hockey injuries: a 4-year prospective study of a Swedish elite ice hockey team. Br J Sports Med. 1993 Dec; 27(4):251-4.

3.   Flik K, Lyman S, Marx RG. American collegiate men’s ice hockey: an analysis of injuries. Am J Sports Med. 2005 Feb; 33(2):183-7.

Dr. Leif Sigurdson is a 2004 graduate of CMCC, and a certified provider of Active Release Techniques ®. He has a general practice and a sports-injury practice in Langley and Vancouver, B.C., respectively. Dr. Sigurdson is also on the medical team at the Vancouver International Marathon and Sun Run. He can be reached at


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