138: The Spinal Hygienist with Dr. Tabor Smith

If you look at just the statistics, there's a Gallup poll that shows 94% of Americans brush their teeth on a daily basis, every single day. Now, that large number and that huge awareness of dental hygiene extrapolates to 50% of the population visiting a dentist regularly. 94% of people brush their teeth regularly, 50% of people visit a dentist regularly.

Now let's take the statistics of chiropractic. If you looked and you said, “How many people practice a spinal hygiene exercise on a daily basis?” The numbers would be less than 1%, I'm guessing. Nobody practices a spinal hygiene exercise on a daily basis. Then if you extrapolate that to how many people go to a chiropractor regularly, I've heard numbers like 2.7%. I think that was actually a Gallup poll. Even if you thought it was 5% or 10% of people who see a chiropractor regularly, the numbers are very, very low. Less than 1% of people doing a spinal hygiene exercise, less than 3% of people going to a chiropractor


Billy Sticker:                          All right. Today we have on the show Dr. Tabor Smith. How are you doing?

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 I'm doing great. Thanks for letting me be here.

Billy Sticker:                          Oh, absolutely. You know, we've known each other now for 10 or 11 years.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 A long time.

Billy Sticker:                          Yeah. We run in the same circles. You know, you were on the cruise, on the chiro [inaudible 00:00:22] cruise with us.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Which is awesome.

Billy Sticker:                          Hopefully you'll be on the next one.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Absolutely.

Billy Sticker:                          We don't have a date yet, but we will get that hopefully solidified within the next few weeks.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Nice.

Billy Sticker:                          One of the things that you said to me, I think we were at Rubicon in Atlanta, a couple of months back. It really made me feel good. We have a lot of relationships in the profession, but there's a handful of us kind of in our core group where we really do feel like family. When you said that to me, it really made me feel good because I really felt the same way.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Absolutely. You're my brother.

Billy Sticker:                          Yeah, man. I appreciate that. You have some amazing stuff going on. I remember whenever you really first started talking about this, we were down in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Yes.

Billy Sticker:                          Then just to see where you're at right now with it. Why don't you go ahead and tell everybody what's going on?

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Sure. Absolutely. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do that. Yeah. If anybody out there listening knows me over the last decade, I've been trying very hard to share the concepts of spinal hygiene with the masses. It's been a lot of work over the years, but it's really coming to a head and it's really starting to explode right now. The movement is really happening. We've joined forces, and I'm extremely honored to collaborate with the largest chiropractic school in the world, Life University. We are launching the first ever certified spinal hygienist program out of Life University. I get to tell everybody about that today. If you know me, I want to grow chiropractic. I know a lot of you, this is why you do the podcast, it's why there's a lot of people out there doing what they do every single day, but I believe spinal hygiene will grow chiropractic unlike any other thing we've ever presented or brought to the masses before.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 If I can give you a quick example of how dental hygiene grew dentistry, because in the early 1900s, dentistry was not the profession that it is today. Basically they pulled teeth all day long. Dental hygiene exploded dentistry into the second largest health care profession in the world today by creating an awareness that if you don't take care of your teeth, they will rot. They will decay. If you look at just the statistics, there's a Gallup poll that shows 94% of Americans brush their teeth on a daily basis, every single day. Now, that large number and that huge awareness of dental hygiene extrapolates to 50% of the population visiting a dentist regularly. 94% of people brush their teeth regularly, 50% of people visit a dentist regularly.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Now let's take the statistics of chiropractic. If you looked and you said, “How many people practice a spinal hygiene exercise on a daily basis?” The numbers would be less than 1%, I'm guessing. Nobody practices a spinal hygiene exercise on a daily basis. Then if you extrapolate that to how many people go to a chiropractor regularly, I've heard numbers like 2.7%. I think that was actually a Gallup poll. Even if you thought it was 5% or 10% of people who see a chiropractor regularly, the numbers are very, very low. Less than 1% of people doing a spinal hygiene exercise, less than 3% of people going to a chiropractor regularly.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Imagine if we had numbers like dentistry. Just imagine if we taught the population to do one simple spinal hygiene exercise on a daily basis, and we could say that 94% of Americans did a spinal hygiene exercise on a daily basis. Do you know what that would do to the amount of people that actually visit a chiropractor regularly? It would explode. I mean chiropractic schools would be full to the max. We would need more chiropractors to be able to help people, and I believe that's possible if we'll all come together and just start teaching these concepts of spinal hygiene. We've created a free mini course that doctors and staff and CAs … This is not just for chiropractors, but that chiropractors and their staff can go to and they can opt in at spinalhygienist.com. You'll be able to see that. That is a site that is linked with Life University. They can opt in for three free trainings on those concepts, on building that in their practice, and then learn more about the full spinal hygienist program as well.

Billy Sticker:                          Tell us a little bit more about the full program.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Sure. This is an intense program. Life University doesn't put their name behind anything that's not absolutely complete and authentic. They're not going to give you just a little sheet of paper that says you watched a video as a certification. There are six sections of this program that are mandatory that they'll watch. There are about 10 lessons per section, and overall it's about two to four hours per section. You're looking at probably a 15 to 20 hour certification program that's online videos. We do track the watch time on each video.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Now, the cool thing is docs can get CE credits for those videos and for the time that they put in there. Those six sections cover everything, all the way from back to the basics. Remember, there's CAs, there's students that will be going through this program, so we're going to be talking about anatomy, physiology, the nervous system. Sometimes doctors, when they will watch these videos, they may feel like they're in chiropractic school again, but I think this is a good thing because a lot of times we expect our staff to just know everything that a chiropractor knows, be able to talk the talk, speak the speak. If we could send them through this program, they can begin to actually do that because we start at the basics.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Then we actually build up through concepts that are not as common knowledge, like exercise science. We talk about why would we prescribe exercises. How do those exercises change the physiology of the body, the posture of the body? What exercises are most effective and efficient? We can't just prescribe a million different exercises for everyone. Yeah. Everybody should be in the gym two or three hours a day, but is that going to actually happen? No. We want simple and effective, just like the toothbrush. We narrow that down to what is the most effective exercise we could do, that takes the least amount of time, that our patient could do on a daily basis and have no problems with doing that and sharing that exercise with their family?

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Let me tell you, if brushing your teeth took an hour a day, nobody would do it. It never would have taken off. It never would have went viral. If you had to have a prescription for a toothbrush, you had to go to your dentist, get a prescription every time you wanted to go buy a toothbrush, that would have never taken off. It would have never went viral. We have to make sure that these exercises are generally healthy for the spine, they're also simple and effective, and our patients are able to implement them.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 There's a lot of thought and a lot of processes that went into creating these videos and these trainings. We'll take it from there, through the spinal hygiene education, all the way to the science, philosophy and art of chiropractic, because we want … Again, I've been privileged to speak with, interview and even train with some of the most successful chiropractors in the world, that have the biggest chiropractic practices in the world. I'll tell you, the practices that are the most successful are also the ones who understand chiropractic philosophy the best. We dive into the science, the philosophy and the art of chiropractic even in these modules as well. It takes everybody through the beginning all the way through the end, and it's just an entire educational process.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 That's not even it. That's just the certification part. Those are the first six sections. We also have some huge bonuses that come with this program, that they're not mandatory that you watch to get the certification, but they will teach you and your staff. The first bonus that comes with it is my lunch and learn program. You know, I want to teach your staff, I want to teach you these principles, but it would do no good for you to just stay stuck in a room and not share them. We want to teach you how to share these principles with your community, how do get out there and do more lunch and learns, to be able to share the concepts of spinal hygiene and, in turn, bring new patients into your office and grow your practice.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 There's another bonus that's in this program that's in office workshops, so that you can start setting those up on a weekly basis and teaching your current patients about spinal hygiene. My spinal screening program, which, you know, is probably one of the most utilized spinal screening programs in the entire profession. I've been working on that over the last decade. It's been updated several times throughout the decades. I know thousands of people have been through that free spinal screening program, but hundreds and hundreds of offices have actually used that program. All of that is in there.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Then we have an entire patient education resource center, where you get waiting room DVDs, hand outs and flyers that are centered around spinal hygiene, high definition, professionally shot instructional videos on each exercise that we recommend that could be sent out to your patients. It's a huge program, which I know sometimes can be a little bit overwhelming for doctors. It's a huge investment that's going to pay back extremely well for anybody who goes through this program.

Billy Sticker:                          Where do you see this program? Is it more for the doctors or is it more for their CAs so they can get their CAs certified?

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Great question.

Billy Sticker:                          Whenever you're talking about this, I'm kind of picturing some doctors wanting their staff … maybe to have some staff get certified in this.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Absolutely.

Billy Sticker:                          Then their staff actually teach some of these workshops in the office.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Yeah. I think that's where eventually it will go. I think if you look into the future, it will be a lot of times, every office will have a spinal hygienist in their office, and it may be the office manager or one of the rehab techs or a CA. I think in the future it will be mostly those. Right now we're really trying to market it to doctors, because this concept of spinal hygiene, unfortunately, is not even known in the chiropractors in our profession.

Billy Sticker:                          That's a good point.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 We want the chiropractors to go through this program first, and then send their staff through. Now, if they don't have time, by all means, just send a staff member through and this will benefit your practice and you won't have to do a thing. You know, I'll just tell you about a survey that I sent out recently to my list. I asked chiropractors if they practice spinal hygiene. Well, only 40% of them said they do something that they would consider spinal hygiene. The other 60% said they definitely didn't.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Of the 40% that did practice spinal hygiene, I asked them what all they did and I asked them what did they do? It was all over the board from yoga to just getting adjusted to stretching, which is all great. We should definitely be doing all that stuff, but there's not a core common knowledge that we can present to the public. Everything's so different. It's just, “Well, I exercise.” I think that in itself, and this program getting to the masses will help us centralize our message into something we can all agree with, that the spine should be in a good alignment, should move through a full range of motion, the muscles around the spine should be strong and fit. That's basically what we teach in our program, and the exercises that we teach do that.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Then we took those 60% of chiropractors that said they don't practice spinal hygiene, and we asked them, “What is spinal hygiene?” A lot of them didn't know. They didn't understand. Then the answers we got back were absolutely different all across the board.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Now, let me ask you this. What if we polled a group of dentists and we asked them, “What is dental hygiene?” I guarantee you we'd get an answer back from almost 100% of them. Every dentist in the world would know what dental hygiene is. As chiropractors, I feel like we should know what spinal hygiene is. Not only that, but every dentist in the world would probably give you a pretty similar answer. They might differ from dentist to dentist slightly, but there's going to be a pretty similar answer. If you ask all chiropractors, “What is spinal hygiene?”, it's going to be all over the place. It's going to be crazy.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 No wonder we've not been able to unite yet and bring a common message. We can't even build an awareness yet that you should take care of the spine or it's going to decay, which it will. Spinal degeneration is the single biggest health care problem to face the human race, in my opinion. It's the number one cause of disability. Spines are degenerating at younger ages in our society. If we don't do something about it, then we're going to be in trouble. Somebody is going to have to. If chiropractors don't, some other profession will.

Billy Sticker:                          Yeah. You said one time if our spines were visible, more people would take this serious and get adjusted.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Yeah. Absolutely.

Billy Sticker:                          And actually do certain protocols.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 That's why we call it a silent epidemic, because you can't see it. Nobody knows that there's a problem until it's too late and you're already phase two, phase three degeneration. You're thrown into the medical system. You're on pills for the rest of your life, shots, surgeries. That's why they don't do anything about it because it's a multi-billion dollar industry for them. Why would they want to implement some type of preventative measure for that if nobody's even worried about it right now? That's why I think it's our job to be able to show people that it is important to start doing this early. We already do this for our kids for dentistry. We teach them to take care of their teeth. This is what we need to be doing for their spines as well.

Billy Sticker:                          Yeah. That's very good. I remember when I used in office for a chiropractor. I did our day ones and our day twos and financials and all that. We didn't do group reports. It was all individual. On the day two, I would walk in. We did films on everyone. I would shut the door. They were always looking at me, you know, “Hey, Billy.” I wouldn't even say, “Hi.” I would just look at them. The first thing I would ask was, “When was the last time you had x-rays of your back?” They would just stop. A few years or never. They just had this, “What's going on?” “We'll cover that in a minute. Anyway, how are you guys doing?” Then we would just get into it and we would educate them on that. You know, that education was the first they had ever heard of any spinal degeneration. Nobody's familiar with that.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 I took my kids, the twins, I remember, last year, because they were three, to the dentist. The first thing they did was x-ray their teeth. We got in there. They set up the x-rays, told them what we were going to do, boom. They were three years old. You tell somebody that you x-rayed a three year old's spine and they freak out.

Billy Sticker:                          That's a great point. Yeah. Good point. Very good. What else can we do to help you get this message out?

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 You know, I appreciate you sharing the podcast. I encourage everybody to funnel towards spinalhygienist.com. That will take you straight to the free mini course. At the end of this course, we really want to educate people why they should be in this program, and also give you some great tips and strategies you can use today to start implementing your patient education. I've seen spinal hygiene in my own practice. Just teaching spinal hygiene and the concepts that we teach in this mini course has increased my compliance, so more people finishing their care plan. Then it's increased my retention, so the people who do their home care, they're the ones that are going to sign up for your wellness plans after your corrective care. It increases retention in your practice.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Dentistry has known this for a long time. Why do you think a dentist teaches you to brush your teeth? They don't make money giving you a toothbrush and floss, right? In fact, if you didn't brush your teeth, you'd probably be coming back to them more often, right? Why would they take their time to teach you to brush and to floss? Because they know the person who brushes and flosses on a daily basis, that's their lifetime patient. That's what they're trying to build in their office. I'll tell you, the exact same thing is true. It can happen in your office in chiropractic. The person who does a daily spinal hygiene exercise and understands this concept, that's your lifetime patient and you can continue to build those lifetime patients and be that expert of spinal health and wellness for your community, and it will grow your practice.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Not only that, but in this mini course at spinalhygienist.com, the third video I'll show you exactly how I set up lunch and learns, my eight step system to setting up more lunch and learns in your community so that you can take the concepts you learn in video one and video two and begin to share those concepts with your community right away.

Billy Sticker:                          This was great. You actually talked about this on the cruise. That was one of your lessons, and it was one of the best lessons of the whole cruise, was that talk. It was fantastic. Very valuable, great insights.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Thank you.

Billy Sticker:                          Very good. Thank you so much for being on. Anything else that I can do, just let me know. I encourage all the listeners, anybody watching on Facebook or on the podcast, go to spinalhygienist.com, share this with other people in the profession. I think you're right. If more and more people were aware of the issue, it helps everybody.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Yeah. You know, we …

Billy Sticker:                          It helps everybody.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Sorry about that. You know, we, as a society, we're always trying to build awareness. There's awareness campaigns for breast cancer. There's awareness campaigns for autism. Well, we need to start bringing some awareness campaigns to spinal degeneration because it's the most silent, most dangerous epidemic that is facing our nation and our world today.

Billy Sticker:                          Well, I think you're making a huge impact and I'm excited just to be able to help what little bit I can. Thank you.

Dr. Tabor Smith:                 Thank you, brother.

Billy Sticker:                          All right, man. Thanks for being on today.

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