CF 094: Forward ’19, Decompression Research, Curveball or Pitch Count?

Today we’re going to talk about my Forward ’19 experience, we’ll talk about decompression research, and we’ll cover some new research on whether it’s the curveball or the pitch count that injures young players on the baseball diamond. 

But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music 

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OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around. Welcome, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.  

You have rattled and rolled into Episode #94

Now if you missed last week’s episode on the bigger the disc the better and what early improvement in treatment tells you, make sure you don’t miss that info. Every episode offers some good take-aways so make sure you’re up to date and not falling behind the rest. 

I like to look at this podcast as an ongoing, fun way of learning and making each other just a little bit better every week so don’t just hop in for one episode. Stack them up one after another and, before you know it, you’re going to start retaining the info and you’re going to start recalling something we talked about down the road when you’re interacting with a patient and they ask you a question. 

You’ll see. Even though I’m the host, it happens to me. Someone will ask me a question and I’ll remember an episode we did on that topic and BOOM!! Pow!! There it is, the answer comes to me. Pretty cool. 

Forward ’19 – For you newbies here you’re probably wondering what the hell Forward ’19 is. A quick rundown is that it is a yearly seminar/conference that was born from an online Facebook group called the Forward Thinking Chiropractic Alliance aka FTCA. They have a website as well. 

The group is very much evidence-based or evidence-informed. Whichever is your preferred verbiage. The group has about 7800 or so doctors in it and they are interacting on a daily basis mostly to try and make each other better. Overall, it’s a good group. I’ve heard people griping because they see griping here and there in the group but, in general, it’s a very positive, very smart, and very helpful group. I encourage you joining it if you’re a doctor or student. 

Anyway, Forward 19 – What an event. The group puts on several events through the year but this is the key event put on by the FTCA every year. This is year #2. It was in St Louis at the campus of Logan Chiropractic College.

First thing is, holy smokes what a campus man. I bet they pay a fortune just to mow the grass. Just wow. The landscaping, the tower in the middle, and Purcer Center where it was all held. Just gorgeous. Having gone to Parker, that was the Chiro campus I’d been on and don’t get me wrong, Parker is impressive. I’d say Logan most definitely is as well. Kudos.


Gray Cook SFMA – SFMA stands for Selective Functional Movement Assessment – I have to admit that this was my first exposure to Gray Cook but it won’t be my last. I had heard of SFMA but was not all that familiar with it. I really enjoyed his talk and some of the concepts he puts forward. I can’t wait until I get through with my Diplomate program – hopefully in November – so that I can dive into Gray Cook’s stuff and just keep building on the knowledge pile. 

Greg Kawchuk – He is the Research Chair for the World Federation of Chiropractic. 

So, outside of the FTCA, I had little knowledge of Greg Kawchuk. But, Greg gave a speech at the World Federation of Chiropractic last year in Berlin that got some people a little fussy and some people elated. It definitely got the attention of chiropractors around the world to say the least. He gave the same speech last weekend in St. Louis and it had people on the edge of their seats. 

Backing up a bit, Greg is a dynamic speaker. One of the more humorous and engaging speakers I’ve seen in maybe forever. He’s immediately like-able and that make for a good speech from the top. The talk was all about putting the ACT back in Chiropractic. A play on the way the philosophy guys use the TOR and the TIC garbage. You know….the principled vs. un-principled hoohah. 

I happened to think that evidence-informed docs are the principled ones and if you need more info on why I think that, just go back about 3-4 episodes and listen to my podcast on the topic of Closing Patients. A principled, ethical person doesn’t carry themselves in that manner and the philosophy folks are much more likely to be out there closing patients than offering responsible treatment plans that are based on commonly accepted guidelines. In my experience at least. It’s always made me a bit hot under the collar when someone asks whether another chiropractor is principled or not. 

Makes me want to principle them in the forehead…..with a mighty slap. 

Anyway, putting the ACT back in chiropractic: he asked what are we doing right now? What are you doing right now to move the needle forward? To bring chiropractic into this current century we are in? He suggests we do a lot of sciencing and consume at least 1 science per day and I agree with him. 

Hell, here at the Chiropractic Forward podcast, we distribute about 3-4 sciences per episode so we almost got you covered for the whole week if you’re a regular listener. 

I think the part of his presentation that some took exception to was the part where he feels the evidence group may, at some point, consider a divorce from the philosophy geared group. He said it may not be an official divorce but could be very much a divorce in the way we act, carry ourselves, communicate with our patients, and things of that nature. 

He says, at the end of the day, it could be something similar to….. we went out for a pack of smokes and…..just never came back. 

Now, as you sit in your car or truck or your office hearing me say that, you can take that all in as you will. I’m going to tell you that, as a doctor that considers himself very much on the research end of things and very little on the philosophy end of it, and as a doctor that does everything he can to be ethical, honest, and all that… is so hard to sit and hear patients talking to me about being forced to sign of on a contract for thousands of dollars for a year long schedule for umpteen visits based on a curve correction that research suggests isn’t that big of a deal. 

It’s hard to hear about the knuckleheads in Oakland claiming they can reverse degenerative spurring by seeing someone 3x/per day for 3 weeks. It’s hard to watch Mr. man bun top not from the coffee house talking about fixing kids with no research to back his claims. 

It’s hard to hear about chiropractors scaring the crap out of patients with x-rays and convincing them that they are somehow damaged and in a dire circumstance unless they undergo 60 visits and another 3 sets of x-rays….

These are just a few of the stories. There are so so so many of them and at some point, I just don’t want to be associated with that anymore. At all. If that’s not understandable and that makes no sense to you and that makes you mad at me, well….I’d say I’m sorry but I’m just….I’m just not. 

Even though I don’t smoke in the physical meaning of the word, I think I went out for a pack of smokes and never came back about 15 years ago. 

Christine Goertz – If you are a regular listener of our podcast, you know Dr. Goertz has been on our show before and you know I’m a nerdy fan of her and her contribution to our profession. Any chance to listen to Dr. Goertz is a chance that should be seized upon. She’s a giant in our industry. 

Annie O’Connor – World Of Hurt – OK, I’m admitting something again. I wasn’t familiar with Annie O’Connor. Annie is fun and vivacious and really another very dynamic speaker but she is full of knowledge nuggets. The kind that you can really put to use. She spoke on how words can harm so how key communication can be for some patients. She talked about yellow flags and she talked about classifying pain patients so that we can help them with more efficiency. You can believe that World Of Hurt is on my reading list after Forward ’19. 

Greg Friedman – documentation  documentation. Greg is Greg. Smart, laid back, fun, and just likable immediately. It was great to get to meet him in person and share a good discussion prior to his documentation class. He’s full of excellent information and not just on documentation so, if you get a chance and you need the hours, search out a class. He’s flying all over the nation every weekend. 

Mike Massey – he shared teaching duties with Greg on the documentation class. He told me he’s a listener of our podcast and he’s an active member of the FTCA so I’ve been a fan of his for a while now. It’s always a cool deal to put the online world into a 3D context and it was sure nice to meet Dr. Massey. Hopefully next time I’ll get to sit and speak a while with him. I think our personalities probably match up pretty closely from what I can tell. 

Some of the others I got to see and speak with are Brandon Steele

Kevin Christie

Jon Morrison

Robert Jones, President Of The ACA was there the whole weekend sitting in on the classes himself. What a super guy.

Budweiser tour

Meeting people

Kris Anderson

Chris Howson

Rob Pape

Bobby Maybee

Bobby Mozafari

Mike Massey

Greg Friedman

Dale Thompson

Kevin Christie

Anne Maurer

My biggest regret is that I didn’t get any real one on one time with very many of these folks but That’s OK. All’s well.

If I didn’t come up and speak with you but you saw me there, please don’t take it personally, believe it or not, I have a bit of a shy streak. Once I’ve had a conversation with someone, it’s all good. But, if I don’t know you yet….ugh….I have a podcast. I was a traveling musicians for 7 years. Why would a guy like me be shy at all? Yeah I don’t know. I’m in control in those other situations. Maybe it’s when I’m not in control or I’m a newbie….who knows?

Anyway, if you ever see me at an event, regardless of the event, please come say hi. I’d love to meet you.

We are about to get to our two articles. One is new research on traction/decompression information for low back discs and the other is on young baseball pitchers and how the curveball isn’t the culprit. 

First though, we have backed off and rather than having two show sponsors, we have one and it’s a company you all know how much I love. 

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Item #1

The first article today is called “The effect of mechanical traction on low back pain in patients with herniated intervertebral disks: a systemic review and meta-analysis” by Cheng, et. al(Cheng Y 2019). and published in Clinical Rehabilitation in August 28, 2019. Smoking hot folks. Stand back. Watch your eyebrows!

First thing, recognize in the title there, this is a systematic review and meta-analysis. That’s at the top of the research pyramid. 

Why They Did It

To evaluate the effectiveness of traction in improving low back pain, functional outcome, and disk morphology in patients with herniated intervertebral disks.

How They Did It

  • They did a big time search PubMed, Scopus, Embase, and the Cochrane Library and they did this search from the earliest record all the way up to July 2019. 
  • They included RCTs that involved adult patients with low back pain associated with herniated disc confirmed by MRI or CT
  • RCTs that compared lumbar traction to sham or no traction
  • RCTs that provided quantitative measurements of pain and function before and after intervention. 
  • The initial search came up with 3,015 records which they whittled down to 7 involving 403 patients.

What They Found

Compared to the control group, the patients that had traction showed significantly greater improvements in pain and function in the short term

The differences were not significant enough to support the long-term effects on pain and function, nor the effects on herniated disc size. 

Wrap It Up

Compared with sham or no traction, lumbar traction exhibited significantly more pain reduction and functional improvements in the short term, but not in the long term. There is insufficient evidence to support the effect of lumbar traction on herniated disk size reduction.

Here’s where I’m at on that. I use decompression. I just need to know more about this study. Did they do simple traction? Did they do a cycling pull phase from a pull to a rest phase? How much weight was the pull? How long did they do each treatment and how many treatments did they do?

There’s also patient preference and clinical experience factoring into using decompression.

Reading down through this sucker, it’s just too varied to make any assumptions. The intervention programs differed among the studies from 10 sessions to 60. The treatment protocols varied from 2 weeks to 10 weeks. Some of the studies included had no information on the weight of the pull while a handful went up to 50% of the body weight. Some of the studies used continued traction while others had intermittent traction. Some even used self-suspended, inversion table type traction. 

Are you getting a whiff of what I’m dumping here? 

Out of the 7 studies they included, only 2 measure the disc height and one measured the disc ratio. 

Overall, when you read through the paper, these authors freely admit, this is a tough one but they wanted to start somewhere. They suggest several ways to go forward and say that there are a couple of studies out there that show a trend toward long-term decompression reducing the size of a disc herniation but no longer papers have been done to investigate it. 

It’s anecdotal as hell but I’m going to go ahead and anecdote the hell of you. Right to your face. Or….to your ears as it may be. I’ve been doing decompression for about 7 years and I’ve yet to see anything as effective. Including exercises, McKenzie, all of it. In some cases, it has absolutely amazed me. But, like I said, that is anecdotal but I hope some of these really super smart researchers out there in the profession start to dial down into it and figure it out. Mostly because I know it works. I’ve just seen it too many times. 

Item #2

This last item is called “Effects of a Simulated Game on Upper Extremity Pitching Mechanics and Muscle Activations Among Various Pitch Types in Youth Baseball Pitchers” by Oliver et. al(Oliver G 2019). and was published in Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics in September of 2019. Wait, it’s September of 2019 right now right? Steaming pile of fresh knowledge nuggets, big platter, sizzling. 

Why They Did It

The purpose of this study was to examine differences in pelvis, torso, and upper extremity pitching mechanics and muscle activations between the fastball, change-up, and curveball pitches in youth baseball pitchers following a simulated game.

How They did It

  • 14 youth baseball pitchers with no history of injury were included
  • All major muscles and mechanics were measured
  • The pitchers were instructed to throw with max effort during a simulated game that provided random game situations
  • They were limited to 85 pitches
  • Data from 3 fastballs, curveballs, and change-ups thrown in the first and last innings were selected for analysis

Wrap it up

The principle findings of this study revealed that pitching to the age-restricted pitch count limit did not result in altered pitching mechanics or muscle activations, and no differences occurred between the 3 pitches. These results support previous research that indicate the curveball pitch is no more dangerous for youth than the other pitches commonly thrown. This is supported by the pitcher’s ability to maintain a proper arm slot during all 3 pitches and indicates that they are obtaining the spin on the ball from their grip and not by altering upper extremity mechanics.

So….it is not the curveball it seems but, rather, it’s the pitch count in young pitchers, it’s treating them like professionals when they’re still developing, it’s that they tend to play only one sport aka specialize, and that they need to be treated like developing children and human beings rather than the Dad’s lost glory or a future paycheck for the whole family. 


Part of making your life easier is having the right patient education tools in your office. Tools that educate based on solid, researched information. We offer you that. It’s done for you. We are taking pre-orders right now for our brand new, evidence-based office brochures available at Just click the STORE link at the top right of the home page and you’ll be off and running. Just shoot me an email at if something is out of sorts or isn’t working correctly. 

If you’re like me, you get tired of answering the same old questions. Well, these brochures make great ways of educating while saving yourself time and breath. They’re also great for putting in take-home folders. 

Go check them out at under the store link. While you’re there, sign up for the newsletter won’t you? We won’t spam you. Just one email per week to remind you when the new episode comes out. That’s it. 

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The Message

I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment instead of chemical treatments like pills and shots.

When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show that many patients get good or excellent results through chiropractic for headaches, neck pain, back pain, joint pain, to name just a few.

Chiropractic care is safe and cost-effective. It can decrease instances of surgery & disability. Chiropractors normally do this through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal time requirements or hassle to the patient. 

And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, chiropractors can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health of the patient!

Key Point:

Patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment offering the least harm.

That’s Chiropractic!


Send us an email at dr dot williams at and let us know what you think of our show or tell us your suggestions for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on iTunes and other podcast services. Y’all know how this works by now so help if you don’t mind taking a few seconds to do so.

Help us get to the top of podcasts in our industry. That’s how we get the message out. 


We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward. 


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About the Author & Host

Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger


  • Cheng Y, H. C., Lin Y, (2019). “The effect of mechanical traction on low back pain in patients with herniated intervertebral disks: a systemic review and meta-analysis.” Clin Rehabil.
  • Oliver G, P. H., Henning L, (2019). “Effects of a Simulated Game on Upper Extremity Pitching Mechanics and Muscle Activations Among Various Pitch Types in Youth Baseball Pitchers.” J Pediatr Orthop 39(8): 387-393.

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