Dr. Dustin Glass, West ’03, maintains a practice at Competitive Edge Chiropractic in his southern California hometown of Lake Forrest, where for the past two years he has also served as team chiropractor for USA Volleyball, including the women’s squad that earned a silver medal at this year’s Summer Olympics in London.
In keeping both the men’s and women’s national volleyball teams in peak-performance shape leading up to the Olympic games, Dr. Glass had the opportunity to provide care and experience other cultures traveling with the women’s team to international competitions in Japan, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
That’s quite a long way – figuratively and literally – from his days as a West Campus student, when Dr. Glass volunteered as an intern for the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League (AFL), and spent many long, lonely and far-less-glamorous evenings picking up sweaty towels, cleaning up blood-soaked gauze, folding laundry, and even mixing the occasional tub of Gatorade.
However, Dr. Glass proudly acknowledges the hours of “grunt work” provided an invaluable learning experience, which served as an integral step in achieving his pre-Palmer goal of working with an Olympic team.
“I’m someone who believes in hard work and working as a team,” said Dr. Glass – an example of the integrity and character which led his Palmer classmates to select him as the Class Fellowship award honoree at graduation. “I never complained, always hustled, and took advantage of (the Sabercats) internship to soak up every learning opportunity like a sponge, from observing the trainers, listening to the doctors, and observing how they interacted with the players,” said Dr. Glass, who earned his B.S. degree in exercise physiology from California State University-Chico.
Following graduation from the West Campus, Dr. Glass returned to establish his practice in southern California. Within a few months, he earned his first major sports team appointment as chiropractor for the AFL Los Angeles Avengers – thanks in large part to an enthusiastic endorsement and hearty recommendation that he received from the Sabercats’ trainer.
Dr. Glass’ work with the Avengers caught the attention of the sports care staff for the pro hockey Anaheim Ducks, who subsequently named him as their chiropractic consultant. This prompted Dr. Glass to open an additional office in Orange County, to provide more convenient accessibility for the players.
His association with the Avengers and the Ducks, coupled with the conveniently located Orange County-based office, proved helpful in garnering Dr. Glass’ appointment to provide care for the men’s and women’s national volleyball teams, as the USA Volleyball organization also is based in Anaheim.
Dr. Glass says he knew from an early age that chiropractic was the only career path that he truly wanted to pursue. One of the reasons that he decided to attend Palmer’s West Campus was because he wanted to specialize in sports chiropractic – and he felt the school’s respected status as a leader in the field would ultimately help him achieve his goal of providing care for a U.S. Olympic team.
“I am fortunate to be a part of USA Volleyball; I am proud to help the players perform their best on the court; and I am proud of what both teams have achieved,” said Dr. Glass, an active member of the West Sports Council as a student, who continues to further his education within the sports chiropractic field.
“I’m also thankful for the education that I received at Palmer West for helping me achieve my lifelong goal. And as alumnus, I’m proud to see so many other West alumni achieving similar appointments, and achieving their goals in the field of sports chiropractic,” added Dr. Glass, a guest speaker at the sports chiropractic session of the 2004 West Campus Symposium Day program.
In the weeks leading up to the London games, Dr. Glass would see players in his office as well as at practice. Dr. Glass said the most frequent musculosketal injuries he sees among volleyball players of all levels -- especially those who fall into younger age groups -- are lower-back facet issues, which have to be monitored for pars defects or spondy issues. Other common volleyball-related conditions include knee and shoulder repetitive sprain/strain issues.
Of the two teams’ performances in the Olympics, Dr. Glass said, “It takes strong character, honesty, integrity, unselfishness, a desire to leave it all on the court, and a sense of pride in playing for yourself, your team and your country to perform at that level of competition on the biggest athletic stage in the world.”
While it’s exciting to be a part of USA Volleyball, and to care for pro football and hockey players, Dr. Glass said his goal as a sports chiropractor is to help all his patients, whether a professional or recreational athletes, restore and maintain range of motion for their body to achieve optimal performance and live life to its fullest.
“I see a growing trend in sports, where chiropractors are gaining greater acceptance by orthopedists, internists, and PTs,” said Dr. Glass, who will continue to serve as chiropractor for USA Volleyball.
“And when the sports care team is on the same page, and there is mutual respect, as well as sharing in a common goal of helping the athlete avoid injury, or getting them back on the field, the results are amazing for the athlete, and mutually rewarding for those involved with the care.”