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41 Years & 750,000 Adjustments Later – Dr. Nick Athens’ Impact on Sports & Beyond

Dr. Nick Athens and athletesNick Athens, D.C. (Main, ‘82) has been the team chiropractor for the San Francisco Giants baseball team from 1997-2002 and San Francisco 49ers football team from 2014-2016.

Starting his practice from scratch in June 1983, at a time when chiropractors were often dismissed, Dr. Athens faced immense challenges. His breakthrough came when he started working with professional athletes, notably with members of the San Francisco 49ers. 

Dr. Athens’ approach to caring for athletes has always been about understanding their specific needs and challenges. 

“My motto is to always give the patient the best care and service, along with teaching them ways to take their health to another level,” he said.

His care for members of the 49ers led to Joe Montana, who played with the team for 16 seasons, talking about chiropractic care on national TV for the pre-game, and the USA Today writing about a headline sports article showing how chiropractic care was a big part of keeping the players healthy. This exposure for the profession was not only a personal victory for Dr. Athens but also for chiropractic care in the athletic world. 

Dr. Athens’ advice to students interested in sports chiropractic is simple: immerse yourself in the sports community, maintain your own personal fitness, and be a model of health. He emphasizes the necessity of being proactive rather than reactive, a principle that has allowed him to thrive in a competitive field for more than 40 years. When not traveling, he still adjusts 70 patients per day and figures he’s delivered  750,000 adjustments in his 41 years. 

“What have I learned in 750,000 adjustments? I’m often the last doctor after all the other doctor visits so I’m not getting the easy cases. I find out things like how my patients handle stress or how they sleep because nobody taught us how to do those things. People need a path out of it, both mentally and physically. They need guidance and accountability, similar to an athlete who has a trainer. It’s up to chiropractors to teach people. That’s what I’m here for and hope to help others with!” he said. 

Dr. Nick Athens adjusting patient.“Go into sports chiropractic if that’s your passion, but remember that it’s the everyday patients with whom you’ll build your foundation and have longevity with,” he urged. 

Beyond his work with athletes, Dr. Athens is passionate about teaching and empowering his everyday patients to lead healthier lives. His upcoming book, “To Health With You: Life-Changing Strategies to Help You Take Charge of Your Health,” reflects his holistic approach to care based on his learnings from thousands of referred patients (27,000 patients over 41 years). It focuses on stress management, physical care, and the importance of a balanced chiropractic lifestyle. 

His message to the next generation of chiropractors is clear: embrace the challenges, stay true to your course, and remember that the power to change lives lies within your hands. Learn from other doctors of chiropractic, and glean from their knowledge.