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Integrating Chiropractic Care into College Sports, On and Off the Field

FlorAnne Cruz, D.C. (Florida, ’17)FlorAnne Cruz, D.C. (Florida, ’17) didn’t set out to be a sports chiropractor for Georgia Southern Athletics but she’s glad she ended up right back at her alma mater. “My mom was a nurse and I always knew I wanted to be in the health care field to help others. I originally thought I wanted to be a psychologist or medical doctor, but Mom always emphasized not taking medication if it wasn’t needed. Since that thinking was ingrained in me, I realized those professions wouldn’t align and started seeking something else,” she said. 

She considered a career in physical therapy but, while working at a local restaurant at the end of her senior year, a patron asked her if she’d considered being a chiropractor. It turns out he was an M.D. in sports medicine who’d also gotten his D.C.

“I hadn’t even thought about chiropractic care because I didn’t know much about it. I loved what he said about helping people with your hands so I did some research and found it was exactly right for me!” she said. She also loved the different modalities available to chiropractors and the ability to take X-rays. 

As for Palmer Florida, it was an easy choice. “I wanted to go to the best of the best! I truly believed that I would excel in my career by attending a college created by the founder and one that has the best board scores. It was the best three-plus years of my life and I talk about it all the time!” Dr. Cruz said.

Less than five years after graduation the stars aligned again, and Dr. Cruz became a business owner. After helping a fellow graduate get her Florida-based practice started, she moved back to Georgia and began covering for different chiropractic offices that needed fill-ins. “Practice owners would call me with rave reviews and the patients requested me back so then I started putting most of my time into just two offices. Before I knew it, the owner of Southern Chiropractic was asking me to buy the business so she could retire. I became a business owner just like that,” she said. 

Dr. Cruz didn’t just purchase any chiropractic office, though. Southern Chiropractic is the largest chiropractic office in Bulloch County, likely because they are the team chiropractors for the athletes at Georgia Southern. Dr. Cruz and her staff are on the football field with the players for all home games and will start attending away games next season.

“It’s honestly a dream come true, and I cannot believe I’m out there on the field with them! It’s good to be up close and personal with the players not only as their emergency backup care but we also help with nutrition and advice while on the field,” she said. 

FlorAnne Cruz, D.C. standing in front of a baseball diamond.Their eight massage therapists travel to the starting players for each sport (track, basketball, soccer, golf, baseball, football, etc.) and some players also come to the office. “I think it’s a great experience working with different types of athletes. We are able to get on the field or court with the team and also treat them in our office. It’s an honor and privilege to work for my alma mater!” she said.

Dr. Cruz recommends all new graduates get out there and try different things before settling in. She also encourages students and new grads to come to Southern Chiropractic for preceptorships. “We have two offices and lots of potential for associates. Four doctors aren’t enough and we’re so busy that we’re turning patients away. There is a lot to learn here beyond sports chiropractic as well. We see a lot of veterans, motor vehicle accidents, cash patients and a little bit of everything,” she added.