An Interview with Dr. Jordan Shallow

Dr. Jordan Shallow is the owner of the muscle doc he’s host of RX radio. So let’s start with your origin story. How did you get into chiropractic and what were you hoping to do when you got out of school and how have you been able to do that so far?

Dr. Shallow: I played sports growing up like most kids. I did track-and-field, hockey, lacrosse and swimming. With those sports came injuries. In the 12th grade I had a knee issue and my gym teacher told me to see a chiropractor. I was like, What? A chiropractor? There is nothing wrong with my neck, I don’t have headaches or anything.  He said “just go see him.” Within two weeks I was back on the ice.

In my first year of undergraduate studies I fell in love with lifting weights and from there began a career as a personal trainer to pay my way through school. I continued to see my chiropractor and realized; wow this guy works fairly similar to how I work, people are excited to see him, and he drives a Range Rover. I was a  history and political science major the University of Windsor in Canada and I made the jump over to exercise science and public health and then from there went on to Palmer West in 2012. I graduated in 2015 and opens up my doors soon after that.


Noah: You’ve branded your practice as integrative performance therapy. What is integrative performance therapy and why do you call it that?

Dr. Shallow: Honestly, it was to avoid stigma associated with chiropractors. The one thing I’d really try and hammer home is practice how you want to practice. I knew going in that I wanted to emulate the chiropractors that have worked for me, but if you’re not certain how you want to practice then you will buy into the dogma.

For me, being an athlete, continuing to excel in competitive sports, and wanting to work with like-minded people made it easy for me. I’m pretty close-minded and I have a lot of skepticism to the borderline of cynicism with what’s out there in the chiropractic world.

I don’t even like the word alternative healthcare because I really think when done appropriately it is true health care and not sick care. Yet some students get roped into a whole other market for potential education and seminars and supplements perpetuating bullshit that students with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt are getting sucked into. For me it was avoiding that riffraff, avoiding the business of chiropractic education. Instead I started to talk to people, talking to soon-to-be potential patients and realized their perception of me was not going to be as a title of chiropractor.

My tagline “integrated performance therapy” goes after my niche market and masked my biggest weakness which is the fact that I am a chiropractor. Because a lot of people have preconceived notion of chiropractors and I did as well so you have to look really closely in the fine print to realize that I am actually a chiropractor. Some people think I am a physical therapists or massage therapist or whatever, that’s fine as long as I get the results I’m looking for it doesn’t bother me.

Noah: For individuals who want to focus on this unique target and offer exceptional care what were the tools you used to get there?

Dr. Shallow: Getting into niche markets was something I was warned against. Many people told me athletes don’t have money. That didn’t deter me because it’s a labor of love like. You have to be about the niche you’re getting into. You can’t fake it, they can sniff you out. Being a competitive power lifter made the transition fairly smooth. There’s definitely a market to be had if you can be a part of that community. In school people saw the potential opportunity of a market for patients instead of a community that they wanted to be a part of.

For example many people are trying to copy my colleague Dr. Jordan Jiunta,  he’s in San Jose out of a Cross Fit gym. Many people see the community aspect across Cross Fit as a potential market instead of falling in love with the sport itself. Dr. Jiunta excels at the sport and he competes in California regionals. His trust is transferable. That is the same with me. When people see me in the gym and level of lifting I am pursuing they trust my advice.

A doctor is really a teacher, that’s what it means.  Many people don’t know what we do as chiropractors. If you are in the community doing what you love then that trust within your sport transfers to your practice.  For me it was going to the gym and not looking for patients, but patients found me because they saw that I was into the same thing that they were into. It doesn’t have to be lifting weights. If you like chess then play chess. Do whatever you love to do and be a part of a larger community. It will never work if they think that you’re coming with a sales pitch. For me it was a retrospective analysis, not a premeditated strategy. It just fell into place because I like to do what I’d like to do.

This is true for my practice, but other chiropractors may cater to a wider population. I think being the Rosetta stone in the community that you’re a part of is the best asset you can offer.

Noah: You’ve done a really good job of creating value and providing a lot of content to your market. How have you done that?

Dr. Shallow: Once the passion for what you are doing is there and you are part of a community and you understand what motivates them then you can start to give them value. I’m dealing with guys that squat world-record weight. They don’t care about pain, they care about how they can get 10 extra pounds on their total. I take what I learned from school, input that with the meathead brain and then disseminate information that’ll help them objectively improve their performance.

Keep a base line of integrity by using the parlance of our profession and enhance that with the concepts that they’re familiar with and help them get to the next step. This may be exclusive to the fitness industry side of things, but you have to understand where your market goes for information and be there. Most power lifters and bodybuilders get information online through social media. I could put up a billboard on the side of the road, but none of my audience is looking there for that. If I have 12 thousand follower on a social media platform then they’re going to tune in.

It’s important to understand which medium of advertising works best for your audience. Then invest time in disseminating good content relative to your market and the platform that will have the highest return on investment. Put it where people are looking for what you are offering.

Each social media platform is specific to the type of reputation that you’re trying to build and how you’re trying to build that reputation. Early on you are just creating content. Then you figure out what’s going to be valuable for your audience and how to produce that. What helps me the most is seeing more patients, because it’s common things that present commonly. I’m dealing with high-level athlete sports performance and the training looks similar. Power lifters all squat, bench, and deadlift and you can teach them how to get ahead of some of the issues.  A lot of my resources are inspired by patients in the office. I keep a list of what I saw each week. Whether it’s a particular exercise done incorrectly or loading parameters or interval with training and then I record myself in front of my whiteboard talking about each of those issues so that I can reach more people.

Any time I explain something and they say “I didn’t know that.” That’s a good indication that I need to make a video about it. I wasn’t great at first, but now I’m on autopilot and it is really easy for me.

Noah: What are your tools for pattern recognition and with you know improving performance through that?

Dr. Shallow: You need to have your own personal preoccupation with improving your own performance.  Pattern recognition comes down to empathy and being in tune with proper motion and kinematic awareness. Because if you move in a variety of different ways under various loads and you can internalize what someone is doing right or wrong. I even switched my deadlifts in order to understand some of the pathology I was seeing so I could coach my athletes better. Really putting yourself in their shoes because most of us can recognize patterns internally a lot easier. Then once you see it enough times you can detect it on someone else a lot easier.

Being in tune with not only corrective exercise and that’s a big part of sports performance, but a lot of people missed the boat on exercising correctly. They get too overzealous with cute rehab shit. I deal with guys who want to go from squatting 800 pounds to 850 pounds or deadlift 700 pounds to 800 pounds so it’s a little different than traditional rehab. That’s where the art form comes in. That’s where the personal and the science really ties in. Not everything I do is founded in research, but it is all based on a fundamental understanding of bio-mechanics and my understanding of the demands the sport.

How I go about analyzing performance and pattern recognition comes with seeing enough people over time and then extrapolating out what you think will work and then ditching what doesn’t and reintroducing things or introducing things that might help.

Noah: It sounds like an evidence-informed practice.

Dr. Shallow: It doesn’t matter if you can cite the research. If you don’t get these guys results they’ll keep bouncing around until they find someone who will. You have to think on your feet because its all about stimulus. Whether that stimulus is coming from an effect on the nervous system through adjusting or soft tissue. You need to match the stimulus to their threshold. I deal with a lot of high threshold athletes and so I take a benign intervention and then ramping it up to the higher threshold athletes that I deal with.

Once you’ve found something you love dive in feet-first. That’s true of any discipline whether you are trying to get into the power lifting, Cross Fit, Olympic lifting, weightlifting or another community you got to dive into it with a passion.

Worry about outcome over income. The money will sort itself out. If you worry about the outcome first and do something that you want with passion I think you’ll be better off then setting up a rack and crack shop with insurance and the CA at the front desk. Don’t focus too much on making money. Figure out what will be fulfilling in the long run.

See the full interview here: