|Photos: Neutral Lights Digital Solutions | Main Olympic Image: FIVB
Dr. Josh Binstock takes time management to a whole new level, striking a balance between two extremely different yet closely related careers: chiropractic and professional sport.
A graduate of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College since 2009, Binstock has been maintaining his chiropractic practice while training for beach volleyball competitions. Binstock is part of the Canadian national team competing in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
Binstock admits the current setup is less than ideal, and sometimes one profession gets more attention than the other. For about five months of the year, during the world beach volleyball tour, his training for beach volleyball occupies much of his time.
“Your patients get accustomed to you,” Binstock says. “You need a routine schedule and you always need to be available. The unfortunate reality is I’m not always available from May to September.”
Binstock has set up his practice at the Vaughan Chiropractic Family Wellness Centre in Vaughan, Ont. Clinic owner Dr. Gus Tsiapalis, has been supportive of his sporting commitments, allowing him the flexibility to accommodate both his volleyball and his clinical schedules. In fact, Binstock says, Dr. Tsiapalis works closely with Binstock and his volleyball partner Sam Schachter to strengthen their chemistry and relationship to improve their performance on the court.
In addition to being a chiropractor and world athlete, Binstock also speaks at local schools, business and organizations about the importance of health and wellness.
He treats a variety of conditions among a diverse clientele that ranges from high-level athletes with traumatic or overuse injuries to regular patients seeking maintenance and preventative treatments.
Being an athlete gives him the extra edge in his chiropractic practice and vice versa, Binstock says.
“Both are just about how you live,” he explains. “We’re high-performance athletes but you also want to have a healthy mind and a healthy diet. Same thing with chiropractic – yes, you’re treating the body but you also want to have good nutrition, which will help the body heal and will also (promote) a clear mind.”
“There are a lot of things that intertwine between both, so I like how I can relate one to the other and how they are associated.”
Binstock was introduced to chiropractic at an early age, having received treatments from his uncle and chiropractor Dr. Vince Sinclair — who was once a recipient of the Chiropractor of the Year award by the Ontario Chiropractic Association. Binstock has always been very athletic and competitive even at a young age and recalls visiting his uncle often after some kind of injury from playing some type of sport.
Just like many children, Binstock dreamed of making it in the big leagues. As a child, he played hockey in the winter and played baseball in the summer.
“By the time I was 15 or 16, I realized I wasn’t going to be a professional (player) in either (sport). I was just playing too much hockey to not really go professional at it,” Binstock recalls.
“In Grade 10, I started playing other sports; I played basketball and volleyball.” He eventually found greater passion for volleyball and played in the junior national team through his high school years.
He later joined the volleyball team at the University of Toronto, where he earned his bachelor of health and physical education. The coach of the volleyball team at U of T was also the coach for the national beach volleyball team, and that was Binstock’s introduction to the sport.
The heightened challenge the game brought was what attracted Binstock to the sport: playing with one instead of five other teammates, jumping and running on sand instead of the smooth surface of a gym floor, and playing under the scorching heat of the sun instead of the comforts of an indoor volleyball court.
“It challenges your athleticism, and it is more of a cognitive game, too. I like that part of it,” he says.
Since he started playing competitive beach volleyball, Binstock has played in about 50 international competitions. One of his greatest goals was to play in the Olympics. He realized that dream in 2012 when he qualified to play in the 2012 London Olympics. He has many people to thank for his Olympic achievement, and one of them is Dr. Tsiapalis at Vaughan Chiropractic, who helped him and his teammate get ready for the Games.
The fact that he has been so invested in his sport did not stop Binstock from pursuing a career that he is also passionate about: chiropractic.
As a competitive athlete since his younger years, he has received various treatments from and was exposed to different practitioners – physiologists, athletic therapists, chiropractors. He says he was inspired by the ability of these practitioners to help him heal from his sport injuries and get him back in the game.
“I wanted to be able to instil that in others,” Binstock says. “I understand what (it feels like), not being able to do something you want because of limitations or pain – and I wanted to be able to help others as well.”
To do this, he figured, he needed to learn about the human body and how to keep it healthy. Of all the treatments he had received from various practitioners, Binstock says, chiropractic was where he found the most benefit and had the most effective results. Choosing chiropractic as a career path was an easy decision.
Having both his beach volleyball training and his chiropractic school located in the same city was half-the-battle-won for this athletic chiropractor.
“I was fortunate enough that the only chiropractic school in the whole country is in Toronto and the only place where everybody goes for national training is in Toronto,” Binstock says. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t know if I’d be able to do both, to be honest.”
Trying to manage his time between beach volleyball training and attending the college was full of challenges, he says, but he managed to complete his education and elevate his athletic skills to Olympic level.
“The (CMCC) curriculum, as you know, is very intense,” Binstock notes. “I knew it would be difficult, but I did it. I wasn’t really being as successful (as I could have been) if I quit one and focused on the other, but I was still successful enough to stay on the national team and represent Canada, and still successful enough to graduate school.”
Despite his busy schedule between volleyball training and his chiropractic practice, Binstock takes the effort to keep his knowledge in chiropractic current and fulfil his continuing education requirements.
When he’s not training for volleyball tournaments, Binstock attends seminars and workshops to maintain and update his chiropractic knowledge.
During tournament season, as well, he takes advantage of windows of downtime for knowledge enhancement.
“When I am travelling it gives me a lot of time to catch up and read up on new techniques and new information and new research,” he says. “As far as techniques, I am still getting treated myself and when I am home in the off-season, I’m connected to the chiropractic world.”
He engages in different types of practice with a diverse set of clients – from subluxation and maintenance-based to functional and sports chiropractic.
“I like being able to treat all diverse conditions and situations, and not really limit myself to a small population (of patients),” Binstock says.
Binstock knew from the beginning that chiropractic was always going to be his long-term goal. It was his back-up plan.
Like many young chiropractors, Binstock dreams of establishing his own practice someday, with a team of multidisciplinary practitioners co-existing in the provision of patient care.
Although his contemporaries in the profession may have already had a head start on him working towards that same goal, Binstock is in no hurry and wants to keep working to be the best he can be in both his sport and his profession.
After realizing his Olympic dream in 2012, thoughts of retiring from his sporting career and concentrating on his chiropractic practice crossed his mind. What he experienced at the London Olympics, however, only served to galvanize his commitment to the sport. So he continued on and is now aiming to play in the 2015 Pan-Am Games in Toronto.
“I didn’t foresee what kind of experience the London Olympic was and it was something I have never experienced in my life – something that I don’t know if I’ll be able to do ever again.” So, with support from his family and friends, he decided to continue on and find out how far he could take his athletic career.
“Throughout your life, the window of opportunity to be able to physically compete at the top of the world is so small,” Binstock says. “A lot of people say, ‘you’ll have your whole life to work; it’s such a small time that you could actually do what you wanted to do at this level.’”
His decision to keep going at the sport he loves best while building his career as a chiropractor was not without challenges – particularly on the financial front. As a national team player, Binstock gets a stipend of $900 a month, for the 10 months that he is in training for competition.
“So, my choice to continue was based on the love of the game, instead of the money,” says Binstock.
He believes his sporting experience and the benefits he gets from his high-performance training, however, allow him to gain some valuable knowledge and expertise, and prepare him for when he pursues a specialized practice in sport chiropractic – the path he wants to take for his career.
At 32 years old, Binstock is confident he has plenty of time to build his chiropractic career and establish his own practice – when he is finally ready to put down the ball and retire his jersey.