When we reach our 40’s, getting mobile and staying active without the use of painkillers, injections, or surgeries start to become a challenge. On today’s podcast, Dr. Justin Rabinowitz, the Founder of Strive2Move, joins Dr. Kevin Pecca to share how their company is helping active individuals and athletes get out of pain and get back to doing what they love. Dr. Rabinowitz relates how Strive2Move was born out of his passion for delivering the right modality or treatment to those suffering from pain or injury.
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Strive To Move With Dr. Justin Rabinowitz
We have Dr. Justin Rabinowitz. He is a chiropractor but most importantly, I view him as a Movement Specialist and a Rehab Specialist. He is located at Strive2Move out of Warren, New Jersey. I love that name for his practice because that is exactly what Dr. Justin is focused on. He wants you to get moving again. He wants to get you out of pain, whether you’re recovering from an ACL injury or you just have low back pain, or if you’re wanting to reach certain fitness goals or get to a level where you want to be in your life, Dr. Justin is the guy for you. He has faced major adversity in his own life. He actually broke his lower back playing football in high school. What was baffling to him was after he was cleared to play, there was no recovery protocol for his injury, which was pretty serious. He found that pretty shocking.
Years later, he went up for a lay-up playing basketball and was experiencing an excruciating low back pain again. He couldn’t move his big toe the next morning. It was numb and it wasn’t working correctly. He decided to have a lower back surgery. Once again, after the surgery, there was no protocol for him to know how to get better or get back to where he wants to be at. That’s exactly what Justin is doing with his patients now. He has designed protocols. He is getting people back to where they want to be. He has been there himself, so he knows how to take care of the people he is seeing. He’s a great chiropractor, a phenomenal Movement Specialist. There are not too many people in the country that do what he does. It was an honor to have him on the show. I’m actually a patient at his Strive2Move practice in Warren, New Jersey. He helped me out tremendously. I’m always bending down really low checking people. He got me back to a point where I need to be, so I can’t thank him enough. I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did. Please welcome, Dr. Justin Rabinowitz.
We have a very special guest, Dr. Justin Rabinowitz, out of Warren, New Jersey. He is a chiropractor. Even more importantly, he is a Movement Specialist. I’m very excited to have him on. He is very good at what he does. He’s extremely passionate. I’m a patient at strive to move, which I couldn’t be happier about. Without further ado, let’s welcome, Dr. Justin. How are you?
I’m great. Thanks for having me on, Kevin. I appreciate it. I’m looking forward to chatting.
Dr. Justin, you are a specialty within all. What field would you say that would be?
I joke with people when people ask me, “What do we call you?” I say, “My grandfather always used to say, ‘Call me whatever you want. Just don’t call me late to dinner.’” I joke with people on that and being my experience, which we’ll obviously get into, I don’t care what people call me. The only reason I care is that if it helps someone get into our doors, if we can help them. I have people who call, “Are you a doctor. Are you a chiropractor? Do you do PT? Do you do strength?” I was like, “I’m going to do whatever you need that’s going to help you. Whatever makes you comfortable to come and see me, if I could help you, that’s what I want you to call me.” I graduated with my Doctorate in Chiropractic and worked in strengthen and conditioning in the past.
I’ve been able to blend those two passions and specialties to create like a hybrid model where we specialize in trying to get to the root cause of why someone’s having a problem that they are from a movement and rehabilitation perspective. If you came in and you know, Dr. Kevin already, sometimes that looks like strength and conditioning. Sometimes that looks like “physical therapy.” Sometimes that looks like manual soft tissue. Sometimes that looks like traditional chiropractic. I like to tell people I’m not religious with techniques. I want to do what works for the person. I’m a chiropractor. That doesn’t necessarily mean I only adjust patients. I’ve worked in strength and conditioning. It doesn’t mean that everybody needs exercise. I want to look at who I see in front of me and try to deliver what the right input or the right modality or the right treatment that’s going to get them to whatever goal that they have.
Dr. Justin, where does this passion come from?
Since I’ve been younger, I’ve always intuitively looked and understood movement. I played baseball through college and I remember in college once I was helping one of my teammates out with his swing. I gave him like 2 or 3 different techniques and working like 30 or 40 minutes. I wasn’t a coach at that time. I remember after winter break, he came back. He took a batting lesson with John Valentin, who played in the Major Leagues. He goes, “I wanted to tell you that John Valentin told me the same thing you did.” Not to blow my own horn, but the movements I’ve understood. I was either always going to be a teacher and a coach or I was going to do something in the medical field. One of the reasons I chose chiropractic was because I thought that there was an opportunity to start to find maybe some of the things that I was passionate about, which was sports and athletics, training, movement and medicine. The ability to utilize all of those drive to move is just a selfish passion of mine. Combining the things that are helpful for me and we’ll get into what I wish I would have had when I was younger.
How did you come up with everything you’re doing now? If you just go through chiropractic school, you’re not going to find it. What made you look elsewhere and look outside the box to help get people better?
I saw a chiropractor growing up. One of the reasons I went to chiropractic school, which was a very traditional experience as a chiropractor where I would get adjusted and go home. The reason I went to chiropractic school, the models that I saw growing up were not like what I do now. I originally went because I felt like it was one of the only places that I would go where I would start to feel better quickly. I had been to physical therapy and now I know differently. There are many different therapists, doctors and different things, which you and I have spoken about previously. I remember going to the chiropractor. My lower back was sore. My mid back was tight and I would always leave feeling better. I feel immediate change, whereas PT, sometimes it takes 3, 4, 6, 8, 12 weeks to even start to feel better. That’s how I got into it.
Once I got to chiropractic school, I wanted to get involved with sports. I knew about athletics and that was important to me. I started to go to different clubs. They have different clubs on campus, which I’m sure you had at your school too. One them was a sports club and one of them was what we call the Motion Palpation Institute. Both of them was where I started to see other practitioners. I was like, “That looks interesting.” They would start to combine different rehab techniques or soft tissue techniques or work with different athletes with their chiropractic background or their medical background and utilize it all altogether.
I started to see, I was like, “This is what I was looking for.” Everyone’s different. That’s the cool thing about our profession. I knew personally that if I opened a chiropractic practice and did the heat stim adjusting on patients. That was what I did. I probably not be intellectually very stimulated for too long. Combined with the fact that I didn’t think it was probably the best way to treat people. I thought that there were other things that I would be able to do. It was a perfect storm. Going through it myself, I have a history of a back injury to the point I had to have back surgery. What I do now is what I wish I would have had back then.
What happened with your lower back there?
When I was a senior in high school, I’ll never forget. We were playing Phillipsburg High School. I was at Bridgewater Raritan High School. I went to go and cut block someone in front of me. The kid tried to jump over me and ended up kneeing me right in the back. I ended up playing somehow for another 2.5 quarters gimping around until I finally collapsed. Long story short, I ended up fracturing two transverse processes and bruising my kidney. The way they sent me to the hospital is because I did have a urine test and that I was peeing blood from shots from the kidney. Kevin, this is legitimately what happened. I was in a back brace for four weeks.
I went back to the doctor and he’s like, “You’re fine.” “Now what?” He’s like, “Do whatever you want.” He took the back brace off on legitimately Wednesday. I practiced on Thursday and we had state semifinals on a Saturday. I was fine. My back didn’t hurt. There was no rehab plan. There was no, “Here’s the protocol to get back.” There was nothing proactive. It’s like, “You’re good.” After that, I stopped football. I went on to play baseball in college. Every year, my back would go out on me 2 or 3 times a year and I’d go to the chiropractor and feel better, do my thing. Looking back, it was palliative care. I was working out at the time. When I felt bad, I got treated, which I went on for a while until I was in chiropractic school ironically. I was playing basketball. I went up for a layup.
If there’s any medical people out there, I woke up the next morning, 0 out of 5 big toe dorsiflexion. I could not lift my big toe. I was having radicular symptoms about 4 or 5 that went all the way down to my toe. Long story short, while in chiropractic school, I ended up having a laminectomy discectomy. I think about it a lot. Did I actually need it? Some of my reflexes and things started to come back. I’m still not sure. I thought I had a pretty good outcome from surgery. I did have a pretty good outcome from surgery. Looking back, would I do it again? I don’t 100% know. What I do 100% know is when I got out of surgery, I asked my surgeon again, it’s like the same story, “What should I do? Should I do rehab?” “No. Just go for walks. You’re fine.”
I had back surgery, then like nothing. I still have the journals that at the time I was about two thirds of my way through chiropractic. I knew what I wanted to do. I started journaling my rehab. At that time, I started to take it into my own hands. That’s what I had to do. That’s what started me on my journey several years ago. I’m starting to see some of the ill effects of the lack of real guidance and direction with some range of motion loss that I’m trying to work through, some more consistent pains. I try to play golf a little bit more and I’m working through that. To reiterate, what I try and hope to do with my patients is try to be the person or the provider that I didn’t have growing up.
From your own experience, you talk to some chiropractors and they say there is absolutely no need for anybody to ever get any type of back surgery, fusion, discectomy. Being that you’re a chiropractor now, and even in my office, there are those times where I might just say, “Go see the orthopedic surgeon, go see the neurosurgeon, get a couple different opinions. Let’s see what’s going on.” What is your stance if somebody comes into your office and says, “What do you think about surgery on this?”
You were a guest on my podcast and what we talked about there was you need to explore every option first. Someone like you and I who are conservative, it would make sense. It doesn’t have to be you and I specifically, but I’m willing to try every single conservative option until I can’t. As we learned in school, there are some medical times where that’s not always the case. One of them is no severe neurological deficit. If there are people with drop foot or things like that, for me, it’s mandatory that they get at least a neurosurgical consult. That doesn’t always mean that they have to have surgery, but it means that they need to go to that office.
I can tell you a story about that. I was treating a patient years ago and she’s like, “You’ve got to see my husband. He can’t lift his arm up. It’s bizarre.” Her husband comes into me and he goes to lift his arm up over his head. As soon as he went to the base, like scratch his back, his arm collapsed. I’m like, “God, this doesn’t smell right.” There’s something neurological going on here that is not beyond what we can do, but beyond what I’m comfortable keeping him in the office. I referred him out to a neurosurgeon. He went to two different neurosurgeons. Long story short, one neurosurgeon said, “You need surgery.” The other one said, “There’s a deficit here that probably won’t correct with surgery. You don’t need to do it.” He sent them back to us. We worked with them to try to work around some movement patterns, gain range of motion and things of that nature.
We had some success, not full resolution. In that case, a full neurological compromise, I’m making sure that they’re at least getting that consultation. The other thing, for the audience out there, bowel and bladder dysfunction. I can tell you the first person I ever referred to take emergency room, someone that came in and she circled back and is a patient again. This was several years ago. She came in one day. She was having back and sciatic problems. I said it was bowel and bladder dysfunction. No. She went to go lay on the table.
She said, “It was a weird. I was watching TV and all of a sudden, I didn’t realize I had to pee. I had to run to the bathroom. It was like this weird thing and there was a sensation.” That was the first time that I had sent someone to the ER, because as we learned at school, potential pinching of the core cauda equina type syndrome, which she had to start off and eventually didn’t need surgery for. Surgery is certainly on the table. There are medical reasons for it. If we’re dealing with pain or lack of range of motion and we’re able to function without those two issues, I would say, as long as people can tolerate not doing it, they should try to avoid it as much as possible.
Dr. Justin, what does your practice look like? What type of people come see you and what are you helping people with? It’s completely different. I want to get this across to people.
What we say all the time, we see so many adults, generally people like you, active adults, whether it’s their job or career, whether it’s sports, whether it’s wanting to play with their kids that are frustrated. They’re at their wit’s end with the pain that they’ve been having, or the fear of it getting worse, “I’m 33.” What we specialize in is working with those active adults and athletes. Coming up with, as we call, one-on-one customized treatment plans to address what we consider to be the root cause of the problem because everybody is different. If we’re doing the same protocol for every single patient, it’ll help some, but it won’t help all. Dr. Ashton, who works with us here, is my colleague, who’s fantastic.
We go through all the cases every week. He was discussing your case specifically. You came in with some back pain. He said, “I started with a McKenzie based protocol with gaining range of motion in the spine,” which often works for someone in your case. He said, “I didn’t get any results. I immediately went into more of a stability-type program where we did some foot training, some core training and some hip training. That’s what started to make the biggest difference.” For you, as you said, 60%, 80%, almost 100% resolution. We’ve got to stabilize you there, but the point being specific to your case. Three or four out of ten times, someone comes in with a typical low back, they might respond to that first McKenzie style treatment protocol.
In your case, your body at that time responding better to the stability training. For us, it’s about getting specific on what the root cause of the problem is. Putting together a plan that long-term you will be able to help yourself. We almost never see patients more than once per week because we’re always sending them home with homework and different training programs. If people even want us to write their training protocol long-term because we see it very similar as the rehab and the training piece of it for whatever their training for becomes one in the same. That’s how we’re going to begin to help somebody is being specific. Kevin, you come with back pain and my mom comes with back pain. You would think the treatment should look different, but you’d be surprised about how many average chiropractors or typical physical therapists where all the treatments look exactly the same. That’s something we don’t do.
The reason I sought you guys out was because I had the low back pain as you described. I see a phenomenal chiropractor, phenomenal acupuncturist. The pain would go away for two days, but it would come back when I was at work, bending down all the time. I knew it wasn’t a structural issue anymore. It was a movement issue. It wasn’t going to self-correct until I get the proper mechanics on how to help my own body. What was amazing about what you do is you didn’t lay any hands on me. You put the power back in my hands to get myself better with the correct movement and exercises that my body needed, which I can’t thank you enough.
There are patients that come in. I had a lady once who said, “I went home.” Her husband her, “How the session went?” She’s like, “My back feels better, but they didn’t touch me the entire session.” “What do you mean? They’re a chiropractor” He didn’t say this, but I’m saying this. Chiropractor literally means with your hands. Going back to how we started, it’s not that we’re opposed to it. We’re not at all. We adjust patients. We do a hands-on treatment and manual therapy with patients. We’re trying the best we can to get to what’s going to help them the most in that session. If that involves not touching them in that session, we’ll do that.
Dr. Justin, the only obstacle I see you might run into is a lack of motivation on the patient’s part. If you get somebody that’s motivated, “I can’t live with this any longer,” they do all your exercises. You’re going to have phenomenal results. How do you handle somebody that’s “lazy” or they come in the next session, they’re like, “I didn’t do the exercises?” How do you handle somebody like that?
It depends on the case. I’m going to tell the story first and people are going to think I’m a jerk, but this only happened once. I have one patient who came in who was having back pain. She was giving me some push back on some of the exercises I was asking her to do. At the end of the day, I’m giving you the things that in my experience are going to get you the result that you came in for. She’s giving me some pushback on doing it. I said “Respectfully, it’s your back. You don’t have to do it at all. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. You came to me and I want to tell you how best that I can help you, but if you’re not willing to do it, then that’s okay too.”
I would say that’s 1 out of 1,000. Based on how we practice and life refers like that, once you start building a culture, we honestly don’t have much of an issue with it. I can tell you. I have patients who we’ve been working with remotely, believe it or not. She came on and she’s like, “I’m so sorry. I’ve been busy with work. I haven’t been able to exercise. Don’t hate me.” I was like, “I don’t hate you. I’m here because I want to help you.” You’re spending time and money with us. As long as you’re understanding and have realistic expectations that, “I’m not doing what I need to. It may either take a little longer or I might not get that exact result. I’m okay with it.” It’s not that, “Don’t blame me,” but let’s figure out a plan to work through it. With her, for us, it’s solution-based.
With this patient, I was telling you before the patient I sent to the ER, it’s the same person who came back several years later at a different practice. It’s very interesting. It’s referred by a different doctor. It was very odd. This lady who I was having the conversation with, I said to her, “Respectfully, I know your personality.” She works. She’s in education. She’s a consultant. She works her butt off. She works hard. I said, “I’m okay with you not doing it. The conversation for us has to be around making sure that you always make time for you because I know the type of person you are. You’re super dedicated and passionate about what you do. Sometimes your health goes by the wayside because of it. It’s okay that you didn’t do your exercises, but I know you’ve been dealing with this a long time. I don’t want you to get into a place where for the next 50 years, whenever life gets in the way, you don’t take care of you.”
That was the conversation with her. I hope that she appreciated the fact that like, “I’m not going to yell at you for not doing your exercises, but I want to come up with a solution.” I’ll give you another quick story. I’m doing some more strength-based work with a post-op ACL with a 13, 14-year-old girl who’s had very slow progress. She went back to her doctor. Her goal is to get back to non-contact sports by September. All the PTs she worked with, the doctors, her parents, myself, we’ve seen that her motivation laxes and leans a little bit. I got an email. I was talking to the mom and she said, “What do we do?” I said, “She’s going to be fine long-term, but if she wants to play sports, we’ve got to do this thing. I’m glad I’m talking to you, Mom. The only way I’m going to continue to work with her is that if I get an email from her saying, ‘I want to do this. I want to dedicate myself to doing this.’”
I got that email. What we do isn’t cheap and it’s time-consuming. The last thing that I want is to waste someone’s time and money. As I do this longer, what I realize is that for people that we can help, we’re the best people out there to do it. For a lot of reasons, if we can, the last thing I want to do is get people to take the two most precious assets. A lot of times, three most precious assets, health, time, money and waste them. I have that conversation with people. I want to make sure that we’re clear. At the end of the day, we’re running a business. We have to make money, but I’m not going to do it in a way that’s going to make people hate what I’m doing and feel like they got hoodwinked or feel like that they didn’t get delivered the service. At this point, I know that people that aren’t going to respond to what we do or may not be motivated. It’s probably not the right fit and that’s okay.
Dr. Justin, where can people find you online and all your platforms just to see all the work you’re doing?
Our Instagram page, we post multiple times a day generally. It’s @Strive2Move. Our website is Strive2Move.com. We have a pretty robust and active blog there. I’ll point people with so many people working from home. Dr. Ashton wrote a robust five-part blog series on ways to basically solve back pain from home. One of the articles is about a standup desk and how to set that up. One of them is about core exercises you can do. Something else is about micro break. There’s a lot of good stuff that the audience can utilize. Right now, we have videos and articles. That’s all up on there. We also have our own podcast, which you were a guest on. It’s the Stay Healthy New Jersey podcast, where we interview people in the health and fitness space in our local community. We have about 40-something episodes.
I’m doing another interview with a friend of mine. He coaches gymnastics at Rutgers University. We’ve had double MUT marathon runners on there. We’ve had doctors on there. We’ve had trainers on there. It’s been great. You love probably doing the podcast as the people you get to talk to and same thing for me. We get to speak with some interesting people, addiction specialists. There are many awesome people in our community that I hope long-term is a resource for anybody that might need us. We’re on Facebook as Strive2Move. On my personal page, I’ll post some more rehab content and some of my own stuff at Justin Rabinowitz.
Dr. Justin, at the end of every show, I like to ask all my guests, what is one piece of advice that has resonated with you over the years that you would like to give the audience? It could be absolutely anything.
The key to success or the key in life is to be passionate and enjoy what you’re doing. What I resonated with you when we spoke with Dr. Kevin was, how much you loved what you were doing on your profession. If you think about your day of 24 hours, hopefully eight of it asleep. For people like you and I probably more than 8, maybe 10, 12 is work and then lots of nights and weekends. For me specifically, being able to own my practice and understand, I enjoy like the business side. I understand a lot. I liked a lot of the other things that are into running the business. I like doing it. Something attractive is looking at people that are passionate about what they do. I hope that at a minimum, people are working or doing jobs or careers that they enjoy. Even if it’s not possible, find something else that you’re passionate about.
Maybe you need to work to live but then you find something else because we all need to have something that we’re passionate about. I’m lucky, you’re lucky that work is part of it. Especially for like the younger people out there to make sure that it’s not going into profession because mom or dad wants you to do it. Take your time. You have a long time. My general rule of thumb, I’ve talked to a lot of people that are in their 20s, 18, 19. They’re like, “What do I do?” I say to them now, “I hope you’re going to be around for a while. You have until 30 to figure it out.” Some people figure it out later, but don’t worry about it. When you’re 21, 22, it’s okay. Go explore stuff, do different things.
This is a little bit of a rant, but think about how many people run multimillion-dollar social media companies. When you and I were in high school, that didn’t even exist. It puts so much pressure on yourself to figure it out at sixteen. There’s probably the new career that’s not even invented yet. It’s important to be passionate. It’s important to explore and like what you’re doing. Don’t let the people around you influence you in a way that eventually resent yourself and resent them. At the end of the day, you’ve got to be the one to live with it.
Dr. Justin, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story, your message and your practice with us. I’d love to have you back on anytime.
I appreciate it. I love to share my story and any information that the audience might like just like you do. I appreciate that. Thanks.
- Dr. Justin Rabinowitz
- Motion Palpation Institute
- @Strive2Move - Instagram
- Stay Healthy New Jersey
- Strive2Move - Facebook
- Justin Rabinowitz - Facebook
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