Becoming an Extremity Specialist with Dr. Chris Howson
Founder of Drop Release
Christopher Howson, DC, provides services in Graston, sports injuries, shoulder and hip pain, and non-surgical orthopedics. He strives to return patients to full function through conservative methods.
Click below to listen to the interview…
Dr. Jeff Langmaid: Hey Docs, I’m Dr. Jeff Langmaid here with my co-host, Dr. Jason Deitch, and it is time for our featured guest today. We are speaking with a friend of mine that I’ve known for a little while. Dr. Chris Howson, founder of Drop Release. We’re going to talk about what is Drop Release. We’re going to talk about how he came up with the idea much, much more on today’s episode. Chris, thanks for taking some time with us today. Thank you, guys. You got it, and I want to pick it up right at the Drop Release conversation. So any docs out there, you just showed this showed us the tool before we hopped on. This is something that, as we’ve come to understand, you’ve sort of invented and brought to life, which I think is pretty awesome. Where did this come from? You know, what is it? I love to read just to kick off the conversation with what is Drop Release and how how’d you think of it?
Dr. Chris Howson: Ok. Absolutely. So Drop Release is a soft tissue instrument, and here it looks like this would get a little tangential light on there. You can see it says Drop Release and it’s got a plus or minus on it. So basically, it’s a T-Bar, you know, a soft tissue or T bar combined with the idea of of a drop peace table like the Thompson drop table. And it came about because when I was in school, I had the privilege of learning from a really good doctor who was treating a lot of high level figure skaters and hockey players and such and working on hip flexors, especially hip flexors scales and things like that with using the concept of fast stretch to cause muscle relaxation. And he was doing that with his hands on the patient on a drop peace table. And I did that for for years and years, probably for the first ten years that I was in practice. I practiced in Grand Forks, North Dakota. So I mean, up here in God’s country, it’s notice that I get a little less color to my my skin than you folks do because it’s 40 below zero wind chill outside right now, so I’m staying in my cave. But one thing we do have up here is a lot of hockey players. So anybody who’s been hockey players or say sprinters, people like that, you know that they get really gnarly hips. They’re hip flexors, get extremely tight, and that can cause all kinds of other problems. So BEING able to get in there and especially around the corner of the pelvis, into the iliac ice, things like that. In order to use drop piece to add a little pre stretch on the tissues and then drop the table with my hands, I would put that fast stretch on.
Dr. Chris Howson: And the mechanism is it would activate the Golgi tendon organ reflex that then it’s a spinal cord level reflex. So it’s almost an instant change. Like, you know, similar kind of opposite to the spindle cell reflex you check with a reflex hammer works just as quick. So I did that for years and years. Like I said, until I treated a patient where my drop piece wasn’t very conveniently located. So she had this problem with her hamstrings and I was trying to get into her hamstrings. And at some point, I mean, it was it was almost like a Saturday Night Live skit, right? I mean, eventually I had her like crawled all the way off the front of the table with her hands on on the ground. And I’m using that pelvic drop piece on my Lloyd for two to get that thing to drop and work. And you know, I said to myself, you know, if I had a. But a T-Bar with a drop piece in it, I could get in there, right? And I tried to use my activator, but in order to get enough pre stress, you’d bottom out that spring and there would be no oomph left, no more, no pop left. And I tried to use other other devices and nothing really got in there. So just kind of the way my mind works, and I think a lot of us is Chiropractic are problem solvers and figure out the puzzle ahead of you. I went in my workshop and I put something together on a wood and I ordered some parts off off the internet and got some springs and ball bearings and, you know, do hickeys and put them together and got a working prototype.
Dr. Chris Howson: After that, like the next week and it kind of evolved from there. It just basically just makes a very, very rapid impact on joint mobility and anywhere in the body because you control a line of drive. Exactly. You don’t have to have a drop peace position because it’s right there. That’s basically what it is, and now it’s a it’s a milled aluminum piece of machinery here. And I know Jeff, you’ve got one in somewhere there in the attic, I’m sure. And it’s nice and heavy. I mean, you could in a pinch, you can bludgeon somebody with this thing, you know, so that’s what it is. I still use it mostly on on. I love it for ball and socket joints and which I’ve any more, I look at those all the time. Every patient that comes in, basically if it’s an upper body complaint, I’m looking at shoulders. If it’s a lower body complaint, I’m at least looking at hips, sometimes shoulders also, just because those those joints are so connected to everything that we do, you know, Chiropractor as we come out with, explains my spine. But that spine has to move through space, and the thing that moves that spine through space is upright locomotion, which is completely dependent on the ball and socket joints of the hip. And if those aren’t moving kinetic chain model, you know something else is going to have to move. So if we can keep if we can keep the machine operating the way it was designed to run, everything works better.
Dr. Jason Deitch: That is awesome. And you’re right, you’ve got to love the. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool that would in the next thing you know, you’re you’re you’re inventing it. Literally. That’s phenomenal. Chris, tell us, I guess the evolution. You’re not the only one who uses it. Obviously, you’ve invested some time and money into building not just a prototype, but an actual product. Talk to us about docs are using it is their training. How do they know, you know, how to integrate this into whatever current protocols they’re using?
Dr. Chris Howson: Right. So basically the training I have, I have a bit of a course video course on my website. It needs some improvement. So we’re getting to that. But when the tool arrives, it ships with a manual here, a little backwards manual and it’s got broken down by by joint and joint movement and kind of put this here, do this kind of instructions. And you know, of course, this thing I did my first live, bigger format. Both, really, I was out at forward 19, we saw you were out there with that one, Jeff in at Logan. But then I did the northwestern homecoming, which is, you know, Northwestern is about four hours from here. That’s my alma mater. And like, two weeks later, COVID slammed the whole country into your homes, right? So now we’re just getting back out there and it’s going to be a put together an in-person course because it’s one of those things where everybody says, Well, what is it as an activator, you know, or somebody comments, Oh, activator, twenty twenty one, here we go. Yeah. But it’s a completely different premise, and it’s one of those things you almost have to get your hands on it to, to understand, to feel it and and to see how it works. But yeah, we have a lot of videos out on the on the website and have shared a lot on social media and again, more of that coming. But it’s got to get some more, some more video out there because that’s kind of where the proof is at is is seeing and seeing this thing work and how fast it is.
Dr. Jeff Langmaid: I love it, Chris, and you’ve I’ve been fortunate to be treated by by the founder, by you in my in my right here, actually, as a matter of fact, a little while back. So I can definitely understand and attest to that. One question I have for you. There’s there’s there’s a good amount of docs that are, you know, fixers. They are entrepreneurial. They’re interested. What was maybe I’m going to switch to kind of the business side outside the clinical what was maybe a surprise, a stumbling block or hurdle? As you’re like, I’m pumped. I’m bringing this thing to fruition, right? You know, you got manufacturing all this sort of stuff. What was maybe a hurdle or a surprising thing that you’ve learned along the way of bringing an idea to market, which is awesome? Not that many people do. And I think there’s a lot of fear of what it entails. So maybe you know what was what was something that you had to overcome?
Dr. Chris Howson: Well, I think just the whole process of patenting is if you have been through it, it’s a long life. I don’t know how people used to do this, right? Like, we’re like, so-and-so just invented something and he got the patent. Well, yeah, I mean, it’s just that’s by far been our biggest expense. This whole way through is patent process, you know, patent and then, oh, we need to update our claims or something else. So we get a second patent, right? So, you know, a second patent. And then if you’re going to ever do anything internationally, we need to patent some other places. And so we got a we got a few other patent. Patents in other countries and just the expense that goes into that kind of thing because then there’s yearly upkeep on those. It’s not just a one time pay for your patent and then go, it’s you get to pay so much money every couple of years and that kind of thing. But, you know, I mean, anything else other than that, I guess I’m I know that it’s not easy to do like what you guys are doing out there, content creation and then being out there in front of a ton of stuff and getting the systems in place with the fulfillment and making sure that you’re out in front of people and getting good video made and that kind of stuff is definitely a challenge.
Dr. Jason Deitch: Yeah, that’s exactly where I want to go. What what, what have you found to be? I guess some of the ways in which you’re able to bring people to your practice by highlighting your differences. You know, I mean. Every Chiropractor has the word Chiropractic as their sign and doing videos and really sort of showing people, you know, not just, Hey, I’m a Chiropractor, but I’m different. But in fact creating content, doing videos and putting that, you know, unique messaging of not just what Chiropractic is, but here’s what I do at my practice. Here’s what makes us unique and different. What can you share with people about what you’ve been doing, what’s been working? What are some of the frustrations? What have been some of the successes Chiropractor, especially our audience or all trying to figure out? How do I get my message out to people and should I share what makes me different? Should I share what makes me what they expect? What? What’s been your experience?
Dr. Chris Howson: Well, I’m fortunate to practice in a pretty small area here. I mean, just North Dakota in general has, you know, not even 800000 people the whole state and I’m in a town of about 50000 ish or something like that as my practice and I actually work for the big, biggest medical system in our town. So another doctor and I work here and so you know it, that I was in practice in town for about six years previous to that. So really, we were small enough at that point where word of mouth was the biggest thing that got the name out there. And then, you know, again, with a huge amount of people who play hockey and such and everybody knows everybody. It’s been I’ve been very fortunate that I don’t have to do a whole lot of marketing right now, basically just here and people know me and they come, they come in and they kind of know what they’re going to get a lot of the time. Obviously, I’m a more of an extremity type of provider and I work in a building with, you know, several dozen really good physical therapists. So, you know, I’m not doing as much rehab. I do a little bit of hands on muscle work stuff. I mean, I use this Drop Release and it’s super fast and you get people’s lives to get real big when they walk in the room and they can’t lift their arm past here and they walk out and they can reach a straight up and go do what they want to do.
Dr. Chris Howson: So it’s just it’s just kind of the results side of it, right? And I listen to you guys, yeah, your podcast and I really like the stuff that you guys are doing with the stores. Yeah, I buy it so people can find your favorite things and stuff. I’m thinking, you know, that’s great. If I was if I were still in private practice, I’d be all over that, right? There’s all these things like that. And but yeah, the one I guess the thing that makes us different here is the amount of time we spend on on, on extremities and how things work together and just kind of getting into the world and getting some things to help stabilize your range of motion once we find it. Yeah, I mean, I get all kind of comes down to word of mouth here, honestly. And again, working for a big system, I don’t necessarily get to market myself, so to speak. But yeah, I guess that’s not the best guess as far as that side of the world goes. Right?
Dr. Jeff Langmaid: So that’s all right. I appreciate the fact that you keep up with it. You follow, even if it doesn’t directly impact your practice, I think is awesome. One question that I have for you, you mentioned, you know, really being focused on, you know, extremities by the nature of your interests and everything else. I love the scratching your own itch. Then, you know, therefore creating an extremity kind of first, you know, tool to help you along that path. One of the things you mentioned on that, you know, is the differences between a Drop Release and utilizing a Drop Release in practice and utilizing an activator. Maybe highlight just a few of those. Because you’re right, dogs might look at the tool and just see it, and they might say, Golly, I think I already have that going on in my practice. I think these are complementary items not competitive at all. I just would be interested to know your thoughts on that and maybe highlight one or the two of the primary differences so dogs out there can open their mind to something they might be unfamiliar with, right?
Dr. Chris Howson: Well, I mean, Doctor Fuhr himself, you know, activator would tell you to do it. It’s a completely different, totally totally different animal activator puts out its own impulse, and it’s very metered specific impulse designed to help adjust segments. Correct. Or this tool is more about building up the tension in the muscle. And then you have that rapid. Basically, there’s a drop mechanism inside the tool, so you go from having that tension and then when the mechanism releases transfers from tension to speed until it bottoms out in there. And then all of that speed with the pre stress is added to that. Tetanus junction of the muscle, and you get that rapid stretch so it can hit a lot harder than than a activator does, and you’re not aiming at bony prominences with this, its not an adjusting tool, this is a soft tissue. Only tool, I know people use it for other things, but this is the purpose. And honestly, I wouldn’t want to be adjusted. It wouldn’t feel very good. But we’re looking we’re looking at a little bit of a higher amplitude thrust when it does hit. And it’s not as much as a thrust as a very rapid stretch. Like think about if you’ve ever manually engaged the seatbelt lock in your car, right? You pull it off. What happens? But if you give it that bam, you know, it’s kind of that that quick pull like that, I guess. I and Activator, you know, you can do it, you can use it in some places and get similar results, like if you use a little hand pre stress by pulling on the tip and getting into some some occipital area and maybe some scaling real shallow tissues like that that aren’t very bulky, but you’re not going to get into somebody’s performance through all those overlaying muscles and make that activate those multi-tenant organs with an activator. I guess that’s the biggest thing rather than creating an impulse. The tool drops into itself, and it’s just that the physics of that energy transfer.
Dr. Jason Deitch: That is awesome. If docs are watching and they’re curious and they go, This is interesting, I use tools now, but this sounds like it’s a tool that I have a gap, you know, and they don’t have a tool for. But where would you recommend docs? Learn more What would be your next step for them to watch your videos or your book or anything like that?
Dr. Chris Howson: I would say to get on to a Drop Release. Check that out. And there’s there are a lot of videos in there in the media tab and follow us on social media or on Facebook or on Instagram or not. We’re a little more sporadic than we should be. I’ll go. I’ll go really good and be daily for a couple of months, and then I’ll disappear for a while and then I’ll fire it back up again. But that’s just the nature of this beast, I guess. Yeah, but I guess I would probably be the best way to do it. And we have people ask, Well, is there a demo? Can I try it out or whatever? I’ve always will always take it back. If somebody gives it a good run and they don’t like it, we’ll we’ll take it back and into the, you know, the several hundred of these floating around out there. I’ve only ever had to take one back, and when I checked it out, I think there was actually a defect in there, so it wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. So, you know, it’s user error on the assemblers part on that one. Going back to when you asked me before about if people see this thing, they think, Oh, I already use tools. You know, a lot of there’s a lot of versions of the original grafting tool out there, right? Like the ASTM Typekit tools. People see that and they know what that does. They know how to get everybody’s experience that they’ve use it. This is really its own thing, right? It’s it’s there’s nothing else out there exactly like it. Like, I think back to I reached out to Dr. Fuhr
Dr. Chris Howson: at activator because he’s been here, he’s been at where I’m at, or he came up with something new that people had never seen it before and like, OK, so what is what is this thing do right now? I mean, now this stuff is out there so that you kind of broke the ground on this instrument assistance stuff so people automatically make that connection. But it’s just so it’s a matter of educating people into that. This is not something that you already have. And there I do have some video on there on my website where you can use this fast stretch technology. The technique, like I used to do by hand, just to see how well it works and how there is a place for it. And I go through and I there’s a whole webinar on there linked on the media page and it goes through the jaundice biggest muscles that are tend to be tight and short, and it goes through and shows how how to address them with a drop peace table or a tool board in your hands, and also with the with the Drop Release instrument. And you know, just I would say, if somebody is wondering about this, give that a whirl, you know, find your find your thing. I mean, you start checking shoulders and hips and you’re going to find it all the time. If you can get way to release somebody’s lats and some sharps and hip flexors, it can help a whole lot of people and help a a lot of people stay better. That is what I see.
Dr. Jeff Langmaid: Well, Chris, I really appreciate you taking the time and coming on to things to say to the docs out there watching and listening. Maybe three things actually. Number one is you’ve got to check out the page, even if you post a little inconsistently, your meme game is pretty strong at times. So check out the check. Check that out and check out Drop Release number two is if you are doing soft tissue currently, save your thumbs, your wrist, your arms. Get a tool to help you along the way so you can help more people over a longer period of time. And then the third part about it, Chris is offering our smart Chiropractor members a discount code. We’re going to drop that down below. This video is going to be out for a while, so I’m going to hold calling it out here. So look down below. Be sure to use that discount code. Thank you so much, Chris, for coming on and talking about what you’ve developed, and thanks for being a creator in the Chiropractic space. I think it’s fantastic.
Dr. Chris Howson: I got to throw in there too. I listening to that last podcast, I appreciate Jason quoting Hans and Franz in there. Hear me now, believe me later, you know that one.<
Dr. Jason Deitch: For now on this source. Yeah.
Dr. Chris Howson: I didn’t use the voice.
Dr. Jason Deitch: I didn’t either.
Dr. Chris Howson: It’s a lot. Right on. Thanks, Chris. You’re great. Thanks.