STAYING INJURY FREE
Having looked after elite athletes for 35 years seen a who’s who of Australian Sport, I’ve had much experience keeping athletes both young and old injury free. When I say injury free it doesn’t mean that if you’re in a contact sport, get knocked around in the surf or get muscle or joint soreness playing your sport that you don’t get an injury; it means that you follow protocols that pick up these injuries quickly and correct them. In some cases, I identify an injury before the athlete is even aware of it, and most of the time they don’t need time off training or from competitions.
How is this done?
- It starts with having your body checked for balance in 4 dimensions.
- Having someone look at your skeletal balance from the front; you’re looking for level ears, shoulders and pelvis.
- Then check for balance from behind.
- Check for vertical balance looking at the athlete from the side; the ear should be directly above the shoulder which is directly above the hip and directly above the lateral ankle.
- Placing the heels on the skirting board that runs around your room. Check for rotation within the body. The chest should be parallel with the pelvis and both should be parallel with the wall.
Note: I’m happy to teach any coach, PT or health professional how to do this. Just call my office.
Correcting any imbalances requires skeletal body adjustments with your Chiropractor, Osteopath or Physiotherapist. If the body isn’t balancing this means something is being overlooked; except for shoulder levelling which can take time due to the muscular nature of the joint. With all health problems you have to find the cause. If your correction is just dealing with a symptom the skeletal misalignment will keep returning.
I check the balance of the skeletal structure before and after every treatment as this gives me immediate feed back about the success or otherwise of my treatment and I recommend all practitioner’s do the same.
Once balance is established and the breakdown pattern of the athlete is known (No one is perfectly balanced everyone has a weak side it is either left or right. As an athlete trains or competes in their sport they will come out of balance. He or she will generally follow their original/familiar breakdown pattern returning to the structural imbalance initially observed).
To keep an athlete injury-free you check them before and after training or competition for balance. Correcting any imbalances seen before symptoms begin. As an athlete gets fitter and fitter so they need to get healthier and imbalances or weaknesses previously not seen will become apparent. This is what the journey to better health and health habits, fitness and improving athletic performances is all about from the health professional’s point of view.
- The next step is to check the extremity joints for any imbalance and correct when required.
Really listen to your athletes.
Ask: How does is your body feel under the pressure of competition? If an athlete complains of a problem after 30 min of training or turning a certain way you may need to do a dynamic evaluation of them; this means check them over at rest correct what is necessary then have them perform whatever task creates the problem for 30 min etc then re-examine the body for any imbalances that becomes evident and correct.
- Diet plays a huge role over time in someone’s health. An athlete may get away with a poor diet for some time, but it will eventually catch up with them, this depend on their own constitution and genetic health. I recommend lots of fresh fruit and vegies, good quality meats, filtered water and lots of it (The chlorine in tap water is very bad for gut bacteria). I also recommend protein supplements.
The practice of drinking alcohol to celebrate or commiserate a result also needs to be challenged as alcohol affects the livers ability to detoxify the toxins created by physical exertion so delaying performance recovery.
Good water with electrolytes and minerals during an athletic endeavour is also required. Depending on the length of time the event goes over food maybe required.
The practice of recovery baths ice, hot baths etc also enhances recovery.
- Malabsorption: Most athletes with chronic injuries, persistent ligament problems (see my blogs on ligament weakness and stress fractures), recurrent dislocations or stress fractures have malabsorption issues. The biggest cause are hidden gluten and dairy intolerance, followed by body acidosis. Both of these need to be examined for and corrected as needed.
- Watch out for overtraining. This is where a skilled coach is required. Training isn’t as simple as putting someone into a training program and watching for results. No athlete is a machine so an awareness of when they’ve done enough for today and resting them is an important skill to develop. Young athletes that are growing, doing exams having family issues or are sick from the flu etc add to the requirement for rest. Rest is important.
- Supplements: The major supplement I give athletes is Magnesium as they are often deficient in this. Followed by Co Q10, minerals and Omega 3 or 6 oils. I keep away from herbal preparation as these may unknowingly contained banned substances.
- Help with developing the mental attitude of a champion. This is all about helping them:
- Focus on the process not on the result, as results are always out of present time.
- With the disappointment that results can bring as this is part of the athlete’s journey.
- Keeping the athlete goals realistic and have them focus on the small goals that lead, over time to bigger goals.
- Be relaxed with each competition. As competition always brings a feeling of stepping into the unknown. As regardless of training or previous results the result of your next event is unknown. Help them embrace the unknown.
This helps them compete stress free which helps with their health.
As a support person being a source of calmness, support and do whatever is needed to help out within the team.
Here’s to helping athletes become the best version of themselves by being INJURY FREE.
If you want any chiropractic help or advice talk to Dr Keith Maitland, I also specialise as a life coach so if you are looking for that mental support too, I am there to help you achieve your goals helping with both body and mind.
Visit Dr Keith Maitland on the Gold Coast for all your Chiropractic, applied Kinesiology, animal Chiropractic, and life coaching needs.