Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chiropractic Road to the Olympics

North American DCs are poised to make their mark at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
By Caitlin Lukacs

If you’ve ever had an Olympic dream, you know about all of the hard work and training it takes to get to the Games. The same holds true for members of the medical staff. Olympic-caliber athletes need medical care in the unfortunate event of an injury, but they also need help pushing their bodies to perform at their maximum potential. Doctors of chiropractic who specialize in sports injuries and physical fitness are the ideal practitioners to provide that care, being uniquely equipped to handle both injury and recovery treatment, as well as to help athletes prepare for the competition. And the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) agrees.

Since the 1980 Games, when George Goodheart, DC, was selected to be Team USA’s chiropractor for the Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., DCs have been included on the U.S. Medical Team. In 2008, a record number of four chiropractors were sent to Beijing, China, with Team USA for the Summer Games. There were approximately 600 athletes to care for on the U.S. team. This winter, the USOC will take five DCs to Vancouver, Canada, for the 2010 Olympics. They’ll have about 200 athletic competitors to work with.

“Chiropractors have really come a long way in terms of the Olympic Games,” says Michael Reed, DC, MS, DACBSP, medical director for the USOC. “And the demands of athletes are one of the main reasons why.”

Simply put, elite athletes are asking for chiropractic treatment. Sports-focused DCs are able to treat pain and injury with spinal manipulation, but they are also trained in many other modalities that help athletes avoid injury and prepare their bodies for competition—including taping, icing and stretching, explains Dr. Reed. At the 2008 Summer Games, for example, the U.S. beach volleyball team requested that Ernest Ferrel, MA, DC, CCSP, serve as the medical staff member to accompany them to their matches.

Preparing for VancouverOne of the five DCs chosen by the USOC to work at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Blase Toto, DC, DACBSP, will be working at the medical clinic in the Olympic Village in Vancouver. The clinic will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. He’ll provide care for several different sports teams, including figure skating, hockey and curling, as well as for those athletes whose sport does not have a team chiropractor.

“These athletes are used to receiving chiropractic care at their home training centers because they know that it helps them to perform at their top level,” Dr. Toto says. “Since we’ll all be there for about a month, the athletes will need someone to continue their regular chiropractic routine.” In addition to maintenance and performance care, Dr. Toto will also be available for acute-injury treatment.

Richard Robinson, DC, CSCS, who practices in Calgary, Canada, will attend the Olympics with the Canadian team and work with the freestyle skiing, speed skating, women’s ice hockey and alpine ski teams. “I wasn’t hired by the Canadian team just to treat injuries,” he says. “I was hired because the team recognized the value in what I do to make them go faster and perform better. If we plan to treat injuries after they’ve happened, we’re already too late; we need to get to the Olympics performing our absolute best.”

Competition actually begins a week prior to the opening ceremonies, and Dr. Robinson will be moving into the Olympic Village in the first week of February. “I’ll spend time working in the clinic in the village, but I’ll also be onsite for every training session and competition for speed skating and freestyle skiing,” he says. Luckily, the speed skating events will take place in the mornings, while freestyle will be under the lights in the evenings.

Greg Uchacz, DC, FCCSS(C), CSCS, who practices in Calgary, Canada, will also be a part of the Canadian medical staff. He will focus on the bobsled and skeleton teams and was chosen because of athlete requests. He, too, will prepare the athletes, rather than just treat their injuries. “As DCs, we focus on ensuring that the athletes are performing to their optimum biomechanical function,” he explains. “If you think about athletes as racecars, we are essentially fine-tuning them all the way through training. I’ll be present at competition time, helping to make sure the athletes are in ideal condition by stimulating nervous system responses and stretching, among other things. I’m the last person they’ll interact with before stepping onto the course,” Dr. Uchacz continues.

According to Dr. Reed, each of the five DCs on the U.S. medical team will have slightly different responsibilities come February, but one thing they’ll have in common is competition preparation. Tetsuya Hasegawa, DC, MS, ATC, CSCS, will work with the bobsled and skeleton teams onsite at the sliding center and also out of the Olympic Village in Whistler. Eric St. Pierre, DC, DACBSP, CCSP, CSCS, who is employed by U.S. Speed Skating, will focus his attention on that team from the Olympic Village in Vancouver. Both Drs. Hasegawa and St. Pierre will be expected to care for any injuries, but their main focus will be stretching and other preparatory care—whatever it takes to have the athletes ready to compete.

Dr. Toto will work in the medical center in the Olympic Village in Vancouver and Josh Sandell, DC, DACBSP, CSCS, will be stationed at the performance service center in Whistler, doing recovery work for injured athletes. The fifth DC, Dr. Reed, is in charge of organizing the U.S. medical staff for the Games and providing care for the athletes in the Whistler Olympic Village. “It’s becoming more and more paperwork, but I’ll be available to jump in and treat athletes, if help is needed,” he says.

How They Got ThereAs an athlete, you can’t just sign up to compete at the Olympic Games. It takes years and years of training, and you must prove your skills at Olympic trials or team try-outs. The same holds true for doctors of chiropractic who want to work at the event. The road to the Olympics is a long one, and it often requires relationship building, as well as physical training.
To be considered for inclusion on the U.S. medical staff, DCs must first go through the USOC’s Sports Medicine Volunteer Program—a 15-day rotation at one of the U.S. Olympic Training Centers, in which they treat any athletes that need rehab or long-term care. (DCs can apply for a volunteer position by logging onto www.teamusa.org/medical.)

And it may take years before you get selected to work in an official capacity. Dr. Toto completed the volunteer program for the first time in 1995. In spring 2009, he was invited back to the training center in Colorado Springs. Shortly after he returned home, Dr. Toto received a letter stating that he had been selected to go to Vancouver for the Winter Games. “It had been a goal of mine for a long time, but I didn’t think it would ever happen because it had been 14 years since I’d first worked with the USOC,” Dr. Toto says. “I’m humbled and grateful and excited. I’ve never served in the military, so this is my opportunity to serve my country by caring for the best athletes it has to offer.”

For Dr. Robinson, it all started when he was a student at Palmer College of Chiropractic West. Having always been interested in sports, he worked with the faculty and students to start a sports chiropractic program and student sports council. After graduation, he returned home to Canada with the goal of working with athletes. “I was always looking for opportunities to get involved with sports, and I discovered that there really are a lot of ways to do that,” he says.
About 10 years ago, he started working with a trainer and a strength and conditioning coach who happened to treat elite freestyle skiers. The skiers had never had chiropractic care before, and they immediately noticed a big advantage to their bodies, particularly with the soft-tissue work Dr. Robinson was providing. Within six to nine months, Dr. Robinson was asked to travel with the freestyle ski team, and he began treating them at the national center for winter sports training in Calgary, where he was noticed by athletes from numerous other sports.

Eventually, Dr. Robinson became a contractor to the sports center, treating many of the national team members that came through. For the 2010 Olympics, those teams put in a referral for Dr. Robinson to join the Canadian team’s medical staff. “All of my opportunities have come from word-of-mouth endorsements from athletes,” he says.

Dr. Uchacz had a similar experience. When its time to select the medical staff for the Winter Games, all of the Canadian national organizations for the various sports put in applications for the practitioners that they want to be there. The bobsled and skeleton team requested Dr. Uchacz. That endorsement, along with his training and credentials, secured him a spot on the Canadian team’s staff.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Breast to Bowl: Introducing Baby's First Foods Part 2 of 2

In addition to grains, other protein foods for babies can be: cooked chickpeas or adzuki beans. Both are mild and are great finger foods... babies love to participate in the messy process of eating. Tofu, cut into tiny little chunks, sauteed in olive oil with a touch of tamari sauce is easy to prepare and fun for self-feeding. Brown rice miso soup is also a simple, very nutritious food with protein. Almond butter, cashew butter and sesame butter are terrific sources of protein. Peanut butter is the hardest to digest and most brands are filled with added oil and sugar. Additionally, peanuts are highly allergenic.

Sugar and artificial sweeteners are not good for your baby (soft drinks, cookies, candies, ice cream, etc.). Sugars will only increase your child's susceptibility to hyper activity, lower resistance levels (colds), or slow growth rates. Also, avoid honey as a sweetener before the age of one, it has been known to cause botulism. Natural maple, or brown rice syrups are safer and quite sweet. When using salt to enhance your cooking, sea salt or tamari sauce are much healthier than the table salt.

Also avoid all milk products including yogurt until after age one. (You may consider avoiding them altogether!) Dairy products are mucus producing. They often create allergic responses in babies. Additionally, they are also loaded with hormones and antibiotics, two ingredients your baby can do without. Rice milk, almond milk, and soymilk are much better substitutes (sometimes soy may cause an allergic response as can milk, so start slowly). If you are overly concerned about calcium intake, sesame butter is very high in its calcium content.

Keep in mind, jarred baby food as as good as junk food or fast food, so preparations from scratch are best. Baby food manufacturers make the food to please parents' tastes. Baby food has harmful chemicals like MSG (flavor enhancer). Baby food is 60% water. In meat products, it has five times the salt. Strained vegetables have 60 times the salt too. Your infant's taste buds are not developed until the eighth month. The baby food has only been created to meet your taste, not the nutritional needs of your baby. Remember, the baby food industry is the second largest food industry in the United States. Once your baby gets used to the whole eating adventure, you can get a little baby food grinder and start giving him or her what you eat.

Whether you are vegetarians or not, you may want to consider holding off serving meat until twelve months of age. It takes several days for the intestines to fully digest meat. With a newly functioning digestive system, this can be a stress overload. Also, the meat can be loaded with hormones and antibiotics (the harm may outweigh the benefit). Better sources of protein are available in may other foods. When you do introduce meats, organic meats are preferable, as these animals have been raised on organically grown grains without pesticides and additives. Typically, the animals are also hormone and antibiotic free. In the fish family, use a mild white fish. Shellfish is not as healthy and is known to cause allergic reactions. If you choose to introduce eggs, watch closely for signs of allergy as eggs are hyper allergenic. Children with egg allergies should not be given certain vaccinations (MMR is grown on egg culters).

Just because your child is beginning to eat solids is no reason to hurry the weaning process. The average weaning time around the world is at 3 years of age. If that seems too long to you, consider this; your child's immune system is under developed until 18 months of age. Mother's milk infers natural passive immunity, and contains all of the ingredients for the immune system of your child (B & T Lymphocytes, macrophages, lysosomes etc.). The baby can digest the protein in this milk. Also breast milk will cause the stool to have a unique enzyme that destroys the bacteria involved in diaper rash. In addition to the physiological benefits, nursing your baby provides an emotional bond that is beyond substitute.

Take your time introducing new foods and allow your baby to go at his/her own pace. Children have an innate sense for survival and if only good foods are introduced in their early years, they will soon be telling you what they need. Along with your choices for infant nutrition, keep in mind that the regular chiropractic adjustments remove interference to your child's vital nervous system and allow his/her body to function at its best. Follow your intuition as parents when making health choices for your children; often these insights are our most valueable resource for well-being.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Breast to Bowl: Introducing Baby's First Foods part # 1 of 2

By: Jeanne Ohm, D.C., F.I.C.P.A.Originally Printed in: I.C.P.A. Newsletter July/August 2000
The introduction of certain foods at certain times is relative to the maturity of the digestive system. Children less than six months need only breast milk, not solids, as the infant's digestive system is not developed to maturation. If you start sooner, you may cause your child future food allergies. Since your child's taste buds will not develop until the eighth month, the feeding of your baby should be guided for nutritional purposes, not taste.At six months of age fruits and vegetables are the best to start with. Fruits are a cleansing food, vegetables a body builder. Each should be introduced slowly, one at a time and for several days to see how the baby responds to each new food and to allow the baby's digestive system to adapt. Avoid berries as they may create an allergic response in some infants. Peaches, apples, pears cooked and mashed into sauces are great. Citrus fruits can be introduced at a later time.
Bananas are very nutritious although they may be a bit binding; so do not panic if your baby's bowel movements slow down for a day or so. Melons are a great raw fruit because they are watery and easy to mush in the mouth. Very ripe mangoes are also a soft starter for toothless chewing. One other note on fruits: it is best not to eat fruits within a half hour of eating any other foods at any age, as they digest quickly and will not allow the other food to be properly assimilated.
The easiest vegetables to start with are: steamed carrots, zucchini, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas and other easily softened veggies. Again, introduce items separately, giving a few days for your baby to become accustomed to each food. Vegetable juices, especially freshly juiced carrots are wonderful starter foods for your baby. Juicing is also a good way to get fresh, raw greens into your baby. All juices should be cut with distilled water or water purified by reverse osmosis purified water. Other bottled water may contain chlorine or fluoride; both are known toxins.Introduce fruit juices with caution. The juice should be diluted: one-third juice, two-thirds water; the type mentioned above. Remember that a high content of fructose (natural sugar) may be too much of an over load for your child's system. Any fruit juices should be of the type found in natural food stores because they are not from concentrate. Concentrated juices have high sugar content and are a known cause of candidias (yeast infection) in children. Another great drink for children is herbed tea. Served with natural sweeteners (see below) and at room temperature, they are refreshing and tasty.
Grains are not advisable until your baby has teeth. At the same age babies get their teeth they start to secrete salivary amylase (ptyalin), which is essential for digesting carbohydrates. Before that, children can have problems digesting carbohydrates, thus they become 'gassy'. The food goes into the intestine, where it ferments and putrifacts. Of course when grains are introduced they should be whole grains like brown rice, barley, oats and millet. An easy preparation is to blend the raw grain into tiny bits and then cook it, usually two parts water to one part grain. It makes for a wholesome cream of rice type of meal.
Avoid wheat right away, as many children are sensitive to it. Do not feed your child white flour products. White flour (bread, pasta) has gone through a bleaching process, which leaves little to no nutritional value in the product. Pastas are mostly made from processed wheat flour and tend to clog the bowels. When you start with "bread" products, sprouted breads are much healthier than traditional flour breads. A great whole grain snack is rice-cakes.

Check back next Tuesday for part 2 of this article...