A few months ago, I was invited to work at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Not many chiropractors get the opportunity as you have to be a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) or higher and be accepted by the USOC. So, of course I eagerly accepted when they invited me to spend a week at the training center to work with the athletes on campus.
The Colorado Springs Training Center is home to many sports, but during my stay, athletes ranged from Men’s gymnastics, wrestling, shooting, bobsled, and modern pentathlon; just name a few. Myself, along with three other volunteers, were able to sit in on practices and then assist athletes in the beautiful Sports Medicine facility. The athletes have many professionals with different disciplines on-site from Chiropractors, Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers.
Outside of the Sports Medicine clinic was the strength and conditioning center. Here, you can find an indoor track, a turf hill at a 45 degree angle for hill repeats, weights, bikes, and pretty much every piece of training equipment one could desire. It was very cool to be able to spend my evening after work in the same gym that world class athletes train in!
I also got to dine with the athletes 3x a day. The food on hand for them is amazing, as one would expect. Above every option in the cafeteria was a breakdown of the nutritional value. Each athlete on campus has their diet evaluated and a plan for what to eat and when to eat it is also available for them.
Some athletes would be in the Sports Med clinic 2-3x a day; post warm up and after practices. The facilities included hot and cold tubs, a PT room, massage, diagnostic ultrasound, on-site pharmacy, compression therapy (such as Normatec), MRI, DEXA scan, steam rooms, and about 12 treatment tables.
Meeting the athletes was of course a highlight. I had the honor to hold a Paraolympic silver medal. The medal is much heavier than you’d think and the paraolympics medals are a bit different as they have brail and they also make different noises to tell visually impaired athletes which medal they have. The paraolympians were some of my favorites. It is always amazing to see people overcome adversity and achieve something that many of us can only imagine in our wildest dreams.
Athletes hailed from all over the USA. A Milwaukee athletes was even on campus. The stories about how they came into their sport and the ups and downs were very humbling. Some have been competing since they were children as where others may have just started training for their event or sport in the last 3 years or so. Their dedication was most inspiring. Some of the athletes I worked with have had broken wrists and ankles, yet pushed and persevered and have competed in two Olympic games.
Working with such well trained athletes was a joy. Unlike the rest of us who may be camped out in front of a computer for hours a day, for athletes, training is their job. The need to recover is just as important, but the time frame is expedited. The goal is to address a problem before it begins if at all possible. Beside adjustments, I preformed ART on every athlete I worked with which they seemed to greatly appreciate.
I hope to be able to find time in the future to volunteer my time for the USOC again. I had a great time and met some great people.