I don't think there are words to fully capture the time I have spent thus far at the Olympic Training Center. It has been one of the best experiences of my life, without a doubt. The environment here is intense and electric, everyday. Everyday is a day to be the best and everyone here, from staff to athletes is making that happen.
The injuries here are real and they are career-ending and life-changing. Yet these men and women who will represent our country in Rio, show the most class and respect of any athletes I have ever met. The best of the best are here and they expect no different treatment than those people who are just fighting to get onto the team. It is an environment like nowhere else. And it is awesome.
In my short stay I have seen more than I can ever possibly put into a short article. Athletes here have access to onsite MRI, x-ray and dexascan. When an injury happens here, we are fast to diagnose it and treat it, whether it requires surgery or rehab, it is dealt with swiftly and immediately. Life and career-changing decision and conversations are had on almost a daily basis. And it is our job as the sports medicine staff to minimize the conversations that alter lives and careers. We fix, to the best of our ability, what is broken and get them back out competing.
I have treated everything from a bloody nose to a spinal cord injury to surgery to overuse injuries. The sports medicine department works differently than in my practice. For those post-surgical patients and those who know they will require therapy, they will make appointments around intense practice schedules, nutritionists, psychologists, and lifting coaches. For those who do not know they will have pain that day or have any condition that requires regular rehab, they just show up and we see them as they come. And everyone waits their turn. There is no special treatment, no one is more special than the other. You walk in put your name on the list and we take you when we can get to you. And it is non-stop.
At our disposal is anything and everything that we could possibly want as providers. I do a lot of hands on work here, same as I do in my clinic. That is the same. The difference is there is no paperwork, no spending days fighting with insurance companies; you do what is best for the athlete, period. No questions, you do what you have to keep the athlete in competition. And that is not a directive from the coaches, that is a directive from the athletes themselves. Do what you have to do, you just keep me practicing and competing.
The athletes take everything very seriously from the practice, to the nutrition, to the rehab to the recovery. There is an entire room dedicated to recovery. Most people that I tell to foam roll as part of their recovery won't do that. They have a room full of foam rollers, game ready's and compression boots because recovery is just as important as training and they recognize this. Athletes spends hours a day just on recovery alone. One of the most popular rooms in the entire complex is the pool room. The rehab facility has a room with three pools, a rehab pool, a warm pool and a cold pool. Athletes find themselves in there on a regular basis. Whether it is nursing and injury or just achy muscles, the pools are always packed, especially at the end of the day, when training has been completed. While they are used for rehab, they are also used for recovery. Many athletes will hop in the rehab pool and then go into the cold pool to recover.
Another thing that you will find everywhere is nutrition information. There isn't a food that the cafeteria serves or a vending machine that doesn't have nutrition information. And not just calories but what food groups you are eating and drinking from. When you walk through the line at dinner, it is cafeteria style but as you move through the line you see signs that tell you how many proteins you should have and then each food that is served has listed how many proteins that is for the day, how many calories, etc. While no one is standing over an athlete watching them consume their meals, the athletes are constantly aware of every piece of food that they put into their bodies. And while McDonald's is a major sponsor of the Olympics, the only thing McDonald's that you find in the dining room and around campus, are cups that you can put your to go drinks in.
Everything here is meant to inspire the athletes. There are signs that hang everywhere with inspirational sayings. All the walk ways are lined with flags from different countries and inspirational sayings and posting about the different sports. And the athletes themselves exude inspiration. They have killer attitudes and nothing stands in their way. Many of them are months away from the moment they have been training for 4 years. They have moved away from their family; some athletes have been here as long as 8 or 9 years, just to have their one shot at Olympic gold and everyone here will tell you there are no guarantees. They are here fighting for something that on any given day, for no apparent reason can all end. There is no settling, there is no mediocre for these athletes. And I am fortunate enough to help them in their quest for greatness.
Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.