There’s a constant strain put on the bodies of athletes. The intense pull on the muscles and joints as a weightlifter grasps the bar, plants their feet into the ground and lifts the weight – often heavier than themselves – high over their head, has a potential for injury each time.
It’s not easy on the body, and a Winter Springs chiropractor will be working hard to keep some of the most talented athletes in their field, the USA Olympic Weightlifting team, in perfect performance shape for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Dr. Matthew Herba's practice, Herba Family Chiropractic in Winter Springs, is part of an organization called Maximized Living. This organization has developed a Wellness Advisory Council, which serves as a network of chiropractors throughout the country who serve as the official chiropractic care givers for the USA Olympic Weightlifting, Wrestling, Judo and Sitting Volleyball teams. Their job is to offer the athletes chiropractic care and nutrition, exercise and mental wellness advice.
Herba said regular chiropractic adjustments help with balance and flexibility, and reduce injury and recovery time, as well as improve overall performance.
“When you free the body up to do what it’s supposed to do, it just works better,” he said.
The athletes have chiropractors in the network in their own hometowns, but only a few of the 185 certified doctors in the organization will get to travel to the Olympics and work with the athletes during the games. Herba will get to be one of about 12 to make the trip, and he will do it all for free, including paying all of his own traveling expenses.
“The honor of being with an Olympic athlete is payment enough for me,” he said.
Brad Bliven, director of special programs and the Wellness Advisory Council that works with the Olympians, said Herba’s enthusiasm for the program and commitment to learning made him an easy choice for the Olympics. Herba has gotten training, become certified as an Olympic coach and volunteers for every opportunity that arises.
“It takes a certain amount of dedication and want to be able to get to that level,” Bliven said.
While in London, Herba will make important little tweaks before the competition, using his expertise to fine tune the weightlifters’ bodies to help with their success. He said a little goes along way in this situation, and most of the athletes will receive more intense work after they go for the gold, and he joked, nearly pull their arms off in the meantime.
“They’re doing it because they want an edge,” he said.
Helping high school champs
When he isn’t traveling to take care of Olympians, Herba volunteers his skills for talented local athletes. He’s a partner with Winter Springs High School’s wrestling team, several teams for Seminole State College and Team Florida Orlando, a weightlifting club in East Orlando. For WSHS and Team Florida, he comes to one practice a week, and each interested athlete hops up on his table for an adjustment. It takes only a minute, but the teams’ coaches know that minute makes a big difference.
“It helps them feel revived,” WSHS wrestling coach, Scott Gomrad, said.
He said members of his team who start feeling tired and burned out by the end of a season filled with two practices a day and hours of getting pulled and twisted, feel refreshed after an adjustment. One member said his treatment from Herba helped him get back on the mat and ready to take on opponents without the worry of re-injuring his previously hurt neck.
“I’m not worried about getting hurt,”Austin Day, 15, said.
Tyrone Harvey, Team Florida’s coach, said the work Herba does gives his team better balance and evens out their lifting. After getting adjusted, his team said their weights actually seem lighter.
“It’s definitely a piece of the puzzle that’s helped the team be successful,” he said.
Herba loves to hear that the teams are feeling better with his care. Along with the adjustments, he offers the teams information about their nutrition and staying healthy overall. While not every athlete will be an Olympian, he wants all of them to take what they learn from competing and use it in life. He said he’s certainly learned a lot about dedication from the athletes he helps.
“We hope that they remain injury free, they glean from the principles that we’re teaching so that they become champions of their own life,” Herba said. “You don’t hang it up when you exit high school,”