Through it all, one thing is absolutely certain – if not for chiropractic , I would not have won the gold!
Back pain didn’t stop me from winning the Olympic decathlon
With the Olympics going on, I thought I’d share a story with you from a great American Olympian, Dan O’Brian.
Check this out. You’ll like it.
“Joy and Redemption”
I have gone from the depths of despair and failure to the pinnacle of athletic and personal victory. It’s been a long, sometimes anguishing and much publicized journey. Through it all, one thing is absolutely certain – if not for chiropractic, I would not have won the gold!
In 1989, when I was in my senior year of college at the University of Idaho and competing at a national level in the Decathlon, I began having horrible back pain. I would wake up in the morning and hardly be able to get out of bed. I could stand up straight and I could bend straight over, but anything in-between was excruciating – it shot shocking, grabbing pain into my lower back and down through my hips. I went and saw the doctor, and he looked me over grimly. The doctor said, “You have two choices – you can either live with the pain, or you can quit.”
Quitting was not an option. I had worked and trained too long, and there was too much riding on my potential for me to give up. But it was brutally evident that I could not continue living with the kind of pain that I was in. So, I went and saw a chiropractor down in Lewiston, Idaho. After two or three treatments, to my delight and surprise, the pain went away. I had almost no symptoms. Sure, I’d wake up in the morning every now and then with some stiffness, but that was it. I went for treatment a half a dozen times, things felt fine, and I figured I was good to go. My rationale then was: “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
I trained hard for the next few years, and then I developed what felt like a really serious pulled groin in 1993. I had zinging pain all the way up into my abdomen too. My medical doctors could not figure out the problem – it was a mystery to everybody. Finally, I decided to go back to what had worked before: to see a chiropractor. Suffice to say that I was out of alignment!
I started getting regular chiropractic maintenance, and from that point on, there probably weren’t two weeks that went by that I did not have an adjustment. That’s how much it helped. I decided then not just to employ chiropractic care as a way of dealing with symptoms, but to make it an integral part of my training regimen. What chiropractic care gave me, more than anything else I have applied or integrated, is a much better awareness of my body. I started to understand and feel what was going on in my body – I knew when I needed an adjustment, and I began to develop a total trust and relationship with good chiropractors. They knew my body so well, they could adjust me in the dark.[Tweet “chiropractic gave me a better awareness of my body”]
I ended up taking chiropractic from a method of pain relief to a huge factor in enhancing my performance, chiropractic care became part of my lifestyle. It remains a part of my lifestyle to this day, and always will.
I can honestly say, in the last five years, it has remarkably improved my overall wellness. I hardly ever get sick, and I don’t get headaches. Chiropractic helps in injury prevention and dramatically improves recovery – which is crucial, because I’ve found that the body cannot heal itself if it’s not in alignment.
Two significant moments stand out in my mind that underscore the performance enhancing qualities of chiropractic. In 1998, I went to the Goodwill Games in New York with my chiropractor from Phoenix, Bob Xanthos. There, after a two year layoff, I would face the best from around the world. On the first day, during the shot put, I reared back and let the sixteen pound ball fly. I felt a nasty tweak in my hips, a real grabber. Intense nerve pain shot down through my hips and into my leg. I was devastated and feared that defending my World Champion status was in serious jeopardy. You are allowed just one medical personnel with you, and I had chosen Bob. He adjusted me right there on the field, literally moments before my next event. I high jumped seven feet that day, turning back the best in the world, and went on to win the Goodwill Games.
The highlight of my career came two years before at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. At that time, I was fortunate enough to have found, through the extensive chiropractic network, Rich Gorman from Eugene, Organ. I knew Rich from the Prefontaine meets. He had a reputation for his fantastic work with elite runners, and since we were both from Oregon, I felt a kinship. He was at the Atlanta Games working with other world class athletes, so I went and was him nearly every single day the week prior to my Olympic competition.
As the competition loomed, I knew I had some demons to exorcise. In 1992, four long troubling years before, I had failed to make my opening height in the pole vault and lost at the Olympic Trials in New Orleans. At the time, I was the number-one ranked decathlete in the world, was heavily favored to win the gold, and I was part of a massive Reebok media campaign: “Who is the World’s Greatest Athlete – Dan or Dave? To be settled in Barcelona…” Unfortunately, I couldn’t be on the track to settle that score – I was forced to watch from the sidelines as a commentator for NBC. It was pretty tough to take, watching someone who had never defeated me wearing that gold medal around his neck.
At the Atlanta Olympic Games, I wasn’t about to let that happen again. As prepared as I had ever been physically and mentally, completely aligned from my work with Rich Gorman, I took to the track entirely in tune with my body’s every nuance and fluctuation. I felt like a high-performance race car that had undergone total maintenance, and now it was race day. There was complete freedom and unrestricted movement, fluidity I had never experienced before, my legs, hips, torso all flowing in unison. The massive crowd made me nervous, but I had total confidence in my body’s ability to perform, to endure what I would put it through for the next two days.
When I stepped up to throw the javelin for the ninth event, I held a slight 150 point lead over the second place competitor. On my third and final attempt, needing my best ever, I started the rally clap to get myself and the crowd pumped. As the clapping echoed through the stadium, I charged down the runway and hurdled the javelin, exploding with my loudest yell ever. The spear seemed to fly forever in the dark summer night, and when it stuck in the turf the crowd erupted and my score flashed on the big screen: 219 feet, my personal best. I had put even more points between second place and myself. I raised my arms in triumph, knowing at that moment that I only needed to survive one last event: the grueling 1,500 meter run, and my Olympic dream would be realized.
Later that night I stood on the podium. The American flag rose and waved to the cheers of the packed stadium, and tears of joy and redemption rand down my checks as they hung that elusive gold medal, that Holy Grail, around my neck.
U.S. Olympic Decathlete Gold Medalist
As told to Buddy Levy
BY THE WAY Ashton Eaton has won the Decathon 3 times just recently in Brazil 2016
Dr. Justin Trosclair
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