The Front Lines of This Year’s Winter Olympics

The wait is almost over!!!

This Friday, the world’s top winter athletes will compete for coveted Olympic medals in 102 snowy sports.

Fun fact: 2018 is the first time the Olympics have surpassed 100 events. These elite athletes have prepared their entire lives for the chance to compete on the highest stage. To reach this level the athletes must fine-tune their training program, nutritional plan and lifestyle to give themselves the sharpest competitive edge. A huge component is maintaining their bodies in top shape and healing athletic injuries. Athletes at this level have a team of healthcare providers who are responsible for keeping their bodies in the best physical condition possible. Physical therapists and athletic trainers are the front line of this team and interact with the athletes daily.

As a PT, one of my favorite things to do is watch the incredible body mechanics of these athletes. What is near impossible for the rest of us to perform, these athletes perform almost flawlessly. As in all movements, a well-tuned body will be able to create muscle activity and bone motion that is translated into “beauty” (ice dancing) or “speed” (luge) or “agility” (ariel freestyle skiing). The different body types obviously also help create the ideal motion sequence for that sport. What a great celebration of diversity in bodies (though not necessarily diverse in the countries represented!)

The other thing I find impressive is that even at the top levels at the Olympic finals, there are such distinct movement variations and style variations within the same movement. Take figure skating for example. Some skaters can spin more effectively and faster than others while some of the athletes excel at the jump height. Both are performing the same trick, but the smoothness and coordination of one athlete differs even at the highest level from the second-place winner.

Like high-performance race cars, bodies need lots of care and attention to ensure that they are functioning optimally. This may be prepping the athlete for competition, treating a previous injury that an athlete is working through or assessing a new injury the athlete sustained.

While most people are not racing down near vertical mountain slopes at Olympic speeds, similar concepts can be applied to weekend warriors and desk jockeys. If your body is not prepared properly to complete those weekend runs or to knock out the long hours to finish the work project, breakdown and pain can occur. Luckily, with appropriate attention, many of these problems can be avoided.

Authored by Dr. Robert ‘Kit’ Durban PT, DPT, ATCApril Oury Founder, PT MS, IOC, CFMT, FAAOMPT, Women’s Health Specialist

Don’t forget to check out our InstagramFacebook, and Podcasts for more great information and be on the lookout for our Exercise of the Week: Olympics Editon coming at you this Friday for opening day.