As we are in the thick of the NHL and NBA playoffs, there is no better time than to talk about some of the steps professional athletes take to ensure they are performing at their top level come playoff time.  A recent article from Business Insider outlined the steps and financial investment Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers takes to ensure his body is prepared for the NBA season and playoffs. From personal chefs, massage therapists, to even building a state of the art home training facility. It is no wonder Lebron has been able to stay relatively healthy at the age of 33 (15 NBA Seasons) while attempting to play in his 7th consecutive NBA Finals this season. There was also much made of Tom Brady of the New England Patriots having such a successful NFL season at the age of 40! His book “The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance” took the fitness and athletic field by storm last year, with its insights to his training and nutrition.

A way to look at the people that aid in the athlete’s pursuit of sporting success and career longevity is what is called an “Integrated Support Team”. Canada’s National ISTs were most recently on display during the Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang, South Korea and the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. ISTs can include the technical skill coaches, medical clinicians, Registered Dietitians, Sports Psychologists, Athletic Therapists, Strength and Conditioning Coaches as well as other areas. In the same way we go to the dentist, medical doctor and hair dresser, each IST Lead has their “wheel house”. However unlike in the previous example a Sport IST works together, often communicating multiple times a day and works with the athlete to put them in the best possible position to be successful come competition day or throughout the season.

I can already hear you saying that you’re not a professional or Olympic athlete and that those types of services or support systems are out of reach. You may be surprised to know that they are closer than you think. Although not really called a “IST”, if you see a Registered Massage Therapist, Chiropractor, Fitness Specialist or Physiotherapist, etc you can view them as your support team. They all play a specific role in the development of your health and wellness. If they communicate with each other or better yet work out of the same facility like here at Movement Performance Centre, they are a true Integrated Support Team.

Let’s put this into an example to illustrate how we at MPC work within the Integrated Support Team Model. “Jack” trains in our group training sessions 2x a week and plays golf. As the weather gets nicer “Jack” gets a few more rounds in each week. His next time in he lets us know he has injured his back. We would then set an assessment with our Physiotherapist – Brad. After that assessment Brad would chat with the Fitness Specialist running that group and set up a holistic treatment plan for “Jack”. “Jack” may need some modifications to his program, additional correctives in his movement preparation (warmup) or be pulled from the group setting all together. As his treatment plan changes “Jack” may need a few sessions with our Registered Massage Therapist or individual training sessions with a Fitness Specialist to ensure he is continuing to build back his strength and movements appropriately. The key is that the communication is always flowing and that everyone is bringing their knowledge to help “Jack” get back on the course as quickly as possible and lower the risk of re-injury. Once “Jack” is discharged from Brad it is back in to his training group and the MPC Staff will chat about what worked through his treatment (or what didn’t) so we are prepared for next time someone presents with a similar issue.

There are many facets to reaching your health and fitness goals, utilizing and aligning your support team can not only ensure nothing is getting missed up also help you recover from injury or reach your goals more efficiently. So the next time you see an amazing performance from a professional or Olympic athlete take a moment to appreciate the Integrated Support Team working behind the scenes.

Author: Jason Melhado