Monday, April 30, 2018

Secrets Behind The Elite Athletes Longevity

Taken with my Iphone 7 from today's Straits Times
Roger Federer is turning 37 later this year, and just recently lost his number 1 world ranking to 32 year old Rafael Nadal. Rafa just won the 2018 Barcelona Open for the 11th time in his career. This after after he won his 11th Monte Carlo title last weekend.

Other than the two of them, Lebron James, Serena Williams, Tom Brady and Shalane Flanagan are way past 30 and instead of slowing down, they somehow seem to be able to stave off physical decline and somehow even get better. I remember meeting Dara Torres at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, she was 41 then and won three silver medals at the games.

Ever wonder how they do it? Or better still, what can the rest of us learn from the cutting edge techniques they are employing or simply knowing about what exists.

There are new testing services run by industries that claim to be able to pinpoint what food the athletes should avoid, sophisticated training methods, guarding against injuries and of course new recovery technologies.  Let me run through some of the companies behind the elite athletes' sporting longevity.

Lots of NBA players look for Dr Marcus Elliot at P3 in Santa Barbara, California. Dr Marcus Elliot uses 3-D motion analysis and force plates to analyse movements to detect signs of old injuries that cause musculoskeletal problems and limit explosiveness.

At Causeanta Wellness in Scottsdale, Arizona, extensive blood testing is done to detect food allergies or toxin exposures that can affect performance. This is to examine each patient/ athlete at cellular and molecular level before their treatment begins.

At Athletigen, DNA analysis are specifically offered to athletes to offer personalised training and nutritional recommendations to help them perform better and avoid injuries.

For specific improvements in training, Daniel Chao from San Francisco based Halo Neuroscience has developed a headset using transcranial direct current stimulation (zapping your brain with electricity) to stimulate the motor cortex (the part in the brain responsible for muscle movement).

This is suppose to accelerate training gains in endurance events (swimming, running and cycling), power (bench press, squat and vertical jump) and skill (playing an instrument, golf swing and target accuracy).

Outside the sporting world, high performers at Facebook and the US Navy Seals use Halo Neuroscience too.

Over in Melbourne, Australia Catapult Sports is a listed company (on the Australian stock exchange) that provides performance technology to over a thousand teams across 35 sports worldwide. The company builds and improves athletes' and teams performances, optimising standard of play, mitigating the risk of injury and quantifying the return to sports after injury.

Their marquee product is the OptimEye S5, a GNSS-enabled monitor that access both GPS and GLONASS staellites, sourcing real-time data and sports specific insights to avoid fatigue build up. It can measure how far the players ran, their training loads, speed, change of acceleration and much much more. The Golden States Warriors are currently using it.

In order to know when athletes are ready to train again, Helsinki based Omegawave measures electrical activity in the heart and brain to gauge levels in the autonomic and central nervous systems.

Well, now you know where to look if you have the spending power.

My competing days are way past me and I'm not gonna drop thousands of dollars on blood tests or use a home cryo chamber (by Jonas Kuehne from Cryohealthcare) to achieve better peak performance. Going to bed at 8 pm with my boys and sleeping more in a dark room with my phone turned off works well for me.


Bercovici J (2018). Play On: The New Science Of Elite Performance At Any Age. You can find it on Amazon where else.

Picture from Bathroomreader

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