8 Reasons Why a Visit to a Sports Medicine Focused Naturopathic Doctor is Worth it…
When you hear someone talking about sports medicine, a naturopathic doctor (ND) might not be the first type of healthcare provider you think of. They might not even be the second. Sports medicine looks at both injury recovery and performance optimization for the athletic population. Whether you are an elite performer, a self-proclaimed “weekend warrior”, or just getting into physical activity for your general health, seeing a sports med doc gets you on track to know what your body needs and the best way to keep moving.
As an ND, I focus on holistic health, lifestyle management and “root cause” care – meaning, getting down to what’s really going on with your health. I love working with the body’s innate healing power and our natural environment to get people started on the right path to understanding what best fuels them and what they can do to keep performing at their best – on and off the field. I work with my patients to come up with the strategy we need to best support your health goals and provide that accountability along the way to help you stick to them, until they become the new habits that are best for your lifestyle.
So, when you combine those two together, you get a sports medicine naturopathic doctor – the strategist that works with you holistically to support you in your injury recovery and performance goals!
What a mouthful!
And you still might be on the fence, so…
Here are 8 reasons why a visit to a sports med focused ND is worthwhile
- Injury management
This is usually one of the first things that come to mind when you think about sports medicine. Understanding pain and managing chronic injuries is a big part of this discipline, and naturopathic doctors are here for it. Now, I can’t reset your leg after a break, but I will be there to make sure you keep as much muscle mass as possible for those 6 weeks you are in a cast, because nutrition and supplementation plays into this. Not only that, but your care after a concussion, an ACL tear or even around surgery can benefit from a naturopathic approach to make sure your body is ready to go as soon as the primary injury is healed. Having an ND and our holistic medical training helps to understand and see the entire injury recovery process – from start to finish.
- Acute Care
Have you ever had those long tournament weekends where you are just drained after only the first event? Well, a sports med ND can help with giving you tips and strategies to help you maintain your energy throughout the entire weekend. We are trained in multiple types of care that can support game day, from snack tips and meal timing to quick acupuncture or B12 injections that get your muscles awake again for the next event. This is of course not the long-term solution that the ND will work with you towards, but understanding when it’s necessary is a bonus of the sports medicine focus.
- Performance optimization
This is the 2nd most common thing that’s thought about when you hear sports medicine, and this is where NDs thrive. Our goal with all our patients is to make sure that they are not only “fine” with their health, but in OPTIMAL health. This includes optimal sports performance. Whether you are feeling sluggish at practice, or you’ve plateaued in your performance, an appointment with an ND can help you get to the root of this and support your recovery towards optimization. This goes beyond the basics of sports nutrition and wellness store supplements (although, all still discussed!). We go deeper and individualize your care to understand your specific needs based on your body’s chemistry and advanced testing so we know exactly what to recommend and how those recommendations will influence your performance. Talk about individualized care!!
- Medication alternatives
Not to say that medications don’t have their place, but some of them don’t have their place in sports performance, especially at the elite levels. An ND can look at the medications you are taking and help you determine what they are needed for and if they are safe for sport (i.e., will it flag you for performance enhancing drugs). With certain medications, natural alternative can be recommended. NDs also have access to resources that share whether a drug or supplement passes the NSF safe for sport specifications – meaning I can make sure all your recommended supplements are not only effective but allowed in a competition setting depending on your association’s rules and regulations.
- Getting started – best practices
Are you a young athlete looking to go pro? Then let’s get you on those healthy sustainable habits early! Coming to see an ND when you are first starting will make sure you have the health foundations down as you start to put in the extra hours of training for your sport. Ideally, we are making sure these habits are second nature and being developed as you enhance your skills as an athlete. Having these healthy foundations early will not only be beneficial for the athlete as they go pro, but it will also make sure that those habits stick as the stress of life and sport add up. Understanding the basics of your health will make you more aware of when something is wrong and give you the knowledge of who to seek out so you can decrease injury risk and keep going in sport as long as you want!
- Irregular habits due to sports (e.g., sleep, periods, eating/ digestion)
Like I mentioned above, being in sport can be stressful. If you aren’t careful, the schedules and pressure take a toll on the body, not only physically because of injury, but physiologically and mentally too – messing with your sleep habits, eating/ digestion patterns, hormone levels, etc. With an ND on your health team, these habits can be properly monitored, and support can be given to make sure these irregular patterns don’t cause long term consequences. Whether it is teaching you to correct the patterns or supporting you through them with additional treatments (because sometimes, you can’t stop that late night game from interrupting your sleep cycle!). A sports med ND will understand and do everything she can to make sure your performance and health doesn’t suffer.
- Lifestyle management with sport (e.g., meal timing, work-life balance)
This is a benefit at any stage of your life. Either just starting in sport, or getting ready to retire out of it, it’s a lifestyle adjustment and having an advisor that understands holistically what you’ve gone through is clutch! Remember, athletes can have all the same problems as non-athletes – digestion, overtired, mental health – the difference is that the athlete population has that specific goal in mind of optimal performance, and sometimes at any cost. Understanding this, I can tailor treatment plans to take care of the entire human while still making sure you can perform at your best.
- Transition out of sport
Not something many athletes think about (and I understand why!) but it’s something to consider. Moving from an intense training schedule to a more recreational life is a major transition, not only mentally, but physically as well. You need to be able to understand what this is going to mean for your body – re-training yourself how to eat or exercise, what is your normal in terms of body functions, and the list goes on. Not only that, but athletes tend to develop injuries, not only during their career, but new ones can develop, or chronic injuries flare-up post-career as well. Having a sports med ND can help make this transition easier by supporting you through it and giving you the education and strategies necessary to still continue taking care of your body as effectively as before.
The best thing is that working with an ND also allows for the space to collaborate and work with your physical medicine healthcare providers, like your physios, chiropractors, and athletic trainers, as you strategize and support your overall health. There is more to your injury recovery than the rehab exercises and strength training you’re prescribed; there is more to performance optimization than adding pre-workout and BCAAs. I’m here to help you think beyond the standard sports medicine/ injury recovery methods so you can know how to sustain your body past the injury or exhaustion and throughout your entire life.
– Dr. Nana-Adjoa Bourne, Naturopathic Doctor
Taking dancers and athletes from overworked and underfueled to strong, confident, and injury free; re-establishing your passion and retiring on your own terms.
Dr. Nana-Adjoa Bourne, ND is an Ontario registered naturopathic doctor focusing in sports medicine and pediatric care. She believes in her patients being empowered to take care of their health and emphasizes the basics in nutrition, stress management, and injury prevention in order to get them there. As a dancer and lifelong athlete, she understands and cares about sustaining a healthy lifestyle that can keep her body moving and performing optimally in whatever it does. With all her patients, she enjoys talking about the importance of gut health and its relationship with every aspect of the body, including hormones and mood while addressing the whole person on a holistic level.