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Training & Recovery of the Bobsled Athlete Dr. Jason Ross DC CSCS Explores Innovative Performance Enhancing Techniques


B E


Towing Sled blends training with recovery


Foam roller, provides soft tissue relief


The sport of bobsled is a unique combination of strength and speed represented by the ability to power a sled down an icy track faster then your competitors. Strength, size and speed are the premium ingredients in any successful bobsled athlete. If an athlete has the speed of a top sprinter, the strength of an Olympic Weightlifter, the size of many NFL linebackers and enough daredevil attitude to propel themselves down a sled that can exceed 150 km/h, then they have the makings of a successful bobsled push athlete.


A typical race consists of two heats down the track. Most tracks are slightly over a mile. Often times when the ice chips have settled and the two heat times are added up, the difference between gold and an also ran, is less then a tenth of a second. That is less time then it takes one to snap ones fingers together. That small sliver of time is what these athletes are training and straining in the offseason to accomplish. To get .1 sec faster or stronger is the goal.


That small margin of error at the World Cup Level means that sport demands total physical health. Many sports, a small nagging injury can be hidden or played through. In bobsled, if one is not 100% healthy, that small hiccup will result in a loss. and recovery of the bobsled athlete of utmost importance.


First, the training. There is nothing magical in the training, just hard work. Day in and day out hard work. A typical workout throughout the week will include many heavy squats, short sprints, power cleans, hang cleans, front squats, more sprints, box jumps and yes, more sprints. Training volume will vary throughout the year, but there is one golden rule that never varies, the athlete that can recover faster wins. The athlete that recovers faster, can train more, training more means better improvement. Recovery is the key. Here are some recovery strategies for the bobsled athlete.


Nutrition and Hydration are essential. The stuff you put in the body will dictate the performance that comes out of the body. The first thing many athletes do is to buy gallons and gallons of water for the week of competition. Dehydration makes muscle strains more common. All athletes supplement with a whey protein powder shake after the day’s training. Protein helps the muscles recover faster and whey protein helps boost immunity. Just as a muscle strain can put an athlete on the sideline, a nasty cold can do just as much damage.


Chiropractic care has started to be utilized in the last four years and will continue to be a cornerstone for the recovery plan. The ability to keep the musculoskeletal system in alignment will help eliminate muscle imbalances that can develop from violently bouncing around in a steel tube. Most athletes are checked every day.


Soft tissue work is vital. All chiropractors that travel with the team are Active Release Technique(ART) providers. This soft tissue treatment works to break up any adhesions that may have developed in the muscle. Just as a joint can influence a muscle, a short stiff muscle can influence a joint. By treating both muscle and joint, the athlete is ensuring a healthier body.


This makes the training


Vonetta Flowers (left) and Spc. Jill Bakken power up in the push zone for their 80-mile-an- hour ride down the Winter Olympic bobsledding track. Bakken, the driver, and Flowers, the brakeman, won the first gold medal presented in Olympic women's bobsledding Feb. 19, 2002. Photo by Petty Officer 1st class Preston Keres, USN.


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