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Tennis great Novak Djokovic detoxes with green algae smoothies, uses infrared “energy-emitting” devices to energise him during matches, indulges in chiropractic care, and visits the Pyramid of the Sun in Bosnia and Herzegovina regularly to harness its “healing energies.” Similarly, golfer Tiger Woods swears by his chiropractor for “adjusting his spine.” It’s tough to dispute the outcomes of it all. But clearly, Novak and Tiger are swayed by their ideas and beliefs, which are not backed by science and lack evidence. How can one overlook the potent psychobiological effects that underlie placebo? Confidence Professional golfer Hardik Chawda believes athletes should utilise every competitive advantage at their disposal, including the potential benefits of the placebo effect. “Confidence is crucial for delivering results, and even a perceived advantage can make a significant difference. I approach each opportunity with an open mind, giving various methods a chance to prove their worth,” he says. By setting quantifiable goals and measuring his progress, Hardik then determines if alternative therapies enhance his performance. “If they help me progress faster, I incorporate them into my training regimen,” says Hardik. Golfer Tiger Woods wrote on social media, “My chiropractor really helped me. Not only did he adjust my spine, he also gave me strengthening exercises to do. If you are tall and gangly, like I am, or play sports, I would recommend chiropractic care. It’s as important to my game as practicing my swing.” Play smart High-performance nutritionist Aradhana Sharma feels what is good for one may not be as good for others. In Novak’s case, of course, one can’t dispute the outcomes, she says. “A celebrity sportsperson promoting some device, alternative treatments, or diets has a direct impact on the psychology of athletes who follow their idols blindly. What we need to know is that just like one size does not fit all, one alternative health practice may not be suitable for all,” she cautions. Not A cure-all Dr Ishani Chaudhary, an orthopaedic surgeon and board member of the Surfing Federation of India, says a lot of athletes, as well as non-athletes, approach chiropractors and acupuncturists for acute and chronic pains and injuries. “However, these are not cure-all methods. They can lead to vastly variable results, including further injuries,” she warns. There is limited scientific evidence in the literature to quantify objectively to validate their subjective claims of benefits. “Without getting a thorough checkup from a qualified orthopaedic surgeon or physiotherapist, it may actually delay the proper diagnosis of aches and pains,” says Dr Ishani. Over-rely Athletes may over-rely on such modalities and actually ignore other aspects that contribute to their optimal year-round performance and recovery, she says. For budding athletes who regularly see their favourite or famous sportspersons getting a certain treatment modality done, they need to exercise caution. The Truth “Obviously, star elite athletes, especially people like Novak Djokovic, have access to some of the best chiropractors in the world, but an average athlete, perhaps who is training in Bangalore, Bombay, or Hyderabad, may not necessarily have access to a chiropractor who is used to dealing with elite-level performance and injuries.” She says the sports stars do end up doing particular things to enhance their performance by 5 percent or 10 percent , but the truth is that to get to that level of being the greatest, 90 percent of the work is done by consistent and programmed physical training, mental conditioning that is required for high performance, and nutrition. “Just because somebody else is resorting to something unique, it doesn’t necessarily make sense for people to follow them blindly,” she says. However, Steadfast Bodybuilding Athlete Arvind Soni says, “The concept of detoxifying, which frequently involves specific diets, supplements, or fasting, is popular among athletes looking to improve performance and recovery. However, empirical evidence for the effectiveness of detox programmes is sparse.” External detox treatments are largely unnecessary because the liver, kidneys, and skin detoxify the body naturally. “For athletes, focusing on a nutrient-dense diet, correct hydration, and adequate rest is more helpful for sustaining peak health and performance,” adds Arvind. Lifting weights and seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis have made me a better golfer. I’ve been going to chiropractors for as long as I can remember. It’s as important to my training as practicing my swing.” — Tiger Woods, a golfer, posted online Confidence is crucial for delivering results, and even a perceived advantage can make a significant difference. I approach each opportunity with an open mind,…

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