Dr. Tyler Shippel, ND CISSN
A naturopathic doctor can play a central role in improving performance and preventing injury in athletic and active populations. To begin a journey to optimal performance, I like to group together 5 areas of focus.
- Sleep – often overlooked as an important factor in performance. When a group of scientists followed athletes over a period of one year, athletes who had on average 8 hours of sleep per night reduced their relative risk of injury by 60%! There are many different factors that contribute to sleep issues (..are you looking at your cat?). If we focus on areas in which we can control and provide the body what it needs, improvements can be seen and maintained in the long term.
- Nutrition – it is very difficult to come to the conclusion on your own of what diet is best. Many people I speak to have tried many diets and never really stick to one in the long term. I really don’t like using the word diet, since it implies something temporary. Coming up with a plan for optimizing nutrition in the long term will improve performance, prevent injury, support the immune system and reduce the time needed for recovery.
- Conditioning – most of this development is spent on the field, the ice or in the gym. If someone wants to get to the next level, correcting vitamin or mineral imbalances and providing evidence-based supplementation can help improve cardiovascular endurance and strength, and improve sport-specific performance. Getting that extra 5-10% can be the difference in winning a battle, or executing an important shot.
- Hydration – this is a big one. There are many people who stay on top of their hydration, but more often than not active populations, especially youth, are not consuming enough water or water-rich foods for their activity levels. Many athletes rely on the sense of thirst to begin drinking, but often this may be too late in a sporting event. Assessing hydration status is an important part of developing a plan to help meet performance goals.
- Mental preparedness – Helping manage stress and anxiety associated with performance are often overlooked in the athletic population. There is a lot going on inside the mind of an athlete. So much so, that it can be very overwhelming and may lead to other health concerns. Athletes may have digestive, skin, or other issues that can be associated with the mental health. It is important to find the root cause of these symptoms and help provide support where needed.
A large survey of collegiate athletes in the U.S found that only 9% of them had a good understanding of nutrition and hydration. This number should be so much higher! I hope to keep educating more and more athletes so that they have the necessary tools to help them throughout their life. If you are looking to improve your own performance, are at a plateau, or have kids in sport that need guidance, book your visit today!