May 4, 2023 Written By Dr. Nana-Adjoa Bourne, ND
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 5 reasons why a visit with a sports medicine focused Naturopath is worthwhile:
1. You’ve suffered from an injury or have a reoccurring pain/issue that crop up
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.
I will make sure your body is flush full of all the right nutrients, supplements, vitamins and mineral to speed up your recovery time! Reoccurring or nagging pain/injuries can also be a sign of underlying nutritional deficiencies (ie. iron, B12, vitamin D, magnesium). I can go order and review bloodwork to make sure everything is up to par! Did you also know “normal” levels for most people may not actually be quite adequate for athletes that are training heavily?
2. Preventing Game Day/Competition Day Fatigue & Burnout
Have you ever had those long tournament weekends where you are just drained after only the first event? Well, a sports medicine Naturopath 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 for that moment is a bonus of the sports medicine focus.
3. Optimize Your Sports Performance
This is the 2nd most common thing that’s thought about when you hear sports medicine, and this is where Naturopaths thrive. Our goal with all our patients is to make sure that you are not only “fine” with your 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 a Naturopath 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!!
4. Effective, Clean 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. A Naturopath 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, a 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.
5. Mitigate the negative effects of irregular habits due to practices/competitions/training
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 Naturopath 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!). I understand this and will do everything I can to make sure both your performance and health don’t suffer.
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 physiotherapists, 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, ND
“Taking dancers and athletes from overworked and underfueled to strong, confident, and injury free; making their performance feel as effortless as it looks.”
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.