Caring for the Best of the Best
Caring for the Best of the Best
Today’s Chiropractic Leadership is pleased to feature Celeste Gabai, D.C., A.T.C., for her successful participation in the integration of chiropractic as an essential component of elite athlete care and performance. She serves the highest expression of athletic performance in the world, the Olympics, as a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
TCL: What are you doing in connection with high performance athletes (Olympics, professional sports, etc.)?
Gabai: I am currently a full-time employee of the United States Olympic USOC based out of the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center with an assignment as part of the medical staff traveling to Rio to care for the United States Olympic Team.
TCL: How did you get tapped to provide care for these high performance athletes?
Gabai: My path started in 2010 when I became part of the USOC Sports Medicine Fellowship program, as a dual credentialed provider (DC, ATC). That one-year position became one-and-a-half years until I was offered a full-time position as High Performance Health Care Service Provider. My Olympic journey started with working world cup events in New York and then internationally in Austria, Germany and Sweden. I also previously served as a medical provider at world championships, World University Games, Olympic and Paralympic team processing, Pan American Games and the Youth Olympic Games.
TCL: How is chiropractic care in the high performance sports setting different from care in other settings?
Gabai: Elite athletes are unique in that most are educated as to exactly what they need their body to do and how to train it to do it. They have spent years training into periodization and can predict their workouts by working backward from the time of competition, so they know what they need. They are also in a world where they have a support staff of nutritionists, psychologists, personal strength coaches, sports coaches, technique coaches and a diverse medical staff, so they know whom to ask. All of this comes in to play when working with elite athletes. It is important to determine the best treatment at the best time for the best result.
TCL: How much of your work with athletes at this level is adjusting vs. other modalities?
Gabai: To be honest, “it depends”…on the sport, what season it is, what season they compete during, where they are in their training program, other treatments they have planned for the week, and when their next competition is. In the sports medicine world, it is not always necessary to separate adjusting vs. everything else. But all of it comes together to play a role in the athlete’s health and performance.
TCL: Finally, if chiropractors continue to contribute to high-level athletic performance in measurable ways, what will it do for the profession?
Gabai: I think that the public awareness of who chiropractors are and what they can do to benefit performance is increasing as the result of the tireless work by sports chiropractors around the world. There are so many opportunities to reach out and be a part of athletic performance from the peewee, high school, college, professional ranks and beyond. Sports medicine is a dynamic concept that involves a wide range of specialized providers coming together for the benefit of the athlete. It is this multidisciplinary approach that will continue to help elite athletes perform at the top of their game.
Athletic participation can be a lifelong endeavor with the proper care and facilitating the “lifelong” aspect is an effect every chiropractor can understand, not just to keeping patients pain free. Chiropractic care can help athletes – or anyone – to transition to peak performance and also be a lifelong mechanism for health and wellness.