No matter how talented athletes are and how superhuman they may seem at times, they are at the end of the day, human, and therefore susceptible to injuries. But it’s their sports injury treatment that sometimes seems questionable. Here are a few of those quirky treatments:
After suffering a knee injury that left him in chronic pain and extreme inflammation, French soccer player Louis Saha was introduced to the world of leech therapy. When they bite, leeches release an anesthetic and anti-coagulant serum from their saliva that prevents swelling and blood clotting. However, leeches have to be left on their own so they can release the bite comfortably, instead of being forced which could result in the leech releasing bacteria. But Saha made a full recovery and stated that the swelling reduced too. While leech therapy isn’t a common treatment for injuries, it sometimes seems to make sense!
While ice baths are common for treating joint/muscle pains, submersing yourself in -200 to -300⁰F temperatures seems a bit extreme, but Floyd Mayweather and Michael Phelps seem to enjoy the human freezer treatment. The two-to-four-minute session is meant to help with persistent joint pain and sore muscles. Mayweather underwent cryotherapy in preparation for his 2015 fight against Manny Pacquiao, while Phelps tried cryotherapy as a way to relax his muscles and joints from swimming.
After suffering a brutal concussion that left him sidelined for over 10 months, hockey player Sidney Crosby turned to GyroStim as a coping mechanism. GyroStim is a mechanical chair that rotates in every direction imaginable and is a way to encourage balance and spatial orientation in the inner ear of the sensory system. This stimulation is meant to improve motor coordination and reduces the effects of headaches and fogginess associated with a concussion. This unorthodox treatment seems to have improved Crosby’s overall performance as he went on to being a nominee for best performing athlete. However, no official statement was released from Crosby regarding his rollercoaster ride.
2010 was a rough year for Essendon football player, Kyle Reimers after suffering a broken thumb during a match. The surgery required a metal plate and six screws to hold together the two halves of Reimers thumb. But to everyone’s amusement, Chinese hamster ovaries were an added ingredient to Reimers thumb repair. Hamster ovaries are a source of osteogenic protein-1 that aid and encourage faster bone growth. To Reimers’ delight, the surgery proved fruitful and allowed him to return to the field in a mere 4 weeks instead of the usual 6 weeks required for such an injury!
Cupping has been on the more common spectrum of sports injury treatments as many athletes swear by it. But fire cupping is a technique heavyweight boxer, Anthony Joshua, implemented before his 2017 fight. It involves an alcohol-soaked cotton ball that is set on fire, inserted in the suction cup and the cup is then placed on the skin. While fire cupping involves some risks and concerns, many athletes like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps indulge in the technique that leaves circular bruises all over the body.
While not all unorthodox treatments result in success, unlike the honorable mentions above, any amount of success is a win for athletes, as long as the pain goes away and the risks are not too great. The list of quirky treatments goes on! Of course, more conventional and proven sports injury treatment should also be undertaken to optimize recovery from a sports injury.