Olympic-Sized Advice for Joint Health

skiing

Written by Bryan Fletcher 

Sponsored by USANA Health Sciences

All of my life, I have put my body through the ringer.

At a very young age, I fought and beat cancer. Immediately after that I started competing in the Nordic Combined, one of the hardest and most trying Olympic sports–combining the fast twitch, high impact and extremely technical demands of ski jumping with the endurance and power of cross-country. To make it to the top level in the sport, you have to utilize every bit of energy and strength your body can produce, which can take a huge toll on your joints.

In 2003 as a result of these high demands, I had double knee surgery to correct a total of 12 different problems. In 2010, just a month before the Vancouver Olympics, I suffered a high ankle sprain that kept me from competing. I faced the same ankle injury again in 2013 and early last year I fell on my knee during training, resulting in the removal of 70 ccs of fluid and a month of rehab.

While missing training is hard both mentally and physically, it’s even harder to get back into a routine with a joint you don’t fully trust and one that can’t support the demands you want to place on it. Even the smallest pain in a knee or elbow can prohibit one from performing at their best, and when you’re training for World Cups and the Olympics, it’s not an ideal situation to be in.

However, despite having to deal with these injuries I have to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things I was out of commission for a very small amount of time. I was able to rebound fairly quickly without any long-lasting effects because of how I took care of my body and nutrition needs. After each injury I was able to return to training, healthy and ready to give it my all.

The body is a resilient machine, but it can use some help. This is why I make sure to give my body the time it needs to recover between competitions and supply it with the right nutrients and supplements. I am a big believer that if you take care of your body, it will take care of you. My advice is to give your body the help it needs and take care of your joints if you want to perform at your best.

Get more information about the importance of joint health at www.usanahealth.net.

Bryan Fletcher Bio

Notables:

  • U.S. Ski Team Nordic Combined athlete
  • Cancer survivor
  • 2014 Olympian
  • 2013 World Championship medalist
  • 2012 winner of the “King’s Cup” at Holmenkollen World Cup in Oslo, Norway

Bryan has one of the more inspiring stories in skiing. Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 3 years old, he underwent chemotherapy for seven years, surviving a stroke before going into remission. The dust had barely settled before he went on a competitive tear, eventually vaulting into the world’s elite Nordic Combined athletes. The 2013 season proved to be a good one for Fletcher, who helped capture the USA’s first full-team Nordic Combined World Ski Championships medal in Val di Fiemme, Italy. In addition to his team bronze, his four top-10 finishes on the World Cup circuit were good enough for 21st in the FIS World Cup standings, the second highest finish for the U.S. behind brother Taylor. Sochi 2014 marked his first Olympic appearance where he placed sixth in the men’s team, 22nd in men’s large hill/10km individual, and 26th in men’s normal hill/10km individual.