Mental & Physical Secrets
of Extreme Athletes

Reporter: Joe Ross / Producer: Marco Shinn

This new breed of athletes are breaking new ground in positive ways both mentally and physically. Their way of life teaches fear management skills, develops a sense of humility and vastly improves self-confidence. 

CR News Extreme Athlete Report Conclusion:

Many of us ridicule extreme athletes for unhealthy extreme training.

The athletes in this CR News report are performing superhuman feats, but they do it with a balance between training, competing and resting. These thriving athletes take breaks in between events and training. They are supported by nutritional regimens that are adapted to their events and to their periods of rest.

This new breed of athletes is breaking new ground in positive ways both mentally and physically.

The Psychology

Dr. Eddie O’Connor is a clinical and sport psychologist and public speaker based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a Fellow, a Certified Mental Performance Consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, and a member of the United States Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Registry.

The Spinal/Limb Alignment

Dr. Kirby Perrault of Okemos Michigan explains why explains why extreme athletes are under chiropractic care to improve their performance and event-recovery.Dr. Kirby Perrault of Okemos Michigan explains why explains why extreme athletes are under chiropractic care to improve their performance and event-recovery.

The Nutrition

Mark Thiesmeyer-Hook has a master’s in kinesiology from the University of Michigan and a master’s in public health from the University of Michigan. He owns and manages Better Living Fitness, which combines expert fitness training with nutritional guidance. 

Endurance Training: Is It Bad for You?

National Library of Medicine
Endurance exercise training exerts many positive effects on health, including improved metabolism, reduction of cardiovascular risk, and reduced all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Intense endurance exercise causes mild epithelial injury and inflammation in the airways, but does not appear to exert detrimental effects on respiratory health or bronchial reactivity in recreational/non-elite athletes. Conversely, elite athletes of both summer and winter sports show increased susceptibility to development of asthma, possibly related to environmental exposures to allergens or poor conditioning of inspired air so that a distinct phenotype of “sports asthma” has been proposed to characterize such athletes, who more often practice aquatic and winter sports. Overall, endurance training is good for health but may become deleterious when performed at high intensity or volume.

Extreme Athletes’ Deep Connections with Nature

Frontiers in Psychology
Recent research shows that while this is the case for some high-risk sport participants, other additional behavioral and motivational benefits may be derived from the exhilaration of the extreme sport challenge. Preliminary evidence suggests that in some extreme sports, emotional experiences of nature constitute a compelling component of the overall sporting experience. For instance, interviews with extreme sport participants suggested the athletes cultivate feelings of connection to the natural world

Paul Templer has not stopped competing, even after having his arm bitten off in a wild animal attack during an African Safari. This superhuman runs consecutive, multi-day marathons in the Sahara Desert. “These events have allowed me to meet myself and see my limitations. I’ve also learned to stroll right past those limitations,” said Templer. He is an author, public speaker and entrepreneur.

Duration of Training is Key in Extreme Athlete Health

Cardiovascular Medicine, William Beaumont Hospital, Michigan
High-volume and/or high-intensity long-term exercise training may lead to problems according to some cardiovascular experts.

Recent studies demonstrated that extreme volumes and/or intensities of long term exercise training are associated with several possible cardiac maladaptations.

  • First, some epidemiological studies have reported an increased risk for adverse cardiovascular outcomes at the upper end of the physical activity spectrum. Nevertheless, there is no clear threshold for an upper limit of the exercise-induced health benefits.
  • Second, the most active older athletes often demonstrate a higher coronary artery calcification score, but atherosclerotic plaques are more likely calcified, which reduces the risk of plaque rupture. The associated cardiovascular risk implications of these observations are currently unknown.
  • Third, elevations of biomarkers for cardiomyocyte damage and myocardial fibrosis are common following intense exercise but normalize soon after exercise cessation.

Benefits of Endurance Running

Dr. Beth McQuiston, Abbott’s medical director
Done right (with adequate nutrient intake, attentive recovery and any necessary medical clearance), endurance running has the potential to change your mind and body from the cell level up, making your heart function better, transforming your muscles and improving your memory. Endurance running can:

  1. 1. Strengthen your heart
  2. Develop fatigue-resistant muscles
  3. Build healthy joints
  4. Improve memory and mood
  5. Accelerate your metabolism

“As we become more active and our fitness improves, a metabolic shift takes place. Optimally, metabolically active lean tissue replaces excess fat tissue, leading to improvements in health, performance, and metabolic burn,” Nisevich Bede said. “You see this metabolic shift happen in runners and often in marathoners in the lead up to race day.”

Elite Young Athletes: Strategies to Ensure Physical and Emotional Health

Department of Kinesiology and Public Health Education, University of North Dakota There are presently no studies designed to determine the effectiveness of injury prevention measures in elite youth sports. However, there is adequate evidence arising from injury prevention studies of youth sports participants (including neuromuscular training, protective equipment, mental training to enhance self-esteem, and sport rules modification) to prevent injuries in elite youth sports settings.

Jennifer Bruns bounds over extremes in life and in sports. As a medical social worker, she sees the negative health effects of inactivity. Even with a spinal condition, she blazes 100-mile trail marathons. “Walking and running accelerates my health and happiness,” said Bruns.

Joe Ross is a reporter at CR News

CR News broadcasts on social media channels covering complex issues and under reported stories. We focus on Michigan and Midwest topics.

Why Chiropractic Care?
In addition to helping reduce back and neck pain, research shows chiropractic is beneficial in reducing headaches and digestive issues, while also improving immune function.
Faster injury recovery
Studies have linked chiropractic care with faster healing.
Injury prevention
If the musculoskeletal (bones and tissue) system is out of alignment, due to overtraining for instance, it can create tension in one area of the body. And if this tension is able to persist, a sprain, strain, or other similar injury can result.
Improved strength
Chiropractic care athletes improves strength. A study involving elite Taekwondo athletes received one session of care and the resulted in increased muscle strength when compared to a control group. 
Increased flexibility
“All athletes can benefit from performance flexibility” according to the United States Sports Academy. Greater flexibility offers greater injury protection and improved sports performance. 

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