Olympian gives tips on care of joints
Medalist Bryan Clay urges conferees to listen to their bodies
As he prepared remarks for a meeting on arthritis, decathlon champion Bryan Clay said he asked himself what he has in common with people who have that disease.
"Even though I'm what people call a 'world-class athlete,' I have to do all the same things doctors are talking about (to prevent and treat joint pain)," Clay said in his talk, titled "Road to Gold: Staying Healthy," to about 700 people at the "Getting a Grip on Arthritis" meeting last weekend at the Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki Hotel.
"I wake up every morning feeling like I have arthritis -- my body does not work," said Clay, 25.
The 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the decathlon and gold medalist at the 2005 World Championships of Track and Field said he must maintain an active lifestyle, eat healthy, warm up, stretch and do weight training to stay fit.
He advised those at the conference, sponsored by Straub Medial Center's Bone & Joint Center and the Straub Foundation, to be aware of their bodies, to learn about prevention and treatments and when to stop or push their bodies.
For example, he said that in 2001 when he was in Paris for the world championships, he was training every day, including aqua jogging, bike riding, weight training, stretching and warm-ups.
He said he was in the best shape of his life, then four days before the meet he had a sore hamstring, sore knees and his lower back hurt. He wanted to stop training, but his coach persuaded him to do the hurdles one more time, he said. "Why didn't I listen to my body?" he asked.
He had a 3-centimeter tear in his hamstring and the USA team doctor told him there was no way he could compete, he said. He went to another doctor, who treated him aggressively with icing and acupuncture, he said. He began jogging a little and in four days was able to run with no pain.
Clay encouraged the conferees to use as many prevention techniques as possible, learn what their body is trying to tell them and get treatment right away for any pain or injuries. "You too can be on the way to gold, whether you're 5 or 65," he added.
More than 66 million Americans, including an estimated 189,000 Hawaii residents, are affected by arthritis or a related disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
"It is important that people, from athletes to seniors, educate themselves on the nonsurgical and surgical treatment options available to treat arthritis and chronic joint pain," said Dr. Michael Reyes, Straub orthopedic surgeon and chairman of the meeting.
Sharing their expertise on prevention and treatment of arthritis were Straub Drs. Alberto Santos-Ocampo, Cedric Akau, Edward Weldon III, Cass Nakasone, Spencer K.Y. Chang and Reyes.
They described options for pain relief, from prescription medicines and alternative therapies such as glucosamine-chondritin, to surgery, including a new minimally invasive procedure at Straub for hip and knee replacements with small incisions.
All the doctors emphasized the importance of losing excessive weight and remaining active to reduce pain and maintain flexibility and range of motion.