Tom Brady: Self-Defined

Among other things, Brady is the healthiest great champion the NFL has ever had, both physically and mentally...Make fun of Brady’s avocado ice cream if you want, but, on the cusp of 40, he has never looked or played better in his life, and he appears to have more years left in those strikingly limber arms and legs.
— Sally Jenkins, Washington Post

People find Tom Brady to be a total anomaly. He is still arguably the best quarterback in the game, but for nearly a decade now, the 39 year old, 5-time SuperBowl Champion has been out of his prime and has not utilized NFL doctors or trainers when he finds his body in pain. He also discovered as he was getting older that the foods he was eating made his body feel stiff inflamed. Weight-training began to hurt his joints and he found himself less flexible. So for the latter part of his active career, Brady has been using food as medicine, with a diet that consists of no dairy, white sugar, or white flour. He refuses to drink coffee and uses meditation and yoga to energize himself as well as to build flexibility. At the gym, Brady uses resistance bands and anti-gravity treadmills to improve flexibility and strength. 

At the beginning of each season, the Patriots run their players through a battery of strength, speed and agility testing similar to combine drills. The purpose is to measure how the players are declining. But the damndest thing is happening with Brady. In each of the past three years, he improved his test scores in every category
— Dan Pompei, Bleacher Report (2017)

Brady's off the field methods are uncommon, no doubt.  He also uses Far-Infrared technology and, "about 90 percent of his training is with resistance bands...much of it is high-rep. In the offseason, he trains with (his trainer Alex Guerrero) six days a week, sometimes twice a day. During the season, it's three times a day" (B/R 2017).  But what is interesting is that, at his age and current level of performance, his 'obscure' eating and training habits could be the best standard when it comes to treating inevitable pain for athletes.

 

Many athletes depend on opiates and other pain killers to help with pain, especially in the NFL. Rather than supplementing workouts and weight training with preventive efforts towards stress and inflammation by way of alternative methods, most players seem to deal with pain once it is already present.  This might work for a while, but once pain becomes chronic, which happens with age and inflammation, it is a lot easier to rely on prescription meds than it is to initiate preventative care measures.  This not only is doing a disservice to the body with side effects, but it can also lead to things like addiction.  NFL player Scott Fujita recalls receiving prescription painkillers four to five days a week while playing as well as Toradol whenever he had a game. In addition to this, Fujita states that only "about a third" of the pills he was given were noted in his medical records (Jenkins and Maese, 2014). According to the Food and Drug Administration guidelines, Toradol should not be used in any sort of ongoing way because its chronic use drastically increases the risks of heart disease, circulation issues and kidney problems. Fujita distinctly remembers that he was given Toradol once a week for nine years. 

I’m 39, and I never hurt,” Brady says. “My arm never hurts, and my body never hurts. I know how to take care of it. . . . Hopefully I can keep passing that message on to a lot of young athletes.
— Tom Brady, NFL Quarterback

With Tom Brady being the exception to the rule, we see a lot of similarities to his story in how people treat their mental health.  Drugs are a quick fix for things like depression and anxiety, and then they become easier than preventative care.  Alternative mental health care usually takes extra effort, but it very often produces better results than excessive medication regimes.  Hopefully people like Tom Brady will help us all to start recognizing the value of integrating alternative and preventative health with traditional treatment methods. 

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Sources:

Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved February 09, 2017, from http://www.ducksters.com/sports/tom_brady.php

Jenkins, S. (2017, February 6). Tom Brady rejected NFL's medical culture. At almost 40, he's never played better. Retrieved February 09, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/tom-brady-uses-the-game-of-football-instead-of-being-used-by-it/2017/02/06/0d63948c-ec94-11e6-b4ff-ac2cf509efe5_story.html?utm_term=.6f7329357954

Jenkins, S., & Maese, R. (2014, November 27). Two former NFL players describe loose prescription drug practices. Retrieved February 09, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/two-former-nfl-players-decribe-prescription-drug-practices/2014/11/27/6cfb8768-768c-11e4-bd1b-03009bd3e984_story.html?utm_term=.1ecc006e6e9c