Dr. Jason Ross, D.C. ARTC.S.C.S. is a Doctor of Chiropractic and Strength and Conditioning Coach. Dr. Ross runs Train Out Pain Chiropractic in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the official chiropractor for the United States Bobsled team. In fact, he was himself a two-time member of the US Bobsled team as a push athlete.
Dr. Ross trains and treats a variety of athletes from recreational to professional and we caught up with him to talk training, injury prevention and a whole lot more.
Two twists of fate landed Jason Ross as a chiropractor in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The first: He got a scholarship to play rugby, a sport he loved more than football. Two shoulder dislocations and a two grade 3 A/C join tears later, his second twist of fate arrived in rehab: his doctor said he’d make a great bobsled push athlete.
Six months later, he performed well at the combines and made the U.S. National World Cup bobsled team – and graduated from chiropractic school. After competing for a few years, he retired and started practicing chiropractic medicine full-time. A year later, he was back on the team, but this time as its chiropractor and strength coach. He traveled with the team for four years. In 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, their teams won gold in the four-man, and the women won bronze.
How has your approach to training changed over the years?
I place less importance on the numbers. If you lift 30 more pounds on your squat it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re improving. I’ve also changed my stance on good/bad exercises and the cost/benefit. I ask myself, is this worth it for this athlete?
Do the athletes you work with have any misconceptions about strength training when you start working with them? Do their views change after working with you? If so, how?
A few misconceptions that are still around:
- That strength training will make them bigger
- That strength training will take away from their sport
- Not lifting because you’re tired and sore
- Lifting during race week
Guess what? When done right, lifting will help your race! Athletes also realize that they feel better after lifting. Lifting should complement all phases of your sport, offseason, preseason, race prep and recovery.
What is the easiest thing to correct? The hardest?
The easiest thing to correct is lift technique. And even getting someone stronger. The hardest thing: convincing an athlete they don’t have to feel crushed or wore out or dripping in sweat to have accomplished some quality training.
What are one or two main things athletes can do to help prevent injuries?
The biggest injury prevention tip: sleep. More research is proving this. Quality nutrition also helps. If these two aren’t covered, you’re wasting your time and kidding yourself on improving or taking your sport seriously.
What are the biggest challenges facing athletes in sport?
At the amateur level, the biggest challenge is how to pursue your sport at the highest level and still balance family and work. Most mountain bikers, runners and triathletes aren’t fully sponsored athletes. What they do to balance all aspects of their lives is more impressive than a full-time professional. They’ll tell you how hard it was to get where they are.
How important is the psychological/mental side of training?
The mental side of training is what separates the top 1 percent from the rest. There are some people who just don’t quit. They have GRIT. They don’t care they got four flats – it doesn’t derail them. They just keep competing. At the end of the day, everyone you see on a podium is mentally fit. The ones you don’t see on the podium may have more talent, but they pull back or lose focus. They can’t pull themselves out of a setback.
How important is recovery for an athlete? Do you have any good at-home strategies to help athletes recover faster and better?
Recovery is the cornerstone of training. Some recovery techniques:
- Sleep – it’s crucial and even quick naps on a consistent basis help
- Foam rolling – try it for five minutes after workouts and before bed
- Low level aerobic work (heart rate under 110) – a great movement practice after hard workouts
- And I’m biased, but I think everyone should see a chiropractor at least monthly for joint health checks
Do athletes come to you with an understanding of gut health?
Gut health is becoming more prevalent. The elite level has known about the health benefits of good gut health for a while, but I think the everyday athlete is just starting to see it. People are realizing the importance of absorbing nutrients and producing neurotransmitters – and the affects it has on personality and the desire to train.
Also, no one can train on an irritated bowel! Athletes are surprised when I tell them how much our guts impact the entire body.
Everyone I work with who’s been taking Sound for a few months has commented that they have more energy, feel more robust, and had fewer viral infections. And those who’ve gotten a cold recover faster.
How do you teach your athletes about gut health?
I teach through example. I constantly talk about recovery and nutrition’s impact. But even great nutrition that isn’t absorbed isn’t great nutrition.
What trends in fitness / training are you paying attention to?
A few I’m watching now:
- What elite athletes are doing and their trickledown affect
- Melatonin – is it the new vitamin D?
- Optimizing brain health, including techniques like HALO
- Breath work, like CO2 use, breath hold and maximizing Anion gap
- Sauna for heat shock protein
- Cold exposure for brown fat optimization
And, according to your site you like espresso, playing with your dog and reading. What’s your favorite espresso? What kind of dog do you have? And what’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
We’re spoiled In Grand Rapids. We have the great coffee and espresso. The best coffee is Rowster Coffee. My family has a French bulldog – my daughters love him, and he’s a solid part of our family.
I love reading nine or 10 books at once. A few interesting books I’ve read lately:
- The Secret Life of Fat by Sylvia Tara – all about how fat can think
- What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney – a book about physiology, breathing and cold
- The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown – a book about breathing and its effect on physiology and how we can maximize it for performance
- The Hungry Brain by Stephan J. Guyenet – a book about how our brain is wire for food an eating and how to combat it
Composed and written by Erin Klegstad