Why Athletes Need Athletic Trainers – Nutrition

26 Jan

Why do athletes or athletic departments or teams need the services of an athletic trainer?  This will be a series of articles attempting to examine the unique and important roles that athletic trainers play in the lives of the people that they care for.

Part 5 – Nutritional Guidance

I picked up a body building magazine a few months ago just to look at the ads.  Why would I do that?  Because when I was an athlete, I read several of those magazines to glean weight lifting information.  Outside of the internet, these magazines are the most readily available source of information to find lifting routines, exercise tips, etc.  If you go to the corresponding website for the magazine, you will be overwhelmed with adds for supplements.  The magazine that I picked up was at least 60% ads for supplements all filled with information of what they promise to do for your workout. For a high school or college athlete, it is very easy to get caught up in the hype and distortions of these supplement ads.  It is safe to say that the supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar business in the US.  Because of the huge profits, targeted marketing campaigns are incredibly important to the companies.  The ads are full of sexy bodies, eye-catching ads, half-truths and exaggerated claims.  Over the years, I have witness many popular supplements come and go and some even prove to be deadly (ephedra anyone?).

To counter this potentially dangerous supplement culture, a knowledgeable professional with a good relationship with the athlete must be able to properly educate the athlete in good nutrition first, supplement second only if needed.  Coaches, parents and athletes generally don’t have the foundational knowledge to discern fact from fiction in the supplement advertising, but the athletic trainer does!

I often am asked about supplements and I never preach or denegrate the athlete about supplement use.  I take the chance to have an educational conversation with the athlete.  We talk about their diet, we talk about their training, we talk about the timing of their nutrition, then we talk about the supplement they are asking about.   Often I must go do some research on a new supplement that they ask me about.  I enjoy those questions because not only do I have the chance to educate another athlete on doing things the right way, I have the chance to further my knowledge about another supplement.  The athletic trainer who is daily available to the athletes and who has built relationships with the teams and the athletes is very valuable to the athletes in the area of nutrition.  The access and expertise that an AT can provide these athletes is money well spent.  In the case of supplement use, it could easily keep someone from using bad supplements or stepping over the line and using steroids after their supplement use proves to be useless.

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