Top of his game

Dr. Jeremy Busch, a chiropractic and sports performance expert, shows his patient, Nicole Neely, 33, the wall angel exercise to reduce shoulder pain. Bush recently returned from the U.S. Olympics Training Center in California. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Dr. Jeremy Busch recently got a rare glimpse of the training methods used by some of the world’s greatest athletes.

Busch, a chiropractic and sports performance expert and chief executive officer of Performance Sport and Spine in Front Royal, spent two weeks earlier this year at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, where he completed a competitive rotation alongside fellow sports medicine professionals.

While there, Busch got to see first-hand the intense care that Olympic-level athletes require on a daily basis as they train in their respective sports.

“You operate and run everything, whatever the athletes need to keep up their elite training schedule,” Busch said recently. “One day you could be evaluating, is this an upper respiratory infection? Do we need to get them with some antibiotics? The next day it could be spinal trauma from a BMX race where you’re trying to save someone’s life. It’s literally everything that is in between.”

From Jan. 18 to Feb. 1, Busch, who was chosen for the two-week rotation by the U.S. Olympic Committee after an initial application process, spent his days bouncing between sessions in the clinic and along the sidelines while working with athletes from teams including USA Rowing, rugby, BMX, track and field, soccer, archery and field hockey.

Each morning generally began with Busch providing his medical expertise in the clinic, where he would help athletes through rounds of “prehab,” warm-up specific sessions that prepared the athletes’ bodies for their training sessions that day.

Busch said the athletes at the Olympic Training Center typically went through two or three practice sessions a day, plus a round of strength and conditioning, making those morning preparation sessions a vital part of the athletes’ workout routine.

“They want to bring kind of the elite of the elite treatment protocols to figure out how they can keep their athletes healthy, because lost days due to a training injury is potentially out of a medal count,” Busch said. “They really optimize every moment they need to train.”

During the day, Busch said he often worked on the sideline during the practice sessions for the various sports, offering medical care when needed, and each day ended with another session in the clinic to assist with the athletes’ cool down routines.

Busch, who worked with two full-time chiropractic physicians, two full-time athletic trainers and a few orthopedic doctors as part of the training center’s sports medicine team, said he walked away from his experience with three “that was cool” realizations. The first was that chiropractic care was used as a vital part of each athlete’s overall training plan.

“They not only just utilize chiropractic care but they rely on chiropractic care to really allow them to perform at that level. And that was cool,” Busch said. “That was that first light bulb that went off, realizing that it’s not just me that thinks that, to actually see it utilized in that large of an industry for something as important as our Olympic athletes.”

The second was how effectively the training center’s sports medicine team used an integrated model that consisted of medical professionals of different areas of expertise working closely together, and that chiropractic care was being used to its true potential within that system.

Busch recalled a situation during his time in California when he was required to evaluate and determine whether a rower who had an unstabilized sacroiliac joint was a candidate for a procedure that would be performed by an orthopedic doctor, and he said it was nice to see that chiropractors weren’t being “pigeon-holed into being neuro-muscular-skeletal.”

Busch said his final major takeaway from the experience was the affirmation that the same integrated model of sports-related health care that he and his team uses at Performance Sport and Spine is being used to treat some of the world’s best athletes.

“We work really hard to bring a lot of treatment options and tailor it in a very individualized way here,” Busch said, “and to actually see that what we’re doing is the same kind of model and approach that our Olympic athletes are getting, except we bring it to a clinical model. That was a great experience for me to be able to come back and tell the team we’re doing it right.”

Busch said his work at the Olympic Training Center also served as an initial “two-week intensive interview” that could eventually open the door to a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 2016 Summer Olympics as part of Team USA’s sports medicine staff. Busch said he was evaluated over the two-week period by the full-time members of the training center’s sports medicine team, and he would also be required to provide his services for a nationally sanctioned event and then an internationally sanctioned event before being considered for the Olympic games.

Whether or not Busch realizes his goal of working with Team USA next year in Rio, the training center experience alone has given him valuable insight into how his team can provide even better medical care to local athletes.

Busch said his team has begun developing a partnership with nearby Warren County High School (they are working on “redesigning” some of the school’s strength and conditioning protocols, he said), and his team has also worked extensively with athletes from Strasburg High School in the past.

Busch said he hopes to help bring the concept of the integrated model of sports medicine into local high school athletics, as well as push the emphasis of proper “prehab” and cool-down routines, to help local high school athletes heal faster from injuries and stay healthy for longer.

“What was really cool to see was how they were utilizing it to really enhance performance,” Busch said of the Olympic sports medicine model. “That’s something that’s not just Olympic or not just professional. That’s anybody from the weekend warrior to that professional level. Those kinds of tactics, those kinds of strategies, absolutely applicable to high school athletics. I would say not just applicable but absolutely necessary.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD