The Baltimore Ravens will be playing with the benefit of a “performance enhancer” in tonight’s Super Bowl.
It won’t be picked up in any testing. It hasn’t been banned from the NFL.
But between major plays and multimillion-dollar commercials, you might just catch a glimpse of it on the sidelines, as Alan K. Sokoloff of the Yalich Clinic in Glen Burnie assists the players by deploying a secret weapon: chiropractic manipulation.
“A lot of people think chiropractors just ‘crack backs,’” Sokoloff said. “But a team chiropractor in the NFL can do so much more involving performance enhancement.”
Sokoloff flew down with the Ravens on Monday and has been helping players with joint issues so they can put out their maximum effort on the field.
“A receiver, for example, wants to be able to run as efficiently as possible,” Sokoloff said. “But one leg might not be able to extend as far as the other. If we can open up that joint, we can get a lot more movement. His stride is going to be that much better.”
Sokoloff has worked with the Ravens for 12 years.
He said he got into the business of working with elite athletes after receiving his training at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. An opportunity to work at the U.S. Olympic Training Center led to the chance to work the Goodwill Games and the Pan American Games, Sokoloff said.
But nothing compares to the Super Bowl, he said. It’s his second with the team.
“New Orleans is just packed and the mood in the city is so festive,” Sokoloff said. “Sometimes when the team travels to another city, we might get a rude response from the fans, people flipping the bird … but the second we got here, everyone has been waving and cheering.”
One of Sokoloff’s associates, Nicole Gangl, said the entire chiropractic practice in Glen Burnie has been ecstatic at each Raven’s playoff win — and watches the sidelines during each game to spot Sokoloff at work.
“We feel like we’re part of the team,” she said.
According to the Professional Football Chiropractic organization, team chiropractors help alleviate the consequences of jarring impacts, and prevent and address many common injuries at all levels of athletics down to youth sports.
Michael Miller — a chiropractor who worked with the New England Patriots during last year’s Super Bowl — said players typically get adjusted prior to games to “prepare their bodies for battle.”
“Several times during the playoffs, incidents occurred that required chiropractic care and, subsequent to sideline treatment, players were able to return to action the following play,” Miller said in a release.
But if you’re looking to catch a glimpse of Sokoloff on TV, he said the bulk of his work is completed at the beginning of the game.
In fact, he hopes he won’t be busy on game day. That will mean a game with few injuries, he said.
“Hopefully that will translate to a win,” Sokoloff said.