We’re All In This Together
Gluten-free, detox and cleansing diets, K-tape, cupping, homeopathic vaccines, cryotherapy, IV therapy – sound familiar? These are but a few of the plethora of popular, yet completely baseless, health and sport trends that currently pervade popular culture. So says scientist, author, speaker and debunker of pseudoscientific health claims, Dr. Timothy Caulfield.
As keynote speaker at the 11th annual Own the Podium SPort INnovation (SPIN) Summit, Caufield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy and Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, highlighted the danger that accepting health practices based entirely on pseudo science can have on society, as well as athletes and the sport community at large.
“There is an incredible amount of bunk and pseudoscience out there, which makes it incredibly difficult for people to access the real science,” explains Caulfield. He says there is a tolerance for pseudo science across all sectors of health, which has led to an erosion of critical thinking.
The message was strong and pointed – be careful. Dr. Jon Kolb, Director of Sport Science, Medicine and Innovation at Own the Podium, who invited Caulfield to speak at this year’s summit says, “The message that Caufield delivered is that athletes, coaches and managers need to recognize and be very careful about what is brought into their programs.”
For more than 250 of Canada’s top sport scientists, researchers, medical professionals, executives and coaches attending the summit, it was a message that strongly supports a philosophy which underscores the work they do – making decisions based on sound evidence. The CSI Calgary was a major contributor to the SPIN Summit, providing a number of in-house expert speakers.
The focus on evidence can be challenging when there is a need to blend the art of coaching with the science of sport. For Dr. Erik Groves, Research and Innovation Lead at the CSI Calgary, one key takeaway from the conference came from a presentation by Mike MacSween, Executive VP of Major Projects at Suncor.
“The simplest way to approach differing opinions and areas of expertise is to centralize on facts,” said MacSween. “Once that is accomplished it is much easier for people to come together.”
This opens the door for true collaboration, another theme that has come to characterize SPIN and the way in which the Canadian sport community works together. For Groves, the goal of SPIN is to share. “It’s about raising the bar, raising expectations and being open to collaboration,” he says. “We’re all in this together.”
Frank Van den Berg, CSI Calgary Director of Mental Performance agrees. “We share with each other what we are working on” he says. “It’s also an opportunity to foster critical thinking and discussion – we don’t only have to share our successes but our challenges too.”
“We’re much better collaborating than not,” adds Kolb. He says that it’s an opportunistic time in Canadian sport, with so many good things going on and emphasizes that collaboration is a big part of that.
Ultimately, the conference helps to bring together the Canadian sport community for the advancement of sport. “It’s a responsibility within high performance sport, which is a niche on it’s own,” says Kolb. “We will only grow if we grow as a sport science community together.”
Trust science, work together and reap the rewards. The evidence is conclusive!
Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto