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Healthy You

The Games: Dr. Chehab's Advice on Recovery for Athletes

Friday, July 23, 2021 12:52 PM

  Eric Chehab, MD
NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute Surgeon, Sports Medicine Specialist

Chehab Rugby Team

Dr. Chehab is the player on the far right, first row.

SPORT: Competitive athlete in high school and college; played football, basketball, lacrosse and crew before finding rugby.

FUN FACT: Captain of the Harvard Rugby Football Club and 1991 Collegiate All American.

WATCHING PLANS: Dr. Chehab is a veritable sports fan who loves the thrill of competitive sports, including the games. Like most fans, he was disheartened by the impact of the coronavirus, which led to spectators being banned from most of the events.

At Harvard University, Dr. Chehab took to the grit of rugby. It’s a sport without pads or helmets, bolstered by sheer determination, intense athleticism and camaraderie. He was a college All-American, and even played for a time with the Bulgarian National Sports Academy Team when he was living in Europe where he taught high school. He continued to play through medical school. He was also part of the physician sideline coverage for Ireland vs. New Zealand All Blacks Rugby match at Soldier Field.

GETTING HIT: In Rugby, players can only get hit when they have the ball, which he thinks makes the sport safer than other contact sports. “You know when you are going to get hit,” Dr. Chehab said. “Rugby is a contact sport. Football is a collision sport.

“One of the reasons I became a sports medicine doctor is I had so much fun playing team sports and my teammates remain some of my best friends,” Dr. Chehab said. “I feel very lucky to have the privilege of helping athletes of all ages get back to their sports.”

EXPERT TIP: One of the lessons Dr. Chehab thinks athletes can learn from the games is the importance of recovery. “I always tell my patients that most of us focus almost exclusively on training and overlook the need for recovery. The most successful athletes have a hyper focus on both training and recovery,” he said.

As older athletes continue to reach new heights in sports and perform at elevated levels, what changes is the body’s ability to recover and recover rapidly, added Dr. Chehab. He encourages his patients and athletes of all ages to consider all aspects of recovery -- including the time between workouts, quality sleep, nutrition, hydration and being in touch with how their body feels.

Eric Chehab