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Keith Gladstone has recently joined the ISEH. He is an osteopath, sport scientist and health coach who is passionate about improving people’s health and wellbeing through a bio-pshyco-social approach.

He is currently Osteopath to the England Rugby team and tours internationally with the team. He also leads the medical team at the Worlds Strongest Man competition annually.

For many people, Christmas is synonymous with 3 things; presents; turkey; and the Worlds Strongest Man competition on the telly. This international extreme sporting competition has been running for 40 years and is broadcast in 100 countries and has a global viewership in the 10’s of millions. In the UK it is broadcast around Christmas time, but it is filmed earlier in the year and often takes place in a remote and tropical location. The 30 strongest athletes from around the world gather together in for the “world cup” or “Olympic finals” of strength sports. The athletes initially compete in 5 heats of 6 people over 4 days. The top 2 athletes in each heat then progress to the finals for a further 2 days of competition until a final champion is crowned.

This year the competition took place in Manilla in the Philippines. Extreme temperatures and humidity’s, tropical illness, extreme sports injuries, and poor food hygiene are all very real risks. Not to mention the local flora and fauna; in 2016 it was held in Kasane, Botswana in the depths of the Okavango delta. Keith recalls opening his accommodation door to come face to face with a 12-foot rock python and on walking back to his room one evening his path was blocked by a rather large and disconcertingly docile hippopotamus.

Unsurprisingly, the athletes are huge. The average weight for the finalists this year was 164kg with the heaviest guy weighing in at 193kg. This fact alone provides a challenge. Treating a person of this stature is hard work and modifications in technique and equipment are essential. The medical team works very hard, but pull together and also have a lot of fun. An honest, team first, resilient attitude is as essential as good clinical skills.