Every star athlete has a team of pros that help them stay at the top of their game. Take Russell Wilson. At home in Seattle, the guy has a personal chef, mental coach, personal trainer—the list goes on. But a wellness squad isn’t only reserved for the rich and famous. That’s right: There are certain experts that we should all have in our back pocket to help stay in tip-top shape, regardless of what’s going on the squat rack, office, or wherever else you’re striving for those big gains.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you typically only go seek out this sort of help when something feels off. That weird pain is traveling down your leg again, or your shoulders feel extra tight, or you’re waking up feeling bummed more often than you would like.
Don’t wait. Instead, check in with your wellness roster on the regular. From acupuncturists to therapists to general practitioners, we got experts to weigh in on the specialists you should be seeing.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, men have a habit of avoiding annual doctor visits. Of 1,174 men surveyed, only 50 percent of men go to the doctor for preventative care, and 41 percent of men were told as children that men don’t complain about health issues. Considering annual wellness visits are included gratis with any regular insurance plan, it’s time to stop making excuses and get yourself into a paper gown, stat.
What to look for: There are several different types of physicians that can be identified as a primary care doctor, including family practice, internal medicine, and general practice. Regardless of which one you go with, the right doctor will talk to you about an overall picture of wellness, instead of just what you can do to avoid illness, according to Steven Lamm, MD, medical director of the NYU Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health.
“The foundations for wellness require you to understand the importance of things like sleep, stress management, nutrition, and exercise,” he says. “You should be comfortable being open with them.”
Injuries happen to all of us. Research shows that between 19 and 74 percent of CrossFitters and 40 to 50 percent of runners struggle with injury each year. Connecting with a good physical therapist can help you stay off the injured list. And should you land there, the right DPT (that stands for doctor of physical therapy) can get you back toward better movement patterns in no time.
What to look for: When looking for a physio, examining their credentials is a great place to start, says Dan Giordano, DPT, CSCS, and co-founder of Bespoke Treatments. According to Giordano, your therapist should have “DPT” next to their name, which means that they’ve completed a postgraduate degree that takes about three more years and passed the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).
“Look at the work they have done outside the four walls of a clinic,” he adds. “Look for experience and see where it has been applied. Do not go to a PT that has 15-minute appointment slots that consist of heat packs and massage. Your time (and money) is worth more than that.”
Like a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone or a trip to that good Italian spot you usually only save for fourth dates, a stellar massage can be a treat. It can also do way more than just help you relax. “Massages can help loosen your muscles and tendons, allowing for increased blood flow and circulation,” says Brittany Driscoll, CEO and co-founder of Squeeze, a new massage concept from the team behind Drybar. “This can eliminate toxins, manage pain, and reduce fatigue.”
While Driscoll says weekly massages are great, it’s understandable that funds might not allow that. Aim to get one monthly for best results, she suggests.
What to look for: We don’t want to downplay the goodness of a no-name massage parlor where you can sneak in a full hour’s worth of bodywork for $45 or less. However, most states require massage therapists to be licensed before they can legally practice—and you may not find that there. “Find a spot you’re interested in, then inquire about a masseuse’s style or speciality,” says Driscoll. “Make sure to be detailed about what you’re hoping to achieve, where you want more focus or areas to avoid, and definitely don’t be shy about asking for more or less pressure throughout your session.”
A few facts on acupuncture: More than 14 million people in the U.S. have tried the millennia-old Chinese practice, and a lot of doctors hope it can be an effective alternative to opioids for pain management. Part of the rapidly growing “alternative” medicine industry, estimated to be worth $197 billion by 2025, acupuncture can help the body “with pretty much anything you can think of (and some things you may not),” according to Molly Forsyth, DACM, L.Ac., founder of 8 Point Wellness in New York City. “Acupuncture is an incredibly effective tool to manage and minimize the ailments caused by physical and emotional pressures of day to day life.”
Specialists use super-small needles on areas around the body called acupuncture points. According to Forsyth, the goal is helping patients achieve results like better digestion, increased energy, better mood, deeper sleep, and even an increase in concentration and work performance.
What to look for: Forsyth suggests finding a good referral and to seek treatment from a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac). You can find or check credentials on the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). “Finding an acupuncturist can be like finding a therapist,” she says. “If the first acupuncturist you meet and work with doesn’t feel like a good fit, don’t hesitate to try another.”
There’s a growing awareness that mental health is just as important as physical health. But it’s still something that a large crop of men really struggle with. Dozens of studies have shown that men are less likely than women to seek out mental help for things like substance abuse, depression, and stress. Men also make up over 75 percent of suicide victims in the United States, which translates into one death every 20 minutes or so.
“Therapy can be incredibly beneficial for men, who may feel pressured to excel without addressing their emotional wellbeing and mental health due to social stigma or lack of awareness,” says Salina Grilli, LCSW and owner of SMG Psychotherapy in New York. “In therapy, men can take a step back to gain insight into their behaviors and thoughts, which can help develop ways to productively manage their stress.”
What to look for: When seeking out a therapist, look for someone who is licensed to practice therapy and has a postgraduate degree, says Grilli, including LCSW, LMHC, LMHC, PsyD, or PhD. A lot of experts, including Grilli, suggest people speak with a therapist weekly, especially at the beginning, to develop a good, comfortable relationship and explore the practice. From there, there may be room to progress to biweekly visits or check-ins as needed.