Michael Phelps, Success from a Doctor’s Point of View
A conversation with Dr Steven Fuller of House Calls
10 years, 22 medals, 17 world records, one scandal, multiple endorsements, and a lifetime of dreams is what encompasses the young Michael Phelps who has completed, in his words, a final run in the Olympics. When discussing the phenom of Phelps, the logical question is how does he do it?
The IWJ turned to Dr Steven Fuller. Dr Fuller has a PH.D. in physiology (the study of organ systems and cells) and his Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine, or the study of medicine with an emphasis in musculoskeletal system. It seems a perfect match up to giving readers the scoop on the Phelps phenom.
Michael Phelps’ extraordinary abilities are due to a combination of factors (even though most people would like to look at things more superficially and believe that if only they swam a few laps, they could increase their lung capacity and have a magic answer to improve their physical abilities):
- His lung capacity is about 2 quarts greater than is predicted on his height and age (the factors used to predict lung capacity). This is due to 2.
- His body is simply disproportionately structured in comparison to normal humans. He has a disproportionately long thorax for his height. Although he is 6’4″ tall, his inseam is only 30 inches (my inseam at 6’0″ is 32 inches).
- Whether swimming competitively since a very young age has influenced the physical development of his long thorax is a matter of conjecture – no one will be able to say one way or the other definitively.
- Other major factors in his abilities (probably more important than the size of his lungs) are his spirit and drive to win. There’s a lot written about this.
- Finally, it is no surprise that he is in extraordinarily good physical condition. He trains hard every day. This conditions his cardiovascular system to deliver huge amounts of oxygen to his muscles, and his muscles have remarkable ability to use the oxygen to make energy (his lactate levels at the end of exercise are reportedly quite low – not surprising for a well conditioned athelete).
So my dear, take a few laps around the pool…you’ll feel better. But your lungs will still be the same when you’re finished, one of the few things in life you can really count on!