Written by Manseen Logan, Photos from LIB Olympic Blog
In a video posted on Social Media, Liberia’s Olympic Team inch their bodies into two round inflated white tubs filled with ice cold water. The expressions on the athletes’ faces says everything. Wet. Freezing. Uncomfortable. One athlete clenches a towel between his fingers and tenses his body as he tries to keep himself from shivering. Then a voice appears from behind the camera encouraging the athlete to hang on. That voice belonged to Chiropractor Dr. Alaric Diggs.
“You have to do what is best for the body,” Diggs says. “Sometimes what’s best for the body doesn’t feel good when you’re doing it, but after it’s done your body feels better,” he adds. In this case, the best thing for the body was an ice bath.
Dr. Diggs keeps the 2016 Liberia Olympic Team fit, while in Rio. “A healthy body needs balance,” Diggs mentions, referring to the delicate line between stress and relaxation. At the Olympic Village, the team follows a fluid schedule that includes the following:
- Proper Nutrition
- Warm ups
- Adjustments (as needed)
- Physical Therapy
- Alignment Checks
- Cool Downs
- Additional Therapy (as needed)
Diggs’ undivided attention has been placed on the Liberian athletes, but he has not lost focus of the bigger picture. “It’s not about us. We are representing our country,” he states.
His infatuation with the human body started, long before the Rio Olympics, around his elementary days at Cathedral Catholic School in Monrovia, Liberia. “I’ve always been interested in the human body and helping people,” he shares. When Diggs grew up, he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia taking several classes in biology and majoring in education. Years after graduating, he remained in Atlanta and started applying to Pharmacy schools. In fact, he was working at a pharmacy, in August 2006, when he became injured in a car accident that left his body in agony.
“I went to the doctor, but I was still experiencing extreme pain,” he shares. His time working in the pharmacy taught him that most people wanted little or nothing to do with prescribed medicines.
Diggs says, “People would continuously call to see how they could get off or reduce the medication they were being prescribed. I knew I did not want pain medication.”
Instead of managing the pain with medication, a friend referred Diggs to a chiropractor. “Within five minutes of my visit, the pain was gone,” Diggs explains. From that moment, he found his true calling. God had redirected his path. Diggs enrolled in Life University —the largest single campus chiropractic college in the world. He started the Ph.D. program in January 2007 and graduated in September 2010.
Since then, Diggs has been promoting holistic approaches to healing using nontraditional medicine and techniques. His professionalism and passion for healing granted him the opportunity to work with Liberia’s first-ever Paralympian —powerlifter James “Bobby the Big” Siaffa.
In 2012, at the London Paralympics, Dr. Diggs assisted the powerlifter through a shoulder injury. Siaffa lifted an impressive 419 pounds (190 kg) in London, ranking him within the top half of lifters at the 2012 Games. Diggs calls this experience his most memorable.
“It’s inspiring to see athletes with physical disabilities do things that non-disabled bodies can’t do,” Diggs shares. It is a testament to how powerful the human mind can be and emphasizes Diggs’ personal mission. “I want to draw awareness to the power that people have within themselves,” he says.
With his healing hands and wealth of medical knowledge, Dr. Diggs plans on eventually travelling back to Liberia, from the US where he resides, to teach and spread information regarding public health. At this point, however, Dr. Diggs’ primary focus is to represent Liberia and promote a positive image of the country at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games.